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Mercer

Digital Photography talk thread, noobz welcome (questions & answers)

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This thread is for discussion of digital photography, I'll try to cover the basics of exposure, using manual setting

on your camera, and how each setting effects the looks and qualities of the photo. I'll also try to touch on points

to consider choosing you first digital camera.

 

I feel like I should also say this as a disclaimer, I've never taken a class or read a book on photography. I've picked

all this up as part of an ongoing process of learning as I go along. If anyone with more formal training, opposing views,

or anything to add relevant to this topic, please contribute here.

 

Exposure

Exposure is the amount of light captured in the photo, too much and your shot will be washed out with white light,

too little and your photo will be black and all the detail will be lost in the shadows. What you want to do is expose

somewhere in between washed out and too dark. What you want to do is find the ideal exposure, most of the time

that point is determined by what exposure will allow for the most detail in the shadows and highlights but it's up to

you what you feel looks best.

 

There are 4 factors that determine exposure, lighting, aperture, shutter speed, ISO. For the purposes of discussing

exposure, each one of those factors is a mathematical value and exposure is determined by adding the values of each.

Most modern digital cameras will have a light meter to determine the ambient light

 

Lighting is generally determined by the ambient light around you, the sun, street lights, and other sources of light and how

they're the reflecting off of the objects within the frame of the photograph you're about to capture. On modern cameras

this is measured by the light meter built into the camera. A value is then calculated by the camera according to the amount

of light and the cameras 3 main exposure settings: aperture, shutter speed, and ISO.

 

 

Aperture:

• This is determined by how much light the aperture diaphragm allows in.

• This diaphragm is part of the lens and the smaller you make it the less light is let in.

• It also determines how much depth of field is in the photo meaning how much of it is in focus.

 

• Shots where the subject is in focus but the background is blurry have a wider aperture setting.

• Shots where everything is crisp from the foreground to the background have a smaller aperture.

• The smaller the aperture the higher the number associated with that setting.

• For example a photo taken at f/1.4 would have a shallow depth of field while a shot taken at f/22 will be crisper over wider distances from the lens.

 

Shutter speed:

• After the light passes through the aperture ring it comes across the next thing that determines exposure, the shutter.

• Simply put the shutter is normally closed, when you press the shutter release button it opens and lets in the light.

• The amount of time it's open determines the amount of light it lets in and also determines things like motion blur.

• To get shots where a moving subject is crisp you want a short shutter speed, to get light trails and movement in the photo you keep it open longer.

 

ISO:

• Until digital, the ISO was dertermined by the film you had in the back of the camera and how quickly the light focused on it is absorbed and recorded.

• On digital cameras you don't need to change film, you can adjust the ISO setting of the CMOS sensor using the cameras buttons/interface.

• The higher the ISO setting, the faster light is recorded, it also makes the photo look grainy and lowers the amount of smooth gradients.

• Most people will only up the ISO from the default in extremely low light since in most cases less grain means a higher quality image.

• ISO performance is usually the second leading factor determining the price of a camera right after megapixels.

 

 

 

 

 

Full Manuall Control & Setting Exposure is Easy

Manually adjusting the settings on your camera will determine the exposure. For blurry backgrounds, open the aperture up to a lower number like f/1.4

To compensate for allowing more light through the wider aperture diaphragm, you may want to speed up the shutter so the photo isn't overexposed.

Don't worry, it's easy to do this and requires no calculations, the camera figures all of this out for you and you can always delete, fine tune, and shoot again.

You may also need to turn the ISO up even if the photo is a little grainy to avoud blurry moving subjects in low light situations.

Sometimes you might go further by changing the actual lighting conditions by using flash or introducing other light sources.

 

To help you calcualate all this the camera has a built in light meter, it takes the aperture, shutter speed, ISO setting, and light meter reading,

and uses that info to display what it thinks is the right exposure will be and then relays the information to you so you can make your adjustments.

It's usually a horizontal bar where the center is considered the right exposure according to the camera, the meter deviates left and right depending

on if the shot is over or under exposed.

 

Using this bar, you adjust the shutter speed, aperture, or ISO to capture what you think will be the right amount of light for the desired look.

Once you adjust the settings or the amount of light changes in the frame the bar changes in real time to compensate for the new conditions.

For example, if you increase shutter speed it the light meter will adjust to show less light will be captured, same thing for adjustments on the other settings as well as

changes to the ambient light like clouds blocking the sun or someone turning off a light. You adjust accordingly to allow for an ideal exposure.

