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ANGUS THOMAS

photography

Digital 1 Course Copyright Angus Thomas Photography 2010

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Digital advantages

Digital advantages 90% of photographers now shoot digital

low cost, fun, high quality The medium for the masses Digital has revitalized and revolutionized taking pictures. The technology is so good, you often get better and more creative images shooting with digital compacts. They are light, allow you to pre- view the image before shooting, can always be carried with you and allow shooting at unusual angles such as low down on the ground,

Huge cost saving - you can take multiple shots of subjects and then just select the best one. You never need to buy film again and the cost of the storage mediums such as flash cards has dropped dramatically. Digital cameras are now very affordable. For under ÂŁ250 you can buy a 10mp camera capable of producing quality A3 size prints. Digital cameras are great for low light - they expose for the shadows, so once you have recorded all the detail you can adjust the exposure on the computer for the results you want. A new dynamic display medium. Digital is fantastic if you wish to show your pictures on a TV, computer or laptop or as traditional prints. The images look punchy and vibrant. Ability to review pics immediately and rectify mistakes and make colour prints at home. You now can produce perfect colour prints for the cost of the photographic paper and ink. Communicating digitally with great social benefits- you can instantly send images around the world to friends and relatives. Minimal fuss, instant results, vibrant, rich images. Great business benefits- shooting digital allows you to instantly transfer images to your website or to email your photograph. Better security , better storage medium-digital imaging is much better for archiving your pictures - they can be recorded in a precise fashion, you can make multiple copies by recording them on to CD/DVD and keep backups. Manipulate the image- Digital cameras and post production imaging allows you to manipulate an image using software tools such as iPhoto, Picassa and Photoshop or the manufacturers programs. you can also change files into black and white, sepia or sky blue pink. Pick the best photograph - Shooting digital means you can capture that perfect shot of the kids at the beach by snapping 100 photos & just keeping and/or printing the best. A creative learning tool- you should become a better photographer as you are learning on the spot with instant feedback.


Digital Terms

Bitmap: the image produced by a digital camera, made up of dots or pixels.CCD: or charged coupled device, converts light into an electrical current. Compression: the process of compressing data to speed up transmission time or to make files smaller for storage. File: a document, such as a photograph, which can be stored on disk. File format: way of storing information on files. The most common methods of storage for graphic files include JPEG (at various file sizes) TIFF and RAW LCD monitor: the colour screen on a digital camera that allows images to be viewed as they are shot. Megapixel: is one million pixels (1,000 x 1,000) See pixels. Modem: a device that plugs into the computer and telephone, allowing images or information to be sent via telephone lines. Noise: the electrical interference that can affect digital cameras and disrupt the image, causing pixels to appear in the wrong areas. PC card: a PC card contains a hard disk or modem and can be used in some laptops and computers. Peripheral: equipment such as a scanner, printer or camera that connects to a computer. Pixel: or picture element is the smallest part of a digitised image. Resolution: the amount of information in an image, measured in pixels per inch. Serial link: the connection between a digital camera and computer through which images are transferred. Storage cards: are the devices which store the digital information from your camera. Most camera's use XD and Compact flash cards. Both these have become the generic standard and are cheaper and more readily available than other cards. Video output: this facility allows images to be displayed on a television set and to be recorded on videotape. White balance: adjustments made by a digital camera to ensure colour balance.


