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Thread: So many questions I have, what to start with?

  1. #1

    So many questions I have, what to start with?

    Hi,
    So I ended up with and 17-40mm lenses. Picking these lenses was a compromise. I wanted to be able to take pics of my kid indoors (without me going out to my neighbours garden). I thought that they will also be great to do landscape photos. They probably are. Just the way I do it sucks I believe.
    1.My main question is, how do you guys take these great pictures?
    2.Do you post process a lot?
    3.How do you decide on exposure?, Do you trust the camera with its measurements or use some external metering?

    I try to do some landscape photos, but there is not much sun outside nowadays. I get a very ugly histogram (a lot of dark and bright pixels, and the rest is flat like hell). The sky is almost always burned out, and if I try to get the sky right the rest gets to dark. It is not even very sunny. It is hard to get it right or almost impossible. I start to regret buying these lenses. I think telephoto is much more fun. And you can pick up a topic fairly easily. I shoot in parks cos there is nothing else I can think of. I think tripod is 100% necessary. I want to avoid spending more on equipment at the moment. Another thing that upset me is, I thought that wide angle lens plus polarizer = great photos. Now I read that polarizers don't do well with wide angle lenses. So disappointed. Anyway, I am not gonna give up now, so have a look at those two pics, and please tell me how to improve them a bit. What I don't like about them is sharpness (tried different aperture sizes), maybe contrast also requires some adjustments.

    Sorry if I ask too many questions in one post, but don't want to flood with too many posts as well. And there is more to come :-)
    Many thanks in advance.

    http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/taon4A...73400041121538

  2. #2

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    Re: So many questions I have, what to start with?

    If you have problems with blown highlights in the sky or lost detail in the shadows, there are probably a few things you can do to make the biggest difference.

    Make sure you shoot away from the sun, then the sky wont be quite so bright and the ground will be better lit.

    Try a GND filter, though you said you didnt want to spend any more money...

    HDR, it takes a bit of practice, and wont work so well if you are trying to shoot active kids, but for landscapes it should help once you got the hang of it. It can be done to look natural.

    And always shoot raw in high contrast situations, they may be able to help you recover a few of the highlights/shadows.

    Regarding your pictures, i like the first one better. The colours are a bit muted, but that may be an intentional artistic decision. And the composition is better to me.

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    Re: So many questions I have, what to start with?

    Hi taon: You are not alone, many of us, myself included are struggling with the same problems that you are having. I'm a beginner, so I won't presume to try and answer your questions, but I've posted a couple very helpful links of previous discussions here at CiC on the same topic. If you do a search on Exposure, you will see many more threads to keep you busy until someone with more experience comes along.

    I think it will help everyone to help you if you let us know what camera you are using and if possible provide shooting information for you photos. Shutter speed, f stop, ISO at the very least.

    Other than that, all I can say is be patient. Your photos look fine. The first one looks like it was taken on a dull day. I don't think the camera can fix that, but it could probably be brightened up a bit with Post Processing.

    Hang around here for awhile, ask your questions, and read everything that you see on the topic. I think you'll find everyone here is very helpful and patient. They have been with me, and as a result every time I go out I find that I'm a bit happier with what comes out of the camera

    Wendy

    Light/shadow - How to bridge the gap?

    What is the best method for learning how to expose photos correctly?

  4. #4
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    Re: So many questions I have, what to start with?

    Taon,

    I viewed the two photos you have linked and wondered what was your white balance setting? Try taking the photograph again using different settings for white balance.

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    Re: So many questions I have, what to start with?

    Hi Taon,

    A "quick and dirty" solution is to set your camera to shoot RAW (not JPEG) - get the exposure correct for the sky - and then reveal the shadow detail using controls such as the "fill light" in post-processing.

    What camera are you using?

  6. #6

    Re: So many questions I have, what to start with?

    Thanks for your tips and help. I will read carefully.

    To answer your questions, I abuse Canon 50D and it is my first digital SLR. White balance was set to auto. Read about this and ordered some pocket size, sort of Kodak gray and white card for exposure and white balancing. Aperture was around 7 - 8. ISO 100. Shutter was set auto. I used Av mode. And yes, the first one was an ugly, dull day and it was raining from time to time. The second time I just tried to stay away from the sky and sun.

    Anyway, have a lot to read about it. Thanks.

    P.S. Made first stitched panoramic picture today. It is so ugly with such a bad stitches that I couldn't believe it. God forbid if I ever post sth like this. Bin, bin, bin......
    Last edited by taon; 3rd January 2010 at 07:45 PM.

  7. #7
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    Re: So many questions I have, what to start with?

    Hi Taon,

    Don't be too hard on yourself; there's a lot to learn on digital photography.

    You might find a more satisfying approach is to get one skill mastered at a time rather than try lots, some quite complex, while the basics are still giving trouble. For example I'd leave the panos for a week or two and concentrate on the exposure and dynamic range issues.

