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Old 04-21-2010, 02:26 PM   #1
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Newbies Guide to DSLR's (Read Me)

Good info here...copied from another site

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It seems like every time I post pictures someone will send me a PM asking questions about how to improve their photography. Over the past few months I've written a book's worth of information, but most of it has been in small pieces and sent out in individual PM's. I figured now would be a good time to put some of that information together in to a guide that everyone can benefit from. So here you go...




Part 1 - Aperture, Shutter Speed, & ISO



First and foremost, we need to cover the 3 main settings you should be adjusting on your Digital SLR and the relationship they share with one and other: Aperture, Shutter Speed, and ISO. In the world of photography, light is everything. These 3 settings control how much light enters your camera or how your camera processes that light, so understanding what each setting controls and the relationship between the settings is critical to taking a properly exposed picture.



1) Aperture



Think of Aperture as the hole in your camera that lets in light. A bigger aperture means a bigger "hole" and thus, lets in more light. Conversely, a smaller aperture will let in less light. Aperture is probably the most confusing of the 3 settings because the number (f/stop) used to describe it may seem "backwards" to most people. The lower the number, the larger the aperture, and vise versa.



For example, an aperture of f/2.8 is twice as large as an aperture of f/4.0 and will let in twice as much light. I've illustrated this below to help you visualize what I've just described:



Aperture is usually controlled in 1/3 stops, so 3 clicks of the wheel is 1 full f/stop. For example, f/2.8 to f/4.0 is one full stop. f/3.3 and f/3.5 would be one third stops in between f/2.8 and f/4.0. The minimum and maximum aperture settings are dependent on the lens you're using. More expensive lenses will usually have bigger apertures. For example, a lens with a maximum aperture of f/2.8 will usually cost hundreds of dollars more than the same lens with a maximum aperture of f/4.0.



Aperture doesn't just control the light entering the camera, it also controls what is known as Depth of Field (DoF). This is the primary reason for adjusting the aperture value on the camera and is extremely important to understand. Depth of field is simply a way of describing how much of your picture is in focus. A narrow depth of field will have very little in focus (blurry background) while a wide depth of field will have almost the entire frame in focus (detailed background).



In the example below, the picture on the left has a wide depth of field where as the picture on the right has a narrow depth of field:



Depth of field is controlled by the aperture setting. A larger aperture (smaller number) will have a very narrow depth of field. A smaller aperture (larger number) will have a wide depth of field. For example, in the images above, the left picture was taken at f/10 where as the picture on the right was taken at f/2. A good way to remember this relationship is to think of the aperture f/stops (numbers) as a measurement of depth of field. The smaller the number, the smaller the depth of field, and vise versa.



So then, why would we ever want to use a large aperture (small number)? Wouldn't we always want the most detail possible? The short answer is no, because your aperture setting will vary greatly depending on your situation. If you're looking to isolate your subject or remove a distracting background, a narrow depth of field is the best way to do so. Your subject will be in focus and the background will be blurry. Depending on how far away the background is and how large your aperture is, the background can become so blurry that it almost looks milky. This magnitude of background blur is usually referred to as "bokeh" and is a desired effect for some pictures, especially portraits.



An example of the exact opposite situation where you'd want maximum detail and a wide depth of field would be shooting a landscape or something very large. In that case, the background actually is your subject, so a blurry background would not be desirable.



To recap:



A large aperture is a small f/stop number (f/1.4, f/2, f/2.8 ).

A small aperture is a large f/stop number (f/12, f/18, f/32).



A large aperture will let in more light, but will have a smaller (narrow) depth of field.

A small aperture will let in less light, but will have a larger (wide) depth of field.





2) Shutter Speed



Just like aperture, shutter speed controls how much light enters your camera. Think of the shutter as a door that usually remains closed. When taking a picture, this door opens momentarily and lets light in to the camera. The length of time the shutter stays open is called shutter speed. The slower the shutter speed, the longer the shutter stays open, and vise versa. When the shutter is open longer, more light enters the camera.



Similar to aperture, shutter speed is also measured in 1/3 stops. Every 3 clicks of the wheel will double or half the shutter speed. For example, 1/50 to 1/100 is one stop. 1/100 will let in half as much light as 1/50. The one third stops along the way would be 1/60 and 1/80. Thus, when starting at 1/50, 3 ticks of the wheel would get you to 1/100.



Aside from letting in light, your shutter speed is used to control motion; both subject motion AND your motion. No human being can ever stay perfectly still, so even with a motionless subject, your motion is equally as important to keep in mind.



The longer the shutter is open, the more motion blur will occur. Occasionally motion blur is preferable, but more often than not, accidental motion blur ruins what could have been a great picture. A good rule of thumb is to shoot a motionless subject at or above 1/focal lenth to avoid a blurry picture. For example, if you're using a 17-55mm lens at 50mm, it's best to shoot at 1/50 of a second or higher to avoid blur. Everyone is different and some people are steadier than others, so if you're particularly steady you may be able to lower the shutter speed a bit, or if you're particularly shaky you may need to increase the shutter speed a bit.



