Just point and shoot
By Ryan Prentiss
I am a dad of four with a passion for photography and the outdoors. I lead a busy lifestyle between family and work, so when I'm running across rocky ridges, hanging from a ledge, climbing vertical ice, or paddling out in the open ocean, I don’t have a lot of space or time to fiddle with technical aspects of photography. I’ve found that with some basic skills, a few tricks of the trade, and a decent point-and-shoot (P/S) digital camera, you can capture amazing adventure photos.
Ask any photographer and they'll extol the virtues of a DSLR camera over a P/S any day: depth of field, clarity, image quality, manual controls, and the list goes on. But if you ask most photographers about the appeal of P/S, one point comes up over and over again: convenience.
Its true convenience, size, and weight are a P/S greatest strengths. Add in auto features, quality, and price, and you're ready to shoot stunning photos without the fuss, price, and weight of a DSLR.
A few solid choices for the adventurous photographer would be Canon's PowerShot S95. It's light, compact, and comes with RAW + JPEG shooting/recording modes, as well as an array of manual functions.
Nikon's Coolpix S8100, with its 10x wide-angle optical zoom and versatile 30-300mm lenses, is great for taking dynamic landscape shots and close-up action shots.
If you want shockproof, waterproof, freeze-proof, and dust-proof, check out the durable Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS2.
Or, if you're like me, you already have a trusty P/S packed and ready to go. Here are a few tips for reaping the benefits of a P/S when traveling.
1. Always have your P/S ready! Stash it in a jacket pocket, clip it to your harness when climbing, attach it to the front of your backpack so it's never far from hand -- which is often the key to nailing a fleeting shot in the outdoors.
2. Wayne Gretzky once said, "You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take." It's a point-and-shoot -- there's no excuse for an empty memory card, so take lots of snapshots. The more shots, the more chances one will be a keeper.
3. Learn the basics -- there is a great tipsheet called "21 Settings, Techniques, and Rules All New Camera Owners Should Know" from the website Digital Photography School, which is a great resource for all amateur photographers.
4. Be creative; change your point of view. Anyone can press a camera's shutter button and go by the book.
5. At the end of the day, don't be disappointed with the outcome. It's hard to nail the perfect shot on the go. Invest in good post-production software for managing, cropping, and making minor photo edits.
6. Get inspired -- chase your vision. Some outdoor photographers who inspire me include Tim Kemple, Jimmy Chin, and Mikey Schaefer.
"The limitations of photography are in yourself for what we see is only what we are." - Ernst Haas
"Do not wait; the time will never be 'just right.' Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along."
"A great quote for new photographers," Ryan says. "I still rely on my old point & shoot for backcountry adventures and look forward to exploring the DSLR world."
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