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
114 (38.5%)
Point & Shoot - advanced (Canon S100 or G Style)
42 (14.2%)
Mirrorless
23 (7.8%)
DSLR - consumer (Up to a Nikon D5200 or Canon Rebel)
67 (22.6%)
DSLR - prosumer or pro (Nikon D7000 or Canon 60D and up)
25 (8.4%)
P&S, but I plan on getting an SLR or Mirrorless in the near future
25 (8.4%)

Total Members Voted: 243

Author Topic: Learn Photography Master Thread  (Read 149042 times)

Offline rots5

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Re: Learn Photography Master Thread
« Reply #240 on: October 31, 2013, 06:51:13 PM »






If you have any questions please search and then ask. PM me for detailed help.

Online Something Fishy

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Re: Learn Photography Master Thread
« Reply #241 on: November 24, 2013, 01:06:42 AM »
Here are mine. I didn't take along my tripod, hence the ledge in the second ET pic. I left it in because I thought it adds a little to the picture. Thoughts?

Eiffel Tower at night




Both pictures are actually quite nice.

I like the first one better, for a couple of reasons. You usually want to avoid putting your subject smack in the middle of the picture, but it a case where everything is symmetrical it actually works. The Eiffel Tower itself is very symmetrical, but more importantly, the entire foreground 'leads' to the tower, anchoring it in position visually. The lights, the lines in the road, as are very symmetrical and support the main subject. Even the background works in favor of a centered subject - the two brightest objects in the background (which your eye sees first) are on either side of the tower - the big white dome on the left and the moon to the right. If any of these would be missing, the picture, which emphasizes symmetry, would have been off balance.

I also love the long exposure - you could see the motion in the clouds and the trail of cars' lights. The sunstars on the streetlamps in the foreground are also very attractive and add the the grandeur of the place.

Personally I'm not a big fan of selective coloring - I think the picture would be better all in black and white. It has all the elements for a good B&W - strong tones, lines, and clear subject. But again, this is personal taste.

As far as the second picture, you say that you like what the ledge adds to the picture. What I think you like IMO is the fact that the ledge acts as a foreground, which the picture would lack if it's cropped. As you've seen in the first picture, foregrounds are vital. However, I think that this ledge makes a very weak foreground. It has no detail (especially no interesting detail), and it has no relation to the subject. It's better than nothing of course, so I agree that you shouldn't have cropped it out. Compare it to the foreground in the first picture and I think you'll agree with me.

A problem with shooting at night is that the camera usually renders the clouds as being red. Since they aren't, it tends to look somewhat weird. A cooler white balance would have solved that, but would have rendered the lights on the tower more blue instead if the current very pleasing yellow. That's another reason why I think the first picture works better in B&W. Also note how the white moonlight competes with the red clouds, something which is mitigated in the B&W version.

Regarding the tilt, I always tell people that there's a difference between a crooked picture and a tilted one. In order to not look like a mistake, it has to have a certain degree of tilt to be believable. With this picture, I wish you would have tilted it just a bit more. There is certainly enough room at the corners to do this now, if you choose.

I also wish this picture had the sunstars too.

But overall, two extremely nice pictures.
« Last Edit: November 24, 2013, 01:39:09 AM by Something Fishy »

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Re: Learn Photography Master Thread
« Reply #242 on: November 24, 2013, 01:38:41 AM »






My favorite of the bunch is the middle one. But before we go there, let's discuss the first picture. The main issue I have is with the composition. THe first thing that hit me is that the picture is crooked - not by a lot, but the tower is kinda falling to the right. But most importantly, there's a tremendous amount of dead apace. Just black sky, adding nothing to the picture. Compare it to Chaim'l's pictures - his sky is visually alive with clouds. Of course the weather is is beyond your control, but at the end of the day a dead black sky lacks a certain amount of visual interest.

Also look at the foreground. The trunks of two cars, a bright white space, a dark black band, and a couple of streetlights. Again, not very interesting. The bright green light off to the right is also very distracting.

So mostly it's composition. When you go take a picture, stop for a moment and think of what you want to show. In this case, it's the Eiffel Tower. So make that your centerpiece, and make sure that nothing gets in it's way. Make sure that you have the main subject nailed - make it more prominent in your frame (why is it so small now?), make sure it's straight. Then start eliminating distractions (maybe moving a bit off to one side will hide the green light), and find a strong foreground (get down low on a patch of grass, get somewhere high and use a road).

The second picture is FAR stronger. It has a great graphical feel to it, and the composition is very good (although I wish I would've seen the entirety of the first 'porch', or whatever it is.. An inch or two to the right would have done that.). Again the sky is a boring black, but at least it doesn't punch you in the face, since most of the frame is taken up by the main subject.

