Matt Thompson's Photography Gallery

Maximizing the Life of Your Camera Battery

Digital photography has opened up a world of possibilities for the amateur camera user, but one of the main benefits is surprisingly mundane: the rechargeable camera battery which comes as standard with many gadgets. Compare these new power packs with the infuriatingly weak batteries used in many old 35mm compact cameras - expensive and only sold in specialist stores. No contest!

However, whilst it's easy enough to get your camera up and running again, there are ways to ensure your rechargeable camera battery not only keeps going for longer between charges, but also has a long life span.

Right from the start it is wisest to follow the instructions given. In particular, when you first charge the battery it is vital that you leave it charging for the specified time. It's hard to be patient when you have a new gadget that you're longing to use. But sit tight and let it charge for the correct amount of time. This initial charge can act as a catalyst in switching on the battery's power - leave it for less and you could end up with a shorter battery life.

However, don't worry about the old 'battery memory' chestnut. It wasn't a myth, but it only applied to the old rechargeable Nickel-Cadmium (or Ni-Cad) batteries which suffered from crystal formation during charging and use. The crystals eventually block the battery from charging or discharging, but this is not an issue with the Lithium batteries that come as standard in cameras these days.

The old advice was to fully discharge your battery before charging, but that doesn't apply to the Lithium battery. In fact, charging little and often is a good idea. This may not mean putting it on charge every day (unless you use your camera daily), but don't wait until your camera dies mid-shot before you think about it. Not only will you probably lose the shot you just took, but you'll also be stuck without a useable camera until you've given it a good 8 hours of charge at home.

Remember that shooting video uses up more power (and memory) than still photography, so if you're about to film a special event ensure your power is topped up and your memory is high.

If you find your camera frequently runs out of juice, you might want to tweak the settings. Simple changes like ensuring the power-save mode is switched on can make a big difference. Powering the display screen takes a lot of energy. You can save power by having a short image preview, cutting the time you spend scrolling through images and not replaying videos. The settings to make these changes should be easy to find in your camera's menu, and if not, dig out the manual.

If you've got a duff battery - and it happens even with the best of brands - replacements can be purchased in photography shops or from online stores. There's no need to discard a good camera simply because the battery is not offering you maximum use. Many reputable photography suppliers can even offer you reliable compatible camera batteries at a fraction of the cost of the original item. Many people find they get more use out of the compatible than they did from the original, and they can be a great power back up!

Who knows what camera manufacturers are up to with that one - maybe they hope you'll upgrade your camera when the battery dies. Maybe they pour all their research money into the cameras themselves and neglect the power pack.

If your battery is letting you down or you think you may have neglected it, there's no need to get rid of the camera. Just make sure you look after your new battery to get good value for your money.

When you need more information on camera batteries, visit We carry a massive range of kit for the amateur and professional photographer, including all the big names plus our own range of high quality low priced equipment. We pride ourselves on offering the best deals out there on batteries, memory cards and more

Enhanced Photography and Digital Enhancement

Photographic enhancements which at one time were only available to professional photographers, is now available to everyone. There is so much you can do with your photos now; it's almost like creating new photos.

What is enhanced photography?

Enhanced photography includes what used to be called "touch ups" but also can involve a lot more. It is taking a picture, using special software, and enhancing the lighting, color, focus, and effect of a photo. For instance, you have a picture of a beautiful house, but it is dark in the picture, and there are no lights on in or around the house. With digital enhancement, you can change that. You can transform it into a house with the lights ON. You can also dilute and contort the color schemes of a picture.

Why use digital enhancement?

Many people have taken photo enhancing to a new degree. For many it is a form of art. Much like an abstract painter, the photographic enhancer takes something that is real, his picture, and puts his own slant on it. By distorting colors, adding lights, and doing some touch ups, a new creation has emerged!

There are many effects which can be achieved by digital photographic enhancement. For instance, you can take a regular picture of your house, and with software, create and eerie fog and glow around your house. This effect is perfect for showing off your "haunted house!" People also enjoy color distorting. It puts a new slant on pictures, and sometimes transforms them into works of art, suitable for framing.

Until you start playing with the software, you never know what incredible things you can do with your photos. Some online sites offer some of the enhancement features, and there is software you can download. Most downloadable software has a free trial so you can try out the features. If you find you like it, you can purchase it. There are also some new, totally free software sites, but not much is known about them yet.

Technology is making things possible that even 10 years ago would have been deemed impossible. This doesn't show any signs of slowing down. I would encourage anyone to at least try photo enhancement, if you like photography. Sometimes, all your picture is lacking is that stream of sunlight through the trees, or a blurred effect to that sunset. These effects are possible with digital enhancement.

If you have not the patience or ambition to try it yourself, there are many professionals who can beautifully enhance your pictures. Since it's up and coming, more and more photographers are employing it into their practice. Where they used to just "touch up" someone's skin tone, they can now practically totally redo the picture! Do you think your little girl is an angel, and want a picture of her with an angelic light illuminating her? It can be done. Photography offers so much for everyone now, and even the beginners can start learning tricks like the pros!

MJ Johnston writes for a variety of websites, including Hoorray, a photo sharing site that offers the quickest and easiest way to create a free online photo album.

Cheap Digital Camera Bag - How to Make Your Own
By James Wannop

Many photographers do not like traditional camera bags. More often than not they tend to be uncomfortable to carry, oddly shaped (big square bags) and pretty much useless for anything apart from carrying your camera and accessories.

In addition dedicated camera bags are not very conspicuous and are often seen as an invitation to rob as they tend to say to other that you are carrying potentially thousands of dollars worth of camera kit with you.

The home made solution

I have found a great way to make a comfortable, durable and cheap camera bag that is also great to use for non photography kit. This makes it the ideal choice to use as a travel bag or an everyday bag for the gym etc but you want the option of taking your camera and lenses with you.

The best part about this solution is that you can easily access the bag (say to change a lens without taking the bag off, unlike pretty much every dedicated camera bag out there).

First you need to take a bicycle courier bag. These bags, and the particular brand I use is renowned for being durable. They are designed to be tough as hell as bike couriers are not renowned for their delicateness. In addition they are water proof and ease of access thanks to a big Velcro flap and twin buckles which provides the ease of access.

Next I add some camera bag inserts. You simply choose which combination of inserts to add depending on your kit/requirements and pop them in an out of the bag as and when you need them.

The flexibility of this systems is great because you can mix and match meaning carrying you camera gear plus travel documents, laptop or even you gym kit is not a problem.

Just follow this link to see exactly which bag I used along some pictures of my homemade camera bag.

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