Camera Obscura

This is a story of two cameras... So if I'm going to be a half decent travel blogger, I need to take good photographs, right? As a self-confessed terrible photographer for many years (my mother refers to most of my photos as "tonsil shots") I took the bold decision some time ago to try change this and so in recent weeks I have been spending more time and effort in getting a shot right, in learning what things like "ISO" and "aperture" mean and how they change a photo.

However I still made the potential rookie mistake of thinking that if I had an all singing and all dancing camera that would give me instant knowledge and, more ashamedly, recognition. I've since learnt that this isn't the case. The basics of photography apply to any camera and indeed the benefits and best shots may not come out of the "best" camera. And now I will take you on the visual journey.

Here's where the story begins...

Over dinner with one of my brothers and my parents the other day I mentioned that I have been researching and looking into bridge cameras. My brother has one so I grilled him on the benefits and drawbacks. Twenty-four hours later he returned to my parents house where I'm staying for the weekend, with his Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ100 in hand and he suggested I borrowed it for a day or so to see if this technical level of camera is one I am comfortable with. As I've read on many a forum and on Jessops website, "playing" with the cameras is the best way to determine if it's the one for you.

Here's what follows...

Numerous shots of random inanimate objects and views, testing out the action settings and marvelling at the close-up and zoom capabilities followed. Yet even after a number of hours I've only really tested a small fraction of the camera's ability. The following day NewMan joined us for Sunday lunch and I showed off my new toy. Although he was smiling he was unusually polite and quiet. Later when alone he explained that he thinks that buying and then taking a camera like this travelling could be "an unnecessary risk". He admits it's a brilliant camera but says he is worried about us transporting one around as we travel as it's a bulky, heavy and of course would be one more thing which could get lost or stolen. God I hate it when he's so boring practical!

"But look at all the pretty photos I've taken..." I shoved the LCD display in front of his nose. He smiled and nodded but then adopted a sly look; the same one that tells me when he's had a brilliant idea or when he's seen the desert selection on a restaurant menu.

"How about we see who takes the best photographs between that camera and my phone?"

"Your phone?"


Now you may think this is sheer madness but NewMan's phone an iPhone 3G it ain't. He owns (and virtually glorifies on a daily basis) the Samsung S II and I knew it was capable of taking beautiful photographs as well as shooting in 1080p.

Rarely one to turn down any kind of challenge and with an abundance of natural sunlight all around us we started snapping and here are the photographs that are going head to head (without any Photoshop-ing or Autocorrect-ing). What do you think? Can you tell the difference between A and B? And which do you prefer? (I will reveal whose are whose in due course.)

Here's where Bird loses disgracefully...

I effectively lost the competition single handedly at the review stage when I looked at one clean, crisp, clear photo uploaded on NewMan's computer exclaiming "Oh wow! You have to admit that photo is awesome. My camera wins!". NewMan adopted that same "desert menu" look and replied smugly "Er Birdie, that's one of my photos...". I had to promptly shut up, man up and name him the winner.

Deep down I know there's actually very little in it and to give you some context, I was very much the "all the gear, no idea" competitor, while NewMan has wasted  spent many an hour/day/week fine-tuning how to get the most out of his phone's camera so I am optimistic that after a couple of weeks practice and familiarisation, my photos from a decent bridge camera will do the equipment and subjects justice. Not one to stay stubborn in his opinion much  NewMan has since conceded that the camera has considerable ability and will certainly help me achieve my goal of taking better photographs, documenting our adventures and learning more about photography. It's just up to me to add it on our insurance and look after it at all times.

Here's where there is a happy ending and a new blog feature is born!

Following on from this embarrassment, my bruised ego was soothed when my kind brother offered his very own camera to me to borrow for the duration of our travels. I accepted without a second thought; thank you Bro!

NewMan and I have also discussed playing this game again on the blog to see if you my lovely readers can tell the difference between those taken on his phone and those taken on my Panny. Remember, there's no shame if you can't; I couldn't!

Frances M. Thompson

Londoner turned wanderer, Frankie is an author, freelance writer and blogger. Currently based in Amsterdam, Frankie was nomadic for two years before starting a family with her Australian partner. Frankie is the author of three short story collections, and is a freelance writer for travel and creative brands. In 2017, she launched WriteNOW Cards, affirmation cards for writers that help build a productive and positive writing practice. When not writing contemporary fiction, Frankie shops for vintage clothes, dances to 70s disco music and chases her two young sons around Amsterdam.
Find Frankie on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google+.

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