Light

Light is continually changing during the day and under different weather conditions, seasons and locations. All these factors determine how your subject will appear on the charged coupling device (CCD) of a digital camera - either as bold colours, cool tones, in three dimensional detail, flat or contrasty and so on. The important characteristics of light are brightness, colour & direction. Learning to recognize the different qualities of light & working with it, expands one's visual awareness towards taking great photographs. Shoot from Dawn to Dusk- early morning light gives cool, blue tones with low contrast. At sunrise this light is replaced by a much warmer golden light which is excellent for front lit and side lit subjects or strong silhouettes. The harsh, overhead and colourless light of midday light (ie tropics) is generally not good for shots but is great for tropical water scenes and strong reflected light in alleyways. Front lighting occurs when the light is on the subject. When the light is weak, it is effective for wildlife & portrait photography. Front lit landscapes can often look flat and boring. Be aware of a lowangled sun at your back casting a long shadow of you across the landscape (especially when using wide angle lenses) Back lighting occurs when the light source is behind the subject. Most backlit compositions create bold shapes and stark outlines. Back light gives increased contrast and a wonderful 'depth' to a picture. Backlighting is well suited for portraiture using a reflector or fill flash. Side light dramatically records detail and colour in your subjects and again, helps to create a 3D effect. Side lighting occurs naturally when you shoot at right angles to a low-angled sun. This generates contrast. For the best result in sidelight situations, expose for the highlights. Diffused light caused by rain, mist, fog, or snow may conjure the best mood for presenting your subject. Try to feature a strong primary colour such as a yellow umbrella highlighted against duller tones. The soft light of a cloudy day is excellent for capturing special moods in nature and in portraits. Faces appear softer in diffused light. Reflected light off the ground or water surfaces can be rich, diffused or neutral with the reflected light taking on the colour cast of the reflector. This is often unwanted as in green foliage or the brown/reddish hues of the earth casting its tint on faces. People wearing coloured clothing also creates problems. Use a fill flash or white/silver reflector to negate this. Night light or artificial light is rendered very effectively by digital cameras. Each spot of light is put into a digital format.... the more pixels the camera has, the finer the detailing of the shot. We recommend halogen and/or tungsten lamps as your artificial light source.


Composition •

• • • Rule of thirds states that the main centre of interest in the picture should be positioned on or near an intersection of thirds. Apply this as in a high or low horizon line or with diagonal or linear subjects.

Leading lines says that some other element of the picture should lead the eye towards the main subject. A leading line will draw the eye around the picture and can consist of a number of configurations such as straight lines, curves or S shapes. ie a railway track curving the eye down the line to a train. Framing the image with overhanging branches, a window, a doorway, with clouds, leaning on a rail......all limit the field of view and call attention to the subject. This is one of the simplest ways to create perspective since it brings depth to the shot. Viewpoint : Changing your point of view can simplify a composition. High up gives you more foreground and a birds-eye perspective. Getting down low in relation to your subject increases the size and importance of any foreground matter and creates a more intimate feel to the shot. You may also be able to hide unwanted material. Look again: Practise organizing and including only important subject matter in the viewfinder. You'll discover that you may need to move closer or farther back, to get down low or move up high, step to the right or left, or change lenses. Selective focus: Involves using a large lens opening or a telephoto lens to throw the foreground out of focus, thereby placing greater emphasis on your subject. Selective focus works best in high-contrast situations, so look for light and dark areas, sunlight & shadows. Filling the picture frame : Strong shots often have prime subject(s) dominating the picture area. When a subject is too small, it gets lost in the composition. Telephoto lenses bring subjects closer to the film without you moving. Wide angles allow you to get close for a more intimate effect. Vertical versus horizontal: Most cameras are more comfortable to hold in the horizontal position....however the opportunities for vertical compositions are just as numerous and shouldn't be overlooked. Certain subjects are custom made for this format. Tilt : Skewing the point of view: Tilting the camera is a way to introduce a feeling of speed, movement, and action to your compositions. Diagonal lines tend to be dynamic and suggest movement.


Camera Functions SHOOTING MODES P Mode • The mode of choice for ease of use • The camera automatically selects the most appropriate aperture and corresponding shutter speed • The automatically selected combination of aperture and shutter speed can be manually adjusted using the wheel/dial/menu on your camera (i.e. if you require different depth of field or shutter speed than that automatically selected by the camera) • If you require the flash to fire, you must pop the flash up yourself: it will not automatically fire • Care: for most digital SLRs, use of flash in this mode will result in the camera defaulting to a fixed shutter speed, usually around 1/60 of a second. If the backdrop behind your subject is low-light (ie requires a slower shutter speed of than this default flash-sync speed), the backdrop will be underexposed… in this situation, use AV mode instead (see below) AV: Aperture Priority • Use for manipulation of depth of field. You select the aperture you require, and the camera will automatically select the corresponding shutter speed to correctly expose the shot. • For portraits with low-light backdrops, use AV set to wide enough aperture to correctly expose the background,, and use fill-flash to light up the subject in the foreground • Adjust the aperture to achieve faster or slower shutter speeds as appropriate… wider apertures will result in faster shutter speeds, and narrower apertures will result in slower shutter speeds • If the aperture selected results in a shutter speed slower than that at which the shot can be taken hand-held, use a tripod • If you require the flash to fire, you must pop the flash up yourself: it will not automatically fire S or TV: Shutter Speed Priority (or Time Value) • Use when you wish to precisely dictate how long the shutter should be open for (eg 1 second, 5 seconds, 20 seconds etc) • You set the shutter speed, and the camera will automatically select the corresponding aperture to correctly expose the shot • Take care, as there may not be a wide or narrow enough aperture available to correspond with the shutter speed you have selected. The aperture value will blink in this situation, but often the camera will still allow the shot to be taken, resulting in incorrect exposure. Adjust the shutter speed until the aperture value stops blinking, or consider adjusting the ISO • This mode is useful for capturing stream lines behind moving subjects, or to create blur for creative effect • If you require the flash to fire, you must pop the flash up yourself: it will not automatically fire


M: Fully manual mode • You manually select both the aperture and shutter speed. • Most SLR’s will have an exposure indicator, to show you how close/far away you are from the standard exposure that the camera would have selected. • In practice, used less frequently than the other modes. • If you require the flash to fire, you must pop the flash up yourself: it will not automatically fire ISO setting • An advantage of digital cameras over film cameras is that they allow you to adjust the ISO setting for each shot • ISO stands for International Standards Organisation • ISO values represent the speed at which the CCD sensor (a carry over from film) reacts to light. • The higher the ISO value, the quicker the CCD / film reacts to light, and therefore the faster shutter speeds can be obtained. • It is useful to increase the ISO value in low light conditions, to obtain faster shutter speeds and/or to ensure that low ambient light backdrops are exposed correctly. • ISO values on most digital compacts and DSLRs will range from 50/200 (slowest) up to 800/1600 (fastest) • Use of high ISO speeds (800 and above) may result in digital noise (similar to the graininess of high speed film). Shoot the lowest possible ISO speed appropriate for the lighting conditions, to maximise image quality. White balance and bracketing The colour of light reflected from any object changes according to the spectrum or colour or of the light source. The human brain adapts automatically to the colour of the light source so that, for example, a white object will always seem white whether viewed in sunlight, shade or under artificial lighting. ‘White Balance’ is the adjustment made by digital cameras to mimic this process. The camera varies the balance of recorded colours to compensate for the colour temperature of the recorded light source. Select the ‘auto white-balance’ function or select the specific white balance function that matches the colour of the light source before shooting. Preset function: a grey or white object can be used as a reference for white balance. Most digital SLRs (DSLR) have a white balance bracketing function, so that the camera will create several images each time the shutter is released, with the white balance varied for each image. White balance can also be adjusted in post-production (eg Photoshop)


Exposure Compensation Used to vary exposure from the value suggested by the camera The camera can be fooled in high contrast situations. i.e a dark background can fool the camera into overexposing the shot, so that the subject appears ‘washed out’. Similarly a bright background can produce underexposed shots. Positive compensation: use when the background is brighter than the main subject (i.e. to let in more light to compensate for incorrect underexposure) Negative compensation: use when the background is darker than the main subject (i.e. to reduce the amount of light, to compensate for incorrect overexposure) CARE: Exposure compensation is usually not reset automatically when the camera is turned off. Ensure you set back to ‘0’ before turning the camera off. Exposure Bracketing Useful in complex lighting conditions, to ensure that one of three shots is correctly exposed. The camera will produce three shots: with each shot, the camera varies exposure by fixed increments (eg one at the exposure automatically selected by the camera, then one at a positive exposure increment and one at a negative exposure increment) The default size of the exposure increments will usually be 1/3 stop can be varied using the menu on your camera. Some camera’s allow to custom tailor the bracketing on the positive or negative scale. Depending on the camera, you may only need to press the shutter once to produce the three bracketed images. For others, you may need to press the shutter three times, with the camera automatically adjusting the exposure for each shot.


Aperture tips Aperture To avoid unsharp pictures caused by camera shake remember that the shutter speed must roughly equal or exceed the focal length of the lens

aperture and shutter control virtually every aspect of photography

Aperture & shutter

(rule applies to handheld cameras) 24-35mm lenses 1/30 sec + 50-100mm 1/60 sec + 100-135mm 1/125 sec + 200mm-300mm 1/250 sec + 400-500mm 1/500 sec +

To gain the maximum use out of your compact digital or DSLR systemit is fundamental that you have a grasp as to how aperture (and shutter speed) control your creative options.

