Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Filters to consider

 Here are 3 Filters that you may want to consider adding to your photography equipment.

 Damage to your camera’s lens could cost you many hundreds of dollars to replace, purchasing any or all 3 of the following filters at a fraction of the cost of a replacement lens might be worthwhile considering.
CPL Filter (Circular Polarising Filter)

 This polarising effect is most effective when used to increase the contrast and saturation in blue skies and make clouds stand out.
A polarizing filter removes unwanted reflections from non-metallic surfaces such as water, glass, snow etc. They also enable colours to become more saturated and appear clearer, with better contrast. This effect is often used to increase the contrast and saturation in blue skies and white clouds. Polarizing filters do not affect the overall colour balance of a shot.
A circular polarizer filter (CPL) is generally required if you want to use the "auto-focus" feature in your camera. 
These filters can also be used for video & digital cameras.

UV Filter

 UV stands for Ultraviolet, which is light that is invisible to the human eye. UV filters were used to cut down on haziness, such as in mountains and around coastal areas, but the digital sensor isn’t as sensitive to this as 35mm film was. These days UV filters are used, mainly as aprotection for your cameras lens.

Having a UV filter attached to the lens at all times protects the lens from scratches, dust, and weather. There are debates among photographers about the use of UV filters; some argue that they visually affect the outcome of the photograph while others argue that they don’t affect it at all and that the filter is great insurance.
I use a UV filter screwed onto my lenses; and have had one of my lenses saved thanks to the attached filter. However, if you are going to use a UV filter, don’t buy the cheapest one you can find.

Skylight 1A Filter

 A filter which is used in front of the lens in order to filter out UV light that can cause a bluish haze. A skylight filter is also coloured slightly pink (or yellow) in order to give pictures a warmer appearance. In the digital age these filters are used less than before, since colour temperature can be influenced in-camera and in processing, especially when using the RAW file format.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


 Never – Never, look directly into the sun it will damage your eyes

1. Check your white balance. The first thing I do is check my white balance setting as my first option, because auto white balance, the default setting of digital cameras, is one of the worst offenders for making sunrises and sunsets look less than their best. Auto white balance is designed to automatically make colours look more or less neutral, which is exactly what we don’t want with a sunrise or sunset. We want a fantastic shot! Try setting your camera to a daylight balance such as “sunny” or “cloudy” to get better colours at these times.

2. Look for clouds. Blank skies will often give less interesting sunrises or sunsets because there is nothing for the light from the rising or setting sun to illuminate. If clouds block the eastern (sunrise) or western (sunset) horizons, you might get nothing. But if clouds are breaking, especially along the right horizon, you may be rewarded with stunning colour and light.

3. Watch your horizon. People get so excited about the sunrise or sunset that they put the horizon in the middle of the photo. The problem with that is that the ground is usually so dark that it is just black, so you end up with a photo that is half black. Use your whole sensor and capture more of that glorious sky. Put the horizon near the bottom of your photo or don’t include it at all and just show off the great sky. Check your LCD playback to be sure.

4. Photograph before and during the sunrise or sunset. The light and colour will keep changing with a sunrise or sunset, and you cannot predict this, so hang around and enjoy the changes as you take pictures throughout the sunrise or sunset. You never know when the best shots will occur.

5. Keep your camera out and keep shooting after the sun has set. Photographers often pack up and go home when the sun drops below the horizon, yet there are stunning colours and images to be had after sunset. You will need a tripod because shutter speeds will get slow, but start looking at the scene all around you, not just the place of the sunset. Be patient because the light often looks poor for about the first 10 minutes after sunset. After that, if you have an open view to the western sky, you will often find some amazing light illuminating the scene around you. This doesn’t happen every time and you can get some dud lighting, but when it occurs, it is well worth waiting for.

6. Put on the telephoto or zoom in for a telephoto view. Zoom in all the way or use your strongest telephoto lens and start looking around the sunrise or sunset along the horizon. (Do not stare into the sun through your camera, as this can damage your eyes). Use Live View with your camera, however, and stare at the sun on your LCD. You will often find amazing colour and tonalities.

7. Put on your widest-angle lens or zoom out for a wide-angle view, then tilt up to shoot the sky. Wide-angle shots that have the sunrise or sunset at the bottom of the image and big sweeps of colourful sky above it can make for very dramatic images. Be sure to emphasize the sky by shooting upward—you don’t need much ground in the photo for this shot.

Use a wide angle lens
Think about foreground, middle ground and background
 Don't be afraid to get low
Think of different perspectives
 Shoot at the lowest ISO possible
 Use a tripod
 Use Apertures between f8 and f22 or the smallest aperture available
 Shutter Speed will vary depending on "proper exposure"
 Use shutter longer then 1/2 sec to smooth out water if included in your shot
Use a graduated neutral density filter (if available)
Learn how to meter correctly (either decide to properly expose the foreground/ground vs. the sky and sun

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Time Of Day

The most important element for many great photographs is the lighting. Warmth, depth, texture, form, contrast, and colour are all dramatically affected by the angle of the sunlight, and the time of day. Shooting at the optimum time is often the biggest difference between an ‘average’ and a ‘professional’ shot.
In the early morning and late afternoon, when the sun is low, the light is gold and orange, giving your shot the warmth. Professional photographers call these the ‘magic hours’ and most movies and magazine shots are made during this brief time. It takes extra planning, but saving your photography for one hour after sunrise, or one to two hours before sunset, will add stunning warmth to your shots.
Plan Your Day
Assuming a sunrise at 6am and sunset at 7pm, and that your family/friends suddenly give you the reverence and servility you so obviously deserve, a good day might be:
5am: Pre-dawn: A pink, ethereal light and dreamy mist for lakes, rivers and landscapes.
6-7am: Dawn: Crisp, golden light for east-facing subjects.
7am-10am: Early morning: The city comes to life; joggers in the park.
10-2pm: Midday: The sun is much too harsh for landscapes and people, but perfect for monuments, buildings and streets with tall buildings.
2pm-4pm: Afternoon: Deep blue skies with a polarizer filter.
4pm-6:45pm: Late Afternoon: Golden light on west-facing subjects. Best time for landscapes and people, particularly one hour before sunset.

Red Eye

The appearance of glowing red eyes can ruin a portrait of even the cutest child or pet. The red colour comes from light reflecting off of the retinas in our eyes. The following quick tips can help get the red out.
No Flash
Try not to use a flash if possible it is the number one cause of red-eye. Try turning on the lights or open the curtains to add additional light to your scene.
Look Away From The Light
Ask your subject to look toward the camera but not directly at the lens, another solution is to ask them to briefly look into a bright light first.
Use The Red-Eye Reduction Setting
Take advantage of in-camera red-eye removal. Many digital cameras and photo printers now allow you to remove red-eye or prevent it altogether. Check your digital camera’s manual to see if it includes these features.

Monday, September 5, 2011

White Balance

Different digital cameras have different ways of adjusting the white balance, you’ll need to get out your camera’s manual to work out the specifics of how to make the changes. 

Pre-set White Balance Settings
Here are some of the basic White Balance settings that you’ll find on digital cameras: 

Auto – this is where the camera makes a guess on a shot by shot basis. You’ll find it works in many situations but it’s worth experimenting with the other selections for trickier lighting.
Tungsten – this mode is usually identified as a little bulb and is for shooting indoors, especially under tungsten (incandescent) lighting (such as bulb lighting). It generally cools down the colours in photos.
Fluorescent – this compensates for the ‘cool’ light of fluorescent light and will warm up your shots.
Daylight/Sunny – not all cameras have this setting because it sets things as fairly ‘normal’ white balance settings.
Cloudy – this setting generally warms things up a touch more than ‘daylight’ mode.
Flash – the flash of a camera can be quite a cool light so in Flash WB mode you’ll find it warms up your shots a touch.
Shade – the light in shade is generally cooler (bluer) than shooting in direct sunlight so this mode will warm things up a little.

Manual White Balance Adjustments
In most cases you can get a pretty accurate result using the above pre-set white balance modes –  some digital cameras (most DSLRs and higher end point and shoot models) allow for manual white balance adjustments as well.
The way this is used varies little between makes and models, in essence what you are  doing is telling your camera what white looks like in a shot so that it has something as a reference point for deciding how other colours should look. You can do this by visiting a photography store and  buying yourself a white (or grey 18%) card which is specifically designed for this task. 
Try the different settings and experiment for yourself, this will help you to become a better photographer and create better photo's

Thursday, September 1, 2011

ISO Explained

ISO relates to your digital camera's sensitivity to light. The higher the number, the less light is needed to take a photo that is correctly exposed.
In bright light sunny day, you'll normally use ISO 50 or ISO 100. These are the lowest settings that can be used because of the ample light around.
However, in lower light, your camera needs some help. There are two ways of doing this:

Decrease Shutter Speed
With a slower shutter speed, the camera has more time to adjust to the amount of light it needs. Unfortunately though, the slower the shutters speed, the more chance that your images will appear blurry.

Increase ISO
Rather than decrease the shutter speed, you can increase the ISO. As stated previously, this will increase the sensitivity of the camera which means you can get the same shot with less light entering the camera. The shutter speed can now be kept low enough to avoid blurry images.
As increasing the ISO will increase the shutter speed, a high ISO will also help when taking fast moving sports shots. You'll get clear, crisp shots with no blur.
However, I still recommend you use the lowest ISO possible. Why?

Problems of using a high ISO
By using a higher ISO the camera has less light to work with. The problem with this is it also means that 'noise' is introduced into your camera. Your camera's highest one or two ISO values will produce a lot of noise (grain) in your image; it would be a good idea to avoid using the higher settings unless the light is so low that you have no other choice.

Auto ISO
Most of the time you don't need to worry about selecting the correct ISO. Most cameras have an "Auto ISO" setting. With Auto ISO, the camera will look at the amount of light in the scene and change the ISO appropriately so that the shutter speed doesn't get too slow.

ISO Values
If you choose to use a manual ISO, what values should you use?
ISO 50-100.  Suitable for bright light (e.g.: outdoors on a sunny day.
ISO 200,   Great for overcast or cloudy days. However on budget cameras some noise will be seen in your image.
ISO 400, and above.  Use for indoor or night shots, (even if you use a flash). Also useful to freeze the action in sports shots. These values will also produce the most noise.
Noise in digital cameras is a huge problem, and one we'll have to live with for a while.
But like everything in Photography Land research is continuing to be done to help alleviate this.