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Author Topic: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners  (Read 36687 times)

SeilerBird

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Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« on: February 12, 2013, 06:22:06 PM »
Photography tips for BEGINNERS

1 - Do you know a one word definition of photography? Photography is light. The lack of this knowledge is the main reason for a beginners photos to not come out as expected. The single most important rule for beginners is to make sure the sun is hitting you in the back of the head before you push the shutter. Your shadow should point directly at the subject. The sun should be lighting up the subject completely. If it is not possible to get the sun hitting you in the back of the head then turn on your flash.

2 - (read the fine manual). Not once, not twice but at least three times, each time about a month apart. When you first get the camera then sit down with the camera in your lap, the manual in your hand and go over every page. A month later do the same thing all over again. And then at least one more time. You are never going to use all the functions in a modern camera but it is helpful to know how to use the ones you wish to use.

3 - Learn the rules of composition. Get a book or Google it and read them online. Notice I did not say follow the rules of composition, I said learn them. Those rules have been around since before King Tut and they apply to all art forms. Break those rules whenever you wish, but at least know when you are breaking those rules.

4 - Before you take a photo make sure you have a subject in mind. Too many beginners take photos without a subject. They walk up to the south rim of the Grand Canyon and shoot the north rim. No foreground, no middle ground, all background. Put someone or something into the foreground to make the photo interesting. Nothing you photograph that is 10 miles away will impress anyone.

5 - The background is as important as the subject. Look through my photos sometime and you will see that I always make sure the background is not distracting from the subject, but the background should look good. In other words think of the entire image before pressing the shutter. You donít want a telephone pole growing out of someones head.

6 - Film is cheap.  ;D ;D ;D If a subject is worth taking a photo of then donít stop at one exposure. Keep shooting take at least a half a dozen. Try slightly different angles, both left and right and up and down. If your shot involves friends and relatives suggest a few different poses. Try it with different backgrounds. Donít settle for just one shot, it might not come out. The more shots you take the better your odds are of getting a great shot.

7 - Always have your camera with you. The worst excuse in the world is ďI saw an Alien today and I didnít have my camera with me.

8 - Donít disturb wildlife. If you have to get so close to wildlife that they take off and flee then you needed a longer telephoto lens. Animals expend a lot of energy running, swimming or flying away from you. And once they flee the only thing you can shoot is itís butt. I have witnessed many times a photographer with a short lens getting closer and closer until the subject flees in terror. Respect your subjects, donít terrorize them.

9 - Donít be afraid to experiment. Try different settings on the camera. Film is cheap.  ;D ;D ;D

10 - Did I mention (read the fine manual)? I am always amazed at how often I encounter people who cannot even turn their flash on in the daytime. They will ask me to take their photo and hand me the camera, then pose under the shade of a tree. So I ask them to turn the flash on for me and they give me a look like a deer caught in headlights.

11 - Never shoot down on a subject. It compresses distance and distorts the subject, usually in a bad way. And absolutely never shoot down on a woman, she will hate your for it.

Admin edit: This topic is for the posting of knowledge and tips only, and questions should be posted in their own (new) topic. Everyone is encouraged to add their favorite tips as replies to this topic.
« Last Edit: February 12, 2013, 08:03:19 PM by Tom »
I would like to apologize to anyone I have not yet offended. Please be patient and I will get to you shortly.
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Larry N.

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Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #1 on: February 12, 2013, 08:33:07 PM »
A nice list, Tom, and this thread is a great idea. I'd like to make a few additional points about the subjects you mentioned:

Regarding no. 1: Be aware that this may make your subject squint or otherwise attempt to keep that too bright sun out of their eyes, but you do need that sun behind you. Also be aware that the camera doesn't tolerate as large a spread in bright to dark light as your eyes do. So be aware of hat brims, etc. that may cause shade and thus unwanted dark shadows.

Regarding no. 3: Don't just learn the rules, but practice them so that it becomes instinctive. All too often, a novice only wants to mess with the camera when they have a particular aim in mind. With today's digitals, you can throw away your practice shots, so please, please spend some time practicing the use of the camera and composition, so that you won't have to waste time practicing with a picture you really want. If all you want is a quick snapshot, and care little about the results, you can disregard this.

Regarding no. 4: On a scenic such as the Grand Canyon, a tree limb on the edge of the foreground, an interesting bush or tree, or a rock formation (for examples) can serve as the subject, if you don't have someone (or something) special that you want in the picture.

Regarding no. 5: I'd add that you want to be sure the background isn't cluttered (unless that's the purpose of your pic). As Tom says, look over the entire image, not just the subject.

Regarding no. 8: Remember that there is a reason it's called wildlife -- they aren't tame pets, and some of them (especially the larger ones) can be dangerous if not treated with proper respect.

I'd also like to add that learning to keep the camera still will minimize the blur in your pictures (often comes from jerking the camera as you snap, rather than gently press, the shutter release).

And don't forget that you can turn the camera sideways 90ļ to more easily accommodate tall, thin objects.

Keep your lens clean. Dirt, smudges and dust can cause some degree of indistinctness in your image. Lens cleaning materials are cheap at your camera store.
Larry and Mary Ann N.
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Chet18013

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Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #2 on: February 13, 2013, 07:55:06 AM »
Comment on rule # 2.  If  you have an iPad or other tablet, download the manual for your camera(s), put them on your tablet and take it along with you for an easy reference to any questions you have while traveling. Ditto for any ebooks on technique or other topics you might wish to refer to while traveling.

Do you want the photo to be totally sharp or do you want to blur the background and/or the foreground? Learn what variations in shutter speed and f stop will do to your depth of field.

If your camera has a continuous shot mode, play with it and learn how it works, especially when shooting people, kids and animals. Many times you will press the shutter button just a moment to soon or  late. If you are taking 2-10 shot continuous shots, you have a much better chance of getting a good shot. i.e., Tom's experience with the tigers.
« Last Edit: February 13, 2013, 08:00:30 AM by Chet18013 »
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SeilerBird

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Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #3 on: February 13, 2013, 08:16:11 AM »
Excellent comments, Larry. I agree with everything you have posted.
Be aware that this may make your subject squint or otherwise attempt to keep that too bright sun out of their eyes, but you do need that sun behind you. Also be aware that the camera doesn't tolerate as large a spread in bright to dark light as your eyes do. So be aware of hat brims, etc. that may cause shade and thus unwanted dark shadows.
You don't want your subjects to be squinting and you don't want to photograph them with hats or sunglasses on. There are several ways around this problem. You can take your subjects into a shaded spot, like under a tree and use a flash. You can turn your subjects around so the sun is too their back and use a flash. Or you can wait until the sun is lower on the horizon, like at sunrise or sunset to take the shot.
Quote
Don't just learn the rules, but practice them so that it becomes instinctive. All too often, a novice only wants to mess with the camera when they have a particular aim in mind. With today's digitals, you can throw away your practice shots, so please, please spend some time practicing the use of the camera and composition, so that you won't have to waste time practicing with a picture you really want.
I still follow this practice. I take lots of shots that I know I am not going to keep just to keep my itchy trigger finger warm. And occasionally one of them surprises me and is a keeper. If you follow Larry's suggestion eventually taking photographs becomes instinctive.
Quote
On a scenic such as the Grand Canyon, a tree limb on the edge of the foreground, an interesting bush or tree, or a rock formation (for examples) can serve as the subject, if you don't have someone (or something) special that you want in the picture.
This is called framing a photo. It will make all the difference in the world in a scenic shot.
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Remember that there is a reason it's called wildlife -- they aren't tame pets, and some of them (especially the larger ones) can be dangerous if not treated with proper respect.
Great point Larry. And don't underestimate any wildlife because of size. I have been attacked by hummingbirds. Do you know what animal bites more tourists in Yosemite every year? Squirrels. Over 300 a year.
I would like to apologize to anyone I have not yet offended. Please be patient and I will get to you shortly.
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SeilerBird

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Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #4 on: February 13, 2013, 08:19:29 AM »
Do you want the photo to be totally sharp or do you want to blur the background and/or the foreground? Learn what variations in shutter speed and f stop will do to your depth of field.
Excellent point Chet. I did not include that in my original post because I feel that f stops, ISO and shutter speeds are not subjects for beginners. That is more intermediate than beginner. It takes a lot of studying and practicing to get depth of field manipulation correct.
I would like to apologize to anyone I have not yet offended. Please be patient and I will get to you shortly.
My new Pixel camera:
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Jim Dick

