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Thread: Beginning photographer looking to take lasting photos (Grand Canyon)

  1. #1

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    Beginning photographer looking to take lasting photos (Grand Canyon)

    Hello,

    I am just starting photography and as such, I took the plunge and picked up my first batch of time stopping, memory saving, moment capturing gear of greatness!

    The gear I picked up is as follows:

    - Canon 40d - KEH.com, E+ quality
    - Tamron 17-50 f2.8 - Ebay - 100% reseller
    - Tamron 70-300mm f/4.0-5.6 VC - Ebay - 100% reseller
    - 2x Kingston 266x 16GB compact flash cards - Adorama
    - Extra battery - Adorama
    - Polarizing and ND filters - Adorama
    - I have a tripod -- was my grandfathers. I wish I would have grabbed his old cameras when I had the chance. I was young and didn't know any better.
    - Going to look for a bag this week, I want to see and feel the quality.

    This gear will hopefully show up this week. I expedited the shipping and made some two day, because this coming Saturday, I'm off to the Grand Canyon for a week to see what kind of beauty I can capture.

    So with that in mind, I would like to make the best out of the trip. I think that no matter what happens, it will be fantastic, relaxing, and breathtaking. For those of you that have been or wish to go, what in your mind is a requirement or a must see at the Grand Canyon? Also, any great spots for picture taking, maybe some great shots you've taken? The wife (Becky) and I will be spending three days around the South rim and four days around the North rim.

    I'm going to cram in some Karl Taylor Photography Masterclasses this week and see if I can pick up some useful skills that I can implement.

    cheers,

    Steve

  2. #2

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    Re: Beginning photographer looking to take lasting photos (Grand Canyon)

    First thing two alarm clocks as you will want to get up early to get the good light, sun rise is around 5:30 or so, light startes to get good about 40 minutes before the actual sun rises, also remember that there are going to be other photographer wanting the same spots and locations. Welcome to the world of photography.

    Cheers:

    Allan

  3. #3
    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    Re: Beginning photographer looking to take lasting photos (Grand Canyon)

    Practice lots and learn how to use your new gear as best you can before leaving. Having a level of familiarity will be very important at this stage of your learning process. If you are planning to shoot around sunrise and sunset, take a small flashlight along. It helps locate gear in your bag or on the ground, if you end up dropping anything.

  4. #4

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    Re: Beginning photographer looking to take lasting photos (Grand Canyon)

    To start with, have you read all the Tutorials on this site?

    Then see if you find some reading material to take with you. Check out some secondhand book stores.

  5. #5

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    Re: Beginning photographer looking to take lasting photos (Grand Canyon)

    Since your camera will be new to you, I'd say give yourself permission to waste a lot of shots by experimenting with different settings. Or, as someone commented in another section of this forum, set it to the equivalent of "automatic" and treat it as a point and shoot camera until you have time to read the instructions, tutorials, etc. You'll still get some great photos.

    With the Grand Canyon it'll be hard to avoid clichés, it's probably one of the most-photographed sites in the world. But if you're just taking photos for your own enjoyment don't worry about whether it's clichéd.

    One trick I learned from birdwatching: watch what the other photographers are taking photos of and turn your back to them to see what they might be missing. I used to spend a lot of time watching hawks in migration, and oftentimes the entire mountaintop would be full of birders with their binoculars and scopes trained on one single spectacular bird. I'd take a quick look at it, but then would glance around to see if something even more spectacular might be slipping by, escaping everyone's notice. Same with photography: if you follow the pack and shoot the same views as everyone else, your photos will look like everyone else's. You can also practice breaking the rules: for example people will say that if you want to capture the feeling of space and grandeur of the canyon, you've got to include items in the foreground for scale and perspective. That's true, but don't let it limit you. Zoom in on scenes in the canyon below that interest you, even if they don't give you that sense of awesomeness that you're used to seeing in photos of the canyon.

    But again, I wouldn't worry too much about these things right now since you're just beginning; they're maybe something to keep in mind for later on. Most of all I'd say work on listening to your gut and taking photos that mean something to you personally. Don't think about whether someone else might like them or whether they could win a contest. Let yourself be affected (not hard with the Grand Canyon) and try to capture whatever it was that moved you.

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    Re: Beginning photographer looking to take lasting photos (Grand Canyon)

    Hope you have fun! Shooting in Auto a lot is a good insurance policy, but do try some in other modes as well.

    If you shoot in Auto mode, and Auto WB, and you are shooting in .JPG, your sunrise and sunset shots may be a lot less interesting than they could be. That would be a shame at the Grand Canyon.

