Cameras and a Baby Snail

Baby Snail
Baby Snail

We’ll skip the bit about me being a control freak and wanting to make my own trade-offs between f-stop and shutter speed. Memories of Dad’s camera, my teenage trip camera, and the day at the zoo after Husband and I inherited Grandpa’s, can be another post.

Suffice to say I read the manual for the new camera and it’s confusing. To take a picture indoors, tell it, “indoors”. To take a picture of a face, tell it, “face”. To take an action picture… you get the idea. But what if you want to take a picture of a sprinter’s face, indoors.

On the manual SLR, it’s: Buy fast film. Get as much light on the subject as you can. Pick fast shutter speed. All that speed means depth of focus might have to suffer, so be more than 20 feet away. Read the light meter. Look up film speed, meter reading and shutter speed on the chart, and use the recommended f-stop (opening size). If the film is fast enough and the light strong enough, the opening might be small enough that the depth of focus doesn’t suffer.

Today I tried to take a picture of our new baby snail. (This time we actually got it into a bowl. The other three we left in the tank and never saw again.) Fuzzy. Yet the sales staff took a picture of the hairs on my arm! So, eventually, off to the manual. (Happy observation. The manual came on a CD, so now it’s on the computer and easy to find, and the file is searchable.)

It turns out that I need to:

  • Set AutoFocus Macro mode. Flower with “AF”, not flower with magnifying glass.
  • Do not zoom in. Do the exact opposite of zooming in. Set the camera to show the entire bowl and the table.
  • Move the camera in until the snail is big enough.
  • Take the picture.
  • Use software to crop and zoom even more.
  • Take shot, put on computer, repeat to get good lighting and remember to put in a piece of my hair for scale.

One thought on “Cameras and a Baby Snail

  1. You know, that paragraph about how to take the action shot sounds more complicated than it is. Four settings: light, film speed, f-stop and shutter speed. Usually you have only limited control of three, and you read the chart to get the fourth. (Or have a light meter with a built-in chart.)

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