Monday, September 3, 2012

Tips on Photography Workshops for beginners.

Most photography workshops consist of two parts :

  1. A field trip to take pictures and
  2. A classroom session to discuss photography.
These are tips on the field trips of photography workshops for those who have just begun photography :

  • RESEARCH :  The first thing to do is to research the theme of the workshop if any.  Look it up in Google, and search for pictures on the same theme on online photo storage sites.  This is essential because the approach to  photography workshops differs whether it is a macro photography workshop or a fashion photoshoot or a light painting workshop.
  • HARDWARE  :  Collect your hardware according to the theme of the workshop.  For a wildlife photo-shoot a telephoto zoom lens would be essential while for a landscape workshop a wide angle lens would be indispensable.
  • RECONNOITER :  Look up the location in Google maps and the weather on the day of the shoot.  If possible visit the location a day earlier and become familiar with the lighting as well as the people who live there.  Wear same clothes as the locals do to blend into the landscape and become inconspicuous.
  • MENTOR : Taking along a senior photographer as a mentor is always advisable for their wonderful advice on every aspect of photography.
  • PRE-SHOOT CHECKLIST : Make sure you have every item on your preshoot checklist
  • PAUSE before you start shooting and take a look around you. Let the locals get used to you with a camera so that you can blend seamlessly into the environment.  This is so that later you can get shoot  candid shots like this one :

  • Candid jogger

  • PROGRAM MODE : Switch on your camera and change Mode Dial to 'P' or Program AE (AutoExposure) Mode. This will put your camera in point-and-shoot mode where the shutter speed and exposure will be set automatically.  You will not lose precious seconds in adjusting exposure settings and lose that fleeting candid moment.
  • MANUAL MODE :  Having composed a photo change the Mode Dial to "M' or Manual Mode and take the picture manually setting the exposure.  After clicking the picture change the Mode Dial back to 'P' so as not to miss your next candid picture.
  • SHUTTER-PRIORITY AE : To take a photograph of a moving object switch Mode Dial to "Tv" and set the shutter speed and click the picture. Immediately after clicking the picture change the Mode Dial back to 'P' so as not to miss your next candid picture.
  • APERTURE-PRIORITY AE : To take a landscape picture change the Mode Dial to 'Av' and set your F number depending on whether you want a small depth of field (small F number) or a large depth of field (large F number).  Again immediately after clicking the picture change the Mode Dial back to 'P' so as not to miss your next candid picture.
  • LEADING LINES :  Look for leading lines which 'lead' the viewers eyes into the picture :

  • LENS CHANGE : If you want to take a portrait shot switch your lens to one with a large aperture like the one shown below :
    ★ Canon EF 50mm f1.8 II Camera Lens 
    Choose the correct lens for the picture you have in mind.  Use a zoom telephoto for wildlife shots :

    70 300 Canon

  • TRIPOD : Use a tripod in low light conditions or during macro photography to prevent camera shake.
  • ISO :  Increase the ISO setting in low light conditions to get a faster shutter speed and hence prevent camera shake from blurring the picture.  Do not increase the ISO to maximum or you will get 'noise' on your picture.
  • DEPTH OF FIELD :  Telephoto, Macro and F1.8-2.8 lenses give a low depth of field while wide angle lenses and larger F numbers have a wide depth of field.  Use the depth of field preview button in front of the camera to see actual DOF before clicking.
  • WHITE BALANCE :  Check your white balance setting before every shot especially on a cloudy day when the sun peeks out every now and then too spoil your shot.
  • PHOTO SHOOT THEME :  While clicking pictures as per the theme of the shoot feel free to click the beautiful butterfly which flits by.  Do not be constrained too much by the theme of the workshop.

If you have any tips of your own please add them in the comments. Happy Clicking!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Wide Angle Fun!

Wide angle lenses have a short focal length and an increased depth of field.  They are called wide angle as they cover a large area in their snapshots.  Hence they are used to shoot landscapes.  Here is the wide angle lens I use :

Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM

Here is a wide angle photo of fishermen packing their nets after a fishing trip :

Notice the vista of the beach in the background. With a wide angle lens objects in the foreground appear huge :

The greater depth of field seen with a wide angle lens can be further accentuated by using a small aperture at a large F number. The small aperture may require you to use a tripod in low light conditions as a slow shutter speed will result.

A wide angle lens enables you to capture a whole building :

Waiting for Sawaari!

or bring out the beauty of large skies and cloud formations :


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Waterfalls ~ Capturing the Silk.

Capturing water in  motion gives a wonderful silky effect :


To get the above effect use a slow shutter speed. There are other tricks you will have to use as well :

  1. Use a tripod to prevent camera shake during the slow shutter speed.
  2. Use a dark ND8 Filter to increase shutter time.

  3. ND8 Filter

  4. Set the Drive Mode to "2 sec self timer" to prevent camera shake due to pressing the  shutter button .
  5. Lock up the mirror to prevent camera vibration. Change Custom Function III - 5 to 'Enable'.
  6. Change Mode Dial to Tv or Shutter Priority.
  7. Set shutter speed to around 1/4 sec. Experiment with slow speed settings.
  8. Press shutter button halfway and check exposure.
  9. Press shutter button completely to swing up the mirror.
  10. Press shutter button completely again to take the picture and then the mirror will go down.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Capturing Motion...

A photograph is a static  two dimensional image. To give the impression of the speed of a moving object the background can be made into a streaky blur by panning the camera.

Another method of showing speed is by decreasing the shutter speed. The shutter remains open for longer and any body in motion streaks itself across the image :

The above picture shows a train moving at speed round a slight curve. It was taken in Manual mode with Aperture F/16 and Shutter Speed of 0.6.  You can also create such an image by following these steps :

1.  Use a tripod as slow shutter speed may result in the whole image being blurred due to camera shake.

2.  Change Mode Dial to Tv or Shutter Priority.

3.  Depending on the speed of the moving object experiment by selecting a slow speed and click the shutter.

4.  Try shooting in Manual Mode. First set the aperture to a large F number if the scene is brightly lit.  Then press the shutter button halfway and look at the exposure meter scale at the bottom of the viewfinder.  Rotate the top dial just behind the shutter button till the exposure mark below the scale is at zero. Then take the picture.

5.  Selecting a large F number makes the aperture smaller and then shutter speed has to be slower to correctly expose the picture.  The slow shutter speed results in the motion blur.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Best Time for Clicking Pictures.

The best times for clicking pictures are in the early morning, the first hour around sunrise :


and the last hour around sunset :

Starting young!

The hours around sunrise and sunset are known as the Golden Hours of Photography.  Overcast skies without rain also provide the perfect diffuse light for taking pictures :


A natural softbox providing just enough light is the result of an overcast sky. Shooting in the afternoon can result in overexposed shots from too much light as seen below:

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Silhouette Photography.

A silhouette is an outline of an object or person :

Come, hold my hand!

Lit from the back all details of the subject are in shadow.

To get good silhouette pictures :

  • Shoot facing the light with your subject in the middle. 
  • Choose Spot or Partial Metering Mode at the bottom of Quick Control Screen. 
  • Turn off the flash as it will illuminate the dark areas which we want to remain black. 
  • Turn Mode Dial to Av or Aperture Priority Mode and choose a large F number.
  • Press shutter button halfway and turn the Quick Control Dial till the exposure meter mark is in the negative area.This will darken the silhouette more.

Lovers sunset!

Panning for Background Blur.

Panning a camera is to move it in the direction of a moving object so that the background is a streaky blur while the moving object is in sharp focus :

Motorbike - Panning!!!

To get a good streaky background use these tricks :

1. Set the Mode Dial to Shutter Priority. Choose a shutter speed depending on the speed of the moving object or start from a slow shutter speed and experiment.

2. Put the lens on manual focus and focus on the moving object by turning the focusing ring.

3. In Quick Settings choose the Continuous Shooting Drive Mode.

4. Click the shutter and follow the moving object with the camera so that it is always in the screen. Stand with feet slightly apart and swivel from the waist.