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 Post subject: Re: Photography - How to Improve?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2010 2:26 pm 
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Thanks guys.

Strange to think about using flash in brilliant sunlight!

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 Post subject: Re: Photography - How to Improve?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2010 2:28 pm 
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Raffles wrote:
Love the dog sitting on 2 steps down near the beach SPJ :O3

Raffles


I agree!

His/her master was surfing (brrrr!) And there were notices all over saying no dogs on the beach. So the next best thing.

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 Post subject: Re: Photography - How to Improve?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2010 10:36 pm 
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When it's already too late for the flash.
If you have one of the later additions of Photoshop, You can rescue the foreground by using from the top menu: Image/Adjustments then "Shadows/Highlights." You will have to play around with the sliders to get the right effect and you may need to adjust the contrast a bit afterwards.

Attachment:
Beach1b.jpg


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2010 10:47 pm 
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When I go onto Images then to Adjustments, I don't have a Shadows/Highlights choice. Could it be called something else ?


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 Post subject: Re: Photography - How to Improve?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2010 10:49 pm 
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You may have an older version Blaze. I'm not sure when this function was brought in.

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 Post subject: Re: Photography - How to Improve?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2010 10:57 pm 
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Yes, I've got P0hotoshop 7. I'm just looking at my Elements book - Improving lighting chapter.
It has a Fill Flash facility : I'll have a scout around and see what looks similar in PS.


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 Post subject: Re: Photography - How to Improve?
PostPosted: Sat Mar 13, 2010 2:13 pm 
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Hi folks, I'd like to contribute to the thread but am travelling and have had trouble actually posting-keeps telling me to log in again-I let Blaze know.Will try next week.................let's see if this message works! :(

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 Post subject: Re: Photography - How to Improve?
PostPosted: Sat Mar 13, 2010 2:46 pm 
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HI Rebus, Looking forward to your input.

Naylors Ark, I'm impressed with the way you've managed to lighten the foreground and still kept colour in the background. I seem to get one or the other. I've been playing with levels / and "flash" in foreground but I need more practice.

Also been playing around with cropping and interesting to see how much "stuff" I've got round MOH's head - pebbles, railing, building etc etc. Dr O I think this was one of those occasions where you suggest being down on knees perhaps (so his head was surrounded by sky) might have been better. Also, I think I was trying to do too much in one photo - interesting building in background, dog on beach, waves, oh and let's throw in MOH and our dog for good measure!

Image

Image

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 Post subject: Re: Photography - How to Improve?
PostPosted: Sat Mar 13, 2010 3:13 pm 
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For me, the most important thing is to put the camera in the right place. Yes, there are things that you can do with Photoshop and its ilk, but if the camera wasn't where it needed to be for the most effective angle and framing then all the digital tweaks in the world are not going to improve matters.

When I started as a photographer I was taught to look at the subject, including foreground and background, and put my tripod where it needed to be. Only then was I allowed to get out a camera, select a lens and take a photograph.

Positioning a camera is a three-dimensional thing. So often I see photos that look like the perpetrator has seen something that attracted his attention, pulled out a camera, pointed and shot. So often the resulting snap could have been a real picture if he'd moved a bit to the left or right, or maybe bent his knees a bit. Or perhaps he could have moved forwards or backwards rather than just relying on the zoom lens. Perspective is important and the difference between physically moving the camera and zooming needs to be seen to be appreciated.

Of course, if you can move your subject around as well this makes things easier. The man & dog on the prom could have been moved back a few yards out of the shadows.

Apart from the above, always try to be clear in your mind about what you are trying to say with a photograph, if it's not to be just a snapshot. As someone said earlier, trying to cram in too many things means that none of them get the viewer's full attention.

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 Post subject: Re: Photography - How to Improve?
PostPosted: Sat Mar 13, 2010 4:55 pm 
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I agree Albert that my photo of OH plus dog is never going to be a good one, no matter how much we play with it in photoshop. But it does help me to give an example of a poor photo and ask people how it can be improved, rather than just talk in abstract.

Lisleoise made the point that you've got to have an eye for a photo. Do you think that can be taught? Or is it something you either have or not?

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 Post subject: Re: Photography - How to Improve?
PostPosted: Sat Mar 13, 2010 4:56 pm 
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SPJ wrote:
Naylors Ark, I'm impressed with the way you've managed to lighten the foreground and still kept colour in the background.


I made a selection around the part that was in shadow so the "Shadows/Highlights" procedure was only working on the dark areas.

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 Post subject: Re: Photography - How to Improve?
PostPosted: Sat Mar 13, 2010 5:24 pm 
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That's a huge improvement, SPJ !
I have discovered that I can lighten a dark area by selecting it with the magnetic lasso, then applying brightness or contrast (or whatever else I want).

I would agree with everyone that's said that photos can be greatly improved by simplifying them - by cropping them. Otherwise some photos can contain too much distracting detail in the background - like my carriage driving one.

I'm thoroughly enjoying this thread and have already picked up some useful tips. Why didn't anyone suggest it before ???? :lol:


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 Post subject: Re: Photography - How to Improve?
PostPosted: Sat Mar 13, 2010 6:08 pm 
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SPJ,

My comments weren't particularly aimed at you -- you just happened to be the last poster before I pitched in, so you got used as a handy example.

As for an eye for a photo: to a certain extent that can be taught -- or learned. Every time you see a possible picture start consciously trying to find the best place to take it from. You don't even need a camera with you to practice this, just shut one eye and try moving your head up, down, left right, forward backward until you see what you want to see. If you do have a camera handy take lots of shots as you go through this process and look at them later to see which ones work best.

When I was at college, every week we'd have a 'print crit' (criticism) session where students and staff would dissect all the work done in the previous week. Great fun!

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 Post subject: Re: Photography - How to Improve?
PostPosted: Sat Mar 13, 2010 8:54 pm 
Posting a picture and asking for constructive criticism is an excellent way to learn. It's something I do on a photographic forum where I can learn from others way better than myself. In terms of the man with dog with another dog knocking around, a lovely building in front of a nice shoreline and a chap walking down the path shot - it's a typical 'tourist' type of photo, but there is potential here for at least three different photos. Sitting on the wall makes a lovely portrait shot and the pose with the dog is really good. But there is way too much distraction there, especially a building on top of his head. I would have moved him further back into the light (no squinty problems due to the sunnies) and chosen an angle where there would be less detail behind. The wall slanting away to him is a good idea and really leads the eye to the subject. Then a shallow depth of field would give a nice fuzzy background. This is the general idea:

Attachment:
Beach1x.jpg


Then you have a nice shoreline which could be taken from the steps. Your husband playing with the dog on the beach to the lower left would really add interest to such a shot:

Attachment:
Beach1x2.jpg


The building with the treelined path would make a nice subject too.

No right or wrongs here just some different ideas on composition and keeping it simple often works.


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 Post subject: Re: Photography - How to Improve?
PostPosted: Sat Mar 13, 2010 9:03 pm 
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Naylor's Ark wrote:
SPJ wrote:
Naylors Ark, I'm impressed with the way you've managed to lighten the foreground and still kept colour in the background.


I made a selection around the part that was in shadow so the "Shadows/Highlights" procedure was only working on the dark areas.


I never realised I could do that! I use Microsoft Digital Image which is similar to a simple version of photoshop and I'd never really understood what the lassoo thing was for!

Thank you. (You)I should say I live and learn.

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 Post subject: Re: Photography - How to Improve?
PostPosted: Sat Mar 13, 2010 9:08 pm 
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Blaze wrote:
I'm thoroughly enjoying this thread and have already picked up some useful tips. Why didn't anyone suggest it before ???? :lol:


Because we weren't ready for it. 8-) We had to get hooked on the competition first and see the quality of the photos that are getting the votes.

I just want to say thanks to whoever suggested a photo competition when designing TFF. This is my favourite section. :ymhug:

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 Post subject: Re: Photography - How to Improve?
PostPosted: Sat Mar 13, 2010 9:13 pm 
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I just can't wait to get out and start trying out all the tips, I've done all the kids washing and ironing ready to go back to school tomorrow night, so fingers crossed I can go photographing tomorrow :)

clare


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 Post subject: Re: Photography - How to Improve?
PostPosted: Sat Mar 13, 2010 9:14 pm 
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Dr O would you recommend the photography forum you belong to?

I would need it to be fairly basic, but I'm enjoying the learning and would like to know more.

[edited] Love what you've done with MOH and the dog. :)

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 Post subject: Re: Photography - How to Improve?
PostPosted: Sat Mar 13, 2010 9:19 pm 
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clarelouise wrote:
I just can't wait to get out and start trying out all the tips, I've done all the kids washing and ironing ready to go back to school tomorrow night, so fingers crossed I can go photographing tomorrow :)

clare


I agree. We're off to Cahors and Rocamadour for a couple of days - great opportunity to put this into practice.

Mind you, I sometimes think being a photographer is a lonely pursuit that does not go with being on holiday with family / dog etc. Easier perhaps when you can be on your own and going at your own speed. I think I've taken virtually all my best photos when I've been on my own.

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 Post subject: Re: Photography - How to Improve?
PostPosted: Sat Mar 13, 2010 9:25 pm 
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Dr O you say "a nice shallow depth of field" to get a fuzzy background. How do I do that on a digital camera? Would that be a "portrait" setting? Or do I need to do something cleverer?

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 Post subject: Re: Photography - How to Improve?
PostPosted: Sat Mar 13, 2010 10:12 pm 
That's worth a discussion on its own. Try portrait setting, but for greater control you choose your own aperture. The aperture (measured by f stop)controls the amount of light that enters through the lens. The 'wider' the aperture the bigger the hole and the more light gets in - that gives you a faster shutter speed and a shallow depth of field - which means the subject (or part of the subject) will be in sharp focus whereas the background will be out of focus - which is ideal for portraits. There are other considerations and factors too - but I would just concentrate on that basic principal and for starters shoot portraits at the maximum aperture your lens permits. Here are a couple of my photos to illustrate. The first is taken at f1.8 (different lenses have different maximum apertures). You need to focus on the eyes. You can see that the background is pleasantly blurred and the eye is not distracted from the intended subject, which stands out somewhat from the background:

Image

Here's another example. The shallow depth of field is more evident because I am very close to the flower:

Image


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 Post subject: Re: Photography - How to Improve?
PostPosted: Sun Mar 14, 2010 5:34 am 
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One of the best and most popular photography forums is the Digital Photography School (DPS)

http://digital-photography-school.com/forum/

There is a section for every aspect of digital photography and are the most friendly and helpful group of people you could ever find.
'share your shots' critique sections for all aspects and 'how I took it'. There's also a place for asking for help and advice. Loads of online tutorials and a monthly comp. I've been a member for years and LOVE the place. :)

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 Post subject: Re: Photography - How to Improve?
PostPosted: Sun Mar 14, 2010 9:34 am 
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I was busy yesterday and see some great postings in my absence !
Dr O - don't you dare enter your portrait in the competition - none of us would stand a chance ! :lol: It is a wonderful photo and I love the fuzzy background. I used to be able to achieve that with my old Pentax SLR with the zoom lens but haven't quite cracked it with the digital, probably because I use it on 'automatic'.

Clare - beware.........once you start getting into this, you will be hooked....... :)

Rebus - have you sorted out your technical problems ? I see you were up at the crack of dawn ! Thank you for the link - I will investigate it.

It's all very well having these wonderful digital cameras, but like so many things, most of us don't get the best out of them because we never venture beyond 'point and shoot'. Albert's and others' comments are useful regarding choosing the subject, which I suppose is one of the first things to get right.

So much to think about ....


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 Post subject: Re: Photography - How to Improve?
PostPosted: Sun Mar 14, 2010 11:14 am 
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Blaze wrote:
I was busy yesterday and see some great postings in my absence !
Dr O - don't you dare enter your portrait in the competition - none of us would stand a chance ! :lol: It is a wonderful photo and I love the fuzzy background. I used to be able to achieve that with my old Pentax SLR with the zoom lens but haven't quite cracked it with the digital, probably because I use it on 'automatic'.Clare - beware.........once you start getting into this, you will be hooked....... :)

Rebus - have you sorted out your technical problems ? I see you were up at the crack of dawn ! Thank you for the link - I will investigate it.

It's all very well having these wonderful digital cameras, but like so many things, most of us don't get the best out of them because we never venture beyond 'point and shoot'. Albert's and others' comments are useful regarding choosing the subject, which I suppose is one of the first things to get right.

So much to think about ....


Hi Blaze-not the crack of dawn where I am!

I can post occasionally but couldn't reply to your pm.

I use a 'point and shoot' camera-not a DSLR and always on Automatic. Suits me for now to do that. Fuji Finepix S602 Pro Zoom. Excellent lens-superb in Supermacro mode.

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 Post subject: Re: Photography - How to Improve?
PostPosted: Sun Mar 14, 2010 11:40 am 
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rebus wrote:
I use a 'point and shoot' camera-not a DSLR and always on Automatic. Suits me for now to do that. Fuji Finepix S602 Pro Zoom. Excellent lens-superb in Supermacro mode.

