Your camera is as good as my camera

Many times on assignment, someone will come up to me and say, “Wow, nice camera. I only have this (insert brand), but if I had that one, it could take really great pictures.” I know the other Omaha World-Herald photographers have this happen to them.

Sunset using the camera on its widest view and the "landscape" setting. I broke the rule of thirds but like the two-halves view.

My answer is always that people can make good pictures with whatever camera they have in their hands. Granted, if you want to take action photos that look like The World-Herald’s Nebraska football coverage, big lenses with “fast glass” and a fast motor drive help. But, for most of the photos a person takes, any camera can do the job.

A person just needs to use what’s behind the camera. Meaning, a person needs to learn how to take good photos before they pick up a camera.

Again, a 28mm view. The people at left give the photo more "layers." One caveat: Most point-and-shoots have a minimum focusing distance, and if you're too close to your subject, it will be out-of-focus and you'll never know until you edit the photo. This photo is just on the edge of that minimum.

My personal camera is an old Panasonic Lumix that has the equivalent of a 28mm wide-angle lens. I bought it just because of the wider lens. I like this field of view because it gets me close to my subjects and still includes a lot of the scene surrounding them.

My camera doesn't focus well on moving objects, so I made sure I was focused on a spot on the ground and let the boy run into the prefocused area. I also know there is some shutter lag, so I made sure to anticipate the movement.

And, I know what my camera can and can’t do.

So take some time to learn your camera’s functions and limitations, and use it to the best of its abilities. And, when you see a photo you really like, examine the details such as the framing, lighting or depth of field to get an idea how the it was made.

One of my favorite photo “how-to” books is an old 1988 “National Geographic Photographer’s Field Guide” by Albert Moldvay (ISBN 0-87044-754-8.) It still can be found online. It fits in your back pocket and contains great tips for shooting, candids, landscape, nature scenes and many other kinds of photos. And, for the old timers, there’s even information on loading a film camera in case you’ve forgotten.

This time I used the longest focal length possible and simply stood still, letting the red-breasted nuthatch move into the frame. I used the action setting on the camera.

Jeff Beiermann

About Jeff Beiermann

I'm from Clarkson, Neb., a small farming town 100 miles northwest of Omaha, where I started my first career at a OW-H as a paperboy. I'm a 1984 graduate of Midland Lutheran College, and my first job was as a staff photographer at the Fremont Tribune. I left the paper after five years to freelance for The Associated Press in Omaha, and on Jan. 1, 1994, I joined the Omaha World-Herald. I am married to Julie Anderson, a World-Herald reporter, and we have two boys. I love to take nature and scenic photos and, like most of the staff, anything that gets us out into the state. One of the most interesting facets of being a photojournalist is watching history unfold. It's also one of the most challenging aspects, as it's important to be an observer only and record what is happening, most times in split seconds. 
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  1. Alexis says:

    I love your pictures! Especially the picture you took in this album of the little boy close up in the lake! It captures an awesome moment!
    Im leaving this comment for my photo journalism class at Millard South High School.

  2. Alena says:

    I was doing a class assignment for Millard South HIgh and i really love your pictures, like the sunset one and the close up of the boy. i think they are good