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Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #5 on: February 13, 2013, 09:45:09 AM »
One item I've found that's great for keeping lenses clean is the Lens Pen. It has a soft brush on one end for removing dust and a soft disc on the other for removing smudges. Really works great and is easy to carry. 
Jim

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Photog

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Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #6 on: February 13, 2013, 10:23:34 AM »
I'd like to suggest another rule.  Buy the best lens(s) you can afford.  A camera is just a recording device.  There is no substitute for good glass!
Bill
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SeilerBird

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Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #7 on: February 13, 2013, 12:35:22 PM »
One item I've found that's great for keeping lenses clean is the Lens Pen. It has a soft brush on one end for removing dust and a soft disc on the other for removing smudges. Really works great and is easy to carry.
Good idea Jim. I noticed a spot on my lens last week that had gotten there on a wet ride at Disney World. It was a waterproof camera so no damage, but when I looked at the photos I could see the spot on every photo and they were all ruined.
I would like to apologize to anyone I have not yet offended. Please be patient and I will get to you shortly.
My new Pixel camera:
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Wigpro

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    • Capt Jim Lucas
Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #8 on: February 13, 2013, 12:58:32 PM »
My best advice is SHOOT, SHOOT and then when you are finished SHOOT SOME MORE!!

Digital is free for all practical purposes so shoot a bunch and then sort out the good ones, learn to bracket your exposures, frame your photos with something in the foreground and choose various focus points and shoot the scene multiple times, then sort them out on the computer. Eventually you will find what works best with your camera and lenses and then you can shoot less and get good results.

Good glass is important and clean lenses as well...

BUT SHOOT! Always have the camera within reach.

Jim

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SeilerBird

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Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #9 on: February 13, 2013, 01:11:36 PM »
Personally I don't subscribe to the "have to buy the best glass available" theory. I think they are a waste of money. First off if you have a 16 megapixel camera and you wish to view the image on a computer monitor you must first toss out 14 megapixels. Why? Because a standard 1920 x 1080 monitor only has 2 megapixels. If you are going to print then you have to be printing billboard size and get up real close to notice any problems with lens sharpness. I have owned Canon L glass and I never saw anything that would make me think those lenses were any sharper than any other non L lens I have owned from any manufacturer. For example, I use to own the Canon 70-200 L lens which cost over $1000. I currently own a Sony 75-300 that cost $250. The Sony is just as sharp as the L lens. My Tamron 200-500 is just as sharp as my Canon 100-400 L lens.

I hang out of photography forums and there are plenty of "pixel peepers" who blow up images and look at them on the pixel level trying to prove their lens is sharper than someone else's lens. How childish. You can't look at an image on a computer monitor and have the vaguest idea if you are looking at an image from a $10,000 lens or a $500 lens.

The most important factors in the sharpness of a photo is not the "sharpness" of the lens. It is how the camera was adjusted, how stable the camera was when the shot was taken and the ability of the person doing the post processing.

Now before you hit the reply button to attack me because I am stepping on one of photographys sacred cows please read the following article by Ken Rockwell:

http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/lens-sharpness.htm
I would like to apologize to anyone I have not yet offended. Please be patient and I will get to you shortly.
My new Pixel camera:
https://photos.app.goo.gl/rMSw5eVkCfKuuEOP2
My portfolio:
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My Grand Canyon shots:
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Wigpro

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    • Capt Jim Lucas
Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #10 on: February 13, 2013, 02:15:59 PM »
Personally I don't subscribe to the "have to buy the best glass available" theory. I think they are a waste of money. First off if you have a 16 megapixel camera and you wish to view the image on a computer monitor you must first toss out 14 megapixels. Why? Because a standard 1920 x 1080 monitor only has 2 megapixels. If you are going to print then you have to be printing billboard size and get up real close to notice any problems with lens sharpness. I have owned Canon L glass and I never saw anything that would make me think those lenses were any sharper than any other non L lens I have owned from any manufacturer. For example, I use to own the Canon 70-200 L lens which cost over $1000. I currently own a Sony 75-300 that cost $250. The Sony is just as sharp as the L lens. My Tamron 200-500 is just as sharp as my Canon 100-400 L lens.

I hang out of photography forums and there are plenty of "pixel peepers" who blow up images and look at them on the pixel level trying to prove their lens is sharper than someone else's lens. How childish. You can't look at an image on a computer monitor and have the vaguest idea if you are looking at an image from a $10,000 lens or a $500 lens.

The most important factors in the sharpness of a photo is not the "sharpness" of the lens. It is how the camera was adjusted, how stable the camera was when the shot was taken and the ability of the person doing the post processing.

Now before you hit the reply button to attack me because I am stepping on one of photographys sacred cows please read the following article by Ken Rockwell:

http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/lens-sharpness.htm

I am familiar with that article and it is right on! Most of the manufacturers make a point of having various levels of "quality" lenses and you are correct in that even the basic "kit" lenses on most DSLR systems are way sharp enough for virtually any users ability. Composition, proper focus and exposure are much more important to a good photograph.

I will however disagree with you on what is required for a good print, vs good viewing on a computer monitor. You are correct that a standard RGB monitor will only use a very small portion of the "pixels" that most modern cameras have the ability to reproduce. Having a good sharp 16 X 20 or larger print however requires more pixels and image resolution and that is important. This is also not a factor of the lens but the resolution captured by the camera body and sensor.

My current system happens to be Olympus and they offer 3 "levels" of quality lenses. Once you shoot with one of the higher and therefore more expensive lenses you have a hard time going back. And there is a difference visibly when comparing the same shot taken with the two different lenses. Not a bunch, but a difference is there, is it worth it for every shot, of course not.

Most of my lenses are in the standard category and I am more than pleased with the results. I do own several of their mid-grade lenses and one of their high grade lenses and I have my eyes on one more, but it won't be until I can afford it. When I really need it for a specific assignment, I rent it.

Most of the higher grade lenses have other features that make the lens more desirable and it is generally not a matter of "sharpness" but rather an aperture range and the ability to shoot in lower light conditions, a "faster" lens. Which make picture taking easier and therefore better results than if shot with a slower "standard" lens.

Good glass will help, but it will not make a good photograph. Only a photographer can do that. I have seen some amazing IPhone photos, but you could never print a 16 X 20 print from it, but they look great on a computer monitor...

Jim
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Bob Buchanan

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Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #11 on: February 13, 2013, 02:44:48 PM »
Now before you hit the reply button to attack me because I am stepping on one of photographys sacred cows please read the following article by Ken Rockwell:

http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/lens-sharpness.htm

Well, my friend, I disagree with that thing about the sun directly on the back of the shooters neck causing a shadow straight in front of the shooter - and have written off Ken Rockwell many references ago. OTOH, as you know, I agree with you on most everything else we discuss. Well, at least in the area of photography . . .  :)

In my own tests of my lenses, I can see the differences in sharpness between, say, a Tamron and my 100-400mm -- on my computer screen. I don't need the same res as the camera to do that. I recall well taking a group shot with the wide end of a Tamron and being very disappointed in the sharpness of those on the outer limits - compared to a borrowed Canon wide angle lens.

Also, I calibrated each of my lenses with my 50D using a made myself target. It was easy to see the differences on my computer screen - and the adjustments that were necessary.

If anyone wants to see rebuttals to Rockwell, just Google something like, "disagreements Ken Rockwell".

IMO, there is a difference in glass quality between lenses. And I go for the best I can afford. I recall when I first decided to go with Canon I chatted with Pros at Pardees Cameras in Sacramento and Active Photography in Roseville. Those are the two outlets that the area pros hang out and deal. They both keep on stock a full supply of Sigma and Tamron lenses. In my entire dealings with those two outlets, I never heard one opinion that either a Tamron or Sigma had the quality of a Canon L lens. Also, before buying my 100-400mm L lens, I noted that most every camera lens along the sidelines of sporting events were grey in color.

BTW, Tom -- am back in Laughlin shooting primarily ring billed gulls. Great practice for my BIF stuff. Am a long way from the "in flight" images I see in your portfolio but "am" getting a bit better.
Bob (fulltimer - Rocklin, CA residency)
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Larry N.

