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 Post subject: Re: photography tip for the week
Unread postPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2011 8:07 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Good Evening everyone.

Just picked up on this thread and as I'm also getting into the photography I thought I could brain storm the experts opinions here...... :hmz: :cam:

Firstly I have a nikkon D90 with a nikkor VR 70-300 lense @ 4.5-5.6 F.stop and a wide angled lens of the same make from 18-105mm.

I have a few questions here so please bare with me..... :redface: :redface: 8) 8) :redface:

Image
Ok as you guys can tell I'm a very keen birder...
My first question is about exposure! Last weekend I was out on a pelagic right. Deep sea so I though lots of sun light, obvious I'm going to have to under expose because it is to bright as in the above case. Then my pics came out a little dark so I over exposed. the end result was the pick below....
Image
The under exposed image I can't see the details of the bird that well such as the eyes and throat. The second pick just feels to bright and the colours look faded on the bird? Is it just me because of the perfect sunshine conditions? What is the rule of thumb for exposure. I usually set my camera in apeture priority and then I set the W/B to the setting for the conditions. Can I trust the camera, because at the moment I'm still adding exposure +/- as I think is right?
Do the picks look a little out of focus to you guys?

Ok the next question is a little :redface: :redface: . I was birding in a forest with poor light and my camera just couldn't take photos. The shutter stayed open to long and the picks were all blurred! I eventually tried to change from apeture to manual mode and use flash to compensate for the lack of light but then the subjects were to bright I believe! As in the case below.
Image
So is it just my lenses that are not coping with the low light? IS it settings that I have wrong on my side? Am I just doomed to not be able to photograph in those conditions.....
I would apprieciate some help, and feel free to critic my pics !

Thank you kindly.....

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 Post subject: Re: photography tip for the week
Unread postPosted: Wed Aug 24, 2011 4:14 pm 
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from one beginner to another... Nothing wrong with your equipment. I suggest that you try/check the following for the next time you take similar pictures:
*continue to use apeture priority at the maximum size (lowest f-stop);
*for the bird pics, set the camera to spot metering, for the bokkie, rather use matrix metering;
*IF you need to use a flash, set it at TTL and NOT manual as to meter and attempt to set the amount of flash you require is not always appropriate when dealing with wildlife, especially when you have limited time to get any shot;
*if your shutter speed becomes too slow, rather push up the ISO and get a reasonable shot than not get any usable shot at all..... changing and upgrading your great equipment will not change the fact that you need to understand the interaction and effect of changing aperture, shutter speed and just as importantly, ISO.... and learn how to use them effectively... :hmz:

have you tried to lighten the first (dark) bird picture in any way? you may be surprised at what you can do with it, even if it is in Jpeg format....... your 2nd pic seems fine (but I do not know the brid :) )

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 Post subject: Re: photography tip for the week
Unread postPosted: Wed Aug 24, 2011 4:33 pm 
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Can I trust the camera, because at the moment I'm still adding exposure +/- as I think is right?

Often, but not always. The best example is photographing a black wall, and a white one. If perfectly done, and the camera is on full auto you should end up with identical photos of an 18% grey wall.

With photographing birds you have a bit of dark (the bird) against an often light background, like water or air. Then your camera will adjust to the bright bits of the photo.
I often (intend to) go manual then, and just walk the stops in my mind. Sunny day, so sunny f/16 @1/125.
But you want to shoot at f/8 so, f/11 @ 1/250, f/8 @ 1/500.
The fantastic bit with digital comes then, I make a photo f/8 @ 1/500, and check it on my screen. If it's good then continue, if not adjust where needed.

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 Post subject: Re: photography tip for the week
Unread postPosted: Sat Oct 29, 2011 4:29 am 
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Fantastic thread, with fantastic information! "Little" things that I forget about every now and again make ALL the difference to a potentially poor pic.

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 Post subject: Re: photography tip for the week
Unread postPosted: Sat Oct 29, 2011 4:52 am 
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Four questions (three on focus, one on flash) please for the experts, budding experts, or advanced novices ( :wink: ), of which I am none ...

Firstly, it is important to declare here that I do not yet have a DSLR; just the Sony DSC-H7, which can still take pretty excellent pics in average conditions. Of course, it is the other conditions that pose problems. :roll:

I remember clearly having a fully-adjustable analogue camera years ago and, to be honest, I much preferred setting the f-stop and shutter speed myself, and I mostly got the focus spot on, even in Kruger conditions. Now, all this automatic stuff seems to make things more complicated sometimes!

Anyway, please could you help with these problems I've been having?

1) Often in low light my camera struggles to focus, sometimes it moves in and out of focus continuously, and refuses to take the pic of the animal standing there a few metres from me! This occurs usually in the dawn or dusk hours. Does the camera need maintenance, or is this a problem of most automatic-focus cams?

2) When taking a pic of an animal surrounded by bush, the camera naturally focuses on something closer (a branch or bush), rather than the animal. I unfortunately do not have a manual focus facility, However, I have tried to change to spot focus, but sometimes this upsets the exposure of the pic (often comes out too light). Also, I have tried to estimate a similar distance and then first focussing on something there, then holding that focus with the shutter button before releasing it. This can work, but I find the exposure again is often wrong.

3) Even in good light (it has often happened at noon on a sunny day), if the camera is struggling to focus for whatever reason upon a clear subject (out in the open, nothing in the way), it will not release the picture until it gets this clearly in focus. Which means many times that I am pressing the button and nothing happens. Press, release, press, release, press, release ... still nothing. And then, suddenly, the pic will be in focus and the camera takes it. Often I cannot understand what the cam's delay is. The problem is that, as you all know, when you have set up the perfect pic and need to capture it, delays do you no good at all! I have missed many fine pics because of this. Sometimes, I just hold the release button down until the camera decides it is time to take the pic, which can be several seconds. Is this normal for automatic-focus digitals, or is my cam faulty?