Shutter speed guide to creative blur Waterfalls : 1/2 sec & less Spinning bike wheel 1/15 sec Freeze runners: 1/1000 sec

Aperture Aperture is the hole in the lens through which light passes. Aperture does two things : * controls the amount of light to pass through to the film. * controls the depth of field.

Streak car lights at night 2 sec plus Blur flowers in wind 1/15 sec & less *All shutter speeds relative to closeness to subject, speed of object and angle of subject to the camera.

Check the depth of field by using the preview button found on most digital SLR cameras. Aperture is most useful to achieve a shallow depth of field and to isolate a subject away from a distracting background. If you want a shot with everything sharp from foreground to background (great depth of field) then an aperture of say, f/22 would be selected. We suggest that for full creative control over depth of field you set your camera on: Program & aperture priority mode, whereby you adjust the aperture and the camera will automatically select the shutter speed ( many cameras now have shutter speeds ranging from 1/8000 of a second to 30 full seconds) The advantage of program mode is that you can over-ride the camera settings and dial in the aperture you want.....then on camera's such as the Canon EOS 400D or Nikon F80D ....... it reverts back to the preselected program mode thus avoiding mistakes. In fact, we recommend using the program modes in most situations as they are biased towards faster shutter speeds to avoid blurred shots. Shutter speed The speed of the shutter determines how much (if any) subject movement will be recorded. Fast shutter speeds are selected when you wish to stop the action or when you have selected a wide aperture. They are also essential when hand holding long lenses to avoid blurred or soft shots.

Aperture and shutter speed control your creative options


Slow shutter speeds are chosen when you want to create the impression of movement in moving subjects such as a waterfall or a runner. Slow shutter speeds are forced upon you if opting for a great depth of field. This occurs by selecting a greater aperture number or in photographic terms - 'stopping down the lens'. A camera set in 'aperture priority mode' correspondingly matches your selected aperture to a slower shutter speed in order to give the correct exposure. From these examples, you can see that shutter speed and aperture are interdependent functions. Camera shake in picture taking is the prime reason for 'soft' or blurred pictures. Always ensure that the shutter speed is fast enough to avoid unintentional unsharp shots. To guarantee sharpness in hand-held shots, select a shutter speed at least as fast as the focal length of the lens. And faster still if you are close to the subject. But ultimately, in order to ensure the utmost sharpness - use a camera support such as a tripod, the edge of a tree, bean bag on a car.... whatever is solid.

Depth of field The distance on either side of the subject that you have focused on that remains sharp. The overall extent of the depth of field is affected by three factors: 1/ The aperture selected A wide open lens with a low aperture number (say f4) gives a shallow depth of field. 'Stopping the lens down' by selecting a greater aperture number (say f22) gives a greater depth of field. 2/ The focal length of the lens The longer the focal length of the lens (say 200mm) the less the depth of field. The shorter the focal length of the lens (say 28mm) the greater the depth of field.

Depth of field Exercise Take a series of photographs of the same scene demonstrating the two factors (or all three if you have a digital SLR) which control depth of field : these are 1/ Distance to subject (3 shots ) 2/ Focal length of the lens (3 shots) 3/ Aperture at different aperture openings (3 shots) One best overall shot demonstrating your grasp of depth of field (1 shot) Write down the f stop, focal length & distance for each shot. By comparing the results, you will get a feel for how the depth of field is influenced by these factors.

Shutter speed guide to creative blur *All shutter speeds relative to closeness to subject, speed of object and angle of subject to the camera.

3/ The distance of the subject to the camera the closer the distance - the less or shallower the depth of field. The farther the camera is away from the subjectthe greater the depth of field. Depth of field is one of the most creative tools which you as the composer of the photograph can use.With a fully automated digital compact camera with a zoom lens - you can manipulate your depth of field by exploiting the fact that at a wide angle lens setting you get greater depth of field and by moving close you can get a shallower depth of field.

The wider the angle of the lens the greater the depth of field.


