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Author Topic: Photographic knowledge and tips for beginners  (Read 36551 times)

Tom

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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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Great Horned Owl

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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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workerdrone

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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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Tom

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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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RVfixer

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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.         

workerdrone

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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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Tom

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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.
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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.
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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
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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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