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Photography Tips & Questions

Discussion in 'Non-Bikes' started by davidp1984, Oct 23, 2010.

  1. Hi all,

    Thought I might start a thread about tips and questions. May have potential to become a sticky IMO :)

    In line with the title, if you have a question or tip about photography the ask here.

    I'll start...

    Para/Smee, in the other thread you guys spoke about RAW/JPEG and also about post processing. If you're not going to do post processing is it better to use jpeg?
  2. Yes stick with jpeg till you master your shots. When you want to play more, then switch to raw.

    Made this thread a sticky good idea :)
  3. I hope you won't take offense if I disagree here, but essentially you're throwing away data by using jpeg instead of raw. Jpeg is going to discard data from your photo when it compresses, and raw will not. imo the only reason you would use jpeg is if you're limited by space and/or speed.

    If you use raw from the start, you will be able to apply new techniques learnt down the track to older photos, the ability to do so may otherwise be impaired by the lack of data present in the jpeg. Most SLR's will let you shoot both at the same time, so if you've got no space issues, why not do that if you're worried about having to process raw from the get go?

    Edit to add my tip: Light meters aren't as old fashioned as you might otherwise think, for photographing people or objects in tough lighting conditions, they are a god send, you can meter the light in a particular point in your scene with incredibly accuracy. They're a bit of a must if you really want to nail your ratios with off camera lighting, but be careful not to fall in to the trap of substituting creativity for clinical accuracy.
  4. Juzzy re read the post above mine, he is a beginner, let him play with his camera first then the raw workflow will come as he gets to master his shots.
  5. if he's shooting in auto mode and using canon it wont record raw anyway
  6. I guess what I'm trying to say is as a beginner, raw gives you more margin for error, it also gives you more room to play with old photos as your post proficiency grows down the track. You can apply new techniques to old photos.

    The biggest trap to fall into as a beginner shooting raw is the "Ahh I'll fix it in post" attitude. Just because you've got more margin for error in raw, doesn't mean you should rely on it.

    My advice for a beginner is shoot raw, it'll let you save otherwise ruined shots, but aim to get it right in the camera, it'll save you many long hours sitting in front of the computer.

    Following on from what gregb says. Shoot manual as often as possible, sometimes there just isn't time to meter and expose for every shot you want, but when you can, you'll learn heaps about your camera by doing so. I don't think my poor old abused 40D has ever seen the green square setting.
  7. if im shooting something special eg wedding or studio il shoot raw on my 5d but if im shooting at reception centers "onsite sales" i use my 10d set on medium fine i need the procesing speed so as i can get it back too the customer quickly
    ps allways in full manual
  8. For a whole bunch of reasons, forget RAW (lets not turn this into a RAW debat though).

    Photography tips, I'm going to roll with a classic...

    Go buy a cheap nasty fixed focal length lens and use it, a lot, not on auto, go with aperture priority if your new. Most people go for the 50mm options, I would go a 35mm, but that's your call.
  9. I'll add my bit. I am a rank beginner when it comes to DSLR photography so take my comments with a grain of salt.
    I've tried shooting in both. RAW and jpeg. As the others have said, RAW gives you a heap more scope in regards to post processing.
    But what do you want to do with your shots? Where do you want to display them.
    As soon as you want to look at them with anything other than the computer with your camera's software on it, you basically have to convert them to jpeg anyway. Well I do anyway. (Canon has yet to release the codecs for 64 bit Windows 7 as far as my research tells me.)
    Post them on the net -convert to jpeg. Load them onto a digital photo frame -convert to jpeg. Load them onto your media centre for slide shows on your big screen TV etc -convert them to jpeg. Print them off somewhere -convert to jpeg. It all depends how much d!cking around you want to do with your shots.
    As far as my understanding goes from all my research, you can open and close your jpegs as often as you want without degrading the images. It's only when you repeatedly modify them and save them you will start to run into issues with degradation.
    Sure you can shoot in RAW and store them in that format, but as soon as you want to use them, you'll most likely have to convert them anyway.
    As I said, up to you as to how much time you want to spend fiddling with them as opposed to enjoying looking at them.
    Only my opinion mind you.
  10. yes roarin but if you do need any post procesing its best to do in raw try lightening a jpeg and a raw of the same pic and you will see what i mean the jpg will disard a lot of the detail
  11. To clarify what we're saying about the extra data in raw, raw is generally a 14bit or 16bit file format, depending on camera. Monitors generally have scope to only display an 8 bit image unless you're talking the real high end stuff. It's not obvious from looking at the picture how much more detail has been captured in the raw image, that is until as gregb said, you start trying to correct exposures, lighten and darken portions of an image etc, then you can really see how much more info is tucked into that little raw file.

    I don't find it too tough a step to do a batch export when I'm happy with the photos I've taken, but I'm one of those who resizes each image for print to the correct dimensions and DPI rather than letting the printers automatically re-size to fit.

    +1 to getting a fast fixed focal length lens. The canon nifty fifty can be had for a steal and is pretty popular.

    Another tip, don't discard on camera flash. It's brilliant for filling in details, but harsh and unflattering when used as your primary light source. It should be used to compliment your existing light, not replace it.
  12. well put juzzy its still ok to use jpg guys just get your exposure right and your ok
  13. And don't be scared to use auto mode either. It's a fantastic learning aid to see if you're in the ballpark for shutter speed, aperture, ISO etc.
    If the shot is really important, don't be hesitant to flick over to auto to make sure you get it right. Then try your own thing.
  14. I'd have to agree with Smee here...

    Don't get me wrong raw has huge benefits, and (although often a heated debate ensues) post processing is as much a part of photography as any other aspect - even pre digital, a lot could be achieved in the darkroom!

    On the topic of pre-digital, for those starting out in this digital age - the world is your oyster! My first slr was a pentax p30n (sitting on the shelf behind me), a manual camera with manual lenses... that's right no auto focus or metering. What's more the cost of developing film was a killer! It was a real art to "master" a camera like this, but I still managed to get some great shots (and even some reasonable motogp shots).

    The training the p30 gave me meant that when I got hold of my first digital slr, a Canon 10D, I had an inherent understanding of how to use it.

    Keep things simple while you're learning...

    Definitely a valid point - check out online groups like http://www.flickr.com/groups/canon_50mm/ for some inspiration. ... I still use my 50mm regularly, it's a great lens! Even with the 17-40mm L at my disposal, I'll still use the "nifty fifty".

    Some initial points of "wisdom" for those starting out:

    - try to shoot everything you can, no matter how mundane it is
    - play with techniques (freelensing is cool)
    - continue to push your boundaries and challenge yourself
    - look for inspiration both online and offline, try to mimic some great shots
    - learn from your mistakes
    - turn your mistakes into "art" at post ;)
    - lighting is your friend, if you can try some off-camera lights (doesn't have to be with speedlites, try with desklamps and a tripod)

    Check out some photography forums also - a couple of good ones include:

  15. Ok, again adding to the tips, this one maybe slightly more controversial. Throw away your UV filters, next time you buy a lens and the sales person tries to sell you a filter to protect your investment, tell them they're an asshole for me.

    UV filters degrade image quality, and are actually weaker than the front element of your lens. In an impact it's often the pieces of a broken UV filter that actually scratch the lens.

    Also, you aren't spending $100 to protect a two grand lens, you're protecting a few hundred bob front element that can be replaced in the unlikely scenario you did damage it.
  16. they can also introduce chromatic aberations and seem harder to clean
  17. Interesting tip on the filters. Never thought of it from that point of view.
    And +1 for the 'nifty fifty', I love mine.
  18. beginners guide basics,

    Depth of field
    You will often see photograph where the person is in focus, and the background is just nicely blurred. This is the result of Depth of Field. The blurry background is outside the area of focus, therefore outside the Depth of Field and as a result, it is not in focus.

    It's all to do with how much light enters your camera and the type of lens that you use. Basically, there are 3 factors that determine the depth of field in your images;

    Focal length of the lens

    To put it simply, the shorter the focal length, the greater the DOF (or more of the image will be sharp). I.e., 16mm lens = More in focus, 400mm lens = less in focus.

    Distance between camera and subject

    If you photograph your subject about 20-30 meters away or more, and using a wide angle or standard lens, you can almost guarantee that a lot of your image will be in focus whatever the aperture (within reason). However, bring the subject closer to say 2 meters with the wall 20-30 metres behind them, and the camera will focus on the subject but will more than likely throw the background into blurred oblivion.

    Aperture setting (usually marked as A or Av mode)

    The aperture setting has the largest factor in determining the depth of field of your images. Just remember that f4, 3.5 or 2.8 (or bigger) will have shallow or little DOF whereas F8, 11, 16 or smaller, will have greater DOF. This is particularly true if you are doing close up work, a large aperture close up will have very little in focus.

    it take a little getting used to but the smaller numbers are the larger apertures. So f2.8 is a bigger aperture than F5.6, which is bigger than f11 etc.

    Aperture is based on a diaphragm inside your lenses. That diaphragm can be opened up and closed down using the aperture setting on your camera, either to let more light through the lens to the sensor, or less light, depending on what Aperture setting you select. So f2.8 will have the aperture open really wide, letting a lot of light in, and f22 is closed down, letting only a small amount of light in.

    give it a try

    Shutter Speed
    By taking your camera off auto and playing with its shooting speeds, you can have a lot of fun and get some great results On your camera you will probably have it called either S or Tv mode.

    There are some times when you need fast speeds such as with sports or action photography to freeze the action, but there are other times that you can slow things down a little and get some very nice results indeed. eg, waterfalls with the soft silky water effect.

    Probably the most used setting for an SLR used outside are 125th/sec at F8. This is the average reading for a normal day at ISO 100. The speed of 125th is ok for most subjects but for faster moving objects you will have a certain amount of blur. F8 will ensure that whatever you focus on will be sharp enough. It works, but it isn't creative. Photography is about being creative, so learning to use shutter speeds effectively allows you to do so.

    Here is a quick list of shutter speeds starting from slowest upwards, what they can be used for and the probable result:

    30 seconds or more - Great for night shots where you want the illumination of the city lights to glow brightly, or to get the effect of milky smooth water from a waterfall at dusk or dawn. If you keep the shutter open for a couple of hours and directed at the night sky, you should end up seeing star trails on your image as the Earth rotates.

    1 second - If you are at a wedding reception or a dance and want a spooky but nice effect, try this. Have your flashgun charged and switched on to auto, set your cameras shutter speed to 1 second and aperture to approximately f.8. Take some shots whilst moving the camera about and the effect of the flash will "freeze" your subject, but the long shutter speed will give some amazing background effects from the lights.

    15th/30th/sec - If you have image stabilisation on your lens, this is about the absolute limit that you can hand hold a shot. But using a tripod, this speed will give you a small aperture creating large depth of field and is good for dusky or dawn landscapes. These speeds are also good for panning shots of moving objects such as cars. Panning creates a feeling of speed with motion blur as the background blurs while the subject stays in focus.

    60th-250th/sec - Anything in this range is good for everyday general photography. In normal light, these speeds should give sufficient depth of field from the aperture setting for most subjects, whilst allowing you to hand hold your camera without causing camera shake.

    1000th-8000th/sec - These speeds, if your camera has them, will freeze most objects in their tracks. You can get really experimental here and keep your eyes open for fast subjects that you can practice on! You will need either bright sunshine, a high ISO (400/800/1600), or fast lens (f2.8/1.4) to be able to shoot at these speeds whilst exposing correctly.

    These three things will determine the exposure, ie. how bright or dark, of all pictures you take with your DSLR, and how they will ultimately look.

    Shutter Speed - Shutter speed is the amount of time the shutter is open whilst taking a picture. Most entry level DLSR cameras offer shutter speeds variable between 1/4000th of a second (a very fast shutter speed) and 30 seconds ( a very long or slow shutter speed, commonly referred to as a " long exposure.") The time that the shutter is open when you take a picture determines how much light will reach your sensor. Think of your sensor as like a roll of film, the sensor records everything that the camera sees through your lense. Your chosen shutter speed, along with your chosen "aperture" and ISO ( see below ) will in part determine how bright or dark your picture will be.

    Aperture - The "aperture" is an adjustable diaphragm, or hole if you like, inside your lens which can be opened and closed to different sizes. Different settings, or variable sizes of the hole are commonly referred to as "f-stops" and are indicated in "f numbers" on your LCD screen and/or in the viewfinder of your camera. For example, f2.8 , f3.5, f4 , f5.6 , f8 etc. The "f stops" or "f numbers" on your camera screen can be set at certain intervals or "stops" usually up until a "f number" of around f22 , and sometimes beyond.