 

lightmeter.jpg

So thats how easy it is to shoot full manual on a camera and begins to explain how certain looks and effects are achieved in photographs.

Having read this I hope you have some appreciation of the factors that determine the way a photo looks and how some effects are achieved.

I also hope this explains just how easy using a modern cameras manual settings are and gets you experimenting with your own camera.

 

 

 

 

Choosing a Camera:

As far a choosing a camera goes I'd take a look at your specific needs according to the type of shots you want to take.

Asking what is a good camera is like asking what is a good car, there is no right answer and the only people dumb enough to think so usually

reduce the topic to Ford vs. Chevy or Nikon vs. Cannon and we all become collectively dumber. One good thing you can always do is read reviews.

 

Feel free to ask any specific questions in this thread. Here are a few links to get you started or to check out if you're thinking about buying a camera:

 

http://www.dpreview.com/

http://reviews.cnet.com/digital-cameras/

http://www.steves-digicams.com/camera-reviews/

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good thread.

 

lots of people asking about point and shoots. simple answer to that is get a canon g11.

 

the nikon canon debate i find stems from the lenses. canon's glass is faster and can be of better quality but that comes with a very high price tag. nikon lenses are also good quality just more affordable.

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It stems from brand loyalty like Ford VS Chevy, when it comes to the telephoto and supertelephoto lenses Cannon is actually cheaper.

From what I've noticed about photographers I've met and worked with here in NYC,

most of the fashion and sports photographers tend to have Cannon (of course Hasselblad for high paying fashion shoots).

Nikon is slightly more prevalent among street photographers, photojournalists, and amateurs like myself ect.

 

I think the sports photographers tend to go cannon because the mandatory supertelephoto lenses are more affordable.

No good reason why the fashion people or photojournalists choose what they choose other than Hasselblad for super high paying controlled lighting gigs.

The only differences that count are between the individual camera models themselves and not the overall brand Vs. brand.

 

I ended up going Nikon for a few reasons, mainly because my friends had Nikons and could share lenses/equipment and show me how to use it better.

It sealed the deal when I held a D700 in my hands, didn't feel like a high tech gizmo, more like a battle proven indestructible firearm.

Again, it's only personal preference, I can't really diss either brand and be fully legit about it.

 

If anyone wants my advise, I'd suggest getting a good point and shoot first and mastering it before dropping loot on an SLR.

Aside from all the technical control an SLR gives you it won't make you take better pictures at all.

Most people just get all gimmicky when they first get an SLR like light trails in long exposures, ect.

It's distracting at first and really wont help taking actual good photo's for the most part aside from having more technical options.

 

 

To take a "good" picture you have to learn how to change your approach to what a good subject to shoot is.

You have to ask yourself if other people who weren't there can get anything out of it or if it's just something you like.

Like that photo of your grandma eating something she normally hates, or your pet looking cool, nobody else cares or "really gets it"

Another problem people have is boringness, like actually leave the house to go shoot and I don't mean your back yard.

You won't find interesting or original subject matter there unless you live in a filthy shithole or awesome mansion generally.

 

Then there's 2 dimensional composition, the art of balancing the photo like a painting and arranging it so the veiwers eye is drawn into it.

Then there is composing the depth, having the foreground midground and background work together to balance the photo composition wise and further define the subject.

All of this stuff can be mastered by using a point and shoot camera and doesn't require an SLR.

 

In my opinion if you get a higher end point and shoot with manual features availiable the only advantage a fancy SLR will have is print quality.

For the most part sharing photo's on the web, they're going to be about the same quality and have no effect on actual subject/composition.

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My teacher said that Nikon tends to change the way their cameras operating system works, while canon keeps their menus,features etc. kept where they were on the previous model. but im no expert just heard that a couple times.

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Yea, I have no idea but wonder how they would be able to add new features to the next model.

I tend to brush all the Nikon Vs. Cannon arguments off faster than Ford VS. Chevy though.

People have their preferences and like to show examples why, but overall it's mostly personal preference without any really solid reasons why.

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So for the number of flicks i catch on a daily basis i could tell you how to take a decent flick. i couldn't tell you how to choose your f-stop aperture or none of that .

 

I need to start reading up on that. i am watching some dvds on lighting as we speak.

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Yea, I have no idea but wonder how they would be able to add new features to the next model.

I tend to brush all the Nikon Vs. Cannon arguments off faster than Ford VS. Chevy though.

