Category Archives: Free Tips

No Green Square Video Lessons

No Green Square is launching a new series of video lessons, that will help you get the best out of your camera.

Here is the first video, I have four more videos in this series that discuss cameras, lenses and memory cards.

These introductory videos will teach you how to hold your camera what the different types of cameras are and what some of the numbers on the lenses you see mean.

No Green Square will be launching a new series of videos that will follow on from these introductory videos which will cover Aperture, Shutter SpeedISO, white balance, auto focus modes, metering and how they all interact.

I look forward to teaching you how to get the best out of your camera.

Photographer Styles:  Aperture vs Shutter Speed

As I was self-taught; I learnt the technical side of photography mainly from trying something and then seeing if it worked. Pretty much all of my experiments were based on the cameras shutter speed. I wanted to know how long I could hand hold the camera, how slow I could pan with the camera, I wanted to know what shutter speed setting I needed to blur the background or make the stars trace across my picture.

I mainly used shutter priority for all of my photography, I used the exposure compensation to make them brighter or darker, but the most important part of the picture for me was how fast was the shutter speed was.

When I was photographing single drift cars I would move from 1/60th to 1/160th depending on lens length, their speed and the ambient light conditions. Usually using a circular polarising lens to cut the glare, and allow me inadvertently use slower shutter speeds. When two cars were in the frame and they were in a battle I would shoot at 1/250th. As I wanted both of the cars (moving at different speeds) to be sharp.

So for about 7 years I never used the aperture priority setting. The arty side of Michael had not been unleashed, yet. But then I bought lenses that had smaller number apertures, which allowed me to work on other ways to get out of focus, I then started to learn about how aperture could affect my images. I did my 365 challenge at F2, and that helped with using lenses at small number apertures.

It made me realise though that there were two types of photographer styles, those that made the depth of field the most important aspect of their image (majority of landscape photographers), and those that made the amount of movement in their image the most important (majority of sports based photographers), even though those two are related to each other, the way you compose and think about how the image will look before you take the picture is very different.

How do I use each aspect on my camera?

If the depth of field is important in your picture you would use Aperture Priority and set your aperture to get the depth you wanted.

If the shutter speed was important then you would use Shutter Priority and set the shutter speed to get the desired effect that you were after.

What changes though is how you set up the picture in your mind before you take it. Long exposures or lots of depth of field with large number aperture will need a tripod; very shallow depth of field images may need to be manually focused to make sure what is important is in focus. Doing calculations (using a depth of field calculator) to make sure all in your image is going to be sharp.

Either way, there is more to the image than just pointing and shooting.


In the examples below I will outline what the thought was before and how I took the image.

Photographer StylesI was standing on this hill wanting to take a photo of the city lights and a car drove by, I saw the lights trailing down the hill and thought, how long would the car take to get to the bottom. So I timed my friend driving down the hill in my car, and then set the shutter speed to that and got him to do it again. This was shot on a Canon 300D with a 18-55mm Kit lens at ISO 200 F11 and a shutter speed of 65 seconds.

Photographer StylesThe GT Autosound car was going to be unveiled at Autosalon in 2006, I wanted to capture the unveiling, and I only had one shot at it of course, the camera was tripod mounted, and I released the shutter as the owner started to unveil. You can see his shoe near the gold front rim where he stood for a few seconds of this 10 second exposure, Shot on a Canon 20D at ISO 100, F13 and 10 seconds.

Photographer StylesI wanted to show the “Cruising of Rundle Street” in Adelaide with a slow shutter speed shot, the driver was quite still in the ½ second shot, we were doing about 25km/h no more, the lights dragging through the windscreen is what I wanted. Shot on a Canon 20D at ½ second ISO 400 and F4.5.

Photographer StylesLocation location location, being on the top of a 25 story high rise at IndyCar in 2007, the F1-11’s were going to do a dump and burn as they flew over. Not knowing what speed they would be flying past, I wanted to make sure I got a sharp shot of the planes. I set the shutter speed to 1/1000th to make sure. Shot on a Canon 20D 1/1000th of a second F8 and ISO 400.

Photographer StylesThe Brisbane river is rarely calm and mirror like unless you are awake at 4.00am before all the boats start and the wind picks up. So to make the river look calmer I made the shutter speed quite long. This makes the water look much calmer then it really is.  This shot was 8 minutes! I used a ND filter to darken the image. It was taken on a Canon 5D Mark II 487 seconds, F16 ISO 50.

Photographer StylesHere is one of my 365 challenge photos, by using the small depth of field that you get with an aperture of F2 the palm tree in the background does not distract the focus of the image. Canon 5D Mark II at F2 and 1/1000th of a second at ISO 50.

Photographer StylesIn this photo of a glass ball with Brisbane in the background I needed to make sure that the city in the ball was sharp and in focus. The image has been inverted as well. The very shallow depth of field at F2 made this photo quite tricky. Taken on a Canon 5D Mark II 1/4000th F2 and ISO 50.

Photographer StylesThis shot on HaLong Bay, was a mix of both of these styles, the problem was it was getting darker and darker, I was using my Canon 5D Mark II and the maximum ISO I wanted to use was ISO 3200. The camera was on a tripod on the deck of another boat, so a very long exposure would have been blurry, and the boats themselves were also moving. So I needed to shoot at 1/3rd of a second at ISO 3200 and F2.8 to get this shot.

Photographer StylesIn this photo of a train leaving the Pimlico station, I had just got off the train so I needed to act fast, I wanted the train to be moving through the shot, and I didn’t have a tripod with me so I needed to hand hold the shot, I set the camera to 1/8th of a second and knew that if I took three shots, at least one should be sharp. This was the result. Canon 5D Mark II 1/8th of a second and aperture F9.5.

Photographer StylesLastly this photo of a welder that was taken for my 365 challenge, I was limited to F2 for the challenge, but wanted the sparks to be flying, and for that to happen I needed a slow shutter speed. I lowered the ISO to 50 and manually set the camera to 1/20th of a second. The light from the welding sparks also lit up the welder. Canon 5D Mark II ISO 50 F2 and 1/20th of a second.

Try This

Which one are you? Are you thinking about shutter speed or aperture when thinking about your pictures? See if you can switch sides and change the way you think about your photography.

Crossfit and Indoor Gym Photography

What is it?

The usual problems with Crossfit and indoor gym photography, is the small amount of light in these places. Because of this, your camera if left in automatic mode, will slow the shutter speed down which will cause your pictures to blur.

The problem with this is that you don’t want your pictures to blur! So how do you get around this?

Below is a list of tips that you can do with any camera that has a P mode, most point and shoot cameras will allow you to set one aspect of the camera, and modify some of the settings to allow you to get better shots.

The first thing to do is consult your manual, and look up these three terms, if you don’t have your manual and are not sure what  they are I have linked the terms to previous blog posts, so you can have a read.

ISO, Aperture and Shutter Speed.

If you are taking pictures of people moving, you need a fast shutter speed to freeze the action. In these sorts of sports, you really need to be taking pictures at 1/250th of a second, as a minimum, anything slower than that and you will get motion blur.

Please note the following pictures were taken at Crossfit Coorparoo by me, using their Canon PowerShot ELPH 330 HS (pictured below), not my Canon 5D Mark II.

Crossfit and Indoor Gym Photography

I set the camera in P mode, I adjusted the ISO manually to different ISO, here is the critical part, this camera when zoomed will have a larger number aperture, so it is at its best and will let in more light, when it is NOT zoomed, (don’t worry Trent, i set the camera back to how you had it when I gave it back)


So all the images below were taken with the camera not zoomed in, I used Foot Zoom, its where you walk closer or further away to get everything into the picture.  With this in mind, have a look at some of the pictures below, I will explain what I have done to get these pictures and what is happening in the photos.

Crossfit and Indoor Gym PhotographyIn this photo taken at F3 ISO 1600 and 1/40th of a second, Mike’s legs are blurry as they are moving through his toes to bar exercise.  This camera is being pushed to its limits though as ISO 1600 is very high and at F3 its at the smallest number it can be.  So the light is terrible, and I can’t really do much about it.

