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Thread: My First Picture Post

  1. #1
    Deucalion's Avatar
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    My First Picture Post

    Hi Everyone, would like to share my experience (first pics too) and to get some feedback as well, a bit of a background, my buds and I went to a car show just recently so they could try out a new lens they had purchased a nikon 85mm, both my buds were using nikon cameras one with the aforementioned lens attached, the other was using a 35mm, I on the other hand had a 70-200mm lens attached to my camera, when I saw the way the exhibit hall was laid out, I immediately thought bringing the lens I had was a bad idea, but my buds insisted that it was ok, I would still be able to get nice pics just that i had to be standing "very far away" from my subject because of the length of the lens I had.

    I had read a lot about photography at this point, read tutorials both here in CiC and elsewhere as well as books that I could get my hands on about the subject... so I was feeling a little arrogant enough to think I could handle shooting in manual mode, suffice to say my first shots looked like this...

    http://i1157.photobucket.com/albums/...r/IMG_1977.jpg
    http://i1157.photobucket.com/albums/...r/IMG_1980.jpg

    truth be told, I thought they were ok, when I reviewed them on my camera screen, my buds showed me the pics they took and I was a little shocked that when they zoomed in the image stayed sharp on their's while mine was a blurred mess... my current settings when I took the pics above was Manual, ISO 200 and with a shutter speed of 1/10, took the shoots handheld... I thought I could get away with it because I had the IS turned on and that it would to my mind remove camera shake... or perhaps I wasn't focusing right?

    after taking a few more shots and it still came up like the the above photos, I decided that I'd switch to Tv instead and let the camera do the thinking for the other variables, my buds were using full auto on the 35mm, while the other guy with the 85mm was on full manual (has considerably more experience than me) so here's a few that I took after switching from manual to Tv.

    http://i1157.photobucket.com/albums/...r/IMG_2073.jpg
    http://i1157.photobucket.com/albums/...r/IMG_2091.jpg

    at this point I was quite happy with some of the photos I had taken, they remained sharp as I zoomed in, and I had attached an external flash, everything was looking peachy... I was I think getting as good an image as my buddies who were more experienced using their equipment... then I ran into this problem with the lighting...

    http://i1157.photobucket.com/albums/...IMG_2033-1.jpg
    http://i1157.photobucket.com/albums/...IMG_2032-1.jpg

    for some reason or other I thought the shots were like night time shots with yellowish tinge to the image, I was thinking... I was seeing one thing, but my camera was seeing it differently... it was suggested by my buds that maybe the white balance was off on my camera (was set to AWB) so I thought ok, maybe I should set it differently... switched it up to tungsten light and changed my metering mode from evaluative to partial... because well the area was well lighted... this was what I got when I switched...

    http://i1157.photobucket.com/albums/...r/IMG_2046.jpg
    http://i1157.photobucket.com/albums/...r/IMG_2045.jpg

    it looked closer to what I wanted or was seeing but the image captured by the camera to my mind appeared flat, colors didn't stand out, it was a little dark, so I switched back the white balance to auto, wandered around the trade hall and took more pictures..

    http://i1157.photobucket.com/albums/...r/IMG_2117.jpg
    http://i1157.photobucket.com/albums/...r/IMG_2136.jpg
    http://i1157.photobucket.com/albums/...r/IMG_2146.jpg
    http://i1157.photobucket.com/albums/...r/IMG_2013.jpg

    my buds were going to call it a day, but I still couldn't get around the idea that there was this area in the trade hall that was not allowing me to get the pics that I wanted, so before we called it a day I went back took another shot at it...

    http://i1157.photobucket.com/albums/...r/IMG_2047.jpg
    http://i1157.photobucket.com/albums/...r/IMG_2150.jpg

    at this point in the day there were a lot of other people taking pictures of this lovely lady and there was a considerable amount of external flash going off as people took photos of her, I was ready to give up and just call it a day, but luckily i found a spot where I took this picture..

    http://i1157.photobucket.com/albums/...r/IMG_2154.jpg
    http://i1157.photobucket.com/albums/...r/IMG_2155.jpg

    the background still looked "noisy" but I could probably fix that during post processing (btw all the images i posted have not undergone PP yet... just wanted to share) I think I said "finally" out loud that she must have heard me and she decided to look right at me at which point, I brought my camera up and took my final pic for the day...

    http://i1157.photobucket.com/albums/...r/IMG_2156.jpg

    thank you for reading my considerably long post, just wanted to share my experience and if I had to do it differently I would bring a much shorter lens, be more proficient in using my external flash for some reason I could not switch it to full power, I had it set to 1/2 of its original output, read up more on lighting... and give manual mode another try.
    Last edited by Deucalion; 2nd December 2012 at 12:44 AM.

  2. #2

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    Re: My First Picture Post

    Hi Reginald,

    And there was me expecting photos of cars!

    To be brutally honest, I think you really need to take a few steps back and work through some of the fundamentals. Some thoughts that come to mind ...

    1. Image stabilisation can give you around a 3-Stop "insurance" policy, so shooting with IS on @ 1/10th is "kinda" equivalent to shooting at around 1/80th without IS - IN TERMS OF COUNTERING CAMERA SHAKE. With a 70-200 lens - on a crop-factor camera you'll normally be wanting a shutterspeed of around 1/120th to 1/320th - so even with IS at the longer focal lengths you won't want to go below 1/40th. The other thing to keep in mind too is that although IS helps reduce camera shake, it does NOTHING to arrest subject movement -- and for that you need a higher shutter speed. In your situation I'd be aiming for a minimum shutter speed in the 1/100th to 1/200th region. In changing conditions though, don't muck around with manual exposure settings -- the camera will cope with the changing conditions a darn site faster than you will (stick to Av mode, and don't be afraid to crank up the ISO) (ISO 800 or 1600 or even higher is fine - use HSS mode if above x-sync speed though).

    2. Focusing. If the camera is set to pick it's own AF point then it'll probably choose whatever is closest -- and if you're shooting with a fairly wide aperture (narrow depth of field) then it "probably won't end well". I'd suggest using just the one AF point, and learn how to move it around so that you always get it on the eye of your subject.

    3. Flash. Again, the automation will probably do a better job of calculating what's needed than you or I will -- so I'd be inclined to leave it on ETTL mode (or whatever the Nikon equivalent is if you're a Nikon shooter). Lighting in environments like that is challenging though -- direct-on will probably be the most reliable (but not the most flattering), whereas a sideways bounce may give more flattering lighting (depending on what there is to bounce it off).

    4. Lens selection. I'd have taken the 70-200 without hesitation (mind you, I shoot with a full frame camera). On a crop-factor camera probably a 24-105 would be a better weapon of choice, but I'd still have preferred your choice over either of your buddies choices.

    5. Aperture. You'll have very distracting backgrounds, so I'd be shooting at around F2.8 or F4 (it'll also help keep your shutterspeeds up and make the flash more effective).

    To be honest, what you've undertaken is pretty demanding -- you'd really need to be pretty comfortable with your gear and flash lighting techniques to be able to really pull it off, although having said that, I'm sure some PP will bring a lot out of them.

  3. #3
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: My First Picture Post

    I totally agree with Colin's comments...

    1. I have no hesitation in boosting my 7D ISO to where I can get a decent exposure but I would always choose flash in a venue like this......

    2. Single point AF or simply your controllng the AF points (rather than letting the camera choose the focus points) would ensure sharp faces...

    3. If I were shooting in this type of a venue, I would let the flash control the exposure. I would shoot using a stroboframe camera flip bracket with the flash pointed straight up and modify the light from the flash with a Joe Demb Flash Diffuser Pro www.dembflashproducts.com. Obviously there is usually nothing off which to bounce the flash in this type of exhibit hall venue. That is where the variable angle FlipIt portion of the Flash Diffuser Pro comes in handy. Tilting the FlipIt reflector toward the subject will provide pretty decent lighting; far better than direct flash. Direct flash usually results in quite flat lighting and lighting which is not particularly flattering...

    4. I chose the 70-200mm f/4L IS lens because of it's weight and would have no problems shooting these type shots at f/4. Using a relatively long focal length, the f/4 could provide a decent amount of selective depth of field. Shooting with the flash mounted on a Stroboflash Camera Flip Bracket allows the flash to remain directly above the lens. ISO of 320 or even 640 provides decent noise with most modern DSLR cameras and using noise reduction in post processing would also help. I would expect to be shooting in the area of 1/60 second @ f/4. I would ensure that I tripped the shutter at the moment when my subject is fairly still. The IS would take care of camera shake. I have no problems holding the camera/lens steady with IS assistance...

    5. As I mentioned, f/4 provides me with DOF thin enough to blur backgrounds when using my 70-200mm lens. If I used an f/2.8 lens; the BG could be even more blurred.

    As far as using the flash with manual exposure control, sure that's possible. I used manual flash exposure control for many-many years until some automatic controls were available. However, with today's sophisticated through the lens flash exposure control; I see no reason for using manual controls on hotshoe flash in fluid situations. I do, of course use manual exposure controls when shooting with my studio strobes...

    Using manual flash exposure control was actually easier for me when using a camera with a single prime lens. I knew from experience at what f/stop to shoot when I was doing a head and shoulder shot, a two shot, a waist up shot and a full length shot. Since, I would be pretty close to the same distance away when shooting any shots that included the same amount of a person's figure, the exposure for that type of shot would be the same. It would be a heck of a lot quicker to know that I would be using say f/11 for a waist-up shot rather than to figure out the distance from my subject and then divide the distance into the guide number to determine the exposure.

    Naturally, with zoom lenses this would not be possible. But with today's sophisticated flash auto exposure control, that is not necessary...

    I like a using Stroboframe Bracket because the flash is elevated above the camera and will probably not be blocked by someone next to me then the camera is in the portrait position. In your last image, it appears that the light from the flash might have been blocked by a person standing next to and a bit in front of you...
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 3rd December 2012 at 03:08 AM.

  4. #4
    Deucalion's Avatar
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    Re: My First Picture Post

    Thank you for your comments Colin and Richard I apologize if you were misled Colin, that was not my intention... actually my buddies were pretty amused as well when we compared pics that we took, most of my photos were NOT about the cars in the car show... I didn't actually set out to just get photos of the models but as the time passed with me wandering around the trade show, it just happened that way.

    up until that point, I was book learning, reading up on what ever literature I could find, and realized after that experience that there is really no substitute for going out and doing it, camera in hand and learning what really works in practice. That was why I had my camera settings at manual, IS on, ISO @ 200 and at 1/10 shutter speed, because I read somewhere that lower ISOs produce better pictures than when its cranked up to 1000 or above it, forgot however that the camera should be resting on a tripod and not being hand held, I did manage to bring the shutter speed up to about 1/200th after my first few shots that where producing rather blurred images when zoomed in. and at least most of the shots the later ones at least where taken at F4 and F2.8

    I did also stop using all the focus points and changed to just using the center AF after I figured out while things were still blurry even after I increased the shutter speed, as I did encounter having taken a shot and then when reviewing it something else was in focus, what I did forget was that I could focus on the subject and then re-frame the shot in a different way. yup, no substitute for experience... I do want to ask why would both of you take a longer lens like the 70-200 in a venue like that? In truth, it was quite a challenge to use it as I had to stand much further away from my subject when there really wasn't enough space to do so, I had to take shots at the long end and I would wave to the person just to be sure she would know I was taking a picture... add to that, the number of people walking about and getting into my field of view/shot as well as other people taking pictures who were much nearer.

    I would think a much shorter lens like the 17-55 or 24-70 would be more appropriate (or is that another assumption I need to re-evaluate ), most of those who were taking photos had shorter lens and were standing just two or three feet away from the subject of their pictures, there was a shot I took where the lady had a nice smile because she saw me about six or seven feet away as I waved to indicate I was taking her picture while a whole lot of other people where standing about a two or three feet from her

    and Richard I believe you are correct about that last picture that I took, there was indeed someone in front of me when I took that shot, actually there was a lot of people to my left who were also taking pictures and there was a lot of flash going off, most of which did have diffusers on them, mine didn't have one on, because... well I don't own one yet its also an interesting point, earlier in the day I was not using an external flash, because, well how exactly do you use bounce flash where there wasn't anything to bounce it from/to, also I thought why use a flash when the whole place seems well lighted enough (assumption made... subsequently rejected after taking photos with the flash)...there were some people who had a white card attached on their flash w/c they used to bounce the light from the flash, but my flash didn't have that so, I wasn't using it, it was only after when we were asked to deposit our bags outside the trade hall, that I attached my flash to my camera, and the pictures that I took with the external flash on were a whole lot better than the ones I took w/out it.

    I do agree that having that bracket you mentioned would have been a good thing to have, especially later in the day when there were more than a few people who were standing near each other and the flash was on the left side (portrait orientation) when I was taking a picture... well almost everyone there had the flash to the left side ...w/c could be blocked by other people or in my case in that last shot, someone's neck

    I took my pictures using Canon's sRAW + JPEG, would the details been more pronounced zoomed in if I'd used a much larger RAW/JPEG file? and how much blurry would the background be? the last three images I posted were taken I think at F2.8 (have to check the crw2 file) and u can still see the outline of a persons head? I know I'd probably be able to fix that in post processing, w/c is another skill I really need to learn as well.

    All in all it really was an interesting experience and both your comments does validate what I've managed to learn, hope to continue to learn more and take more pictures!
    Last edited by Deucalion; 3rd December 2012 at 12:54 PM.

  5. #5

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    Re: My First Picture Post

    Hi Reginald,

    I suspect that we never learn more than on our first few outings with a camera. A lot of folks have a lot of "good-sounding" theories, but I suspect that many of them don't get out and about into the "real-world" much; avoiding high ISO settings is the classic example ... In reality what it does is lower the dynamic range that the sensor is capable of recording which in turn means that you're operating closer to the noise floor of the camera - but - most of the time (so long as you don't under-expose the shot) the noise is only visible when pixel-peeping at 100% - and that makes about as much sense as using a microscope to see how clean your carpet is (most normal folks would just stand at the door and look at the whole floor).

    If you're in a position where you CAN use a low ISO then "why not" (eg a static scene shot from a tripod), but even with a tripod you may still get blur from subject movement. I like to think of it this way - if you don't "up the ISO" then you may well have to lower the shutterspeed or open up the aperture ... and both of those options may also have consequences. So ask yourself this question "what degrades a photo the least - a little noise that's only visible at 100% magnification - or - insufficient depth of field that's visible all the time (due to too wide an aperture) - or - motion blur / camera shake due to too low a shutter speed? Upping the ISO wins hands down as the best solution / least consequence - so don't fall into the classic trap of ruining the photo trying to save the pixels.

    Here's a good example - it was shot at 1/20th @ F1.2 ... and at ISO 3200 on a camera that isn't particularly good at high ISO. What do you see? at 100% the aircraft is pretty noisy - but who cares!

    My First Picture Post


    In terms of focal lengths, as I mentioned, it does depend on if you're using a full-frame or crop-factor camera. I shoot with a full-frame camera, so for me, 70-200 is the perfect walk around lens for head and shoulders -> 3/4 length portraiture. The longer lengths mean that you can respect the personal space of a model (I'm sure that most wouldn't like someone shooting them from 2 feet away) - and - the longer lengths give a far more flattering compression to the image. Have a look at my new for 2012 gallery - just about ALL of the portraits (both studio & location) have been shot with a 70-200. On a crop-factor camera a 24-70 wouldn't "be a disaster", but I'd have it jammed at the 70mm end all the time (keeping in mind that the wide end is wide enough for full-length portraiture like this):

    My First Picture Post

    Wider angles also give rise to the potential for perspective distortion eg:

    My First Picture Post

    (shot at 1600 ISO too!)

    Hope that helps

  6. #6
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: My First Picture Post

    Hi Reginald,

    I won't even try to add to the excellent feedback Colin and Richard have provided.

    I will follow up on this;

    I took my pictures using Canon's sRAW + JPEG, would the details been more pronounced zoomed in if I'd used a much larger RAW/JPEG file? and how much blurry would the background be?
    sRAW and jpg are two different files, for different purposes. The options for the RAW might be bit depth and compression method, while the options for the jpg might be pixel size and quality.
    I am not familiar with Canon sRAW, but the RAW file is unlikely to show any visible difference.
    The jpg might, if you'd used the smallest size/lowest quality, then switched to the biggest size and highest quality.
    Neither will actually affect the Depth of Field ("how much blurry would the background be?").


    This was an interesting read, you write narative well.

    It is very encouraging to see that despite a few mistakes, you were definitely there to learn how to shoot, constantly re-assessing your own shots, talking to your mates and checking out what kit others were using and how.

    You learnt a lot in a short time - and more still from the feedback here.

    Bet you can't wait to have another go now

    Cheers,
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 3rd December 2012 at 07:00 PM.

  7. #7
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: My First Picture Post

    Reginald...

    Regarding sRAW and its close cousin mRAW; I never use them. The only advantage that I see for either sRAW or mRAW is a smaller file size and memory these days can be pretty inexpensive. I bought an 18mp camera so I prefer to shoot at 18mp.