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Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #12 on: February 13, 2013, 03:04:57 PM »
There's a lot of interesting info in this thread, but how much of it is for beginners? IMHO lens quality, 16x20 prints and a few other things above, as important as they may be to some people or to some operations, are beyond the beginners stage. It's also getting a bit tougher to navigate through all this to find what tips there are.

Food for thought, folks...
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Bob Buchanan

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Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #13 on: February 13, 2013, 03:32:58 PM »
There's a lot of interesting info in this thread, but how much of it is for beginners? IMHO lens quality, 16x20 prints and a few other things above, as important as they may be to some people or to some operations, are beyond the beginners stage. It's also getting a bit tougher to navigate through all this to find what tips there are.

Food for thought, folks...

Thanks for the food, Larry -- I agree, but not sure what constitutes a "beginner" here.

Have seen a lot of folks now -- family members, forum friends, and so forth, pointing and shooting. The cameras we are able to purchase today do most all the stuff I would teach in a beginners course automatically. So other than a bit on composition, position of the sun, how far to hold the LCD screen from your eyes, and so forth -- what is left? Certainly not enough to devote an entire sticky topic to -- IMO. Tom covered about the entire gamut of point and shoot stuff in one post.

If I were going to teach a beginners course, the first thing I would require is to make Auto and P modes (or any of the scene modes) off limits. After that, the only way to capture an acceptable image would be to understand the basics of photography. Everything else would then start to fall into line - such as the characteristics of light and how to use them.

So the question I would have is, "Is this a topic for point and shoot beginners, or for those wanting to learn photography"? If just for point and shoot folks, I don't have a lot to contribute beyond Tom's initial post. Well, other than, "Point and shoot" .
Bob (fulltimer - Rocklin, CA residency)
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SeilerBird

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Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #14 on: February 13, 2013, 03:36:49 PM »
There's a lot of interesting info in this thread, but how much of it is for beginners? IMHO lens quality, 16x20 prints and a few other things above, as important as they may be to some people or to some operations, are beyond the beginners stage. It's also getting a bit tougher to navigate through all this to find what tips there are.
I agree with you Larry. I put beginners in all caps to make sure that everyone knew this was for beginners. I think it is totally wrong to tell a beginner he will not get sharp photos unless he goes out and spends thousands of dollars on lenses. That is just all wrong. Beginners are just trying to get images to come out right. They aren't worried about pixel peeping so they have best in show and they won't print billboard. I appreciate the comments I get from people here who disagree with me. I respect Bob as a photographer and a person and I like the exchange. I am putting this information out so that the beginners will not blame their equipment when their photos don't turn out as sharp as they could be. More expensive lenses won't solve their problems, proper technique will.
I would like to apologize to anyone I have not yet offended. Please be patient and I will get to you shortly.
My new Pixel camera:
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My portfolio:
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My Grand Canyon shots:
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Photog

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Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #15 on: February 13, 2013, 04:56:04 PM »
Now before you hit the reply button to attack me because I am stepping on one of photographys sacred cows please read the following article by Ken Rockwell:
http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/lens-sharpness.htm
Tom - I'm not going to attack you.  I just don't agree with you.  You are entitled to your opinion.  I have mine and we can agree to disagree.
Bill
2004 Winnebago Adventurer 38R

SeilerBird

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Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #16 on: February 19, 2013, 05:55:43 PM »
Here is a video on composition that was recommended on my photograph forum. It is an hour long and well worth the effort no matter what your skill level is.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FpHMuK7Htic

And the guy is pretty funny too.
I would like to apologize to anyone I have not yet offended. Please be patient and I will get to you shortly.
My new Pixel camera:
https://photos.app.goo.gl/rMSw5eVkCfKuuEOP2
My portfolio:
https://goo.gl/photos/Cx4SaYhGfYFShSty7
My Grand Canyon shots:
https://photos.app.goo.gl/Nc1AT8tQp25wJwfm1

Bob Buchanan

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Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #17 on: February 20, 2013, 10:43:58 AM »
I respect Bob as a photographer and a person and I like the exchange.

Thank you, Tom -- the feeling is mutual.
Bob (fulltimer - Rocklin, CA residency)
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Pierat

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Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #18 on: February 21, 2013, 03:30:12 PM »
It seems that some feel that better glass is not only about sharpness or pixelpeeping, but also issues such as flare, contrast, chromatic aberration, vignetting and so on. (Not beginner, but the subject was addressed above by OP.) Better glass can be better.
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Wigpro

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    • Capt Jim Lucas
Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #19 on: February 22, 2013, 06:50:17 PM »
It seems that some feel that better glass is not only about sharpness or pixelpeeping, but also issues such as flare, contrast, chromatic aberration, vignetting and so on. (Not beginner, but the subject was addressed above by OP.) Better glass can be better.

Bingo - All of the above and it really does make a difference.

But that's just my opinion, I could be wrong!

Jim
Full time traveler, fishing guide and photographer!

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Website: www.captainjimlucas.com

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SeilerBird

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Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #20 on: February 23, 2013, 08:37:33 PM »
The title of this thread is "Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners".  I really don't think that beginners need to be told they must spend at least $1000 on a lens in order to get good photos. Beginners are struggling just to get their photos to come out nice.
I would like to apologize to anyone I have not yet offended. Please be patient and I will get to you shortly.
My new Pixel camera:
https://photos.app.goo.gl/rMSw5eVkCfKuuEOP2
My portfolio:
https://goo.gl/photos/Cx4SaYhGfYFShSty7
My Grand Canyon shots:
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tstumpf

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Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #21 on: March 08, 2013, 11:13:11 PM »
Quote
You donít want a telephone pole growing out of someones head.

Or a tree trunk!

-Roni

SeilerBird

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Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #22 on: March 09, 2013, 05:51:04 AM »
LOL very good Roni.

Back when I was a pup in college I took two years of a photography composition course from Mr Bob Hurst. Every class would have a show and tell time where the students got to show their best shots of the week to the class. Every once in a while someone would show a slide with a telephone pole growing out of someone's head. Mr Hurst would sound like he was having a heart attack. Even the simple act of including a telephone pole or a telephone wire would bring sounds of distress from Mr Hurst. The net result was to this day if I see a telephone pole or wire in my shot I can't press the button. Seriously.
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Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #23 on: March 09, 2013, 09:29:40 AM »
Photoshop is your friend!
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Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #24 on: March 09, 2013, 09:54:12 AM »
Bob B,  Totally agree about Ken Rockwell!

Tom S.  Good tips for beginners, but I wouldn't dismiss good lens as not being needed so cavalierly.  Just a caveat that they are available when need arises. 

I wonder if painting discussions tell folks that a matchstick is as good as sable when it comes to brushes?  In both situations it is the eye, the mind and the hands. 
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SeilerBird

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Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #25 on: March 09, 2013, 10:03:14 AM »
Tom S.  Good tips for beginners, but I wouldn't dismiss good lens as not being needed so cavalierly.  Just a caveat that they are available when need arises. 
I own 4 cameras and six lenses. None of them are considered "good glass" since none of them cost very much. So therefore the way I read the comments about needing good glass for sharp photos that means I have never produced a sharp photo. I don't mind if people disagree with me about the need for good glass, I am waiting for someone to post some proof, other than "I think you need good glass". Or "I disagree with Ken Rockwell". That is very typical when someone disagrees with someone's opinion to say bad things about the person rather than show some proof that that person is wrong. If Ken and I are wrong prove it. Show me your photos that are sharper than mine.
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PancakeBill

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Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #26 on: March 09, 2013, 10:29:42 AM »
Tom, why is every disagreement a challenge?

You point to Ken R as an ultimate source, some of us disagree.  You gave a link, folks can follow and get their own opinion. 

As I said, the outcome is in the hands, eyes and mind of the photographer.  Let it be.
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Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #27 on: March 09, 2013, 10:30:54 AM »
Where did I say bad things about Ken R?  Wrong side of the bed today?
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Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #29 on: March 09, 2013, 10:44:27 AM »
I love my Sony Cybershot........... ;D ..........lot less work..... ;)

Sorry guys..... I just had to post that...... my pics are so lousy that I'd just have to live my life over again to get it right.