    These "f numbers" or "f stops" are indicative of what size the hole is set at within your lens.

    IMPORTANT: Smaller numbers mean the lens "aperture" (ie. diaphragm or hole) is opened up to a larger size, allowing more light through the lens. Larger numbers mean a smaller "aperture", resulting in a lot less light travelling through the lens and reaching the sensor.

    It sounds kind of backwards , large hole small number .. and ... small hole larger number .. but you will get used to it !! Think of it in terms of as you close the aperture or hole in the lens to a smaller sized hole, resulting in less light being allowed to travel through the lens and onto the sensor, you are "stopping" ( remember f-"stops" ) down the lens.

    or another way is smaller the fstop less in focus so bigger the f stop more in focus

    I hope this has helped some of the new togs

    as there has been a bit of discussion on raw
    My 5c is if shooting portraiture weddings landscapes etc Raw is my friend,but I shoot a fair bit of sport then I shoot L jpegs.
    I was working at the Davis cup here in Cairns in september had very little time for pp mainly batch processing as had to be uploaded to a hub within an hour or 2.

    Benefits to the photographer of shooting in RAW are:
    Higher image data quality
    White balance can be adjusted in post processing
    Bypasses in camera sharpening, noise reduction, colour saturation etc
    The data is 12 or 14 bits (generally) whereas JPG is 8 bit
    Colourspace is not set and can be altered in post processing.

    Smaller file sizes, needing less space on memory cards
    JPG files have adjustments automatically applied to them 'in camera', often including sharpening, noise reduction and colour saturation adjustments, .
    JPG files can be easily emailed, uploaded to the internet, due to smaller file size.

    Macro guide
    My business partner(photography course) is a macro wiz kid we were doing a hand out for a workshop

    a edited version as there are a few macro shots in the forum thought it may be of help.
    Just the Basics

    If buying your first Macro lens I recommend that you start at shorter focal lengths as this will make the learning curve simpler, especially on a crop body. That is don't start out with a 150mm or a 180mm macro lens. The focal length around 100mm is the best place to start and there are lots of options from many manufacturers at this focal length.

    The Canon 180 Macro will accept a 1.4x or 2x teleconverter. I don't own a 2x but I have successfully used a 1.4 on the 180 with and without tubes. You are best to put the teleconverter onto the body and then fit the tubes and lens. Canon also make a Life Size Converter that is designed to work with the 50mm Macro lens to provide true 1:1. This is like a combination of Teleconverter and Extension tube all in one. I've used on it my 180mm Macro with good results.

    Probably only about 50% of the time will I use a tripod for my macro shots. If you are chasing moving bugs the tripod will be more of a problem. The slightest movement will ruin your setup. Shooting water drops or drew drops I'll go straight to the tripod. Latley I have been using a tripod more and more for my macro shots. I tend to leave the ball head (Manfrotto 488RC2) loose and this gives me some freedom to change the composition if needed.

    Shutter Speed
    I use the 1/focal length rule of thumb, although I sometimes add a little more just to be sure. ie for my 100mm might use a SS of 1/160s while for the 180mm I might be at 1/200s. How fast does your subject move, is it windy. Lots of variables here. The other sided of the tripod issue is it allows you to drop to a slower shutter speed to let in more light if you don't have to worry so much about subject movement or wind. On a tripod I can quite often shoot at 1/60s with the 180mm lens at F16 and this will give a more natural look to the shot.

    I usually start around F11 with the 100mm lens and F14 for the 180mm. Of course this is when I'm trying to get a little more DoF on bugs etc, for some flower shots I might be close to wide open. So it really depends on the subject matter. Stopping down gives you a that little more DoF.

    Your angle on the subject has a big influence in how the viewer sees the DoF. Shoot a long subject from head on and very soon the wings will be out of focus (OOF) even at F16. Shoot from side on or just slightly to the front and you use the plane of focus to your advantage, most of the body will be in good focus.

    I personally use macro for weddings,hand shots etc using a 100mm 2.8 mk2 macro lens.
    Awesome bit of kit
  19. Thanks Para, that was exactly what I was after :)

    What are peoples opinion about auto focus. Put it on manual and do it your self or leave it on auto and let the camera do it's thing?
  20. I leave it on auto-focus but have gotten used to changing the auto-focus modes depending on what i am shooting.

    Manual focus is too hard to get right quickly for me.