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Thread: The 4 Basics

  1. #26
    Nature/Wildlife Forum Co-Moderator Loupey's Avatar
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    Re: The 4 Basics

    A short word about DOF (depth of field) and aperture selection.

    In shooting macros and extreme telephotos, the DOF becomes very thin. Even stopping down a few stops often will not gain enough DOF to encompass the entire subject.

    But what many people may not realize is that although the DOF is still relatively shallow stopped down, the look of the background (and therefore, the feel) changes dramatically. I often talk about the "smoothness" or "clean backgrounds" here on these forums. These examples can show how drastically one can alter the look to suit one's goals.

    These two images taken moments apart from the same shooting distance. The background grass is about the same distance away from the subject as I am from the subject in the opposite direction. Obviously, no amount of stopping down will allow the DOF to grow to encompass the background. However, note how different the background is rendered by just 1 stop.

    Just another compromise to consider. You want to make sure the subject is adequately in focus. Yet you also want the background to look a certain way.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails The 4 Basics-damselfly-1.jpg   The 4 Basics-damselfly-2.jpg  
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  2. #27
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    Re: The 4 Basics

    bumping this thread back up, as i am having a problem with my "on board' light meter" currently i wondered as an aside do most folks use a hand held light meter ???

    reading that in some instances a faulty battery (cross referenced with another thread) can cause poor readings maybe having the duplication of an "on board' and a hand held would be an asset ??

    or would that be considered overkill perhaps ??

    just wondering

    cheers

  3. #28
    Nature/Wildlife Forum Co-Moderator Loupey's Avatar
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    Re: The 4 Basics

    threelions usa - having a handheld meter would definitely be an asset - but not necessary IMO. Besides using it for this demonstration, I haven't used mine since going digital.

    Keep in mind that your histogram display is your 2nd on-board meter. Even if your camera shifts the exposure one way or the other, you can quickly look at your histogram and know instantly which way to compensate and by about how much. When out shooting, I always leave my display set on the histogram view. I will occasionally refer to the display to make sure nothing is drastically over/under exposed and compensate accordingly. But never to review the images while I'm actually shooting.

    Also, when a meter starts to fault, it usually does so in one direction (over or under but not generally in both). You should be able to compensate by always over or underexposing what you camera thinks by the same amount each time.

    I don't know what you generally shoot, but practice will allow you to judge the lighting pretty close and then you can tweak it using the histogram.

    Hope that helps.
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  4. #29
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    Re: The 4 Basics

    many thank ~ i'll get the programming into histogram and see if that helps..




    :thumbsup:

  5. #30
    Drive by shooter susaan's Avatar
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    Re: The 4 Basics

    Quote Originally Posted by Loupey
    There are lots of advantages of going manual. The best being that it forces you to think in terms of light. And to have a great image, you need to first have great light quality (intensity, color, direction) even more than a great subject
    I'm doing it,and your thread here has helped me greatly,many thanks !

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  6. #31
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    Re: The 4 Basics

    I know this is an older thread, and susaan is the only person to have posted to it within the last 12 months, but as I'm a new member exploring the site, I found this thread to be most helpful!

    Cheers,

    Cath

  7. #32
    Nature/Wildlife Forum Co-Moderator Loupey's Avatar
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    Re: The 4 Basics

    I appreciate the feedback that this thread has been viewed and was helpful!

    I'll have to remember it's up here and post some more recent examples. It is really awesome what all one can do once the "4 Basics" are mastered. Although photography itself is never mastered (the whole is more than the sum of its parts), each of the four basics can.
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  8. #33
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    Re: The 4 Basics

    I'm new here too, Loupey, and have found this thread interesting. I've been a professional outdoor photographer for over 30 years, but I just went digital last June. I fully agree with your 4 Basics idea, and the idea of taking multiple exposures.
    I started out with a hand-held meter myself, then gradually began to trust the in-camera metering system of a Contax camera. I gained a little more confidence when I switched to a Nikon in the 1980's, but I must say I have full confidence in my Pentax K20D, especially with my DA* 200mm F2.8 set on spot metering. I've sold four covers since getting it and have the promises of many more next year. Most of my shooting is of animals and birds, so I simply spot meter directly on my subject. This has given me great results.
    However, I do feel that shutter speed is more important than apature, and over the years I have developed a good idea of the lowest shutter speed I can get away with to stop action and create a sharp photo, depending upon the species and what they are doing. If I use the lowest shutter speed possible, I obtain the widest DOF possible as a result (I compare the shutter speed/apature relationship to a teeter tater), so I worry about shutter speed first, apature second.
    Also, because I shoot for publication, I learned a long time ago that the lower the ISO, the better the saturation (shot Kodachrome 25 for years), so I like to shoot everything I can at 100 ISO and don't like it if I have to go over 200 ISO.
    For reproduction in newspapers and magazines, the best shots are with the slowest shutter speed possible, the lowest ISO possible and the widest apature possible, or in other words: great lighting conditions.
    I have, of course, takens some excellent, moody shots in the low light of dawn and dusk that didn't meet any of these criteria, but when sharpness and clearity are important, such as portriats of wild game, nothing beats the first couple hours of cloudless morning and the last hour of cloudless evening light.

  9. #34
    Nature/Wildlife Forum Co-Moderator Loupey's Avatar
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    Re: The 4 Basics

    Ron - welcome to the site.

    Weren't the Contax equipment wonderful?! I was a total Contax convert back in the 90's and I had the RX SLR, both the G1 and G2 rangefinders, and the TVS and T3 point-and-shoots. Excellent equipment - I wished they made the jump to digital.

    Anyway, hope to see your work here and thanks for commenting!
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  10. #35
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    Re: The 4 Basics

    My Contax was an SLR. I don't remember the model, because it was so long ago, but it featured a fine, German lens that with Kodachrome 25 gave me execellent results. A friend of mine who did a lot of work for National Geographic called me one day raving about a new Nikon, so I went out and spent a couple of grand on it, a Nikor lens and a flash unit that cost as much as most cameras. The Nikon was a good camera, and the first to feature flash-fill without all the calculation, but it really never took pictures better than that Contax, and most of the time not as good.

  11. #36
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    Re: The 4 Basics

    Oh, by the way, I tried to post one of my shots, scheduled for cover next year, to illustrate how spot metering gave me great results, but I got a message asking for a URL, which I don't have. Is there any way I can post pix directly from My Pictures?

  12. #37
    Senior Member billy320's Avatar
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    Re: The 4 Basics

    Is it ok to use a flash to shoot birds a sunny day ? I was at a seminar and this guy said that a flash should be used to eliminate shadows,

  13. #38
    Nature/Wildlife Forum Co-Moderator Loupey's Avatar
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    Re: The 4 Basics

    Quote Originally Posted by Mahopac
    Is it ok to use a flash to shoot birds a sunny day ? I was at a seminar and this guy said that a flash should be used to eliminate shadows,
    This is pretty much standard practice with the majority of bird photographers I run into. Usually outfitted with Better Beamer flash attachments to increase the effective range.

    To me, the flashed image doesn't look natural. Sure it fills in the shadows and shows detail (like those used for field guides) and are appreciated by birders, but it's just a personal thing.
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  14. #39
    Senior Member billy320's Avatar
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    Re: The 4 Basics

    Thanks, I will most likley use it whe they in the trees

  15. #40
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    Re: The 4 Basics

    For what it's worth, in the past when shooting with my manual camera and not having a grey card, I would orient the palm of my hand the same as the object to be photographed and meter off of my hand. It always seemed to be fairly accurate as a starting point.

  16. #41
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    Re: The 4 Basics

    nasty spam - attack site,above (reported)

    Oh,and I'm back to go over the basics,again,with my new camera in hand.
    Thanks !

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  17. #42
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    Re: The 4 Basics

    i have just bought a nikon d80 (first cam) and this is a great thread to have stumbled upon.
    lots to read and absorb. thanks for your contributions guys

  18. #43
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    Re: The 4 Basics

    THANKS Loupey!!! i also photograph small birds, and i have to tell you,i get more results the way you put the info and where i can understand the basics and put it to use!! i appreciate your help.....for us rookies ,we need all the help we can get......thank you!!.....Outdoorsman11

  19. #44
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    Re: The 4 Basics

    I thought I'd post a quick live-fire example that I shot recently...

    The scenario: warbler hunting with clear blue skies, relatively "thin" trees (small/few leaves), and mid-day. Followed a single male yellow warbler as it dashed all around hunting insects.

