Results 1 to 19 of 19

Thread: When the environment does not like you, what do you do?

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Abuja, Nigeria.
    Posts
    91
    Real Name
    Ife.

    When the environment does not like you, what do you do?

    Hello folks! It's been a bitter-notTooSweet relationship with my camera of recent. It seems some shooting situations are designed against me. It's either that or I'm doing something wrong(more likely option )

    Usually, i can wait for the right conditions before taking shots but how about events? How best can i take the following types of shots.

    Gear Info: Canon 1000d, Canon 18-55 IS kit lens(no longer autofocuses), Sigma 70-300mm f4-5.6, Nissin D622 flash.

    a. Shoot a picture in broad daylight while I am facing the sunlight directly.
    b. Shoot a picture in broad daylight while I am backing the sunlight.
    c. Shooting a picture indoors while facing a strongly-lit window(lit my sunlight i mean).
    d. Shooting a group photograph(what settings? how do i compose? most importantly, where do i focus and which of my lenses does that better?).

    Changing the position of my subjects seem viable and i would not hesitate to do so if possible but most of the times, i will be photographing events, difficult people and time will be a sensitive issue.

    There's gotta be a way. right?


    Thank you.
    All the best!

  2. #2
    xpatUSA's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Texas
    Posts
    3,250
    Real Name
    Ted

    Re: When the environment does not like you, what do you do?

    Hello Ife,

    You might not get many replies to this post. The reason for that is, although you have reasonable camera stuff, you do not yet appear to understand even the most basic factors of composition that are probably covered in the camera handbook. Please don't be offended, I am giving an honest opinion & trying not to be rude.

    So, the responses you'll get will likely be one-liners or advice to read CiC tutorials. Here's my one-liners ;-)

    a) and c)

    Do not get the sun or the window in the view-finder - the further away the better. Then over-expose your shot 1 to 2 stops.

    b) The scene will have a high contrast. If your interest is in the bright parts, under-expose. If the dark parts, over-expose.

    d) If by "group" you mean people, you expose for the faces and focus on them. Use higher speed shutter if possible and use low f-number to blur the background. The 18-55 lens would be your choice. The composition (framing) is entirely up to you.

    Take multiple shots of each scene varying your settings for each shot. Study the results and learn by experience which settings are best for each type of scene.

    Good Luck!

  3. #3
    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Ottawa, Canada
    Posts
    13,220
    Real Name
    Manfred Mueller

    Re: When the environment does not like you, what do you do?

    While I agree with Ted's assessment of the situation, I'm going to make a few suggestions.

    For situations (a), (b) and (c), try to get your subject into a place where you can take the picture, i.e. into a place where there is a bit of shade. Harsh sunlight is never ideal and photographers will try to avoid lighting situations like the ones you list if they can.

    (a) Spot meter the subject;s face and shoot on manual, based on the meter readings. The result is likely to be flat and uninteresting light with an overexposed background. A supplemental light source might help; reflector or fill flash (not the built in camera flash).

    (b) Impossible shot. Your subject is looking into the sun and squinting and looking uncomfortable. Shadows will be harsh and unflattering. If you use a large scrim (diffuser) between the sun and the subject to soften the light, you might be able to make the shot.

    (c) Same situation as (a) with similar solutions.

    (d) Use your 18-55mm lens and arrange into a tight group. How this is handled would depend on the location and number of people in the group. Be conservative with your depth of field to ensure everybody is in focus.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Johannesburg South Africa
    Posts
    2,550
    Real Name
    Andre Burger

    Re: When the environment does not like you, what do you do?

    Ife, try this:

    1) Use your Nissan flash.
    2) Easy - use any setting with the correct exposure.
    3) Use your Nissan flash.
    4) Depending on the size of the group – a wide angle lens will most of the time be the better one to use. Like 24-35mm. Small Aperture for DOF and focus on a person standing in the middle of the group.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Johannesburg South Africa
    Posts
    2,550
    Real Name
    Andre Burger

    Re: When the environment does not like you, what do you do?

    Quote Originally Posted by GrumpyDiver View Post

    (b) Impossible shot.

    Manfred, how can a shot be impossible? Challanging maybe but impossible - never.

  6. #6
    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Ottawa, Canada
    Posts
    13,220
    Real Name
    Manfred Mueller

    Re: When the environment does not like you, what do you do?

    Quote Originally Posted by AB26 View Post
    Manfred, how can a shot be impossible? Challanging maybe but impossible - never.
    Perhaps a bit overdramatic, but perhaps I should have said very difficult to do well with just a camera and no additional tools. My comment is based on my perceptions of Ife's current skill level, and budget, rather than an absolute comment.

    Could I do it; yes, and I did tell him how to get the shot; a scrim between the sun and the subject to soften the light. A nice large white sheet held by a couple of people would work. The use of fill flash would work too, if the subject was able to look into the light without squinting would help too. But in other postings Ife mentions he has no money to spend on things.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Johannesburg South Africa
    Posts
    2,550
    Real Name
    Andre Burger

    Re: When the environment does not like you, what do you do?

    You are forgiven Manfred. Don't know about the money to buy things to be good at Photography? It can be done with a P&S.
    I think most of the new members at CiC are people with little camera skills. Is it not the reason we join CiC, to learn? Should we not perhaps take them by the hand and try and lead them in the right direction?
    I have found my own skills improving by trying to help others improve their skill. (With the camera.)

    Ife,
    How much do you know about Photography? Have you read all the tutorials in CiC? How did you get the AF on your 18-55 lens dysfunctional? How long have you had your camera kit? In what condition is your camera? Do you have an instruction booklet for you 1000D? Do you have an instruction book for the Nissin flash? Do you know what i-TTL is? Do you know how to adjust flash output?

    Post images you have found to be problematic, like one shot with the sun in your face and another with the sun behind you. It will be easier for others to guide you if you post images with specific problems.

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Abuja, Nigeria.
    Posts
    91
    Real Name
    Ife.

    Re: When the environment does not like you, what do you do?

    Thank you so much everyone. Ted, I am not offended in anyway whatsoever....Thanks for your input.

    Hi Andre, I have not read all the tutorials on CiC but I am close to completing them. The only reason I have not read everything is that some of them I find slow to comprehend like the circle of confusion, histograms, white balance/colour temperature and so on.

    As manfred said, budget is truly an issue for me(i'm in school). I indicated it in some earlier threads of mine.

    I bought my camera from a photographer friend and the AF worked(at least I thought). It was later when I understood what AF really meant that i knew i had a bad lens...if a scene is out of focus, pressing the shutter halfway will make the focusing ring turn once in an attempt to gain focus but after that, i never moves again. So when out of focus, and i try focusing automatically, it just turns once and thats all. I now have to switch to MF.
    I have had the camera for over a year and i downloaded the manual online and i have since read it along with another "For Dummies" book: Rebel XS/1000D for dummies. Operating the camera as a gadget is not my biggest problem(i think).

    I know what TTL means, the i-TTL, i do not know. The only adjustments i know about flash output is by lowering or increasing the power on the flash unit itself, i can compensate flash from the camera and i understand the first curtain and last curtain issue. That's just about it.

    As for images, i will dig some up now. Thanks so much.
    All the best!

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Abuja, Nigeria.
    Posts
    91
    Real Name
    Ife.

    Re: When the environment does not like you, what do you do?

    Thank you so much everyone. Ted, I am not offended in anyway whatsoever....Thanks for your input.

    Hi Andre, I have not read all the tutorials on CiC but I am close to completing them. The only reason I have not read everything is that some of them I find slow to comprehend like the circle of confusion, histograms, white balance/colour temperature and so on.

    As manfred said, budget is truly an issue for me(i'm in school). I indicated it in some earlier threads of mine.

