By Eric Stark
Idahoans are luckier than most in having bountiful fish and wildlife and a variety of hunting and fishing seasons. There is one season that never ends for Idaho's outdoor enthusiasts,however, and that is photography season.
Whether capturing the breath of a bugling bull elk, the snow-capped peaks of the Seven Devils, or the morning dew on a huckleberry, the click of the shutter can be every bit as rewarding as firing your rifle or setting the hook.
With today's technology, it is easier than ever to capture great images of your hunting and fishing experiences or whatever you enjoy the most in Idaho's outdoors. Today's digital cameras allow you to capture many more photos without having to haul around bulky lenses and several rolls of film. And you don't have to worry about getting that perfect shot because if you don't like the result you can always delete it. In addition, many digital cameras are very small and light, yet surprisingly versatile, so you can easily bring your camera along on any outdoor adventure without loading yourself down.
Depending on your interests and outdoor hobbies, there's a camera to fit your needs. Point-and-shoot cameras are small and compact with a built-in lens, flash, automatic exposure and focus. The cameras are the least expensive and are great for snapshots, but they have limited creative control.
Advanced compact cameras offer more features, particularly manual controls over exposure and focus, yet are still small and fairly inexpensive. And single-lens reflex (SLR) digital cameras are larger cameras that offer interchangeable lenses, external flash, high quality sensors and processors, a wide range of sensitivity settings, and virtually unlimited creative control.
Within each of these types of digital cameras there are also several other features and controls that are important to consider when choosing the camera best for you. One important consideration is the resolution of the camera, which is measured in megapixels, which means "millions of pixels". The more pixels, the greater the detail your camera can capture. However, there's no need to have a higher resolution than you'll use. If you're only going to email images or print small prints for the photo album, then a 3 or 4-megapixels camera is plenty. However, it you want to enlarge photos or zoom in and crop images then you'll want a higher resolution, or higher megapixel camera.
Other important features to consider include the power of optical zoom, the size and clarity of the LCD screen, image stabilization, and even digital video capabilities.
Regardless of the type of camera you may choose, there are some basic principles that can help you get the most out of your camera. One of the most important considerations in taking good pictures is to simply take your time and think about the shot instead of just snapping away, particularly for wildlife or landscape shots. Think about the composition of the image as you see it through the viewfinder or LCD screen. Try to include colors and textures that provide vivid contrast and bring a sense of depth and richness to the image.
Take advantage of unique weather or vantages to enhance the mood and feeling. Be particularly conscientious of the light conditions and try to avoid the harsh mid-day sun, morning and evening light is best. And for landscapes try to follow the Ôrule of thirds,' by limiting the portion of the photo taken up by the sky, water or background, and the land or foreground to only one-third of the image.
No matter what your skill level or subject matter, outdoor photography will enhance your outdoor experience allowing you to forever capture what you see and feel and share it with others. There's never been a better time to pick up a camera.
When not outdoors with his camera, Eric Stark is a fisheries research biologist studying fisheries on Dworshak Reservoir. He has worked for IDFG since 2000.