Make the Most from Your Camera Exposure (ISO, Shutter Speed and Aperture)

The basic key to taking good pictures is learning to make the most out of your camera exposure features, which unfortunately is something most beginners don’t look into. Most DLSR cameras now have “auto” modes that adapt the camera to the lighting conditions, enabling their users to not look into those settings themselves, but the results obtained using the camera’s auto mode are far from satisfactory. Also, no matter how much you play with your pictures afterwards in a photo editor like Picassa or even Photoshop, even if you use the most sophisticated auto-contrast and auto-lighting tools, you pictures still won’t be that great.

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The only thing that can make them truly spectacular and vouch for your truly professional photography skills is using the right camera settings in the first place instead of resorting to post-editing. Those camera exposure settings you should learn more about are sometimes called the camera exposure triangle: we’re talking about ISO, shutter speed and aperture. Here’s a short introduction on what you can do with each of those.

Camera Exposure Feature No 1: ISO

We’ve already talked to you about the importance of adjusting your ISO when we discussed a few tips on taking better family portraits. The ISO is a number reflecting your camera’s sensitivity to the available light. A lower number reflects a lower sensitivity (and must thus be used when there’s plenty of good light), while a higher number reflects a higher camera sensitivity. ISO 100 and 200 are considered low in most circumstances, 400 would be a medium, while every number bigger than that would be a high value. Greater ISO also comes with a cost: the higher the camera’s sensitivity, the more “grain” or noise in the photo’s quality. Still, when the lighting is poor or you’re trying to photograph a moving target, the payoff may be worth it. Experiment with this setting, get to know your camera and decide for yourself.

Camera Exposure Feature No 2: Shutter Speed

The second setting from the so-called camera exposure triangle which you should learn about is the shutter speed. This is a number reflecting the length of time for which a camera shutter is open for exposing light inside the camera sensor. Since we’re talking about advanced cameras here and not hundreds of years models, this number will obviously be a measure of fractions of a second. Really fast shutter speed settings (like 1/115) can successfully be used to freeze motion, while deliberately low speeds (like 1/15 or 1/20) can allow more light into the camera, making this a perfect setting for nighttime photography.

Camera Exposure Feature No 3: Aperture

Last, but not least, we should talk about the aperture feature. This is more like a technical built-in characteristic of the camera itself, referring to the hole with a lens through which light passes into the camera body. The larger this hole is, the more light can pass, making the camera more apt for certain types of photography. The depth of field (usually expressed through the letter f and is sometimes called the focal ratio) also depends on the camera’s aperture, and this refers to the portion of a scene which appears to be sharp. The larger the aperture, the smaller the depth of field will be and vice-versa.

Now remember: the important thing, besides learning how to use each of these better, is learning how to use them together. That means that if you increase one, maybe one of the others needs to be slightly decreased to compensate, and so on. For example, a large aperture usually calls for a high shutter speed, to prevent overexposure and so on. We can’t provide you with exact formulas here, because all this adjusting would depend not only on what your current camera settings are, but also on what exactly you’re trying to photograph, if it’s indoors or outdoors, in what kind of lighting conditions and so on. You need to research these things yourself, starting with your camera’s manual. Once you’ve managed to get those camera exposure features to work for you, the most important technical requirements for great pictures have been met.

The Best Small Investment Tips to Become a Pro Photographer

A lot of young photographers to be are trying to make the transition between being just a passionate amateur to being a fully legitimate professional photographer. What separates the first from the latter isn’t necessarily the skill or talent and or even the experience; but more like an arbitrary convention that differentiates between a hobby and a business. In other words, if you get paid for it, or if you open some kind of official start-up, it means you’re a pro. If you just do it for pleasure, you’re an amateur. In a way, it’s completely unfair, because if you’re striving to become a pro photographer, the term “amateur” stuck to your current identity somehow implies that you’re not doing a really awesome job, but the truth is that you may be very skilled and talented, but you just didn’t get a paid gig so far.

Still, if you want to make that transition once and for all, either by founding a small photography start-up or simply by charging fees for your services, you need to do a couple of things first. The most important thing is to be really good at photography and to keep getting better, but we’re sure you’ve already got that covered. As a young photographer striving to prove yourself, it’s probably the main thing you’re working on when it comes to improving your odds of making it to the pro league. But the other thing you should pay attention to, in addition to simply improving your skills, is investing a bit in some essentials that would help you become a pro photographer faster. Here are our tips on what small investment you should consider, the matter is of course debatable, but our suggestions do make a fine starting point.

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A tripod: We will not start this list with a good or professional camera, because it’s the first thing photography aficionados think about by themselves. Chances are, if you’re trying to become a pro photographer, you already though about it and invested in your camera by now. But our experience with aspiring photographers tells us not all think about getting a tripod as well, many preferring to just point and shoot. Perhaps it’s time to reconsider this approach.