If it's mechanical.... I can fix it.... an artist, I am not  :o.... but I have a lot of respect for those that are.... ;D
« Last Edit: March 09, 2013, 10:47:01 AM by Wavery »
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workerdrone

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Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #30 on: July 08, 2013, 01:55:33 AM »
I'm firmly in the camp of "buy the best glass you can afford, go cheaper on the camera body if anything". 

The megapixel race is generally ridiculous these days and more mp do not always equal more quality.  I sold an 18mp Canon body to upgrade to a 12mp Nikon body, for example.  Both companies make great and competitive cameras, but in that particular case losing 6mp equalled much better photos.

I also believe in buying pro glass, and buying it used, because I can always get my money back, which I can't do with consumer grade lenses.  Often I've paid in the $1-2k range for a lens, enjoyed it for a while, and then sold it for hundreds more when I was done.

It has probably always been the case that talent and knowledge are more important than equipment though, and also that photo equipment produces an insatiable desire in many folks to constantly upgrade in the belief that equipment alone will get them the photos they admire in other photographers.  It never does.

We live in an amazing time to be photographers.  Free digital 'film' allows you to shoot, shoot, and shoot some more - practice I would have love to have had access to years ago when I could barely afford film and paper and chemicals for my camera and darkroom.  And being able to shoot at iso 6400 and even much higher is just amazing.

By all means, learn as much as you can about your equipment and compositional guidelines and such, but try not to consider anything a rule - breaking the rules often results in great images.  One of my favorite types of portrait shot is facing directly into the sun with the sun on my subject's back.  Not for beginners, definitely not for auto mode, but done right they appear angelic, enveloped in a gorgeous halo of light with their faces perfectly exposed and detailed and the background melting away.  Really special.
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workerdrone

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Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #31 on: July 08, 2013, 07:11:36 AM »
and...no disrespect meant to the OP by any means - I think these are all great tips for beginners.  Just sharing my own opinion as a part time semi-pro photographer and a complete newbie on RV's and this forum  :)

A couple of tips to add to the thread -

Always use your lens hood.  It gives better photos and provides good protection for the front element of your lens.

Use a tripod whenever you can.  Even a cheapo tripod is much better than none at all, and will result in dramatically sharper photos in most cases, as well as forcing you to slow down a bit and carefully consider your composition and make small but significant adjustments to the at first bewildering options of varying shutter speed, aperture, iso, exposure compensation, and critical focus to name a few important ones.  Also allows you to use a cable or remote release, or trigger using the self timer, any of which can also really help with critical sharpness.

Happy shooting!
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SeilerBird

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Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #32 on: July 08, 2013, 07:16:59 AM »
Thanks for your tips. That is not being disrespectful. In fact I am hoping people will contribute tips to this thread. Just remember these tips are for beginners. This is why I am opposed to the tips of spending more money on lenses. I don't think it is right to tell a beginning photographer that he needs to spend thousands of dollars on lenses. That is for only the really advanced shooters. These tips are for people who are having a rough time just getting a nice clear shot that comes out, not for producing masterpieces.
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Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #33 on: July 08, 2013, 07:38:28 AM »
I've always been interested in photography as a hobby, but I've always been intimidated by the equipment, and my lack of knowledge. I took Photography in college (1975-77) and I did pretty good, even getting an offer to work as an unpaid intern for a professional photographer. I couldn't work as an unpaid anything in those days so I let the opportunity slip between my fingers. I still have all of my old 35mm cameras and equipment. I haven't messed with photography other than the normal family pictures on a camping trip in a few decades, and everything is now digital.

Today the equipment is vastly different so, what would be a good entry level camera that is expandable as I grow in experience. I would like to not break the bank if I was even able to afford a good camera. I would like to dabble with lenses as I gain experience.   
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Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #34 on: July 08, 2013, 08:02:37 AM »
There are a number of good cameras out there in the point and shoot camp, the Canon SX50 being one, the other brands have their own versions.  Will cover you for a good time going forward until you decide you need even more in the tool box.  It has great reach with the zoom, great wide angle.  Can be had for under $500.  The lens is not interchangeable.  If you google it, there should even be an option to see similar. 

As this thread is supposed to be about Beginners, this is a great beginning camera.
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Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #35 on: July 08, 2013, 08:10:13 AM »
If I had a very limited budget but wanted to be able to expand as needed, I'd definitely look into an SLR rather than another type of camera, as long as you don't need to pocket your camera.  Here's my take, and I hope others will opine -

I'd go with a Canon or a Nikon - they're not the only game in town; Sony and Pentax and others also make great SLR's, but they're the most popular.

Which means the largest numbers of used equipment available at bargain prices.

Canon has an even larger share than Nikon, and in my experience it was much easier to find bargains on Canon equipment when I shot Canon.

With either system, I'd recommend a basic SLR and a kit lens as a foundation - such as an 18-55mm zoom.  The lens is worth about $100, a good body can be had for $400 or less.

Nice cheap extras would be a "fast" 50mm prime lens such as a 50mm f1.8; and an external flash unit.  The fast lens will let you practically shoot in the dark and play around with limited depth of field shots, which are very nice for portraits and very popular with most subjects.  50mm is also a great portrait length on a "crop" body, which will be the cheaper camera bodies.  "full frame" bodies are generally much more expensive and give you VERY limited upgrades in capabilities for the money spent.

The external flash will give you much more flash power and more flattering light than the built in flash, especially when you "bounce" it on camera or learn to trigger it off-camera.

The main advantage of Nikon in my opinion is that they have not changed their lens mount for decades.  You can buy a 2013 Nikon and use decades old manual focus lenses on it, which can be bought dirt cheap if you are paying attention on Craigslist (my favorite).  Some of these old lenses are 95% as good as the new ones and can be had for pennies on the dollar.  Plus their all-metal construction and butter smooth manual focus are a tactile joy, if you care about that sort of thing.

Lots of people still shoot film, and I keep meaning to try it out again; I recently picked up a grab bag of Nikon lenses and a Nikon film body for $200 to do just that.  But I was always waiting for digital to get as good (resolution-wise) as film, and that day has passed.  If you haven't tried digital, you're missing out on some really great instant gratification!

Bargain suggestions - Canon T2i, T3i, Nikon D3000 series, 5000 series, or D7000 if you really want room to grow.
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SeilerBird

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Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #36 on: July 08, 2013, 08:36:02 AM »
I've always been interested in photography as a hobby, but I've always been intimidated by the equipment, and my lack of knowledge. I took Photography in college (1975-77) and I did pretty good, even getting an offer to work as an unpaid intern for a professional photographer. I couldn't work as an unpaid anything in those days so I let the opportunity slip between my fingers. I still have all of my old 35mm cameras and equipment. I haven't messed with photography other than the normal family pictures on a camping trip in a few decades, and everything is now digital.

Today the equipment is vastly different so, what would be a good entry level camera that is expandable as I grow in experience. I would like to not break the bank if I was even able to afford a good camera. I would like to dabble with lenses as I gain experience.
I agree with Bill, get something like the Canon SX50. Anything more than that is massive overkill for 99% of the photographers out there. DSLRs are nice, but they are way too complicated for the average beginner and it really puts them off, as evidenced by the above quoted post. The SX50 is currently $350 on Amazon and it will be more camera than you will need for a long time.

https://picasaweb.google.com/108464110929132780547/April

Here is a link to an album of 22 photos I took in April. Eleven of them were taken with a DSLR and the other eleven were taken with a point and shoot. See if you can tell which photo was taken with which camera. Click on the "full details page" link to see which camera actually took the shot. You won't be able to tell which is which just by looking because the average point and shoot has just as good of image quality these days as a point and shoot in most situations. Now if you want to shoot in extremely low light, or do extremely heavy cropping, then the DSLR is the way to go. But most beginners don't need those capabilities.

Oscar Mike - If you buy yourself a camera we have plenty of experts here that will help you with any questions or problems you might have.
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workerdrone

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Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #37 on: July 08, 2013, 08:57:39 AM »
SX50 has good reviews.  It looks SLR-sized.  Mega zoom looks like fun for a beginner. 

John would just have to give a bit more info on what kinds of photos he wants to take - if he has taken photo classes before and currently owns an SLR, and said he would like to dabble with lenses as he gains experience, any SLR from a beginner model to a $5000+ pro body will have full auto modes to make them behave like a point and shoot, should he wish to default to that.

