From Point-and-shoot to Digital slr

I have loved photography since childhood.

film cameraS

Kodak Ektra with Sylvana flipflash mounted

Somewhere around 1980, I was given a Kodak Ektra 100 (or 200) point-and-shoot (or something like that), which took 110 film cartridges, as a birthday present. It was small, with a wrist strap, and I took it everywhere. However, I was always frustrated by the images I got in those days. I didn’t know about composition, or framing of subjects, or what film to use for what conditions. And my little Kodak with its flip-down handle had no dials where I could adjust the exposure to get different effects.

I sometimes saved up my pocket money to buy a flashbulb attachment that fitted into a little socket ontop of the camera. It was a long rectangular thing with 10 bulbs, arranged in a zigzag pattern, that you could use for flash photography. Each bulb only fired once – and blindingly so – which meant that you had to choose your moment carefully. It was called a flipflash, because you fired 5 bulbs the one way, and then had to turn it over to fire the other 5 bulbs. (Image found here)

Various film cameras later (one of them a Vivitar), I went digital.


Going Digital

Olympus C-1 Zoom

Olympus C1 Zoom (launched in 2001)

My (our) first digital camera in 2002 was a small point-and-shoot: the Olympus C-1 Zoom, (it was also called the Olympus D-150Z).

Technically, when I say ‘I’, it was actually bought by hubby, although I soon claimed ownership. 😉

Its most exciting feature was that it had a 3 x optical zoom (woop-woop!); it also had a handy little pop-up flash, and the lens retracted very elegantly into the slick shiny body of the camera. It was slim, very lightweight, and easy to use, with an LCD screen on the back so you could review your images. This was definitely an improvement from the film cameras I’d used so far, where you had to wait several days/a week to get your prints! (Image found here).


Canon PowerShot A75

Canon Powershot A75 (launched in 2004)

When the Olympus ‘died’ sometime in 2004, it was replaced by the Canon Powershot A75, which was also a small point-and-shoot cameras that you could tuck into your pocket with ease.

Technology had improved significantly by then, as you can see from the review of this lovely little camera (Image and review found here). It offered full-auto as well as full-manual exposure, shutter-speed and aperture priority, as well as numerous presets – including a short (15 second) movie mode! It also had a pop-up flash, and a 3.2 digital zoom, as well as 3.2 megapixel resolution (2048×1536 pixels), which was quite something at the time!

Unfortunately, it too died, because the little zoom lens didn’t survive an impact – one probably shouldn’t try to take photos with one hand while cycling!


Canon PowerShot S3 IS

Canon Powershot S3 IS (launched in 2006)

In November 2006, a generous colleague gifted us with a Canon Powershot S3 IS. It was a bulky 6 megapixel hybrid or bridge camera, with an impressive 12x optical zoom, and I absolutely loved it. Suddenly, the world of photography opened up to me.

It had full auto, full manual, shutter-speed and aperture priority modes, as well as numerous presets, and its image stabilisation was excellent (and very necessary at the longer range of the zoom). It also recorded really nice video, with stereo sound. It had an articulating LCD screen, which was brilliant for low-angle or high-angle shots. (Image and review found here).

I used it for several years, until it too died. What is it with cameras?! Although I eventually located a camera repair shop in Tamboerskloof, the repairs would have cost more than a new camera. Sigh.


APS-C and full-frame

Canon EOS 550D

Canon EOS 550D (also known as the Rebel T2i)

Towards the end of 2010, after becoming involved with the Defence Reserves in the Western Cape and being granted behind-the-scenes access to the Cape Town Military Tattoo at the Castle of Good Hope, I finally made the leap from my hybrid camera to a digital single lens reflex, by purchasing a Canon EOS 550D with two kit lenses, an 18-55mm wide-angle zoom and a 55-250mm telephoto zoom. (Image found here).

I used it until July 2017, when I traded it in to partly pay for the replacement of the shutter on my Canon 70D, which I had (incredibly) worn out (!).


Canon EOS 70D, 80D and 6D

Over the years, I slowly, slowly, step by step upgraded my gear. My favourite camera shop is definitely Orms in Roeland Square!

My current go-to gear is (from left to right):

  • a Canon EOS 6D with either the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM or the Tamron 24-70mm F2.8 DI VC USD G2
  • a Canon EOS 80D with the Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 L IS USM
  • a Canon EOS 70D with the Canon EF-S 18-135mm IS USM Nano.

