My Tiny (Old) Digital Camera is GREAT Too!

Ever since I started my journey with photography it seems that every camera I use is GREAT, no matter how old it is. The entire world of photography has opened up to me since I’ve learned to take my camera’s off manual. One “advantage” my little Canon camera has over the Canon T5i is – it’s always in my pocketbook and I can take nice quality pictures on a whim!

Every weekend my husband and I go shopping at Trader Joe’s in Edgewater, NJ, which is located on the Hudson River across from New York City. It’s cold and gray in my neck of the woods and the river is cold and pretty. There are always photo opportunities as the George Washington Bridge is off to my left and the New York City skyline is off to my right.

What I have learned in using the settings on my little pocket camera is changing the light setting. I’m still figuring out ISO as I’m not exactly sure what that setting affects, but it’s fun to try different settings to see how the photos look on screen.

I thought learning photography was going to be easy…well it’s not so easy, especially when you have a full time job and can’t really travel to take nice pictures as I see so many other great photographers take. It’s a bit disheartening, but I’m determined to make the best with what I have.

Sparrows and a Woodpecker

My Bird Friends during lunch (Paramus, NJ)


George Washington Bridge (from Edgewater, NJ)


George Washington Bridge

Another George Washington Bridge view (from Edgewater, NJ)



New York City skyline on a dreary day and the sunken Binghamton on the Hudson River.


New York City Skyline (from the New Jersey Turnpike). First attempt taking photo from a moving vehicle.



Lessons about Exposure and Lighting

I had the pleasure of photographing a very beautiful Siamese cat named MooShu. He is a very peaceful cat who adores interacting with people. He is an older gentleman with beautiful deep blue eyes and a magnificent silky smooth coat. Moo, as I affectionately call him, is an excellent cat to photograph as he is very trusting and not at all skittish.

Choosing my first subject was easy. However, choosing where he would be photographed wasn’t so easy. Moo likes is special place which is an upstairs room with not a lot of light. So, how do I handle this?  I tried first to photograph an object that I thought would be similar lighting as the room that Moo was in, but I was wrong.

The object I chose to focus on to pre-set my settings before photographing Moo was a small metal butterfly sitting on a special shelf that was all its own. The lighting in the room was an overhead chandelier and I wasn’t sure if the lights were fluorescent or regular light bulbs. But once I shot this photo, I thought I’d be all ready to seamlessly shoot some photos of Moo. I was wrong…

Metal Butterfly

Metal Butterfly

Moo was in an upstairs room. The lighting was completely different. As a matter of fact it was almost non-existent! Moo liked to hang out in what was described as the “MooShu Lair!” Yes, it was indeed Moo’s very own room. It was a simple room that was quiet and peaceful just like Moo. But…the lighting was completely different. I did not think about the lighting being different from room to room. The room had one small decorative lamp sitting on a side table and a window. The sun had set and dusk had set in. MooShu was barely visible on the couch in the room. You would think I could get Moo to move to a different room, but he was sooooo comfortable laying on the couch I didn’t have the heart to call him to another room. So much for pre-setting my camera to easily take pictures.=

Now I was at a loss. Since the room was dark I couldn’t see the buttons on the camera to figure out what settings I should change to accommodate the lighting.  After “fiddling” around with the settings, here is the first picture I took of Moo in the dark room.

MooShu in a very dark room.

MooShu in a very dark room.

Sheesh…that is just awful…I know!!!  Here’s the second photo I shot in which I increased the ISO:

Moo Shu - same dark room different settings.

Moo Shu – same dark room different settings.

Oh, boy…not much better. But then it dawned on me. E X P O S U R E! I needed to increase the exposure! So, that’s what I did.

MooShu – dark room – increased exposure

Ahhhh…much better! This is the MooShu I know.

There are a few lessons I learned during this photo session:

  1. You can’t preset your camera’s setting while standing in a different room from where the picture is actually being taken.
  2. I need to memorize the buttons on my camera. It was very frustrating not really knowing which button showed the correct menu on the camera’s screen.
  3. I need to relax. There was no pressure here. I was only with my husband and Moo and there was no reason to be nervous, but I was.
  4. I realized that I don’t yet have a good grip on exactly how ISO, Exposure, Aperture and all the other settings affect the photograph.  I need more lessons.

Here are a few more pictures of MooShu.  I love that cat!

MooShu and Mark

Beautiful MooShu

Beautiful MooShu

My Big Fat New Revelation – Old Cameras Have Settings!

A few days ago, I decided to look around my house and see if I could find any of my old cameras that I bought in the past. I’m happy to say that I found a few. One camera, I didn’t even remember I had! After joyfully looking at them all and playing with the settings, I had a revelation. Better photography has been at my fingertips all these years and I never realized it. I’ve never played around with camera settings until now! (Gulp!) They were all Auto-Focus and I thought that was the BEST setting to ALWAYS use. A few weeks ago I took a DSLR Photography class on Craftsy and my entire photography life was changed forever!