Common errors

Battery failure Digital cameras chew through batteries. Always carry a spare set and try to minimize back viewing of the images taken. Use viewfinder more often. Time lag on compacts as most digital compact compacts have a time lag between pressing the button and the actual shot being recorded on the flash card. Most of them also take 1-2 seconds to transfer the data to the flash card . Subject is too small and surrounded by clutter or irrelevant surroundings. Fill the frame. Exclude unwanted elements. Go for visual impact. Move closer or switch to a telephoto lens. Subject is dead centre Picture elements are disconnected or static and lack cohesion. Focus on subject, then re-compose using focus lock (autofocus cameras) or switch camera to manual focus. Study points on composition especially rule of thirds, viewpoint, leading lines etc. Excess clutter / picture unbalanced Remove unwanted elements from the picture. Move closer, change your viewpoint or change lenses. Select subject(s) carefully. Are you trying to convey too much? Blurred, fuzzy or soft shots Don't stab the shutter. Tuck arms into body, assume a stable stance. Support the camera or use a tripod in low light. Open up your aperture. Use faster film. Slanted horizons Often caused by your attention being diverted to composition & not to be confused with deliberately tilting the camera. Watch out for this common mistake. Poor timing of day, light, season Get up before dawn, wait until the sun pops out of the cloud or the lighting improves, go when the blossoms or autumn leaves are at their peak. Pick a time when there are fewer tourists about. Picture fails to capture the essence of the situation Climb up that hill to get a better viewpoint. Lie on your stomach for intimate shots of the kids at their eye level. Explore the streets. Confusion over camera operation Carry your instruction booklet as it is easy to forget the functions.


Landscapes

Colour contrast vibrant colours for vibrant landscapes colours dictate the mood Look for colour contrast. A electric blue bikini contrasting against yellow sand, flesh skin tones contrasting against a blue sky instead of the sand....

Snapshots or works of art?.....there is an outstanding difference between the ordinary "postcard" views and the finest creative landscape photographs. Many casually-conceived photographs of interesting views that stimulated the photographer turn out to be disappointing, failing to capture the essence of the scene... to lift a landscape photograph out of the ordinary requires perception and technique. Landscape photographs appear deceptively easy - but are often carefully crafted capturing the best weather conditions, light, season and utilising effective composition. Telephotos are useful in flattening perspective, bringing distant objects closer and isolating a small section of view. Wide angle lenses are best in uncluttered landscapes with interesting foregrounds. Expose for the highlights if the highlight area is strong enough to carry the shot. Use sidelighting & backlighting to give a three dimensional modelling on the elements. Flat, dull, lighting is not good for landscapes except when the weather is inclement. Use a polarizing filter-increases colour saturation on sunny, frontlit scenes (bluer skies, whiter clouds, greener leaves) Use a graduated filter to reduce contrast between the sky and the land. Especially useful in the tropics. Learn the art of patience. You may have to wait in a spot for days to capture that perfect sunrise. Maximise your chances by studying weather patterns and attuning yourself to the rhythms of the seasons. Separate your senses from the scene- Most people react to a scene in an intuitive way. The wind, the sounds, the smells, the relationship of distant mountains to nearby rocks... but yet this a rarely ever conveyed into a purely visual form as a photograph.

Complimentary colours. A black t-shirt or a silouette in harmony with the late afternoon golden colour of Dubai, the delicate hues of a reflected pool, the harmonious merging tones of land, sea and sky. Use colours as focal point to a colour landscape and contrast for black and white landscapes.


A landscape photograph can be representational or abstract. A representational photograph attempts a faithful evocation of the subject that conveys a great deal of information. An abstract approach selects strong graphic elements from the landscape, and tends to be more subjective. Useful composition techniques. The relationship of nearby objects to a distant scene, such as ripples in a sand-dune to a desert horizon can be accentuated By using a wide-angle lens and exploring high and low viewpoints. A telephoto lens can be used to isolate given elements, and will compress perspective, making distant features more dominant in relation to nearer objects. It can give a more remote, detached feeling, and is often excellent for selecting items to give abstract patterns and sticking to the adage "less is more". The relationship between the land and the sky is an important factor -the horizon is probably the strongest line dividing up the picture frame -- and in interesting weather conditions it is worth experimenting with different proportions of sky to land. Usually you employ the rule of thirds technique.....with dynamic clouds or a sunset dominating the composition, over just a thin strip of land, an entirely different feeling is created, often more majestic. These sky-land variations can also be applied to water and land, and to water and sky. Tripods are very useful as careful composition is central to landscape work. It is essential with a telephoto lens, or in a wide-field approach where obtaining maximum depth of field requires a slow shutter speed. More often than not, sharpness is desirable across the whole field, especially in a representational photograph.