Ah......then there's hope for us yet ! :)


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 Post subject: Re: Photography - How to Improve?
PostPosted: Sun Mar 14, 2010 12:00 pm 
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Dr O, thanks for the depth of field demo. I'm embarrassed to say although I understand the concept of "depth of field" I still struggle to understand how this relates to aperture sizes and F-stops. Am I right in thinking the lower the F number the larger the aperture?

The portrait is lovely. You're giving me the incentive to go back and re-read my camera manual slowly. I don't even know if I can change the F-stop manually or ( :oops: ) what the lowest F-stop is of my camera! It says on the lens 1:2.8-5.6/6.0-21.4 ASPH and also mega 0.1.5/28mm wide. I've never looked at that before! I bought the camera because it was small, had a Leica lens and 12 mega pixels. And as Blaze says, it's too easy just to point and shoot from day one without thinking about what I'm doing.

Definitely taking the camera manual with me to Rocomadour and will use the opportunity to experiment with different settings much more.

Rebus thanks for the link. Looks really interesting.

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 Post subject: Re: Photography - How to Improve?
PostPosted: Sun Mar 14, 2010 12:17 pm 
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My camera is an Olympus C4000 zoom and has 4 megapixels (we've had it for about 8 years).

What is the difference in quality re. the number of pixels ? Does a higher number of pixels, i.e. 12 mean there is potential for a much better quality photograph ?


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 Post subject: Re: Photography - How to Improve?
PostPosted: Sun Mar 14, 2010 1:29 pm 
I started with a Fujica ST605 camera,
Image.

Totally manual, though did have a depth of field meter. Took loads of photos of the same thing, at different settings to see the effects of what was doing. Long before the days of numerique photography so it involved after studying contact sheets to se what, if anything, I had acheived.

Years later I joined a couple of photographic clubs in London and learnt an awful lot there. I found this book by John Hedgecoe a great help in explaining many things.
Image.

For me the way to improve was to take loads of photographs and be in a club, talking to others, having photographs judged in competitions and actually giving a talk once using images I had taken in Nordhausen and Wernigerode (Germany).


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 Post subject: Re: Photography - How to Improve?
PostPosted: Sun Mar 14, 2010 1:44 pm 
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Blaze wrote:
My camera is an Olympus C4000 zoom and has 4 megapixels (we've had it for about 8 years).

What is the difference in quality re. the number of pixels ? Does a higher number of pixels, i.e. 12 mean there is potential for a much better quality photograph ?


I think it depends what you take and what you want to do with your photos.

Photos with fewer megapixels can look fine when they are quite small, but they don't have the crispness of traditional film or higher megapixel photos where you can see every blade of grass. I had a 4 megapixel camera and I have friend who is a professional photographer and he showed me that on some of my landscape photos where there were dark shadows there was nothing in the darker bits because the camera could not cope - it was just black or just a bit fuzzy, whereas a traditional film camera would always have the subtleties of the shadows. Also, if you want to blow up your photo to a large size, or to crop and only take part of the picture, the more the pixels, the better the quality and the more you can do.

This picture of the barge is already at the limit of what the 4 mp camera could handle. Crop it even a little and it gets fuzzy (not sure how well this one shows, but there is really no clarity in the leaves against the sky for example)

Image

Image

Whereas this is with my 12 mp camera - also at dusk in Barcelona and even when cropped by a fair amount you can see the detail in the reflection on the tiles

Image

Image

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 Post subject: Re: Photography - How to Improve?
PostPosted: Sun Mar 14, 2010 2:36 pm 
Balham wrote:
Totally manual, though did have a depth of field meter.


Should have typed, depth of field preview and light meter.

Doesn't anyone use fim anymore? Me, still have a preferance for E6 film, now with that one does have to be thoughful, not as forgiving as other films if you don't get it right first time, a good way to learn that was.


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 Post subject: Re: Photography - How to Improve?
PostPosted: Sun Mar 14, 2010 3:01 pm 
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Balham wrote:
Balham wrote:
Totally manual, though did have a depth of field meter.


Should have typed, depth of field preview and light meter.

Doesn't anyone use fim anymore? Me, still have a preferance for E6 film, now with that one does have to be thoughful, not as forgiving as other films if you don't get it right first time, a good way to learn that was.


Balham I loved transparencies - nothing like them for getting richness of colour / light. But I've got thousands in boxes that I never look at!!! Also, film was expensive if you made mistakes (which I did, often). I used to get the transparencies just developed in strips and then made up my own mind which to put in mounts. Now at least with digital I can try things out and just delete if it dosn't work. Maybe you're right, it's too easy to go on taking bad photos these days, so maybe not the same incentive to learn/improve.

