Digital Cameras — The Rewards and Headaches

Much to my surprise, digital photography has taken my enjoyment of garden to a new level. And because now I’m designing the garden with great photos in mind, the result looks better than ever.

If you’ve come to digital photography recently, lucky you. I went digital in 2001 and ranted endlessly about the frustrations of getting it all to work. Turns out I’d really never learned Windows and ya know, if you’re on a PC you live or die by Windows. I finally got on board and have been having a blast ever since. Well, mostly.

The Camera

Canon Powershot550My first was an Olympus C-2020Z, which set me back over $700 for a mere 2.1 megapixels. Meager resolution, and clunky, too. But those days are long gone.

Then, following recommendations of some wonderful garden photographers, I moved up to the amazing Canon Powershot SD550. This time I paid about $350 for 7.1 megs!! And it’s small enough to fit into my pocket, any pocket. It even survived being badly abused at the beach about a month after I bought it, so I LOVE THIS CAMERA.

I’m no technie (no kidding) so I’ll leave to others the exacting job of reviewing it. I’ll just recommend it. Reviews are here, and here, Canon’s info is here. (In you’re in the buying mood I hope you’ll buy it here and support this site, though.) I notice on that link that Amazon sells 7.1-megapixel Canon Powershots for $127 — what a deal.

The Photo Editor

Adobe Photoshop ElementsI started out using the Adobe Photo Deluxe Home Edition that came free with my first camera, and it was okay for a while. But if you want to do much at all with your photos — and who doesn’t? — ya gotta move up to something better, and Photoshop itself seemed the way to go. Or in my case the slightly less gargantuan and much cheaper Photoshop Elements.

Again, reviews are here and here and you can buy it here.  It’ll set you back 80 bucks or so, compared with over $1,000 for the full-blown Photoshop itself, which has professional-level capacities you’ll almost surely never need. Believe me, the more consumer-friendly Elements version does plenty.

Speaking of which, it’s still no picnic to learn. I took an all-day class and it barely scratched the surface of what I needed to know to do the handful of things I need to do with it (crop, adjust colors and light levels, and that’s about it.) The manual wasn’t much help and I’ve found the best source of information to be on line, simply by Googling “Elements crop” or whatever function I need help with. Good old Google.

UPDATE:  Years later, I never was comfortable with Photoshop (even the Elements version) and switched to the free Picasa (owned by Google) for almost all purposes.  You’ll love the easy collage-making function!