So how do I make sure that I don’t get blurry shots?

TIMING!  With Crossfit most of the movements have a point that they are locked out, or in a Rep. That’s when you take their picture. Please note the time between pushing the button and the camera taking the picture will depend with each camera, with a little practice you will get to know what it is.

Crossfit and Indoor Gym PhotographyThese two images were both taken at F3 ISO 400 and 1/20th of a second, the one on the left has better timing than the one on the right, as I have managed to get the ball when it has stopped, whereas on the right the ball is still moving up or down. The two bodies are relatively stationary as they are in the top of their rep. An open door helped with the light at this end of the gym. Please note: I have very steady hands, taking a picture at 1/20th of a second may not give you the same results, its best to try and get the camera to use a faster shutter speed.

Crossfit and Indoor Gym PhotographyThese two images were both taken at F3 ISO 1600 and 1/60th of a second, the one on the left has better timing than the one on the right, as I have managed to get the kettle bell when it has stopped, whereas on the right the ball is still moving up or down. The two bodies are relatively stationary as they are in the top of their rep. The open door in the background has really affected this photo, best to avoid bright spots like this with these point and shoot cameras that cannot be set manually.

Crossfit and Indoor Gym PhotographyIn this photo shot at F3 ISO 400 and 1/60th of a second, I used the on camera flash to light up the subject, again the timing was key as Trent is at the top of his movement, note the flash on these point and shoot cameras is so small it will only usually have a range of about a meter. You can see how the light on his shoes is already not affected by the flash, usually best not to use flash.

Crossfit and Indoor Gym PhotographyIn this photo shot at F3 ISO 320 and 1/60th of a second, again I have used the flash, you can see signs around Mike’s shoes where they have moved after the flash has fired, and there is blur.

So here are the tips summed up.

If your point and shoot camera has a zoom lens, don’t zoom, if you have an entry level DSLR and it has the kit lens on it, best not to zoom as well.

If you have a P mode in the menu (instead of “sports” “landscape” or “portrait”) use it, it will allow you to change some of the settings. Specifically the ISO.

Turn the flash off, usually it kills the battery quicker, slows down the reaction time of the camera, and it wont get too far.

If possible set the shutter speed as fast as you can.

Timing, timing, timing, test how long the response is between you pressing the button and the camera taking a picture, and hit the button at the right time.

If your camera has a burst mode which takes a series of photos very quickly, use it and start the burst as the movement is about to finish, one of the photos may be timed perfectly.

This was written specifically for point and shoot cameras, if you have a DSLR, then you should use shutter priority and lift the ISO as high as you need to, so that you can set the shutter speed to 1/250th. There are very cheap 50mm lenses (under $200) for most DSLR cameras with an Aperture of 1.8. they would be really well suited to this type of photography.

If you are a Crossfit Affiliate and would like me to show you how to take better photos with your own cameras in your gym, please contact me. If you would like to see some of my work, have a look through this gallery, taken at the Again Faster Semper Paratus 2014 Team Challenge. Most of these pictures were taken at F2.8 ISO 1600 and 1/90th of a second.

Macro Lens and Extension Tubes

What is it?

Macro photography gets you closer to things, it makes small things larger on your sensor or film, by doing this it opens up the world of photography to things that you would walk past or miss on a daily basis. Insects flowers and many more things look amazing when you get closer to them than the naked eye. Here is what a macro lens and extension tubes can do for your photography.

A dedicated Macro lens will allow you to take pictures of objects, closer to the front of the lens than your kit lens. This allows you to get closer to your subject making it up to 5x its actual size on the sensor. A lens like the Canon 65mm MP-E Macro is dedicated to taking macro images and will focus on very short distances from the lens.  But, that lens will only do that one thing, it does do it quite well though, but it is not as versatile as the Canon 100mm F2.8 Macro LIS this lens can be used to do portrait work as well as other things.

What if you wanted to learn about Macro photography but didn’t want to buy a macro lens just in case you tried it and really didn’t like it?

Extension tubes are your answer, they will convert almost any lens to do macro photography. A set set will cost you about $225 compared to the price of a dedicated macro lens that is great Value.