Portraits

People are usually the most easily accessible of all subjects. Try to capture the natural behaviour and activities of people by catching them unawares. A portrait is when the subject has agreed to be photographed. Try to capture more relaxed images - formal poses often look contrived. Experiment with contrast A black shadow backdrop, back lighting and a fill flash or reflector. Descriptive portraits shows the person in their environment. They are a part of the scene and their People come in all shapes and sizes Try to flatter your subject by selecting the right angles and focal length. Wide angles distort features. Telephotos compliment and compress facial features such as long noses. Manipulate your depth of field. Individuals benefit from a blurred background. Groups need a greater depth of field to achieve sharpness throughout. Frame your subjects both vertically and horizontally. Use a window, a post, a bed of flowers in the foreground. Practice the fine art of tilting the camera. Look to have the head leaning in the opposite direction to the camera tilt. Relax your subject. Get them to lean on a railing or against a wall. Give them something to hold. Say 'finished' - then snap the shot. Clinic/office situations for portraits . Avoid coloured walls which will throw a colour cast on the subject's face. Also (if possible) get the person to wear neutral colours such as black, white or greys. Keep the subject away from windows where you will have problems with back light. Instead have sidelight streaming through a window giving softer diffused highlight. You may wish to use a card or reflector on the side of the face to even out the contrast. For candid shots, it is best to use a telephoto zoom, such as a 18200mm lens. This allows you to stand back a considerable distance and frame the shot well, often using a shallow depth of field to


blur out distracting background detail. Props - People are more relaxed if they are doing something with which they feel comfortable. A farmer leaning against his tractor or a Tibetan monk with his prayer wheel, Utilize objects which are a natural part of their surroundings and makes a statement about the person, their interests, hobbies, work and environment. Background - Scan the viewfinder carefully to ensure that a pole is not coming out the back of the subjects head or that a distracting blob of colour does not grow out of an ear. Yes, you can tweak the digital image... but why not get it right the first time. Look for a dark shadow to give a black background for blonds or conversely, dark haired persons often look good against a lighter background. Strive to achieve this contrast to highlight your subject. If a suitable background is not apparent, get down low and use the sky as a backdrop. But be careful that the camera doesn't take its exposure reading off the sky causing underexposure on the face. Use a reflector or flash - If there is sufficient light such as sunlight then use a reflector...otherwise a fill in flash has to be used. Hold the flash head away from the camera so as to avoid 'redeye' ....even better, bounce flash off a reflector card which adds a soft flattering effect. Use natural light wherever possible - portraits are best taken in natural light. Even if it involves moving your subject over to a window or into the open shade of the Milk Factory entrance. Early in the morning and later in the afternoon is the preferred time. If you must shoot in the middle of the day, use reflected light such as flash fill or a reflector to soften the shadows. Backlighting with the sunlight silhouetting their hair gives a lovely effect and has the added bonus of preventing your model squinting into the sun. Be careful with flare and attempt to position your camera in shadow or use a lens hood, hat etc.


Travelling

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Maximising battery life resist the temptation to preview every picture on the screen. For compacts, use the viewfinder instead of the LCD screen to compose the shot. Use the bracketing function on SLR’s rather than previewing the shots.

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Batteries and Charging facilities Consider purchasing a camera that will take AAs in addition to proprietary rechargeable batteries. Or take at least one extra fully charged rechargeable battery, and recharge used batteries at every opportunity. Lithiums last longer and deal with low temperatures better than alkaline batteries.

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Memory Cards A key consideration is making sure you’ve got enough storage for your digital images, and means of downloading them. Memory cards are getting cheaper all the time, and it is better to have too many than too few. Stick to brands that you know, and don’t use the largest capacity cards unless you have to. If you use a very large card and something goes wrong, you will lose a lot of images. Stick to 1GB or 2GB cards at a maximum.

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Image storage capacity options & back up of files It is important to periodically download your travel images. Consider investing in a portable hard-drive with a good preview screen and at least 40gb or storage space, or a portable CD burner. However, note that availability of power is an issue with all of these options.

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Temperature Extremes Batteries drain faster in cold weather. Keep spare ones in an inside pocket close to your body. Humidity causes lenses and filters to mist up if you step out of an air-conditioned room or vehicle into warm moist air, so build in extra time for them to acclimatise. It helps to store cameras and lenses in poly bags with silica gel sachets. Never leave cameras, memory cards or storage devices in direct heat or hot places such as glove compartments or car boots.

