CONCEPT #2: The Megapixel Myth
There is a common misconception that the number of megapixels a camera has determines its quality. WRONG!!! The fact is that megapixels are NOT everything. Despite I-phones and Point and Shoots coming out with 10 megapixel cameras, their quality level is not necessarily as good as a DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) camera with only 8 pixels. Why?
THE SENSOR… Every camera has an image sensor, and the sensor in DSLRs is often 25 TIMES BIGGER in an SLR camera as in a Point and Shoot. (And the sensor in an I-phone is even smaller.)
These photos were taken with an SLR camera
—the lighthouse at dawn with a Nikon D700.
The next two with a Sony NEX-7. These two photos were taken at Rosalind Creasy’s gorgeous and productive garden which we visited during the APLD 2012 Conference in SF and the Bay Area. Ros founded the Edible Landscaping movement, and her half acre combines great design with prolific production of herbs, fruits, and vegetables.
So when choosing a camera, be sure to inquire about the size and sensitivity of the camera’s sensor rather than being hung up on the megapixel count. And if you want to get the most from your sensor, try shooting in RAW format, rather than in JPEG files. Jpegs compress the information in each pixel, whereas raw images maintain all the original information in each pixel…so that if you are interested at all in editing and post-processing, raw is the way to go to maintain the quality of your photo.
Wishing you all Happy Holidays!
New Canaan, CT
Instructor in Landscape Design and Photography
New York Botanical Garden
EMILY KELTING, OWNER OF GREATSCAPES
Greetings fellow landscape designers! I had the good fortune to sit in front of Adam Woodruff and Susan Cohan on a bus somewhere in the San Francisco Bay Area while we went to one fabulous garden after another during the APLD 2012 Conference. As I was downloading photos from my camera onto my laptop computer on the bus—we logged lots of time on those busses— I shared some of my images with them. I also mentioned that my first career was writing. The next thing I knew I was being asked to become a columnist for “Designers on Design.”
I know that you are landscape designers, and probably not as serious a photographer as me. But if you want to create a professional-looking portfolio of your work for either the print or web, or if you are interested in submitting your work for competitions, you can either hire a professional photographer or do it yourself. Hiring a professional is great if you and your clients have the budget for that. If not, I am here to help you learn to become a better landscape photographer. This will be the first of four posts.
CONCEPT #1: THE BEST CAMERA IS THE ONE THAT’S WITH YOU
Light conditions can change in an instant. If you don’t have your camera with you, you won’t get the shot. It’s that simple. This one was taken at Machu Picchu right before a huge rainstorm. If I didn’t have my camera, I wouldn’t have gotten this shot. Same thing for this photo of a snowy egret, flying outside my window over the Silvermine River. Click quick! (Can’t believe I got the reflection of the euonymous leaves on its wings…
I-phones and i-pads now have sophisticated cameras in them. I use my I-phone often, as it is always with me. (I find the I-pad clunkier to use, but I did notice that lots of people at the APLD conference were getting excellent shots with the I-pads that were required equipment for the conference.) And I love, love, love playing with the apps like Snapseed, Pro HDR, Photosynth, Camera Genius, Camera Awesome, Hipstamatic and yes, Instagram). For ease of use and convenience, i-pads and i-phones and compact Point and Shoot cameras are the way to go. I carry with me both my I-phone and Point and Shoot camera (Canon Power Shot S90, set on “Vivid” mode.) This one was shot with my i-phone.
BUT… if we are talking about taking photographs that will help you win the next APLD award, you will need a camera that can take a sharp, high-resolution image from a very wide angle to a tight close-up, that can be saved as a large format file, meaning several megabytes in the file. This will insure it can be printed at 8” x 10” and larger without without losing sharpness in the detail. An i-phone or i-pad image probably won’t suffice. A Point and Shoot may be good enough, but an SLR (set—in the menu—on a LARGE file size or FINE) is better for making large prints. Of course, if you aren’t into making large prints, and mainly send your photos via the Internet, where 72 dpi is fine for resolution as opposed to the 300 dpi needed for fine quality prints, any camera will suffice.
This was originally posted in February 2011. It’s just as true today.
by Susan Cohan, APLD
Every year I have the opportunity to attend several conferences with groups on a variety of topics that I’m involved in professionally. The APLD International Landscape Design Conference is one I never miss…even if I can’t attend others because of it.
I’ve heard many moan about the cost, but as a way to sharpen my design skills and open my eyes to what’s new in our profession, I can’t afford NOT to go. Some years I’m only able to swing the main conference—even that’s tough some years. Some years I give up precious vacation time to go—it is a professional event and not relaxing.
Then why do I make this effort of both precious time and money? Because, as I’ve said, I can’t afford not to go…here is why.
- It is a conference whose sole message is design and geared specifically to the needs of landscape designer—not gardeners, writers or native plant evangelists—although they are sometimes in the mix of the over arching design message. Afterall, I’m first and foremost a landscape designer…even though I may also be some of those other things too.
- I need the comraderie of my peers. I am a sole practioner and I learn from each and every one I meet and talk to and they in turn help to make me a better designer. It’s a weeklong sip at the design professional’s water cooler.
- As part of a highly respected design association, we get access to people and places that would normally be well outside of my direct sphere of influence. This was as true of my first conference as it was of my last. The conferences that are outside of my region are the best for me. I can let go of my habit of rabid ad hoc plant identification and just focus on the design.
- I get incredible ideas from the world class gardens we visit, from the symposium speakers and from others on the bus and in the bar after hours. Often the landscapes I design immediately after my return are what I consider my best of the season.
- I feel sometimes that I work in a vaccuum of my own studio and clients. I found out at a conference that many of us feel like this from time to time—and the conference is a place to be as big a design nerd as you want to be and still be understood and even celebrated.
- Attending a conference has allowed me to, as Dr. Phil says, ‘Get Real’ with my place in the design universe. I see the work of other members as well as the gardens and I can figure out where I fit in that heirarchy. It can be good and bad for the design ego—in any event it’s a reality check. In fact, by the end of my stay at any conference I’m over sitmulated and brimming with ideas.
There’s another thing about APLD conferences that is probably the single most important reason to go and a source of most of the excuses not to go…the timing. Conferences are planned when the gardens we will visit are at peak season. We get access to private and public spaces that are seldom open to the public. The focus is on outdoor designed environments…not pretty gardens. Hundreds of landscapes are scouted and rejected. Only those offering the best of the conference region’s landscape design and underlying theme are included. The conference is scheduled for when a region’s gardens are at their best and there’s the excuse part—“I can’t go in JUNE…I’m too busy then.” “I can’t go in Septermber…I’m too busy then.” et cetera et cetera et cetera. Anything can be planned for—even during busy times.
If you are serious about your profession and want to experience the best of what your professional association has to offer, then go to a conference…if you’re too busy then you’re not working smart as you could be because you’re not taking advantage of one of your best professional development opportunities.
I view covering the marketplace to be part of my job. Not just knowing what’s out there in terms of traditional garden products ie. plants and building materials, but also furniture and fabrics. I help my clients furnish their outdoor spaces as part of my practice.
Because I do this, I go to events and trade shows not aimed at the landsape industry. I look for new and exciting products in the same way many designers look for new plant introductions—although I do that also.
Recently I went to the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York (ICFF) and found some great outdoor furniture as well as a real indicator that bright fun furniture and fabric for outdoor pieces is a now a full blown trend.
One of the most interesting products I saw were the glazed ceramic tiles (for outdoors or in) from Italian company 14Oraitaliana that were inspired by Andy Warhol’s screen prints. I can easily see this used in many applications where decking or pavers would normally be the solution or on a wall that might otherwise be painted or covered in stone veneer.
I’m the hostess here and I’d like to welcome all who are interested in landscape design to hang out and see what we have to say. Designers on Design, now in its 3rd year, is the cumulative product of 15 landscape designers who are all members of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers.
Each designer is invited because they have a unique point of view and each designer’s opinions are their own and there are many—visit our archive (we previously posted on Posterous).
Just so you know what we do when we’re not here I’ve included some of the 2011 APLD International Landscape Design Award winning gardens—see them all here.
Small Garden Designed by Colin Miller Design Studio
Backyard designed by Patricia St. John, APLD
Meadow Garden designed by Suzanne Arca, APLD
Small Courtyard designed by Matthew Cunningham
I hope you’ll enjoy what we do…posts are usually on the odd numbered day of the month all month long!—Susan Cohan, APLD