Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘photo tips’

I came up with this neat little memory/visual trick to let me know at a glance the charge state of my NiMh batteries. It’s really simple. If your batteries are fresh from the charger, orient all the positive ends in the same direction when you store them. If your batteries have been used, simply flip one of the batteries (I charge in units of four) around so that three will show the positive ends, and the fourth will be, of course, negative and the indicator of your batteries’ condition. The photo below illustrates what a set ready for recharge looks like. 

 

If the batteries arent all showing the same pole, its time for a recharge!

If the batteries aren't all showing the same pole, it's time for a recharge!

 One more battery-related tip…look for the new low-discharge NiMh batteries. Instead of draining 1% of their power per DAY, these babies will lose 1% of their juice over a MONTH! That means you can toss ’em into your camera bag and be confident that they’ll be ready to work six months from now. They cost a bit more but, for my money, they’re worth it.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Don’t be one of those people who say “I wish I had my camera with me” after something truly spectacular happens. Carry your camera with you wherever you go! If you’re unable ot carry a bulky DSLR, grab a point and shoot with a sensor chip of at least 3 megapixels resolution and stick it in your purse or jacket pocket.

You never know when you’ll be witness to a great photo situation and, believe me, you’ll kick yourself if you can’t lay hands on something with a lens when you do.

My personal choice for a carry-everywhere camera? The Canon Powershot G10. It’s one of the few point-and-shoot cameras with RAW capability and is reasonably inexpensive. If you’re interested in something cheaper, the earlier model, the G9, is very nice too. We’re talking $500 or less, fyi. Yeah, photography ain’t a cheap hobby…

While we’re at it, set your camera to auto ISO, aperture priority (set to f/5.6) and, if you’ve got it, set image stabilization ON. Setting your camera in this manner will leave you prepared to capture photos in almost any situation

So make a habit of taking your camera along…you just might make a picture that’ll reward you for it!

Read Full Post »

Here’s a short list of things to do now that you’ve got your dream camera:

  • Get a set of NiMh batteries…and a spare. Look for the new batteries that are labeled low discharge. This variety will keep a charge longer. On average, they lose only 1-2% of their charge per month. They’re worth the extra bucks.
  • Buy a carrying case. Don’t look to break the bank for a case. Your local Wal-Mart or Target carries a variety of cheap cases. Find one that will hold your camera, batteries, cards and, if needed, extra lenses. A case will protect your bag from dust, rain and prying eyes. Shy away from the ones with camera company logos emblazoned on them because they scream “steal me” to thieves.
  • Toss the memory card that came with the camera (for point and shoots, it’s usually 32MB or so…totally worthless) and invest in a 4GB card. Memory card prices are at a record low, take advantage of it now.
  • Read the manual! I can never say it enough. I know many are poorly written but slog through it a dozen pages at a time till you’ve read it all. It’ll be time well spent.
  • Get out there and practice. While practice won’t necessarily make you perfect, it will make you better. Take advantage of the instant feedback digital imaging provides to make a lot of photos and experiment with all the settings on your camera. Find which ones work best for you and get familiar with your “little friend.”  Delete the bad ones after you download them, never in the field. Remember, shoot in haste, delete at leisure.

One final tip. Find a friend with a similar passion for photography. It’s a great way to stay motivated as you learn to use your new camera. It’ll also give you a buddy to attend photo walks with!

Read Full Post »

The one filter that you absolutely, positively need in your bag is the circular polarizer. A polarizer is a filter that polarizes the light going through it to noticeably darken blue skies, reduce reflections and increase color saturation in your photos. The “circular” in its name means your auto focus and auto exposure systems won’t be affected by the polarized light and will focus and meter normally. Regular, non-circular polarizers are a little cheaper but won’t offer this extremely useful feature.

Polarizers are two pieces of polarized, coated glass that rotate relative to each other to increase or decrease the polarizing effect. Depending upon how much you rotate the filter, the effect can be subtle or quite dramatic.