People have their preferences and like to show examples why, but overall it's mostly personal preference without any really solid reasons why.

 

i think the prices of lenses is a solid reason. that doesn't come down to preference.

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Mercer..props on spending the time to write all that out. You have more patience than me.

 

As for the Nikon/Canon debate..Id agree with the lens pricing also. One of the main reasons I started shooting digital, is because the price of film and developing became far more than I am able to afford. My preference is irrelevant because my choices are dictated by how much money I have to spend.

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great read. just looked into this Ansel Adams guy, amazing.

 

was very confused when i read in manual about "noise" great to get er cleared up.

 

good looks merc. ill be bobbin 'n weavin thru this thread as much as possible now that i know its here. maybe, and not to sound gluttonous. but for some of the more expierienced guys, to keep the thread movin. you could donate a few tricks, nothing serious. or any of your style hints. but rather some entry level go to's that everyone starts with that has been taught.

 

either way, great stuff. thanks.

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Good thread. It amazes me how often I talk to people about simple camera stuff and they have absolutely no idea what it is. For benching you don't exactly need a fancy lens or the best camera body around. Also if you look on forums like "photography on the net" You can find pretty good deals on camera bodies. My suggestion would be a canon 20d for benching. Same sensor and megapixels as a 30d. A little smaller display but that's not a big deal. Usually around 200-300$ used. Also just buying a camera isn't all you need to do. Learn how to use it. Yes turning it to auto or a program mode works but the best way to improve you photos is making adjustments yourself.

 

Another thing I can add is the fact that digital cameras do not produce as vibrant of images as film cameras. Buy (or download) photoshop or some type of editing software. Images have to be adjusted to bring out their full potential and get them looking like they did in real life. Same with sharpness. Not every picture is going to turn out as sharp is it can. And camera manufactures actually recommend sharpening your images. Also your aperture affects this. Some lenses are sharper in different areas. The lens I use is a little soft in the lower apertures so I try to keep it between 6-8. It takes a lot of dicking around with to get right.

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So iv been talkin abnch in Ch.0 about a couple things mercer is aware of.

 

Basicly just bought my first slr. Beginer level Canon. Rebel Xs.

 

I'm about 3 days into it. Still really early in the learning process obviously and with no prior knowledge.

 

Had a really hard time trying to shoot at night w/o a tripod, which was my biggest early on issue by far.

 

Wasn't really happy with the lack of zoom that came on the stock lense so I went out and grabbed a 55-250 IS lense a few minutes ago. Gonna go fuck with it now.

 

If anyone has any tips or options with this lense and hints would be appreciated.

 

Also, curious about filters. I'm on my phone and am driving. Will prolly be out and about for the remainder of day and google would be difficult as I go. What are the primary features and benifits of using filters and which would be good for a n00b like me to fuck with and get some satisfaction and feeling of worth from.

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No need for filters really. A lot of people run just a clear filter to protect their lens. But they degrade image quality. It's another piece of glass to shoot through. Only filter I use on occasion is a circular polarizer.

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I keep UV filters on my expensive lenses just so they never get scratches or dirt on the end.

As far as night shooting goes, here are a few techniques I use:

 

Find the highest possible ISO you can use where the photo isn't ruined by grain and stick to that ISO setting.

Open up the aperture to as wide as possible, that combined with the ISO will give you the fastest possible shutter speed.

 

When I didn't have a full frame I used to underexpose my night shots on purpose to get an even faster shutter speed.

If you can, set your camera to shoot "RAW" format instead of saving the files as .jpgs it helps also.

Later on when I got home I adjusted the exposure in camera raw or played with the curves in photoshop to bring the brightness up.

 

Then there is color, I made a post about that in the photography thread a while back, I'll see if I can find it.

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Here it is

 

That orange cast or yellowish look to night shots is because that's how it actually looks.

Your eyes adjust to it naturally, so in person it seems like it's not that yellow, it's caused by the light source.

It's cheaper to cast a yellowish/orangish light from a light bulb than the full spectrum of white so thats what they use.

The worst part is yellow lights wave length is so narrow it makes things look softer or fuzzier.

 

White balance is how you fix that on a digi, it tells the sensor to record more of the blue and less yellow.

There are specific color temperature setting on nicer digi's but almost all digi's have the tungsten setting that looks like a light bulb graphic.

Also, editing can fix that if you shoot raw, just change the temperature toward the blue and away from the yellow.

It discards the warmer yellowish light and amplifies cooler colors.