    I'd definitely shoot everything in both JPG and RAW simultaneously (if your camera will do that). You will use up more space on your memory cards, but you have plenty. RAW files save all the data, whereas in JPG, your camera throws away some of the data as it creates the JPG, and it locks you into the way the camera decided to make that JPG. You can still tweek it, but not nearly as much as you could if you had the whole RAW file to work with. A RAW file can be made into nearly whatever you want them to be in terms of perfecting WB and exposure, just so long as they are in good focus and not way way too far off of correct exposure.

    I'd also invest in Adobe Lightroom or something similar for post-processing as soon as you can get it. Makes all the difference in the world.

  7. #7

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    Re: Beginning photographer looking to take lasting photos (Grand Canyon)

    Quote Originally Posted by Geoff F View Post
    To start with, have you read all the Tutorials on this site?

    Then see if you find some reading material to take with you. Check out some secondhand book stores.
    Ooooh, YES! The tutorials on this site are unbelievable and amazing!

    I read the sensor one and compact vs dslr when I was trying to choose between a bridge, crossover, and crop sensor DSLR and it helped a lot in making a decision.

    I'm reading the exposure tutorial now to try and get that into my noggin' to figure out how they fit together. I think I'll be shooting with only one adjustment for a while (aperture priority or shutter priority) to see what changes before I try some fully manual shots.

    After that, I want a better understanding of depth of field and how I can make the object I'm shooting at stand out when the background is blurry and also depth of field as it relates to the entire landscape.

    I also want to learn tips on making water smooth and showing motion of an object.

    Basically -- I will read all of the tutorials and learn from them as much as I can, because they are all priceless and in great detail!

  8. #8
    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    Re: Beginning photographer looking to take lasting photos (Grand Canyon)

    Quote Originally Posted by ironmonkus View Post
    Ooooh, YES! The tutorials on this site are unbelievable and amazing!

    I read the sensor one and compact vs dslr when I was trying to choose between a bridge, crossover, and crop sensor DSLR and it helped a lot in making a decision.

    I'm reading the exposure tutorial now to try and get that into my noggin' to figure out how they fit together. I think I'll be shooting with only one adjustment for a while (aperture priority or shutter priority) to see what changes before I try some fully manual shots.

    After that, I want a better understanding of depth of field and how I can make the object I'm shooting at stand out when the background is blurry and also depth of field as it relates to the entire landscape.

    I also want to learn tips on making water smooth and showing motion of an object.

    Basically -- I will read all of the tutorials and learn from them as much as I can, because they are all priceless and in great detail!
    You will find the tutorials will make a lot more sense once you become more comfortable with your camera and have done some shooting. Learning is an iterative process and you build on your existing knowledge.

  9. #9
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    Re: Beginning photographer looking to take lasting photos (Grand Canyon)

    Keep a cheat sheet (better a card) to help you remember what the main settings mean. This way your not fiddling with the manual. Write in your own words and keep it simple. After you write it, wait awhile to re-read it to make sure you can understand what you wrote. For example:
    Aperture - determines amount of light entering lens. lower number and more light. higher number less light.
    Shutter - determines how long light remains open. lower number longer time. higher number less time.
    etc

    make it very simple and not too wordy. All you need is something that will help you trigger your memory. After awhile you won't need the card.

  10. #10

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    Re: Beginning photographer looking to take lasting photos (Grand Canyon)

    Steve,

    The reason I recommended that you start this thread is that most people in your situation would understandably have the overwhelming desire to learn everything about how to use the new camera system. Unless you're a genius with extraordinary high IQ and are a member of MENSA, that's simply not an effective approach to getting the most out of your vacation considering that you will go away in only a few days.

    That's because digital cameras provide the user so many options. You can shoot shoot fully manually, semi-automatically or fully automatically and there are a lot of variations within each of those three basic categories.

    Shoot fully automatically
    So, I recommend that you shoot all important images in a fully automatic mode. The really nice thing about going to the Grand Canyon is that you will have the opportunity to shoot many landscapes and the fully automatic mode will lend especially well to that kind of photography. Perhaps most important, that mode will prevent you from making mistakes as much as any mode can accomplish that. If you want to experiment with a particular scene, shoot in fully automatic mode first and do the experimenting afterward.

    Polarizer Filter
    If you have the time, read about how to use a polarizer filter, put it on your lens, and turn the filter. If you do this when the sun is low and is at a right angle to your lens barrel, you will see the effect on the sky. Also look for the effect it has on minimizing the glare on blades of grass, leaves, etc. Using your polarizer will improve your images of the Grand Canyon exponentially. IMPORTANT: However, don't polarize the skies so they become too dark; you can get them looking almost black. That's especially easy to do when the sun is low and you're standing at a right angle to it. Better yet, take multiple pictures with the sky darkened to varying degrees so you can select the best one when you get home.

