Tips And Advice On The World Of Digital Photography


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Tips And Advice On The World Of Digital Photography

  1. 2. Holding the Camera <ul><li>How you hold your digital camera makes a big difference in sharpness. </li></ul>
  2. 3. <ul><li>I know you’ve seen this: someone hops out of a car at a beautiful setting, holding up their digital camera with one hand, the camera waving dangerously away from their body as they line up the scene in the LCD; then they punch the shutter and run back into the car. </li></ul>
  3. 4. <ul><li>That almost guarantees a less-than-sharp photo; sharpness they paid for in that camera’s lens and sensor. </li></ul>
  4. 5. <ul><li>Here’s how to hold and shoot with an SLR type camera (instructions for left and right hands are the same whether you are left or right handed; the camera is designed to be held one way for best sharpness): </li></ul>
  5. 6. <ul><li>Grab the right side of the camera with your right hand, thumb at the back, and index finger over the shutter. </li></ul>
  6. 7. <ul><li>The rest of your fingers curled around the front of the camera. </li></ul>
  7. 8. <ul><li>Many cameras have some sort of grip on this side just for this purpose. </li></ul>
  8. 9. <ul><li>Turn your left hand palm up and place the camera in your palm. </li></ul>
  9. 10. <ul><li>Curl your thumb around the left side of the lens. </li></ul>
  10. 11. <ul><li>Curl the rest of your fingers around the right side. The size of the lens will affect how you actually do this. Do whatever seems most comfortable. </li></ul>
  11. 12. <ul><li>For vertical shots, simply rotate the camera in the palm of your hand. Some photographers like their right hand at the top because it keeps fingers of both hands clear of each other. </li></ul>
  12. 13. <ul><li>Others like to move the right hand to the bottom because the arm is lower and can be kept more stable. </li></ul>
  13. 14. <ul><li>Despite the fact that the fingers get a bit jumbled. </li></ul>
  14. 15. <ul><li>Despite the fact that the fingers get a bit jumbled. </li></ul>
  15. 16. <ul><li>Keep your elbows in close to your sides. </li></ul>
  16. 17. <ul><li>It's not unusual to see people looking like birds, flapping their elbows as they try to take a picture. </li></ul>
  17. 18. <ul><li>Squeeze the camera shutter down gently. Never punch or jab it; that’ll move the camera. </li></ul>
  18. 19. It helps to push the shutter down halfway, and then a simple, firm movement of the finger sets off the shutter without much effort.
  19. 20. Never hold your breath. Try just holding your breath and you’ll see that you’ll start to shake.
  20. 21. Breathe quietly, though if you want the optimum technique, take a breath, then breathe out as you release the shutter (this is an Olympic sharpshooter technique).
  21. 22. Composition <ul><li>An essential part of taking any great photo is to simplify your image; and there’re many ways to do that: </li></ul>
  22. 23. <ul><li>Pay close attention to the predominant colors in your image, and eliminate any that create conflicts of calling unnecessary attention to themselves and to less important areas in the photograph. </li></ul>
  23. 24. <ul><li>Grabbing (and holding) the viewer’s eye. </li></ul><ul><li>Here are some things to consider that grab a viewer’s attention: </li></ul>
  24. 25. <ul><li>A clearly seen subject. </li></ul><ul><li>If you have to explain a photograph, then the subject isn’t clearly seen. </li></ul>
  25. 26. Dramatic light. Dramatic and interesting light on your scene always gains attention as long as it compliments and enhances your subject.
  26. 27. Unusual subjects. An unusual subject immediately gains attention as long as it’s clearly seen in the photograph. If you have to point it out, then it isn’t an effective photograph.
  27. 28. Uncommon angles. Show your subject from an angle that people don’t usually see. Get that camera down low or up high; and look at the side or back of the subject.
  28. 29. Isolate your subject. There’re many ways to make a subject stand out from its background.
  29. 30. Basically, you look for contrasts between the subject and its surroundings. Here are some you might try:
  30. 31. Brightness contrast. Move so your subject is against a background that’s lighter or darker than it is. This can be a very effective way of making a subject really pop out in a photograph.
  31. 32. Color contrast. Whole books have been written on colors and how they contrast with one another. The key is to look for colors that are different in the subject and background.
  32. 33. Sharpness contrast. Use depth of field to make your subject sharp and everything else soft in focus.
  33. 34. Use a telephoto lens. With a longer focal length, you can often separate your subject from the rest of the world simply by making your subject larger in the frame and eliminating distractions.
  34. 35. Use a wide-angle lens. Put on a wide-angle lens and get up close to the subject. This makes your subject big and its surroundings small.
  35. 36. Get your subject away from the background. Having a person move away from the wall is easy, but what about subjects that don’t move so easily? Find a different angle to your subject to change its relationship to the background.
  36. 37. Composition: Landscape Photography <ul><li>It’s necessary to have a strong graphic drawing-factor in your compositions, so be selective when selecting your foregrounds. </li></ul>
  37. 38. <ul><li>They need to be just as cleanly designed and well lit as any other part of your composition. </li></ul>
  38. 39. <ul><li>Think of the foreground as providing a clear and intriguing pathway into the scene; an element that leads the eyes into the image. </li></ul>
  39. 40. <ul><li>Examine the shapes and forms of the foreground to see how they might relate to objects beyond them. </li></ul>
  40. 41. The image can usually be enhanced by contrasts, like delicate flowers before rugged mountains or by similarities like rounded beach pebbles before wave-worn sea cliffs.
