Which camera hardware is right for me?
- Try to get the photo right in the camera, rather than relying on post production
- Film vs digital…
- Many of the world's best shots are done on older cameras (decades old).
- Clean them under running water if you’ve been out in dust or salt water
- Gimbal head
- Carbon fibre, try to make the tripod as light as possible
Smart Phone vs larger camera
- The smart phone only has a tiny sensor, you’ll never be able to get the quality you need
- Smartphones only save compressed format, not RAW etc
- If using filters, use high quality filters. Even if the lens and sensor are very high quality, if the filter is bad, the shot will be bad.
- Neutral/constant density filters are important. Especially if doing sticking.
- Polarising filters bring out richer colours, especially between 10 AM and 3 PM outdoors. But they take away some of the crispness from the shot.
- Don’t use polarising filters for wildlife etc, you lose a few F stops.
Cleaning (lens / sensor / etc)
- High quality microfiber cloths
- Camel hair brushes
- Visible Air Air Blower (this brand/model has a filter so you’re only pushing clean air onto the surface)
- Sensor swabs
- Sensor cleaners
- Sensor Loupe (a light which highlights whether there’s any dust on your sensor)
- Air blower
- Old (clean) cotton t-shirt (e.g. wipe ocean-spray off the filters / exterior)
- Wide angle lenses exaggerate space. Near objects become more prominent, they emphasise depth
- Telescopic lenses make objects appear to be closer on the same plane, producing a more compressed image
- Prime Lens – this is a fixed lens for a specific purpose, does a better job
- Zoom Lens – it covers a lot of functionality in one lens, but there are compromises
- Fast Lenses with lower F-Stop can be used in lower light, as they let more light in, allowing faster shutter speeds. They are more expensive and heavier.
- This is the distance between the sensor and the lens
- Larger sensor sizes achieve the same as a lower focal length
Try to use a shutter speed lower than the focal length of the camera, e.g.
- 20mm = 1/30th of a second
- 200mm = 1/250th of a second
- 600mm = 1/600th of a second
Creative blur is OK, but otherwise try to avoid it
- Subject movement
- Correct shutter speed
- Camera movement/shake
- Mirror lock-up
- Image stabilisation (turn it off when using a tripod)
Test your lenses for their sweet spots, in the field, ensure the focus is correct.
- Consider using a camera test chart
- Check a few zooms within a zoom lens (e.g. 50, 100 and 200mm
- Check every aperture at each zoom level. Some F-Stops will have issues and it isn’t worth using those F-Stops as the photos won’t be sharp
- Use manual focus
- Turn of image stabilisation and use a tripod
- Low ISO setting for maximum sharpness
- Use a cable or remote release
- Use mirror-lockup if possible
During shooting, try different focal points (e.g on clouds, then see what comes into focus elsewhere)
Use layering to shoot two photos with different focuses etc
- A technique taking multiple overlapping images and combining them to produce one final image.
- It is useful when the scene you want to capture is wider than your widest lens or when you want higher resolution images
- Use RAW
- Set white balance manually (consistent)
- Set exposure manually (consistent)
- Ensure the stitching head is level
- Overlap images by at least 25% (or more with wider lenses)
- Stitch from left to right
- E.g. Photoshop or Lightroom
- The software will automagically stitch it together
- This is the centre point within the lens between the lens and sensor, which when consistent, makes stitching much easier.
- A camera not mounted on the nodal point, will create perspective issues/differences when panning the camera. When it is mounted correctly, you can pan without any depth differences between shots
- A stitching bracket allows a camera to be mounted on the nodal point
- Lenses are generally not designed to be used at their maximum or minimum aperture (i.e. not fully open, not fully closed)
- The only creative input into the photo is the composition and the timing of the picture.
- Everything else is looked after by the camera
- Automatic mode can’t place any priority on focus / speed / etc
- Camera sets a suitable shutter speed and aperture combination for correct exposure. It takes into account lens, light level, ISO setting and sull dynamically update this combination to reflect any changes in conditions.
- If the focal length is increased, a shorter exposure time is set to anticipate any camera shake
- This is the most convenient most in transient situations, whena rapid and frequent change of lenses or zooming is required.
- Shutter speed, aperture and flash are set manually.
- Expisure levels can be adjusted by loking at the exposure level indicator in the viewfinder
- Manual exposure keeps each shot consistent
- Ideal for backlit, high-contrast scenes and reflections, when a light source is in the frame, for low and high-key subjects, for copying and stitching
- Camera automatically sets the required shutter speed for correct exposure, depending on ISO setting and manually chosen aperture
- Flash is activated manually, and when ready, sets a suitable shutter speed for correct fill-flash exposure
- Useful for where greater depth of field control is required
Shutter Priority / Tv (Time Value)
- Automaticall sets the required aperture to obtain correct exposure, depending on the manually chosen shutter speed and ISO setting. Flash behaves as per Av.
- Useful for sports, moving objects, birds in flight, or other moving objects which may be impacted by camera shake.
ISO vs Aperture vs Shutter speed
- Aperture provides depth of field
- Shutter speed controls blur
- ISO controls noise
Also consider Neutral Density filters to slow down moving components (e.g. running water)
Use what you have
- Car lights
- Light cubes
Sometimes flash will help even lighting in sharp contrast environments (outdoor with sunlight)
- Night shots can be ‘painted’ with flash
- Black will add shadow
- White will reflect white light
- Silver, gold etc can add other colour tones
Bokeh / Blur (Aperture)
- Allows us to focus the viewer on particular areas of the photograph
- Fast Lenses are very important for leveraging Bokeh
- Yaw / Pitch (Lens stabilisation)
- X/Y (Sensor)
- Roll (Sensor)
- Every sensor has a native ISO speed. Try to find the sweet spot.
- If you’re shooting astro / northern lights / etc, find a camera that performs well at 1600 or higher (but preferred, get a lens with a lower F Stop)
- A compressed format picture. Information is lost.
- Highlights and shadows are retained, a lot of everything else is lost
- Colour depth is lost, less colour gradients. Using the sRGB colour space, much more limited than the RGB colour space
- Most monitors only see the sRGB colour space – only specialised monitors will display the full colour depth
TIFF (Tagged Inage File Format)
- Lossless and world-standard image file format
- More latitude for corrections than JPEG
- Critical for archiving master copies of photos
- TIFF Files are good for the master file to print from (but keep the RAW file for further processing/editing later)
RAW (uncompressed Data)
- The data can be processed later on a computer
- It captures all the data captured by the camera’s sensor
- Many creative decisions can be made later
- Max image quality
- No need to set white balance
- Able to change contrast and saturation without image degradation
- Able to work on a 16-bit image after post-production
- 65535 (16-bit) levels of colour, instead of 256 (8-bit) levels of colour
- Useful for stitching
- A simple graph which shows the brightness levels contained in the scene, from the darkest to the brightest.
- The left hand side represents black, then tonal through to the whites, showing the densities of pixels at each level
- Ensure there isn’t much density on either the right or the left hand side of the graph.
- High against the ‘wall’ of the whites is over exposed.
- High against the ‘wall’ of the blacks is under exposed
Peaks in the middle provides optimum exposure
- Equivalent to signal to noise control for audio signal – don’t want too little, don’t want too much.
- Different histogram channels are available too – R/G/B/Y (i.e. show density for each colour)
- Highlight warnings – some cameras will show a warning when over-exposed
- There is no perfect one-fits-all histogram shape – e.g. if shooting silhouettes during a sunrise, the histogram will show it as over-exposed. Or a sky shot may highlight some details which result in very little blacks.
- Auto areas (camera chooses what to focus on) – this can be good
- Single Point (in the middle of the frame)
- Multi point (auto focus on a selected spot within the frame, non-centred)
- Tracking mode (it will track a subject and focus on it, such as a moving animal)
- Face recognition
- Post-focus (after the photo has been taken)
Auto focus modes
- Single-shot auto focus (hold the button half-way, focus, then it will take the shot) - But it will reset after the single photo, there will be a different focus for the next shot)
- Flexible (adjusts focus if it detects the focus moving)
- AFC (continuously looking for focus)
- Allows you to lock the auto focus, so you can take multiple shots with the same focus
- Avoids hunting (searching for the right focus, and missing the shot)
- Places an outline on the areas of focus
- The colour of the peaking can be changed (e.g. if taking a picture with a lot of blue, don’t use blue peaking)
Taking better photos
- Camera with you and be ready to shoot
- Don’t procrastinate, the opportunity could be gone tomorrow
- Have your camera with you
- Seeing the picture – identify the picture within the picture and wait for the right moment
- Be open to what is happening (even if it isn’t part of “your plan”)
- Patience (sometimes you need to wait for the right moment)
- Passion (gives you energy)
- Persistence (keep trying until you get the right shot)
- Peace (be a calm photographer, don’t allow the circumstances to pressure you during the shot)
- Remember the stories behind the photos
- Getting into the zone
- Putting the elements together (sometimes you need to place things into place in the scene to create some interesting parts of the picture)
- Learning to paint with shape or light. Try something different, use back-light, use side-light use twilight, use different weather conditions etc to respond to circumstances you didn’t expect.