    RAW +JPEG
    I strongly urge you to shoot RAW + JPEG. (Look in your manual for that.) When shooting RAW + JPEG, the JPEGs will be great for instant gratification and learning, which is especially important in the early stage of learning photography. Even if you don't use the RAW files soon, you might want them later after your photography has progressed.

    What to do at the Grand Canyon
    It's a must that you go to each lookout at least once. (The tram takes you to them.) If you and your family enjoy hiking, there are easy, moderate and difficult hikes to take. If you can justify the expense, I also recommend that you take one of the airplane rides at the South Rim; the views from the airplane are fantastic even if it's not practical to take pictures. (When I was last at the North Rim a long time ago, the only airplane rides were much less organized, far fewer available, and all of them were at airports that were a long distance from the Canyon.)

    I also recommend seeing the IMAX presentation of the Grand Canyon film (sorry that I can't remember the name of it), which is shown at the town near the South Rim. It's a wonderful film with marvelous photography.

    Have a great vacation (it will be impossible not to)!
    Last edited by Mike Buckley; 16th July 2012 at 10:39 PM.

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    Re: Beginning photographer looking to take lasting photos (Grand Canyon)

    Really great advice from Mike and everyone else here!

    My girlfriend suffers from extreme vertigo, so we spent most of our time walking on the trails that don't go anywhere near the rim, and when we did go close to the rim she couldn't look. I took some photos from the lookouts so she could see what she was missing, but because we spent so much time away from the rim and off the beaten path I also ended up seeing a lot of things that most visitors to the canyon never experience. There are lots of trails with more intimate views or no views at all but beautiful all the same.

  12. #12
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    Re: Beginning photographer looking to take lasting photos (Grand Canyon)

    Mike recommended that you shoot RAW + JPEG... I will go along with that advice. However, you cannot, when shooting a 40D, shoot in RAW when you have selected the Auto setting.

    I strongly suggest that you DO NOT shoot in Auto. Instead shoot in the P or programmed mode. This will provide you with the ease of shooting in RAW but let you control your camera a bit more.

    I recommend that you select the programmed mode (using the mode dial). This will allow you to shoot in RAW + JPEG and will allow some control such as selection of the ISO. I suggest selecting ISO 100 during the brightest times of the day and then increase to ISO 320 in dimmer light.

    I suggect that you use 1 stop exposure bracketing (selecting the menu group with the green star). Click on the first item down and select a one-stop AEB. Set your camera in burst mode. This will instruct your camera to shoot three images every time you press the shutter button. One image as the meter reads, one image one stop below the meter reading and one image one stop above the meter reading. Then the camera will stop shooting until the next time you press the shutter button. You will have three exposures from which to choose. One of these exposures will cartainly be right on the money. You will also get used to the variances in exposure.

    I don't know if you have lens hoods for your lenses but, Tamron provides lens hoods so you should have one for each lens. Use them at all times. If you don't have a lens hood for each lens - buy one...

    I suggest that you try to use your tripod for a majority of shots.

    Don't think that you must use your widest focal length for shooting landscapes. You can get some very interesting shots by selective, in-camera cropping using longer focal lengths.

    Beginning photographer looking to take lasting photos (Grand Canyon)

    You have an excellent set of lenses and your focal range is great.

    If you have time, I suggest that you find a copy of "Photographing the Southwest" by Laurent Martres. http://www.amazon.com/Photographing-...hing+southwest

    This is an excellent book which will give you many important pointers on photographing the Grand Canyon area. It is especially valuable because it recommends time during which you should shoot tyhe various sights.

    Have fun and shoot a LOT of images. Remember, once you purchase your equipment, digital photography is free.

    A good bet is to have a notebook computer with you and to have the Canon digital program loaded on it; or another program such as Photoshop Elements which is an inexpensive but powerful program.

    Download your images every evening and give them a cursory check for equipment error. A small physical size but, large capacity external hard drive ( http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss...e%2Caps%2C322# ) is great for backing up your images to ensure that you will not lose any...

    As mentioned above, the best time for shooting is morning or afternoon. It varies with the location which time is best. The book will give you tips for photo times.

    Carry your user manual with you at all times and don't be afraid to refer to it.
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 16th July 2012 at 11:25 PM.

