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Oh Cr op! Issue 2: February 2011

Chi’s Challenge Bokeh

Photography Masterclass The Basics of Camera Settings Nichola Shaw The Holiday Photographer

Winter Wonderland With Marina Hauer

Plus! Your usual camera and lens reviews

Cover Image by Annabelle Latter Cover image by Chi Lau.

Photograph by Daniel Lee, to see more by this photographer visit: www.flickr.com/photos/43376190@n06

In Oh Crop! this month..



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Chi’s Challege In this month’s regular challenge Chi gives the low-down on bokeh and provides some quite striking examples.

Photography Masterclass We’ve got another handy tutorial for you all, this month it’s an explanation of your basic camera settings.

Winter Wonderland Guest writer and friend, Marina Hauer shares a personal knowledge of the Austrian landscape during a snowy winter, accompanied by beautiful photographs.

Reader Profile This month’s interview by Danielle Starr is with adventurer Nichola Shaw.

Lens Review President of the University of Portsmouth Photo Soc’, Krish Mistry, reviews a Canon lens for us.

Firstly I want to thank to the people that helped me turn an idea into reality and everyone who contributed to last month’s issue of Oh Crop! I hope that the readers of Oh Crop! enjoyed the first issue too and continue to read it. In this month’s issue I explain the basics of camera settings that often confuse beginners while Danielle Starr went to interview Nichola Shaw on her photography. We also have articles from a former President of the Portsmouth Photo Soc and also the current one. As always please send photos and comments the address below!


Contributors: Chi Lau Danielle Starr Annabelle Latter Dan Smyth Krish Mistry Marina Hauer And a special thanks to Nichola Shaw Find us on Facebook! Just search for “Oh Crop! Magazine”

Camera Review Last month we reviewed Canon for you, this month its Nikon.

And if you have any questions, comments or photos you’d like to share please send them to chi.lauphotography@hotmail.co.uk

Chi’s T



his week we will be looking at how to create funky bokeh effects using only paper, scissors and some tape! So what is a Bokeh? Bokeh (pronounced Bow-ka) comes from the Japanese word “boke” meaning blur and are the blur of light in out of focus areas of a photo. They occur because they are outside the depth of field and thus cause an awesome reflection of light. So in order to create bokeh like effects you would need a camera lens with a large aperture (in others a small f-stop number such as f/1.8). This means that the focus will be on one part of the photo and the rest will be out of focus thus causing the lights to reflect. In this challenge I’ll show you how to create different shapes of bokehs in an easy way! And since its nearly Valentine’s Day why not a heart shape? So what you will need are: • A digital camera (again very obvious!) • A camera lens with a large aperture (or a small f-stop number such as f/1.8) • Flexible Black paper (WH Smiths do a set of 50 sheets of paper for £2.99)

• Scissors or cutting knife • Tape So what do you need to do? Firstly cut a long strip of paper and measure it to fit around the lens circumference. Make sure that it’s neither too tight nor too loose! Then tape it (Like I said this is very very easy!) Now you need to measure a circle out so that it will cover the front of the lens. What you need to do now is cut a simple shape of your choosing

lowest f-stop so that the aperture is as wide as it can be and that the depth of field is shallow. Your kit lens should do f/3.5 at 18mm and f/4.5 at anything higher than 18mm so it should still create bokeh like effects... however for best results you would need a larger aperture at around f/1.8 or f/2. Then aim. Point. Camera go click. Make sure you have an interesting foreground such as a beautiful girl! Add some colourful lights in the background and set your aperture to the lowest it can go. Try and experiment with different foregrounds and light colours, as well different patterns such as a star. Make sure the patterns are simple though because the more complicated the less likely it will work. So now that you know how to make special shaped bokehs send us the photos so that all our readers can see! Please send them to chi.lauphotography@hotmail.co.uk with your name. If you have any questions or problems with this challenge then post them on our Facebook page and we’ll get back to you real soon!

in the centre of the circle, in this case I cut a heart shape... sorry a very bad attempt at a heart shape but you get the general idea! Then tape the first and second circles together to make a “lens hood” that fits over the top of the camera lens. That’s pretty much it really. Because after creating the “lens hood”, Photography and words by Chi you need to put it over your lens and set your aperture to the Lau