The third picture is a nice snapshot, well composed and exposed. Again, I with there was another inch up on top so that I could see the entire arch.

Basically the thing you have to work on most is composition, IMO. Make sure to practice border patrol - look around the edges of your frame and make sure that you're not cutting off anything important, and that unwanted elements are not creeping in.

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Re: Learn Photography Master Thread
« Reply #243 on: November 24, 2013, 02:53:30 AM »
OK, my turn  :D



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Offline rots5

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Re: Learn Photography Master Thread
« Reply #244 on: November 24, 2013, 04:06:32 AM »
My favorite of the bunch is the middle one. But before we go there, let's discuss the first picture. The main issue I have is with the composition. THe first thing that hit me is that the picture is crooked - not by a lot, but the tower is kinda falling to the right. But most importantly, there's a tremendous amount of dead apace. Just black sky, adding nothing to the picture. Compare it to Chaim'l's pictures - his sky is visually alive with clouds. Of course the weather is is beyond your control, but at the end of the day a dead black sky lacks a certain amount of visual interest.

Also look at the foreground. The trunks of two cars, a bright white space, a dark black band, and a couple of streetlights. Again, not very interesting. The bright green light off to the right is also very distracting.

So mostly it's composition. When you go take a picture, stop for a moment and think of what you want to show. In this case, it's the Eiffel Tower. So make that your centerpiece, and make sure that nothing gets in it's way. Make sure that you have the main subject nailed - make it more prominent in your frame (why is it so small now?), make sure it's straight. Then start eliminating distractions (maybe moving a bit off to one side will hide the green light), and find a strong foreground (get down low on a patch of grass, get somewhere high and use a road).

The second picture is FAR stronger. It has a great graphical feel to it, and the composition is very good (although I wish I would've seen the entirety of the first 'porch', or whatever it is.. An inch or two to the right would have done that.). Again the sky is a boring black, but at least it doesn't punch you in the face, since most of the frame is taken up by the main subject.

The third picture is a nice snapshot, well composed and exposed. Again, I with there was another inch up on top so that I could see the entire arch.

Basically the thing you have to work on most is composition, IMO. Make sure to practice border patrol - look around the edges of your frame and make sure that you're not cutting off anything important, and that unwanted elements are not creeping in.
thank you so much!!!! wow i really appreciate you taking the tie me out and writing. i will def work on those.
If you have any questions please search and then ask. PM me for detailed help.

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Re: Learn Photography Master Thread
« Reply #245 on: November 24, 2013, 03:15:07 PM »
Both pictures are actually quite nice.

...

But overall, two extremely nice pictures.

Wow! Thanks for that, it really gives me some food for thought...

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Re: Learn Photography Master Thread
« Reply #246 on: December 05, 2013, 01:54:49 AM »
Lesson 3

Exposure Basics

Remember, click on the wiki if you want to see only the lessons and not the other posts.

I'm going to deviate from the order in the wiki a little here, since I'm finding it hard to continue in that order until some basics have been established.

Today I'm going to talk about exposure - the most basic recipe for a picture. Every time you click the shutter, you've made an exposure. What happens is simple: the thing covering the sensor - the shutter - opens up, exposing the sensor to the light coming through the lens, which is then recorded as an image. When the correct amount of light reaches the sensor - meaning the exposure is correct, the picture looks great. If not enough light hits the sensor, the picture will be too dark, and is considered underexposed, while an overexposed picture will be far too bright, due to too much light being let in.

These 3 pictures were taken one after another: the first one is correctly exposed, while the second one is overexposed and the third is underexposed:







There are three things which determine any exposure: shutter speed, aperture, and ISO.

Shutter speed is the time that the shutter covering the sensor is open. The longer it's open, the more light reaches the sensor. Shutter speed is indicated in time (usually in fractions of a second) - i.e. a shutter speed of 1/250 means that the shutter was open for 1/250th of a second.

Aperture, as already discussed, is the size of the lens opening. The larger the opening (lower f/number), the more light gets in.

ISO was also touched upon earlier; the higher the ISO setting, the more sensitive the sensor is to light.

So what does all this mean? Imagine a bucket being filled up with water. You need the perfect balance between the size of the bucket, the diameter of the water pipe, and the length of time the faucet is on. If these are all balanced, the correct amount of water will flow for the correct amount of time and the bucket will be filled correctly. Change any of these, and you end up either thirsty or with a huge mess on your hands.

However, imagine if the pipe was twice the size it needs to be. How do you prevent disaster? You could do two things: double the size of the bucket, or halve the amount of time the water flows. Same goes if the bucket is to small you could either halve the diameter of the pipe or halve the amount of time.