 

2009_12_13_0043_214.jpg

 

If you notice, the areas with actual white light appear blue while everything else is "normal" looking.

Just amplifying a different wavelength to make these shots look like how you see them in person, not how they actually look.

The lowering of the soft yellowish light also makes them crisper.

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good shit.

 

question:

 

so yesterday i was having a fuck of a time trying to fuck with moving subjects. both trying to freeze them and blurr them. just wasnt working.

 

my problems stemmed from shutter speed obviously and more specificly the fact that in the manual, it says "to freeze action or a moving subject use a fast shutter speed such as 1/4000 -1/500 and/or to blurr that subject use a slower one"

 

now i could adjust my shutter speed beyond 1/200. wouldnt allow me, i was fucking lost. so just now, before i typed this out i wanted to try it again so id be clear as to waht i was asking, this time in my house with a tap running as opposed to yesterday at about 5/6pm with overcast skies on a street trying to capture a car, and i was able to set a very high shutter speed, and i figured out why. because i did not have my flash up. once i did, again would only allow me to go up to 1/200.

 

now, how do i take pics in low light situations and be able to adjust my shutter speed? even tho my house is lit up so i can opbviously see aound me with no lights on and just sun shining inside, my camera cannot.

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When your flash is up it wont go faster because cameras (usually) cant fire the flash with the shutter still open if the shutter speed it set too fast.

There isn't a real need to make the shutter speed any faster while using flash because contrary to what it looks like IRL,

the flash fires faster than any shutter speed, it gets bright instantly then darkens instantly within a fraction of a normal shutter speed.

This instant "flash" of light will freeze your moving subject for you.

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i want to move on from my little lomo fisheye, any suggestions on what i should purchase?

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A higher end digital point and shoot (pocket sized) with manual controls, or a cannon rebel xsi, or Nikon d3000.

Thats on the practical/affordable side, it all depends on how much you want to spend from there.

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When your flash is up it wont go faster because cameras (usually) cant fire the flash with the shutter still open if the shutter speed it set too fast.

There isn't a real need to make the shutter speed any faster while using flash because contrary to what it looks like IRL,

the flash fires faster than any shutter speed, it gets bright instantly then darkens instantly within a fraction of a normal shutter speed.

This instant "flash" of light will freeze your moving subject for you.

 

so is there a way of shooting said moving targets without them looking drab if overcast skies/low light is present?

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good shit.

 

question:

 

so yesterday i was having a fuck of a time trying to fuck with moving subjects. both trying to freeze them and blurr them. just wasnt working.

 

my problems stemmed from shutter speed obviously and more specificly the fact that in the manual, it says "to freeze action or a moving subject use a fast shutter speed such as 1/4000 -1/500 and/or to blurr that subject use a slower one"

 

now i could adjust my shutter speed beyond 1/200. wouldnt allow me, i was fucking lost. so just now, before i typed this out i wanted to try it again so id be clear as to waht i was asking, this time in my house with a tap running as opposed to yesterday at about 5/6pm with overcast skies on a street trying to capture a car, and i was able to set a very high shutter speed, and i figured out why. because i did not have my flash up. once i did, again would only allow me to go up to 1/200.

 

now, how do i take pics in low light situations and be able to adjust my shutter speed? even tho my house is lit up so i can opbviously see aound me with no lights on and just sun shining inside, my camera cannot.

 

 

The faster the shutter speed the lower your aperture is going to go. Once you are at your lowest aperture you cannot make the shutter speed any faster. If you shoot in manual mode you can keep making it faster but your picture will be underexposed. You can "fix" this by getting a lens with a lower aperture or bumping your iso setting up.

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this is going to sound rediculous im only a few days in here, will i know visually by using the viewfinder if im under/overexposed.

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Check the first post, there is a graphic display of a standard light meter.

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A higher end digital point and shoot (pocket sized) with manual controls, or a cannon rebel xsi, or Nikon d3000.

Thats on the practical/affordable side, it all depends on how much you want to spend from there.

 

thanks dude. ive been lookin for jobs and im kinda thinking ive got one set so ill be savin up for a new camera that i can fuck with...as of now im not lookin to do anything to pro im just tring to dabble i guess...thanks again:cool:

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Check the first post, there is a graphic display of a standard light meter.

 

ahh ok you know i wasnt sure if that meter was manually adjusted or what but after rereading your initial post i remember seeing you write that it changes in real time.

playing with cam now, werd up.

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