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Thread: Living and Learning

  1. #1

    Living and Learning

    Well, I'm just about all worn out, trying to figure out how to "shrink" and download attachments. What was I doing, again? Something about asking for advice about photographing fall foliage. My sister and I had a good laugh because these look so much like those '70s postcards. Anyway, after spending the morning with my tripod working on dof, etc. in just the WRONG light, I went back in the evening. I only had 5 minutes and just did hand held on the "magic" landscape setting. I wanted to know what was so magic about it. When I got back and saw the info on aperture and trigger time, I was disappointed. No magic. I learned, however, that I can't fake a lovely moment that is a gift of nature.

    Any advice? The trees are starting to turn. high dof, clear, fast shutter speed, red "filter"?, WB?, lovely composition with a good sense of depth, emotion and the right moment. Oh, and level horizon. That's all that I could figure out. (I don't have photoshop, yet, and would like to do the best that I can sooc.)

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    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 23rd September 2010 at 10:34 PM. Reason: add images inline

  2. #2

    Re: Living and Learning

    I liked the idea of the second one but I think that if I wanted the goldenrod to be in focus - buttery, yellow, wildflower country goodness - it should have had the light on it and not on the barn.

    Then, as I was getting back into the car, I shot this (the road with the pavement - "stained glass lane".) I just love it! My head can't figure out why.

    The next day, I fiddled with WB and got this. C&C very, very welcome! I'm just a baby photographer. The second one is in creative mode - my choices. Am I way off or "close"? Any thoughts, anyone???

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    Last edited by Katy Noelle; 23rd September 2010 at 10:55 PM.

  3. #3
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Living and Learning

    Quote Originally Posted by Katy Noelle View Post
    (I don't have photoshop, yet, and would like to do the best that I can sooc.)
    First bit of advice. Don't think about post processing as somehow cheating or not being true to what you captured. There are pages and pages written on here about the fact that pressing the button is only part of the process. What happens in post processing (the darkroon or its digital equivalent, the computer) is the other part. Both parts make up the whole process. So shooting RAW and carrying our post processing work is a 'must do'.

    As for posting images into your posts, then read the threads under 'General Posting' on this page.

    Give us some information on how you're shooting. Are you on Auto settings. Av? Tv?, etc. What do you reckon your own level of knowledge is? You clearly are familiar with the terminology of DoF, Shutter speeds, depth, etc, etc. Once we have an idea about how much you feel you know already, then we can start giving the advice that might help.

  4. #4

    Re: Living and Learning

    Wow! This works! Okay,......

    I have a Canon 450D with the kit lens. (campaigning for Canon 60mm macro.) I've been working for 99% of the time in creative mode for the last two months - mostly AV and, then, tweaking with exposure compensation. Sometimes, I work in manual. I understand and have been experimenting with the exposure triangle but don't have my numbers memorized. (They don't have a "smiley" for the expression on my face - kind of an oops/sigh expression.) I have been shooting every day for a month. I'm doing a "365" thing. I am self taught and all over the place a little. I'm smart, though. I am reading a couple of books, not to mention, the owner's manual. I was very confused about WB and metering until I read the tutorial, here, yesterday.

  5. #5

    Re: Living and Learning

    I'm totally on board with the concept of editing being an important part of the process. I only have iphoto, at the moment. I'm trying to focus on getting the best images that I can, just because, one can only do so much at one time.

    http://katysphotojournal.blogspot.com/

    I just want to say, though, that it's full of "learning" pics.
    Last edited by Katy Noelle; 23rd September 2010 at 10:22 PM.

  6. #6
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Living and Learning

    Quote Originally Posted by Katy Noelle View Post
    one can only do so much at one time.
    Exactly. I know different people take different approaches to learning. That's what makes us such an interesting species. However, I would urge that you map out a learning pathway. One of the first parts of that is on identifying what it is you don't know (or are not comfortable with).

    How do you know what you don't know? Easy. As you read (on here, in books etc.) and come across terms that are unfamiliar, then make a note of them. Two years ago I hadn't an idea what RAW meant. Then you can work out (with advice from here if required) what might be the logical sequence for you to learn all these things. So take on one (or maximum two) learning points at a time, trying to manage the internal frustration that you're not learning fast enough or that you should be learning 'C' when you're still trying to learn 'B'. It's a real rollercoaster. Don't get despondent (when you feel it will never make sense). But stay with it and be methodical. It's when you get those 'Ah-hah' moments and something that seemed totally incomprehensible suddenly becomes straightforward, you feel you're making progress.

