Wednesday, March 30, 2011

TUTORIAL: Full auto and basic modes

This tutorial will take you through the Full auto and Basic Zone modes, starting with Full Auto and then moving into the Basic Zone which includes Portrait mode, Landscape mode, Close-up mode, Sports mode and Night scene mode.

Key Terms
Digital Single-Lens Reflex
Mode dial
The dial on top of your EOS DSLR camera.

Full Auto
In the Full Auto mode, the image is automatically optimised. The shutter speed, aperture, ISO and flash settings are automatically selected and transforms the camera into a straight point-and-shoot interface.

Basic Zone

Portrait, Landscape, close-up, sports, night scene modes.

Portrait mode
This is a picture style to make skin tones lighter and softer.

Landscape mode
This is a picture style designed to make blue skies and green trees more vivid.

Close-up mode
This setting works with your camera lens to allow it to focus from a very short distance and allow you to get very close to small objects such as flowers, insects and faces.

Sports mode
This mode is for fast-moving objects when you want to freeze the action. It uses faster shutter speed combined with higher ISO setting.

Depth of field
The range in front of and behind the point of focus where objects will appear to be in focus. The depth-of-field becomes narrower with a larger aperture (lower f-number), longer
focal length lens, and shorter distance between the camera and subject.

This is where the photo looks the sharpest. Technically, focus is achieved at only one point (plane) and other objects may appear to be in focus within the depth of field.

Camera shake
This is the shaking of the camera caused by unsteady hands during exposure (when the shutter is open), resulting in image blur. The blur is prone to occur with slow shutter speeds and telephoto lenses.

Shutter speed
The shutter controls the amount of time that the light can strike the imaging sensor. Along with the aperture that controls the amount of light, the shutter speed works in combination to control the total amount of light the imaging sensor receives. With the same aperture, using a shutter speed of 1/2 sec. decreases the amount of light by half compared to a shutter speed of 1 sec. And a shutter speed of 1/4 sec. yields one-fourth the amount of light. Unlike the aperture, the difference in the shutter speed readily corresponds to the difference in the amount of light. The shutter speed is indicated by the denominator. For example, "500" means 1/500 sec. Since the sensor can record an image only while the shutter is open, it can freeze (with a fast shutter speed) or blur (with a slow shutter speed) a moving subject.

This is when the shutter opens to expose the sensor to the incoming light. Long exposures can occur with the shutter left open for a long time.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Practically Black - Jackie Ranken & low light photography

Jackie Ranken talks about her background and influences including her passion for landscape and low light photography. Jackie also covers tips on achieving beautiful outcomes in your low light photography.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Shoot sports & action like a pro!

The world is full of movement. How can you capture this in a single image with your camera?
There are two ways; either record a blurred image to convey the impression of motion, or ‘freeze’ the
image to capture a moment in time.

Successful action photography requires a mixture of understanding your camera, technique and
This tutorial will look at the following areas:
• Exposure time
• The impact of aperture and ISO
• Panning your camera
• Sports photography
• Image stabilization
• Experiment and discover

Exposure time
To understand how to take action photos, it is important to understand movement in terms of
exposure times.

If your subject is absolutely still and your camera is on a solid tripod, the shutter speed you use is not
that important. 1 second or 1/1000 second will give similar results – at least as far as the sharpness of
the subject is concerned.

Now imagine there is a dog running across in front of the camera, typically at 16 km an hour.
In 1 second it will cover almost 5 metres. If you use an exposure time of 1 second, the dog will
appear as a very blurred image.

This can be quite effective, giving a strong impression of movement.
An exposure time of 1 second might be a little extreme in this situation, but shutter speeds around
1/15 second are worth trying (the dog will move about 30cm). If, on the other hand, you want the
dog to appear motionless, you could try a shutter speed of 1/1000 second. In this brief moment,
the dog will cover less than 0.5cm.

The impact of aperture and ISO

If you set a shorter shutter speed, less light gets to the digital sensor on your camera and the image
will be underexposed. To compensate you need a wider lens aperture and/or a higher ISO speed setting.

A lens with a wide maximum aperture allows you to set a faster shutter speed and expose correctly.
Many prime lenses (non-zoom) available for Canon EOS cameras have maximum apertures of f/2.8
or wider and are popular with sports photographers. Learn more about Canon lenses at the new
Canon lens site.

If you don’t have one of these lenses you can set a higher ISO value, making the sensor more
sensitive to light. The downside to this can be an increase in ‘noise’ – coloured speckles across the
image. The latest Canon compact digital cameras feature the HS System which lowers noise levels
by up to 60%.

Panning your camera
It is possible to obtain quite a sharp image of a moving subject even at slow shutter speeds.
This is done by ‘panning’ the camera; move the camera so that the subject remains in the same
position on the sensor during the exposure. It works best with a subject moving at a constant speed
in one direction,such as a bird in flight or a car on a racetrack.

A good pan shot reverses the normal situation – the subject is sharp, but the background is blurred.
Some subjects can be sharp and blurred at the same time. The body of a bird in flight, for example,
will be sharp, but the wings moving up and down at right angles to the movement of the camera will
be blurred.
It is important to find the right position for panning; your subject should be the same distance from
you throughout your shot.

Good panning takes practice and more practice. One trick is to keep panning after pressing the
shutter release, so that the pan becomes a smooth movement.

Sports photography

One subject where there is usually a lot of movement and action is sport.

Track events are predictable; you know where the athletes are going to run.
If you are at right angles to the track you can use panning to keep them sharp as they move across
your field-of-view. If you get close to the track and aim your camera down the lanes as the athletes
run towards you, a slower shutter speed is acceptable.

Football, rugby and other events played on a pitch are more difficult to cover because the action
moves quickly around a large area. If you are close to a touchline, the players might be very close at
one moment and in a far corner of the pitch a few seconds later. Use a faster shutter speed for close
shots, as movement appears faster when nearby.

You don’t need to be at major sports events to shoot good pictures. Search out local games where the
spectators stand on the touchlines and shout encouragement. The action can be just as strong and
your viewpoints will be better.

Image stabilization
Image stabilization is particularly useful when shooting with telephoto lenses as it reduces the effects
of camera shake that are more noticeable when using longer focal lengths.

Canon’s Optical Image Stabilizer (IS) works by having a ‘floating’ element in the lens. Gyros in the
system detect camera movement. This is analyzed by the onboard processor and instructions are
sent which move the floating element up and down or from side to side. This keeps the image of the
subject in one place on the sensor, even though the camera is moving. The system is so responsive
that it can overcome the vibration of an engine if you are shooting from a car or helicopter.

Experiment and discover

Most photographers shoot action pictures at some time or another, whether it is their children at play, a local sports event or busy street scenes while on holiday. It is possible to calculate the shutter speed needed to ‘freeze’ action by estimating the speed of the action, the direction in relation to the camera, the distance from the camera and the focal length of the lens. By which time you will have missed the shot.

It is much better to take lots of pictures, ideally with different exposures, and review the results when you have the time. Digital images record the shutter speed at the time of the exposure and most imaging software will show you this information (along with aperture, ISO setting and other data). Learn from what works so that setting your camera correctly comes naturally.

Enter the Gallery
There is action happening all around us and opportunities to capture it with great photos. Use the advice in this tutorial, take some great photos and submit them on our facebook page. Your photo could be displayed on our blog as one of the best!

Friday, March 4, 2011

6 quick tips for shooting still life

Still life photography is probably one of the easiest ways to sharpen up your photography skills. Your subjects are static and you have plenty of time to recompose and take multiple photos. Follow our great tips and get practicing!

Photo by Jonathan Busuttil

1. Keep an eye out for good photos.
Study the detail. Notice how photographers capture detail, and use light, shapes, textures, colours and patterns to their advantage.

2. Ask yourself - what story do I want to tell with this picture?

3. A background can make or break a photo. Remove any distractions or DIY your own backdrop.

4. Simplicity is key.
Choose a few complimenting or contrasting objects and add objects one by one, photographing and rearranging as you go along, until you find the perfect setup.

5. A little natural light goes a long way
Place your still life composition near a window for soft natural lighting. You can also use a sheet of white paper on the side opposite to the light source to reflect some light into the shadowed areas.

6. Shoot your photos from above or a 45 degree angle.

Share your still photos with us on our facebook page - we will be featuring our favourites on our blog!

Have a great weekend!