The same applies here to us. If you double your shutter speed (1/250 > 1/125), in order to maintain the same exposure you will need to either halve your ISO (400 > 200), or halve your aperture (f/4 > f/5.6*). Conversely, if you halve your aperture, you'd have to double your ISO or shutter speed.

*"Wait a minute. Half of 4 is 5.6?! What's Fishy smoking?" Relax - I'm not outta my mind just yet. As discussed in the last lesson, since the f/numbers are a fraction, larger numbers are actually smaller. Now the reason half of 4 isn't, say, 8, is because these numbers define the area of the open aperture. Happens to be, as far as our math here is concerned, that half the area of f/4 is f/5.6. You're gonna have to trust me on this one.

A photographer is on a constant quest for a very simple thing - enough light. Outside on a sunny day light is in plentiful supply and it's no challenge getting it into the camera. But the minute the light starts dropping, say any indoor situation, the camera and photographer have to start making desiccation how to suck every available photon into the lens to achieve a nice exposure. Knowing what we just learned, grabbing more light could be accomplished three ways: a longer shutter speed, a larger aperture, or a higher ISO setting (I'll cover flash and supplemental lighting separately; for now we're talking camera only).

So now the question is, why should you even have to know this? Keeping your camera on Auto results in correct exposures 99% of the time, so why do you have to know the reasoning behind it all? The answer is one word: control. The easiest way of getting your pictures from looking like snapshots to looking like photographs is to leave the security of the Auto mode and venture into the wilds of your mode dial. Nearly all cameras allow you to control these three parameters to a certain extent - some more than others, some easily and some only through backdoor methods and tricks. We'll discuss HOW to change these settings later on, but first let's see WHY you should.

We have to understand that if we have three options available, why does it matter how we balance them? So long as the final result looks good, who cares if it was achieved using a large aperture or a high ISO? The answer is that there's a reason for having three options: each one does something completely different to your picture, and each one has it's own very important limitations. Understanding what each does and doesn't do is key to taking your photography to the next level.

Aperture: What the aperture really controls is not the amount of light, but the depth-of-field (DOF) in your image. The fact that it lets through more or less light is just a by-product of this function. DOF is the amount of in-focus area in any given image. A shallow (or small) DOF is one where only a small part of the picture is in focus, say a portrait. A large DOF, on the other hand, is one where things over a great distance are in focus, such as a landscape.

The following is one the most important photography foundations to remember, so repeat after me:

- The smaller the f/number, the larger the aperture, the smaller the DOF (less in focus), the more light gets in.
- The larger the f/number, the smaller the aperture, the greater the DOF (more in focus), the less light gets in.

Now lather, rinse, and repeat. I'll wait.

Here we have two pictures which are similar, yet very different. The first picture was taken at f/2.8 - a large aperture. There is a very shallow DOF here: only the bow of the kayak is in focus. Everything else - the mountains, the clouds, even the water a foot away from the boat - is out of focus.

The second picture was taken at f/11 - a moderately small aperture. As you could see, there is a tremendous depth-of-field. Everything from the bow a foot away from the camera to the mountains a mile away is in perfect focus.





So now back to our discussion on exposure: if you need more light, why not just use a larger aperture? Who needs longer shutter speeds or higher ISOs? The answer is because there are some very important tradeoffs:

- If you use a larger aperture, less will be in focus, right? But what if you want everything in focus? What if your shooting a group of people? You can't have only the first row in focus and the others blurry! Suddenly, you can't rely on your aperture to let in the light, since you can't open it too big. That's where your shutter speed and ISO will come into the picture. Not enough light coming in from the aperture? Use a slower shutter! Use a higher ISO!
- Another issue is that large-aperture lenses (f/2.8 and above) are large, heavy, and expensive. Most people simply don't have them or can't afford them.
- And the final problem is physical. Once you've reached your largest aperture, that's it, there's no going further. Using your shutter speed and ISO, you are able to move past that to get more light.

Next up: shutter speed. If you need more light, why not just leave the shutter open as long as needed? The answer is that the speed of the shutter controls the amount of motion in your shot. A fast shutter speed will freeze everything, since only so much movement takes place in 1/4000th of a second. The longer the shutter stays open, the more movement becomes apparent. What this means is that if your shutter stays open a smidgen too long, you will end up with the dreaded blurry picture.

So if it's too dark and you have to keep your shutter speed low, your options are - say it with me - using a larger aperture or higher ISO.