  41. 42. Improving Your Artistic Eye
  42. 43. <ul><li>Choose a good subject. </li></ul><ul><li>Subject choice is probably the most important part of the photographic process. </li></ul>
  43. 44. <ul><li>Don’t simply look for an interesting subject; find a way for it to be shown in a different or unusual manner. </li></ul>
  44. 45. Look for different things like how light and shadows touch an object, or textures, shapes, patterns, the way colors interact.
  45. 46. Once you’ve selected your subject, it’s paramount to maintain the balance of the shot.
  46. 47. Ask yourself: “ How well does everything fit?”
  47. 48. “ Is something important running of the edge?”
  48. 49. “ Is the essence or subject of the photograph distracted by other elements in the image?”
  49. 50. “ Have I distilled the image down to what its really all about?”
  50. 51. Try different compositions. The rule of thirds is a good guideline to help your photo design.
  51. 52. It separates the picture’s frame into a grid, with two evenly spaced horizontal and vertical lines dividing the image into thirds.
  52. 53. Then, when placing the subject at the intersections of these lines, the picture becomes more visually pleasing because the subject is not centered or symmetrical.
  53. 54. However, keep in mind that this tried-and-true technique isn’t always the best choice for a composition.
  54. 55. Practice by proofing. Just like writing an essay, you ‘proof read’ your image by checking it on your LCD, but once you’ve left the place, it’s like you have handed your essay in for grading.
  55. 56. As always, you’ll learn from your mistakes; even after you’ve left the location, look back at your photographs and examine and study them; that’s where the learning takes place.
  56. 57. Experiment. There’re so many ways to experiment in photography. Take the time to shoot the same scene at varied exposures.
  57. 58. Try filters for different levels of color saturation or effects and photograph at different depths of field.
  58. 59. Rules are a great thing to keep in mind after the start, but then you’ve definitely got to experiment and just try anything that comes to mind.
  59. 60. Enhancing Creativity
  60. 61. We all have shooting styles and techniques that we’re comfortable with; but to grow creatively we need to work outside our comfort zone.
  61. 62. A simple exercise is to determine how you like to photograph usually, and then select a completely different lens and shoot with that lens all day.
  62. 63. For example, if you were to shoot a landscape with a wide-angle lens usually, a completely different lens would be a telephoto lens.
  63. 64. No matter what subjects you’ll encounter, you’ll have to figure out a way to capture the scene using the lens.
  64. 65. This can be a very frustrating process, but before you know it, you’ll be trying new techniques and angles you never would’ve seen otherwise.
  65. 66. If you ever find yourself just standing there taking photographs of a subject, you’re doing something completely wrong.
  66. 67. Simply, get down low or up high, but never be lazy and just take a normal snapshot.
  67. 68. One photographer always carries around a ladder with him, and he would set it up on lake shores, in rivers, on top of glaciers; all to get a unique perspective that would’ve been impossible without a ladder.
  68. 69. Using a ladder may be impractical, say compared to a tilt-shift lens, but the cheapest tilt-shift lens out there costs at least US $1,000 (QR 3,650), and most ladders don’t cost that much!
  69. 70. Scrutinize the details. This is a tried-and-true technique to improve your natural awareness.
  70. 71. The idea is simple: find a piece of ground, anything from a small yard to a whole field, and spend the day photographing it.
  71. 72. In the beginning, you’ll find lots of subjects to photograph, but after some time you’ll have to start digging harder for images.
  72. 73. By the day’s end, you’ll be photographing blades of grass you never knew existed, and using angles you never imagined.
  73. 74. This can also be applied to moving subjects, and you can then easily discover details you might’ve missed previously.
  74. 75. Don’t let weather get you down. Arm yourself and your camera with weather appropriate protection, and get out there.
  75. 76. Use the weather to your advantage in composition and effects, or perhaps as a background for a gloomy picture. The possibilities are endless; get out there and experiment.
  76. 77. Exposure Creativity
  77. 78. Pan and Blur. This tried-and-true technique is a great way to spice up your images. Depending on how fast your subject is moving, a good starting shutter speed is around 1/15 sec.
  78. 79. The trick with pan-and-blur is to capture your subject with just enough sharpness to anchor the shot, while the background is pleasantly blurred.
  79. 80. It generally takes multiple passes photographing a subject until one is captured and has the right balance of sharpness and blur.
  80. 81. Use a tripod when possible, as it helps to steady your shot. A tripod (pan-and-tilt heads are very effective) also makes it easier to track your subject along an even plane.
  81. 82. Silky landscapes. Water is a component of many landscape images, and the creative question you must ask yourself is “Will the image look better with the water frozen in place or silky and blurred?”
  82. 83. If you want to get a soft water effect, try shutter speeds around ¼ to 3 sec. These speeds will retain a little detail and contrast in the water.
  83. 84. If you want to have some fun, try shooting really slow, around 15 to 30 seconds.
  84. 85. In order to get these slow shutter speeds, set your aperture to f/22, and try adding a polarizing filter to reduce the light another one to two stops; this should put your shutter speed around a few seconds.
  85. 86. To get really slow speeds, you may need to add a Neutral Density (ND) filter to block some of the light entering your lens.
  86. 87. Action-Stopper. On the other end of the spectrum of motion photography are action-freezing, blazing shutter speeds: 1/1000 sec., 1/2000 sec. and even higher.
  87. 88. The goal is to eliminate any blur in the image. This doesn’t mean you’re eliminating the sense of motion; you’re only eliminating blur in the shot.
  88. 89. To really stop the action, start with a shutter speed of 1/1000 sec. This speed normally freezes the action, but you may need to go even faster, depending on the subject.