    I shoot with 1.6x equipment and still love the 70-200mm focal range. Even though, it is ocasionallly too long for some uses. However, I work with a 17-55mm f/2.8 IS lens on a second camera in addition to my 7D. This will take care of any wider needs. OTOH, I might be very happy with a 50-150mm focal range on my 1.6x camera.

    BTW: the two camera setup is neither horribly more expensive nor unreasonably heavy. I shoot with Canon 7D and 40D cameras. The 40D is available used at fairly reasonable prices while the 70-200mm f/4L IS lens AND the 40D weighs about the same as carrying a 70-200mm f/4L IS (series) lens alone...

    And while you are thinking, Yes! I would like to be shooting with two 7D cameras for greater standardization but, the 40D suits me pretty well. I don't feel like going through the trouble and expense to upgrade to a second 7D...

  8. #8
    Deucalion's Avatar
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    Re: My First Picture Post

    I think my concern with the 70-200 focal length at the time was that I couldn't step far enough away to get that full length portraiture that you posted Colin, either because if I step back I'd be standing on the car display/platform behind me, or that it was quite simply a challenge (test of patience) to take any kind of shot because of the people walking in front of me, and other people taking pictures much nearer to my subject...

    standing about six or seven feet away in that kind of environment, would external flash on my camera really have any effect at all on the picture I was taking? or do I owe much of that "light" to the other people who had their flash go off (much nearer to my subject) when I was taking my own pictures? I had to stand obliquely to the left or right of my subject most of the time because of the "corridor" like walkway that was almost always filled by other people taking pictures.

    I had a lot of pics that I erased simply because when I reviewed them after taking the shot there would be a foot here, a shoulder or a hand that suddenly obscured my view of the person I was taking a picture of hence my rationale for thinking a shorter lens would be more appropriate. But I did question the idea of some of the people who were taking pictures a foot or two away from their subjects, at that range I would think, they would be able to see the individual strand of hairs on a persons cheeks but then again being a novice maybe at that range, a full frontal face shot was what they were actually looking for. personally I couldn't do it, because at that range my camera wouldn't even respond no matter how many times I pushed the shutter button... too near the subject

    but when it comes to portraits I think the 70-200 is an amazing lens, I couldn't believe the clarity of the images that it produced (at least the well focused ones ) and I asked the question on sRAW because when my buds shared their photos, I was a little surprised that each shot for them was about 6.6MB while mine were only at 1.2MB, they told me that they were using Nikon's large RAW files, my bud with the 35mm had his D7000 set to the highest JPG and my bud with the 85mm had his D90 using the largest RAW files.

    so I was curious about it and checked that my Canon sRAW file was effectively using 5.5MP of my camera, the 60D being capable of 18MP, I wondered if I had used the same type of save file would the pics I have taken be more detailed than the ones I took at sRAW?

    Richard it did cross my mind that having another camera to carry around a much shorter focal length lens would be great as a compliment to the one I was already carrying, but I think I'm still a ways out in my photography skills to even think of having two DSLRs on an event shoot like that, but I could dream and you're absolutely right Dave, when I reviewed the pics I had taken, I couldn't wait to get back and "redo" them, unfortunately I do have a day job and going back was not feasible, so here I am checking my camera again, reviewing my settings for the flash and wondering when my buds and I can go to another event... thanks for your thoughts and comments and I look forward to posting more pictures in the future.

  9. #9

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    Re: My First Picture Post

    Hi Reginald,

    The 70-200 isn't suitable for full-length shots - it's more of a head and shoulders specialist. Full length is more the realm of the 24-70 ... but having said that, the 24-70 is too short for most head an shoulder work on a full frame camera. On a crop-factor camera like the 60D it's "ok", but not ideal still. Horses for courses really. A better all-rounder for what you want would be the 24-105.

    Flash working distance depends mostly on the aperture you're using (and the flash unit) - divide your guide number by your aperture to get the distance

    In terms of file formats - just stick with normal RAW sizes - if you can afford the camera and lens then you can afford a card that's big enough too

  10. #10

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    Re: My First Picture Post

    Lots of thoughtful and insightful info here that I cannot add to. But, as I glanced through the photos, the few that I liked best were the close-ups, the images where the head and face filled most, if not all of the frame. The zoom you used might be to your advantage in a public setting like this, making it so that you do not have to stand in too close to someone or be in tight to your subject's face with your camera, you can zoom in with the lens, rather than with your feet. Of course, if your aim is to highlight a dress or gown full torso shots are necessary, but for head shots get in close! Focus on the eyes.

    BTW Great examples, Colin!

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