I had a SLR camera so why didn't I learn more? Because I never could understand the jargon. F-stops etc. Like the fact that I could never understand statistics - anyone teaching it the first couple of sentences are fine and I think "great I've got it" and then five minutes later I'm completely lost!

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 Post subject: Re: Photography - How to Improve?
PostPosted: Sun Mar 14, 2010 9:44 pm 
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Hi Pareloopy, you said on the Wildlife thread ...

"Following on from the "How to improve " thread, here are the technical bits:-
Canon EOS 20D. Lens 70-200 at 200mm. 1/320sec at f4.5. ISO 400. I nearly always shoot using aperture priority."


Thanks for the info, let's see if I understand ...

Canon EOS 20D: your camera, and it's digital

Lens 70-200 at 200mm: the lens you used - do you have a choice? If so, why did you choose that one? Is 200mm at the maximum distance it focuses?

1/320: speed of the shutter - I guess that's fast. Because it was a bright day?

F4.5: aperture size. You say you use aperture priority. Why? What does that mean? Is 4.5 large / middling / or small aperture? And why that size?

ISO 400: used to mean the speed of the film. Fast film, good for indoor shots but could be grainy. That bit I sort of understand because I used to like using ISO 400 as it meant many indoor shots didn't need flash. But really have no idea what an ISO measure means with digital because we have no film.

Apologies to anyone for whom all this is "old hat" but I have never really understood this and I would love to know now. :geek:

PS: Love the photo - definitely the "aah" factor

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 Post subject: Re: Photography - How to Improve?
PostPosted: Mon Mar 15, 2010 8:58 am 
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SPJ,

You really need to get your head around the basic terminology if you want to use your camera more effectively. Here are a few simple definitions for your purposes -- I'll leave aside the technical details.

Lens focal length (e.g. 70-200 at 200mm): This controls how big an image you get. The larger the number the bigger the image, at a given distance. For example, if you take a picture with a 50mm lens and just get a whole person (head to toe) into your picture then using a 100mm lens will enlarge the image so that you only get half the height (say, head to waist) in. 70-200 indicates a zoom lens -- most are zooms nowadays.

Correct exposure: The amount of light needed to give a picture that is neither too dark nor too light. It is controlled by the lighting (e.g. brighter at noon than dusk) the ISO setting (film speed in film cameras) and the aperture and shutter speed.

ISO setting: This controls how sensitive the camera is to light. It is directly equivalent to the old ASA / ISO film speeds, except it can be controlled directly rather than by changing films. For the best quality you normally use the lowest setting on your camera. If you select a high one then you start to get slightly uneven colour or brightness in areas that should be smooth tones.

Aperture (same as F-number): This primarily controls how much light is getting into the camera in a given time. The numbers go the 'wrong' way for technical reasons. Similarly they go in a strange sequence (2.0 - 2.8 - 4.0 - 5.6 - 8.0 - 11 etc.) for reasons that I won't go into here. Suffice to say that for each step (generally called an F-stop) the actual area of the aperture is cut by half, so the amount of light getting in is reduced by half.

Shutter speed: How long the shutter is open for. This is used in conjunction with the aperture to get the correct exposure. It is also used to control blurring due to movement, so if you are shooting fast action (e.g. action sports) you will use a fast shutter speed. The bigger the number the faster the shutter speed.

Shutter priority: this means that you select a shutter speed and then adjust (or let the camera adjust) the aperture to get the correct exposure for the lighting conditions. You typically use this for controlling how much blur you get from movement.

Aperture priority: This means that you select an aperture and then adjust (or let the camera adjust) the shutter speed to get the correct exposure for the lighting conditions. You typically use this to control depth of field (which I won't go into now).

There are technical and historical reasons for the terms and units used in photography. You just need to learn and accept them, like learning French!

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Albert
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Stand where the statue gazes and remember, Diaspar was not always thus.


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 Post subject: Re: Photography - How to Improve?
PostPosted: Mon Mar 15, 2010 10:28 am 
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Not my first camera, but the one I started learning my trade on:

Image

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Albert
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Stand where the statue gazes and remember, Diaspar was not always thus.


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 Post subject: Re: Photography - How to Improve?
PostPosted: Mon Mar 15, 2010 11:23 am 
This is prompting me to go and seek out some of my old photographs from years ago, when I started.

Just a thought, with so much talk of photoshop and other such programmes . . . years ago if one knew a good printer, or if one could do it ones self, there were things that could be done to the image. So, is the use of the computer to treat the images not more akin to the work in the labs years ago rather than the actual photography?


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