I also sometimes use the Canon EF-S 10-22 f/3.5-f/4.5 USM for wide-angle situations, and the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM when I don’t feel like carrying much bulk and am feeling artistic!

My current gear: the Canon 6D, 80D and 70D

The particular configuration depends on the requirements of the particular shoot – and how much extra weight I am willing to carry with me!

Sometime in 2018, I had enough of the uncomfortable standard Canon camera straps. I was often carrying two bodies with two heavy lenses, with the straps across my body, and invariably got entangled when switching rapidly from one to the other. And my neck and upper shoulders were complaining all the time.

So, after much debate and internet research, I bought a BlackRapid Hybrid Breathe (single) and, because it felt so comfortable, a few months later a Hybrid Breathe (double) strap. When I wear the double strap, I feel a bit foolish, because I look like a gunslinger from the Old Wild West who’s about to march into the saloon to sort out the bad guys. But I don’t care, because the more balanced weight distribution has made a huge difference to my back and neck!

It’s amazing how much gear one accumulates over time – from small items like rechargeable batteries, SD memory cards and card readers, to hot-shoe flashes, camera backpacks and tripods.


A learning experience

The Canon Powershot S3 IS opened the door for me, because it encouraged me to adjust the exposure manually rather than relying only on Auto or Scene mode. As I was clueless about how this all worked, I attended a couple of digital photography courses in a quest to learn about aperture, shutter speed, ISO, focal length, depth of field, composition, and all those interesting and mysterious aspects of photography!

The courses included:

  • Photography for Beginners with André Claassen (2009), who partners with his wife Selma to produce exquisitely beautiful wedding portraits. Go and have a look at their website, Expressions Photography.
  • An Introduction to Digital Photography (2009) and an Intermediate Digital Photography course (2011) by Ian Walton and his wife Shélagh, who too make a wonderful husband-and-wife photography team. Do hop on over to their website, African Light Photography.
  • Several online photography courses from UK-based Mike Browne, who must be one of the most down-to-earth, likeable, unpretentious photography teachers in the world. There are loads of helpful, informative and free video clips about every conceivable aspect of photography available on his website, in addition to several courses for download. If you are looking for a great teacher, who explains complex things in easy-to-understand non-jargon terms, do check him out.
  • His e-Books on Beginners’ Photography, Wedding Photography and Lenses, are filled with practical hints.
  • I can also highly recommend the 7 Building Blocks of Photography and the 7 Steps to Workflow Mastery in Lightroom. Even though I have not yet finished all of the lessons, I can tell you that they are brilliant.


a passion for Photography

I love taking photographs at events, which have included birthday celebrations, concerts, military parades, memorial services and functions, and even a couple of weddings. 

The events that most stand out for me were the Cape Town Military Tattoos of 2010 to 2015, and the recent South African Tattoo of 2018 in Pretoria; at all of these, I was granted behind-the-scenes access, which was awesome!

I also took photographs at several of the annual Western Province Youth Marching Drill Festivals: Vygieskraal Stadium in Athlone in 2011, 2013 and 2017, at Florida Park in Ravensmead in 2012, and at Goodwod Rugby Stadium in 2018. It was inspiring to see the youngsters of several impoverished areas of the Cape Flats performing marching drill routines with such pride, confidence and teamwork.

My blog titled Memories of the Cape Town Military Tattoo is becoming the new online home of all my writings and photographs taken at the Cape Town Military Tattoo from 2007 to 2015. It is a work in progress; the last years have been so busy, that I have not done much work on it. In 2019 that is going to change! I am also in the process of moving it off and onto a self-hosted site.

I was ‘official photographer’ at the Working Cart Horse Show on Heritage Day in 2012 and 2013, an event organised by the Cart Horse Protection Association of the Western Cape as a competition for cart horse owners and drivers that is intended to motivate them to look after their horses better. I also took photographs for their 2013 Calendar, and in 2015, took photos of the cart horses that had been confiscated or retired, and that were thus up for adoption at the CHPA’s Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre out in Firlands Equestrian Estate on the outskirts of the Strand.

In addition, I love photographing children and pets, both of which are very entertaining (though sometimes challenging) subjects.

In 2014, I completed a 365-day Photography Challenge, which I tracked on my blog:

I frequently combine my twin passions for photography and writing by taking photographs at events, on hikes, and on trips, and writing about my experiences afterwards. You can find many of my photographs on my various WordPress blogs, which are listed below: