Topic Wiki

Quick tips on random subjects that come up in between classes (will add as we go along):

Food photography tips
Newborn photography tips

Table of Contents (I'll change each line to a link as we go along.)

Introduction

1) Choosing a camera: Point and Shoot vs. Mirrorless vs. DSLR
2) Camera specs: What do they mean, and which ones matter to me?
3) Exposure Basics Part 1 - the shutter speed/aperture/ISO triangle
4) Exposure Basics Part 2 - getting to know your mode dial, and other exposure controls
5) All about memory cards
6) Using ultra-wide lenses





Lenses 101 - technology, terminology, and specs, zooms vs. primes, basic/advanced/unique lenses

Lighting 101 - focusing specifically on easy to afford and easy to use setups
Small flash - on camera, off camera, modifiers and accessories
Studio strobes
Continuous lighting - fluorescent, LED, and halogen
Basic light modifiers - umbrellas, softboxes, gels, reflectors
Basic supports - lightstands, umbrella brackets, backgrounds, etc.

All about accessories - memory cards, tripods, bags, filters, remotes, adapters, grips, geotaggers, and more)


So I bought all my stuff - now what?

What makes a compelling photograph?
Depth of field
Composition basics - rule of thirds, perspective, framing
Advanced composition - negative space, inclusion and exclusion, compression
Light - natural, golden hour, basic flash usage.

Let's start shooting...

Kids:
In the park
Playing sports
At home

Landscapes and wildlife:
"Grand" landscapes
"Intimate" landscapes
Seascapes
Waterfalls
Cityscapes
Wildlife
Birds in flight
Shooting in bad weather

Portraits:
Babies and newborns
Single person - indoors
Single person - outdoors
Families/siblings/groups
Natural light
Artificial light - simple
Artificial light - complex
Mixed light

Others:
Close up and macro
Product photography

How do I...? (Some specific scenarios/techniques - Basic)
Shoot out of a plane window?
Shoot underwater?
Shoot compelling black-and-white?

How do I...? (Some specific scenarios/techniques - Advanced)
HDR
Long exposures
Light painting
Twilight landscapes
Milky Way
Star trails

Basic editing concepts:
Exposure
Contrast
Clarity/sharpening
Color
Layers and masking

Poll

What type of camera do shoot with?

Point & Shoot - basic (Canon Elph style) or Smartphone
115 (38.5%)
Point & Shoot - advanced (Canon S100 or G Style)
42 (14%)
Mirrorless
23 (7.7%)
DSLR - consumer (Up to a Nikon D5200 or Canon Rebel)
67 (22.4%)
DSLR - prosumer or pro (Nikon D7000 or Canon 60D and up)
26 (8.7%)
P&S, but I plan on getting an SLR or Mirrorless in the near future
26 (8.7%)

Total Members Voted: 245

Author Topic: Learn Photography Master Thread  (Read 157121 times)

Offline moish

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Re: Learn Photography Master Thread
« Reply #180 on: September 07, 2013, 07:34:53 PM »
you should generally try to stay away from the built in flash

Offline Something Fishy

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Re: Learn Photography Master Thread
« Reply #181 on: September 07, 2013, 08:57:03 PM »
you should generally try to stay away from the built in flash

Sure, if you have a better choice. But sometimes you need flash, and then an on-camera flash is better than nothing.
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Offline Dan

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Re: Learn Photography Master Thread
« Reply #182 on: September 08, 2013, 01:16:08 AM »
you should generally try to stay away from the built in flash
If you're taking pics of food indoors then you need the flash IMHO.
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Offline sky121

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Re: Learn Photography Master Thread
« Reply #183 on: September 08, 2013, 01:19:34 AM »
If you're taking pics of food indoors then you need the flash IMHO.

With the nex 6? I'd imagine you can get by without the flash in many indoor situations, no?
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Offline Dan

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Re: Learn Photography Master Thread
« Reply #184 on: September 08, 2013, 01:31:37 AM »
With the nex 6? I'd imagine you can get by without the flash in many indoor situations, no?
Depends on ambient lighting, etc.
But from our Banff hotel room without and with flash:
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Offline jaywhy

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Re: Learn Photography Master Thread
« Reply #185 on: September 08, 2013, 02:12:21 AM »
Sure, if you have a better choice. But sometimes you need flash, and then an on-camera flash is better than nothing.
Is there a diffuser for the built in flash?

Offline rots5

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Re: Learn Photography Master Thread
« Reply #186 on: September 08, 2013, 02:19:13 AM »
Is there a diffuser for the built in flash?
most new cameras have the option
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Offline Something Fishy

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Re: Learn Photography Master Thread
« Reply #187 on: September 08, 2013, 02:22:36 AM »
There are two things involved in the use of flash - quantity and quality of the light.

You're saying that sometimes you need more quantity of light - it's simply too dark. Sky121's got a valid point too - if you raise the ISO on the Nex6 you could get some pretty high quality shots without using the flash at all. What neither of you are addressing is the quality of the light, which is far more important than the quantity.

Moish on the other hand is talking only about the quality, not quantity, so his point is correct too.

This discussion could cover a few full length lessons (and it iy"h will eventually), but the main idea is that while you may have a picture that has the right amount of light, said light may not be very pretty.

Look at the two pictures in your post above - while the second one now has the correct amount of light, at the end of the day the pictures aren't too pretty. They get the point across, of course - "here's what we ate, this is what it looked like", but if you'd pay attention to the quality of light the pictures could be some much better. For example, compare these two pictures (both from your Banff TR):



A plate of food, carpet bombed with light - direct, straight-on, point-blank harsh light.