    I have another question for you, what PP software do you use?
    That can make a big difference, especially if you shoot RAW.

    Cheers,

  8. #8
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    Re: So many questions I have, what to start with?

    Taon,

    See the following link about white balance that also addresses David's comment about shooting in RAW.

    http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tut...te-balance.htm

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    Re: So many questions I have, what to start with?

    Taon,

    It's good to see that you are trying many things with your camera. I have a panoramic stitching function that was including in my printer's (hp) software package. It's good to try as many software programs as possible and compare the results.

  10. #10
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    Re: So many questions I have, what to start with?

    Hello,

    How about starting with something a lot more basic and mastering the fundamentals first. Besides reading your owner's manual to your camera and lenses, I highly recommend that you pickup a copy of Bryan Peterson's photography book series:

    Understanding Exposure: How to Shoot Great Photographs with a Film or Digital Camera
    Understanding Shutter Speed: Creative Action and Low-Light Photography Beyond 1/125 Second
    Learning to See Creatively: Design, Color & Composition in Photography

    For landscape photography and photography is general, you have to understand how light behaves and the types of lighting that will give you the best image quality (aka basic daylight exposure). Photography in literal translation mean "Light writing" or "the ability to work with light".

  11. #11

    Re: So many questions I have, what to start with?

    I have one book written by a pro. He uses some spot meters, Pentax Digital Spotmeter with the IRE scale to determine exposure, or Minolta sth. Nice toy but it is more expensive than my camera. This book is to heavy to digest at the moment. He talk to much about film cameras, huge frame cameras like Hasselblats and Sinars and some specialized equipment that goes with that. Equipment that i will probably never touch in my life anyway. I have a feeling this guy hates digital and converted only because situation made him to.

    I keep experimenting. I find low light pictures quite interesting. Just uploaded one more photo to my album. Tripod plus long exposure is a lot of fun for me. The Low Light Night was taken at ISO 100, F4, 20. I love the output. No post processing. So far...

    Job keeps me busy but i will try to get out soon again and experiment more with shutter speed. Some motion effects so on.

    http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/taon4A...73400041121538

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    Re: So many questions I have, what to start with?

    Hi Taon,

    I think that at your stage an EXCELLENT investment would be this boxed set on Digital Photography from Scott Kelby.

    Scott walks you through every photographic situation imagineable, with just enough information to help you "get the right idea".

    Heck - I liked them so much I bought two sets. (long story!)

  13. #13

    Re: So many questions I have, what to start with?

    Thanks for the tip with shooting in raw. I tried a red car today.
    http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/taon4A...63630359444354
    Shot both raw and jpeg. Went back home and checked in the software supplied with the camera. I didn't realize that even the largest jpeg loses so much detail. Plus, the raw allow me to post process WB and picture style. I managed to make sky more blue and expose the red car giving it a bit more saturation. It was like 2min experiment which results stunned me. From now on RAW only.

    Haven't decided yet on the PP software so far. It has to be free now so I thik about gimp.
    When budget gets better maybe Photoshop.

    Thank You.

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    Re: So many questions I have, what to start with?

    Quote Originally Posted by taon View Post
    From now on RAW only.
    Ah - you're a fast learner I see

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    Re: So many questions I have, what to start with?

    Taon, whatever you do don't get discouraged. As an experienced film user I entered the serious digital world about 12 months ago and even I found it to be a steep learning curve.

    My best advice is to learn every function of your camera thoroughly, and them master each style of shot, starting with the simple ones first, and gradually progress to the more difficult styles. A good basic grounding will stand you in good stead, a bit like learning to drive before getting into a rally car.

    Best of luck, I sometimes wish I still had the enthusiasm that a lot of new photographers have.

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    Re: So many questions I have, what to start with?

    Quote Originally Posted by taon View Post
    Haven't decided yet on the PP software so far. It has to be free now so I thik about gimp. When budget gets better maybe Photoshop.
    You'll be very welcome as a fellow GIMP user. Certainly there is more support and advice available for the Adobe products. But if you decide to use GIMP, please do come back to those of in this forum who use it. We'll be happy to help and offer advice on the online resources that we use to learn the GIMP.

  17. #17

    Re: So many questions I have, what to start with?

    Hi Everyone!

    I experience a small problem. I went outside one evening to do some shots of traffic and traffic lights. The night lights outside were those sodium lamps (they give that sort of orange light, which makes everything look orange like, the snow, the walls, everything). So I set up the tripod and tried to take a picture of a 'Digital Grey Kard'. Just to get exactly same white balance. Well, I don't know if this is the right thing to do but...... anyway, camera manual says take a photo of a white object, and make sure it covers the circled area in your viewfinder, than set WB to manual. The 'Kard' manual says use the grey card. If I remember correctly grey card shoud be used for proper exposure setting, and white for WB setting (No idea what for the black one is, if some one can give me a tip, pls).

    Problems I've encountered:
    1. 17-40mm lenses. It is hard to photo that card without proper zoom, in those light conditions the camera couldn't focus. Card is of a size of a Credit Card.
    2. How do I set up the camera to take that picture (in terms of WB setting, ISO, metering mode, styles). I believe using flash is silly and obsolete, and probably it is better to use RAW for that as well.

    Thank you,

  18. #18
    Shadowman's Avatar
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    Re: So many questions I have, what to start with?

    Quote Originally Posted by taon View Post
    Hi Everyone!

    I experience a small problem. I went outside one evening to do some shots of traffic and traffic lights. The night lights outside were those sodium lamps (they give that sort of orange light, which makes everything look orange like, the snow, the walls, everything). So I set up the tripod and tried to take a picture of a 'Digital Grey Kard'. Just to get exactly same white balance. Well, I don't know if this is the right thing to do but...... anyway, camera manual says take a photo of a white object, and make sure it covers the circled area in your viewfinder, than set WB to manual. The 'Kard' manual says use the grey card. If I remember correctly grey card shoud be used for proper exposure setting, and white for WB setting (No idea what for the black one is, if some one can give me a tip, pls).

    Problems I've encountered:
    1. 17-40mm lenses. It is hard to photo that card without proper zoom, in those light conditions the camera couldn't focus. Card is of a size of a Credit Card.
    2. How do I set up the camera to take that picture (in terms of WB setting, ISO, metering mode, styles). I believe using flash is silly and obsolete, and probably it is better to use RAW for that as well.

    Thank you,
    Taon,

    Use your cameras Auto White Balance settings for a quick fix that can be corrected with your graphics program. Next, try to match your white balance with the light source that is giving you problems. The orange light can be corrected with the right white balance.

    Canon 50D specs.
    Image Processing
    Type
    Auto, Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Tungsten Light, White Fluorescent Light, Flash, Custom, Color Temperature setting

    Auto White Balance
    Auto white balance with the image sensor

    Color Temperature Compensation
    White balance correction: 9 stops in full-stop increments
    White balance bracketing: 3 stops in full-stop increments
    Blue/amber direction or magenta/green direction possible

  19. #19
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    Re: So many questions I have, what to start with?

    Taon,

    Some information on sodium lamps.

    The discharge tube may be linear (SLI lamp) [2] or U-shaped. When the lamp is turned on it emits a dim red/pink light to warm the sodium metal and within a few minutes it turns into the common bright yellow as the sodium metal vaporizes. These lamps produce a virtually monochromatic light averaging at a 589.3 nm wavelength (actually two dominant spectral lines very close together at 589.0 and 589.6 nm). As a result, the colors of illuminated objects are not easily distinguished since they are seen almost entirely by their reflection of this narrow bandwidth yellow light.

  20. #20
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    Re: So many questions I have, what to start with?

    The cycling times (frequency/bandwidth) of sodium and mercury vapor lamps as they're powering up will play absolute havoc with your wb. The sensor just can't keep up with the changes, and "full powering on" (the closest to stable) can take anywhere from 4-8 hours.

    For most night time cityscape shots, setting your wb to tungsten will usually bring you pretty close to a proper wb plus a little tweaking correction in post. But in your situation, playing with all the wb preset is going to be more work.

    Using a grey card (no matter the size) is very difficult to use at night. They only work when you have enough available light to illuminate the card. As you have discovered, if you can't see the card, it totally defeats the purpose.

    I'm a seasonal freelance sports shooter, and I am very familiar with working with artificial lights and difficult lighting situations. The easiest way for you to get your wb close to accurate (you will still need to balance in post) is shooting a custom wb with a white sheet of copier/xerox paper.

    1. Set your lens for M or MF (manual focus) and turn off IS if your camera is mounted on a tripod.
    2. Aim your camera lens at the light source (or group light source that's dominating your scene), cover front element with paper, and take an image. Your camera will not fire if the lens is still on A or AF, because the camera will only fire if it's focus locked on a target.
    3. Go into your menu under wb custom and choose the image you just shot. Go up to the top lcd and set your wb to custom.
    4. Viola! You're done. Depending on when you arrive at the location as the lights are powering up; you should make a few more custom wb shots (every 15-30 mins) and save those images for post processing. Or you can change out the cwb images as you go, as I do, to save time in post. Batch processing is not a good idea because of the changes in the bandwidths as the lights are powering up and cycling times.

    Other tools and options for custom wb are: Expodisc (me), dome of Gary Fong's lightsphere, solid white tissue paper, cut out from a plastic milk jug, or a couple of squares of toilet paper. If you choose to purchase an Expodisc, recommend that you buy the largest one so that it will cover all your lenses. The largest diameter filter for Canon is 82 mm which is the 16-35 2.8L while the average diameter is 77 mm.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9fKpYZCwPyQ
    Last edited by Amberglass; 17th January 2010 at 03:17 PM.

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