Shutter speed is most important when your subject is moving. For example, when shooting a moving car, if the shutter speed is too fast, it will look like the car is standing still. Too slow, and now the car is a giant blur. 1/160 is my preferred setting to catch a little motion blur in the background and to see the wheels spinning, but everyone is different.



A good example of how shutter speed can affect your picture can be seen below. This is a waterfall taken at 1, 1/3, 1/30, 1/200, and 1/800 of a second.



As you can see, at 1 second, the water looks silky and almost magical. At 1/800 of a second you just see individual water drops. At 1 second you can capture the full motion of the water, at 1/800 you can completely stop or freeze the motion of the water.



To recap:



A slow shutter speed will let in more light, but will increase the chance of motion blur.

A fast shutter speed will let in less light, but will decrease the chance of motion blur.





3) ISO


ISO is similar to film speed on film cameras. Unlike aperture and shutter speed, ISO doesn't control how much light enters the camera, but instead controls how sensitive the camera is to that light. The lower the ISO, the less sensitive the camera is. In other words, a lower ISO will require more light to properly expose a picture than a higher ISO.



Most entry level digital SLR's will have an ISO range from 100 to 1600. More expensive digital SLR's may have ISO 50, 3200, and a select few have 6400. On most cameras, ISO is adjusted in full stops. Only the more expensive cameras will have 1/3 stop adjustments of ISO. In most cases you will be able to adjust your ISO to 100, 200, 400, 800, and 1600. For example, ISO 100 will need twice as much light to expose the same picture as ISO 200.



So then, why not just max out the ISO and never worry about light ever again? Unfortunately, ISO comes at a price. Depending on your camera's ISO performance, it can come at a pretty hefty price too. As you increase ISO you are effectively decreasing the quality of your picture. While it's very hard to see a difference between ISO 100 and 200, ISO 800 or higher is extremely noticeable. On most cameras, taking a picture at ISO 1600 is completely worthless.



This is caused by the increased sensitivity of higher ISO settings. While increased sensitivity means you can expose a picture with less light, it also means your picture will have more noise (distortion). While a little noise can be acceptable -- especially if you'll be reducing the image size significantly for the web -- too much noise can completely trash a picture.



Here's an example of a picture taken at ISO 100 (left) and ISO 1600 (right):



As you can see, the picture on the right suffered from a lot of noise and was pretty much ruined by ISO 1600. For this reason it's important to always shoot at the lowest possible ISO. There will always be situations where it is impossible to shoot at ISO 100, but do your best to keep it to 400 or below for the best results.



To recap:



A lower ISO will produce a higher quality image but requires more light to expose a picture.

A higher ISO will produce a lower quality image but requires less light to expose a picture.





What it all means



As you can see, Aperture, Shutter Speed, and ISO are all closely related: they all control light in some way. Understanding how to balance the three is the key to properly exposing a picture. Like anything else, balancing the three settings is all about trade-offs. While it would be wonderful to take a picture with the fastest shutter speed, smallest aperture, and lowest ISO, it's just not possible.



Because of this, you need to evaluate what is most important for your given situation:



1) Shutter speed: Is the subject moving? Do you want to stop the action or do you want to see motion blur? If so, shutter speed is most important to you.



2) Aperture: Is the background distracting? Do you need to isolate your subject? Are you shooting a landscape? Do you need A LOT of detail? If so, aperture is most important to you.



Once you figure out what is most important, you can then play with the remaining settings to properly expose your shot.



If shutter speed is most important, set the shutter speed first. Next, select an acceptable aperture. With those settings, can the shot be properly exposed with ISO 100? ISO 200? If you need to bump your ISO to 400 or higher, you might re-evaluate your aperture in this case. Will you still be satisfied with this picture with less depth of field (a bigger aperture)? If so, you can open up your aperture to let in more light, allowing you to use a lower ISO.



If aperture is most important, set the aperture first. Do you need a lot of detail in your picture? Set a small (bigger number) aperture. Is your background distracting? Do you want to isolate your subject? Set a big (smaller number) aperture. Next, select an acceptable shutter speed. Just like in the previous example, can this shot be properly exposed with a low ISO? If not, can you reduce your shutter speed to let in more light? If your subject isn't moving and you have a steady hand, the answer would be yes. However, it's never a good idea to reduce your shutter speed to the point where you're risking taking a blurry picture. A little ISO noise is a lot better than a useless blurry picture, so play it safe.



