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Author Topic: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners  (Read 36569 times)

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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John Beard

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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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PancakeBill

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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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workerdrone

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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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John Beard

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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.
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John Beard

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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.
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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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Howard R

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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

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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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Larry N.

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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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Larry N.

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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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PancakeBill

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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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SeilerBird

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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.

http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/36889801
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Ron from Big D

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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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Great Horned Owl

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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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Bob Buchanan

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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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workerdrone

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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.
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 #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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SeilerBird

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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.
My new Pixel camera:
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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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