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Dust and dirt Take care when travelling in dusty or sandy areas. You risk getting dirt on the CCD when changing lenses, so try to do this in a sheltered spot or under your jacket. Put each lens and camera body in a separate poly bags (sealable freezer bags are ideal) when travelling in desert regions. Leave UV filters permanently attached to your lenses to protect them against the rain.


Filters

Filtration is probably the least understood aspect of photography, but it can add a new dimension to your pictures. Even though we can easily alter things like contrast and colour saturation on a digital file, it is preferable to use the appropriate filter than post production manipulation which takes time and skill. Many photographers resist filtration. However, it is important to bear in mind that film is manufactured to operate consistently under ideal conditions, say midday sun on the Equator, and obviously, therefore, the majority of pictures are shot in less than ideal conditions. Filtration can correct these conditions, making it possible to better record the picture one hopes to see. All lenses should be protected with a U/V filter. A polarizing filter is most useful. You 'dial in' as much polarization as you require. Use to cut out unwanted reflections off water. It is only used in sunny conditions with the sun over your shoulders. Clouds become whiter, skies bluer and greens (especially foliage) greener. A graduated filter with the top half a sunset orange can rescue shots where there is a large difference in exposure between the land and sky The most successful filtration should hardly be noticed. A competent photographer needs to be capable of using filtration to achieve what he wants when light conditions are bad or when it is physically impossible to wait for ideal conditions. Polarizing Filters (essential) cuts out reflected light in the same way as Polaroid sun-glasses, except that the filter can be turned to 'dial in' as much polarization as you require. By cutting down the amount of light reflecting off the subject it increases the colour saturation and the contrast in the picture. In cold flat light such as a cloudy day, polarizing filters simply increase the blueness of the light. This filter needs sunshine, ideally from directly behind the camera, especially if you are using a wide angle lens.


When the filter is being used to cut out the reflections in windows or to see into water, sunshine is not important. The polarizing filter is good for clouds, but it is also good for wet and dusty leaves -- cutting out the reflected light makes the leaves greener. The filter is useful around water, but expose carefully. Also avoid making your sky dark inky black, especially as a higher altitudes they tend to go this way anyway. Skylight and Clear glass filters. Photojournalists often use clear glass or skylight filters to protect the front elements of their lenses. (A skylight filter has a very slight warming effect but otherwise does not alter the image in any discernible way.) The ultraviolet (UV) filter, also relatively clear, has a minimal effect in eliminating aerial haze, but it is really not a very helpful tool in practical use other than protecting the lens. Split grad filters- useful for lessening the contrast between a bright sky and a darker landscape. Be sure to place the feathered gradation line between the clear bottom half and the 'smoked' top half on the horizon line (between the sky and land) so its not noticeable.


Night & twilight

Twilight is the best time to take pictures because for about 30 min. after sundown the sky retains its pinky-purply blue colour helping reveal the silhouetted outlines of buildings, trees etc..... any later and you just get pinpricks of light and a featureless black sky. Use a tripod as this allows you to get sharp images and to also use a finer grain, slower film. The exception being when we want to shoot people with available light behind... here a faster ISO setting means less time the shutter stays open... thus minimizing blurred shots from movement. Shoot across water Water reflects the light from the sky and also minimizes the huge contrast in exposure between a sunset/ sunrise sky and a dark foreground landscape. Meter for the sky and lock in that exposure with the exposure lock button or select manual camera settings. Shooting moving subjects such as the tail lights of cars etc requires one to select a shutter speed of at least 5-10 seconds and to have the camera securely mounted on a tripod. Fairgrounds and ferris wheels make excellent subjects. (Digital SLR cameras have the edge here) Flash and ambient light Put the camera settings to shutter or aperture priority(depending on the camera) and then activate the camera flash The flash will light up the subject within range of the flash )..... then still record the available light behind the subject. Get the people to stay still or use a faster lens or ISO setting to avoid a ghosting, blurred image. Bright lights or spotlights near the camera as they will result in the cameras metering system giving less exposure than is needed. In fact.. it is best to set the exposure compensation function on your camera to at least +1

Shooting when the sky is black will show only pinpricks of light and a featureless black sky

For cityscapes, shoot with NO FLASH (unless you also wish to expose a subject in the foreground – see night portraits below)

Often best results are obtained by setting the camera to +1 exposure compensation, to let in more available light. Experiment with different exposures, and use bracketing.