I have a set of Kenko extension tubes, they attach between your camera and lens, and move the lens forward. They come in a set of three, 12mm, 24mm, and 36mm and you can use one of them at a time or all three of them at the same time, they will allow you to focus closer to your subject using your existing lenses.

How do I use it on my camera?

I will be talking about how the ones I have work with my Canon camera and lenses. There may be some slight differences with other brands of cameras and extension tubes.

The set I have use a pass through system, there are contacts that allow the lens and camera to communicate with each other, so the camera will autofocus and set the aperture. You can buy units that do not pass through, they will require manual focusing and you cannot control the aperture, so you can only use the smallest number aperture that lens has, which will limit the depth of field in your photo, when shooting this close, you may need more depth, my advice is to buy the pass through models.

The focusing distance that a lens refers to is measured from the subject to the film or sensor it is being recorded on. A 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 kit lens that has a minimum focusing distance of 25cm, that means that your subject can be as close as 25cm from about the back of the camera.

As the tubes shorten the focusing distance on any lens they are fitted to, you do have to be careful of what you fit them to, as the focusing distance may be shorter than the lens, which would mean that the subject would never be able to be focused on. Wide angle lenses that focus close usually fall into this category, I have a Canon 16-35mm  F2.8mm lens that has a minimum focus distance of 24cm, if I put a 12mm extension tube on that lens it cannot focus.

What does it do to my pictures?

Here are some examples taken back to back on a 50mm F1.4 lens with the 12mm 24mm and 36mm tubes and a 100mm Dedicated 1 to 1 Macro Lens, I have also added the tubes to the Macro lens to show what it would do to that lens. All the images were taken on a 5D mark II with ambient light at my desk, hand held and I was focusing on the 1:2.8 marking on the lens, the aperture was set to F2 and I was shooting at 1/250th when using the 50mm and F2.8 at 1/125th when using the 100mm Macro.


Macro Lens and Extension Tubes50mm with 12 mm tube: The photo on the left is the 50mm at standard focusing distance. The photo on the right is using the tube. Note the depth of field or out of focus in the background is starting to disappear very quickly.

Macro Lens and Extension Tubes50mm with 24mm tube: Note the out of focus is much more effective, and that the EF-S marking on the top of the lens is almost not readable.

Macro Lens and Extension Tubes50mm with 36mm tube: I now am so close that the EF-S marking is not in my picture. Note though that now the 60mm is starting to be out of focus. You can see the details in the gold ring and the rubber on the lens though quite nicely.

Macro Lens and Extension Tubes50mm with all three tubes: Note that with all three on the camera, I had to increase the exposure. Note the .8 of the 2.8 is now almost out of focus. The depth of field at this distance would be less than a millimetre.

Macro Lens and Extension Tubes 100mm Macro: The photo on the left is the 100mm at standard focusing distance. The photo on the right is what the Macro lens can do without the use of an extension tube. This lens also has image stabilisation which can be handy when you are getting close and the smallest of movements will blur your photo.

Macro Lens and Extension Tubes I have added the 12mm tube to the 100mm dedicated macro lens to show that if you were to buy the tubes you can then still use them on your dedicated macro as well, and get even closer!

Try This

Here are some images that I have taken with a mixture of lenses with and without tubes. One of these images was taken with a dedicated macro lens. The first person to email me with the correct image and the image settings both aperture and shutter speed will win a set of extension tubes that suit their camera and a 2 hour photo walk around Roma Street Parklands showing how to use them.

Macro Lens and Extension Tubes Picture 1

Macro Lens and Extension TubesPicture 2

Macro Lens and Extension TubesPicture 3

Macro Lens and Extension TubesPicture 4

Macro Lens and Extension TubesPicture 5

Email me with your choice and the camera settings for your chance to win the tubes. I will announce the winner once it has been won.

Tourist in your own town

When was the last time you went for a walk as a tourist in your own town, city or suburb? We spend hundreds and thousands of dollars every year to go somewhere foreign or exotic and take our camera out, blow off the dust and take pictures. BUT when was the last time you wandered around Brisbane City, Bulimba or Capalaba?