    I bought my camera from a photographer friend and the AF worked(at least I thought). It was later when I understood what AF really meant that i knew i had a bad lens...if a scene is out of focus, pressing the shutter halfway will make the focusing ring turn once in an attempt to gain focus but after that, i never moves again. So when out of focus, and i try focusing automatically, it just turns once and thats all. I now have to switch to MF.
    I have had the camera for over a year and i downloaded the manual online and i have since read it along with another "For Dummies" book: Rebel XS/1000D for dummies. Operating the camera as a gadget is not my biggest problem(i think).

    I know what TTL means, the i-TTL, i do not know. The only adjustments i know about flash output is by lowering or increasing the power on the flash unit itself, i can compensate flash from the camera and i understand the first curtain and last curtain issue. That's just about it.

    As for images, i will dig some up now. Thanks so much.
    All the best!

  10. #10

    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Johannesburg South Africa
    Posts
    2,550
    Real Name
    Andre Burger

    Re: When the environment does not like you, what do you do?

    Hi Ife,
    Photography is like a trade you have to learn. You will not learn everything in on day. It takes years of experience to master the trade. Step by step learning is best. If you do not understand technical things like circle of confusion it is not going to make you take bad pictures.

    The most important subject to understand and master is EXPOSURE. If you get this one wrong you will get nothing else right. Make sure you understand how to get exposure to be what you want it to be. I always say the best way of getting to know your camera is to play with it, and I mean play with it a lot. Make sure you know what each button on the camera does, where to find what in the menu and what happens when you change a setting. The only way is to experiment.

    Budget is no issue for you. You got the camera. No film to spend money on. You do not need printing every shot. Hope you got a computer to download your images? A big budget is not going to teach you the skills of Photography. It is your own willingness to learn and your persistence that will make you better and better.

    Good you know how to use the Nissin flash, use it, even in daylight. i-TTL is much the same as TTL with a little more advanced technology.

    Now take those pictures (don’t dig them up) and post it, let us see where your problem lies.

  11. #11

    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Abuja, Nigeria.
    Posts
    91
    Real Name
    Ife.

    Re: When the environment does not like you, what do you do?

    Persistence? Check! Willingness? Check! Exposure?....working on it. Thanks so much Andre. Below are the pictures i'm talking about.
    When the environment does not like you, what do you do?
    When the environment does not like you, what do you do?
    When the environment does not like you, what do you do?

    Take a look at the last picture very well, look at the windows....i just helped paint it "white". That hall by the way is where i will be taking many of my future shots.....

  12. #12
    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Ottawa, Canada
    Posts
    13,220
    Real Name
    Manfred Mueller

    Re: When the environment does not like you, what do you do?

    Ife - Photography is not something that you learn overnight or by reading camera manuals or online tutorials. It is like playing chess or playing a musical instrument; when you start out, you may understand the basic rules, but the only way to get better is to practice a lot. Just like chess or music, if you don't do it frequently, your skills will get rusty very quickly.

    Just like in chess or music, it is useful to have a knowledgable person to work with you at the start, looking at your images and telling you what is right or wrong with them. Eventually, you will become part of that cycle, as your knowledge increases and you can start self-criticising your work and improving on things that you see that you could have done better.

    The vast majority of people out there with cameras are not photographers, but take snapshots. They take pictures without regard to lighting or composition and sometimes they get a great shot, without knowing why. I assume that pretty well anyone asking a question here on CiC is looking to take the next step and become a photographer, and move up from taking snapshots, so I try to compose my responses based on that assumption.

    1. Know your camera. The reason I advocate shooting in both shutter priority mode and aperture priority mode and even manual is so that you independently learn what shooting at different apertures or different shutter speeds do for you, before you can decide on the best approach for a particular scene. The same goes for ISO as a third variable; lowest ISO settings give you the highest image quality / dynamic range, but also require wider apertures or slower shutter speeds. Higher ISO setting let you stop down and use faster shutter speeds, but sensor noise goes up and dynamic range goes down. You need to understand what they do individually, before you can make an informed decision on how to combine the three to give you the shot you want, dependent on the subject matter and shooting conditions.