Getting the hang of this balancing act can be tricky at first, but will eventually become second nature. Here's an example of how all 3 of the settings play off of each other:



You want to take a picture of a flower. Unfortunately, there's a dumpster behind this flower and it's not very attractive. In this situation, aperture is obviously the most important setting. You set your aperture to f/2.8 for maximum bokeh (background blur). Rather than standing back and zooming in, you get very close to the flower to maximize the relative distance between the flower and the background to further ensure maximum bokeh. You set your ISO to 100 for maximum quality. All that's left is setting the shutter speed. Your hand is a bit shaky, so you want to take this picture at 1/100 or faster to make sure its not blurry. Unfortunately, photography is all about trade-offs. It's cloudy outside, and to make things worse, the flower you want to take a picture of is in the shade. At ISO 100 and 1/100 your meter says the shot will be underexposed. You have three options: 1) increase the ISO or 2) decrease the shutter speed or 3) increase the aperture. Well, the aperture is already maxed out at f/2.8, so option 3 is no good. It's freezing cold outside and you're shaking a bit, so reducing the shutter speed below 1/100 is going to risk taking a blurry picture which means option 2 is out too. All that you can do is increase the ISO so you bump it up to ISO 200 which doesn't reduce quality much at all (most people can't even see the difference). At f/2.8, ISO 200, 1/100 the shot is actually just a tad over-exposed because you only need half as much light now. No big deal, just increase the shutter speed a touch; if anything this just means you have some more protection for your shaky hands. At 1/125 the meter shows that the shot is properly exposed and you're ready to take a perfect picture.



Now, obviously this is an extreme example. As you get more experienced you won't go through this kind of scenario where you're adjusting your settings 4 or 5 times before finding the right exposure. You'll look at this situation and immediately know that the aperture should be around f/2.8, the shutter should be around 1/100, and ISO should be 200. Then you walk up, flick the shutter speed dial once or twice, and take the picture. The whole process takes less than 5 seconds.



I hope this guide has helped you understand Aperture, Shutter Speed, and ISO. If you found it helpful, please post a reply.





Part 2 - Focal Length, Zoom Range, and Crop-Factor



What exactly is focal length and what does it mean? More importantly, how does it affect you? Technically, focal length is the distance from the lens to the film (or in our case, the sensor). In more useful terms, focal length is how most people would describe "zoom." For example, a focal length of 100mm would appear to be twice as "zoomed in" as a 50mm focal length. While it is true that images appear to be 2x closer in a 100mm focal length vs a 50mm focal length, calling this "zoom" is actually incorrect.



So then, what is zoom? Before we can even answer that question, we have to first understand that there are two primary types of lenses for digital SLR's: Prime lenses and Zoom lenses. A prime lens has a single focal length (ex: 50mm). A zoom lens has a minimum focal length and a maximum focal length (ex: 17-55mm) and can use any focal length in between. A prime lens has no zoom at all, which is why referring to a particular focal length compared to another as "zoomed in" or "more zoomed" is incorrect. When comparing a 50mm and 100mm prime lens the proper term to describe the difference would be "reach." The 100mm lens has twice the reach of the 50mm.



When looking at the specifications for a Zoom lens you will probably see something like "Optical Zoom" or "Zoom." For example, you might see that a 17-55mm zoom lens has "3.2x" zoom. The proper term for this is actually "Zoom Range" and it simply means that the range between the minimum focal length (zoomed all the way out @ 17mm) and the maximum focal length (zoomed all the way in @ 55mm) is 3.2x. To figure out the "zoom" of any zoom lens, just divide the max focal length by the min focal length. 55 / 17 = 3.2.



Essentially, the word "zoom" is useless. It doesn't tell you anything about the "reach" of a lens which is what most people actually mean when they say the word "zoom." A good example of this would be to find the zoom ranges of these 2 lenses:



Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 -- 55 divided by 17 is 3.2. Thus, this zoom lens has a zoom range of 3.2x.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 -- 200 divided by 70 is 2.9. Thus, this zoom lens has a zoom range of 2.9x.



Now, if normal people heard that the first lens had a zoom of "3.2x" and the second lens had a zoom of "2.9x" they'd probably assume that the first lens would let them see further away. However, we know this isn't actually the case because focal length is what determines the "reach" of the lens, the zoom is irrelevant.



In the same example above, the 70-200mm would actually have almost 4 times the reach of the 17-55mm. This is because 200mm is almost 4 times longer than 55mm.



The best way to understand focal length is to start with a base number that is most relevant to us: the focal length that looks most similar to our natural eye sight. On a full-frame camera (more on this later) 50mm is the closest focal length to our normal eye sight. In other words, if you were to look through a lens at 50mm it would appear as though nothing had changed. Reduce the focal length and things will appear further away. Increase the focal length and things will appear closer.



For example, 100mm will appear 2x closer than our normal eye sight. 200mm will appear 4x closer, and so on. On the flip side, 25mm will appear 2x further away, and 12mm will appear 4x further away. People often refer to lenses that are smaller than 35mm as "wide angle" lenses.



As I mentioned earlier, all of these numbers refer to "full-frame" cameras. This is because older 35mm film cameras set the standard. Today in the digital age, only a select few digital SLR's are actually "full-frame" such as the Canon 1Ds and Canon 5D. Most digital cameras use a sensor that is considerably smaller than 35mm film. This size difference is known as the "Field of View Crop Factor." Most digital cameras, including the Canon Rebel, XT, XTi, 10D, 20D, 30D, 40D, etc, have a 1.6x crop factor. This is not a bad thing, but it needs to be understood and taken in to account. In fact, a 1.6x crop factor can actually be used to your benefit.


Essentially, a "crop-body" camera crops the outside edges of the pictures because the sensor isn't full size. The end result is that the same focal length lens on a "crop-body" camera appears to have more reach than on a full-frame camera. To calculate the effective focal length, just multiply the crop factor by the focal length. For example, a 50mm lens on a crop-body camera has the effective focal length of an 80mm lens on a full-frame camera (50 x 1.6 = 80).



What does this mean exactly? It means that any given lens will have 1.6 times the reach on a crop-body camera as it would normally on a full-frame camera. The only down-side of course is that you lose the "wide-angle" ranges as well. A 35mm lens isn't really a "wide-angle" lens on a crop-body camera because its effective focal length is actually 56mm. This of course would normally be bad news for wide-angle users, but Canon now makes special "EF-S" lenses designed specifically for crop-body cameras. The EF-S 10-22mm wide-angle lens from Canon is equivalent to 16-35mm, which is identical to the widest EF lenses Canon makes. In other words, crop-body cameras get the extra 1.6x reach without losing out on the wide-angle end of things.
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Old 04-21-2010, 02:28 PM   #2
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If you guys have other info that you would like to add to this thread, please pm it to me and i will paste it in here. this thread isn't up for discussion, rather just for a guide so i will keep it locked down. thanks for understanding.
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Old 04-21-2010, 03:50 PM   #3
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Very good post sir!
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Old 04-21-2010, 05:59 PM   #4
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thanks hope azht enjoys
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Old 10-12-2010, 07:01 PM   #5
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Photography Help Section (VIEW PLEASE)

Okay everyone. I think this thread should be made a sticky.

This thread will be the help thread. I have seen lately alot of people posting up threads about them needing help deciding or have an issue with something so i think instead of making the photography section messy with all of that, to just have one thread that helps everyone. Now its not just me who will help as i hope other photographers will help out as well.

Pretty much in simple terms, if you have a question relating to photography, or need help deciding something or anything like that, dont make a thread, post it here and someone will help.

If you are new to photography click this link Here<<

If you are going to post a picture here asking for help or any information then resize to 1024 megapixels please. >>Rule is here<<

If you are looking for someone to compliment, or info on what to do better on your picture then go Here<<


So please try to keep the photography section clean. Need help post here.

It can be anything to do with photography. Photoshop, lightroom, programs used in photography count. Editting questions... anything that related to photography.
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Old 10-23-2010, 11:27 PM   #6
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Anyone know how to clean red dust from sensor?
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Old 10-23-2010, 11:52 PM   #7
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Is red dust different than normal dust?

http://www.amazon.com/Giottos-AA1900...7906318&sr=8-3
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Old 10-24-2010, 01:37 AM   #8
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Is red dust different than normal dust?

http://www.amazon.com/Giottos-AA1900...7906318&sr=8-3
Yes it is. Red dust isn't actually dust but its named that because its burnt parts of the outer coat sensor which causes red dust like noise on the pictures. My sensor is clean outside but I. Haven't cleaned the coat in a long time and can't remember how to do it again.
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Old 10-31-2010, 09:48 PM   #9
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i need help deciding on what camera to buy i have been into photography for about 2 years and i am deciding to upgrade to something nice then my 5megapixel hp lol price range is 200-500 thanks for the help
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Old 10-31-2010, 10:03 PM   #10
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i need help deciding on what camera to buy i have been into photography for about 2 years and i am deciding to upgrade to something nice then my 5megapixel hp lol price range is 200-500 thanks for the help
Just a start.


Canon:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...el_XS_SLR.html

Nikon:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...al_Camera.html

Sony:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...gital_SLR.html
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...gital_SLR.html
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Old 11-01-2010, 05:37 AM   #11
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how do you add a water mark to your pics in PS?
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Old 11-01-2010, 05:57 AM   #12
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You design your watermark. Than go to Edit>Define Brush Preset and name it whatever you want. Now you have a brush that you can stamp on your pics.