    The one thing you don't need to focus on is being able to 'see' a picture and composing something in the frame. The thumbnails you've posted up show that you have an eye for that already. Like I replied to your first post, you've got the passion and the emotion already in bucketfuls. The technical knowledge is just the means of supporting that passion and allowing you to give full expression to your vision.

    It's great to read that you have actually picked up the Owner's Manual (so many poeple don't seem to). Learn how to use your camera - inside out, upside down, back to front - so that everything is done without conscious effort. Let it become an extension of you.

    And finally - start studying your own work and that of others. For example, in your images above, what works and doesn't work in them, when you compare them with others that you think really work?

    And keep having fun.

  7. #7

    Re: Living and Learning

    Donald, where were you a month ago??? =] I was pretty discouraged! But, then, I had a little "breakthrough". I've come so far from where I was in July that I know that I'll get there - somewhere. Also, I AM an opera singer and pianist. There's nothing worse than your voice being difficult - it's an actual part of "you" - not like a piano or camera. I've already experienced intense moments of discouragement with my music. However, I've observed, from the few people that I've talked to, that being a photographer - even amateur - for some reason, takes a lot of guts. EVERYONE that I've talked to has expressed self doubt - at least at the beginning stages. I wonder what that's about. Anyway, thanks, thanks, thanks, again.

    The last photo of my little group (with the dirt road) was taken with my own creative input (creative mode). Is it okay? or, am I completely missing something? Fall only lasts for 2 - 3 weeks; so, I think that it's going to take years of quick practice to get it!

  8. #8
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Living and Learning

    Quote Originally Posted by Katy Noelle View Post
    Donald, where were you a month ago??? The last photo of my little group (with the dirt road) was taken with my own creative input (creative mode). Is it okay? or, am I completely missing something?
    Are you missing something? NO.

    Is it okay? YES.

    On the basis of that last one with the dirt road, I think there is work to do on getting exposure more accurate. It looks over-exposed to me. But that, as you've already noted, is part of the learning. What you need to think about with a shot like this, is from where the meter reading is being taken. I'm not sure of the range of choices you have on the 450D, e.g. Evaluative, Partial, Spot, etc. So, one of the questions you would be asking as you line that one up is 'From where is my meter reading being taken ... and what is that going to mean for how it is captured? Do I need to make sure that the reading is being taken from a particular part of the image?'

    I would make studying exposure one of the things at the top of the learning list. Once you crack that one (and you will) an awful lot of other things flow from it.

    As for composition, I prefer the first one of the last two. Why? In the last one the road is coming up from the front of the frame and presenting a sort of big block preventing my eye from flowing easily towards the back (does that make sense?). It's like a barrier. Whereas in the first of those two, the roadway is dropping away AND giving a much stronger line taking my eye through the picture. With the second one, I would have liked to see you being able to shoot it from a higher position, so that the road didn't rise up so dramatically at the front of the image.

  9. #9
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Living and Learning

    I've just looked at your photojournal. There's some good stuff on there. You have more skill than you're giving yourself credit for.

  10. #10

    Re: Living and Learning

    Donald, I read about metering, yesterday - both in my manual and, here, in the tutorial. It was my first exposure (haha) to it. I have evaluative, partial, spot and, of course, CWAverage. Which should I have used? The only way that I understand to use it, now, is to use my auto focus point. Oh, wait! When I self focus, I can see it adjusting on the screen, too. However, I would love more control over that. I'm thinking about and trying to use it without fully understanding it.. Right onto the list of "things to learn" it goes!!! =] Anyway, what would you have done, please?

    I've been reading about and working on histograms for about a month, now. I saw that you have a tutorial, here.... it's on the list. =] Anyway, is the attached better? (sorry about the thumbnail. It wasn't loading it when it was bigger.) Hmmm, funny! Looking at it here, it looks the same as the other.

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    img_9267.jpg

    update: okay! Well, the reason it looks the same is because it IS the same - tchuh! The adjusted one is next to it. I can't believe all that color but, then, in real life, I never can. The road looks like itself, now, though, and the histogram makes much more sense.

    In regards to your composition note: that totally makes sense about the road. Now, I know why the first one has more impact for me emotionally. I love the glowing tunnel of leaves that are everywhere in the fall - it has such a sense of Wonderland about it.

    Oooo! Thanks for the encouragement regarding your look at the photo journal.
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    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 24th September 2010 at 07:02 AM.

  11. #11
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    Re: Living and Learning

    Hi Katy and welcome to CiC.

    I watch this post with interest and Donald is doing such a good job at the moment I feel it best you follow one mentor, as what he says is good. There will be plenty of time for more comments from others down the track.

    Keep shooting and posting – you’re getting the idea.

  12. #12
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    Re: Living and Learning

    The best light meter I have is the RGB histogram - I adjust until the brightest channel is close to the right. When the brightest channel is maxed or close to being maxed, more detail is captured (however there is more to it than this - the histogram is based on an in-camera histogram which does not truly reflect the raw data).

    My favourite reference on this is: http://www.luminous-landscape.com/tu...se-right.shtml

    Glenn

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    Re: Living and Learning

    Quote Originally Posted by Glenn NK View Post
    The best light meter I have is the RGB histogram
    IIRC, the 450D has a brightness histogram, but not RGB. I agree that the histogram is extremely valuable, but I don't think you'll be bothered by not having RGB. Just move it to the right, and avoid the "blinkies," i.e., where the brightest points are blown out and blink at you. The first histograms tutorial, here, is about the brightness (or tone, or intensity) histogram.

    Cheers,
    Rick

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    Re: Living and Learning

    Hi Katy,

    A couple of notes, and a little light reading for you ...

    Metering modes (Evaluative, Partial, Spot) are your way of telling the camera which parts of the scene are important in terms of the camera evaluating the "correct" exposure. So for the type of scene you've posted, all of it needs to be considered, so you'd normally go with Evaluative. Spot Metering ultimately gives total control - but - it's not used the way many folks think, and until you understand it, it can bite you in the bum.

    Histograms are valuable tools - but - mantra like "always expose to the right" can bite you in the bum as well ... it all depends on (a) what you're shooting, and (b) what the dynamic range of the scene is. Exposing to the right forces the tones you're capturing to be captured as highlights - and if they're not highlights (say they're skintones) then depite all the good-sounding theory about how great it is that you've captured all this additional information and avoided shadow noise etc, it can none-the-less be very difficult to push these highlights back to where they ought to be (I won't go into details of sensor response curves just yet though). So if you have a scene with significant back lighting (ie you're shooting towards the light source) AND you have shadow detail that you want to protect THEN expose- to-the-right is pretty mandatory, as you need to capture all the dynamic range you can. On the other hand, if the scene you're capturing is purely reflective (ie no "back lighting") then it's not necessary to ram the histogram hard up against the right hand side, as you'll only have to move it back down again in post processing, and you're likely to find that if you have to move it a long way then you'll have a hard time getting it to look "right". If you're shooting things that ARE dark (eg a "black cat on a black rug") then you definately DON'T want to be cramming the histogram up against the right hand side.

    We've had a few discussions on similar topics in the past, you you might find some of these links handy ...

    Histograms

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

    Choosing an Exposure Setting: Dynamic Range vs. ISO Speed

    Custom Settings for 1D Mark III

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    Re: Living and Learning

    I'll just add my 2:
    Be careful also with scenes with very strong primary colours (red, as in poppies, or blue mainly) : one channel can get completely blown, while the histogram still looks ok (the wee spike at the far right is often hard to see).

    Remco

  16. #16

    Re: Living and Learning

    Katy

    Colin's post is spot on. The histogram only gives a mathematical interpretation of what the camera and lens think they are seeing. It is only by applying the camera to varied lighting conditions and eclectic subject matter that you will begin to understand how the 'box of tricks' interprets the scene in front of it's lens. This experience can then be applied to actually adjusting the camera settings to get the effect you actually want. For instance I often shoot to the left in order to purposely omit detail in tonal range. I do this because it can give me the moody feel I wish to convey.

    I think you are going about things the right way. From your blog pages you are obviously shooting things familiar to you and give you pleasure whilst still presenting the camera with an acceptably wide range of visual conditions. This familiarity will help you to far better understand how the camera can capture these objects and how that capture,for better or worse is interpreted by the camera's post capture analysis. In this case the histogram.

