Archive for the ‘New Technology’ Category

Digital Camera Lessons – They are FREE online! Just Google them!

Monday, August 11th, 2008

Alford Lake by Sheree Zielke

Have you been told to shoot in RAW?  Have you looked at photographs that seem not up to par?  Are you having trouble getting great shots from your expensive DSLR?

Then maybe you should put down the camera, and do some reading instead.

Read on . . .


Monster trucks: Gotta love ’em!

Monday, May 26th, 2008

Monster truck jumps cars
I am a huge fan of both monster trucks, and my new little Fuji F50 12MG compact digital camera.

Sheer Insanity Monster Truck by Sheree Zielke

I sat at the top of the stands, opted for the Top 3 shots instead of a single shot, set my ISO to 200, chose a medium aperture, pre-focused on the spot where I thought the truck would be, and fired away.

Great jobs done by both “Sheer Insanity” (the truck), and my wonderful tiny camera. Gotta love ’em.

Caught the monster truck show, recently, at the Rainmakers Rodeo held in St. Albert, a city just a few minutes drive from my home of Edmonton, Alberta.

Sheree Zielke

Wild decision to leave DSLR camera at home in favor of a Fuji FinePix F50: Crafty or Crazy?

Saturday, April 19th, 2008

Photo by Sheree Zielke

Okay, call me a traitor, call me a fool, call me any name you like but I had to take the chance.  I made a decision, before a recent trip to southern Texas and New Orleans, to leave my heavy Olympus Evolt E-300 DSLR at home.  I replaced it with a sleek little 12-megapixel Fuji FinePix F50 compact digital camera.

My husband looked at me askance as he repeatedly asked me if I still wanted to take my DSLR camera.  I told him, firmly, “No.”  That I would take my chances.  And that I would live with my decision.  Only time would tell if I had made a terrible mistake . . .


Travel Accessories: Marking Your Possessions for Easy Return to YOU!

Monday, March 3rd, 2008


Do you like good service?  How about great new products?  Especially products that make your life easier?


Me, too.


And, if like me, you travel a great deal, you know that any product or service that will make your travel experience better, is very welcome.  I have found at least one.


Read on . .



How to Lose Your Camera and Achieve Instant Fame in 2 Easy Steps

Thursday, February 7th, 2008

You’ve just returned from your vacation.  You had a good time – partied hard, did a few things that maybe you shouldn’t have done, and took the pictures to prove it.  But now you realize you have misplaced your digital camera.  Is there anything worse than a lost camera full of vacation photos?  Yes.

It’s having those private pictures show up on the Internet for the entire world to see.

That’s the brainchild of University of Winnipeg student, Matt Preprost.  This newest Web guru has created a site designed to help unite lost digital photos and cameras with their (embarrassed?) owners.  It’s called,

Preprost’s wild idea has already netted results.  In only the first few days of the site’s launch, photos were reunited with their takers.

A combination of your creativity and Matt’s site, could be your ticket to fame…read on…


10 Tips for Teaching Digital Cameras to the Absolute Beginner!

Thursday, November 29th, 2007

Roman statue in morning light by Sheree Zielke.Do you have someone in your circle of friends and family who has just gotten a new digital camera? But they are clueless as to its operation, and they have looked to you for help? Don’t despair!  Here’s a quick and easy guide to assist you in teaching someone else how to use their digital camera.


Have you ever been asked to share your knowledge of digital cameras with someone who just got a new digital camera?  They don’t have a clue how it works, they barely know how to turn it on, and now they want you to teach them all the ins and outs of their intimidating digital device.

The first thing you must deal with is their fear.  Most new users experience anxiety over their digital camera’s odd controls and terminology.  Their fear stands in the way of real learning, so it must be laid to rest.  The only way to do that is with HANDS-ON training.

Here are 10 tips to help you easily teach a novice to use his or her digital camera: 

  1. Assume the person/student knows absolutely NOTHING about digital cameras.  I have made the mistake of assuming that most digital camera owners have at least a very basic understanding of their equipment.  But they do not. 
  2. Start at the beginning.  This may sound ridiculous, but start with the POWER button.  Show them where it is and how to turn the camera on and off.  This is your opportunity to give them a warning about digital memory cards.  New users of digital cameras do not know their camera must be off BEFORE removing a memory card.
  3. Now show them the slot that holds their memory card.  Again, this is a mystery to many.  Show them how to remove the card.  SAFELY.  At this point, I talk about memory cards getting their brains addled when pulled out of a camera while it is still ON.  This tends to stay with them.
  4. This is a good time to teach your student about their camera’s shutter button.  Many new users punch down on the shutter button without ever allowing the camera to do its job of focusing, and light metering.  Ask the student to take a picture; show them how to delete this individual image. 
  5. Now teach them about the difference between “delete,” “delete all,” and “format.”  Many new users mistake the term, format, for delete, and wipe out their memory card images.  I assure my students they cannot accidentally erase their images if they pay attention. Once they find the format option, I teach them how to back out of the menu without formatting their memory card.  I also teach them that if they can’t remember how to back out of the format menu, they should turn their camera off.  This way they will never accidentally wipe out all their precious vacation photos.
  6. Introduce the student to their manual.  In many cases, my students arrive to class, their manuals untouched.  I have them open their manuals to the Table of Contents.  I’ll point out a few terms like “format” and “program modes,” “flash options” and “picture quality,” terms they must know if they are to use their camera more efficiently.I always tell digital camera owners to photocopy their entire manual.  I also tell them to put the original manual away for safe-keeping.  Using only the photocopied version, I suggest they bend pages, make margin notes, and use a hi-lighter pen to emphasize details they might forget.
  7. Next show them the physical control features (dials, buttons, and screens) on the exterior of their camera.  These dials can be very confusing and frustrating for the first-time digital camera user.  Be patient.  They’ll get it after awhile.  Make THEM turn the dials, rock their camera’s rocker switch, move their tiny joystick, or use the arrow buttons.  Many students, especially seniors, are afraid of doing something wrong.  Assure them it is okay to play with the controls as long as they don’t “format” their memory cards. Camera features you should emphasize (depending upon the make and model of the digital camera) may include: how to open the flash, flash option button, LCD screen display or info button, menu, self-timer, macro option, scene modes, video feature, priority options (program, manual, shutter, aperture), and the camera’s picture reviewing icon.
  8. Now that your student is feeling a little calmer manipulating his or her camera, it’s time for them to perform a few tasks; show them how to set the clock and the date, and how to choose the camera’s resolution or picture quality setting. As to more advanced settings like White Balance and ISO, I tell my students to leave their settings on AUTO, until they are ready to alter these settings knowledgeably.
  9. Show your student how pre-programmed scene modes work.  Show them the icons (face, mountains, moon and star, running man, etc.) imprinted on the body of their camera (if any), and then show them how to enter the camera’s menu or function menu in search of other scene mode options.
  10. Now it’s time to delve deeper into the camera and explore its inner menu.  Patience is a definite must when heading into this territory.  Ask the person to follow along in their manual.  Bend pages to assist them in finding the references later on.  This is the time to introduce, that’s INTRODUCE (you don’t want them to run screaming into the night from information overload), evaluative metering, exposure compensation, bracketing, drive modes like burst, and the self-timer feature.  Then again, maybe your student is not ready to do any more delving.  And that’s okay.  As long as they are feeling a little more comfortable with their camera, your job is done.

Following this simple tutelage, Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt Marge or little sister Sarah, digital camera users of any age, will be able to use their digital camera with a new confidence.  The only fear left will be yours; you know the night will come when they invite you to view the 3,347 shots they took of their bus trip through Idaho.


Sheree Zielke

Got the Shakes? Tips for avoiding blur when using your digital camera.

Sunday, November 25th, 2007

Got the shakes? Don’t confuse out-of-focus blur with artistic blur when shooting with your digital camera.  Artistic blur can be quite pleasing especially when shooting action photos.  Panning while shooting sports or street scenes can yield some highly dramatic shots, but blur, due to a poorly focused camera, is not acceptable; it’s simply bad photography.

Tips for setting your camera under LOW LIGHT conditions!

Do you like shooting sunrises?  Sunsets?  In the bush shots?  Nighttime events?  Concert hall shots?  Due to the camera’s need to open the aperture and slow down the shutter speed, under low-light conditions, blur is unavoidable if you are hand-holding your camera.  Here are some tips to help you achieve better photos.

Tip #1: Get your camera out of your hand.  If you don’t have a tripod then “jam” your camera down onto something like a bean bag or a balloon filled with sand.   Set it on a fence railing or a flat rock, anything, just to get it out of your hand.  Then use your self-timer.  Select the option in your camera’s drive menu, focus your camera with a half push on the shutter button, and then a full push to activate the self-timer.  By the time your camera takes the picture, it will be perfectly still.

Tip #2: Hate carrying around that cumbersome metal tripod?  Try a mono-pod, or better still, a cool twistable tripod called a, “Gorillapod,” or a “Bottle Cap” tripod.   The Gorillapod is an ingenious device that allows a photographer to twist the bendable legs onto any surface, like a tree or fence post.  While it’s not strong enough to hold a very large camera with heavy battery pack, it is perfect for most other digital cameras.  The Bottle Cap tripod, on the other hand, uses a simple pop bottle as a stand.  Here’s a great review on both devices.

Tip #3: Change your ISO.  This is your digital camera’s “film” speed.  Of course, you don’t have any film, but this is the digital equivalent of old-fashioned film speeds.  Set your ISO to 50 or 100 in bright daylight, but opt for larger (faster) speeds like 400 or 800 in low-light conditions.

Tip #4: Slow down your camera’s shutter speed, after placing your camera on a tripod or a firm level surface.  Select “shutter priority” and then allow your camera to automatically set the camera’s aperture opening.

Tip #5: Open your camera’s aperture wider using a SMALLER F-stop number (remember the smaller the number, the wider the opening).  Opt for “aperture priority,” set your F-stop, and allow your camera to automatically set the shutter speed.

Tip #6: Choose one of your camera’s scene modes like sunset, or night scene which is normally represented by a crescent moon with a star icon.  The camera will set all the necessary parameters, but you must still jam the camera or set it on a tripod.


Modern day digital cameras are very clever with all their bells and whistles, but a photographer is still better off making some decisions on his or her own.  Remember the issue of digital lag?  The more the camera must decide, while in AUTO mode, the slower the camera’s response will be.

In addition, some things never change.  People shake!  No one can hand-hold a camera in low light, and expect in-focus shots.  A tripod was a must with film cameras and it is still a must for digital cameras.  And with the advent of clever devices like the Gorillapod and the Bottle Cap Tripod, there is no excuse not to have clear well-focused shots under lowlight conditions.

P.S. If you aren’t using another clever device called photo management software, you are missing the boat.  PicaJet will assist you in locating a specific digital photograph weeks, if not years later.  Give this award-winning software a try.

Sheree Zielke

Digital Camera MEGA Memory Card Tips

Friday, November 16th, 2007

Oh the JOY!  And the GRIEF!

Camcorder users must have memory cards with LARGE capacity memory storage.  But the average still digital camera user—does not!  And in fact, using a memory card with a storage capacity of over 1GB (gigabyte) is foolhardy. 


With Sony’s release of its mega memory 8 and 16 GB memory sticks for videographers, can mega memory cards be far behind for digital cameras that shoot still photographs?  Apparently not.  Other camera manufacturers are peppering the marketplace with bigger faster memory cards like the SanDisk 16GB CF Extreme III.  But my caution is to think before you leap up to these massive capacity memory cards.  Here’s why…



Digital camera memory cards come under a number of titles, with the most common being:  Compact Flash, xD Card, Memory Stick, SecureDigital, SmartMedia, and MicroDrive.  And while these miniature hard drives differ widely in name, most offer increasing memory capacity.  And that’s good news for professional photographers, but a nasty temptation for the average point and shooter.


It sounds like a magnificent idea, doesn’t it?  Plug in a massive memory card and then fire away.  Select a reasonable resolution and compression level in your camera, and the average Joe photographer could load thousands of images to a 2GB card.  But it’s not the memory card’s memory size that is a problem; it’s the card’s physical size.


This weekend, my grandkids haphazardly managed to lose my Nintendo DS Brain Age game card—it just disappeared.  I could hardly blame them because the darn thing is so tiny.  So are digital camera memory cards.  Some memory cards are so tiny you could pick your teeth with them.  So, what does the average photographer do when, towards the end of his vacation, he loses one of his tiny memory cards?  Cry? Hit something? Curse?  Probably all three.  But it doesn’t have to be that way. 


Keep your digital images safe—don’t put all your eggs in one basket!


1)                Buy several smaller memory cards (512, 1GB).  Split up your photographs so that if a card goes missing, you haven’t lost all your photos.  Hopefully, you haven’t lost the card with the prize-winning sunset shot.

2)                Don’t fill your MEGA (2GB, 8GB, 16GB) memory cards to capacity.  If you need the larger cards because you are saving some of your files in “raw,” fine, but share your digital images among several memory cards.  Use a memory card storage case, like the iPorter xSD or just a simple plastic storage box; turn over your used cards, inside the case, so you know they are “full.”  In an emergency, you could always grab one, and add a few more shots.

3)                Clean your camera’s memory cards every night.  Travel with your laptop, or a small external drive like a Wolverine.  I ensure I never lose my photos by loading all photos to my laptop’s hard drive, and a second set to my Wolverine.  I carry my laptop onto the plane; the Wolverine is packed in my checked luggage.  One way or the other, my digital images make it home.



4)                Re-format your memory cards (in your camera ONLY) once you have cleared them of photos.  Digital camera memory cards are tiny drives—their brains (bits and bytes) get addled just like a computer’s hard drive.  And like a computer, the cards need defragmenting (re-formatting) to keep them working properly.  Or, they will act up.  You’ll know you have card error when your digital images overlap each other.


As an average shooter, don’t be seduced by the mega memory cards—buy several cards with smaller memories instead, and a memory card storage case.  When one of your memory cards goes missing, you will breathe a sigh of relief because you still have the others.


And be sure to manage your photographs well—use a photo filing and indexing program like PicaJet to make your photographs easily accessible.




Sheree Zielke

2007 Digital Cameras: Face Detection Technology — Huh?

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007

You’ve barely mastered digital camera terms like “exposure compensation,” and now the genius designers have thrown a new term into the mix: Face Detection. Face detection? Are today’s digital cameras now smart enough to tell a human face from a pumpkin, or a balloon? Really? Yes, really.

Taking people photos with your digital camera can be very challenging because your digital camera likes to guesstimate what you want in focus, and then “average” ambient light readings, resulting in poorly focused and incorrectly exposed images. You probably have many shots sitting in your computer files, where the red tulips in the background are in focus, but your pretty blonde niece is all blurry. Or you’ve taken a picture of three children; one is perfectly in focus, while the camera has blurred the other two kids. It happens all the time. And it’s frustrating.

So, the digital camera industry has come up with a smart way for the 2007 digital cameras to fix this problem. Newer cameras can now determine, in a potential photo, not just a single face but up to several faces (some cameras can identify as many as 10 faces). This new face detection technology is also called, “Face Recognition,” or “Face Priority Mode.”

It’s a simple matter of turning on the face detection function in your camera, and then letting the camera use its own complicated mathematical formula to figure out the rest. According to 40–year veteran camera reviewer, Jason Schneider, the technology is so sophisticated the new cameras can tell the difference between human and animal faces. “They will not focus on dog, cat, and cow faces,” he writes. For an in-depth overview of the 2007 digital camera face detection technology, visit Jason Schneider’s review.

Now that you can improve your people shots, you’ll probably have a lot more images worth storing on your computer drive. Be sure to have a cataloguing system like the PicaJet FX photo organizer to ensure a quick and easy search when you want to show off those great photos.

The new face detection technology is currently limited to point-and-shoot digital camera models, so don’t look for it on the SLR digital cameras. At least not yet.