Photography Masterclass: With Chi Lau


o you’ve got DSLR camera... And you probably have it on auto setting thinking “What next?” A lot of people when they first begin to use an SLR are confused by the new shiny letters on the camera’s mode dial so here is a basic tutorial on what these letters mean! And by basic I mean very basic... This is because you only really need to learn the basics of it then how you take a photo is up to you, and as people say “photography is subjective” so your way of taking photos might not be my way of taking photos, but as long as you know the basics you CAN take a photo!! In auto mode the camera does every setting for you so all you have to do is point and click! However with Program Mode (P on most camera models) you can only change the ISO as the camera adjusts the shutter speed and aperture for you, which means you can’t really do anything other than adjust the sensor’s sensitivity to light. This setting is rarely used by SLR users because they have no control! The next mode is Shutter Priority Mode (TV on Canon and S on Nikon & Sony models). This mode allows you to choose the shutter

The Basics of Camera Settings speed. With shutter priority mode the camera adjusts the aperture for you while you adjust the shutter speed. The shutter speed determines how long a cameras shutter stays open for (obviously!). A fast shutter speed

(e.g. 1/100 or 100th of a second) helps to stop movement. In sports photography this is ideal as you want to freeze the important parts instead of having blurred movement, for example when a footballer is celebrating a goal

you want to see the celebration clearly. On the other hand a slow shutter speed (e.g. 3”2 or 3.2 seconds) allows blurred movement, for example a waterfall or a fountain can be blurred with a slower shutter speed or you can try light painting. However a slow shutter speed will result in camera shake as you will move about when taking a photo (unless you are using a tripod/monopod) and so your settings need to be adjusted accordingly. If you are a beginner then starting off with the shutter speed would be very useful for you! Aperture Priority (AV on Canon and A on Nikon and Sony models) is similar to Shutter Priority, only instead of adjusting the shutter speed you can only change the aperture settings. This means that you can choose the depth of field and the camera will automatically adjust the shutter speed according to your current light situation. Aperture can be confusing sometimes because a low number or f-stop means a wide aperture ring. So an f-stop of 1.8 means that the aperture is wide and thus allows more light in. A wide aperture allows the photographer to take photos in darker situations, for example gig photography tends to use

an aperture of around f/2. A low f-stop also means a shallower depth of field... That basically means only a certain part of the photo will be in focus while the rest of the photo is out of focus. Landscape photographers tend to use a bigger f-stop (a smaller aperture) because it allows more detail to be in focus and thus clearer photos. Aperture Priority is a great way to help you understand depth of field effects. Finally we have Manual mode (M on most camera manufacturers). This setting allows you to adjust everything within a camera including: ISO – The ISO effects how you use the shutter speed and aperture settings. This is because the ISO is how sensitive your camera’s sensor is to the light. A higher number results in a higher sensitivity and thus shutter speed and aperture needs to be adjusted according to avoid burning out an image (too bright). ISO should be used only if needed and as a last resort because the higher you go the more noise or white dots/grain you get in an image. Noise can ruin the quality of an image and cause significant detail to be lost. So try to keep ISO at 100 or whatever your lowest setting is and only increase it when needed. If you have to increase it then try to keep it below ISO800 as noise tends to kick in after that, this will depend on what camera you have, as better and more modern camera sensors can handle noise better and therefore can handle a higher ISO. Experiment with your camera so that you can find out your camera’s noise limit and be able to adjust the rest of your settings in the future! White Balance – The White Balance is a setting which determines the colour

temperature of your images. Many photographers tend to ignore this setting and stick it on auto. Most cameras are able to work out the colour fairly well,

however, in order to perfect an image adjusting the white

balance is very useful. Sometimes a photo can come out with a hint of blue, yellow or orange (if you’ve ever taken a photo indoors with tungsten light you may notice

hints of orange or yellow) and this is obviously not what we see with our eyes. Below are a list of common White Balance settings you’ll find on most DSLRs: • Auto – This is when the

camera makes a guess on what the white balance is. In most cases the camera is correct but below are the more specific settings. • Daylight/Sunny – This is usually shown with a symbol of a sun and is best used in outdoor summer situations. • Shade – This is usually shown with a house with shadows. This is used when you are standing in dark shaded areas such as under a tree. • Cloudy – This is usually shown with a cloud and is used when shooting outdoors and its cloudy and overcast. This will add warmth to a cold looking image • Tungsten  – This is usually shown with a symbol of a light bulb and should be used for indoors photography when in the presence of tungsten lightbulbs. • Fluorescent  – This is usually shown with a magnet thing... and is best used with fluorescent light as it adds warmer tones to the image. • Flash  – This is usually shown with a lightning bolt/flash symbol and is used when using flash. • Custom – This setting should technically be used at all times because it will correctly get the White Balance right every time. However this would involve holding a white piece of paper every time you go to a different location or as time goes by... therefore making it unpractical but if you have the need to get the white balance spot on then this setting should be used. Hopefully you’ve now got a better understanding of the basics of an SLR’s camera modes. As mentioned this tutorial is only a basic one and so it’s up to you to learn the modes and settings and go out into the world and play around with the settings. Try learning the settings then throw them out of the window and creating artistic and cool images!

Beautiful in black and white, this sea side picture by Amanda Bunce. To see more of her photography you can visit: www.flickr.com/photos/ amanda-bunce

Winter Wonderland

By Marina Hauer


eing Austrian by birth, I’ve always had a strong affection for winter and the snow. In Austria, you basically grow up with skis attached to your feet. I had probably seen more snow by the time I started school than most Brits will experience all their lives. Seeing the land covered in a thick white blanket still fills me with a childish excitement and joy. All the more excited was I when this winter season turned out to be full of great photo opportunities, not only in Austria but also here in England. Early in December, Portsmouth woke up to several inches of freshly fallen snow! What is the motorist’s nightmare was a cause for celebration for all the local photography enthusiasts. Together with a friend, I set out early to capture the morning

mist that had formed over the sea. We arrived just at the right time. The sun had just risen, faintly visible through the mist, and was mirrored on the perfectly smooth water in hues of soft blue, yellow and pink. Mother Nature often awards a diligent landscape photographer who gets up early and stays up late – in winter that’s not even hard, and mist often forms before sunrise and might even leave behind some amazing hoar frost! It’s totally worth wrapping up warm and getting out there before the snow has been trodden on and rising temperatures give the scene a damp, dirty look. And don’t just concentrate on the big landscape – there are lots of lovely details which will make great photos too! While the Portsmouth snow was gone within two

days, the conditions in Austria remained consistently winterwonderlandish throughout my whole stay over Christmas. I’ve never experienced the beauty of snow, frost and winter skies quite as much as I did this year, through the eyes of a photographer. We all hope for bold colours when anxiously waiting for the perfect sunset, but I find that a crisp, softhued winter sky can be just as intriguing in its pastel simplicity. And there is no saying you won’t get the bold colours either – on

while skiing can be interesting. At one point I was hanging slightly lopsided on a moving lift with some of my skiing gear in one hand and the camera in the other, trying to take a picture. Having your camera insured gives peace of mind. On both occasions it was very cold. I was glad I knew my camera well enough to be able to shoot with my gloves on. In temperatures below zero, it’s advisable to keep your spare batteries as warm as possible (I wear them in pockets close to

a sunny day, the sky can be a stunning electric blue, or shine in deep oranges and yellows at dusk. I was very lucky to catch a spectacular mist-and-coloursand-everything sunrise!

my body) because battery life is drastically reduced in the cold. I also carry a little microfiber cloth in my photo bag to wipe my lens in case falling snow or drizzle gets blown onto my lens and I need to clean it.

Twice I took my camera gear skiing, once in fog and once in bright sunlight. On higher altitudes, the trees are often completely frosted over, which is totally amazing. Photographing

In terms of photographic technique, many magazines suggest overexposing snow scenes by around 2 stops to get the whites really white. I find that

this very much depends on the situation, and works well when you have a scene with both shadowy and sunlit areas. For others, when the bright sunlight is predominant, I prefer underexposing a bit to avoid bleaching out the image and loosing detail. Levels can then be fixed in post production. If in doubt, underexposure is correctable in Photoshop, whereas overexposure isn’t and might just ruin your image. Nothing wrong with a bit of post production, after all!

To see more of Marina’s photographs you can visit the following web address: www.flickr.com/photos/ marinahauer

Reader Profile:

NicholaTheShaw Holiday Photographer

Nichola Shaw loves to travel, and loves to take photographs, our co-editor Danielle Starr went to quiz her...

capture those special moments in time. I like to be able to flick back through old photographs and be transported back to a place and time.

Hi, tell us a bit about yourself :) (name, age, what you study at uni etc) Hi! I’m Nichola Shaw, (aka Shawn the Sheep in the Flickr world), I’m 20 years old, and I’m studying architecture at Portsmouth University.