    The problem: lighting angle was somewhat fixed (due to my vantage point) with the sun above and slightly behind the subject.

    The solution: my sunny, mid-day exposure setting of ISO 400, f/5.6, 1/1500s defined the upper exposure while my low exposure setting of ISO 400, f/5.6, 1/350s (for useable monopod use) dictated that I could shoot in fairly confined shadows. BTW, I usually keep the aperture fixed at f/5.6 for small subjects for optimal compromise of resolution/shutter speed/DOF with my 300mm and 500mm lenses. I find ISO 400 is my maximum useable value for my cameras.

    So in just 4 minutes, I was able to shoot the male in all lighting settings by just flicking the shutter speed (by counting the clicks) to match the quickly changing lighting. The last two images, set for open shadow, allowed me to properly expose for the breast when the camera was screaming at me to underexpose the shot (especially #4).
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails The 4 Basics-fly-1.jpg   The 4 Basics-fly-2.jpg   The 4 Basics-fly-3.jpg   The 4 Basics-fly-4.jpg  
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  20. #45
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    Re: The 4 Basics

    Sorry for bumping this thread up after 6 months, but that is some really good advice!

    I haven't even got my dSLR yet (getting it 2 weeks today I hope!), but has given me a better idea of what I can do with it and how I can do it

    Having mainly used fully auto on point and shoot cameras, I'm looking for ways to improve and this will definately be extremely useful when I start using it!

  21. #46
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    Re: The 4 Basics

    [QUOTE=As soon as I step out of the truck with camera in hand, I look for anything that will be in the same light (as my target subject) that is middle-toned and meter for that. Since all camera meters try to make every scene middle-toned, reading the measurements of a middle-toned object should be “accurate” for any given light.
    .[/QUOTE]

    Hi Loupey
    I am a complete newby to using a DSLR having just purchased a Sony A500,
    In the quote above "As soon as I step out of the truck etc" Is this step done in auto mode if not how.
    Very interesting thread if not total confussing to me lol. I am very keen to take better photos in Manual Mode

    This is one of the many pics I have taken so far mostly in auto mode as thats about all I know so far
    Rainbow Lorikeet
    300mm 1/500 F5.6 Auto Mode


    Cheers
    Steve
    Last edited by onleme; 09-09-2010 at 03:13 AM.

  22. #47
    Nature/Wildlife Forum Co-Moderator Loupey's Avatar
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    Re: The 4 Basics

    Hello, onleme, and thanks for responding.

    As for your question, this is done with the camera in manual mode. I suppose one could do it in Auto but you must remember three values (shutter speed, aperture, and ISO) so that you have a starting point when you switch to manual mode. It's just faster for me to start and stay in manual.

    In your example, the exposure is tricky since parts of the bird are in direct sun while other parts are in the shade. Your camera did what it is programmed to do and averaged it. I would have set it to expose for the sunlit portion (so it wouldn't have gotten so "hot") and waited for the bird to raise its head into the sun. Better yet, if it was a partly cloudy day, I would have set the camera to expose for a "cloudy day setting" and waited for the sun to be obscured. Or if you had a helper with a big handbag, you could let them block the sun. Or you can expose for the sun and use a strobe to fill in the shadows a bit.
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  23. #48
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    Re: The 4 Basics

    Good info--thanks,

    Greg

  24. #49
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    Re: The 4 Basics

    Wow the first picture looks so good,very very nice color,very attractive in the eyes. Nice shots.

  25. #50
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    Re: The 4 Basics

    Loupey...

    Thanks for the parameters for shooting... I have been shooting with the P,S &A modes for most of my wildlife shots adjusting the variable in the S & A modes when I wanted a larger DOF or was trying to catch something that required a faster shutter speed. The ventures off into M mode usually brought about under exposed shots... For the most part I have been happy with my shots but they usually require a little PP work for final touches. I have discovered that if I am going to err on the side of caution slight over exposure was better for PP corrections than the under exposures. The latter seems to bring out more noise. Any tips on how to really launch myself into the M mode will be greatly appreciated. I love the single manual focus guide with my D7000 unless my eyes are tired from taking pics for a long period of time... I rely on AF as I have passed 60 and don't trust my eyes for focus as much as I did when I was a film shooter....

    Thanks for your input...

    Phil

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