Keep in mind that a tripod (and Image Stabilization), will enable longer shutter speeds. However, since it eliminates camera movement only, it does exactly zilch for subject movement. Sometimes there is no choice other than using a fast shutter speed.

Here we have three different effects caused by varying the shutter speed, where you could clearly see all this.

The first picture used a fast shutter (1/250th of a second), so everything is frozen in place. The rocks are perfectly sharp, and the water has been frozen in mid-drop.



Next, we have a classic example of a blurry picture - the shutter was too slow, so everything is completely blurred.



For the final picture, I kept the slow shutter speed (2 seconds), but used a tripod. This illustrates how a tripod only compensates for camera movement - since the camera was completely steady, and the rocks of course didn't move, they are perfectly sharp. Everything that moves, however, is blurry. In the water this is a desirable effect, as it renders the waterfalls as beautiful ribbons of silky water. Note though how the wind caused the tree on the right-hand side to blur, too.



And then we have ISO. As discussed in the last lesson, the higher the ISO, the more noise in the picture. To keep a perfectly sharp and clean picture the ISO should be as low as possible. That's why when you need more light, you may have to go back to your aperture or shutter speed.

These two pictures (taken from the last lesson) show the clear difference between a low ISO (400), low noise picture (top) and a high ISO (8000), high noise picture (bottom):





The newer and more expensive a camera is (generally speaking), the higher ISO you could use without showing too much noise. A 5-year old camera for example may have enough noise at ISO 400 to be unusable, while a modern full-frame camera could go to ISO 3200 and stay clean. Same goes for larger sensors - the large the sensor, the more noise it could handle.

Now... Here's the deal: The camera does not know what it's shooting. How is it supposed to know how much of the scene you want in focus? Whether you're on a tripod or not? Whether your subject is moving or not? The answer is that it doesn't. It will choose an exposure recipe it thinks is most likely to keep it out of trouble, not necessarily one which will result in the prettiest photograph.

However, now that you know how the exposure triangle works, YOU could take control and tell the camera just what you want it to do. For example, most cameras will not normally go above ISO 800 - they'll use a longer shutter speed instead when more light is needed. Now you tell me: what would you rather have - a picture that's completely blurred, or one with lots of noise?





Obviously you'd choose a noisy one - at least it's something, as opposed to a blurry mess. But the camera itself will never make that decision for you. If you move out of Auto mode, however, you'd be able to tell the camera to lay off the shutter speed and instead raise the ISO.
_________

Exposure is measured in stops - each stop means either double of half the light. For example, if you have a shutter speed of 1/250, a stop up would be 1/125 - double the exposure time, and twice the amount of light. A stop down would be 1/500 - half the exposure time, therefore half the light. The three example picture in the beginning of this lesson are about 3 stops apart - the correctly exposed one is has a shutter speed of 1/640, while the overexposed one is at 1/80 (1/640 > 1/320 > 1/180 > 1/80), and the underexposed one is at 1/4000 (1/640 > 1/1000 > 1/2000 > 1/4000 (at 1/1000 and above most cameras start rounding the numbers)).

Let's imagine a scenario for a moment. You're taking pictures of your 2-year old. It's nighttime, and there's not too bright in your living room. Half your pictures are coming out blurry, since he's running around in circles nonstop. You check your camera and see that your aperture is maxed out - let's say f/3.5. Nothing you could do about that, as it ain't gettin' any bigger. Your ISO is at 400, and the shutter speed is at 1/60. Do you:

a) Throw the kid in the bath, where he has to sit (fairly) still
b) Resolve to never again let him eat an entire package of gummy bears right before bedtime
c) Try to get your shutter speed fast enough to actually freeze him and get a sharp picture.

If you answered a or b then great, it's past his bedtime anyway. But if you want to get a decent picture, you do c. Since you can't make your aperture larger, how are you gonna get the light you need? Use a longer shutter speed? Definitely not, that'll just make everything blurrier. So you want to raise your ISO - but how much? Sure, you could do trial and error, but there's a simpler way. Knowing that if we cut our shutter speed in half, we'd have twice the chance of a sharp picture, the first thing you should is re-balance your triangle. Since doubling your shutter speed will result in half as much light, doubling your ISO form 400 to 800 will compensate for that! Now that your sensor is twice as sensitive to light, the picture will look the same even now that the shutter speed was halved. You lost a stop of exposure with your shutter, but you gained a stop through your ISO.

Look carefully at the following exposures and you'll see that at the end of the day the exposure will be identical. You would choose one over the other based on your need for that particular photograph, as far as DOF, motion, noise, etc.:

f/4, 1/60, ISO 400
f/5.6, 1/30, ISO 400
f/11, 1/15, ISO 800

In the second example, we lost one stop of light by using a smaller aperture, but we gained it back by adding one more stop of shutter speed. In the third example, we lost a full three stops from the first, but we gained it back by adding two stops of shutter speed (1/60 > 1/30 > 1/15) and one stop of ISO.

With this information in hand you will be able to control exactly how and when your camera chooses one setting over the other, and will be able to make your own creative decisions. In the next lesson we'll discuss exposure modes - the options and controls that make all this choosing possible.

___________
Lesson Summary:

- The most basic part of taking a picture is exposure - making sure that the right amount of light reaches the sensor.
- Exposure is the correct balance between aperture size, shutter speed, and ISO level.

Aperture:
- The aperture is the size of the lens opening. It determines how much is in focus (depth of field) and how much light is let in at any given time.
- The smaller the f/number, the larger the aperture, the smaller the DOF (less in focus), the more light gets in.
- The larger the f/number, the smaller the aperture, the greater the DOF (more in focus), the less light gets in.
- The limitations are the physical maximum, and the required DOF.

Shutter speed:
- Determines the time that the sensor is exposed to light and the level of motion in the picture.
- A fast shutter speed (low fraction of a second) lets in less light and freezes motion.
- A slow or long shutter speed (a large portion of a second, or longer) lets in more light and shows motion.
- The limitations are the requirements for a sharp picture. Too long a shutter speed and camera and/or subject motion is recorded as a blur.

ISO
- Determines the sensitivity of the sensor to light.
- A higher ISO level lets the sensor absorb more light, but creates noise.
- A lower ISO level lets in less light but does not create noise.
- Better and newer sensors handle high noise levels much better.
- Limitations are the acceptable levels of noise and image degradation.

- If you change one of these parameters and want to keep the same exposure, you will have to compensate by adjusting one of the others.

- Knowing all this will allow you to take creative control of how your image will come out, as opposed to leaving it all at the mercy of your camera.

Offline Achas Veachas

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Re: Learn Photography Master Thread
« Reply #247 on: December 05, 2013, 07:53:29 AM »
Awesome thanks! I didn't want to nudge knowing that your giving up your own time for this but we honestly really appreciate this and are really excited to continue!
Curiosity made the cat smarter.

Offline Yeki89

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Re: Learn Photography Master Thread
« Reply #248 on: December 05, 2013, 10:05:37 AM »
Awesome thanks! I didn't want to nudge knowing that your giving up your own time for this but we honestly really appreciate this and are really excited to continue!
+1

Keep it coming.

Offline Achas Veachas

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Re: Learn Photography Master Thread
« Reply #249 on: December 05, 2013, 10:51:27 AM »
This lesson was really informative, I knew the basics but have always struggles with the details when trying night photography, I remember one night in Nepal the mountains were looking really pretty in the moonlight and I was struggling for half an hour toggling exposure times and ISOs (not having a tripod made things infinitely worse) and the best I got for my efforts were the abominations below:
Curiosity made the cat smarter.

Offline noturbizniss

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Re: Learn Photography Master Thread
« Reply #250 on: December 05, 2013, 01:37:03 PM »
Awesome update, thanks for taking the time! Once the lessons are complete (or we finally plan a big family trip) I plan on finally getting a real quality mirrorless or dslr and move away from my phone:-)
READ THE DARN WIKI!!!!

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Offline Ergel

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Re: Learn Photography Master Thread
« Reply #251 on: December 05, 2013, 10:29:01 PM »
Thanks so much.
Life isn't about checking the boxes. Nobody cares.

Offline whYME

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Re: Learn Photography Master Thread
« Reply #252 on: December 06, 2013, 12:36:08 AM »
1. Thanks again. Great job!

2. I'm curious, did you take multiple versions of these pictures with the intention of using them to illustrate the differences? Or did you just happen to have them from fooling around / trying to get the correct exposure?

Online Something Fishy

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Re: Learn Photography Master Thread
« Reply #253 on: December 06, 2013, 12:56:25 AM »
1. Thanks again. Great job!

2. I'm curious, did you take multiple versions of these pictures with the intention of using them to illustrate the differences? Or did you just happen to have them from fooling around / trying to get the correct exposure?

The glacier pictures were bracketed for potential HDR, so it was taken that way anyways.

The kayak pictures was just fooling around, trying different effects.

The waterfall pictures were specifically taken to illustrate the effects of shutter speed on a dedicated trip.

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Re: Learn Photography Master Thread
« Reply #254 on: December 06, 2013, 01:04:11 AM »
The glacier pictures were bracketed for potential HDR, so it was taken that way anyways.
I'm sure if I keep following the lessons I'll eventually learn what that means :)