When you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with

Occasionally I’ll be asked what’s the best camera. Is it a DSLR, superior to a point-and-shoot camera or smartphone? The answer is: it’s whatever you happen to have with you at the time.

It may sound a bit flippant, but if all you have is one type of camera and not the other, you don;’t want to miss the shot just because you’re pining away for something else.

(5/18/19)
People experience the interactive projections by artist Akiko Yamashita in the main gallery at Artechouse in Washington D.C. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD]

Case in point. Last month my family and I traveled to Washington D.C. to see my daughter receive her Masters degree. The ceremony was held at the base of the Washington Monument and I wanted to capture it with my DSLR (Digital Single-Lens Reflex) camera. With it, I could use a telephoto lens so that I could pick out my daughter out of the thousands of other graduates.

(5/18/19]
People experience the interactive projections by artist Akiko Yamashita in the main gallery at Artechouse in Washington D.C. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD]

We planned to arrive a few days early and stay a few days after to do some sightseeing. I had thought I had charged up the camera’s battery, but it showed less that 25% power (I think I may have left it on in the camera bag which may have allowed the power to drain). Wanting to use it during my daughter’s ceremonies (of which, there were 2), I left it in the hotel room during our other outings. What did use instead? My smartphone.

(5/18/19]
A visitor moves the interactive projections by artist Akiko Yamashita using hand gestures in the main gallery at Artechouse in Washington D.C. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD]

First we visited the Artechouse gallery in D.C. It’s an art installation that’s dedicated to art that technologically-based. In its main exhibit several projectors beam scenes of floating flowers against blank walls in a large room. People can move the flowers through hand/arm gestures picked by by sensors near the base of each wall. They be sent soaring across one way to another, spin in place or just hover in place. The exhibit’s polished floors reflected the images on the walls, doubling the visual experience. I kicked myself for not bringing my DLSR, but I was able to capture the experience with the only thing I had, my Apple iPhone. There were a few things that I couldn’t do with the phone that I could with a DSLR, namely to fine tune the exposure, but I concentrated on what it could do.

(5/18/19]
A visitor moves the interactive projections by artist Akiko Yamashita using hand gestures in the main gallery at Artechouse in Washington D.C. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD]

The phone was good at recording the overall scene’s colors and silhouettes of the visitors. My phone’s aperture is set and unchanging. The camera determines the exposure by changing the shutter speed and/or ISO (light sensitivity). In low light situations such, as the gallery, I knew that the camera would probably use a slow shutter, so I concentrated on holding it as still as possible to avoid camera shake. I tried to take pictures when the people stopped moving to lessen the possibility of blur in them.

(5/18/19]
The Washington National Cathedral in Washington D.C. looks centuries old with it’s gothic architecture but was built in the 20th century. Work began in 1907 and only was completed in 1990. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD]

Later on we visited the National Cathedral. In photographing the exterior I concentrated on using sound techniques that would with a DSLR. I used things in the foreground, such as trees and windows to help frame the gothic cathedral.

(5/18/19]
The Washington National Cathedral in Washington D.C. looks centuries old with it’s gothic architecture but was built in the 20th century. Work began in 1907 and only was completed in 1990. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD]

I tried to emphasize to capture the strong angles and solidity of the building. And got in as close as I could to photograph the details of the architecture. Inside, I tried to capture the moody subtly of the filtered light as well as the solemn grandeur of its grand vaulted ceilings.

(5/18/19]
Light through stained glass windows filters onto an altar in the interior of the Washington National Cathedral in Washington D.C. Although the cathedral looks centuries old with it’s gothic architecture, it was built in the 20th century. Work began in 1907 and only was completed in 1990. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD]

All in all, I liked the photos that I shot with the phone. Could I have done better with my DSLR? Perhaps, but I surely would have run down the battery and would not have been able to use a telephoto lens to photograph by daughter’s graduation ceremonies.

20190518
Light through stained glass windows filters into the interior of the Washington National Cathedral in Washington D.C. Although the cathedral looks centuries old with it’s gothic architecture, it was built in the 20th century. Work began in 1907 and only was completed in 1990. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD]


(5/18/19]
The Washington National Cathedral in Washington D.C. looks centuries old with it’s gothic architecture but was built in the 20th century. Work began in 1907 and only was completed in 1990. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD]

Today’s smartphone cameras are so advanced that they can rival bigger imaging devices such as the DSLR and one could make some great pictures with them. So why should one learn how to use a “higher” level camera? Every camera has its advantages and limits. And learning about a DSLR can also help you to learn basic principals of photography itself and use your smartphone to it’s best advantage. It’s like learning how to drive. One could just drive an automatic transmission. But if you also learn how to use a manual transmission you can drive both without missing a beat.

(5/18/19]
Arched doorways grace the interior of the Washington National Cathedral in Washington D.C. Although the cathedral looks centuries old with it’s gothic architecture, it was built in the 20th century. Work began in 1907 and only was completed in 1990. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD]

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