I can hear it already:  “But I am too busy”, “I don’t know what to photograph”, “I need inspiration to shoot”. So here it is!

Go for a 15 minute walk down your street. Take your camera, don’t take your phone (unless it is your camera). Don’t walk the dog, just walk. Slowly. Look UP, look down, look around you, and take in all that your street has to offer. I am sure that you will find something to photograph in the first 100 metres – a flower, an interesting tree, a spider web, a hood ornament, or even just the clouds!

Whatever it is, try to photograph it in three different ways, and change the style in each. Use a different aperture or a slow or fast shutter speed. Photograph it close up. I have added some examples below to show you what I mean, as I live in Bulimba. Here are my Bulimba photos.

tourist in your own town Star trails and Planes; Canon 5D II, 16mm, F6.7, 189 shots at 20 seconds per shot (About 63 minutes). I didn’t even leave the house for this one, taken from my bedroom balcony, this is the stars the moon and some planes coming into land. This post will tell you how I did it.

02 Tourist in your own TownCityCat at sunset; Canon 5D II, F6.7, 1/20th, ISO 800. Taken at the Hawthorne Ferry Terminal just as the CityCat was leaving. This used a panning technique.

03 Tourist in your own TownAll clear on final; Canon 7D, F4.5, 1/1500th, ISO 400. This macro shot was taken in my back garden. Less than five steps from my back door.

04 Tourist in your own TownBulimba Ferry Terminal; Canon 5D II, F2, 1/1500th, ISO 50. I dropped my wife to the terminal and noticed the sun on the terminal building. I took this shot as part of my 365 photo a day challenge.
05 Tourist in your own TownSunsets and CityCats; Canon 5D II, F2, 1/45th, ISO 50. I saw the rays as I was driving home and thought the Hawthorne ferry terminal would give me a nice vantage point.

07 Tourist in your own TownTo Bulimba; Canon 7D, F9.5, 30 seconds, ISO 400. I missed the ferry to Bulimba, and while I was waiting (without a tripod) I put my camera on the ground, propped it up with my wallet and took this long exposure.

08 Tourist in your own TownDodge; Canon 1000D, F2.8, 1/350th, ISO 400. This was parked just out front of the Jetty Bar at the end of Oxford Street in Bulimba. As it was an old car, I thought I would give it a black and white process.

A picture can be taken anywhere, so take your camera with you and you will be surprised what you find.

Try This

Have a go! If a 15 minute walk up the street is too far, check out your garden. Or take a ferry instead of driving so you can enjoy the scenery.

If you are planning a holiday, why not get your camera out now and get back into using it, or if you need a little push, we have our holiday memories photo walk, to help you learn more about holiday photography.

Which 1000 words does your photo tell?

I was told that a picture must be self-explanatory some say a picture is worth 1000 words, i.e. the person viewing the picture should understand what is going on without a title and without speaking to the creator of the picture.

When I was told that I never really understood what that meant and how I was supposed to portray that in one shot. If the reader wasn’t with me and they don’t know the subject matter like I do, and they may or may not care what the subject is, how do I tell them the story?

Over the years as I developed as a photographer I realised that this skill makes your photographs stand out, and pushes you to get better and pay more attention to the small details in the photo.

So how do you tell a story in a picture without using words? I think the best way to do this is to show the reader the different parts of the story in the picture. That is by using the foreground, the background and the subject matter to each have their say in the final story that the picture is telling.


I photographed the Brighton Jetty Classic in Adelaide, and was tasked to show the event at its best. So the story behind the photo was to show the Brighton Jetty, the swimmers in open water and that the people swimming are in a competition. The three examples show how the story is told better in each example.

Picture worth 1000 words This image shows the open water swim aspect, shows the competition as they are all wearing the same caps, and shows some competition, but it does not show the location.

Picture worth 1000 words This image shows off the location, and if you look closely enough you can see the competition but it’s not the focus of the shot. Again it tells a story but not the whole story.

1000 Words 03This image now shows the open water swim, the Brighton Jetty location and the competition. It tells the whole story. The three aspects are combined into the one photo.

1000 Words 06Lastly I was asked to capture a Ford fanatic’s large car collection, and his large shed. He also drives a sprint car. To get all of that into one picture I took this shot, bearing in mind the green car was not running at the time, so the shed had to be the location for the shoot. This photo was commissioned for Street Machine Magazine.

Try This

Give a picture with no title to a friend and ask them to tell you what the photo tells them. Compare that to the reason you took the image and what you were trying to put across.

Panning: how and when to use it in photography Part II

What is panning?

Panning is a photography skill that involves moving the camera left to right or up and down to follow your subject while they are moving. You can also slow the shutter speed down in order to blur the background as you take the picture.

The previous blog post will showed you three of the ways it  can be used. Below are two more ways and some practice tips.

Panning to show movement in the action

By using a long exposure I have shown how you can show movement in a scene like a waterfall, if you are panning however you are trying to show the movement of an object by showing the blurry background. You can use this to make a slow moving subject look like it was moving faster.

08 PanningCanon 5D II, ISO100 1/40th 16mm F11: By panning I have been able to make this little boy look like he was going faster than he was.

11 PanningCanon 5D II, ISO100 1/125th 40mm F6.7: By panning I have made this look like the motorbike was going faster than it actually was, but keeping the subject, the passenger on the back as sharp as possible.

Panning to get a shot as its too dark to freeze the motion.

This is almost not relevant any more as ISO is no longer as grainy at “high” ISO as it used to be early-model digital cameras. However, if you are still restricted to using an ISO 1600 or lower, there may be times in dawn or dusk. or under street or artificial light where you may need to pan in order to get a sharp shot.

04 Panning 04Canon 5D II, ISO400 1/60th 65mm F5.6: In the rain there is usually less light. Panning has still allowed me to capture the action without blurring the subject.

07 PanningCanon 5D II, ISO1600 1/125th 21mm F3.2: By panning I have been able to almost freeze the car in mid-air, but still been able to show that it is moving, all in a very poorly lit environment.

09 PanningCanon 20D, ISO800 1/40th 40mm F3.5: The upper limit on the 20D was really ISO400. This ISO800 image is very grainy, but by panning I was able to take this image just before dawn at a 24 Hour race. The darkness allows the viewer to see the glowing brakes better.

Try This

To learn how to pan properly, you need to make some decisions about your settings before or while you are taking pictures. To get a better understanding of what you need to set and what to change, you need to be able to register how fast your subject is moving, and change the shutter speed to suit.

  • I would start with a shutter speed of 1/subject speed in km/h. So, for example, a car moving at 60km/h past you would be shot at 1/60th of a second. Then slow the shutter down further to increase the blurred effect.
  • You need to be using a continuous focus system on your camera: AI-Servo (Canon) or AF-C (Nikon). Most entry level cameras only have a centre focus point that is better at tracking focus. Revert to your manual for more information.
  • Stand comfortably and make you are facing where you intend to take the picture through the motion of the panning. Don’t twist as you pan and then take your picture when your feet are facing forwards and your twisted to the left or the right.

The best way to practice is to find somewhere that has moving targets that pass you at the same speed. So you can get accustomed to that speed. When you feel that you have practised enough, move to a place where they go faster. And so on, note that the more you practice the better you will get.

Panning: how and when to use it in photography

What is panning?

Panning is a photography skill that involves moving the camera left to right or up and down to follow your subject while they are moving. You can also slow the shutter speed down in order to blur the background as you take the picture.

This blog post will show you two of the ways it can be used. There will be a follow up post showing another two uses and some exercises on how to improve your panning skills.

Usually this skill is used in sports photography with very fast moving subjects but it has many more uses.

I feel that panning is a great skill to learn, as not everything you will photograph will stay still. Sometimes you are moving and the subject is stationary, so you need to pan with it. An example would be taking a picture from a fast moving train.

How do I use it on my camera?

There is not one setting that makes panning what it is. It is a mixture of movements and shutter speed that will get the result you want. Image stabilisation can be helpful but was not used in any of the examples below. This post walks through a few different examples of panning, showing the settings and how to get similar results.

What does it do to my pictures?
Blurring the background, while keeping the subject sharp

This is typically the look that people want from panning. Blurring the background and keeping the subject sharp draws attention to the subject and takes the focus away from the background. This could be useful where the background is distracting or muddled with colours.

01 Panning 1Canon 40D, ISO100 1/80th 135mm F7.1: By panning with the car I have been able to keep the car sharp while it was driving past me at about 120km/h. By using a large number F there is enough depth for the driver to be sharp as well.

02 Panning 2Canon 7D, ISO1600 1/60th 105mm F4: By panning at such a slow shutter speed I have removed the distracting crowd in the background of this shot, and the focus remains on the driver and his bike.

10 PanningCanon 5D II, ISO50 1/60th 70mm F14: The timing tower and the white building at Lakeside are quite an eyesore. By panning and blurring the background, the car (the subject of this photo) is more prominent.

Keeping the subject sharp while you are moving

An example of this is taking a picture from a moving train. Say you wanted to get a picture of a landscape while you were passing it from a moving train. You want a reasonable depth of field, using a large number aperture, this will of course slow the shutter speed down. By panning with your subject you will be able to get a sharper shot than trying to keep the camera still.

03 Panning  3Canon 5D II, ISO400 1/180th 50mm F6.7: This shot was taken from a moving train in Intelaken, Switzerland. I wanted a slow shutter speed so the waterfall wouldn’t look frozen, by panning I have allowed the shot not to blur.

Blurring the foreground to remove it from the picture

This is not usually seen in the everyday world of a photographer, but motorsport photographers have to deal with photographing through fences, crowds of people or many other objects to get the shot. Sometimes you can use a small number aperture to get the fence out of focus, but you can also do it by panning. By slowing the shutter speed down you can actually blur out the fence.

05 PanningCanon 7D, ISO100 1/80th 16mm F9: The blurry brown in the foreground is tall grass. As the sun was behind me, this was “the best angle” from which to capture this car. However the grass in the foreground was in the way. I couldn’t move the grass, so I had to use a slow shutter speed to blur it out of the photo.

06 PanningTop Left, Canon 5D II, ISO400 1/125th 70mm F8, Bottom Right, Canon 5D II, ISO100 1/125th 150mm F3.5: The fence in the top left picture is starting to disappear with some panning at 1/125th. By getting closer to the fence, using a longer length lens and a smaller aperture, the fence in the bottom right almost looks to have disappeared.

To Be Continued

Counting the true cost of a photo

The cost of a photo is not just the memory card it was taken on, nor is it just the cost of the model of camera and lens you are using. The true cost of a photo is more about the story behind the photo, the setup, the taking of it and the inevitable processing.

01 Cost Of Photo experienceBoat on Brienzsee, Ringgenberg; using a wide angle lens gives the mountain’s behind the boat some perspective.

If you were on a holiday, the cost of a picture could include the cost of the trip, added to the cost of the camera and so on. But what about your experience? By experience I am not meaning your holiday experience I am meaning the experience you have behind the camera – your abilities as a photographer.

02 Cost Of Photo experienceFlying Scotsman, Paris; the RAW processing of this image was made to look like it was taken in the same period that the car would have been new.

My experience is in motor sport photography, and my experience in that genre has made me aware of where incidents may happen or places that would make a great new angle. This allowed me to capture images that were different to the normal and would tell a different story, or show a facet of the sport that people had not seen before.

03 Cost Of Photo experiencePimlico Tube Station, London; by taking this photo at 1/8th of a second, the train moving out of the station has been accentuated. By using the right balance of ISO and shutter speed I was able to hand hold the camera for this shot.

Over the years I have tried other genres of photography and I have come to the conclusion that a photographer that is good at their genre usually is an expert in that genre too. A surf photographer will be able to pick waves that a board rider will take, and know which surfer to follow as they have the best wave.

A landscape photographer will know what time of the year the best cloud formations appear over their subject and the placing of the sun to maximise the lighting, as you can’t move the mountains but the sun does shift over summer / winter.

Likewise a macro photographer will know that a dragonfly will come back to a perch it has sat on if it flies away, as long as you’re patient enough.

04 Cost Of Photo experienceBoats for hire, Lake Como; by using a tripod and a long shutter speed I have made the headlights of the cars drag.

So this knowledge is part of what makes up the cost of a photo. The other part of the cost, is knowing which lens to choose, which aperture to use, what the shutter speed will do to the mood of the image and so on, as you have seen from the examples above there is more to the picture than just pushing the shutter button.

05 Cost Of Photo experienceFlower bokeh, Rothenburg; by using a very small number aperture I have made the different flowers behind this poppy blend into the photo.

06 Cost Of Photo experienceSpiral staircase, Arc de Triomphe; by using a fisheye lens, the spiral of the staircase has been exaggerated.

07 Cost Of Photo experienceDole Reflections, Dole, France; by using a HDR technique I have been able to capture all the detail in this scene.

This is what we are here to teach you! Our next Learning to crawl beginners class is on the 30th of August book now.


Image Stabilisation do I need it?

What is it?

Image Stabilisation is probably one of the least understood photographic advances there is. The image stabilisation systems across camera models differ in how they work (some move parts in the lens, others move parts in the camera body), but their common aim is to move parts of the camera in the same way you do when holding your camera (unsteadily) so that you get less blurry photos. This feature is also known as, Vibration Reduction (VR), Optical Stabilsation (OS), Vibration Correction (VC) , Optical Steady Shot (OSS) and many more.

How do I use it on my camera?

Usually there is a switch on the lens to turn it on. Some camera-based systems may have a menu to turn it on.  

What does it do to my pictures?

By moving the parts in your equipment as you move, image stabilisation allows you to take a picture at a speed slower than you might otherwise be able to.

The general rule for being able to hand hold a camera and get  sharp picture, is using a shutter speed of 1/ length of lens. So for example, using a 100mm lens would mean you would need to shoot at 1/100th of a second to stop the whole image from blurring. Assuming that the entire picture is stationary then all the picture should be sharp. As it is a general rule, some people with shaky hands may not be able to get these results, and some people with very steady hands may be able to shoot slower than that and still get sharp pictures.

So if a lens which has image stabilisation suggests that it will be able to gain 2 stops, what that actually means is that with your 100mm lens, instead of being able to hold 1/100th (as the above rule), with image stabilisation active you would be able to hold 1/25th of a second.

This is all well and good if your subject is stationary, but if you are photographing a person, or people, this would be too slow unless you asked them to stay VERY still.


image stabilisationYou can see in this picture that everything is blurry. This is a result of using too slow a shutter speed and the camera moving while you take the picture. This is where an image stabilised lens could have helped keep the camera still enough to avoid the shake that is in this picture.

image stabilisationIn this image, even with a fast enough shutter speed to hold the camera still, the subject was moving and has been blurred. In this case an image stabilised lens would not have helped at all.

image stabilisationPanning involves moving the lens with your subject while taking the picture, as you can see in the picture above, the rider was moving right to left, and I was moving the lens at the same speed as him right to left. Because of this movement and the slow shutter speed (1/60th) the background has blurred.  An example of this style of IS is on the Canon 70-200 F4LIS. This lens stops the jarring in the direction of the panning and will help with slower shutter speed panning. This lens claims to have a 4 stop assistance.

image stabilisationThe above shot was taken on the Canon 100mm F2.8LIS Macro which has a hybrid image stabilisation. This works in both movements that are left / right and up / down, but also movements that are forward / backward. In the case of macro photography, when photographing very small things very close to them, the depth of field is very shallow, the smallest movement forward / backward can make the subject of your photo out of focus. As you can see in the following example.

image stabilisationYou can see that the frogs eye is not sharp in this photo, its slightly closer than the frogs eye. This would have been due to me moving slightly back as I was taking the picture. This was taken at F6.7  the depth of field at this distance and aperture is about 5mm.

Our Tip

If you are in the market for a new lens and you have the choice to buy with or without Image Stabilisation, make sure if you are buying it that you are buying it for the right reasons. If you have shaky hands and are having trouble with images where the whole image is blurry, then image stabilisation is most likely going to be best for you.