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Thread: My first photo for you from total beginner - any advice

  1. #1
    New Member safron's Avatar
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    My first photo for you from total beginner - any advice

    Hi all , this is my first photo to show you. i am an absolute beginner and using my first dsl camera which is a canon d1100 with the standard kit lense.
    I want to take pictures of nature and landscapes in particular.
    I took loads of photos this morning of my horses but they were very disappointing when I put them on the computer. They are dark and drab and even though it was a dull morning it wasnt this dark.
    I just used the sports dial on the top of the camera.
    I am still reading and learning about shutter speed and ISO.
    So any tips or advice would be appreciated.
    My first photo for you from total beginner - any advice

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: My first photo for you from total beginner - any advice

    Tracey

    I know it seems a difficult step to take when you've just got your first DSLR, but the earlier you can do it the better - On that top dial on the camera get yourself to use it in P, Tv, Av, M area and forget about all those others settings like 'Sports'. The 4 modes I've listed there are the ones that put you in the driving seat and controlling what you end up with. With all those other settings you're leaving all the decisions to the camera.

    The sooner you start using those modes, the quicker you'll learn and start mastering your picture-taking. Yes, it's harder to start with. But once you get it, you'll never look back.

    Keep taking loads and loads of pictures. Note what happens when you try different settings. That's the best way of you finding out what happens when you do different things.

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    Re: My first photo for you from total beginner - any advice

    Additional to what Donald has said.

    Your basic camera settings aren't actually a long way out here. Probably similar to what I would have used.

    The chief problem is the lighting conditions. Besides having tricky natural light, you are shooting towards the light source. This means the camera is going to auto expose for the brightest area. That will put the horses into shadow.

    The only option is to over expose slightly, or meter for the dark shadow areas. But this will over expose the sky. It is all compromise with these difficult scenes.

    So don't get disheartened just because it was a scene which would have caused a pro photographer to wince!

    However, I suspect a little bit of careful editing could still produce something usable from this shot.

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    Re: My first photo for you from total beginner - any advice

    To add to what the others have mentioned, I recommend that you shoot with the sun directly shining on the side of the subject (in this case, the horses) that you can see. Once you learn how to reliably make proper exposures in that situation, you will then be able to progress to the more difficult situation of backlighting, which is the lighting in the image that you posted. Also be aware that properly exposing a photo of a white horse or a black horse when the horse fills the frame will require special understandings that you understandably probably do not yet have.

    I also recommend that you digest the following CiC tutorials:
    http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tut...techniques.htm
    http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tut...hotography.htm
    Last edited by Mike Buckley; 13th December 2012 at 11:23 PM.

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    Loose Canon's Avatar
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    Re: My first photo for you from total beginner - any advice

    Hi Tracey! Welcome to the Board!

    You’ve come to a good place to get the advice that will get you to where you want to be sooner.

    Since you have already gotten some good thoughts on lighting and exposure I’d just like to add that I like the composition of your post. Maybe it would have been nice to get the tail of the rear pony fully in the frame.

    But you left some “running room” in the frame for the ponies to run into. This as opposed to having them centered. Plus you have nailed them in motion with their legs off the ground, which I think is pretty cool.

    So don’t worry about the disappointment thing! I think you did good out of the box!

    Keep firing away Tracey and bring ‘em back here if you would like to get good advice on how you are going.

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    Deucalion's Avatar
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    Re: My first photo for you from total beginner - any advice

    Hi fellow novice I too am still a work in progress when it comes to photography and would probably not be the best person to give advice, I leave that to all the other excellent members who have more experience and they do really give great advice... but I wonder as I looked at your posted image... may I ask if you used your camera's on-board flash or an external flash when you took your picture?

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    New Member safron's Avatar
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    Re: My first photo for you from total beginner - any advice

    Hi everyone and thank you all for the adivce / feedback .

    reginald - I just used the flash on the camera - scared my poor horses at the beginning but they got used to it.

    OK so for my homework I have to practise with more manual setting on my camera and learn more more more !

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    Re: My first photo for you from total beginner - any advice

    Hi, Tracey. This is a pretty good photo for your first, congratulations! The timing is perfect!

    Unfortunately, the frame cut off part of the horse's tail, and I could wish that you had been on the other side of them so the light would fall better on your subjects.

    The built-in flash had very little effect in this shot, so you can override the control to turn it off when it doesn't help.