  89. 90. The compromise is that you’ll need a large aperture to allow enough light in for the proper exposure. With the improved low noise of the newer digital cameras, try dialing up your ISO to 400 or 800 to gain extra speed.
  90. 91. The other consideration is getting sharp focus on your subject. There are two ways to accomplish this: predictive focus tracking or pre-focus.
  91. 92. Pre-focus is when you set and lock your focus on a composition, and wait for the subject to come into your composition. Pre-focus is a must for (older) cameras that don’t have fast enough focus tracking.
  92. 93. However, today’s cameras are amazingly accurate with their focus tracking, and it isn’t expensive making it something normal in entry-level models.
  93. 94. Star trails. Star trails require the slowest of all shutter speeds to capture their movement in the night sky.
  94. 95. Exposures of 45 minutes and longer are required to capture significant movement of the stars when using a wide-angle lens.
  95. 96. To shoot star trails, first make sure your battery is fully charged. Next, employ a tripod and a cable release with a lock.
  96. 97. Try setting your white balance to Incandescent for star trails; this white balance gives the night sky a stunning indigo blue color. Also, if your camera features long-exposure noise reduction, turn it on.
  97. 98. The challenge with hour-long exposures is reducing the amount of noise in the final image. By turning on noise reduction in your camera, you’ll get a much cleaner image.
  98. 99. Just remember that the noise reduction process in your camera takes the same amount of time as the exposure. So a one-hour exposure will take one hour to process before you see an image on your LCD!
  99. 100. Try finding the North Star in the sky and place this in your image. This results in the stars all rotating around a central point.
  100. 101. Also, try and find an interesting foreground, maybe some trees or a rock formation, to anchor the shot.
  101. 102. If you want to go wild, try light-painting your foreground with a small flashlight and then leave your shutter open for an hour.
  102. 103. Push-Pull. Another way to add motion to a static subject (or a moving subject) requires a zoom lens.
  103. 104. Start by choosing a slow shutter speed, somewhere around ½ sec. or slower. This means choosing you smallest ISO, an aperture around f/22 and maybe adding a polarizing filter to reduce more light.
  104. 105. Next, set your zoom to one end of its zoom range. Then, while taking the shot, zoom in or out with the shutter open. This results in wild streaks of motion from a center point.
  105. 106. Push-pull refers to lenses that require you to push or pull the zoom ring to change the focal length. Use a tripod with this method because it allows you to get a tack-sharp center point.
  106. 107. Here are some tips for shutter speeds you might try with different action:
  107. 108. Running water. Water blurs start to really flow and give that streaming look starting at about ½ seconds of exposure. Longer exposures blur the water more, and it starts taking on a milky look with exposure times of several seconds.
  108. 109. Waves in big water. Wave blur creates interesting patterns; breaking waves have a mist-like appearance with long exposures. Waves on big water need very long exposures to get interesting results.
  109. 110. You’ll find that several seconds are usually the minimum, and that long exposures of 10-20 seconds or more give the most interesting results.
  110. 111. People at walking speed. You can get some nice blurred effects at around ¼ - 1/8 second, especially if you pan with the subject.
  111. 112. Longer shutter speeds create interesting patterns, even to the effect of “ghosting” parts of the body (they literally disappear).
  112. 113. People running. Runners need faster shutter speeds, and panning is almost always the best way to go. Try speeds starting around 1/8 – 1/15 second, then experiment with slower speeds.
  113. 114. With panning, you’ll be surprised at the fascinating (and unpredictable) results you get at slower shutter speeds.
  114. 115. Dancers. You can get some incredible effects with dancers at slow shutter speeds. This varies depending on the speed of the dance. Start with ¼ - 1/8 second, and then experiment with slower speeds until you find something you like.
  115. 116. Running animals. Animals at speed make for great pan-blur shots. Animals run differently, so the blurs will look different with different species and require different shutter speeds.
  116. 117. Try ¼ second with panning to start, and then go faster for faster animals, slower for slower animals. Speeds as fast as 1/15 second can be very effective with animals with fast moving legs and a lot of up-and-down movement.
  117. 118. Fast cars. A classic shot for high-speed automobile racing is the panned shot with the car sharp and the background blurred.
  118. 119. You need to have a shutter speed fast enough to give the car good sharpness, yet slow enough to provide interesting blurs to the background.
  119. 120. This, of course, is affected by the speed of the cars and your angle to them. Try something around 1/15 – 1/30 second to start.
  120. 121. Night street scenes. Long exposures many seconds long give fascinating streaks of light from cars. Set up your camera for an interesting night scene with the road going through the composition.
  121. 122. Wait for a set of cars to come and start your exposure just as they reach your composition. You’ll see white streaks from headlights, red streaks from taillights.
  122. 123. It depends on your scene as to how long an exposure you need; generally you want an exposure that’ll let at least some cars to go completely through the scene or you’ll get chopped off streaks.
  123. 124. Blowing leaves. A fascinating use of blur is to photograph trees and grass in the wind. You get some great patterns, colors, and tones. Shutter speed is entirely dependent on the wind.
  124. 125. On a very windy day, a speed of ½ second might be plenty. On another day, you may need 1 second or more.
  125. 126. Fireworks. Fireworks are great motion blur subjects. You generally want an exposure long enough to allow the fireworks to create a nice pattern of colorful streamers. Typically, several seconds is about right.
  126. 127. Noise Noise, the digital equivalent of film grain, can be a challenge to overcome. It appears as an irregular, sand-like texture that, if small, is essentially invisible; if large, it can be unsightly and a distraction from your image.