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A cheap old film camera: Nowadays everything has of course gone digital and that has become the standard for quality and everything. Vintage film cameras are, in consequence, very cheap now, and somehow regarded as being not so good. While it’s true that digital photography opens up a world of processing possibilities and filtering options and so on, film photography should not be despised by an aspiring pro. Not only would it help your overall skills and understanding of photography if you experiment with such a camera for a while, but it would also allow you to produce some wonderful pictures which current cameras couldn’t really achieve in the same way. Just look at the wonderful work people like Oleg Oprisco are doing and you’ll understand. Also, a vintage film camera looks really cool and makes you seem the master of all equipment. If you can create amazing images with that, you can do it with any kind of gear.

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A high-power Monolight:  Professional lighting can make the difference between an amateur photo and a truly stunning and impeccably done photo. It would be a shame not to highlight your good camera and good skills with the proper accessory, and this one should be the first on your list. Why a Monolight, in particular? Because one of these can be also used indoors to create a studio-like setting, but it’s also portable enough to take with you outdoors as well (or to other locations). Until you can afford an actual photo studio, it will give you the best chance of shooting like a professional photographer and of impressing the people you work with as one. If you’re on your way to become a pro photographer, these three are the magic tricks you should have up your sleeve.

8 State-of-the-art Cameras that will Surely Drive Photographers Crazy

Guest Post by Jessica Simmons

For a photographer, choosing the best camera for them is like finding a pageant winner. They primarily set a checklist of criteria. When one candidate fails to deliver, it is automatically out of the game.

Basically, a photographer assesses the screen size, resolution, zooming capabilities, video options, weight, and battery life. Among the hordes of cameras in the market, eight made it on the list as the best ones so far:

1.    Nikon D800

Most Nikon D800 users reviewed it to be a bit expensive but definitely worth every penny. It is a full-frame model perfect for professional photographers of wedding scenes or panoramic views. It also has stellar video options that offer minimal to no noise at all.

2.    Canon EOS 5D MarkIII

For sports photographers, Canon EOS 5D has been rated as one of the best. It has improved configurability and performance, which makes it useful for shooting objects in motion. It captures good details. However, it is not that efficient in reducing noise for dark settings, which is typical of cameras nevertheless.

[Read more...]

10 Questions To Ask Before You Buy Camera Equipment

Do you ever fall for the “shiny object syndrome”? In other words, do you buy camera equipment on a whim because you fall in love with it based on a recommendation?

As a photographer, I think we can all agree we’ve fallen into that trap a time or two. I remember one time we were at a photographic convention, and the speaker talked up a new line of lighting equipment. We headed into the tradeshow area, and proceeded to purchase the entire system. Then most of it sat in our studio, unused at the back of the room.

Before you head out and spend this month’s profits on that new lens you’ve been eyeing, ask yourself these questions first.

1. Why do I need this new piece of equipment?

Is this truly a need, or is it a want? If you truly need something, it will ultimately benefit your business, and hurt your business if you don’t have it. A second camera body, for example, is a necessity.

2. How will this change my photography?

Some equipment will instantly change your photography, and allow you to be more creative. Moving from camera flash to a studio lighting setup will allow you to create depth, and give you a more natural lighting source whether you are in the studio or out.

3. How often will I use it?

Is this piece of equipment going to be sitting on a shelf, or in the front pocket of your camera bag? If you need it for the occasional client, there may be other options. But if you can use it again and again, every week of the year, it may be worth the investment.

4. Will I still want this item tomorrow?

Tradeshows are easy to catch you up in the excitement of wanting something new. Step back and sleep on it if you can. Evaluate the true purpose of this piece of equipment, and see if you still feel the same way in the morning.

5. Is there something else available that does the same thing at a lower cost?

Before you buy an expensive lens, can you find one that’s almost as good for half the cost? I was reading on Art Wolfe’s blog that he travels with just a few lenses, and he prefers his Canon 70-200 f4 over the 2.8 version because its just as sharp and much lighter – and less than half the cost.

Dig Deeper: The Best Photographic Equipment To Bring With You [Read more...]

Worlds Fastest Compact Flash Storage

Memory cards have come a long way in the past decade. My first cards were 256 MB and ran at 4X speed and cost $250 per card. Yes, that is correct! Not Gigabyte but Megabyte. And the speed was 4X not 400X. And the cost? Well we just knew that we were on the cusp of a learning curve, so we bit the bullet and ordered enough to cover our first event.

Back in 2001, our first digital cameras had 3.1MP sensors, so the file size was tiny at best. And since we were used to shooting film, exposure was not an issue, so we shot in jpeg. Computer hard drives averaged 20-40GB, so we always backed up the image files onto CD-ROMs that cost $1.50 – $3 each instead of leaving the files on the computer. Ah the early days of digital…

Fast-forward to today where everyone has 30GB of flash storage, RAW format is the norm, and our computers have enough storage to handle anything. If you still need more storage or want to move the file outside your location, cloud hosting may be the answer.

Video has also moved into the digital realm with most SLR cameras offering assorted video recording functions. Video put huge demands on memory and must move huge amounts of data into a storage area quickly. Compact flash cards have been the leaders in storage capacity and transfer speed for most professional grade cameras, and are now changing once again.

SanDisk brings the latest advancements to the forefront offering 128GB cards with the speed to match at 100MB per second. This will allow a capture of full HD video storage with today’s pro DSLR cameras. Advance features such as these do come at a price. SanDisk will be retailing the newest cards for $1499 so get your credit card ready.

Read the full press release at SanDisk

Want Instant Prints? Stampy Camera Design Stamps Out Images

Instant gratification pushed Polaroid into a unique niche within the photography industry. The ability to view the image almost immediately allowed a pleasure no other company could create: a way to instantly view our imagery and have a print to share.

Now, we are in the digital age where every camera has instant gratification via a small LCD camera screen. Yet there is still a problem: no print to share and pass around. If you want hard copies, you will need to upload them to your favorite lab or print them on your printer…not so instant. Designer Jinhee Kim unveiled a cool design where a digital images can be stamped onto paper almost as fast as developing a Polaroid.

Licensed by Yanko Design, the innovative product named Stamp.y is coming to life. No pricing or availability has been announced.




via Yankodesign

This Is How Much Digital Cameras Have Changed In The Past Decade

It’s amazing to see how much things can change in a decade. Ten years ago, we invested in our first digital camera, and were amazed with the storage space on our 256 megabyte cards. Now a simple point and shoot consumer grade camera has more bells and whistles than our original DSLR.

Speed now is everything. A decade ago you could shoot at a maximum burst speed of 8 fps for up to 16 RAW frames. Today it’s at 10 fps for up to 28 RAW frames. And if you really want to show movement, with today’s Mark IV, simply turn to video mode, and capture everything as it happens.

While speed and functionality have changed considerably, the one thing that’s remained constant is cost. For about the same price as you paid a decade ago (not taking into account inflation or any other economic factors of course) you can purchase a workhorse camera perfect for the professional photographer.

Want To Improve Your Flash Photography Skills?

“How do I use flash on outdoor portraits and still have my portraits look natural?”

“How do I light up the dance floor in a dark reception hall?”

“How do I use off camera flash?”

I receive questions like these almost daily. Flash is definitively one area that can make or break a photographer. Knowing how to use flash can improve your photography, and if your clients see the difference, they will be willing to pay for the difference.

There are two ways to learn about lighting.

1. You can buy several types of flash units, and keep trying. Experiment with the lighting in different situations, and see what you get. Keep experimenting until you get the results you are looking for, and can achieve the same results time and again.

2. Learn from a professional. A professional can give you a ton of advice in a short period of time, offering you tips and tricks along the way.

Are you ready to shortcut your learning curve, and improve your flash photography skills today?

I found a great resource this week that I think you’re going to love. Edward Verosky just released a new ebook called Flash Photography: How To Get Amazing light In Any Improve Your Flash Photography SkillsSituation.  I’ve had a chance to go through it, and the advice is right on target. He keeps it simple, and shows you exactly what to do in many situations using photographs, diagrams, and step by step advice.

What makes this a great resource is how he presents the material. He shares ideas by actually showing you photographs he’s taken within his own studio. He gives you a diagram to show you exactly how he set up the image (where he set the subject, how the flash units were set up around the subject, where the camera angle was, etc) and shares his camera and flash settings. By seeing both the diagram and the final image, along with the description of how the final result was achieved, its easy to set up your own subject in a similar manner.

Whether you keep this as an ebook on your computer, put it on your iPad for bringing with you, or print it off for a handy field guide, this is one resource you’re going to love having. If flash has ever raised a question in your mind, grab this up. For only $9.95 a copy, you can’t go wrong.

Buy Flash Photography: How To Get Amazing light In Any Situation Now>>

Safety Tips For Your Digital Files

What happens if you’re shooting a wedding, leave your camera on a table to run out of the room, come back and find it missing? The camera is replaceable. But what about your memory card with the digital files you’ve just created? Worse yet, what if you have a large memory card that you’ve been using throughout the entire event, and have just lost a sizable amount of the wedding images?

If you haven’t thought about safety of your digital files yet, its time.

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In today’s marketplace, you can get a small 2 GB compact flash card for under $15, all the way up to a current release of a 64GB compact flash card.  And the amount of storage space is only half of the equation; current compact flash cards also are super fast to allow you to quickly transfer from your camera to computer during your small amounts of downtime.

But with the increased size capacity also comes the desire to have few cards to control during your shoot. A 65GB flash card can store thousands of images in JPEG format.

safety tips for digital files

Which brings me back to my original question.

What happens if you’re finishing up a wedding, leave your camera on a table in the reception site, come back and find it missing? Your one 64GB card was inside the camera, with the entire days’ worth of images on it. What are you going to do?
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What Should You Be Shooting With – A Canon EOS-1D Mark IV or a Nikon D3S?

If you’re just starting out and looking to invest in your first professional camera, which one should you choose?

To help you through the selection process, take a look at Snapsort – a brand new search site that finds the best camera for you by comparing any two cameras, giving you the stats, and ranking the winner accordingly.

I compared the Canon EOS-1D Mark IV to the Nikon D3S. Snapsort gives you both the differences and the similarities between the two cameras.

differences between canon eos-1d mark iv and nikon d3s

Once you’ve reviewed the differences and similarities, Snapsort declares the winner based on the camera that provides you with the most features.
[Read more...]