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What to learn in photography?

Discussion in 'Photography Forums' started by jools230575, Apr 29, 2005.

  1. jools230575

    jools230575
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    Hi Folks

    I know that there are many sites out there teaching photography and how to successfully do this and do that.

    What I just wanted to know is. What are the points that you should be looking to learn in order to get a good understanding of photography?

    I've learned a bit from this site just in the last few days. Very pleased with the feedback received on taking photos at night.

    For me that was a quick lesson on shutter speeds and using my EOS350D.

    What others are there? F numbers? exposure? etc. Not sure where to start in all this. Is there a good book that explains the technicalities of photography. Is it worth buying a light meter, if so, (needle in a haystack question) how much do you pay. I love my night shots and if I went for a meter I'd like something that covers night shots, the crux of a metering though is I have no idea how to use one :confused:

    BTW. For those that helped here is a pic that thanks to the help received I managed to take. The picture is a .jpg cut down severly in size from RAW. I downloaded some software at work just to get a peek at what I had taken

    First shots with my EOS350D

    Thanks again and look forward to what people come up with

    Jools
     
  2. mighty_boosh

    mighty_boosh
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    If you are looking for books then try your local library, some of the older photography books are probably better than some of the stuff you can buy these days.

    You don't need anything that deals with digital as it is all the same as far as theory goes. Look for something that explains composition, depth of field, lighting and flash, shutter speed, aperture, lenses, macro, wide-angle, telephoto etc.

    I've got a book by John Hedgecoe that is particularly good and covers portraits, still life, studio, landscapes even tilt-shift lenses for architecture - I haven't used most of the techniques, but it is there if I need to know it. He's done a lot of photography books and your local library is bound to have one somewhere.

    By the way, your initial results are a good start. Possibly compose by zooming in a bit closer to the subject, might make it a bit more dramatic. It's a bit of a soft image though, not sure whether that is a lens issue - is it with the kit lens? I've haven't tried any night photography with my 350D and kit lens so I've nothing to compare your results to to be able to say whether it's the lens or a focusing issue.
     
  3. HotblackDesiato

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    There are hundreds of books you can spend hours reading but the joy of digital is you can learn easily by experience with near instant feedback. Couple your own experimentation with finding a good local camera club and you're on your way.

    Re shutter speeds and f stops they just combine to give you an exposure.

    Think of frying an egg. Shutter speed would equate to how long the egg is in the pan, while f stop equates to how high the gas is, with low f stops being lots of heat, and high f stops being a low heat. Our aim is to fry our egg to perfection not too raw and runny, and not overcooked with a set yoke. But we could do this a number of ways, we might choose to use lots of heat ( a low f number) and only put the egg in the pan for a short while (fast shutter speed). OTOH, we could achieve the same result using a low heat (high f stop) but leaving the egg in the pan for longer (slow shutter speed). To continue the analogy further ISO would refer to the quality of our pan with a low ISO being thick high quality pan that's slow to heat up but produces the best egg, while high ISO would be like cooking on tin foil... it heats up quickly but the egg at the end might not be the best.

    Deciding which combination of shutter speed, f stop and iso to use to get your perfect exposure depends on what you're looking to shoot. At a very basic level... you might be more concerned with shutter speed if your subject was moving in someway or if you didn't have a tripod to prevent camera shake, and with f stop if you wanted to control depth of field (basically how much of the image was clear in front of and behind the point of focus)...with low f stops giving a shallow depth of field, and high f stops giving a deeper depth of field.

    There you go exposure 101... i'm off for a fried egg brunch! ;-)
     
  4. mattym

    mattym
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    good shot, well done!
     
  5. jools230575

    jools230575
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    Thanks for the comments so far :D

    Mighty Boosh. Can I ask what the book is? I might go take a look in the bookshops after work

    The photo attempt. The image was captured with the kit lens. As said in my 1st post it was taken with RAW then a jpg extracted using some piece of software I downloaded off the web. I suspect because of the dramitic loss in file size that some crucial information could be missing. The initial file size was over 6mb whereas the picture I posted was just under 200KB

    I'm open to any more comments, suggestions etc :)
     
  6. mighty_boosh

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    It's John Hedgecoes's New Book of Photography published by Dorling Kindersley ISBN 0751301108

    They've got it on Amazon.co.uk so it's still available.
     
  7. Peakoverload

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    The best bit of advice anyone ever gave me on learning photography was to learn and understand the 'triangle' of correct exposure. If you can learn this then you have learnt one of the most important skills in photography.

    Basically it works like this. There is no such thing as one correct exposure but there is such a thing as the best creative exposure.

    Confused?

    Okay the whole principle works on a triangle of three settings.

    Shutter Speed
    Aperture
    ISO

    'All' you have to remember is that the difference between any two shutter speeds is the equivalent of one stop of light and this is the same for aperture and ISO.

    So f/4 & 1/125th @ ISO 100 is the equivalent of f/4 & 1/60th @ ISO 200 and f/5.6 & 1/250th @ ISO 100. All of these settings will produce a correctly exposed shot but each will be slightly different in terms of noise, motion blur and depth of field.

    So basically if you increase one you have to decrease one of the others (assuming there is enough light in the first place) but which one you change will depend on what overall effect you are trying to achieve and the lighting conditions you are presented with.

    Remember that:

    The higher the ISO the more 'noisy' your photos will be but also the more sensitive to light your camera then becomes so you either want to make your aperture smaller (larger f number) or increase the shutter speed.

    The larger your aperture (smaller f number) the less depth of field you have (the less of the frame that is actually in focus) but the faster a shutter speed you can use. A small aperture will conversely mean that more of the frame is in focus but will also mean that you need a longer shutter speed (or increase the ISO).

    The faster your shutter speed the larger the aperture you need or the more sensitive you need to make the sensor of your camera to light by increasing the ISO. The slower the shutter speed the smaller an aperture or ISO you need.

    Once you can get your head around how one part of the triangle effects the other and what effect aperture, shutter speed and ISO have on the final image and when to prioritise one over the other you will pretty much have mastered correct creative exposure and will be taking 'real photos' as opposed to snap shots.

    A word of warning though, it may sound simple but its something that still trips up even the most seasoned of professionals which is one of the great things about photography, you always keep learning.
     
  8. aliflack

    aliflack
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    Okay, here goes:

    Composition
    Lighting (quality, amount, timing, flash)
    Capturing the decisive moment
    Getting to know your gear & knowing what to use to achieve the desired results
    RAW conversion
    Sharpening
    Photoshop skills

    And so much more! The best thing to do is find a single book that covers as much as possible in a way that you can readily make sense of and want to read... there's no point buying a weighty tome that nevers gets opened!

    Other than that, I suggest reading all the photography magazines that you can get your hands on. Also have a surf on www.photography-on-the.net/forum/ for all things Canon related.

    By the way - do you live in Salisbury? I grew up there and only moved oop north 2 years ago...
     
  9. fraggle

    fraggle
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    But in the first two sets of figures you've increased the ISO (more sensitive) AND slowed down the shutter speed (letting more light in) so its going to be overexposed?

    And in the last one you've stopped down the aperture (letting less light in) and increased the shutter speed (exposing for a shorter time) so that one'd be underexposed?

    Shouldn't it be:-
    f/4 & 1/125th @ ISO 100
    f/4 & 1/250th @ ISO 200 (faster shutter & faster, more sensitive ISO)
    f/5.6 & 1/60th @ ISO 100 (closed aperture & slower shutter)
    ?
     
  10. jools230575

    jools230575
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    OK.

    Anyone care to explain exactly how you work out from the aperture (f stop) how long the shutter needs to be open or vice versa plus adding in the ISO.

    Just been messing around with my EOS and even in manual it still feels like cheating as you get the metering which tells you if the shot is going to be just right or over/ under exposed.

    I understand the theory of the triangle in that one point has an effect on the other two but not how you do the calculations.

    Slightly off course.

    When setting an F stop say like F5 where the depth of field should start decreasing (hope that is right, background starts blurring out) how come I don't see it on my photos? Is it because the kit lens ain't that great? Am I missing something somewhere?

    Oh and BTW. The triangle theory. Damn is that ever what I was after when I wrote my first post. Just need to find out the mathematics of it.

    AND

    Does the bulb setting blow away the theory of the triangle?
     
  11. imichael

    imichael
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    Fraggle is right, I just re-read it - easy mistake to make.

    The good thing about night photography is that you typically will have plenty of time to play with settings to see the best result.

    Take a shot on full auto, see what the camera sets and then try moving things around. First of all try the one stop changes in either direction (this is called bracketing, take the same shot 3 times with 0.5 or 21 stop difference between each one).

    Then start to really play around, go for a huge depth of field (high f numbers) and long shutter time etc.

    also, most pro photographers take night shots at dusk or just beyond when there is still some natural light, as making the camera work hard (long exposures, or high ISO's) will always produce more noise, and removing the noise reduces detail and sharpness.

    Have a look around PBase.com and search for your camera, find photos you like and check the EXIF (this is the information about the camera settings), you'll get a better idea of where to start from.

    Good luck and enjoy

    Ian
     
  12. imichael

    imichael
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    oops - 21 stop difference is pushing it, try 1 stop.
     
  13. Peakoverload

    Peakoverload
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    Yes you are absolutely correct!

    When I wrote it out I had it as you stated but then I looked at it and thought "oh hang on that's wrong" so changed it. Oops!

    See how easy it is to get things mixed up? lol
     
  14. fraggle

    fraggle
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    I'd like to know too.

    Personally I haven't got a clue :D

    What I do if I'm fiddling around is set it to S or A mode and see what the available light and lens will let me get away with, so I know the max and min shutter speeds and aperture, and I can then fiddle around.

    The higher the aperture (f number) the less blurry the background (and foreground) will be, the smaller it is the more blurry.

    Hmm, to play with all three you'd need to be in full Manual mode. I'm a green behind the ears photography newbie so I daren't go there yet :)

    Try taking a picture of something very close to the camera (obviously not that close the focussing system can't focus on it!). The closer to the camera the subject is, the shallower the DOF is.

    For example today I was playing round in the back garden with my Tamron 90mm macro lens. Photographing something 2cm away from the end of the lens at f2.8 (as low as it goes) the depth of field is about 2mm !!! Photographing the hedge the other side of the garden (same f) the depth of field is about 1.5 foot.
     
  15. Peakoverload

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    Well there are two ways. One is fool proof the other isnt. The fool proof way is to get yourself an light meter. The not so fool proof way is to let your camera tell you. Lets say you are in aperture priority and set a aperture of f/4 with an ISO of 100 the camera will then try to select the correct shutter speed. If however its out of range then it will flash in the viewfinder so you can. If thats becuase the conditions are too dark then increase your ISO. If its because its too bright then increase your aperture. The same is true if you are in shutter priority. Automatic cameras will always tell you if it cant achieve the shutter speed to match your aperture or your aperture to match your shutter speed.


    You wont see any difference until you play the photo back. With an SLR camera light goes through the lens, hits a mirror and bounces up to the viewfinder. Therefore you always see something through the viewfinder until you press the shutter release when the mirror briefly lifts up blocking the viewfinder and letting the light hit the sensor to record the image. It is only when this happens does aperture and shutter speed make any difference as the two dof is only something that occurs in camera (i.e. in real life everything is in focus) once the light is subject to the control of the iris and the shutter. There is though a dof preview button on SLR's that will tell you how much dof you have by dimming the image in the view finder.
    Oh and BTW. The triangle theory. Damn is that ever what I was after when I wrote my first post. Just need to find out the mathematics of it.


    No not really. At the end of the day exposure is still controlled by the three elements, aperture, shutter speed and ISO. With bulb all you are saying is that my shutter speed is x seconds/minutes and so you need to work out what aperture (usually the smallest) and what ISO (usually the fastest) to use. This will define how long you can have the shutter open to correctly expose the scene. If you want longer then its time to introduce filters.

    HTH
     
  16. jools230575

    jools230575
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    Peakoverload.

    I thought you were gonna give some high-tech complex mathematical calculation :D

    Why do I say this? I was curious when the earlier posts were coming in saying at F Stop such and such you use this shutter speed. I sat here thinking how in the heck were they worked out! I'm still curious to know :rolleyes:

    Have you helped? Sure!

    It is fascinsting me more and more everyday on how to obtain a good picture. Through this forum I am starting to slowly gain a better understanding of photography
     
  17. fraggle

    fraggle
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    I think the three sets of figures quoted were pulled out of thin air, just to demonstrate that you'll always need to adjust two of the three in the way shown (provided you're photographing the same scene in the same light of course)

    What the actual figures will be will depend on the available light, therefore you'd need a light meter to work it out, or let the cameras built in light meter work it out.
     
  18. seany

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  19. mighty_boosh

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    I'm not sure whether anyone has said so but don't forget that depth of field doesn't just depend on apature, it depends on focal length too. Wide angles have a huge depth of field even wide open, whereas with telephoto and macro your depth of field will be quite small, even with a narrow apature.
     

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