But you won't really learn why your pictures are not coming out like you want until you start to control the camera instead of it making all the decisions.  Generally, the more point 'n shooty it is, the harder it is to access the basics like he has on his current camera.  You can do it, but you have to dig through menus and read, read, read those manuals.

John, you said the equipment is "vastly different", but actually pro digital cameras are very much like film slr's of old.  Just dreamier  :)  The basics of exposure, shutter speed, aperture, focal length, composition haven't changed a whit.

Bet you could get this for not much over $100  ;)  http://lasvegas.craigslist.org/pho/3919323416.html   

Someone mentioned Sony Cybershots - if you want an absolutely killer bargain, look for some old versions of those - many of them use Zeiss glass, often considered the best in the world.  And have great macro capabilities.  This was with a 10+ year old Cybershot 5mp camera, you could probably score one for under $100.  Hope this works, haven't tried to post an image yet:
« Last Edit: July 08, 2013, 09:25:10 AM by workerdrone »
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Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #38 on: July 08, 2013, 12:25:52 PM »
Bet you could get this for not much over $100  ;)  http://lasvegas.craigslist.org/pho/3919323416.html   

I've contacted the seller, we'll see what happens.
John & Susan
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Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #39 on: July 08, 2013, 12:41:08 PM »
SX50 has good reviews.  It looks SLR-sized.  Mega zoom looks like fun for a beginner. 

John would just have to give a bit more info on what kinds of photos he wants to take - if he has taken photo classes before and currently owns an SLR, and said he would like to dabble with lenses as he gains experience, any SLR from a beginner model to a $5000+ pro body will have full auto modes to make them behave like a point and shoot, should he wish to default to that.

I mostly enjoy action photography, such as waterfalls, trains on trestles, motorcyclists, people fishing, and so forth. I love capturing the mili-second in time. While I was in Community College Photography Class our focus was primarily in Black and White film, light and shadow were big for our instructors. Still photography in black and white is what we did mainly in school.

Film is just too expensive and cumbersome to work with, and it would be a lot more expensive to create a dark room than it would be to buy some good digital equipment.

I look forward to reengaging in my old past time and learning from some experienced people in the forum.
John & Susan
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workerdrone

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Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #40 on: July 08, 2013, 06:40:32 PM »
If you love capturing the moment in time, I guess there are two schools - the machine gunners and the time-the-moment guys.

Machine gunning is typically a derogatory term but I'm not sure it should be.  One of the joys of digital is the ability to hold that shutter button down without the expense of lots of frames of film.

I'm an SLR guy and this has been strictly an SLR specialty until recently.  But newer point 'n shoots have the ability to fire off 60 frames per second and the like.  I haven't tried them and it sounds intriguing, enabled by the 'mirrorless' technology they use.

SLR's traditionally excel at shooting things that move, with 6 frames per second a very typical rate and 10-12 fps typical of pro bodies like Canon 1D series or Nikon D3 and D4 series.  All the while adjusting focus via predictive algorithms to give you a high percentage of 6-12fps in-focus shots on tough targets like motorcycles, birds in flight, sports....

Your desired subjects sound more in keeping with the time-the-moment school, where the most desirable camera feature is minimal shutter lag - you want the picture taken the instant the shutter is pressed so you can develop a feel for the timing.  Again, SLR's have typically ruled here but mirrorless and point 'n shoots are improving.  I find something like a camera phone or lesser point 'n shoot really irritating here, where you see the shot, press the shutter, and some time later, when the camera decides it's in focus and the planets have aligned, it takes the picture.  Well after the moment is gone.

Again, I'm personally a big fan of buying used; if it ain't broke when you buy it, chances are it will continue to function 100% until it's so obsolete you want to move on.  Chances are, YMMV.

And you should generally plan on losing money on cameras or SLR bodies since tech changes so fast.  But if you go the SLR route, you can often score lenses that will hold or appreciate in value while you own them.  Mostly a function of our depreciating dollar but that's a whole 'nother discussion  ;)  Good glass changes much more slowly and manufacturers just keep raising prices year after year on basically the same lenses, which keeps the used market very healthy.
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Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #41 on: July 09, 2013, 03:49:52 PM »
I learned a long time ago to not be a "machine gunner".
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workerdrone

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Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #42 on: July 09, 2013, 08:04:56 PM »
Timing is definitely a good skill to have.

Still, I wish I could get over the aversion I have from my film days to use the "motor drive" since it would burn up film.

I definitely still miss some great shots because I still try to time everything and just barely miss the best take.  And with the unbelievable resolution of today's cameras, if you are shooting handheld and you shoot a burst of a few images, even if they all look about the same upon first review you'll later on the pc find that one of them is just much sharper than the rest - that's where your breathing, camera hold, shutter vibration, everything lined up perfectly for the best quality shot.  There's your keeper.

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Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #43 on: July 10, 2013, 02:16:10 AM »
Well as they say "timing is everything"  ...  while a good sense of timing is always good, the shutter lag with (at least the older) point and shoots can be a real problem (challenge ?  ;D ) .  "Machine gunning" is a tool and can be very useful while shooting any action type shots ... be it sports, birds or aircraft as examples.

Here are some shots I took of the Canadian Snow Birds at the Airshow in Duluth MN last September.  The first 3 would be doable with a fast trigger finger, but the last 3 would be pretty hard to do consistently ... at least by me.   ;D

Howard
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workerdrone

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Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #44 on: July 10, 2013, 05:21:44 AM »
Cool airshow shots, I especially like the first 3.

Here's a couple more beginner tips - everyone admires sharp photos, but so many are ruined by camera shake.  The best solution is a tripod but one is not always available or practical to use in the situation.

And something that exacerbates camera shake is having a small, light camera - the lack of mass lets every little tremor in your body show up as camera shake.

Especially with point 'n shoots, but with any camera really, I will try to make as much contact as possible with a solid object - non-running car, tree, fence post, furniture, rock....  at the least I'll try and use them to brace my own body and arms,  but ideally I'll find a way to hold the camera body itself against the object.  Or wad up a piece of cloth or clothing to use as a pad, then smush that between the camera and the object. 

Then, always remember, gently squeeze the shutter, don't jab it.  If you've ever had any rifle shooting experience, it's the same idea - you want to be squeezing the trigger gently so it's almost a suprise when it goes off, even though you definitely meant to be squeezing the trigger.  You're only focused on staying on target.

How about a tripod substitute that costs pennies and fits in your pocket?

With a couple of short little 1/4-20 bolts from any hardware store and a piece of string, tie the string at each end to a bolt.  Thread one of them into the tripod socket of your camera.  Make the string just long enough so you can step on the other bolt and stretch the string tight when the camera is up to your eye.  This will limit camera shake quite a bit as well when nothing else is available!
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SeilerBird

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Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #45 on: July 10, 2013, 06:15:53 AM »
"Machine gunning" is exactly how I take all my photos. I have my Sony a55 set on burst mode and it stays there. I never take only one shot of something. If a subject is worth photographing then it certainly is worth taking 5 to ten shots. Most of what I shoot is critters. The problem with shooting critters is that they don't take direction very well. If I am photographing a human I can tell them where to stand, how to look, what to do, etc, to get the exact shot I want. With critters that is not possible. So I have found that by taking a burst I get a selection of poses and facial expressions. Then I can pick out the best one in post processing.

On an average month I take a few thousand shots and keep about 30 of them. Film is free and I have 16 gig SD cards that are impossible for me to fill up in a day. So I just keep blasting away.
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Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #46 on: July 10, 2013, 07:02:55 AM »
Wow! Nice shots, Howard!
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Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #47 on: July 10, 2013, 07:09:09 AM »
Quote
Especially with point 'n shoots, but with any camera really, I will try to make as much contact as possible with a solid object - non-running car, tree, fence post, furniture, rock....  at the least I'll try and use them to brace my own body and arms,  but ideally I'll find a way to hold the camera body itself against the object.  Or wad up a piece of cloth or clothing to use as a pad, then smush that between the camera and the object. 

So long as that object isn't vibrating (like an airplane window), that can work. With no object near, hold your non-shutter hand under the camera and brace the camera against your face/forehead with the shutter hand, then tuck your elbows in against your side (this is kinda like off-hand shooting of rifles) to provide a decent bracing, being sure that your feet are planted solidly. Granted this is tough when there's no viewfinder -- I can't help there, as I can't take a decent picture holding the camera out away from me.
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Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #48 on: July 10, 2013, 08:04:13 AM »
Nothing wrong with machine gunning.  It sure is a throwback to film as an aversion, but as one mentioned, you will find the shot in there that is just right, thee is not much chance of getting that just by timing.  We have photography workshops up here in Yellowstone, and they are always talking about getting off a string of 4 to 5 shots, the middle shots are always the best.  Hard to get that with squeezing one off. 

Yes, it can be done.  As Tom says thoough, especially with critters, and for that matter, moving water, you get a batch and analyze. 
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Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #49 on: July 10, 2013, 09:05:58 AM »
Here is an example of machine gunning. Twenty shots in two seconds (10 fps) with my a55, of a tern coming in for a landing. It is a lot easier to do it this way than to attempt to decide exactly when I should take just one shot of him coming in for a landing and hope it looks ok.

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Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #50 on: July 10, 2013, 08:08:38 PM »
Gives you a number of possibilities doesn't it?

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Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #51 on: July 11, 2013, 12:45:25 AM »
Hi Tom,

I would add at least one more rule, and I would question the need for one of your rules.

My added rule would be:

Acquire some photo editing software, and become proficient at using it. It is rare for a high quality photo to come straight out of the camera without at least a little bit of tweaking. I can recall reading an interview in which Cole Weston was talking about having spent his youth working as an assistant to his father. Those of you who are not familiar with Edward Weston's work might enjoy looking at it. Cole said that he would watch his father spend an entire day, setting up and taking a single photo. He could then, spend an entire week in the darkroom, making a single print.

Fortunately, today's "digital darkroom" is a lot less expensive, an a whole lot less smelly than my old wet darkroom was. The gold standard today is Photoshop  CS6. However (unless you are a student), it is rather pricy, and has far more power than most of us will ever use. Photoshop Elements 11 is quite reasonably priced, and will satisfy the needs of all but commercial art professionals.

Personally, I tend to follow your rule about taking lots of shots, but I don't know that everybody needs to work that way. Edward Weston certainly didn't, and he is not the only photographer who did some fantastic work while taking very few shots. Jim Brandenburg once spent 90 days alone in the northwoods of Minnesota, between the autumnal equinox and the winter solstice.

He had a self imposed rule to take one, and only one, shot each day. The results are published in the book Chased by The Light, and are some of the most beautiful nature phorography you will ever see. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J78cmsC7s4w

I have often thought that he must have some awful decisions to make. Can you imagine Jim wandering around at 3 p.m., still looking for today's shot. He finally comes across a shot that i ok, but not spectacular. Should he shoot, or should he wait? Imagine the  agony of deciding to wait and then not finding anything else as good. Even worse, could be deciding to take the ok shot, and then stumbling upon upon what could be the shot of the week. I wonder if he ever cheated.

Good shooting to you,
Joel

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Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #52 on: July 11, 2013, 04:11:26 AM »
I would add at least one more rule, and I would question the need for one of your rules.

That speaks highly of Tom's rules for beginners.  :)  I guess we could all add at least one, and disagree with at least one.

I am definitely not a Machine Gun shooter. It's not that I think I would wear out my Canon 50D faster, but rather how I prefer to shoot. I guess the 50D shutter and mirror have 100's of thousands of cycles, and at 6fps, I would divide that by 6. So that only leaves me 10 years or so before it explodes on me. And I am sure the technology curve will force me into a new body before this one wears out - regardless of the fps I use.

When shooting fast stuff, such as my learning BIF, SIF, and HIF (the later being Squirrels and Helicopters), I am slowly adding fps. Am only at 3 in AI Servo for now. Am still learning to keep that guy in my frame vs. trying for a super final shot as yet. My sessions with TomS have been very helpful. When he talks BIF, I take notes.  :)

However, over the years from 35 and medium format film shooting, primarily people, I have learned to keenly keep my eye on the viewfinder to catch that just right expression vs. hoping for the best with a burst. I am definitely a dSLR view finder shooter. With relatively slow moving candids, I can get what I want with one shot at a time. I may take a number of shots, but only one at a time. Otherwise, the good one may wind up half way between two burst shots - and I wind up with a distorted face. OTOH, if it were a fast moving kid, I would burst away hoping for the best - but also, would avoid fast moving kids anyway. I sometimes leave it at 3fps, but will most always linger too long and get more than just one when I only want one. So most of the time I am in single shot mode.

Here is an album in my Flickr portfolio that I dump shots I like myself a lot - and represents what I like to do and how I do it. In photography, my greatest thrill comes when I capture that just right expression - especially if that expression contains the emotion of the person involved at the time of the shot.

For example, you will see one shot of my brother and SIL dancing at the wedding of one of their 10 grand children. I probably fired 5 or so frames - while staying right with June's expressions. And this is what I got. One of the "money shots" for a wedding photographer is the one of the brides first eye contact with the groom as she starts down the isle. In this one I only needed 2 shots - because I had her in the viewfinder from the moment she entered the back of the area. BTW, on this shot I am shooting with a Canon 580SX flash with a Quantum battery pack. It will give me 500 full powered shots at about 3/per sec if needed. The shot of Ned and Lorna's rig is using that battery pack.

In another wedding shot, the flutist kept the same basic expression as she played, but the issue was the position of her left hand. I finally got the right "note" after about 7 or 8 frames -- one at at time. Her left hand was all over the place during her performance. As a back up photographer, I have been able to use my 100-400mm Canon to get in close from the back of the area w/o anyone noticing. That image became her FB profile pic the next day. The shot of ring exchanges was from over 20 yards away. Weddings are fun for me now, but only if I am not the primary shooter.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/bob-bluecanon/sets/72157621769130537/

For best full screen viewing, hover over any one of the large thumbnails, then click the angled arrows in the lower right to go to black box mode - then F11 for full screen. You can then move through some of the pics in the album in that mode.

Finally then, my advice for beginners is to begin with single shot mode - and learn to closely track the subject. Even if at first a moving object. If the subject is not in the frame, a burst of shots will not help. If doing a person, watch for that just right expression vs. a burst and hoping for a good one. Then add bursts as you feel necessary for the type of shot you are after. Every shot in this album was in single shot mode - other than the horse race.
« Last Edit: July 11, 2013, 04:30:09 AM by Bob Buchanan »
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Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #53 on: July 11, 2013, 05:47:05 AM »
Maybe some of us could give examples of certain types of shots and how they were achieved so beginners can take some notes or try them out themselves?  In the previous flower shot I posted, it's what's known as a macro shot - an extreme closeup.  SLR's will use a macro lens, point 'n shoots should have a macro mode you can enter so the camera will know not to bother trying to focus anywhere but close up.  I took it handheld early in the AM, with dew still on the landscape, and I shot directly into the sun, so the flower was backlit.

One type of shot you see all the time is using a slow shutter speed to smooth water - here are a couple of examples.  The waterfall was a stunning location all by itself but I knew I wanted a certain effect.  The red dirt rivulet was actually very small, just a boring trickle, but I knew what would happen if I left the shutter open so I tried it out.

In all of these, I set a shutter speed of 30 seconds, to thoroughly smooth out the water.  The only critical thing for this type of shot is that the camera remain absolutely still the whole time.  I used a little travel tripod, far from ideal but it got the job done.

If the long shutter speed is going to result in a complete overexposure, you can use filters such as polarizers and neutral densities to cut down the light to a manageable level.  Stopping down your lens (f16 vs f4) and choosing the lowest possible iso will also help with this.

You can sometimes use this very same technique if you're in a spot where you want to get a shot but the damn tourists / cars / whatever keep entering your frame.  If you have a 30 second shot, someone walking through your shot will often barely show up, if at all  :)

« Last Edit: July 11, 2013, 05:57:32 AM by workerdrone »
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Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #54 on: July 11, 2013, 06:28:54 AM »
Hi Tom,

I would add at least one more rule, and I would question the need for one of your rules.

My added rule would be:

Acquire some photo editing software, and become proficient at using it. It is rare for a high quality photo to come straight out of the camera without at least a little bit of tweaking. I can recall reading an interview in which Cole Weston was talking about having spent his youth working as an assistant to his father. Those of you who are not familiar with Edward Weston's work might enjoy looking at it. Cole said that he would watch his father spend an entire day, setting up and taking a single photo. He could then, spend an entire week in the darkroom, making a single print.