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    Re: My first photo for you from total beginner - any advice

    Quote Originally Posted by safron View Post
    OK so for my homework I have to practice with more manual setting on my camera and learn more more more !
    using the on board flash didn't seem to help with the image as it only has a shorter range, an external flash to my thinking would have helped with the shadows (tho I'm not that sure...)

    my suggestion, if you don't mind it coming from a fellow novice, is to try out the Tv and the Av settings first before going full manual, as previously suggested instead of using sport or all the other basic modes of your camera, that way you can only worry about one variable at a time while the camera figures out the rest... and start from there... what the camera chooses when you just control one of the values and how the image would turn out.

    with Tv you basically want to know what you want in terms of capturing movement... higher values say 1/200 freezes movement like what you've captured with your image of the horses jumping, lower values produces motion blur of a moving subject.

    with Av you basically need figure to out what you want in terms what's in focus on your shot, higher values like F11 produces a lot of focused subjects in a shot, while lower values like say F2.0 produces only a small area of focus, blurring everything else in an image.

    of course I could be wrong seeing as I am still just like you learning this wonderful skill/art, others may just suggest you truly go full manual and fiddle a bit, after all its only when you experience it yourself can u use what you've learned effectively, however you go about it, I'm sure everyone here will be more than happy to help you along your journey

  10. #10
    New Member safron's Avatar
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    Re: My first photo for you from total beginner - any advice

    Thanks a million Reginald you have explained that very easily indeed .
    I will give it a go then using the TV and AV and see what happens.

    Think I would need a note book with me at all times .

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    Re: My first photo for you from total beginner - any advice

    Yes Tracey, keeping notes about your settings and the shooting conditions is the easiest way to learn. Particularly with the photos that went wrong.

    I have learned more from my many failures than my few successes!

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    Re: My first photo for you from total beginner - any advice

    Hi Tracey - welcome. Your horses will provide you lots of opportunity to practice your skills. Please keep posting lots of horse pictures . They can be a challenging subject.

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: My first photo for you from total beginner - any advice

    Hi Tracey,

    Lots of good advice above.

    Quote Originally Posted by safron
    reginald - I just used the flash on the camera - scared my poor horses at the beginning but they got used to it.
    One other thing to be aware of when using the on-board flash is that (I believe*) it will limit the maximum shutter speed you can use to 1/200s, this may cause other problems with blur (possibly even with exposure), so I would advise flash is something best avoided for the moment.

    * someone correct me if I am wrong in this respect about the 1100D

    That said, I just looked at the EXIF data for the picture and it says flash wasn't used and the shutter speed was 1/640s.


    Do you have any software to post process (PP) your pictures?

    Welcome to the CiC forums from ...

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    Deucalion's Avatar
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    Re: My first photo for you from total beginner - any advice

    Hi Dave,

    I would like to ask, what settings would have been ideal with that kind of light? I too have experienced seeing something amazing while my camera sees another thing when I take a photo (the novice in me i suppose )... in that kind of lighting with her camera flash off, would raising her ISO level been a better answer than adding a much more powerful external flash w/c would probably scare her horses a lot more than the on camera flash?

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    Re: My first photo for you from total beginner - any advice

    Tracey: Like some of the other forget flash, set it to I believe Av on a Canon, Read about the Histogram on the CIC site, of anything it will be your best friend that histogram. Take an image, look at it, make an adjustment take another image see what happens to it. Learn to see what it is that it is telling you as it speakes with ever image you take, this one thing will teach you more than any pile of books or papers. Also remember to take some time each day to shoot and listen to what is telling you.

    Cheers:

    Allan

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    Re: My first photo for you from total beginner - any advice

    For Reginal: A more seasoned shooter would not have taken the shot, as from experence, they would have know what their histogram would have told them. As they were Tracey's horses, she should have entered the field, moved to where she could have make the light work for her. If they were not her's, then wait until they move into better light (get use to waiting for the light), if not take your best shot and hope your PP skill are up to the job at hand. However be prepared to be disapointed with the outcome.

    Cheers:

    Allan

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    Re: My first photo for you from total beginner - any advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Polar01 View Post
    For Reginald: A more seasoned shooter would not have taken the shot, as from experence, they would have know what their histogram would have told them...
    Allan
    Hi Allan,

    thank you for your reply, I asked the question simply as a novice in photography, what could one have done differently short of NOT taking that picture. I mean I've had my fair share of instances where I wished I had my camera to capture a scene or something happening and I didn't have it, as well having my camera and taking a shot of a moment and then having that image NOT turn out as I would have seen it, the camera not "seeing" what i saw...

    as a novice I did start out with the way tracy did, using all that one button click for things, portrait, sport and the like, so I was wondering how does one, react or set one's camera for the unexpected? such as that particular image that tracy posted, if I think about it most of the photos that I have seen were pre-planned (?) or at least the photographer had a general idea of what he/she wanted when taking a picture, but what about those instances when its not planned or thought about, spur of the moment thing?

    the EXIF data says that she took it with sport settings on, no flash and at 45mm, so she must have been standing a few feet from the horses when she took that shot, if she had reviewed the image after she took it, what adjustments to her camera (making the assumption that she could not move from where she was standing in relation to when she took that image) could she have made to make the shot much better than it would have turned out?