Non-polarized, right, polarizer at max, left. Note saturated trees, sky at left.

Non-polarized, left, polarizer at max, right. Note saturated trees, sky at right.

The standard filter minuses apply here. Circular polarizers are expensive and will put two, not one additional layer of glass between you and your subject. (If you remember my earlier post about filters, you’ll remember that anytime you put glass in front of your camera, it causes some degree of image degradation.) Oh, and they’ll cost you at least one f-stop in exposure…depending on how much polarizing you do (i.e. if your base exposure is f/8, you’ll need to shoot at f/5.6 or thereabouts with a polarizer). Add to the pluses the added saturation, reflection control and the ability to double as a neutral density filter.

I think the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to polarizing filters.

Using a polarizer is simple, just rotate the filter as you look through the viewfinder. When you see the amount of sky darkening/saturation/reflection elimination you like, make the picture. Understand that if you change your camera’s orientation to the subject (i.e. change from a horizontal to vertical shot), you’ll need to re-adjust your polarizer.

I picked up a trick long ago that helps me quickly see where the maximum amount of polarization will take place. You simply make an “L” with your thumb and index finger, point your index finger at the sun and pretend your thumb is tracing an imaginary line across the sky. With that line in mind, the area of sky on the shadow side of your thumb will get the most benefit from the polarizer. A subject in front of that line will not see any benefit from a polarizer.

Hopefully, this photo shows how its done.

Hopefully, this photo shows the area of maximum effect.

So, if you’re still unconvinced about the value of a polarizing filter, borrow one from another photographer (that’s another benefit of attending photo walks…well-equipped photogs!) and give it a few turns (literally). I think you’ll see why I made room in my camera bag for this “must-have” filter.

Buy one.

Read Full Post »

Want to hold your camera for long exposures without having to resort to a flash or tripod? It’s not hard to do once you learn the proper way to hold your camera! The trick is as simple as putting your arms close to your body. As the photo below illustrates, doing this eliminates the “flying elbows” syndrome that is at the root of camera unsteadiness. 

I learned to shoot this way years ago from the late Eddie Adams. He showed me that by simply tucking my elbows into my sides, I could steady myself enough to consistently shoot sharp photos at slow shutter speeds. That one tip has followed me throughout my career. In fact, I can still handhold my camera at shutter speeds as slow as 1/15th of a second! Give it a try and see if it helps your available light shooting. Please post how this tip worked/didn’t work for you!

Read Full Post »

An idea book, for me, has become a useful tool for those times when I have trouble coming up with a new way to approach an assignment. Having subscribed to magazines like National Geographic, American Photo and Smithsonian for years, I was constantly finding inspiring, interesting photos that I wanted to remember for future “borrowing.” Twenty years ago I devoted a three-ring binder to be the place where I would stash those visual ideas for future use. The wee effort spent in pasting clips into this book has paid off handsomely throughout the years. Today, many pages are yellowed but that binder is still chuck-full of great ideas for lighting, composition and ways to approach tough photo situations. I don’t know what I’d do without it. Grab a binder during the back-to-school sales and start one of your own. I’ll be starting my third volume soon…

Read Full Post »

Believe it or not, there’s a right and a wrong way to carry your camera. A ridiculously high percentage of shooters carry at least one of their cameras across a shoulder. This exposes the camera to a greater risk of getting dinged and abused by door frames, corners and any other object you might brush up against.

You can cut this risk substantially by learning to carry your camera correctly.

All it takes is orienting the camera so that the lens points inward toward your body, not away from it. The photo below illustrates this concept nicely. Carrying my cameras in this way has saved me countless dollars in lens repairs and bent hoods. Sure, it’s still possible to ding your camera. But, as you can see, your elbow and/or shoulder will take a hit before your precious DSLR.

The price for this knowledge? Tell a friend about this blog!

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »