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So you want to know about photography?

Discussion in 'Banter' started by the_amber_trap, 11 Apr 2012.

  1. the_amber_trap

    the_amber_trap Calm down so I can be the angry one. Staff Member

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    Hey Banker, I told you I'd make a thread!
     
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  2. Bankercat3

    Bankercat3 Master Banker

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    Haha, thanks Amber. I wish I was taking it right now, so I could ask you questions based on whatever I was learning, but I can't.
    But I still do have a few questions.
    1. What makes the best photographs?
    2. What filters should I choose and avoid? Of course, it depends on the situation, but as a general rule, what's overused and things like that.
    3. I was going to ask if my current camera was any good, but I don't have the model name at the moment. I'll get that later.
    4. Just some overall tips?
     
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  3. the_amber_trap

    the_amber_trap Calm down so I can be the angry one. Staff Member

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    1. If you're referring strictly to subject matter, that is highly subjective. Based on my experience on the internet, I would think that cats are the best thing to photograph. However, I know many photographers who hate photographs of cats.
    If you're referring to technical things (camera settings and the like) that varies depending on the subject. Landscapes and other large, immobile subject matter (buildings, stationary automobiles) often benefit from a deep depth of field (using a small aperture: f-11 or more) and a long focus, most of the time set to infinity. The shutter speed is immaterial in those cases, though if you drop too low, you'll have to use a tripod or else you'll start to get camera shake. If you're taking photographs of quickly-moving objects that you want to freeze in the frame, a fast shutter speed (upwards of 1/500th of a second or faster) is important, and the aperture is what you'll change to correct your exposure settings.
    In general, photographers tend to specialize in either technical expertise (think Ansel Adams) or subject matter (Nan Goldin is an unfortunate example here.) Very few manage to marry both very well. Technical photographs tend to be very beautiful images, but they often lack a certain artistic flair. Subject-dependent images are frequently visually arresting, but may look amateurish or unfinished.

    2. Do you mean filters in Photoshop or the ones you screw on the end of your lens? In general, I would advise you to stay away from either without a specific reason for using them. That said, a Sky 1A or UV filter screwed on the end of your lens will do a lot to protect your expensive glass. I've saved a couple of lenses that way.
    As far as Photoshop is concerned, I'd leave them alone. Unsharp mask is a good one to use, but I'd try to pay more attention to your focus and proper depth of field to avoid having to use it to rescue an image. Most of the other filters in Photoshop are typically useless without a very specific reason.

    3. Most cameras these days are generally good, though some are obviously better than others. I'm partial to Nikon, though I have a Canon and a Pentax that I adore. So long as you have an SLR or some other camera that lets you look directly through the same lens that will capture your image, you should be fine. You also need to be able to have complete control over your aperture and shutter.

    4. Shutter affects how long the light hits your film or CCD, and is measured in fractions of a second. It usually starts up around 1/1000 of a second. The aperture affects the intensity of that light, but bigger numbers mean less light when discussing f-stops. (f-16 is a small opening and f-2.8 is wide.) The scale for apertures is fixed, and you'll get used to the numbers over time. f-1.4, f-2, f-2.8, f-4, f-5.6-, f-8, f-11, f-16, f-22 and so on. Any other number (f-3.5 is one you might see a lot) is a half- or third-stop and technically doesn't exist, but we still use them with modern cameras.
    Oh, and if you do this long enough, you'll frequently hear people talk about "stopping down" even when talking about film speed, flash settings, or shutter settings. It's an easy way to talk about intervals of exposure, though it's not technically accurate.
    It's important to remember that aperture and shutter are inversely proportional. Increasing one means an equal decrease in the other. Being able to quickly adjust a light meter reading to compensate for limitations of your equipment or a desired effect will make your photography a lot better and photo sessions a lot smoother. For example, if you're reading a subject as needing an f-2 at 1/60, but you don't have a lens that opens that wide or you want more depth of field, you can quickly calculate what you need. Most lenses are at least able to open to f-4, though some long lenses might only go to f-5.6. Two stops will go from 2 - 2.8 - 4, and the shutter will drop down from 60 - 30 - 15. I actually made a little cheat sheet to keep with me for a while, but as I got used to it, I stopped using it.

    ________________________________

    Was that too much?
     
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  4. TheRowan

    TheRowan Well-Known Member VIP

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    I like cats!
     
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  5. Sushimitzu

    Sushimitzu Enthusiast

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    Thank you for the elaborate post, Amber.

    Exactly what I was struggling with making my first shots with a reflex camera (Nikon D70). Once I had figured that out, I already had made a picture of every single plant in our garden... lol.

    [​IMG]
     
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  6. the_amber_trap

    the_amber_trap Calm down so I can be the angry one. Staff Member

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    I really hope that wasn't too much. I tried my best to not go overboard (no one just starting really needs to know what the numbers for f-stops actually mean or how a pentaprism works) but there can be so much to know that it's easy to be overwhelmed, or to be the one doing the overwhelming.
     
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  7. Bankercat3

    Bankercat3 Master Banker

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    Hey, Amber. Thanks for that! Yeah, I didn't know a lot of the definitions you posted up there, but I'll just look them up and it'll be fine. I copied and pasted it so I'll have it when the class starts. I feel more secure about it, and I think I'm just going to begin practicing despite the class not starting yet.
     
    #7
  8. the_amber_trap

    the_amber_trap Calm down so I can be the angry one. Staff Member

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    Ah...let me see what I can do about that.

    Your camera has several standard components in common with all cameras.

    There is obviously a lens, which focuses the light coming through to the focal plane (more on that later.) It can focus from a certain distance, typically about 3-5 feet all the way out to infinity. Infinity is simply the distance after which simply everything will be sharp. (Sharp = in focus; Soft = out of focus)

    You also have a shutter of some kind. The shutter speed is divided in fractions of a second. You probably won't see the 1 in the numerator, because it's generally understood to be there. 1000 means it's 1/1000 of a second. That's pretty fast, and might even be the quickest your shutter can go. It'll also go all the way down to a full second or even longer. You might also notice a "B" on your shutter dial. That stands for bulb, which keeps the shutter open until you let go of your shutter release.

    There are different kinds of shutters, but they all do the same thing. They determine exactly how long your light-sensitive medium is exposed to light. This affects three things. First, fast shutter speeds will freeze motion while slow shutters will blur it. This can be an effective way to make things look lively or to convey real or implied motion.
    http://www.sportsdesktopwallpaper.net/backgrounds/running/runner_with_motion_blur.jpg

    Second, slow shutter speeds start to run the risk of camera shake. No matter how stable you think your hands are, at anything much lower than 1/60th of a second you run the chance of introducing miniscule vibrations that will make your image look out of focus. A way to counter this is to hold your breath and carefully brace your arms against your sides and support the camera from the bottom with your hand. It still won't do you much good for any thing longer than a half second, and even that's going to be pushing it.
    http://digital-photography-school.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/avoiding-camera-shake-3.png

    Third, your shutter lets you synch with a flash. I won't confuse you with a lot of info here, as artificial light is seriously the last thing you should worry about until you have a handle on proper exposure. If you have an on-board flash, and you intend to use it, just put your shutter at 1/60 of a second.

    You also have an aperture. It controls the intensity of the light striking your medium. This is frequently called f-stop, which actually just refers to the number attached to the size of the opening. You don't need to know what the number means aside from bigger number = narrower opening. f-1.4 (which you probably won't have on your lens) is very large, while f-22 is quite small.
    Aside from the intensity (brightness) of the light, your aperture also affects something called depth of field. Depth of field simply refers to how much of the image is in focus along the horizontal distance in front of you. There are generally numbers along your focus ring on the lens that tell you how much of the image should be in focus both in front and behind your subject, but they're hardly precise.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Depth_of_field
    In all honesty, shallow depth of field will typically make your images look "arty" because that's sort of become the cliché.

    The focal plane I mentioned earlier is simply the imaginary vertical plane where your lens is projecting the image. It just so happens that most cameras place the film plane (the vertical plane where your camera places the light sensitive medium) exactly on the focal plane, so you don't have to worry about it at all. It's just a term to know at this point.

    Oh, and I mentioned a CCD in the earlier post, which stands for Charge Coupled Device, which is just the equivalent of film in a digital camera.
     
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  9. Bankercat3

    Bankercat3 Master Banker

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    After reading all that, I think I'm starting to get it. At the moment I'm most confused with depth of field. Is it just setting a distance after everything will be blurry? Like a reverse infinity?
     
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  10. the_amber_trap

    the_amber_trap Calm down so I can be the angry one. Staff Member

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    I think the wikipedia link I provided would do a better job of explaining it than I could, though there is a bit of technical information that could be confusing there.
    However, I'll see what I can do to explain it so you know what it is without worrying about why it happens.

    Firstly, depth of field refers to the apparent depth of focus when looking "into" a photograph. When you pick your subject matter and focus on it, there will be other things in focus. Sometimes it will be nearly everything in an image:
    [​IMG]

    sometimes it will be very little:
    [​IMG]

    There are some things that will exacerbate or minimize the effect. Firstly, the closer you are to your subject, the narrower your depth of field will be. This is a major reason for why most macro photography (close-up photos of tiny things) will have very indistinct backgrounds. This is also why most landscape photography is typically completely in focus.

    Different lenses will also effect your depth of field.
    Short lenses (also called wide-angle lenses) will increase the depth of field. More of your subject will be in focus, regardless of how wide your aperture is.
    Conversely, long lenses (telephoto) will reduce the depth of field.

    As I've mentioned earlier, depth of field is also greatly affected by your choice of f-stop. Wide apertures will reduce your depth of field, narrow apertures will increase it. Remember that wide apertures have small numbers, narrow ones have larger ones.

    Once you see a few of your own images, remember how the scene looked, and see how your settings affected it, you'll get a much better understanding of it. I would recommend taking several shots of the same scene while changing your settings (remember that you'll have to adjust your shutter in the opposite direction to compensate for your aperture). It'll also help if you start out by keeping track of your settings so you can remember what you did. (Frame 1: f-16, 1/125; Frame 2: f-11, 1/250; Frame 3: f-8, 1/500; Frame 4: f-5.6, 1/1000; etc.)
     
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  11. Bankercat3

    Bankercat3 Master Banker

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    That cleared it up pretty well. So, F-stops and lenses are the only thing that affects depth of field, right?
     
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  12. the_amber_trap

    the_amber_trap Calm down so I can be the angry one. Staff Member

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    Distance from your subject will affect it as well. Standing close to your subject will generally decrease your depth of field (though this is often countered by using a wide-angle lens) and maintaining distance from your subject will keep a fairly deep depth of field.

    If you're standing farther away from your subject and want to use a shallow depth of field, or at least create the effect, you'll have to make sure that you are using a long lens, a large aperture, and keep the background as far behind your subject as possible (no leaning against a building as your backdrop, for example.)
     
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  13. Miralynn

    Miralynn Kitten with Claws VIP RAINBRO

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    Here be a question. When I press the button to my camera it takes a very long time before it it goes 'click'. What be up with my settings for I cannot find it.
     
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  14. the_amber_trap

    the_amber_trap Calm down so I can be the angry one. Staff Member

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    This is most prevalent in older point and shoot cameras, and I'm sorry to say that there most likely isn't anything you can do about it. It's typically a problem with a camera that is trying to do everything for you, from metering and exposure choices to using an active autofocus (which takes time to "read" an image and decide if it is actually in focus) that just isn't up to the same standards as modern SLRs. It may also be a problem with your card (if it's a digital camera) simply not being fast enough, though that's usually only a problem if you're taking several shots in quick succession.
     
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  15. Miralynn

    Miralynn Kitten with Claws VIP RAINBRO

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    Its a Nikon 5000. Modern? Je ne sais pas.
    When i switch between auto to manual it goes click whenever i actually press the button. Therefor there HAS to be a setting for it. But fuck if I know which one it actually is.
     
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  16. jkerr

    jkerr Builder, hermit VIP RAINBRO Ancient

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    My camera always takes one of the same 12 pictures EVERY time!
    [​IMG]
     
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  17. the_amber_trap

    the_amber_trap Calm down so I can be the angry one. Staff Member

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    Could you be a little more specific about the auto/manual switch and what you mean there? I'm not quite sure which setting is doing what and I'm really lost as to whether one is doing what you want.
     
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  18. Miralynn

    Miralynn Kitten with Claws VIP RAINBRO

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    Short of showing you it on cam I have NO idea. xD Shutter speed maybe?
     
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  19. the_amber_trap

    the_amber_trap Calm down so I can be the angry one. Staff Member

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    Okay, the way you phrased the previous post, I got the impression that one mode does not have the problem with a delay on the shutter (manual mode?), while the other is the problem (auto?). I asked the question without bothering to see if my understanding was correct.

    If that is the case, the reason is most likely due to the camera unfortunately being an entry-level SLR and not having the most powerful metering/focusing/etc. computer. In manual, all you really use is the light meter which isn't even going to matter. If you hit the button in manual mode, you have essentially told the camera that you don't care about what the computer thinks is the best exposure. In auto, you want the hamsters to start running in their wheel, which takes a bit of time.
     
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  20. Axelmotley

    Axelmotley The Dementor Staff Member

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    I want trappy to creep on my photography.
     
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