    I know it could be altered in post processing, but suppose that if you or I were there and and knowing how that image turned out, how does one set one's camera to at least give that image a better than average chance to turn out much better than it did before the post processing of the image after it was taken?

    I hope I've worded my question properly as English isn't really my native language, also thank you for your patience in replying to someone who's still learning this wonderful art/skill.

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: My first photo for you from total beginner - any advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Deucalion View Post
    I would like to ask, what settings would have been ideal with that kind of light? I too have experienced seeing something amazing while my camera sees another thing when I take a photo (the novice in me i suppose )... in that kind of lighting with her camera flash off, would raising her ISO level been a better answer than adding a much more powerful external flash w/c would probably scare her horses a lot more than the on camera flash?
    Hi Reginald,

    I do have some empathy with Allan's suggestion of not taking the shot (e.g. I just don't shoot distant birds against the light these days), but I can see that's not always useful.

    With experience, one would perhaps (if possible) approach the field from the sunny side to avoid shooting into the light - however, then we would have missed their sunlit breath, so there's definitely a need to know how best to capture in these circumstances.

    The full shooting info was; 1/640s, f/5 at iso 160 and 43mm on a Canon 1100D.
    Specifically for this shot; the aperture, at f/5 is probably wide open for a kit lens and is the correct choice in my view, although the distant background is sharp anyway at that focal length
    The shutter speed could have done with being a little higher perhaps, so raising the iso to achieve this is the only thing possible; iso 400 would have given about 1/1500s for same exposure.

    The biggest problem with exposing more in these subjects (to get better shadow detail in subject) is that the sky will blow, along with any significant edge lit detail on the subject. So if you can get higher and have less, or no, sky in shot, that helps a lot.
    If the subject is partially or fully against the sky, forget it and look to shoot a silhouette instead, if that's possible e.g. a silhouette of a bird 'shape' against the sky usually isn't!

    If this had been shot RAW, I suspect the current exposure isn't too far from the optimum for this shot, perhaps half a stop more, bringing shutter speed down to 1/1000s or taking iso up to 640, given the large amount of subject in shadow, the shutterspeed is the better trade on this shot I think.

    Please see my attempt at PP below, this could have been better still from the full sized RAW original (and a bit more time).

    In an ideal world, to make it an even better 'against the light' 'horse action' shot;
    shoot to include all of both horses, their tails and shadows in shot
    shoot when they were both exhaling against a dark background (with a bit of separation between them)
    shoot when legs not overlapping
    shoot when they are synchronised (as they are here)
    shoot when there's obvious action, again this is achieved because we anticipate the thump as their fore legs hit the ground together

    But all that's a tall order when you have two horses cavorting around a field, so it becomes a matter of good timing (which Tracey achieved) and luck.

    If you go into the field, it will very likely change their behaviour and the shot opportunity will be gone.


    Hi Tracey,

    I felt like seeing what I could do with it, given how much is right about it (see above), I hope you don't mind (let me know if you do and I'll remove it);

    Size matters; click on the image to see at 100% in Lytebox for best effect.

    My first photo for you from total beginner - any advice

    I used Photoshop CS5, but everything I did can be done in Elements or GIMP, if budget for PP software is an issue.

    I don't know how much you know, so I put links on words, phrases and techniques, click on any that are unfamiliar to you for more information. If I haven't, just ask.

    I cropped to remove as much dazzling (over exposed) sky as I could.
    I also cropped to get their forelegs as close to the thirds as I could, but this meant chopping off even more tail, which I now wish I hadn't.
    After the crop I applied some Local Contrast Enhancement
    After that I did a Levels adjustment, to further darken the mistiness so we are seeing the maximum range. I also raised the grey point (from 1.0 to 1.2) to get more shadow detail.
    Then I sharpened using USM (UnSharp Mask)
    I then used a blur brush to defocus the distant background to concentrate the viewer's attention on the horses.
    I cloned out a dark grass clump on left (it distracted me)
    and finally I did a little dodging to reveal more detail in the right hand horse and enhance their breath.

    I like your shot and think it 'cleaned up' quite well, you can almost hear their breath and feel the thump of their hooves, but perhaps I'm getting carried away now

    Hope that helps,
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 16th December 2012 at 12:55 PM.

  19. #19
    JPS's Avatar
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    Re: My first photo for you from total beginner - any advice

    Hi Tracey,
    a very nice picture, well done.
    As it's a cold Sunday and I was looking for a little project, here's my version; hope you don't mind.

    Well done and please keep shooting and posting.
    Regards
    John

    My first photo for you from total beginner - any advice

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