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    Re: Beginning photographer looking to take lasting photos (Grand Canyon)

    Between the south rim and the north rim, you will likely pass through Page, Az. I recommend planning a visit to the historic trading post, as I recall it is close to where 89 crosses the colorado. Another ( and probably better) trading post is Hubbell Trading Post, the oldest continuously operating and now administered by the national park service. My two cents worth, in regards to photograhy terms, learn to use your exposure compensation dial. The sun will be intense, try to shoot early in day for the mind blowing shots, scout and take snapshots during the day.

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    Re: Beginning photographer looking to take lasting photos (Grand Canyon)

    Good suggestions by Richard. I didn't realize that the auto mode prevents use of RAW files, so I'm grateful that he added clarity to recommend using P mode.

    And thank you, Richard, for the book recommendation. I can't imagine that I have visited the American Southwest for the last time and look forward to using it the next time I visit there. EDIT: I just realized that my wife purchased the first edition but we haven't been back since. We'll find the second edition very useful when we go to Phoenix and Sedona next year.
    Last edited by Mike Buckley; 17th July 2012 at 12:57 AM.

  15. #15

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    Re: Beginning photographer looking to take lasting photos (Grand Canyon)

    Quote Originally Posted by rpcrowe View Post
    Carry your user manual with you at all times and don't be afraid to refer to it.
    Most people today have smartphones. I downloaded the manual to my iphone and can quickly search the full manual at any time.To this some apps available eg. light meter, etc. Instead of going to auto mode(noting settings) then switching back to PASM modes to adjust settings.
    There are numerous tools and tutorial available for free...use them, above all keep it simple.

  16. #16

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    Re: Beginning photographer looking to take lasting photos (Grand Canyon)

    I got my first digital camera from Ebay at the beginning of the year (Canon G2). The sound advice that I received from this website was to get hold of the manual read it once, then read it again. It has taken me this period of time to try different options and find the limitations of the camera. I think that choosing either the program mode or semi-automatic modes (aperture/shutter speed priority) is the way to go when you start. It's exploring what you see as the image and how you get the camera to try and produce that vision.

    Good Luck

    Cheers for now

    Gary

  17. #17

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    Re: Beginning photographer looking to take lasting photos (Grand Canyon)

    That 17mm wide end of the zoom may not be that wide for landscapes so remember that it you take overlaping shots, by about 30%, you can then stitch them together in editing ... either with a stitch programme or else in an editing programme which has layers such as Adobe Elements or Paint Shop Pro.

    This probably is less the case with Grand Canyon shots but usually the wide-angle lens wastes space on foreground and sky. The last Pano I did I shot with a 90mm angle of view lens ... required more frames but stitched together nicely.

    If you are fit and venture down into the Canyon remember to take plenty of drinking water ... and some more. I'm too old for that caper but my son has done it

  18. #18

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    Re: Beginning photographer looking to take lasting photos (Grand Canyon)

    Too late to do anything about it now, but I'd advise against going along with anyone else who might have justifiable claims on your time, attention, and concentration.

    Avoid the temptations to turn lively streams into turgid flows of ND milk, or render sunsets in ghastly over-saturated colour, and you'll be half way there!

  19. #19
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    Re: Beginning photographer looking to take lasting photos (Grand Canyon)

    When I went to the GC, there weren't any cell phone towers nor anyplace to plug into an outlet. Not sure of your arrangements, but any manuals you need to reference, make sure they are downloaded on your equipment so you don't have to rely on the internet. And make sure your camera batteries are fully charged before you head out for the day.

  20. #20
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    Re: Beginning photographer looking to take lasting photos (Grand Canyon)

    I forgot to mention... YouTube has some very good short videos on many subjects. Do a YouTube search using "Canon 40D" as your search parameter...

    Finally, take advantage of the three "User Selected Modes" available on the 40D. These modes allow you to select three different groupings of shooting parameters, register them, and then select any group with a simple turn of the mode dial.

    This means that you can set your camera up in advance and switch between setups simply by using the mode dial. I always have one of the User Selected Modes set up for action shooting because if I see a fast moving subject, I can totally switch the camera parameters to the auto-focus, shutter speeds, ISO, burst (etc.) that I usually shoot action with. I don't miss shots by trying to adjust several parameters on the fly.

    This is one of the advantages of the 40D and 7D cameras. The 50D reduced the User Selected Modes to two and the 60D has only one... I don't have any idea why Canon reduced the User Selected Modes in the 50D and 60D but, I am very happy that they reverted back to three User Selected Modes in the 7D. Canon doesn't give the User Selected Modes much press in their advertisments but, they are one of my favorite bells and whistles on the 7D and 40D. However, due to lack of press, I doubt whether many photographers make use of them...

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