Landscape aperture warning

For getting a small depth of field, you would use an aperture of f/3.5. For a landscape, you want the foreground and also the background is focus so you would use a number like f/9 or f/11. Those numbers are usually the sweet spot of zoom lenses, where they reach peak sharpness.

I read a source that explains that going beyond f/13 on cropped-sensor lenses (or beyond f/16 on full-frame lenses), the loss of overall images sharpness deteriorates (diffraction blur) and thus is probably not worth the greater depth of field gained. You can have virtually everything in your photo sharp at f/22, but throughout the image there will be a lack of sharpness (especially zoomed to 100%).

Example photos on a website: Diffraction with Small Apertures


How many photos has your camera ever taken?

Drag a photo to program into the Opanda IExif software and scroll to the end of the data, to see Total Number of Shutter Releases for Camera.

After a year with my camera, I’ve taken 100 000 photos, or on average 270 photo a day. Some days it’s between 0 and 100. At an event it can be 200. At concerts of 3 bands anywhere from 300 to 1000.

My busiest days:

  • 1600 photos across 3 live bands, photos at 10MB each which filled my 16GB card (the photos were RAW 12 megapixels photos).
  • 900 photos of a one-man band
  • 2000 photos across 11 hours, hired for the Spring Tide 2010 beach event. I narrowed it down to the best 1000.
  • I went to 3 events across a few days without emptying my card at home as usual. It added up to 2700 photos (mostly JPG) and space for 300 more.

The software usually only works with an unedited JPG photo, from a DSLR camera.

How to choose your first DSLR camera

DSLR – Digital Single Lens Reflex

Some early cameras had to lenses, one to look through and one to take pictures. They are still around today. The reflex part is about having a mirror that flips or springs up when you take a photo, to expose the sensor. Compact cameras are usually mirrorless.

I can recommend as a start for looking at reviews.

Worldwide sales 41% Canon 40% Nikon. Nikon outsells Canon in Japan (they are both based in Japan). If you compare two models at the same price, picture quality and features are very similar and pros an cons even out . More Megapixels doesn’t make a better camera, just a new camera with bigger prints. Fast focusing and a fast burst rate (4 frames per second over 3 fames per second) would be better for sport. Consider the weight, feel and differences in features.

Personally I like Nikon for the bigger APS sensor (therefore less noise and more light) while Canons have a smaller APS-C sensor (slightly more zoomed in for sport etc) and although Canons are  known for HD video , newer Nikons have full HD video with autofocus. The high end Canon 5D II and 7D have full HD video but still lack autofocus.

I would suggest the new D3100 which is a slight upgrade to the D3000, so it will probably have improvements on the older Canon 1000d as well. If you have the budget or could wait to save more, I would reccommend a slightly more expensive camera like the Canon 450d or the Nikon D5000. Otherwise you could easily outgrow your entry level DSLR soon into its 3 or 4 year lifespan, and have a harder time getting good quality photos, especially if you start working as a photographer part time.

Instead of a getting a combo of 18-55mm and 55-200mm or something similar, I would also suggest a 18-105mm or a 18-135mm or even a 18-200mm lens. Those have a wide range so you don’t have to change lenses often.

Nikon and Canon both have large variety of inexpensive to professional lenses. Also in general it is a good idea to buy a Sigma or Tamron lens made for a Canon or Nikon, which is good quality but cheaper than a Canon or Nikon lens.

Read about the camera equipment on my other blog’s page: Michael Currin Photography – About.

Should You Study Photography?

When taking photos of people at parties or gigs they often ask

  • “So, did you study photography?”
  • “When did you start as a photographer?”
  • “Are you a professional?”

They are usually surprised when I say something like “No, actually I am studying Marketing at UCT. I have taught myself photography through experience and absorbing every source of information I can. I only became serious a year ago with a new camera or two, after I had already started Marketing but I don’t wish I had studied photography. No I am not a professional, but I am able to earn a bit as extra income.”

I’ve heard it is quite possible to get really good in art without having studied it. I think to earn some income you need marketing and networking skills to get yourself known out there. To earn better and to become well-known, you have to differentiate yourself. There’s a quote like “Don’t compete unless you have a competitive advantage”.

I work as a photographer for bands (Captain Stu, Irvine, photographer for Big Concerts), parties and my university’s publications (UCT Varisty mag, UCT RAG Sax Appeal 2011, UCT Ikey Rugby magzine). I am not desperate to take any job, I have the spare time to choose the ones I want and focus more on what I enjoy even if I don’t get paid (like going to gigs and doing model location shoots for friends).


"A Light Lunch", Simon's Town

I would recommend studying photography to someone if that’s what they really want to do and if they have at least a few months experience with a camera to see if they like it. But U think you still need the talent and drive to work hard, to match their inspiration to become a successful photographer. If you think “I’ve never owned a a camera but photography sounds like a nice job” or if a friend tells you “wow you should become a photographer!”, I don’t think those are solid reasons to choose that career path. I’ve heard photographers don’t make that much money – I am rather choosing to have a business career when I finish studying and I can take photos when I like and I can hopefully afford to pay for decent equipment.

I’ve looked into studying photography in Cape Town, but the courses are a lot of things I don’t really want to learn (such as developing film in a dark room or studio lighting techniques) or things I have already taught myself. I pick up a lot through experience, by being conscious of applying and inventing techniques in various situations of taking pictures. I analyse my photo and style and look at the photos of others to get ideas and to find the inspiration to go out and be original and amazing.

You can of course Google “sports photography” or “what is aperture?” and the popular pages will be ranked at the top of your search, but a great starting pointing to find out what is out there to know and a source of beginner to advanced free online lessons, is to use . I talk to other photographers in person or on an online artist community such as .


Captain Stu at Kirstenbosch Silvertree restaurant

Places in Cape Town

  • I know a friend who is enjoying studying photography at Ruth Prowse.
  • I’ve heard about the Cape Town School of Photography. You can do a 9 week workshop with lectures on a subject by signing up with
  • offers photography as a year course and has part time courses for periods like 6 to 18 weeks on topics like an introduction, studio photography, black and white….

I almost always carry my camera with me and I quickly adapt to new settings and ideas when faced with photographic opportunities. I often take photos of bands, parties, events, models, crowds, sports, landscapes, insects, birds and textures such as wood or metal. You can contact me on for specific advice on camera equipment, settings, technique and so on.


Captain Stu

Captain Stu band shoot in Woodstock

I can also recommend reading a photography lesson on this blog for understanding camera settings relating to a DSLR.

Beyond the common “compact” or “point and shoot” cameras, if you are serious you should get at an entry-levelNikon or Canon “DSLR” or “Digital Single Reflex Camera” at R5000 in South Africa, but since it lasts at least 3 years it might be worth spending a few thousand rands more. The main attraction for DSLRS other than quality is that the lenses are removable so you can add more expensive or longer ones, etc.

There is also a new range of larger high end compact cameras still cheaper than DSLRs but they have 10 to 18 times zoom, though they have built in lenses but can’t have an external flash mounted.


Books I recommend

  • The Digital Photography Book boxed set by Scott Kelby (3 books)
  • How to Make Money from Digital Photography by Dan Heller (one of the opening pages says turning photography into income is a great way to ruin a passion or hobby)
  • Digital Photography Masterclass by Tom Ang


The photography magazines out there have a mix of beginner to advance techniques. Some of their articles are quite obvious – or maybe you haven’t heard of the technique before but there are free lessons all over the internet explaining it. The Canon magazine reviews only Canon cameras, but the articles on taking and editing photos are easy to read for a Nikon user like myself. The Black and White Photography magazine or a title like that, has some breathtaking landscapes and portraits. It shows you what black and white photos can look like with purple, brown, orange tints etc.

Photography Facts

The first Kodak camera was unveiled in 1888 and Kodak was the first to invent a digital camera in 1976. (Armstrong & Kotler, Princples of Marketing, 2008)

Nikon was founded in 1917 as Nippon Kōgaku Kōgyō Kabushikigaisha which means Japan Optical Industries Corporation.

Canon was founded in Tokyo in 1937.

In 2007, DSLR sales worldwide were divided between Canon (41%), Nikon (40%), Olympus (6%) and Sony (6%). In Japan’s domestic market, Nikon had 43% and Canon 40%.

Although very difficult to measure in camera terms, the aperture of the human eye is about f/2 to f/8, with a focal length of around 24mm.