Seeing as how there are amateur and professional Photographers all over the word, it begins to show as something obviously, that people just like to do. There’s just so much to consider before you snap that shutter button, that I thought this little primer might be helpful under some conditions, if you remember. Don’t get me wrong, much of this stuff I’m sure most of us already know; a grid based focusing screen for instance will keep your horizons straight. Yet has it crossed your mind yet that you can also use it to more accurately apply: The Law of Thirds. Your subject of interest should always be either top right or bottom left if you like, but never dead center. Instead you want to be in control and draw the eye to the subject of interest by strategic placement. That grid should also remind you to place your horizon either a little up or a little down, but never directly in the middle or it tends to look like you’ve chopped your picture in half. So not meaning to be puny, there’s more to this than meets the eye.
Amateur vs. Professional
Pocket cameras are great, iPhones etc.. I’ve used them myself, and nothing can beat them for convenience and simplistic, easy to find menu items. Yet this is where the problems arise. It’s point and shoot capabilities leave you high and dry when it comes down to little matters such as arranging your composition first, or clearing the area of any miscellaneous debris, considering where the sun is and so on. It rushes you so you just wanna get the shot, without considering all the little nuances involved.
With a professional set-up though, you have to set up a tripod, giving you time to consider what you need from your camera bag. What lens should I use? Is a sun-shade attachment necessary? Do I want a portrait view here or landscape? What height should I be at? Is there something in the foreground I want to emphasize by crouching down low? Would I prefer a macro lens for finite detail? What about a shutter release so there’s absolutely no jitter? Automatic or manual focus? You’ll need auto-focus if say a boat is moving quickly toward or away from you. Do you want all the settings on your camera at work, or do you plan to work on them on your computer? After all that involvement, you’re now willing to skirt a treacherous shoreline, or be at the edge of a cliff unafraid; It’s because of the power and versatility you now have that spurs you on to get those great shots just out of reach.
A few simple tips and tricks
If you do your field work with a major set-up, chances are, you’re gonna wanna do all your editing in a “Raw Utility” to save any loss of quality before you give your file a proper extension. mine are downloaded as Cr2 files. Always set your exposure one full stop to the plus. Your pictures will look a little washed out when they first come in, yet they now have far more information, giving you more latitude to work with them.
Giving your images extra punch
HD 32 bit pictures are not difficult to create; just take three pictures of the same thing without moving the camera. One is to be under-exposed by one stop, one perfectly exposed, and one that is one stop over exposed. Photoshop can then easily combine them for you to work on. 32 bit pictures can’t be saved as a jpg. However, you can save them as PDF files that WordPress will take. There are tremendous editing possibilities when you use this method.
Taking pictures indoors can be a pain because of the different color temperature of indoor lighting, so don’t forget to adjust the color temperature toward the blue until the orange cast is gone. Corner vignatting occurs when you set a wide-angle lens to its very widest coverage. Just tweak your lens a tad away from the end of its travel and you won’t have that problem anymore. Photoshop’s “Bridge” picture browser, has an excellent utility for removing those shadows at corners. Use it! It will save the day for you…
With all those lenses and tubes and camera, field book, tripod etc.. can weigh in at a hefty 50 lbs. or more. When you’re walking a distance and need to take pictures along the way, it may not be necessary to bring your whole kit and caboodle with you and can leave most of it in the car… Hears what you’ll need: camera body, cable release, your widest lens, preferably zoom; at least 24mm to 70 mm, tripod and lens brush. And carry it already set up and all attached. Then when you see a good scene along the way, all you have to do is spread your legs. LOL! That’s figuratively speaking of corpse.
I know it’s daytime, but with a good camera, you’ll have very little grain show, even at 1600 ISO. You know how when a boat is going sideways to your position, it will always turn out blurry if you don’t pan? If you do, then the background will be blurred and the boat will be clear, giving the illusion of speed. What if it just came upon you so fast, you really don’t have time to catch it? Here’s what you can try. Try setting your ISO to 800. That way, the lens will open and close faster, set your fastest shutter speed, and you’ll have removed some if not all the blur.
Everything is emphasized when taking a macro shot, even the wind… You should always stop your camera down to its widest aperture when taking macro shots, to let in as much light as possible, and again, step up your ISO so you can get that lens to close as soon as possible, using your fastest speed. You can see the problem here is the wind under great magnification. If I can, I will bring my subject home where there’s no wind, and use a flash for light. Else-wise, no kidding, you have to set up a retaining wall to block the wind…
Extension tubes usually come in sets of three that can be used singularly or in any combination. Experiment to find a good combination because your depth of field will be very shallow and you might have trouble focusing in on all of your subject, half blurred and have not etc.. Use your “recovery” control in Photoshop’s Camera Raw utility to bring out more detail and further soften the background, if there is any.
As the sun slowly sinks below the horizon, I find myself gradually pushing up the ISO settings until by nightfall, I’m at 1600 ISO. Don’t let the camera automatically take the picture or all your lights will be greatly over-exposed and all your shadows will be pitch black. Setting it for around a quarter to a half second usually works at that speed. That’s a good setting for the moon too. Stars move, so unless you have a sidereal motor attached to your hip, star shots can be no more than 2 seconds long or they will begin to show trails…
And so in Contusion
Above all, have a good time with it. Don’t get frustrated or you’ll just feel like packing up and going home. Take the time to consider, you are involved in one of the most pleasant recreations of all time; capturing life before our eyes, for all to see and admire! Patience is absolutely necessary! Be brave, and think out-side of the box. Take pictures from the ground looking up at people or things to extend their tallness. Bring them close-up to a wide-angle lens to distort their face. Take pictures from high up, looking down on something. It will have a flattening appearance but give you a whole new perspective on your subject. I hope this helps a little. Now get out there and start taking pictures… Especially just after a rain, colors are more saturated. Just don’t get your camera wet. On cloudy days, bring along a small bag with a hole cut out for the lens to fit through and, cover the camera.