You see before I took the Craftsy course, I thought my new-found love of photography and new found ability to achieve a better quality picture, was all about having Big Fat New DSLR Camera. By today’s standards a DSLR is one of the best camera’s you can have today to take incredibly beautiful pictures. My Big Fat New Camera has a lot of bells and whistles which, of course, were not available to the general public or a hobbyist like me. At least I don’t think the 1988 equivalent to a quality camera of today’s stardards would be cheap enough to be purchased by a hobbyist like me.

So, back to the camera I found today that captured my interest. It was the oldest camera I owned and it was a Pentax IQZoom 900. Now, I do remember having this camera, but I didn’t remember when I bought it.  I looked on the web and found an old posting from the magazine, Popular Photography, dated 1989 and it featured an article entitled, “Break Out Of Your Creative Rut With Pentax IQ Zoom Cameras.” I can’t actually tell if it’s a real “article” or an extended advertisement presented in an article format because there is no author listed. There is a typical advertisement for this camera on the page preceding the article so the two may be connected. You may be able to see the article through this link: (don’t worry, it’s a harmless link). Any way, once I realized this camera is from from the late 1980’s (OMG!), I realized I probably bought this camera around 1988 because I used this camera on my honeymoon to Walt Disney World in Florida in 1988. Here’s a scan of a picture of a swan I took with this camera back in 1988. (My bird theme continues from childhood!)

In 1988 I continue to take pictures of birds!

In 1988 I continue to take pictures of birds!

I can tell you exactly what setting the camera was – Auto Focus (surprise!) – actually it was Auto Everything, because I didn’t know the camera had settings. Yup, I admit that I did not know, until today, that this camera had settings that would affect the quality of my pictures!

When I sat down today to examine this vintage (not old) Pentax camera, I removed the dead batteries, put in new batteries, turned it on, and heard the motor do it’s thing just as if the camera was used last week! Then I pushed  the little tiny controls on the back of the camera that could only be depressed using my fingernail, and I saw little tiny symbols appear on the little tiny monochrome screen! One was a little sun (for taking pictures in bright light), a “B” “ME” “INT” and, settings for flash and continuous. Oh, and it has the count for number of pictures taken on the film. Did I mention that this camera I found today HAS film loaded in it?  Kodak Gold, 36 400/27. How long has this film been in the camera? I have no idea.

Here are pictures of the front and back of that camera.


My Pentax Camera circa 1988


The settings I “discovered” today – 27 years later. LOL!

Here are two more photos  taken with my Pentax camera in 1988:


Cinderella’s Castle – Walt Disney World – 1988


Here’s me – my name is Patty – this is 27 years ago.

So, I took this camera out for a stroll today and started snapping pictures. I zoomed in on my subject and snapped the first picture! Then I took the camera away from my eye to review it on the screen. However, there is no screen to review pictures! Wow, I haven’t used a camera without a screen to review photos in YEARS! How weird! But, for the first time in this Pentax camera’s existence, I selected the camera setting for “sun” as I was shooting outside in kinda bright light. Would my pictures have come out better back in 1988 had I turned on the “sun” setting while shooting pictures on my honeymoon?  I don’t know, but I hope to find out after I develop this film.

I’m not sure what the other settings on this camera are for (yet), but I found an old manual for this camera on the web so I’m going to print it out and see if I can use these other “advanced” settings.  Will these settings give me a better quality picture? I don’t know, but it will be fun trying!

If you have any suggestions for me with regard to using this camera. Let me know. Remember using this Pentax camera is just for fun and to reminisce. Who knows, I really may learn something here, because it seems to have some sort of “selfie” setting. Oh yeah, this I have to see!


My Big Fat New Camera Teaches Me About Patience

As you can see from my very first post, I’ve always liked taking pictures and I’ve always liked birds. Put the two together and I’m taking a lot of pictures of birds.  I’ve found that birds don’t especially like posing for photos. Hence, one of the first really clear and focused pictures I had the pleasure of taking is, well, the derrière of a house-sparrow. What can I say?! He wouldn’t turn around fast enough for me! Sigh.

My first clearly focused picture of a bird is the derrière of a house-sparrow.

My first clearly focused picture of a bird is the derrière of a house-sparrow.

I’ll spare you all the details but when reviewing the photos I took today, I could zoom in on this bird’s behind, and boy was it crystal clear! Sheesh! Oh if only this little bird turned around oh it would have been a beauty! But you know what? It’s a decent picture! The bird is clear, the color of the sky is beautiful and the branches of the tree are just pretty.

I can remember when I zoomed in on this little bird. In my head I kept saying, “Turn around, c’mon, turn around.” I was as if I was trying to will him to turn around!  He did turn around eventually. I had just snapped the picture, quickly reviewed the it on the screen, and I looked up to see the bird was facing me! As quick as I tried to aim my camera at him to snap his cute little face – he flew away! If I only waited 3 more seconds I would have had the best ever shot of a house-sparrow on the planet!

So, today’s lesson is one of patience to get the best shot. I think the next time I take pictures of birds I’ll take my time. I’ll give them a chance to get used to my presence so they can go about their business of being birds. I was thinking perhaps it’s a good idea to look for the best shot, not just the only shot available. Then again, will I miss an opportunity for the photo of a life time? Is it possible that I’m just over-thinking this? I don’t know, it’s hard to say. Of course I did get a few more photos of some birds today, but there were branches blocking the view or there was just too much shade.

The bottom like today is, the picture of the sparrow’s derrière was the best photo of the day.  Perhaps it was also the most thought-provoking for this newbie photographer. What do you think?

On the bright side, it IS the best picture on the planet of a house sparrow’s derrière! 🙂


My Big Fat New Camera Takes It’s First Picture (Beware! It’s not pretty!)

I always dreamed that if I ever got a DSLR camera, the first picture I took would be the Holy Grail of pictures. It would be the most beautiful picture I ever took in my entire life! I would show this picture to my family and friends, their jaws would drop open, while their eyes feasted on the most beautiful picture they ever saw.  They would look at me with eyes wide open and think, “Wow! She’s a natural-born photographer!” I would smile and beam and be a proud of my first DSLR picture.  It would be such a grand  picture it would go viral and its vibrant colors would flash across computers around the world! Well, it didn’t quite turn out that way. Oh yeah, jaws will drop open upon seeing this picture, and people will indeed contemplate my skills as a “photographer,” but not in the way I hoped. Sigh…here’s the picture:

Bad Buttons Pic

Wow, what happened?  If you’re wondering if my dog is okay, yes she is. I did think I flashy-thinged her and though perhaps I wiped out her memory after she got hit with that bright white blinding flash – and thankfully she can still see!  Yikes.

There is good news, besides my dog being okay. I’ve been practicing since I took that picture and I’m getting better already!!! One thing I like about My Big Fat New Camera is the controls are very user-friendly and I have a feeling the picture you see above is the worst picture this big fat new camera will ever take.

I can’t wait to share them with you! Here is a picture I took on the fly today (pun intended). I was trying to photograph a few birds in my yard today and I looked up and saw this plane flying over and I quickly snapped this picture. It’s not crystal clear, but I don’t know…It’s the best airplane photo I EVER taken in my life. Oh, I’m going to really like My Big Fat New Camera – a lot!

Small Plane Pic

My Big Fat New Camera Is Here!

Well, today is the day I received a REAL camera. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’ve owned cameras before, but this camera is different. It’s not the box camera I had as a child in the 60’s, or the Polaroid I had in the seventies, or the flat Kodak pocket camera I had in the 80’s. This is a DSLR with lenses that I actually have to screw on! This is the Christmas present I received from my husband – the camera of my choice!  (Yeah, I have a GREAT husband!)

The camera I received today is a Canon T5i and although everything I read said not to get a “camera bundle,” I just couldn’t resist, and bought a camera bundle! It came with so much “stuff!” Let’s see, it had the Canon T5i camera body, 4 lenses (2 Canon lenses), a nice camera bag, 64 GB card, extra battery, and a lot of accessory items. I actually bought it on Ebay after doing MUCH research with my husband, of course! I bought it from a reliable Ebay-er, with excellent reviews and return policy. I also made sure the camera had a USA warranty and was not gray market.

Why did I choose the Canon T51? – Well The Camera I had prior to this one was also a Canon Powershot SD 1000.  It’s a great little camera, easy to use, and produces great pictures. Granted, the Powershot is not in the same league as the T5i, but it’s a nice little camera. I also watched a great review of the T5i on YouTube by a guy under the name of Faymusmedia:

So, when opening the box and looking at my first DSLR, I was kind of nervous! The grip of the camera is fantastic, it feels like a natural extension of your hand and the controls are logically laid out within the natural reach of your fingers. I charged the battery (approx. 2 hours for full charge), put it in the camera, turned the switch on AND…nothing happened. Turns out a DSLR has to have the lens screwed on in order for the camera to turn on. (I told you I was a newbie!)

Putting the Lens On – I was once again nervous. (Lord, don’t let me drop the lens!) I delicately took the lens out of the bubble wrap and took off the lens caps and screwed the lens on. (This was seriously a big deal to me!) Once I was sure the lens was securely on the body of the camera, I nervously turned the camera on and…it worked! (WOW!)

I unfolded the screen from the back of the camera and saw the screen light up! I looked through the eyepiece and depressed shutter button half-way and saw a bunch of little red lights through the view finder! (Far out, right?) I pushed the button further and took a picture! It was lightning fast! Holy Moly! I saw my first photo flash on the screen for 2 seconds…and disappear. I did it! I decided to try to take another picture. I took a picture of my dog Buttons…ok, 3, 2, 1, click.  Good Lord, I think I blinded my dog! It looked like I “flashy-thinged” her like the guys from Men in Black!  I saw that picture flash on the screen for 2 seconds…and it was kind of bad.  I need to get to the next step and read about how to use the settings. But, that didn’t matter at that moment because “I” took my first step into the world of DSLRs!

What an exciting day…I put a lens on a camera body (first time ever) and took my first DSLR photo on my very own DSLR camera. Wooo-Hooo! This doesn’t make me a photographer, but it makes me one step closer to perhaps being one!