    When I am out shooting, I will pre-set the ISO I am planning to use and then determine whether the shot is one where I want to fix the aperture or fix the shutter speed to get the "look" I am aiming for. I don't use Program mode (or manual mode) very often.

    2. Know your lenses and what they do for you throughout the zoom range and different aperture settings. The thing I always get people to do here is to try to take a head shot (picture of the head) of someone using the widest angle lens you have and then repeat the same thing with the longer zoom position that you have. The results are interesting...

    I personally find a fixed focal length lens is a great learning tool. If I find myself not happy with the way I am shooting, I will go out with a single fixed lens and practice to get my skills tuned again. If you only have a zoom lens, pick a zoom setting and don't move it. Doing this forces the photographer to move around and find the best composition.

    Learn how to read the histogram; it is the most important tool that you have for assessing your exposure. Learn about depth of field, and see how this becomes part of your compositional approach.

    3. Learn about composition. A picture can only have one subject, and anything else in the image that takes the viewers eye away from the subject is distracting. Before taking a picture, run your eye around the edge of the frame to see if there is anything there that shouldn't be. Make sure the horizon line is straight (unless you are doing a Dutch tilt shot). Learn about the rule of thirds and other compositional guidelines. In photography simple is good. The most common beginner problem that I see is getting too much background in and not filling the frame with the subject. Use shutter speed and depth of field as a compositional tool.

    4. Photography is all about light - that means two things; white balance and type of lighting conditions. I'm not someone that gets too worried about the accuracy of the white balance, but am more concerned about the asthetics of image, i.e. appropriate lighting without colour casts that make the image look "wrong". Outdoor lighting can be tricky. The worst possible lighting to work with are some of the conditions I thing that you are descrbing in your question; mid-day sunlight. It creates harsh shadows (high dynamic range) that generally result in pictures that are not pleasing. Cloudy days are the opposite. They produce very diffuse lighting conditions with no shadow detail and result in boring images. The best light for taking outdoor shots is "magic hour"; that time just after the sun rises or sets on days that are not totally overcast. In tropical climates; this can be a very short window of opportunity, and in temperate areas (i.e. places that are closer to the poles, especially in winter, this effect can be around for a long time. If you can do your outdoor shots then, you will have great lighting to work with.

    You are a student, so you have no money, but light modifiers are an important tool for photography. These don't have to cost you anything. A piece of white board makes a great reflector, as does a board covered with aluminum foil. A sheet of piece of thin fabric can be stretched over a frame and makes a cheap scrim, etc. etc.

    4. Review your shots on a reasonably large computer screen; your camera's screen is really too small for anything other than a high level view.

  13. #13

    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Abuja, Nigeria.
    Posts
    91
    Real Name
    Ife.

    Re: When the environment does not like you, what do you do?

    Wow, Manfred! The above post was just golden. The chess analogy sinks in very deeply as I am an avid chess player(about 1700+), do you play?
    On my 18-55, what focal length would you advise i stick to for learning(am working towards getting the acclaimed 50mm f1.8 though)?
    I will try and get the reflector, they are quite cheap around hear. (A circular clothing with a foldable round ring...that's it right?)

  14. #14
    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Ottawa, Canada
    Posts
    13,220
    Real Name
    Manfred Mueller

    Re: When the environment does not like you, what do you do?

    Quote Originally Posted by cyracles View Post
    Wow, Manfred! The above post was just golden. The chess analogy sinks in very deeply as I am an avid chess player(about 1700+), do you play?
    On my 18-55, what focal length would you advise i stick to for learning(am working towards getting the acclaimed 50mm f1.8 though)?
    I will try and get the reflector, they are quite cheap around hear. (A circular clothing with a foldable round ring...that's it right?)
    I haven't played chess to any extent in decades; but did play a bit (chess club at school) when I was much younger. I used the chess analogy because I figured that would help you understand where I was coming from. I would have taken all of the shots you did with the Sigma as it is more in the range of focal lengths that I use for portraits. Unless you are looking at group portraits, I would not shoot anything less than 85mm full frame equivalent (i.e. your 18-55mm at 55mm); and for indoor work I usually am in the 105mm - 150mm range (65mm - 95mm on your 1.6 crop factor Canon). The Sigma is closer to that end of things than your Canon (and the autofocus works to boot).