    As for the autumnal shots presented above I think a real problem is that you are shooting at mid range (excepting the shots containing the building/s). The mood of trees and leaves can be difficult subjects so I think you need to either get up close or way back so that you lose the busy aspect of the leaves and present a scene where the colours in the trees compliment rather than dominate the scene.

    At this stage I would normally bang on about levels and curves adjustment in PP but I think you have been given more than enough to think about in the above posts. To be honest one of the downsides of these forums is information overload. I got to the stage where I was totally disillusioned and over faced by what I thought I had to learn. In reality you really only need to apply the advice and technical understanding to the job in hand. Once I got my focus back I was a much happer little bunny.

    Having browsed through your images I was struck by one predominant train of thought. You have a natural passion for the objects and scenes that you see around you. Now there is obviously an understandable tendency to want to capture these things faithfully and the camera is quite good at doing that in a mechanistic way. However the thing that a lot of novice (and not so novice) photographers forget is that as humans our brains process the scene in entirely different ways. What we really should be aiming to do is capture how we personally see and feel about the objects we photograph.This is the really difficult bit because you can be the most technically competent image capture specialist in the world but never actually put any of your own emotion and passion into your work. In these instances an outside viewer will see your images as bland even though the images may evoke a passion in your own mind.

    What I am trying to say, rather poorly, is that you need to find a way of photographing things that will convey your own inner feeling, not just the object or scene. You can do this through lighting, composition, abstraction or preferably a combination of these things.

    I hope Wendy (ScoutR) will not mind me saying this but her development is illustrated excellently on this forum. If you look at her early images you will see that she is trying to get a faithful capture of the things she loves but the images did not convey her passion. If you look at Wendy's recent work you will see a technical improvement but more predominantly her passion for what she is photographing come through in spades. This is what has given her an individual style that we recognise.

    This step is hard because it requires the photographer to break with preconceptions about what photography is or should be. It can also take a lot of soul searching because your natural style will be alien to what your 'ideal' in photography might be. It is rewarding part of development though because you will see yourself in your work

    Good luck

    Steve

  17. #17
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Living and Learning

    Like I've said before. If something's worth saying, it's worth saying it twice!

    I would also add, Katy, that I think you've got enough, in all that's been said above, to focus (sorry!) on for the moment. Get to grips with what's been written above about metering and exposure (read some more, if needed, about what 'exposing-to-the-right' is about in the context of histograms). If you get this fixed in your mind (and you will) then what comes after is going to make so much more sense.
    Last edited by Donald; 24th September 2010 at 01:44 PM.

  18. #18

    Re: Living and Learning

    I got a little over enthusiastic with the submit button. Actually the post is so long winded and self-indulgent that I went for a cheese and onion pasty and a whiff of Golden Virginia and got timed out.

  19. #19
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Living and Learning

    Quote Originally Posted by Wirefox View Post
    Actually the post is so long winded and self-indulgent
    Well, didn't want to say anything, but ... (that's a joke folks).

    No it's not. It's brilliant. And if Katy (and many others) study it and think about what it's saying, it will provide a valuable lesson.

  20. #20

    Re: Living and Learning

    Oh, hahahahahahahahaha! A big LOL!

    Dear Steve (and Donald - thank you, thank you! and, All),

    I completely and deeply understand EVERYTHING that you've said. It's just beautifully written. Again, I'm a professional musician. I've been this artistic road before! I read a WONDERFUL book (out of the kajillions out there) - Within The Frame, The journey of photographic vision by David DuChemin. It had me trembling and teary eyed in the bookstore. (I hope no one noticed!) It's all about how you chase the heart of the image. It's about how photography is about communication of heart and ideas. It's about the story or universal theme expressed. I understand the concept and have a desire to do this and recognize when others achieve it but am growing in my understanding of how to be able to do that myself. Your words are a much needed pointer in that direction and very happily challenging for me.

    I just happened to observe Wendy's first submissions and, then, saw her latest submission with the geese rising out of the misty pond - WOW! I would LOVE to "do a Wendy"!!!!

    I am glad for all of the technical advice that I've gotten!!!!!! That's why I'm here but truly, "holey moley"!!! Well, into the pot simmering on my brain it goes. I'll read!!!

    Thanks so much, Guys!!!!

    Kate
    Last edited by Katy Noelle; 24th September 2010 at 06:24 PM.

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