Fortunately, today's "digital darkroom" is a lot less expensive, an a whole lot less smelly than my old wet darkroom was. The gold standard today is Photoshop  CS6. However (unless you are a student), it is rather pricy, and has far more power than most of us will ever use. Photoshop Elements 11 is quite reasonably priced, and will satisfy the needs of all but commercial art professionals.

Personally, I tend to follow your rule about taking lots of shots, but I don't know that everybody needs to work that way. Edward Weston certainly didn't, and he is not the only photographer who did some fantastic work while taking very few shots. Jim Brandenburg once spent 90 days alone in the northwoods of Minnesota, between the autumnal equinox and the winter solstice.

He had a self imposed rule to take one, and only one, shot each day. The results are published in the book Chased by The Light, and are some of the most beautiful nature phorography you will ever see. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J78cmsC7s4w

I have often thought that he must have some awful decisions to make. Can you imagine Jim wandering around at 3 p.m., still looking for today's shot. He finally comes across a shot that i ok, but not spectacular. Should he shoot, or should he wait? Imagine the  agony of deciding to wait and then not finding anything else as good. Even worse, could be deciding to take the ok shot, and then stumbling upon upon what could be the shot of the week. I wonder if he ever cheated.

Good shooting to you,
Joel
Hi Joel

Thanks for your great input to this thread. First off my list is not rules, it is tips. Mere suggestions. The point of the thread is to help out beginners who are having problems getting their photos to come out the way they want them to come out. These are the basic basics. These tips are not meant for intermediate or advanced photographers since they will already know and use most of these tips. If I were to do a thread on tips for intermediate photographers it would end up like a book.

I don't recommend photo editing software for beginners. I feel like that is making digital photography too time consuming and too hard for a beginner. I know plenty of photographers who shoot jpg, don't post process and get spectacular results. These people tend to put a lot more thought into each photo before pushing the shutter. My method is machine gunning and then post process the best ones. My method works great for me but I am not sure there are many beginners who would want to do what I do.

One thing a lot of advanced photographers forget when counseling beginning photographers. Not everyone wants to end up with a backpack full of camera gear so they can produce masterpieces. The huge majority of the people with cameras in their hand today are only looking to take photos that actually come out. This is why I don't believe in trying to convince beginners to invest thousands of dollars into lens when all they want is a snapshot of their grandkids and dogs to mail to their friends.
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Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #55 on: July 11, 2013, 12:55:32 PM »
I've found some of the 'tips for beginners' useful and informative, and I'm grateful to all contributors. However, arguments between the 'experts' are something of a turnoff when trying to pick the gems out of this topic. Why not start a new topic on 'expert disagreements' or some such?
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Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #56 on: July 11, 2013, 12:57:54 PM »
Excellent idea Tom. Why don't you split this thread in two?
I would like to apologize to anyone I have not yet offended. Please be patient and I will get to you shortly.
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Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #57 on: July 12, 2013, 11:00:52 AM »
Quote
Excellent idea Tom. Why don't you split this thread in two?

I did; The split/moved messages are here.
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Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #58 on: July 12, 2013, 06:47:09 PM »
Ok here's another one - perhaps many times you have been stopped in your tracks by the sight of a heavenly rainbow, snapped a whole bunch of pix, and they just never come out.

Rainbows are simply an extreme example of the camera generally not cooperating in conveying your sense of wonder at what you saw.  Something to do with the camera sensor or film not being able to represent the full range of light and color at one time that the human brain coupled with your eyes conspire to do.

A couple things you can do here - a polarizing filter is a huge help with rainbows - you will find that there is a certain point in the rotation where the contrast just pops and the rainbow in the picture will look almost as impressive as the one you saw in front of you.  Take the picture.

Then, you can tweak it a bit later in "post processing" - Photoshop, Lightroom, Aperture, any of a hundred programs that function as a digital darkroom, and ranging from free to hundreds of dollars.  There are very few images straight out of the camera that will not be much improved with a few seconds or minutes of tweaking on the computer.  They did the same thing back in film days but it took hours or days instead.  Here, it's up to you how far you want to mold the image, but at least a bump up in contrast and saturation and dialing the exposure up and down for maximum effect is hard to resist with something like a rainbow:

« Last Edit: July 12, 2013, 06:51:05 PM by workerdrone »
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Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #59 on: August 09, 2013, 07:23:34 AM »
Wow, this thread has gone very quiet  8) - does anyone want to share frustrations with trying to take certain types of shots, and maybe more experienced folks can help out?
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Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #60 on: August 09, 2013, 08:01:48 AM »
I was recently at an outdoor canine event here in sunny CA, and noticed a pro photographer had a funny-looking 'tent' thingie over the flash. I guessed it was some sort of diffuser, but wasn't sure why she needed it outdoors. Came home and did a little research, and learned she was probably using flash fill to minimize shadows, and the diffuser softens the sharp light from the flash. I've since ordered a diffuser for my flash, and I'm eager to experiment with it.
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Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #61 on: August 09, 2013, 08:05:31 AM »
OK, I'll add one. Have you ever had the experience of shooting a large white bird such as a Great Egret, only to look at the photo later and see that the bird is rather gray instead of white? 

The problem is that the camera looks at the scene and wants to make it average out to medium gray It doesn't know that the bird is supposed to be bright white. In order to get the proper exposure, you have to set the camera to over expose by about one full stop.

Conversely, the camera will also want to turn a large black bird or your black cat gray. In this case, you will need to set the camera to under expose by a full stop.

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Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #62 on: August 09, 2013, 10:02:54 AM »
I was recently at an outdoor canine event here in sunny CA, and noticed a pro photographer had a funny-looking 'tent' thingie over the flash. I guessed it was some sort of diffuser, but wasn't sure why she needed it outdoors. Came home and did a little research, and learned she was probably using flash fill to minimize shadows, and the diffuser softens the sharp light from the flash. I've since ordered a diffuser for my flash, and I'm eager to experiment with it.

Yep, the goal is generally to simulate the largest possible light source, from the most flattering direction, giving the softest result for lighting and most closely approximating natural light - the sun through the clouds is a pretty large light source  ;)

The worst way to use flash is having one on your camera pointed directly at the subject (like using a built in flash of any kind).  When this is the only option, you'll generally want to dial down the flash power so it's not so obvious you used flash.

Slightly better is using one of those diffusers you saw - there are lots of different kinds, none is overwhelmingly better than any others.

Even better is using bounce flash if you have a decent surface to bounce off of (easier indoors), which simulates getting the flash in a different location - turning walls or ceilings or pieces of paper or such into the light source by bouncing the flash off of them.

This is why you see real pros, if they use flash at all, using flashes completely separated from their cameras, and usually fired through umbrellas or softboxes.  Those accessories simply make the light source appear larger, and by separating the flash and camera you can choose where your light is coming from.

It's actually not that hard or expensive necessarily - many cheap used older flashes are available that have a 'slave' mode that will fire the flash if they see another flash.  So you can turn your on camera flash way down, not affecting the picture much if at all, but still triggering the off camera flash(es) when it fires.

I actually use radio triggers combined with slave triggers, but that's another step up in expense and complication.

In real estate, I've used up to 5 flashes in a single shot like this to evenly light all areas of the property that are shown in the shot, and still balance with the light coming through the windows.

There's a marvellous website out there if anyone really wants to learn about flash use - with free tutorials   http://strobist.blogspot.com/2006/03/lighting-101.html

Here are two examples - a simple sunset snapshot with fill flash, flash mounted on the camera and power turned down a bit so as not to bleach out subject.  Second one is an off camera flash fired through an umbrella to soften.  These are junky low res versions for the forum, but you can probably still see the difference in the lighting, the first is obvious flash, the second should not be:

« Last Edit: August 09, 2013, 10:11:11 AM by workerdrone »
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Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #63 on: August 09, 2013, 10:26:46 AM »
Thanks. I have a Canon Speedlite 430EXII that I use mounted on a hot shoe. I often bounce the flash and, coincidentally, a few days ago I was giving our visiting daughter a demo of different results on a 'family shot', bouncing off different surfaces (ceiling, walls).

I first learned some of the advantages of bounce flash when shopping for the Speedlite at Best Buy; I had no idea what I was looking for, but a young sales associate happened to be a semi pro photographer; He gave me a demo of different models, and also showed me part of his portfolio.

I'm the newsletter editor and webmaster for several local clubs, and snap pictures at club meetings. The first time I rotated the Speedlite to bounce the light during a club meeting, several folks waved and pointed at the Speedlite to let me know it wasn't pointed at the subject  ;D

When I recently ordered the diffuser, I also ordered a cord allowing me to mount the Speedlite remotely. Another opportunity to experiment.
« Last Edit: August 09, 2013, 10:28:18 AM by Tom »
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Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #64 on: August 09, 2013, 02:06:50 PM »
OK, let me toss my two Pennies in here, if for nothing else... a few laughs.  I think what is very, very rare in photography is two good photographers who agree on all the aspects.  Mostly I think the disagreements are a resistance to change.  There is usually more than one way to get the desired results.  However, I am not a good enough photographer to know that.

I bought a Nikon digital SLR camera and a selection of lenses a few years ago.  I primarily photograph wildlife, mostly large game, deer, elk, bear and large birds as in eagles, hawks, falcons, herons, egrets ducks, geese, swan, etc., etc.  This gets us traveling to interesting places.  I found the manuals that came with the camera wanting and too technical.  I bought a book especially for my camera and read it with the camera at hand.  Then I later read it again highlighting areas.  Then I read the highlighted areas from time to time and experimented with the camera and various lenses.  My favorite lens is my 18 to 200mm....at least that is on the camera more that the others.

I am for sure an amateur photographer but a very happy one!!  I like my photography, my friends like my photography...I email a lot of it, I frame some to hang on the walls...my friends frame some to hang on their walls. I make up photo DVD's with our trip photos with music...all my friends love those.... and we have a lot of fun with it.  Likely my subjects and ability to find wildlife to photograph is much better than the quality of the photos themselves.  However, my photographs improved greatly when I learned a few things that I consider basic:

-  I got off of "Auto" right away and ended up mostly on aperture priority.

-  I I learned to improve or kill depth of field by using the thumb wheel to go to larger or smaller apertures.

-  I learned to stop the action, as in a birds flying or water flowing, or blur the action all with the thumb wheel going to smaller or larger apertures.

-  I learned that UV filters may protect your lens from dirt and scratches but do little to cut haze the way they do in film photography.

-  I learned to use the Active-D lighting feature to help cut haze and give better definition to distant mountains and for clouds and sky.

-  I learned to use the + - button with the thumb wheel to add or subtract light from the photo.  Even though I don't remember the technical terms for this I can put it to very good uses in low light, bright light and sun set situations.

OK, you hot shots...and I mean that as a compliment, can laugh at my lack of knowledge but I am where I want to be in my photography and don't feel the need for better equipment or knowledge...although I continue to learn on every trip!.  Stepping up from the 300mm lens to 400mm or better would be nice if I could justify the bucks...so my 50 to 300mm has to do for now.         

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Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #65 on: August 09, 2013, 03:18:00 PM »
I would definitely agree that we are an opinionated lot and not going to agree on everything!  ;)

A lot of people are unaware that you can rent equipment reasonably and short-term without being a pro.  So if you've got a very special event coming up, or are heading to a killer wildlife location perhaps, you can test drive some equipment you are unable or unwilling to purchase for a pretty reasonable fee.

RVfixer, you already have a Nikon SLR, so that's the important part - you know your way around the camera, menus, controls, and you can just take a new lens, pop it on, and start shooting.

At a place like lensrentals.com, you can rent lenses such as -

The excellent $800  105mm VR macro for $9 a day

The new $2,700  80-400mm AFS zoom, very well reviewed, for $20 per day

The new $17,000  800mm for 'only' $100 per day  ;D  How else would most of us ever get our hands on a $17,000 lens?

Or you could try a 'full frame' camera for $16 per day to see what the fuss is about.

They rent cameras, lenses, tripods, flashes, all kinds of stuff.  Just don't let it be a gateway drug to financial ruin, I warned you  ;D 
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Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #66 on: August 10, 2013, 07:27:41 AM »
Thanks for the strobist link; A good/easy read.
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Larry N.

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Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #67 on: August 12, 2013, 09:20:29 PM »
It appears to me that, good as some of this info is, we are once again getting away from the "beginners" theme that started this topic I suspect we need a new thread (perhaps a split from this one) aimed more at intermediate photographers. If I'm overly sensitive about this Tom, then please accept my apologies.
Larry and Mary Ann N.
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Tom

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Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #68 on: August 13, 2013, 01:56:31 AM »
Aye Larry, and that's one of the challenges with a "add your tips" topic such as this. Another challenge is knowing when/where to split the discussion. In some casess, a neophyte such as I will ask a simple question, but the answer may be more complex than I thought.

FWIW I already split a bunch of messages into a separate topic just a month ago. I'm always open to suggestions on where to split a topic.
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RVfixer

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Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #69 on: August 13, 2013, 01:31:26 PM »
Thanks Workerdrone for the suggestion.  I guess I knew that you could rent lenses but have never looked into it.  I will now!

WashDad

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Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #70 on: August 13, 2013, 03:57:04 PM »
I was recently at an outdoor canine event here in sunny CA, and noticed a pro photographer had a funny-looking 'tent' thingie over the flash. I guessed it was some sort of diffuser, but wasn't sure why she needed it outdoors. Came home and did a little research, and learned she was probably using flash fill to minimize shadows, and the diffuser softens the sharp light from the flash. I've since ordered a diffuser for my flash, and I'm eager to experiment with it.

I paid for a couple of years of college as a newspaper photographer. I used to fasten a Kleenex over my flash with a rubber band when shooting up close (indoors or outdoors) to diffuse the blast effect of the flash. If I was pretty close, one layer of Kleenex, if I was really close, two layers.  The other trick I used with my Vivitar 283 flash outdoors, where bounce flash is useless, was to aim it up like I was going to bounce, but hold my hand or a white piece of paper at a angle above the flash. It's amazing how well this works, and doesn't cost anything either.  Anything to get rid of the "National Enquirer" harsh shadow lines on faces.
Rick Tyler
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WashDad

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Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #71 on: August 13, 2013, 04:00:53 PM »
Here's my 2 cents for beginners, and the first one was covered way up there in this thread:

1. Decide what you are taking a picture of, and get close enough to fill the frame with that thing. If the picture is "Aunt Trudy at the Grand Canyon" you should see more Aunt Trudy and less canyon. If it is "the Grand Canyon" then the hole in the ground can be bigger than your aunt.

1.a. I'll repeat that -- fill the frame with your subject. This will make almost everyone think you are an expert photographer.

I forget the other things I was going to include.  :)
Rick Tyler
Still shopping...
King County, Washington

Tom

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Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #72 on: August 13, 2013, 06:13:46 PM »
Thanks for those gems of wisdom/experience Rick, much appreciated.
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MN Blue Skies

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Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #73 on: February 23, 2014, 09:48:57 AM »
I am new to the RV forum and was poking around in the photography threads and discovered this old discussion of lenses/glass with an emphasis on beginning photographers. 

In my opinion the quality of "glass" is extremely important for professional photographers.  If a person is a photography hobbyist or enthusiast the average kit lens will probably suffice if he or she has realistic expectations on the quality of the images.  I'm a Canon shooter and my walkabout lens is my Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM Lens ($499). The quality is "okay" but if I'm going to shoot a professional portrait I take out my 70-200mm Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Lens ($2,499).  Can I justify the $2,000 difference?  Absolutely if I'm shooting professionally. For casual shooting I think my 18-135mm is just fine.  (However I would stay away from Canon's 75-300 mm kit lens.  Although I think it might make an interesting door stop.)

If a person wants to go beyond taking snapshots they also need to have a good understanding of lighting, composition, post production, etc. 

Summary - in my opinion:
Hobbyists and enthusiasts using dSLRs will be okay with kit lens in most cases.
Professionals should invest in good glass.  Bodies are always changing. 
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workerdrone

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Re: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners
« Reply #74 on: February 18, 2016, 06:57:02 AM »
I'm repeating myself here, but use your lens hood folks!  Smoke 'em if you got 'em  :)

The number of amateurs I see shooting with their lens hood attached in the storage position (reversed) on their lens far outnumbers the ones I see using the hood in its proper position - it can make a huge difference in the final sharpness, focus, color, and contrast of your images - it's included by the manufacturer for a reason

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