You have photographs from across the world; are these just family holiday snaps; or do you go for the photography opportunities? Usually it’s a bit of both. If I’m on a family holiday I’m looking out for photo opportunities, but I’m not there solely to take pictures – its really easy to not actually experience a place if you are forever looking through a viewfinder. The photos taken from around Europe were taken on my gap year; I was traveling on my

What’s your favourite thing about photography and why? The main appeal of photography for me is the chance to explore and adventure, and then

own so this was a time where still take a really bad photo! photography could be more of a What I guess I’m trying to say is focus. that you shouldn’t not go and take pictures just because you don’t How did you get the fish photos? have a DSLR or a wide angle lens Did you have glass between or whatever – just make the best you or did you use a waterproof of what you’ve got and make case? sure you’ve got other areas, like Ahhh the fish photos! Those composition, sorted.  were actually inspired by a talk we had at camera club I belong to back home (Littlehampton Camera Club). A chap came in and presented these amazing underwater photos he had taken whilst diving, and so completely inspired, but with no Tell our readers something diving or underwater experience about yourself that we might not whatsoever, I took the train know. up to London and went to the I love being outside; walking, Aquarium!  sailing and especially cycling.

ripples in the sand it looked like the perfect photo opportunity. Any tips for our readers? Explore, always keep a camera with you, experiment and just go out, take photos and have fun!

Photography is about capturing a special moment in time

What equipment do you use? My main camera is a Nikon D40x (Digital SLR) with a standard 18-55mm lens, in addition to this I have a Nikon S550 (digital compact), an Olympus Trip and a box brownie (Both film cameras) I also have a lightweight Tripod and remote control. Do you believe it’s down to the user or the equipment they own?  My personal opinion is that photography is about capturing a special moment in time, so it doesn’t matter whether you are using a £5 film camera from a charity shop or a £3000 digital SLR. I think a really great example of this is the winning picture taken for the Countryfile Photographic competition – it was taken on a standard digital compact camera, personally, its one of my favourite and most memorable photos from 2010.  http://www.countryfile.com/ photographic-competition That said, DSLRs, additional lenses, etc give you a greater flexibility and allow you to change the settings so you get the effect you desire, but with all of the best equipment in the world you can

The Ripples photograph is stunning; can you tell us how you made it and any planning that went into it? Thank you! Ripples was taken at my local beach at sunset, it had been a beautiful clear winters day so I knew that the sunset would be pretty spectacular. I went down there with about ¾ hour before sunset and started searching for the best place to take the photo – its normally nice to have some foreground interest in a photo and when I saw the

Next month we’ll be featuring a interview with former president of the University of Portsmouth Film and Photo Society, photographer Dan Smyth!

Green Day by Dan Chesterton

Stereophonics by Dan Smyth

The Ultimate Lens Review:

The Canon EF 50mm 1:1.8 II Photograph and words by Krish Mistry


he Canon EF 50mm f1.8 II is an inexpensive prime lens, generally available for under £90 new. It was announced in 1990, to replace the mk1 lens (which has been around since 1987 for the film EOS cameras). The 50mm focal length is considered ‘normal’ due to being similar to the field of view of the human eye. However, on crop sensor digital SLRs, it gives a field of view equivalent to 80mm (which is great for portraits!) F i r s t impressions, it is a very small and light lens (just 130g) due to being built entirely out of plastic. There is no distance window (unlike the MK1 version) and the focus ring is small. It does not have Canon’s ultrasonic motor focusing, nor full time manual focus. You can use screw in filters, of 52mm diameter, however due to the front element rotating when focusing, it is difficult to use circular polarizers. The lens has great performance wide open; it is sharp in the centre but there is some softness to corners. This clears up when stopping down to f2.8, and it is very sharp across the frame. A slight amount of light fall-off (vignetting) is present shooting wide open, but this quickly disappears when stopping down. Chromatic

aberrations are not an issue, and there is no noticeable barrel distortion. Due to the use of five non-rounded aperture blades, out of focus highlights (bokeh) are rendered pentagonal when stopped down. Autofocus is slightly noisy due to the use of a micromotor, but it is generally fast enough and accurate in good light.

In darker conditions, it can sometimes struggle to lock focus, but using the centre AF point does help (the centre is a ‘cross type’ autofocus point, which is activated in camera when using lenses faster than f2.8, increasing focus accuracy). The 50mm f1.8 II is the cheapest out of the trio of Canon 50mm lenses. The next one up is the 50mm f1.4 (around £300) and apart from the wider aperture, it is built a bit more substantially, has an ultrasonic focus motor, focus distance window and eight aperture blades (so no pentagonal bokeh!) The high end 50mm is the f1.2 L series, which

retails around £1300. It is the largest and heaviest of the 50mm lenses, but offers the best image quality. It is also weather sealed (when used in conjunction with a weather sealed body, such as the 1 series) for use in rain and harsh conditions. It also comes with a lens hood and pouch (unlike the other two 50mm lenses) as standard with all L series lenses. Nikon produce a range of 50mm lenses; an f1.8 version (around £100), a n d two f1.4 versions ( A F 5 0 m m f 1 . 4 , £ 2 3 0 , and AF-S f1.4G, £300). However, only the priciest AF-S 50mm f1.4G will autofocus on lower end Nikon bodies (D40/ D60, D3000/D5000 series) due to those models not having AF motors in the body. Sony users have the 50mm f1.8 SAM (£130) or the 50mm F1.4 (£260) or alternately on the second hand market, a Minolta 50mm f1.7 (£80100). Pentax users have the SMC FA 50mm f1.4 (£340) or there is an older f1.7 version on the second hand market (£80-100). Third party manufacturer Sigma also offer a highly regarded 50mm f1.4 for all mounts and it is available under £400.

Nikon Cameras for Beginners

With Dan Smyth


hen it comes to picking an entrylevel digital SLR the world is your oyster. Never before has such effort and technology been pumped into this growing market, with manufacturers finally realising their potential. In the last issue James Murphy took you through the three options that Canon bring to the table and I’m here to let you know about 3 more seriously tasty options from their biggest competitor, Nikon. Canon opened the market back in 2004 but it wasn’t until 2006 that the battle really began when Nikon unveiled what was to be one of their most succesful cameras. The D40 was Nikon’s first attempt at producing a sub-$500 SLR and to this day it remains popular despite it being discontinued 2 years ago. The latest incarnation of the D40 is the D3100. The D3100 was announced in Q3 of last year and boasts a staggering 14.2-megapixels. As is the case with all of the entry-level Nikon’s the D3100 doesn’t contain an auto-focus motor, this means that it will only be able to autofocus with AF-S, AF-I lenses or lenses with an inbuilt focus motor. This need not deter you though as most modern lenses will function fully and it’s only really the older lenses that will need to be manually focused. The key advantage of this is to keep weight and cost down. Nikon’s current line up comprises the D3000, D3100 and the D5000, the latter replacing successful D60. Both the D3100 and D5000

have HD video, the D3100 with full 1080p which is a new feature to the Nikon range having previously only been a feature on the high end D3x. This is a step forward for the company as although it was first out of the block with DSLRs capturing video (D90) it lagged behind in quality while Canon stormed ahead with their ever-popular 5DmkII (which is so highly regarded it’s been used in filming TV shows such as House). Right. To business, D3000 The D3000 had the unenviable task of following one of Nikon’s most popular cameras, the D40. In terms of looks they’re remarkably similar but that’s where the similarities end. The camera has the same 11 autofocus points as the other entry-level cameras in Nikon’s range as well as boasting the same size 10.2 megapixel sensor as the D60. The real development with this camera though is the “Guide Mode” system. Guide mode is essentially a photography guidebook within your cameras menus. It allows you to select the look you’re after with your shot and in so doing teaching you how to achieve those affects. It may sound gimmicky but it’s a great idea for those learning the ropes with photography and looking to move on from their standard snaps. D3100 Released last summer, the D3100 superseded the D3000 (although still in production). It marked a change for Nikon as previously the theme had been to strip their cameras down to as light and uncomplicated as

possible (e.g. D40, D3000), this camera though had the second highest number of megapixels in the entire Nikon range - including their professional SLRs (only the D3x beat it). 14.2 megapixels is a lot for a camera of this size and price but it handles it well and coupled with the high max ISO of 12800 (one of the highest when compared with competitors) has an enviable features list. Not only this but it also features 1080p HD video recording as mentioned before - one of the first Nikon SLRs to do so. All this though comes at a price and the D3100 retails for just under £450, for this though you also get the standard 18-55mm VR lens that Nikon bundle with the majority of their entry-level cameras. D5000 Sitting between the D3100 and the D90 is the confusingly named D5000. Think of it as Nikon’s high-end, entry-level DSLR. It combines all the features of the mid-level D90 with the compact nature of its entry-level predecessors. 720p HD video and a rotating screen alongside the 12.3 megapixel sensor and 11 autofocus points put it on par with the D90 but fitted inside a more compact body. That’s essentially what this is - a D90 Mini, or Nano or whatever you want to call it. With the aforementioned 18-55mm lens you can pick this up for fractionally more than the newer D3100 at £475. If however, you wish to twin it with the kit lens from the D90 (the 18105mm VR) it’ll be yours for less than £600 - £150 less than the D90 currently retails for with the same lens. Sounds like a bargain.

Molly the Dog, (above) by Jade Tuplin, to see more visit: www.flickr.com/ photos/jadetuplin

Jackie the Jack Russell, (left) by Chi Lau, to see more visit: www.flickr.com/ photos/chibear89

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