  127. 128. Noise can have color to it (chromatic noise) or only vary in brightness (luminance noise).
  128. 129. The best way to battle noise is to understand what it is, why it happens and how to avoid or reduce it in the first place. Noise results from many causes:
  129. 130. Sensor noise. Sensors always have some sort of noise, and reducing sensor noise has been one of the major research efforts of camera manufacturers.
  130. 131. Such noise is due to several factors, including heat from the electronics and the way the sensor is put together. Sensor noise increases as the number of pixels increases within a given sensor size.
  131. 132. However, this is mitigated by the fact that noise-reduction technologies have improved as fast as megapixels have increased.
  132. 133. High ISO speeds. Noise emerges when using high ISO speeds. Increasing the ISO in a digital camera is like turning up the volume control on a radio.
  133. 134. When stations are weak, and you increase the volume, the static gets louder, too. Something similar happens when you increase ISO speed.
  134. 135. Heat. Sensors don’t like heat, yet they heat up with use. As sensors become hotter, noise tends to increase. This is especially true with long exposures.
  135. 136. Increasing exposure time beyond a second or two makes your sensor work harder, increasing noise. That is why many cameras have automatic noise-reduction features for long exposures.
  136. 137. Digital artifacts. An artifact is anything that occurs in a photograph from technology and not from the scene itself. Noise is an artifact.
  137. 138. JPEG artifacts. These artifacts are caused by image compression and reconstruction of an image when it’s opened in the computer. Higher levels of compression result in more JPEG artifacts.
  138. 139. To counter noise and its effects, you need to start when you first take the picture. Many of the causes of noise can be controlled as you photograph.
  139. 140. You can’t change your sensor, nor can you change the way the sensor deals with long exposures, but you can control many of the other factors. Here are some ideas:
  140. 141. Use low ISOs whenever you can. Be careful not to go overboard with this. Some people get pictures that are blurry because they used too slow a shutter speed as a consequence of too low an ISO.
  141. 142. It’s better to have sharp pictures that have some noise than to have blurry pictures with no noise. Still, when you can, use lower ISO settings, especially if you can use a tripod or other support.
  142. 143. Turn on noise reduction for long exposures. When you turn on noise reduction for long exposures, you’ll find that your exposures take more processing time before you see the results in your LCD.
  143. 144. Typically, this time will be equal to or double your actual shutter-speed time; if you had a one-minute exposure, you might wait another minute or two minutes before you see an image.
  144. 145. Sometimes photographers don’t like this, so they turn off noise reduction. However, noise reduction for long exposures works and reduces the time spent later removing the noise.
  145. 146. Keep your camera cool. At times, we photograph in hot conditions. Look for opportunities to keep your camera from getting too hot.
  146. 147. If you shoot JPEG, use the highest-quality setting. This minimizes any problems you might have with JPEG artifacts.
  147. 148. Capturing in RAW and JPEG Deciding to capture in RAW or JPEG depends on the final use of your images.
  148. 149. Capturing in RAW format gives more image data in bigger files, and it’s favored if you want to make high-quality, sharp, large-sized prints, or to sell your images for use in advertising.
  149. 150. If you’re not planning on printing in large formats, capturing in RAW may not be worth the disadvantages:
  150. 151. Big file sizes equal fewer images per memory card, besides the fact that all RAW images must be post processed using image-editing software to be used in any other format.
  151. 152. However, with the RAW capture, your options for optimizing your images are significantly improved as more data offers better gradations in solid color areas and the possibility of more information in dark areas of the image.
  152. 153. On the other hand, JPEG captures have smaller files; and less information in them.
  153. 154. While a JPEG file is capable of making a large print, an image with exposure, contrast or color problems needs extensive work in image-editing software, which can be difficult to accomplish at times.
  154. 155. JPEGs are fine for small prints or the Internet, but the main advantage is that JPEG files can be minimally processed within the camera, and are more compatible in devices that cannot read RAW files.
  155. 156. Photographers sometimes capture simultaneously in JPEG and RAW to take the advantages of both formats:
  156. 157. Ease of immediately using or viewing the JPEG files, while preserving the maximum amount of data in the RAW versions for possible future large prints or commercial use.
  157. 158. But the only disadvantage is fewer images fitting on a memory card; capturing RAW and JPEG simultaneously (or even RAW alone) takes up as much space as 7 JPEGs (at least) captured alone.
  158. 159. Here are some quick pros and cons on each format, and in the end, it’s really up to you to choose what format you’re going to capture in and use:
  159. 160. JPEG is ubiquitous. You’ll never have a problem opening a JPEG file on any computer.
  160. 161. RAW files, however, need processing before they can be universally seen, plus they’re proprietary files for each camera manufacturer and camera model, so they need special software to use them.
  161. 162. RAW is a big format with lots of room to adjust. Most cameras shoot at 12-bit with 4,000 tones per color, significantly more than 8-bit, then record those 12-bits into a 16-bit file.
  162. 163. JPEG is fast. Since JPEG file is a compressed file, redundant data has been removed in order in order to make a smaller file.
  163. 164. This is done extremely fast by the camera’s internal processor in order to create a much smaller file than RAW; that can be handled very quickly by the camera, by the memory card, and eventually, by your computer.
  164. 165. RAW is very adaptable. If you have white balance issues, for example, you can correct them very easily in your RAW converter with no change in quality.
  165. 166. You can correct bad color in a JPEG file, but there’ll be image degradation from that processing.
  166. 167. RAW files deal with finely graded tones better than JPEG. When your scene has soft and gentle gradations of tones, JPEG can struggle with them as the images are processed.
