Camera Skills Without Photoshop

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Camera Skills Without Photoshop

Postby Micheál » Thu Aug 30, 2012 1:11 am

This topic is intended to facilitate Tips, Qs & As about beginner camera skills and avoid discussion about image editing software.
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Re: Camera Skills Without Photoshop

Postby Micheál » Thu Aug 30, 2012 1:40 am

Tip No 1 is not about a camera at all.

Get yourself a "tripod".

A tripod give you a steady hand and means your images will be crisper. Great for predictable or stationary subjects and bordering on essential for low light situations - dusk, night time etc. For action shots where the shutter speed is going to be very fast, a steady hand is not so critical so a tripod is no help.

A basic model is very affordable - just be sure to get one that's sturdy enough to hold your camera when fitted with its heaviest lens.
All cameras have a common 'female' thread in their underside.and all tripods come with an adaptor plate with a screw that'll fit to your camera. The plate (with your camera attached) can be quickly mounted on the tripod or deployed by hand as the situation dictates.
Try to get a tripod who's stated maximum height suits your own eye level. It can be tiring remaining hunched over a camera for any length of time
A nice feature to have is a central hook so you can hang your camera bag on it while you shoot - more weight keeps the tripod steadier.

Watch where you place your tripod in crowded places. It acceptable to trip old ladies up with splayed legs (the tripod's legs that is) but its downright annoying if the tripod gets knocked over and your expensive Nikon come crashing to earth.

If you dont want to splash out on a tripod, use one of the many freely available ones around the borough - lamposts. Keep the camera body (or your camera holding hand) pressed against it. I sometime wrap both arms around the post (a trick I learned exiting the Purty Kitchen)
- low walls, fences, window sills, & the ground all work too
- or use your camera bag as a 'cushion' for the camara. They sell small beanie bags for this purpose but I have a cheaper alternative - a bag of frozen peas. (I find Batchelors are best)

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Re: Camera Skills Without Photoshop

Postby Jemser » Thu Aug 30, 2012 9:52 am

Hi Micheál,

Just a quck question about your photograph (In the "Somewhere to Chat Forum")of the moon. You say that the shutter speed was 1/2500 of a second?? This seems like an extremely fast shutter speed to me for a shot of the moon. Did you manually choose that shutter speed or was it an auto choice of the camera. I would have thought that 1/250 or even 1/25 of a second for the moon would be better. Can you explain the reason for so fast a shutter speed, is it to try "freeze" the motion of the moon??

Just Curious

Jemser

PS Can't agree more about the tripod, it is also useful for getting your photos straight. I know a lot of people who have difficulty in holding the camera square to the horizon.
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Re: Camera Skills Without Photoshop

Postby Micheál » Thu Aug 30, 2012 11:22 am

Hi Jemser

Shutter spped was manually chosen and the reason was to do with the long lens being zoomed in on only the moon

If I had been shooting a frame with more subject matter - say like your excellent study of the harbour - a slower speed would have worked because the moon would only account for relatively small space in the frame and you would have needed the slower speed to capture the surrounding low lit landscape. The slower speed means that points of light (moon, street lights etc) tend to be "washed out"

But with my long(ish) lens, I had only the moon and surrounding sky in the frame and now its light (v black sky) is dominant. A slower speed lets in too much light and simply washes out the Moon detail and even the whole frame, to a white haze.

I'd love to tell you that all this was carefully planned in advance using complicated photographers theory. Not so. I simply took a dozen pictures at various shutter speeds and ISO settings. (I favoured a low ISO to maximise detail and minimise 'noise') and kept the best shot (which was still not as good as the one Farmboy posted, grrrrrrrr)

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Re: Camera Skills Without Photoshop

Postby Jemser » Thu Aug 30, 2012 12:45 pm

Thanks for the reply Micheál, makes perfect sense when you explain it.

Jemser :)
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Re: Camera Skills Without Photoshop

Postby Navanman » Thu Aug 30, 2012 7:11 pm

Can I ask about zoom.

Years ago if you bought a "good" camera you could get extra lenses for it.

A standard lens was 55mm and it covered most photos

A 25mm lens (called a fisheye) was used for wide angle so you could photo loads of people in a small room but they would look distorted.

A 125mm was good for Head and Shoulder Portraits (and kept the background fuzzy)

A 300mm or 500mm was used to photo the moon etc.

However I was looking at the modern digital cameras and I don't understand the zoom

They talk about zoom and then digital zoom.

How do I compare them to the "old" zoom?

Do I need a digital camera with seperate lenses again?


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Re: Camera Skills Without Photoshop

Postby Micheál » Thu Aug 30, 2012 8:06 pm

Good question Navanman

digital Zoom and optical zoom need to be distinguised

The word Digital is often used these days to imply precision but in the camera lens world, its the exact opposite.

Optical zoom does exactly like it says on the tin - it lets you magnify (get closer to) your subject using the cameras, or I should say the lens' glass and nothing else. When choosing a camera, (or even a flatbed scanner) always rely on its optical specification.

Digital zoom is something the camera or rather its software adds to the mix. It can further 'magnify' the image. But of course it cant. To be precise, it cant zoom in to detail thats not available optically. It gets round this be a process the manufacturers call "interpolation" - thats 'guesswork' to you and I. Imagine it like this - it dices and lays out the original optical image on the black squares of a chessboard and then colours in the white squares with a colour that best suits the transition between neighbouring squares.

The results can be surprisingly good and creates the illusion that you are zooming-in even closer. This can be handy to help you aim at a particular point on your subject but dont be fooled into thinking you are capturing any better quality/detail than whats there normally through the lens.

My Canon Compact has a zoom lens and the screen tells me when I've reach the limit of my optical (lens) magnification and that Ive started to deploy digital zoom. I usually undo the zoom to avoid this.

Simply tip - ignore Digital resolution when chosing what camera to buy. And by the way, you can always apply your own digital magnification on your PC with that software that dares not speak its name in this topic :)
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Re: Camera Skills Without Photoshop

Postby Navanman » Thu Aug 30, 2012 9:54 pm

Thanks Micheál,

So if I want a really good zoom (like some of the photos on this site) I should get a camera with seperate lenses?

I don't know how 12X zoom relates to 300mm Telephoto lens.

My old camera (Fuji F501), which I lost in Disneyland and some git did not hand in, had seperate lenses and I had a 130 - 300 Zoom lens on it.

I don't know what the digital equivalent is and I keep seeing 12x zoom etc.

Have asked this in 2 shops and they looked at me as though I had 2 heads.

I have a small Fuji digital camera that I keep in the car (always hoping for that special photo that I can sell and retire from the proceeds). It is great for holidays, weddings, etc. but was thinking of getting a better one for those special shots.

I went to a photographic course about 30 years ago. Must say the people on it (students) had a brilliant time. The athmosphere was so relaxing and enjoyable. I was probably the youngest person there but everybody mixed really well and there was no such thing as Photoshop at the time. The guy that did it covered any topics we wanted. We were encouraged to bring in our own photos and people would give opinions on how the photos could be improved. It was very interesting to see the different opinions from our "bunch of so called experts". Beauty definately is in the eye of the beholder.

I later joined the Dublin Photographic Society (I am absolutely no expert) and my camera equipment was a joke by comparison to the equipment they had. Having said all that I really must say you could not meet a more helpful and enthusatic bunch of people. They were extremely welcoming to new members. Unfortunately I have forgotten all I learned and the smashing shots on this site has whet my appetite again. It can be, but definately does not have to be, expensive. You can get brilliant shots with the cheapest of cameras these days.

I think what I am really saying is that if anybody has even half an interest in how to take nice photos I would highly recommend the Winter photographic courses that are run. Hopefully your experience would be as good as mine. Perhaps try a club rather than a VEC course.
Last edited by Navanman on Thu Aug 30, 2012 9:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Camera Skills Without Photoshop

Postby farmboy » Thu Aug 30, 2012 9:56 pm

Micheal, first of all let me say I like the way you are describing these tips in an easy to understand fashion. I couldnt agree more with your analysis of the digital/optical choice, far better to take a clear shot optically and then crop it to enlarge it as opposed to a digitally enhanced shot. Unfortunately, I,m a lazy git when it comes to taking the technical side of a camera,s capabilities seriously and if I get a really clear picture its thanks to a relatively steady hand (like Jemser,s shot) as opposed to my knowledge of the camera. I,m sure I still have the magazine that gave me the settings for my moon pic, I,ll root it out and post the settings when I find it.

Keep up this thread, there seems to be a lot of folk interested in it. 8-)
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Re: Camera Skills Without Photoshop

Postby farmboy » Thu Aug 30, 2012 10:01 pm

Navanman wrote:Thanks Micheál,

So if I want a really good zoom (like some of the photos on this site) I should get a camera with seperate lenses?

I don't know how 12X zoom relates to 300mm Telephoto lens.

My old camera (Fuji F501), which I lost in Disneyland and some git did not hand in, had seperate lenses and I had a 130 - 300 Zoom lens on it.

I don't know what the digital equivalent is and I keep seeing 12x zoom etc.

Have asked this in 2 shops and they looked at me as though I had 2 heads.

I have a small Fuji digital camera that I keep in the car (always hoping for that special photo that I can sell and retire from the proceeds). It is great for holidays, weddings, etc. but was thinking of getting a better one for those special shots.

I went to a photographic course about 30 years ago. Must say the people on it (students) had a brilliant time. The athmosphere was so relaxing and enjoyable. I was probably the youngest person there but everybody mixed really well and there was no such thing as Photoshop at the time. The guy that did it covered any topics we wanted. We were encouraged to bring in our own photos and people would give opinions on how the photos could be improved. It was very interesting to see the different opinions from our "bunch of so called experts". Beauty definately is in the eye of the beholder.

I later joined the Dublin Photographic Society (I am absolutely no expert) and my camera equipment was a joke by comparison to the equipment they had. Having said all that I really must say you could not meet a more helpful and enthusatic bunch of people. They were extremely welcoming to new members. Unfortunately I have forgotten all I learned and the smashing shots on this site has whet my appetite again. It can be, but definately does not have to be, expensive. You can get brilliant shots with the cheapest of cameras these days.

I think what I am really saying is that if anybody has even half an interest in how to take nice photos I would highly recommend the Winter photographic courses that are run. Hopefully your experience would be as good as mine. Perhaps try a club rather than a VEC course.



Sorry Navanman, wasnt trying to step on your toes! :) I,m no expert and Micheal might know better but I,d say 10 or 12 zoom would be roughly the equivelant to a 300 mm lens, not certain though.
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Re: Camera Skills Without Photoshop

Postby Micheál » Thu Aug 30, 2012 10:32 pm

Tip N0 2

Use Depth of Field (DOF)
DOF is the feature that shows part of an image in sharp focus while the foreground or background is fuzzy. It describes how focus changes as you go deeper into the scene (as opposed to up/down/left/right)
It not used much in Landscapes but it is frequently used in sports, flowers, people – for example, highlighting a face in the crowd or removing some distracting element in the frame.

Example: A flamingo is singled out from the flock
Image

Cage in front of the owl is ‘dissolved’
Image

So How is it achieved
Easy Answer: Set your Camera mode to Portrait (head or face icon), spray on the Linx and get as close to your subject as decency will allow.
Slightly harder answer- there are three main elements that control DOF – 2 of which you usually can easily control. The third depends on your having extra lens.

1. Distance from your subject – the closer you are, the tighter the DOF immediately in front of and behind your subject
2. The widness of your lens (“Aperture”), the LOWER the Aperture value, the WIDER the lens , the tighter the DOF.
3. The Focal Length of the lens – the longer the lens the tighter the DOF
Heres a handy diagram to remind you –

Image

Footnote: Want to practise DOF portraits on stunning models who will pose all day long and not complain? Get out to your garden. Use flowers if you havent got any flamingos or the ‘owl’ one wont get into the cage.
Alternatively visit your local zoo – I shot these examples while abroad (more sun so lighting never an issue)
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Re: Camera Skills Without Photoshop

Postby Micheál » Thu Aug 30, 2012 10:48 pm

As regards how 10X Zoom (often quoted on Compact cameras) equates to Focal Length (of SLR Lenses), I dont actually know if theres a consistent relationship. I suspect it might depend on the individual model.