Set white balance to AUTO. If results look strange, experiment with other settings according to the lighting conditions.


Flash exercises Moving subjects

use of 1st and 2nd curtain sync using subject carrying cigarette lighter: On observatory deck opposite ferry terminal

Flash Advanced Camera Functions White Balance & Bracketing The colour of light reflected from any object changes according to the colour of the light source. The human brain adapts automatically to the colour of the light source so that, for example, a white object will always seem white whether viewed in sunlight, shade or under artificial lighting. ‘White Balance’ is the adjustment made by digital cameras to mimic this process. The camera varies the balance of recorded colours to compensate for the colour temperature of the recorded light source. Select the ‘auto white-balance’ function or select the specific white balance function that matches the colour of the light source before shooting. Preset function: a grey or white object can be used as a reference for white balance. Most digital SLRs (DSLR) have a white balance bracketing function, so that the camera will create several images each time the shutter is released, with the white balance varied for each image. White balance can also be adjusted in post-production (eg Photoshop) Colour Temperature Colour temperature of light is measured in degrees Kelvin (K) The light sequence passes through red, orange, yellow, white then blue Low temperature (below 5000k): white objects appear tinged with yellow/red High temperature (above 5000k): white objects tinged with blue Some approximate examples of Kelvin values of different lighting conditions: Blue sky 11,000k-18,000k Shade 8,000k Cloudy 6,000k Flash 5,400k Direct sunlight 5,200k Fluorescent 4,200k Incandescent 3,000k Exposure Compensation Used to vary exposure from the value suggested by the camera The camera can be fooled in high contrast situations. Eg a dark background can fool the camera into overexposing the shot, so that the subject appears ‘washed out’. Similarly a bright background can produce underexposed shots.

Night portraits shoot flash at low ISO Shoot flash at high ISO Shoot flash/slow at medium ISO (400)and wide open aperture Shoot flash/slow at low ISO and slow shutter speed (4 sec) Night & twilight cityscapes Try shooting the Yarra river and city skyline correctly exposed in the background: Special effects (zoom lines and star-bursting): or car lights swirling around the Opera House Fountain Slow shutter speeds capture stream lines behind cars or cruise boats.


Positive compensation: use when the background is brighter than the main subject (i.e. to let in more light to compensate for incorrect underexposure) Negative compensation: use when the background is darker than the main subject (i.e. to reduce the amount of light, to compensate for incorrect overexposure) CARE: Exposure compensation is usually not reset automatically when the camera is turned off. Ensure you set back to ‘0’ before turning the camera off. Exposure Bracketing Useful in complex lighting conditions, to ensure that one of three shots is correctly exposed. The camera will produce three shots: with each shot, the camera varies exposure by fixed increments (eg one at the exposure automatically selected by the camera, then one at a positive exposure increment and one at a negative exposure increment) The default size of the exposure increments will usually be 1/3 stop can be varied using the menu on your camera. Some camera’s allow to custom tailor the bracketing on the positive or negative scale. Depending on the camera, you may only need to press the shutter once to produce the three bracketed images. For others, you may need to press the shutter three times, with the camera automatically adjusting the exposure for each shot. Flash sync modes Front curtain: Most commonly used. Shutter speed will be automatically set to values in a given range, depending on the camera. Red eye reduction: Red-eye reduction lamp flashes before main flash resulting on contraction of the subjects pupils. NB: This causes a slight delay before the picture is taken (up to about a second or so) so is not recommended in situations where quick shutter response is required. Slow sync: Flash can be combined with slow shutter speeds (eg to capture both background and subject in low light/at night). Use a tripod or support to avoid camera shake. Rear/2nd Curtain synch flash The flash fires just before the shutter closes, rather than at the start of the exposure. Use to capture both subject and background without blur, in low light situations. Can also be used for special effects such as capturing light streams behind moving subjects. Use of a tripod recommended to avoid camera shake Flash Range Range = the area reached covered by the flash output The range varies according to light sensitivity (ISO) the aperture & sync speed of flash. The aperture widens (i.e. the smaller the f-stop number) the flash range increases. As ISO is increased (e.g. from 400 to 800) the flash range increases. The built-in flash will have a minimum ‘distance to subject’ below which it cannot be used. It will also often not be possible to use the built-in flash with macro lenses as you are too close to subject. However you can direct the light with a small reflector.

course notes  

angus thomas photographyy

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