Look at the fruit plate here, and notice the difference. The light is not coming from the front, but rather from the upper left. It's coming from a fairly large source (probably a fluorescent fixture), from a good couple of feet away. The end result is a much prettier light. Look how the fruits have dimensionality to them - every grape is distinct, each with it's own highlight and shadow; look at the soft shadows on the orange, slowly fading from light to dark. You could see every seed on the strawberry, and ecen the plate has texture to it. Compare that to the top picture - everything is flat, you don't know where a piece of chicken ends and where the next one begins, and the plate is just blown-out white.

So what happened here? I'm sure you weren't thinking of any of this when you took these pictures. But the basics of light are at play here:

- The larger the light source, the softer the light. A big light fixture is far bigger, thus far prettier, than an on-camera flash.
- The further the light source, the softer the light. Again, the ceiling or vanity light is further than the on-camera one.
- Most importantly, the direction of the light dictates the direction of the shadows. The bigger light, being off to the side, casts everything on the opposite side in shadow, creating dimensionality. The softer the light (larger+further), the more gradual and soft the shadows will be (note the orange).

What this means is that 99% of the time an on-camera flash will give you the worst results of any other lighting technique. Of course sometimes you don't have any other choice - a flatly lit picture is still better than a dark picture (and the two pictures you put in your post are proof of that); but there's usually some things you could do anyway.

Not going into off-camera flash here; let's stick to the basics - you have a plate of food and only a built-in flash. How could you take a well-lit picture?

The simplest answer is not to use the flash at all, and instead use window light. Remember that we want the light to be as soft as possible - cloudy days are best, as are windows with indirect sunlight. The light will hit the plate at an angle, creating directional shadows. Since the light is already soft, these shadows will be soft automatically. Worried that the other side of the plate will be too dark? Pick up you menu and put it on the opposite side of the plate - it'll act as a reflector and bounce some light back onto the dark side to open up the shadows.

What if it's nighttime? First, you could still simulate window light (to a degree) with your phone or ipad: turn the brightness all the way up, get a white screen (a new internet tab usually does this), and hold it 2-3 feet away (further with an ipad). It's not as good as a real window, but it's usually better than straight on flash.

In the worst case, when you do have to use the on-camera flash, you wan't to make sure that the light is as soft as possible (nothing you could do about direction). All you really need is a white napkin. Hold it a few inches in front of the flash, and viola - instantly better pictures.

In summary - the on-camera flash should only be used when you really have no other choice, and even then you should always try to diffuse it as much as possible. However, it can't be denied that it's a very useful tool and worth paying for in a camera.

On a side note, there is one situation when the built-in camera really shines. Paradoxically, it is usually the last place someone would actually think of using it - in bright sunlight. How many times have you taken a picture of someone standing in front of a beautiful lake or beach, only to have the subject come out as a silhouette? Since the camera usually tries to expose for the entire scene, it'll underexpose the person, since they're such a small part of it. However, if you force your flash to fire, it'll deliver just enough light to brighten up the person, while not affecting anything else.
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Offline Something Fishy

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Re: Learn Photography Master Thread
« Reply #188 on: September 08, 2013, 02:27:11 AM »
most new cameras have the option

No cameras have a diffuser option - the diffuser is an external part:




You're probably talking about lowering the flash power - this may help a drop, but the quality will usually be the same (just a little less bright).
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Offline Yeki89

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Re: Learn Photography Master Thread
« Reply #189 on: September 08, 2013, 02:28:43 AM »
u make me hungry!
beauty pic.

I assume raising the ISO is the trick in not having lighting equipment, and not wanting to use the flash.
What about the shutter speed?

How can I know which one to play with more?

Offline rots5

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Re: Learn Photography Master Thread
« Reply #190 on: September 08, 2013, 02:36:13 AM »
No cameras have a diffuser option - the diffuser is an external part:




You're probably talking about lowering the flash power - this may help a drop, but the quality will usually be the same (just a little less bright).
so what the option on my camera to lessen the amount of light the flash lets off? sorry if i mis informed ppl here... my bad
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Offline Something Fishy

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Re: Learn Photography Master Thread
« Reply #191 on: September 08, 2013, 02:37:46 AM »
I assume raising the ISO is the trick in not having lighting equipment, and not wanting to use the flash.
Not quite; high ISO is an exchange for using the built-in flash for light quantity, bit it won't do anything for quality. Nothing will replace probed lighting equipment, mainly for quality but also for quantity.

What about the shutter speed?
How can I know which one to play with more?
These questions are about the basics of exposure; I'll cover them in depth in the coming classes. For now let's just say that for every stop you raise your ISO (100 to 200, etc.) your shutter speed will be one stop faster (1/100 to 1/200). What to use depends on the situation. Usually you'd want the slowest shutter speed you could and not get blur, and keep the ISO low. If your shutter speed get's too slow then it's time to start raising your ISO.
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Offline rots5

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Re: Learn Photography Master Thread
« Reply #192 on: September 08, 2013, 02:40:02 AM »

can we have that coming class maybe on thurs :D or monday after succot?
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Offline Something Fishy

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Re: Learn Photography Master Thread
« Reply #193 on: September 08, 2013, 02:41:40 AM »
so what the option on my camera to lessen the amount of light the flash lets off? sorry if i mis informed ppl here... my bad

That's the flash power (called flash compensation on some cameras). Most DSLRs let you adjust it from -3 to +1 power in auto or program modes, and from 1/1 (full power) to 1/64 in manual modes (you could use a manual flash together with auto or program exposure modes usually).
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Offline moish

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Re: Learn Photography Master Thread
« Reply #194 on: September 08, 2013, 03:52:55 AM »
alternatively, gary fong makes a diffuser for slr built in flash