- Side-light adds texture to a picture through directional shadows
- Soft light can add depth to a picture
- Look for textures – leaves, wooden panels, feathers, grass, etc
- Always look behind you – there may be another amazing shot which isn’t obvious
- Create good working relationships with others – it helps to be polite (ask to use someone’s property for a photo, ask to borrow a boat, etc). You may be surprised how far people will go to help you get a good photo
- With digital photography, shoot less photos. With film, there was a cost for each shot, so you were forced to think about each shot. With digital, the cost is low so people shoot before thinking.
- Get the shot right in the camera, avoid spending time in post production
- Cull the unwanted photos. It is difficult managing large volumes of photos you'll never look at again.
Know the medium you’re working with
- Understand your camera
- If you don’t understand a particular setting on the camera, use auto-mode
Creating the 3rdDimension
- Use some foreground in landscape photography to create some depth
- Try different angles (e.g. shooting from higher than the subjects) to create depth, or try from ground level (i.e. not standing).
- Reflections – use a pool, puddle, etc. Put the camera right on the surface of the water to get a reflection effect. This creates the butterfly effect.
- Shape the picture with light, use shadows to highlight the depth
- Use a lead-in, e.g. a Jetty which narrows toward the background, to demonstrate depth through diminishing scale
- Use focus to blur the foreground and background, focussing on a single spot in between
- Use opposing colours between the subject and the background (e.g. a bright yellow boat against a pink/red/blue background)
- Use people or common items to demonstrate scale (e.g. a person standing next to a huge tree)
- Separate the lines in a picture to highlight the subject. E.g. if a car rooftop aligns with a cloud, move a metre to the left so there’s separation between the edge of the cloud and the edge of the car
Night Time Photography
- Make sure you’ve got an interesting foreground / subject (shooting just the stars can be boring)
- Use a sturdy tripod
- Manual focus and exposure
- Set camera to f2.8 to f4.0 with ISO1600-3200
- Remote cable release
- Expose for 15 to 30 seconds
- Best with new moon
- For circular star trails, shoot towards to polar south
- Don’t forget your head torch
- Fast lenses!
- Find the infinity focus point at dusk (when the temperature gets close to what it will be at night), then tape the focus point
- Acclimatise your camera – e.g put it outside before you shoot, so it doesn’t need to warm up or cool down
- Try shooting with full moon – with long exposure you can use the moon to light up the landscape
- Mount camera on a sturdy tripod
- F5.8 or F8 with ISO 200
- Lock shutter on bulb
- Wait for lightning strike then close shutter
- Or - Use a lightning trigger (which triggers a shot when the lightning first occurs)
- Or – Lumix – use a 4k burst mode (it will shoot 30 frames before you press the trigger)
- Depth of field is not an issue
- Use the highest speed possible
- Use manual focus
- Use the sweet spot (F Stop) on lens
- No loose equipment in a helicopter
- Doors off helicopter if possible
- Ensure the blades and skids are not in shot
- Make sure your harness or seatbelt is on
- Wear dark clothing to stop reflections
- Watch the horizon line, if included
- Format the Memory cards on the camera, not on the PC. The Camera will set up the filesystem appropriately and this will avoid possible corruption issues
- Ensure you use fast storage on the cameras
Culling old photos
Remove unnecessary photos:
- out of focus shots
- Check for sharp focus on eyes of people or animals
- unfavourable facial expressions
- unrecoverable over or under exposed shots
- Accidental images which don't work
- Bad competitions
- Corrupt files