    I personally find the 50mm lens too short for portraiture. I have one, but I only use it on my full-frame camera as a walk-about lens for street photography, not for portraiture. I virtually never use it on my crop-frame camera, and use a f/1.8 35mm lens as my street lens.

    If you read the reviews on the Sigma, it says it is a bit soft in the corners when it is wide open. While this is a negative thing for most photography, it is actually a good thing in portraiture. Your subject's face tends to be near the centre of the shot, and softening at the edges is actually something that is desirable.

    Yes, you can get the folding round reflectors and they are fairly inexpensive, but they are a pain to use unless you have an assistant (or a light stand with an arm to hold them). My best reflector cost me almost nothing; my daughter did a project for school and it had to be displayed on a white foam-core board that is about 60cm x 90cm. While she pasted things on the front of it for school the back was not used,so when it came home again, it became one of my reflectors. Being rectangular; I can place it on a chair seat and hold it in place with a couple of cheap spring loaded clamps holding it to the back of the chair. I can vary the angle somewhat and can shoot without an assistant.

    I am going through your images and will post something once I have finished writing things up.

    Manfred
    Last edited by Manfred M; 19th September 2012 at 05:30 PM.

  15. #15

    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Abuja, Nigeria.
    Posts
    91
    Real Name
    Ife.

    Re: When the environment does not like you, what do you do?

    Wow, Manfred! The above post was just golden. The chess analogy sinks in very deeply as I am an avid chess player(about 1700+), do you play?
    On my 18-55, what focal length would you advise i stick to for learning(am working towards getting the acclaimed 50mm f1.8 though)?
    I will try and get the reflector, they are quite cheap around hear. (A circular clothing with a foldable round ring...that's it right?)

  16. #16
    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Ottawa, Canada
    Posts
    13,220
    Real Name
    Manfred Mueller

    Re: When the environment does not like you, what do you do?

    Ife - The results are sort of what I expected, based on your initial post. I would have used your Sigma 70-300 on all of these shots. The 18-55mm set at 55mm would also work for the first two, but is at the shorter end of the range I do portraits with. Your Nissin flash looks like it is fairly talented; it does communicate with your camera and can be optically slaved for off-camera use. Your camera, from what I read, does not have spot meter capabilities, so you are going to have to work around that.

    Portraits are usually shot with short to medium length telephoto lenses as they tend to result in more flattering images. Shorter focal length lenses will distort things a bit. I shoot virtually all my portraits with either my 105mm lens or my 70-200mm lens (on my full frame camera). When shooting portraits, focusing on the subjectís eye that is closest to the camera is usually the best thing to do. Even if the rest of the rest of the face is slightly soft, the image will still work.

    Picture 1 - This image is back lit. It looks like the windows have some shading on them, as when you look out of the right side of the image, it seems to be properly exposed, but the left side (window is open?) an that side is overexposed and your subject is completely underexposed.

    Starting with the lighting Ė Using an automated more based on light meter is averaging the whole scene together and thatís not going to work in this situation. Your camera is looking at the whole scene, including the exterior and averaging everything together. You need to get the correct exposure for your subject's face. Ideally you would spot meter your subjects face, as that is what you need to expose correctly. Because your camera does not have this mode, you can approximate it by filling the frame with your subjects face and using the exposure reading to manually set aperture and exposure. You should bracket a stop either way to see what you get. Even when you correct this, the light on your subjects face is going to be flat. I would be tempted to use your flash on your camera to push in a bit of fill light (bounce flash off the wall on the left or off the ceiling would be a good place to start and see how that works.

    Compositionally, I would shoot in portrait orientation (turn the camera 90 degrees) to get rid of the vent on the left and the street scene on the right. They are distracting and donít add to the image. Portrait mode would give you a tighter crop, and would cut out the distracting elementsÖI would also shoot at wider aperture to make sure that the elements in the background go more out of focus and do not take away from the image.

    Picture 2 Ė Notice how your subject has his eyes closed? This does not make for a flattering portrait. Get your subject into an area where the lighting is a bit less harsh so he doesnít have to squint. The exposure looks okay and the depth of field is okay as well; but personally I would probably shoot a bit more wide open. The lighting looks okay as there are tonal variations across the face.

    This is another shot I would take in portrait mode. The four people in the background are taking away from your image, especially the three to the left of your subject. Make sure that you get your subject where the background isnít distracting. If those three people werenít there it would be a much better portrait. I would say the woman on the right is out of focus enough to be an interesting compositional element, as are the buildings and people way in the back.

    Looking at the left side; the wall and the white shirts look like they have been blown out, so another reason to take the shot in a different location.

    Compositionally, you should never shoot your subject square on; turning the body and head slightly would look better compositionally (straight on makes the subjectís body and face look larger). A simple background is best, and it should be chosen so that it does not compete with the subject. A very shallow DoF can help here.

    Picture 3 - You are getting a lot of light pumping in through the windows, so these are going to cause overexposure, no matter what you do as compared to the relatively dark room.

    Once you get away from the windows, the lighting looks a lot more even; but your light meter has been fooled by the lighting conditions and the interior looks underexposed by a stop or so.

    Compositionally, Iím not quite sure what you are trying to do here. Those two white blobs on the bottom left are distracting, and the dark empty chairs donít add anything to the image. The action appears to be happening on the stage, and all I see is tiny little images. Zoom in to where the action is and you will get better shots, and will reduce, if not eliminate the issues from the bright windows. A flash is not going to do anything in this shot; the subject matter is too far away.

  17. #17

    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Abuja, Nigeria.
    Posts
    91
    Real Name
    Ife.

    Re: When the environment does not like you, what do you do?

    Manfred,
    For the (first)picture with a guy holding a camera and nissin flash by a window, that's me in the picture and the camera/flash aint mine. I only set up my cam and gave it to my photographer friend to shoot. He uses a nikon. My nissin flash and 70-300 lens weren't available then. My flash and telephoto lens were recent given to me as gifts(best gifts at the best time ) so all those shots were with the 18-55mm kit lens.

  18. #18
    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Ottawa, Canada
    Posts
    13,220
    Real Name
    Manfred Mueller

    Re: When the environment does not like you, what do you do?

    Quote Originally Posted by cyracles View Post
    Manfred,
    For the (first)picture with a guy holding a camera and nissin flash by a window, that's me in the picture and the camera/flash aint mine. I only set up my cam and gave it to my photographer friend to shoot. He uses a nikon. My nissin flash and 70-300 lens weren't available then. My flash and telephoto lens were recent given to me as gifts(best gifts at the best time ) so all those shots were with the 18-55mm kit lens.
    My comments still apply Ife; and I based my comments on the equipment you listed when you started this thread. When I first got my DSLR almost 4 years ago, I only had the 18-55mm kit lens and that is what I used to learn how to use the camera. I realized that I needed a longer lens, and got a 55-200mm zoom some time later. I picked up the other gear as my skills improved and I ran it situations my gear could not handle.

  19. #19

    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Johannesburg South Africa
    Posts
    2,550
    Real Name
    Andre Burger

    Re: When the environment does not like you, what do you do?

    Ife,
    Shot No1: Without flash you will burn out the background to get the exposure on the face right. You really need using flash for shots like that

    Shot No2: You will see the subject is a little out of focus. Think it was shot with the 18-55 without Auto Focus. The shutter speed of 1/60sec is usable but you have to be careful of movement.

    Shot No3: You need a tripod for most indoor shots like this.

    Manfred has explained the technical detail. Good advice.

    Rather use the 70-300mm lens until “the environment likes you a little more”.

    Now go for it with your own equipment and keep posting.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •