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.

Bokeh or Creative Blur.

Conventional photography rules state that all parts of your subject should be in sharp focus. However breaking rules is another path to success. Bokeh is the aesthetic out-of-focus part of the image.

Create a deliberately out of focus image like the one below :

Merry Christmas!

by following these steps :

1. During the festival season be on the lookout for objects like Christmas trees draped with lights.

2. A tripod is absolutely necessary to steady the camera during such lengthy exposures.

3. On your lens change the lever from 'Auto-focus (AF)' to 'Manual Focus (MF)'

4. Press the 'Q' button at the back of the camera to bring up the 'Quick Control Screen' on the LCD monitor. Select the 'Drive Mode' setting below the 'ISO' speed setting in the upper right corner. Set the 'Drive Mode' to '2 second self timer'. This will prevent camera shake due to shutter clicking from affecting the picture.

5. Turn the manual focus ring on your lens until all the lights are suitably blurred and then click the picture.

Stunning sunsets for dummies!

The stunning sunsets we see are many times not the ones we get :


when we click them. To capture sunsets like the one below :

Sunset fringed!

follow these tips :

1. If you have a point and shoot camera go into the menu and dig up the setting for 'sunset' usually under 'Scene settings' and OK it.

2. If using a DSLR camera set it to shoot in RAW as well as JPEG. This is because RAW images capture a lot of data which can then be manipulated in Photoshop.

3. Underexpose the image. This can be done by shooting manually and clicking with the exposure mark in the negative area. You can also do this by bracketing exposures.

4. Set the White Balance setting to 'Clouds'.

5. Increase the image saturation in post processing in Photoshop to bring out the beautiful colors of the sunset.

6. In the Canon DSLR 60D change the Mode Dial to Landscape Mode. Then press the 'Q' button at the back to bring up the Quick Control Scene. Choose 'Standard Setting'---->'Shoot by Ambience Selection'------>Select 'Vivid' and OK it. Then go to 'Shoot by Lighting or Scene Type' and select 'Sunset'.

Happy Shooting!

Shooting in Manual Mode made easy.

To shoot in manual mode follow these steps :

1. Set the Mode Dial on the top left of the camera to 'M'.

Dialed In

2. Compose your shot and choose a F number (aperture). If it is a landscape or still photo depending on whether you want the focus on the foreground or the background or on both. Choose a small F number for portrait shots or a big F number if you want everything in the picture to be in focus. Turn the Quick Control Dial on the back of your DSLR to set the aperture. This is the outer dial surrounding the 'SET' button as shown below :


3. Focus the subject by placing the AF point in the viewfinder on the subject and pressing the shutter button halfway. You will see the exposure scale at the bottom of the viewfinder and on the LCD panel at the top of your DSLR. This is a scale with -1, -2 and -3 to the left and +1, +2 and +3 to the right of a central black mark. Below the scale will be a moving exposure level mark indicating if the image is under (to the left) or overexposed (to the right).

4. Set the exposure by moving the top (or Main) dial just behind the shutter button in the direction indicated by the exposure level mark. Keep rotating the top dial to set the shutter speed until the mark reaches the center of the scale.  In  the picture below you can see the arrow pointing to the left of the -3 mark.


Rotate the Top Dial just behind the shutter button :


in the direction of the arrow till the mark moves back to the center :


5. Depress the shutter button fully to click your picture.

Check your picture on the LCD monitor of the camera. If overexposed take the same shot but rotate the top dial till the exposure level mark is at -1 or -2. Then click again to get an underexposed image. If the picture is too dark then rotate top dial till the mark is on +1 or +2 or anywhere on the plus side of the scale.

Happy shooting!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Shutter Priority or Aperture Priority?

Should you shoot in Aperture Priority (Av) or Shutter Priority (Tv) mode? If you want to show any object in motion choose Shutter Priority (Tv) mode :


In the above picture I wanted to show light trails of cars in motion. So I chose Shutter Priority with a shutter speed of 8 seconds. As the shutter remains open for a bigger amount of time the camera has to be on a tripod to prevent it from shaking which will blur the image.

To freeze motion choose a faster shutter speed :


To freeze the motion of the butterfly I used a shutter speed of 1/100 second (0.01).

PHOTOMANTRA : Slow shutter speeds to blur motion.

What is the F number?

Most newcomers to photography are confused by the F number setting.  To put it quite simply follow this decision tree :

1.  Decide what parts of the image you want to have sharply focused. Here is a picture of a boy at nightime :


Since I wanted the model to be in sharp focus with the background nicely blurred I chose F1.8 as my aperture. Larger the aperture gives a smaller depth of field (DOF).

2.  Smaller the F number bigger is the aperture. This is because the aperture size is measured as a fraction with the denominator as the F number. Hence aperture of F/4 is smaller than  F/2.8.

3.  Checkout the picture below :


I wanted all the pillars to be in sharp focus so I increased the F number to F/6.3. Both foreground and background is sharp.

4.  Larger the F number gives a bigger depth of field.

PHOTOMANTRA : Small F numbers for portraits.

Preshoot Checklist.

Here are five points you must check before you go on a photo shoot (not necessarily in that order) :

1. BATTERY : Charge your camera battery. Keep a spare one ready fully charged if it is going to be an extended photo shoot. Take the battery charger with you and check that you have the correct plug socket for international photo shoots.

2. SETTINGS : Check your camera settings like white balance, metering, ISO speed, image recording quality and auto focus mode and point. These vary depending on what you are shooting and the outside climate. To display the Quick Control Screen


on the LCD monitor of the Canon 60D DSLR camera press the 'Q' button behind the camera.

3. GEAR : Check that you have the appropriate lenses and camera bodies for the relevant shoots.  Forgetting the wide angle lens on a landscape shoot is unforgivable!


 4. RESEARCH : Do the research first. Look up the subject on the internet. Checkout similar photos on and other sites. Discuss it in online forums. Research your location and the weather on that day.

 5. MEMORY : Create space on your memory cards. Take extra memory cards along on extended photo-shoots.

Did I miss out on anything? Let me know in the comments.

Photography beginnings...

My father gifted my cousin a Russian twin lens reflex film camera circa 1970. Thus started our long association with photography.

My new toy camera: Lubitel 2

We had a lot of fun with that camera. As you can see from the above picture it has two lenses - one takes the picture and the other is used to view and compose the shot. It was not until we stared earning that we could afford a single lens reflex film camera.

Pentax K1000

A SLR camera enables you to capture exactly what you see through the viewfinder since it has a mirror and a pentaprism in it to direct the light rays to your eyes. The human eye is nature's camera but more about that in another post.....

The digital era ushered in the DSLR camera which differs from a SLR camera in that it has no film in it. Instead images are saved on to memory storage cards and transferred to computers later.

canon 60D

A DSLR camera enables you to experiment a lot without wasting a lot of money on developing and printing photographs. You can immediately delete bad photographs to make space for new ones on your memory card. Here is one of mine :


Let me know in the comments your bouquets or brickbats for the above picture....