  167. 168. Gradations have always been a challenge for digital because they’re continuous and digital isn’t. Digital is ultimately based on a finite number of megapixels and memory.
  168. 169. With more data to work with (as in RAW), gentle gradations can be processed more than with JPEG.
  169. 170. JPEG is convenient. You can photograph scenes on a trip, for example, then walk into almost any photo processing lab and have prints made immediately from those images. You can’t do that with RAW.
  170. 171. JPEG gives small files that allow you to fit more images onto a memory card or hard drive. JPEG also results in a simpler workflow in the computer (or even printing photos directly on a photo printer without going through a computer).
  171. 172. RAW gives more details in dark and light areas. JPEG files have much less information from those parts of the image, so they can’t provide data that RAW can give.
  172. 173. Memory All memory cards are very durable; you can spill water all over them, and they would still work (after the water evaporates of course).
  173. 174. That’s because all the internal components are sealed in plastic; however, the most vulnerable part of any card is usually the contacts. Damaged pins or flat contacts can render a card dead.
  174. 175. If a memory card is going to fail, it’ll fail early in its life. Always put a new card in your camera and format it. If it doesn’t format, return it to the store and exchange it for a new one.
  175. 176. Never buy a card at the last minute, before going on a trip. Be sure your cards are working properly beforehand.
  176. 177. Buy high-quality memory cards, not the cheapest, high-volume cards.
  177. 178. Format your card regularly to clean up its file structure.
  178. 179. Be careful of memory card contacts. You don’t have to worry about the card getting damaged itself short of being run over by a car, but the contacts can give you problems.
  179. 180. Never push batteries to their maximum. Change them as they get low (around 10%), before they lose power just as your favorite scene is being saved.
  180. 181. Never take out a memory card when the camera is still writing to it. This is common with people shoot a burst of images (holding down the shutter while set to continuous shooting).
  181. 182. Most cameras have a light telling you if the memory is being accessed, make sure it’s off before you take the card out. In fact, don’t even open the door to the card slot until the camera is off!
  182. 183. Keep them clean. Keep skin oil off of the contacts, specifically Secure Digital (SD) cards.
  183. 184. Reformat your card in your camera rather than reformatting it in your computer.
  184. 185. Macro Photography
  185. 186. Use a close-focusing wide-angle lens.
  186. 187. Get down low enough to get into that environment. The more dramatic shots come when the background is recognizable as a real environment for your subject.
  187. 188. Try a shallow depth of field. Sometimes a shallow depth of field from a large aperture is more effective in showing off your subject.
  188. 189. A digital camera with a tilting or swivel live LCD lets you get low-angle shots more easily than any other way.
  189. 190. Try a deep depth of field, perhaps using a wide-angle, from a small aperture.
  190. 191. Low-angle tripods help. Look for tripods that spread the legs out for a lower angle or tripods designed specifically for low work.
  191. 192. Find the sun. While exposure and flare can be challenging, you can compose dramatic images by shooting low enough to the subject that you can get the sun coming through in the background.
  192. 193. Use a lens shade (also called a lens hood) if your camera can take one. This isn’t for keeping out the sun, but to keep branches, twigs, grass, fingers and other distracting elements away from the lens.
  193. 194. Use your knee to brace your camera, as it helps in composing a low shot quickly and in stabilizing the camera for slow shutter speeds.
  194. 195. Portrait Photography
  195. 196. Spending time with your subjects before photographing them gives you more time to absorb their environment and allows them to get comfortable with you while you look for interesting backgrounds.
  196. 197. Then when the time feels right, simply ask, with a gesture or in their language, “Can I take your picture?”. Don’t be shy; you’ll never get the shot if you don’t ask! Besides, most people don’t mind being photographed and will gladly pose for a shot.
  197. 198. Relax the subject. Most people aren’t used to being in front of the camera and can get a little self-conscious about this special attention. Talk to your subjects and try and find some common ground for conversation.
  198. 199. Don’t just walk up and say hello and start shooting because this will make your subject nervous.
  199. 200. Your subject’s hands and face are indicators of how relaxed they are; they reveal tension easily, and if your subject has a pained expression, your shot won’t work.
  200. 201. Try to maintain a running dialogue while shooting to help your subject stay relaxed. Posing the hands is often the key to making a strong shot. Try putting something in the hands of your subject, and you’re almost guaranteed a relaxed subject.
  201. 202. Choose the background. Almost as important as your subject is the background behind them. Backgrounds can make or break a portrait.
  202. 203. If your background is too busy, chances are this’ll detract from your image. On the other hand, if your background contributes some context or information about your subject, then it can be an asset to your image.
  203. 204. Lens choice and your camera angle contribute a lot to the final image. The classic portrait lenses are middle telephotos in the 85-135mm range. This focal length gives a pleasing look to your subject and a nice angle of view.
  204. 205. Sometimes though, in tight locations, wide angles, like a standard zoom lens, in the 17-35mm range are the best lenses for the job. Elongated, big heads don’t look good, so you have to be careful when composing with a wide-angle lens.
  205. 206. Your shooting angle also adds a lot to the final image. If you were to photograph a CEO and want to convey power, then you’d shoot from a low angle looking up. This would create a visual illusion for the viewer that the subject is standing over them and is dominant.
  206. 207. A ladder can be useful in case you want to get a high angle, which is great for showing your subject and their surroundings. When you photograph a small child, get low and photograph them from their perspective, not standing above them looking down.
  207. 208. High-Speed Photography You probably won’t always be in a situation where you’ll be photographing a subject speeding towards or past you at 300 km/h.