4) The flash response is usually far too slow. Once the first pic has been taken, the camera will not take another flash until maybe 10-20 seconds later. I remember in the old days having a state-of-the-art electronic flash and that used to sing at a high pitch as it recharged each time. Does the modern digital cams also take time to charge the flash to a suitable level before release?
If I hold the release button down, the cam takes the pic when it deems the flash to be ready; which means I often get the subject in a pose I prefer not to publish!

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 Post subject: Re: photography tip for the week
Unread postPosted: Sat Oct 29, 2011 7:42 pm 
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OWN, seems your problems all boil down with a problem with your focusing.
Most, if not all, DSRL's focusing system is based on multi spot focusing >> it reads the scene on 8,10,12 different spots and focuses giving you the best results. It does this also taking into considering the light condition and moving objects.
Now, if for some reason it doesn't manage to read properly on all or most of these spots it tries doing it again and again and again.
Solutions? try check on the camera settings and see if you have the choice of choosing between modes of focusing. If you do set it on the lowest number of focusing points or spot focus.

Just a little note on this:
Multi spot focusing is mainly used for panoramic pictures so camera will focus of a large number of different spots and block the focusing meter accordingly.
Spot focusing, the camera will focus on a single centre spot. Used for macro and gives a precise focus but you loose a little/lot on your depth of field.

Your flash system operates directly with your focus one so if the focus goes berserk your flash with give you problems.
Tried to be as clear as possible and hope it helps.

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 Post subject: Re: photography tip for the week
Unread postPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2011 3:28 am 
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Thank you, Andy. :thumbs_up:

However, I do not have a DSLR, simply a digital Sony DSC-H7. Do ordinary digitals' focus work the same way as DSLR's? Also, I can only choose spot, average, or centre modes - do you think that spot focusing on animals would be the best selection, as I usually leave it on centre?

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 Post subject: Re: photography tip for the week
Unread postPosted: Thu Nov 24, 2011 8:54 am 
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Hi OWN,

I will start off by admitting out right that I don't know your camera. It's been a while since I used a non-DSLR so what I say here is based on memory and what I have seen DSLRs doing on auto mode.

Your focus problems are caused by the cameras inability to shoot in low light. This happens on DSLRs too, but you can put fatter lenses with lower f-stops on them which helps a lot (a quick google told me your cam goes from f2.7-4.5 which is not bad when zoomed out, but slows down a bit when zoomed in). They also use phase detection for focus unless used in live view.

Ok, to get back to your cam, it uses contrast detection. This is much slower and less accurate, and why you especially suffer in low light. What the camera does is focus in and out until it can "see" hard lines of contrast. If something is out of focus, it is rather blurry, but in focus it gives a crisp outline. Now, when it's darker (at dawn and dusk for example) it's harder for it to pick out a clear hard line. Even if the subject is in focus, it might be dark on a dark back ground which fools the camera a little.

Your camera should have a few focus modes. If it is set to multi-point mode it's going to pick the object that is closest to you to focus on. This is because the camera was designed with the mass consumer in mind, and the mass consumer wants to take snaps of people without anything between him and his subject. Not the case for wildlife where there are often bushes and twigs in the way. Have a look for a center point AF mode (you mentioned spot focus). This will ignore everything except what is in the middle. Note though, that the area of the center point is often larger than we think so while this is a better bet, it might still focus on something nearer to you if it's kinda almost in the middle of the frame.

Chances are that the exposure metering is linked to your AF point though, so if you set it to center, and then take a pic of something dark like a buffalo, you might end up with an over exposed image. You'll have to give it a go and see how it works out for you. You'll do better darkening a slightly over exposed image in post processing than having an out of focus image though (assuming it's not so over exposed that your whole pic is white).

On DSLRs you can set focus mode to a few different choices. I won't explain them now but assume, based on your description, that your camera is set to only take the pic once it feels it has locked focus. The fact that your camera is hunting in good light means it might need a service, or it's being blinded by something very bright. Afraid I can't give you a solid answer here. Have a look in your manual if you can change the focus mode, and play around again.

The flash response is bad even on high end DSLRs. That's why you can buy external flashes. They are usually worse on lower end models. The flash on your camera works by having a capacitor charged up, that can discharge quickly (much quicker than a battery) and release all the energy needed to make the world bright. The downside is that it takes a while to charge the capacitor. The time you are waiting between shots is what is needed to do this. Afraid there isn't much you can do here. You can try using rechargeable batteries, the lower voltage but higher amperage means the flash will charge faster. But not a major difference. Fresh batteries will probably make a bigger difference.

Hope this helps. It sounds to me though that you have reached the limits of your camera and are being frustrated by it. I suggest you take the plunge and buy a low end DSLR. For me going from a Canon S2 IS p&s to a 500D made a world of difference, and the step up to a 7D again let me get the shots I couldn't before (how many birds in flight have you managed with your Sony? :tongue: ). Shooting in full manual mode just gives you so much more control and lets you get those crisp, colourful images your crave. On that note, bare in mind that the lenses are the expensive part of the system, so keep that in mind if you start to consider this option.

One last point, go Canon :twisted: .

Chrs


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 Post subject: Re: photography tip for the week
Unread postPosted: Wed Nov 30, 2011 1:25 pm 
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Excellent thread :thumbs_up:


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