If you go to YouTube you will find some good in-depth tutorials.
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Old 11-01-2010, 06:02 AM   #13
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thank you sir... will try to design something this next week or so. i need it for my business cards as well
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Old 11-01-2010, 06:05 AM   #14
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No problem man.
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Old 11-02-2010, 09:56 AM   #15
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ok so i shot a ton of pics this last weekend, some color, some b & w... however when i open them in bridge it automatically converts it back to color. 0.o how do i change that?
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Old 11-02-2010, 04:37 PM   #16
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ok so i shot a ton of pics this last weekend, some color, some b & w... however when i open them in bridge it automatically converts it back to color. 0.o how do i change that?
Thats weird, did you do black and white on the camera? Because i know doing the same once having my camera shoot in black and white but adobe made them back to color.
If thats what you used then what you have to do is use photo programs like Photoshop or lightroom and make them black and white.
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Old 11-02-2010, 04:45 PM   #17
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Thats weird, did you do black and white on the camera? Because i know doing the same once having my camera shoot in black and white but adobe made them back to color.
If thats what you used then what you have to do is use photo programs like Photoshop or lightroom and make them black and white.
I explained how it works to him. When you select JPEG the camera puts in the raw information to remove colors. And when the jpeg processor on your camera receives this information it exports w/o color. Some computer software will read this raw data and "process" the data this way, but some will not. When you shoot B&W vs color, the raw file is identical other than the "processing" section of the file, which is just notes to the processor.
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Old 12-29-2010, 05:43 PM   #18
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How to adjust/test your focus points:

Click here
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Old 01-30-2011, 09:27 AM   #19
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ok made this for someone that pm'd me, decided i post it up anyway for people that were noobs like me that asked a million questions to get to my answer... its my process from getting point a, to point z on my photo editing.


ok first i open my adobe cs5 bridge, go into pictures, and look for my sample pic.




next i "right click" and open in camera raw (btw i only shoot in raw on my camera, this makes editing way easier and cuts down on digital noise)




next i do all my simple adjustments for temp, exposure, light/dark, brightness, contrast... yadda yadda yadda...
this can be pretty extensive, depending on the how much light there is to play with in the shot, and how vibrant the colors are.
when i'm done i go to the bottom right hand corner, and click on "open image"





ok now that the photo is in actual photoshop, i copy the layer. you can do this a couple different ways, you can either just
hit ctrl + j, or you can right click on the background layer on the bottom right and select duplicate layer. i always use ctrl + j
... just because its so much easier.





ok next i usually do a high pass filter. this is kinda like a contrast, clarity, and sharpening filter all in one. go up to filter
menu at the top of the screen, scroll down to "other", then "high pass", and click on it. you will get a pop up menu that will
allow you to change the pixel size of the high pass. i start at 5.0. once i click ok, i go over to just above the "layer 1"
selection on the far right and instead of the "normal" default selection, i select "overlay". then i adjust down the opacity til
i see fit, usually between 35%-50%. to make the layer merge with the original photo, you can either hit ctrl + e, or you can
right click on the layer 1 bar and select merge down. after a few of these you'll get more accustomed to what you want, and
will become much easier. i usually make one more high pass, usually at 15.0 pixels, and repeat the steps.lately i mask off the
cars for the 15.0 pass, and only have the back ground get the high pass filter, but thats for a whole other lesson lol.





next up is a lens correction filter, you can use it for a handful of things, i use it mostly for vignetting. you do not need to
create a layer for this. go up to the filter drop down menu at the top of the page, scroll down to lens correction and click on it.
i just go into the custom tab and adjust my vignetting, and click ok. thats pretty much it for this one.







the last thing i do is a sepia filter, located in the adjustments area off to the right. make sure you have selected the
adjustments tab, and not have the masks, or history, or whatever presets you have in that area. to get to the sepia filter click
on the icon that looks like a camera with a lens filter over it. default is a warming filter, so go to the drop down menu and select
sepia. if you do not like the strength of the filter, adjust the bar to increase/decrease, and to even more fine tune you can adjust
the opacity down at the bottom above the photo filter.once you have what you like, merge down the filter layer by hitting ctrl +
e or right clicking on the filter bar and selecting merge down. as you can see you do not need to create a layer for this one either,
it does it automatically. again sometimes i mask objects out of this filter, or paint away the filter... but again that will be for
another segment.




just hit ctrl + s when you are ready to save the photo. always remember to select jpeg if you want to host it somewhere.
remember this isn't absolute, just how i do things. i left somethings out, because we can't give away all our secrets... but good
luck, hope this helped you.
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Old 02-10-2011, 05:55 PM   #20
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Photography Basics

Part 1:
Hey guys... I put this together for some friends and another board that I'm on. I know that there are tons of great photographers here, but I figured that I'd post it here to help out any newcomers... This tutorial assumes you have a DSLR and starts you in Manual mode. I shoot Canon and wrote it for Canon users, but the buttons should be pretty universal. This is by no means they only way to shoot or think about photography, but I think it represents a clear explanation of the three major factors that determine exposure. Please excuse the diagrams... I had few resources when I put it together and didn't even have those files on my computer. I'll upload the original diagrams on Monday from my work machine.

If you are reading this, chances are you just got a new camera, but I bet you didn’t realize that you already owned the most advanced and sophisticated camera and lens combination available, the human brain and eyes. As you look around the room or even at this written text, your eyes (the human version of the lens) are constantly adjusting the zoom, focus and aperture to read and see. The brain then takes that information, processes it and applies adjustments so that everything is understood and colors are correct (our own version photoshop). Have you ever looked at a sunset and marveled at how perfect the colors where and then tried to take a picture and the result didn’t look as good as what your eye saw? The reason for that is that your eyes and brain are constantly making adjustments so that every color looks perfect. When you look at the orange sky, your pupil dilates to let the perfect amount of light in to recognize the best orange. As your gaze moves to the ocean, it readjusts so that you get the best blue color. When taking a picture, you can only dial in one set of adjustments to capture the entire scene. You might dial in the perfect settings to capture the blue, but then everything else might be lighter than you like, or if you dial in settings to capture the orange perfectly, then the blue might end up being too dark, or almost even black. You have to find a best fit, compromise to get all of the colors to match as closely as possible. The wider the range from dark colors to light colors, the more compromise you have to make.
In its simplest terms, Photography is the capture of light on a light sensitive paper or sensor. In order to properly expose the scene that you are trying to photograph, there are three variables that can be adjusted: ISO, Aperture, and Shutter Speed. While making changes to each of these affects the amount of light captured, each one has its own characteristics, advantages and disadvantages that come along with those adjustments. In order to properly expose the scene, you must balance how much light each one is allowing to reach the film or sensor. I’ll outline each one along with its positives and negatives.

Shutter Speed
Shutter Speed is the measurement of the amount of time used to expose the picture. It is probably the easiest aspect to grasp, so we’ll cover it first. When you press the shutter button on your camera, the mirror that is directing the light through the lens and up to your eye in the viewfinder, flips up and a metal curtain lifts up (or sideways or rotates, the direction doesn’t really matter) and out of the way allowing what you’ve seen in the viewfinder to reach the film or sensor and create a picture. The curtain then comes down and the capture is finished. The amount of time that the curtain is up, allowing light to hit the film, is the shutter speed. It can range from 30 seconds to 1/8000th of a second (in some professional model cameras). The longer the shutter is open, the more light gets in, so in a dark situation, you’ll need a longer exposure. Let’s imagine that we want to take a picture of something moving fast, like a bird in flight, and it is a sunny day. We could use a very fast shutter speed, 1/1000th of a second for example, to freeze the bird in mid-air and perhaps even in the midst of it flapping its wings. Now, let’s imagine that we want to take a picture of a potted plant on the window sill, but its dark in the room. We can either turn a light on or we can use a slow shutter speed (think longer amount of time) to capture the picture. This might seem like a viable option, but you’ll quickly realize that as hard as you try to be steady, if you use a slow shutter speed, your hands will shake and it will produce a blurry image. This is a situation where you might need a tri-pod… or you can adjust your Aperture or ISO, allowing you to use a faster shutter speed? Using a tripod mounted camera with a slow shutter speed works for stationary objects, but if you are going to shoot people, even people sitting still, you’ll need to use a faster shutter speed.
**Note- As a general rule of thumb, the slowest shutter speed that I can hand hold is, “1/focal length of the lens”, so if I’m using a 50mm lens, I can hold the camera steady 1/50th of a second. If I’m using a 70-200mm zoom lens and I have the lens zoomed to 135mm, I can hand hold to 1/135th of a second. This is different for everyone. If you have really good technique and you can be steady like a sniper, you might be able to go much slower, so test it out for yourself**
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Old 02-10-2011, 05:56 PM   #21
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Part 2:

ISO
Let’s go back to the example of our potted plant. We have all of the lights turned on and we just can’t make it any brighter. Additionally, we don’t have a tripod, so we can’t steady the camera and the picture is blurry because we have to use a slow shutter speed in order to get a good exposure. For the sake of our example, let’s say we are using a 85mm lens and our shutter speed is 1/50th. If we try to make it any faster to reduce the blurriness, it is too dark. This is a perfect case for ISO adjustment. ISO is a measurement of the film or sensor’s sensitivity to light. When referring to film, some people call it film speed or ASA. Most of the digital cameras reference it as ISO. The most common numbers associated with ISO are 100, 200, 400, 800 and 1600. These were the common sensitivities that film could be purchased in, and as digital cameras have come into existence, they’ve kept the same number and scale referring to the sensitivity adjustments of the sensor. You’ll notice that the numbers double with each step up. This is to show that ISO 400 is twice as sensitive to light as ISO 200 and ISO 100 is half the sensitivity of ISO 200. The higher the number, the more sensitive to light the film or sensor is going to be, so in a dark or dimly lit situation you want a higher number. There is less available light, so you want the sensor to be more sensitive to capture as much available light as you can. Recently, camera companies have begun adding intermediate 1/3 stop increments of the standard ISO settings, as well as allowing the capability to expand ISO settings with custom functions for extremely low-light situations. In these cases, the ISO values are as follows, 50, 100, 125, 160, 200, 250, 320, 400, 500, 640, 800, 1000, 1250, 1600, 2000, 2500, 3200, 6400. This allows for greater flexibility with your settings and allows you to only go up just as much as you need to limit any negative effects. Now that you understand ISO, let’s apply it to our example of the plant. We were using an 85mm lens and we see now that with our ISO setting of 400, we needed a shutter speed of 1/50th to get the exposure, but that was too slow to hand hold the camera without any shake or blurriness. If we adjust our ISO up to 800 (doubling the sensitivity), we can now use a shutter that is twice as fast, 1/100th, to get the same exposure and now we’ve eliminated the shake. You might think to yourself, wow this ISO thing is great, I’m just going to set it high and leave it there, however, there are drawbacks to using higher ISO settings. On film, the higher ISO produces a grainier picture. On digital cameras, higher ISO settings produce noise. This shows up as green, red and blue speckles and is caused by the individual pixels on the sensor beginning to heat up and incorrectly capturing the colors. The general rule of thumb is that you want to try and keep your ISO setting as low as possible in order to achieve the shot you want.
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Part 3:


Aperture
With shutter speed and ISO taken care of, the only thing left is aperture and it can be the trickiest to understand. In every lens there is a diaphragm that controls how much light comes through the lens and gets to the sensor. This diaphragm is called the Aperture and it functions much like the pupil of the eye. In a dark room, your pupil gets bigger to allow more light in, so you need to make the aperture bigger in your lens to let more light in. The lens aperture is usually specified as an f-number. Typical examples of Aperture values might be f/1.4, f/2, f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, and f/8. Just like with ISO, each of these numbers I’ve listed represents a doubling or halving of the amount of area of opening and twice as much or half as much light. The tricky part here is that a lower number represents a larger opening and consequently more light getting into the camera. **Note… f/4 is not twice as much as f/8, it is actually 4 times as much, because you’ve gone up two stops.** Again, there are 1/3 stop increments in between each of the numbers I’ve listed (for example f/4, f/4.5, f/5, f/5.6, f/6.3, f/7.1, f/8) A lens that features an aperture of f/2.8 or larger (remember that means lower numbers) is often referred to as a fast lens because it will allow you to shoot in lower light conditions with faster shutter speeds,. Let’s go back to our potted plant. Now we’ve got an 85mm lens, our ISO is 800 and we’ve got a shutter speed of 1/100th to get that perfect exposure, but we see that there is a bee flying around the plant and we want to freeze him. We could adjust our ISO again, up to 1600 to get a shutter speed of 1/200th, but at ISO 1600 we are concerned that the extra noise might ruin the quality of our picture. We check our aperture and we see that its f/8. If we go down to f/5.6 (remember, smaller number means bigger opening and more light, I told you it’s tricky), we can leave our ISO at 800 and still get the shutter speed of 1/200th that we need to properly expose the plant and freeze the bee in flight. At this point, you may be thinking that Aperture is great and you’re just going to set it at the highest available aperture, but unfortunately, Aperture doesn’t just effect the amount of light coming into the camera. When you increase the aperture (smaller number) you also decrease the Depth of Focus or DOF. You may decrease the depth so much that your entire subject is no longer in focus. This can be a hard concept to explain so I’ve attached two small diagrams (ok, so I’m not great at drawing in Photoshop)



Depth of focus at f/8



Depth of focus at f/2.8

From the two diagrams, you can see that that as you’ve increased the Aperture, the depth of focus has gotten narrower. This isn’t necessarily a negative though. I am sure you’ve all seen photographs where the subject is in sharper focus, but the background has that beautiful blurry effect, that helps to really isolate and highlight the subject. That is called bokeh, and it comes from the perfect use of aperture. Selecting the perfect aperture, not only effects the exposure of your shot but also adds to the creative aspect of your shot. Using a larger aperture can also effect the sharpness of your shots. When a lens is designed, the light coming through the center is always going to be the sharpest, as the aperture gets larger, there is some fall off in the sharpness as light is coming through the outermost regions of glass. In order the keep the sharp at very large engineers, the designers have to follow strict quality control and used only the best materials, making the lenses significantly more expensive. Additionally, the extra light that is let in by the larger aperture also aids the autofocus of the camera, allowing it to autofocus faster. The aperture is a function of the lens because that is where the diaphragm is contained, but it is adjusted using the camera (you are basically telling the camera what setting to adjust the lens to). It is shown on a lens as 70-200mm f/4. This means that the maximum aperture that this lens is capable of is f/4 and you can select f/4 anywhere through its zoom range of 70mm to 200mm. They don’t bother to list the minimum because usually we are shooting in conditions where light is limited, not infinite. If we were shooting on the sun, then maybe the minimum would be the most important thing. You may come across inexpensive zoom lenses that feature a variable aperture designation, such as 75-300 f/4-5.6. This designation means that at 75mm we can dial in a maximum aperture of f/4, but at 300mm we can only dial in a maximum aperture of f/5.6. ** Note..If you are using one of these lenses in AV and you are at 75mm and f/4 and then zoom to 300mm, the camera will automatically adjust your aperture to f/5.6 and then select the corresponding shutter speed… this will make more sense as I explain AV mode in just a second.**

At this point, you’ve just learned to take a picture in Manual mode on your camera (M on the Canon dial). It probably felt creative, but wasn’t very fast. Now that we have an understanding of what each of the functions does, we can begin to use the Shutter Priority and Aperture Priority settings (TV and AV on the Canon dial) so that we can decide which factors is most important to us and allow the camera to make the other decisions to help speed up the process. I’ll take you through my thought process of shooting.

Let’s say for example that we are hiking on a trail and we see a beautiful flower. We want to take a picture where the flower is in sharp focus, but the surrounding plants become a blurry, green backdrop. For this shot, we want to use Aperture Priority (AV) because we want to select a large aperture (small number) to give us that narrow depth of field. Remember that you want it to be narrow enough that the whole flower is in focus and the background is blurry, but not so narrow that the whole flower isn’t in focus. First we are going to set the ISO. If it is a normal sunny day, I’d recommend starting at ISO 400. Then we are going to dial in an aperture. It might take you a few shots to dial in the perfect aperture for this effect (good thing we aren’t shooting film). Once you dial in the aperture, compose the shot and press the shutter button halfway. This will autofocus the lens and tell the camera to meter, or judge the scene for exposure (I almost always use autofocus. On modern cameras and lenses it is accurate almost 100% of the time and super fast. I only use manual when I’m going for some sort of special effect or the camera is having trouble recognizing what to focus on…I’ll go into more on this later). In AV mode, you select the aperture and ISO and the camera will make a decision on what the shutter speed should be to correctly expose the shot. Remember to keep an eye on the shutter speed, if it is too slow and you are hand-holding… you might get that dreaded camera shake. If the shutter speed is too slow, bump up the ISO one more stop (or if your camera has 1/3 stops of ISO) so that you now get a shutter speed that is sufficient. If the shutter speed is excessively fast, maybe 1/1000th, chances are you can probably bump the ISO down a notch to help reduce the chance of that digital noise. Do you see the compromise decisions we are making?

With AV done, let’s look at Shutter Priority (TV). Imagine we’ve just taken the flower shot and we are now further along on our nature hike. We see a bald eagle flying over a pond and want to get a shot of it. In this instance, it might be best to use shutter priority so that we can set a fast shutter speed to make sure that we capture the bird. We’ll adjust our dial to TV, set our ISO back to 400 for a starting point and then dial in a shutter speed of 1/500th. We’ll compose the shot, following the bird and making sure that we use our center Autofocus point (The center AF point is usually the fastest and most accurate…. I find that the automatic AF point select mode on most cameras doesn’t work very well). Press the shutter button halfway to lock on autofocus and the camera will again meter the scene, this time selecting the correct aperture to expose the shot. Remember to pay attention to the aperture that the camera selects. If it selects an aperture that is too narrow the whole eagle might not be in focus. If this happens, adjust your ISO higher in order to make the sensor more sensitive to light, so the camera can use a smaller aperture (larger number) that has a greater depth of focus. Inversely, if it is giving you an aperture that is small (larger number) you may want to bump the ISO down a notch to help reduce noise.
That’s it… that’s the crash course in photography exposure basics. Now, go out and shoot… try all of the different settings. You have the LCD on the back of the camera and you can use it to learn as you go along.
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Old 02-10-2011, 06:02 PM   #23
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For good panning shot with good blur, using as narrow a plane as possible will help give you good separation, because the depth of the plane of focus is going to vary depending on the distance between you and your subject and the istance between your subject and the background.



This shot was 1/160th, f/10, ISO 100 shot with Canon EOS 1DmkIII, Canon EF 70-200 f/2.8 @ 200mm

Grabbing an even larger aperture is going to give you even more background blur, but at the same time, its going to give you a faster shutter speed, which reduces the panning blur.... we don't have any lower ISO, so in this situation, I could have used an ND filter. The downside with using a really shallow aperture is that you run the risk of going too shallow. The result maybe that the entire car might not be in the plane of focus reducing the number of keepers you come home with. I've also found that using a really shallow aperture reduces the AF speed a tick.

Here's one we can learn something from...



Settings were 1/250th, F/16, ISO 200. Camera was Canon EOS 1DmkIII with Canon EF 400 f/5.6L mounted.

Obviously, you can see there is some background blur, but not a lot... If I dropped my ISO by 1 full stop to 100, it would have kicked my aperture to f/11 to give me the same exposure. The shutter speed would have still been 1/250th, but f/11 at 400mm would have given me some nice blur.
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