  208. 209. However, you may find yourself photographing fast moving subjects such as darting birds, dashing animals and running athletes or skiers, high divers, snowboarders, skateboarders and wakeboards flying through the air.
  209. 210. Here are some tips that’ll help you in high-speed photography, whichever situation you happen to be in.
  210. 211. Anticipate the action. Knowing where the action will occur, and finding a shooting position from which to capture that action, is the first step to getting amazing action shots.
  211. 212. Knowing about the subject, how fast it moves, in what direction it moves and so on, helps you get good shots. Research your subject, and you’ll cut down on the number of surprises you’ll encounter on site.
  212. 213. Keep both eyes open. Shooting with both eyes open, with one focused through the view finder on the subject and the other viewing what’s happening around the scene in the view finder, will help you see where the subject is going, as well as what subjects may come into the scene.
  213. 214. Shooting with both eyes open takes some practice, for sure, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll never go back to one-eyed shooting again.
  214. 215. Carefully select your shutter speed and aperture. To freeze fast-moving subjects, you need to shoot at a fast shutter speed, at least 1/500 sec., but sometimes, as is the case with motor sports, as fast as 1/2000 sec.
  215. 216. Use your camera’s shutter priority mode to keep your shutter speed consistent, even if the light level changes. When choosing an aperture, you usually want the entire subject in focus.
  216. 217. Choose an aperture that offers enough depth of field to accomplish that goal, and keep in mind that, as the focal length of the lens increases, the depth of field at the set aperture decreases.
  217. 218. As a starting point, use an aperture of f/8 (most lenses are sharpest are f/8 or near their median aperture setting).
  218. 219. Consider your ISO. To maintain a fast shutter speed and an aperture that’ll give you the desired depth of field, you may have to boost your ISO setting, even in bright light, especially if you are using a telephoto zoom lens with an aperture of f/4 or smaller.
  219. 220. As you boost the ISO, digital noise in a picture increases. Finally, ask yourself this question: “Would I rather have a slightly noisy picture or a picture that’s out of focus?”
  220. 221. Also, keep in mind that, as the price of a digital SLR increases, the noise in the files typically decreases. That’s one reason why serious sports shooters use top-of-the-line cameras.
  221. 222. Set your frame rate. Action photography requires setting the frame rate on your camera to rapid continuous capture.
  222. 223. Another reason why pros choose high-end digital SLR cameras is because they typically offer a faster frames-per-second (fps) rate than entry-level models. Keep in mind that RAW files take longer to write to a memory card than JPEG files.
  223. 224. If you’re shooting an action sequence of many frames with your image quality set to RAW, your camera can temporarily lock up during writing process, and you could miss a shot.
  224. 225. For that reason, some action shooters prefer to shoot high-quality JPEG files.
  225. 226. Use high-speed/high-capacity memory cards. High-speed shooters use 4 and 8 GB cards so they don’t miss a shot due to the need to change during the action. They also use write-accelerated cards for faster camera-to-card writing speed.
  226. 227. General Camera Care Dust is a problem for digital cameras, especially DSLRs.
  227. 228. On a sensor it creates unwanted spots, which are very noticeable on the image in light areas such as the sky.
  228. 229. Technically, the dust is on a protective piece of glass in front of the sensor, not the sensor itself.
  229. 230. Many cameras, even entry-level models, have built-in dust removal capabilities as a standard. These cameras implement sonic vibrations to knock dust from the sensor, anti-static coatings on the glass over the sensor, and vibrating sensors to shake dust off.
  230. 231. Frankly, even if you do have a camera with dust removal capabilities, you’re going to keep your dust problems to a minimum if you follow some of these steps. Here’s how to keep dust spots from appearing in your photos:
  231. 232. Changing lenses. Be careful about how you change your lenses. First, turn off the camera. This shuts off power to the sensor and lessens any possibility of a static charge that might attract dust.
  232. 233. Also, change lenses quickly. Have the lens ready before you take the camera lens off so the new lens can go on the camera immediately. It’s not recommended to change your lenses in dusty or windy conditions for obvious reasons.
  233. 234. Keep your camera and lenses clean. Use a blower or a soft brush to brush off the outside of your camera and lenses. Use a slightly damp (not wet) cotton cloth to clean the outer surfaces if you’ve been in dusty locations.
  234. 235. Clean your camera bag. If conditions are dusty or dirty; or if you’ve been using a bag steadily over a period of time, get out the vacuum cleaner and thoroughly clean out that bag. If a bag gets beat up and really dirty, get a new bag. Also, opt for a hard bag for maximum protection and life.
  235. 236. Caution (and disclaimer). If you’re unsure about cleaning your DSLR’s sensor, don’t take the risk. Take it to an authorized dealer for cleaning. It’s better to pay someone to clean your sensor than it is to buy a new camera.
  236. 237. Clean your DSLR’s sensor. This is something you have to be very careful of. You want to be sure you don’t damage anything on or around the sensor.
  237. 238. First, be sure it’s needed by this simple test: point your camera at a blank sky and take a photograph of it with on stop over-exposure of the sky.
  238. 239. Now look at that shot carefully, enlarge it, move it around in the LCD. Do you see any soft-edged black dots? Those are dust spots. If you don’t see any, you don’t have to clean your sensor (though it doesn’t hurt to blow out the mirror once in a while as described next).
  239. 240. Follow the directions and cautions expressed in your camera’s manual very carefully (and be sure your battery is fully charged).
  240. 241. In general, take the lens off the camera (in a windless area, preferably indoors), with the camera pointed down so the lens opening faces down (this minimizes the risk of dust falling into the opening, and gravity may help remove existing debris).
  241. 242. Set the camera to its sensor cleaning mode, blow out the inside of the camera with a strong bulb blower, turn the camera off, and put the lens back on. Be sure you don’t touch anything inside the camera with the tip of the blower.
  242. 243. Caution. Avoid using compressed air; the propellants can come out and damage the sensor.
  243. 244. Cleaning your camera’s lenses should be a regular (although not too regular, once a month is fine) part of any camera owner’s maintenance. While you do need to be very careful during this process it’s not something to be frightened about.
  244. 245. The best time to clean a lens is when it’s dirty, don’t get in the habit of cleaning it daily or you’ll do more damage than good. However, when the time comes to clean it here are a few simple tips:
  245. 246. Lens cleaning fluid. In most camera stores you’ll find an alcohol based lens cleaning fluid that’s well worth having. It’ll help you lift off fingerprints and other smudges without leaving streaks on your lens or filter.
  246. 247. Keep in mind that you don’t need too much of this fluid at a time, usually just a drop or two, wiped in a gentle circular motion with a cleaning tissue, will remove most marks on a lens or filter.
  247. 248. Always apply the fluid to a cloth or tissue rather than the lens itself. Alternatively, many photographers believe that simply breathing on your lens and then wiping with a cloth is a safer method for cleaning it, rather than introducing harsh fluids.
  248. 249. My own approach is to start with breath and then use the fluids for difficult marks.
  249. 250. Cleaning tissues. To apply the cleaning fluid grab yourself some lens tissues. They’re very thin paper that’ll let you wipe your lenses without scratching them.
  250. 251. These tissues are one-use tissues and should be thrown away after using. Don’t use normal facial tissues, these are too rough and will scratch your lens.
  251. 252. Cleaning cloth. An alternative to cleaning tissues is the more modern microfiber cleaning cloth. These washable cloths grab a hold of dust and oils on your lens.
  252. 253. The main thing to be aware of with them is to keep them clean themselves with a regular wash; alternatively just buy yourself a new one as they’re very cheap to buy and that’ll negate the risk of wiping something from your wash onto your lens.
  253. 254. Before using a cloth always check the lens to make sure you don’t have any large pieces of grit on it. The last thing you want to do is wipe it into your lens causing a scratch. Remove any large gritty dust using a blower or brush before wiping.
  254. 255. Blowers. Most camera stores sell blowers of different varieties. Before you use a blower make sure you squeeze it a few times first to get any dust that might be inside it, out.
  255. 256. Brushes. If you have a lot of dust on your camera one good tool to get the big stuff off is a brush. Get one with fine and soft hair (camel hair) to avoid scratching your lens.
  256. 257. Similarly you might like to invest in a lens cleaning pen which has a retractable brush on one end and a cleaning pad on the other.
  257. 258. Silica gel. One last preventative measure. Grab some silica gel sachets to throw into the bottom of your camera bag.
  258. 259. These little sachets will draw any moisture in your bag to them to save your lenses and DSLR from being impacted by it. Keep changing the sachets over time or they’ll attract too much water and become useless.
  259. 260. Much of the above cleaning gear is pretty low cost and will be available from a good camera store (often as a full kit). Don’t go for the cheapest though, when you’re looking after gear that you’ve paid big money for, it can be worth paying a little extra to ensure quality.
  260. 261. Camera Care for the Extreme Weather Cold Conditions:
  261. 262. Moisture kills cameras. Use a plastic bag to stop condensation from forming on you high-tech electrical cameras.
  262. 263. A well-padded camera bag is essential for keeping condensation out of your cameras. The thicker the camera padding, the slower the camera warms.
  263. 264. In snowy conditions, use a one-inch paintbrush to remove the larger concentrations of snow before placing the equipment in the bags.
  264. 265. Keep extra camera batteries inside your coat next to your body. Once the battery in the camera gets cold, or when the charge meter is mysteriously very low for such a short usage time, swap it out for the one in your pocket.
  265. 266. At tip for the photographer. Thick soles are the key to keeping your feet warm, so you want those soles to be at least an inch thick, the more the better.
  266. 267. Camera Care for the Extreme Weather Warm Conditions:
  267. 268. A damp towel placed over a large lens and the camera body reduces dust. Obviously, the towel shouldn’t be dripping wet. Squeeze out all the excess moisture before using this method, and exercise caution.
  268. 269. A one-inch paintbrush comes in handy for dusty conditions too. Use it to remove the day’s dust that was accumulated.
  269. 270. Take as many camera bodies as you can afford. If you can put on one lens on one body and not change it the entire trip, you’ll cut down on sensor dust dramatically.
  270. 271. General Tips/Advice
  271. 272. Have passion for the subject; try narrowing your list of qualified themes to only a few topics, and concentrate your efforts there.
  272. 273. When you become familiar with a place by returning to it often, you gain valuable information about the place like lighting and weather among other things that boil down to experience.
  273. 274. You recall things and set out to capture the image that you couldn’t the last time, as well as using your hindsight to fix mistakes, take pre-cautions, or simply be prepared appropriately.
  274. 275. Avoid repetition if you can help it. This mostly happens when photographers return to the same location often, and sometimes they catch themselves taking the same composition or using the same exposure or perspective; and so on.
  275. 276. If you’ve already captured a substantially successful image using the repeated elements, then you must be willing to play and experiment; there’s no risk, no pressure to succeed and most importantly no great loss if another successful image is not made.
  276. 277. Try and be as aware and knowledgeable as possible on other peoples work, especially those with the same themes as yours.
  277. 278. That way, you’re less likely to create cliché work, and have set out to create fresh imagery verses recreating photographs.
  278. 279. Basically, this is to keep people from taking the same picture as somebody else and claiming it as their own; so keep in mind that it’s perfectly fine to be inspired by somebody’s work and visit the same location, for example, and take photographs like the ones they made, but not same.
  279. 280. Note that some beginners and amateurs attempt to capture the same exact image as somebody else, usually a pro.
  280. 281. The reasoning behind this is very simple: if I’m capable of capturing an image that’s very close to the one this pro took, on my own, then I’m gaining valuable experience and knowledge, in addition to a key thing (best case scenario): understanding how a pro works and what their chain of thought is like.
  281. 282. Please use this technique as a method of practice only.
  282. 283. Patience, Patience, Patience. The energy of a new discovery is a double sided sword, it can be an advantage, but it can also be distracting.
  283. 284. If you’re ever in such a scenario, relax and take a deep breath to get your focus back, in order to see the landscape more clearly. It’s favored to use a calm and meditative approach to find harmony with your environment, especially in new locations.
  284. 285. Shooting nature during midday can be difficult to photograph. Try using a polarizing filter to help deepen the midday sky, and a 2- and 3-stop graduated (soft) ND filter to help reduce contrast between sky and land near sunrise and sunset. Hard-edge split ND filters can be very effective in these conditions as well.
  285. 286. Get out more, magic happens. The more time you spend outdoors, where your favorite subjects are, the more likely you are to be at the right place at the right time to experience and photograph them.
  286. 287. There’s always an element of luck in getting a special image, no matter how well planned. There’s no public schedule for luck, superb light doesn’t take reservations, and dramatic skies don’t appear on command. Your best chance of finding something unique is to give something unique a better chance of finding you.
  287. 288. Be serious. Take subjects seriously, take your camera seriously and, more than anything, take yourself seriously.
  288. 289. Believe that you can make great images, believe that whatever camera you’re holding right now is capable of capturing great images and believe that there’re great images to be found wherever you are.
  289. 290. A common mistake is to dismiss a special moment for lack of faith in your own abilities or the abilities of the camera you happen to have with you.
  290. 291. When you come upon an interesting subject, take your time, study it and ask yourself: “What can I do with this?” and “Is this really the best possible composition?”
  291. 292. Don’t let yourself off the hook, cut corners or underestimate your viewers. To put it bluntly: Nobody cares why an image doesn’t work or why an image almost works.
  292. 293. Good gear takes you only so far. Your equipment plays a major role in photography. By having the right gear, you give yourself a natural advantage, but only up to a point.
  293. 294. What’s important is to keep in mind the role gear plays in photography and to consider its value in that limited context. Good gear will enable you to make technically good images.
  294. 295. Gear won’t make your images more evocative. It won’t improve your composition. It won’t make the light better. It won’t make the subject any more interesting and, consequently, it won’t make your images more successful.
  295. 296. If you compare a fine image to a fine meal, remember that even the best and most expensive dinnerware won’t make your food taste any better.
  296. 297. So buy gear that can capture sufficient detail for the size prints you want to make (so you don’t have to worry about how to fix that later) and can help you make good exposure decisions (so you don’t have to worry about how to fix that later).
  297. 298. Buy gear that can give you sufficient support and stability to make sharp images (who wants to worry about how to fix that later?) and that provides flexibility in framing your composition (so you don’t have to worry about how to fix that later).
  298. 299. Buy gear that is sufficiently light and comfortable to carry wherever you go. With all those worries out of the way, go about making images.
  299. 300. Heed the importance of a tripod. Maximum sharpness comes from using any camera/lens combination on a tripod. Period. If you want to get the most out of your equipment, at some point, you’ll need a tripod.
  300. 301. Choose a tripod by setting it up at the store, locking all the legs, and leaning on it. It shouldn’t bend or sway significantly; any movement more than a few millimeters will give you a less than stable tripod, which won’t give sharp images.
  301. 302. Both metal and carbon fiber tripods are excellent options. The advantage of metal is lower price; the advantage of carbon fiber is less weight.
  302. 303. A tripod also needs a sturdy head to go with it. Pan-and-tilt heads have many levers to lock and unlock, compared to a ballhead that has a single main knob or lever.
  303. 304. On the other hand, the pan-and-tilt has two advantages: lower price for equal stability and ease in locking a camera into position without the camera and lens taking off on their own.
  304. 305. The ballhead is much more convenient for setting camera position, but since the lock tightens and loosens all dimensional movement, there’s more potential for sudden change in unexpected direction.
  305. 306. Smaller ballheads aren’t very useful at stabilizing a heavy camera such as a DSLR. You can get very lightweight, yet large enough, ballheads.
  306. 307. Buy ballheads with a quick release, and then get extra release plates (incase you loose one) for all the tripod sockets on your cameras and lenses. Quick releases make tripods easier to use.
  307. 308. Take your camera with you when choosing a tripod, you can test it on site with your own gear to make sure it’ll work for your specific needs.
  308. 309. Your comments are extremely valuable (no really, they are!). Seriously, this is my graduation project (from grade 10 to 11) so I really need your feedback. Check out the next slide for more info.
  309. 310. Any feedback is welcome, however, the goal of this project is (quote) “to help people take photographs that are close to professional standards, as well as providing professional tips and advice concerning the use of a digital camera’s numerous functions, in addition to general tips and advice.” So feedback regarding the achievement of that goal would be most appreciated.