Tag Archives: choice

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.

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

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.

Examples

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.  




File Organisation

Subject

Tips for file organisation and backing up your photos

What is it?

Basically it’s a system that you develop that works for you. As I started organising and filing images before programs like Adobe Lightroom (which extracts images off your memory card and catalogues the files for you), I had to develop my own system that would let me catalogue my images so I could easily order and find them.

When I photograph an event I usually use two cameras. This introduces the risk that the two cameras may be shooting and recording the same number file. When I download those photos to the computer, I have to be sure that one set does not overwrite the other. You can now set up your camera to change the file number so that this won’t happen, but 10 years ago when it first happened to me, this function was not available on my cameras.

My step-by-step file organisation process

My first step is to upload the files to my computer and put them into a folder that has the following structure.

YYMMDD <<Descriptive Words>>, where “Descriptive Words” is two words about the shoot. If I was shooting a wedding it would be the Bride and the Groom’s names. I do this using the Windows import. So for example, if I photographed Greg and Mary’s wedding today the folder name would be:

140511 Greg Mary

Each photo would have its own unique number – I do not keep the original camera file names. So each photo would have a unique file name like: 140511 Greg Mary 001.jpg

Once I have retouched and edited the images, I do a backup of those images – one backup to an internal drive on my computer and another backup to an external drive.

The day I do the backup, I create a folder with the following structure:

2014 05 11 Photos

This is the folder I copy to the two drives for storage. This folder is stored in a top level folder named 2014.

This is MY procedure and it’s what works for me. I am not suggesting abandoning your procedure; just make sure that you have one, and that it makes sense to you, as the folder structure really needs to suit you.

Examples

File Organisation 01This is my external drive structure. Each folder contains backups. My backups are manual and I usually backup after a major event or shoot.

File Organisation 02This is what the 2011 folder looks like. Each folder is named as per the day I did the backup.

File Organisation 03As you can see this folder has five shoots in it.

File Organisation 04If I open the 110528 Ripley Lake folder I will find the following jpgs each with the same file naming convention. And the RAW files are in the CR2 folder.

Try This

Have a good look at your folders and files and if you don’t have a system of your own, I recommend you start one. If you overwrite a file or lose it, there is no way of getting the files back.





How do I choose what camera to buy?

The most commonly asked question I have been asked is.

What camera to buy?

So I decided to answer that question in a blog post so that everyone could read it, here are my simple questions that I ask in retaliation to the above question that helps me sort out what sort of camera you are looking for and that would suit your needs.

1) Portability?

do you want to have a camera in your pocket ready to take “that shot” if so a DSLR (digital removable lens camera) with multiple lenses is not for you, a simple point and shoot that’s portable would suit better.

2) Megapixels?

today’s compacts have 8mp as a minimum and really if your images are just for the web, or to print (is that a dirty word) no bigger than 8×12 (about A4) then really a 5mp camera will be more than sufficient (yes you read that right!)

3) Optical zoom or Digital zoom?

optical zoom is the ability to get closer, on compacts its measured in x (times zoom) so a 5x zoom will get you closer than a 3x and so on… (walking closer also works a treat too though) digital zoom will only help AFTER you have taken the photo, and is the same as cropping a photo, it will decrease the image quality, so a compact with more optical zoom will be better if you want to get closer

4) Creativity?

a compact will usually only have a few functions and will not allow you to control the outcome of the image, it will give you “standard settings” that shoot macro, portrait, landscape and sports, but it wont let you know what changes to the capturing process makes these setting different. A mid range hybrid (like a Canon G15) which has the ability to use the “standard functions” and use the manual camera settings like a DSLR.

With these four things in mind, a beginner can choose from a compact, a hybrid, or a DSLR.

If you have any questions about what to buy, send us an email answering those four, and we will help you as best we can.