The whole zoom/magnification thing is, I believe, greatly overstated. The real indicator of lens quality is Maximum Aperture ("Wideness"). a value of 2.8 is typically the best - and by far the priciest.

Incidentally, I have two cameras -
1. An SLR with a range of Lenses (wide angle 10-22 mm, 50mm fixed, 75-300mm long) - built up over a long time and the kit gives be all the options I need to (try to) be creative
2. a Compact bought in the airport last year

Guess which one I use the most, these days? The compact is scarily good for a fraction of the price and is rarely out of my shirt pocket. Only drawback is (for me) no viewfinder so I cant hug the little darling when I'm shooting and holding at arms lenght induces shake (when theres no lamposts about).

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Re: Camera Skills Without Photoshop

Postby grammer » Fri Aug 31, 2012 1:43 am

:oops: :oops: :oops:
This does'nt bode well for my Fuji finepix S1500 -(that the batteries keep falling out of :lol: =the battery cover is broken -so cellotape is my biggest problem if I'm going to use the camera. :oops: )
:D :D :oops: :oops:
Questions to follow -
Michaél I hope you have plenty of free time. :D
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Re: Camera Skills Without Photoshop

Postby Navanman » Fri Aug 31, 2012 7:54 am

Farmboy,
You are not standing on my toes - your photos are streets ahead of mine. As I say I just enjoy looking at nice photos.

I have forgotten everything I learned (which was not much I assure you).

The one thing I learned on the course was that photography was for everybody and just enjoy taking photos.

Micheál explainations bring it back again.

Micheál thanks a million for your information. I suspect you could be bombarded with questions.

Really appreciate you answering my questions
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Re: Camera Skills Without Photoshop

Postby Toss » Fri Aug 31, 2012 10:12 am

I've only recently started to take my photography seriously and am now the proud owner of a new DSLR. Thanks to Dancer, I am reading up on what buttons to press (pun anyone?) and learning new skills. Have to say this new thread is great and fair play to you Michael, you info is exactly what I need and makes sense (as opposed to some of the tech speak I read in magazines).

I've just set up a photobucket account and hope to be able to share some of my work on here soon. Can't say what has drawn me to photography, but I have always had a habit of being lucky with my photos, getting the timing / expressions just about bang on without planning it and have been getting earfuls about doing more for years. I look forward to a productive time ahead.
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Re: Camera Skills Without Photoshop

Postby Micheál » Fri Aug 31, 2012 11:17 am

Okay guys - time for your first test.

How do you know this picture (of a table for sale on eBay) was taken by a man?

M
If youve seen this before and know the answer, please dont give it away until others have a chance to consider.

Image
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Re: Camera Skills Without Photoshop

Postby Toss » Fri Aug 31, 2012 12:00 pm

Obviously a woman would prefer to have the meat and two veg on the table. :lol:

try this one ......

Image
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Re: Camera Skills Without Photoshop

Postby Sinead » Fri Aug 31, 2012 12:11 pm

Michéal:

This topic is fascinating, I haven't a clue what you are all talking about but if I get a camera
I will be reading this topic. I am crap at taking pictures HID says I shut the wrong eye when
I am looking at the subject.

On the dining room, I think a woman would have taken it from a distance rather than a height
thus making the room look bigger and showing more of it.

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Re: Camera Skills Without Photoshop

Postby Navanman » Fri Aug 31, 2012 1:13 pm

Micheál

Can you make the picture bigger?

I am guessing here but is it something to do with the
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Re: Camera Skills Without Photoshop

Postby Toss » Fri Aug 31, 2012 2:26 pm

Sinead wrote:I think a woman would have taken it from a distance rather than a height
thus making the room look bigger and showing more of it.
Sinéad


deffo, a woman in the room would have make it bigger Sinead ..... and if you want to see it in full Navanman, just double click on it and it will pop up in a new screen :P

yes, I am a bad ...... woof
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Re: Camera Skills Without Photoshop

Postby Jemser » Fri Aug 31, 2012 2:49 pm

Micheál,

Hadn't seen this photo before and examined it for a long time before spotting the obvious answer, prior to that I had come up with several answers....
1. The pink flower pot doesn't match the blue candles.
2. Untidy tangle of wires on chair beside drinks tray.
3. Mirror in top left of photo is not very clean..... and then I spotted the answer.

The reason is that there is a reflection of the person taking the photo in the mirror and it is a naked man :!:

Toss,
I also spotted the funny side of your photo and have passed it on to a few friends to see if they spot it, as you don't ask for an answer I won't spoil it for everyone else.

Now just a pedantic personal observation, I thought that this forum was for photographic tips, questions and answers and not for funny photographs which have their own forum. :?
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Re: Camera Skills Without Photoshop

Postby Micheál » Fri Aug 31, 2012 3:00 pm

Just before we leave aside photgraphing the Moon - now's your chance to try for yourselves. Did you know we have a "blue" moon tonight?

Image
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Re: Camera Skills Without Photoshop

Postby Micheál » Fri Aug 31, 2012 3:20 pm

Okay - the answers out. but there's a serious lesson here. Take care photographing when there is glass about.

1. You might end up as an unintended subject in the shot like our friend flogging the table.

2. if shooting indoors, your flash will probably self-trigger and this can cause ruinous reflections back into your camera.
If you must have glass in the frame, be sure to stand at an angle so glass surfaces are at an angle of, say, 45 degrees.
People wearing glasses could be invited not to look straight into the lens. Failing than, try softening you flash by diffusing it with something that will cast light more gently - a white napkin or even a sheet of white paper can work. Flash guns should be 'bounced of a wall or ceiling. The Press pros attach a white card and shoot straight up, relying on the reflection to light the scene. This also avoids dazzling their subjects - especially when there's lots of photographers about.

3. when shooting parties and social events, try to take the snaps early in the night rather than wait for the build-up of empty glasses and bottles that inevitably dominate shots and make the scene look sloppy.
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Re: Camera Skills Without Photoshop

Postby Gulliver » Fri Aug 31, 2012 4:18 pm

Lenses and Zoom, DSLR and Bridge Cameras
If you want to get good pics a wide range of subjects
• A bird in a tree today, a train in the distance tonight
• A hurling match tomorrow, a party tomorrow night
• A small coin the next day, a wide sunlit landscape that evening
then most serious amateur photographers opt for a DSLR camera, a selection of lenses, and a large bag to hold them. The DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) allows the user to select a suitable lens for each type of shot – a telephoto lens for the bird or the distant train, a wide-angle lens for landscapes, a macro lens for coins and stamps. It’s a bulky kit, requires some technical knowledge, and is expensive. There is unlikely to me much change out of €1,000 and it could cost much more.

There is an alternative, the Bridge camera. Bridge cameras were originally the poor mans alternative to the DSLR, but the technology has improved so that they are now a serious challenge, and have many advantages over DSLR. Both Argos and Pixmania have sections in their online catalogues showing a selection of bridge cameras. Bridge cameras range from €200-€600 approx – mine is in the middle of that range.

The outstanding feature of a bridge camera is a flexible lens (i.e. a lens that covers a large range of options) which is fixed to the camera. My Canon SX40 has the equivalent of lenses ranging from 24-840mm, and so it is referred to as a 35x zoom (840/24=35). No technical skill is required. Just squeeze a knob to zoom from the widest view through to the furthest without thinking of numbers. The camera motor will do all necessary lens adjustments. Switch on the Macro setting and if you want to get an extreme close-up at a distance of less than an inch. It has all of the other features which one might expect from a DSLR. Perhaps the most important is Image Stabilisation – essential for distant handheld shots.

The whole unit will not fit in a shirt pocket, but it can be easily carried around your neck
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Re: Camera Skills Without Photoshop

Postby Navanman » Fri Aug 31, 2012 7:01 pm

I am learning a lot from this forum.

Must look at those cameras Gulliver - I had never heard of them.

Sounds really interesting.

Micheál I am really glad I mentioned it was the picture I wanted you to make bigger - sorry!
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