Leaning Your Equipment

I have talked a lot about learning as much about my equipment as possible before investing in something new or additional for the studio. I almost did not take my own advise. Let me tell you a story.

I have become “lazy” in the digital part of photography by letting my camera suggest the proper exposure time for a photo. I usually shoot in manual mode with my Canon Rebel xTi, but I have only used half of the capabilities given to me in manual mode.

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Just yesterday as I was on an errand, I looked into the sky to see some of the most beautiful clouds back-lit by the sun. So I got my camera, made sure my settings were proper for shooting into the sun. Raising my camera to my eye and observing the metering, it showed that the photo would have been much to over-exposed for the style of shot I was seeking, so I forgot the meter and raised my shutter speed to 1/50 of a second. Then as the instinctive digital photographer I am, I looked at the LCD screen to see how the shot came out. *Fail Buzzer*

I have wanted to distance myself from these “fail-safe” practices by pursuing extensive education in film photography. I wanted to know what the conditions for a shot around me were as well as knowing how to manipulate the camera settings to get the best shot for style, exposure or journalism.

So I began asking myself, why I thought film would help me accomplish this goal. My answer came to this: “Film is 1 set quality of ISO per roll.” Thus the ISO cannot be easily changed without risking the exposed film.

Guess what? I can start this training by setting my digital camera ISO and refrain from changing it. This will give me only the options to change shutter speed and aperture to best suit my shooting preferences. While this will not keep me from watching the camera meter I can accomplish my goal in maintaining a certain ISO quality and working with more effective resources.

Canon Camera Production

This post will be a little shorter in words with an informational video on Canon’s production process of their camera lines. This video includes the consumer models as well as the professional Digital SLR cameras.

I find the specific science in making these camera parts amazing. These are the physical makings (or hardware) of the camera and the side we utilize most as photographers is the computer processing (or software) side as we change ISO, Aperture, White Balance, Single shot or Multiple Photo Burst shooting, Timed Shutter Release, Shutter Speed and Picture Style. Both are discussed in this embedded video. Thank you for reading and God bless!

*Disclaimer: I would have given a “Part 2” on Nikon manufacturing process of imaging products but as of today I have only been able to find lens assembly with no more detail or information than Canon in the video posted above. I will be more than happy to post a professional video of Nikon’s manufacturing process (after review), if publicly posted on vimeo, youtube or similar public forum.

Getting The Most Out Of Your Camera – Part 2

Call me “Obsessive Compulsive” if you wish, but shooting without a flash has taught me so much about the “ins” and “outs” of my camera that I cannot neglect its value. This education is worth more than any other for which I could have paid or sat under another photographer’s instruction. These things are what I wish to give you by inspiration as we continue to learn together how to better capture the moments in time which we live and see.

I do apologize that all of my information bits are based around Canon equipment, but I have not yet be awarded with the donations of Nikon, Panasonic, Olympus and Sony equipment to learn and write about. Hint, hint. No, I only wrote that in jest! I would be humbled to receive such gifts, but I am not sincerely asking for them. I would be truly embarrassed to do so.

In the post-production process of photo editing within “Canon Utilities Software”; changing a picture from black & white (monochrome) to color is the final last step. If the colors do not come out in an acceptable shade, I often will increase contrast and lower saturation. If this look does not apply to the photo, vibrancy and hue are possibilities within moderation.

All of these terms and solutions are based on Canon equipment and software leaving a large number of readers in the dark, I apologize. This is not intended to be a sales pitch for Canon, even though it turns out to be quite a good one. All other brands will want to bring you the same or greater options for editing photos although they may not call them by the same names.

If you are interested in finding the equivalent adjustments and terms that I have listed for Canon in you own brand, please pass them along to me and I will be more than happy to share these helps with the rest of the readers.

Happy low-light photography shots!

Getting The Most Out Of Your Camera

Have you ever found yourself in a situation and wishing you had a hot shoe flash with you? Well being the biggest “anti-flash fan” you know of (I’m just kidding! I’m not “anti-flash”. My concern and talking point is a caution against built-in flashes.) I have some things for you to look into if you are interested in getting just a little bit more out of your camera’s performance.

Having used my equipment in a lot of situations with varied amounts of lighting, I became very dissatisfied with blurry photos. So, in an effort to understand more about the performance of my camera and lenses, I began searching for methods of shooting without a flash and blur.

As I began my search I discovered that when shooting black & white (monochrome) pictures, my camera was more sensitive in lower lighted areas giving me the capability to shoot with a faster shutter speed.

At the same time, I did not want to only shooting black & white (monochrome) photos in low light, so how can I get around this problem? Some cameras come with editing software. Canon provides “Canon Utilities Software” with their SLR cameras, so there may be comparable software with other camera brands. In “Canon Utilities Software” post-exposure changes are possible by reading the EXIF data from the photo and altering the information in a new file temporarily stored in a separate data file.

However, before I prattle too far afield of my given topic, my point of shooting black & white (monochrome) photos to avoid needing to add light; the picture style can be changed in the editing process of “Canon Utilities Software”. What this mean is black & white (monochrome) shots can be change into color shots!

The camera takes the information of colors with each black & white (monochrome) shot, however not as it would when shooting in color. Do not be surprised when changing picture styles that the color is not as vibrant as when shooting in other pictures styles.

More on picture styles and black & white shooting in Part 2.

Shooting In A Low-Light Situation

I do not often have the opportunity to shoot with other equipment other than my Canon SLR camera body and lenses. However this week, I was asked several times at a convention to use other people’s cameras for differing shots. Now that I have some experience with other cameras I have a few tips that will help you take better pictures in low-light situations.

First off, I would like to define what “low-light” means. Very often “low-light” is any situation indoors. “Low-light” is not having enough light for your camera to shoot a well exposed photo at the following settings:

  • ISO 200
  • 1/30 of a second or faster
  • At your preferred Aperture setting (I prefer to shoot at an average of 13)

(I understand that not all of you, my readers, have cameras which allow you to set each of these settings independently of the others or options such as Aperture. If your camera does not give you the option, disregard the information and work with shutter speed and/or ISO.)

Cameras as we have discussed see things differently than we do even though they are based off of our visual capability. If you wish to understand more about this, please refer to the blog posts “Camera Troubles through Camera Trouble – Part 6“.

Here are the tips that I have promised will help you capture better photos with less motion blur and camera shake.

Say you are in a hall with a person on stage who is lit with a spot light. You subject of the photo is the person on stage and you are currently in the darker corner of the hall.

  1. Get closer to you subject (physically).
  2. Zoom away from your subject (using a wider viewing angle).
  3. Step into the light of the spot light.

Hint #1 is a practical help by the principle of object relativity. For the rest of us non science majors, motion is more easily seen and anticipated when the viewer is more closely located to the viewed object or person. Yes the object will more quickly leave you viewing area, but movement is more fluid and easily tracked in closer proximity than further away.

Hint #2 is a light receiving issue. The more light that your camera receives the faster your shutter speed. The further your lens is extended means the less light is being received within the same shutter speed as if you were to shoot at widest angle. This works because if forces you to get closer to the light source.

Hint #3 allows more light into your camera lens and will adjust your shutter speed.

Enjoy!