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PART 12: COMPOSITION : BECOMING AN ARTIST !

UNDERSTANDING COMPOSITION IN ART:

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THIS IS THE 12TH OF A 13 PART SERIES, AND WE ARE COMING TO THE FUN PART OF THE WHOLE SERIES.  WE HAVE DONE ALL THE TECHNICAL THINGS, AND LOOKED AT THE THINGS YOU CAN DO WITH YOUR CAMERA.

NOW I AM GOING TO TALK ABOUT THE RULES OF COMPOSITION.  THESE RULES APPLY TO ART WORK AS WELL AS PHOTOGRAPHY.  I HOPE THAT ONE THING I CAN IMPRESS UPON YOUR MIND IS THAT IF YOU SHOOT PHOTOS FOR THE PURPOSE OF CREATING ART WORK, RATHER THAN JUST SNAP SHOTS, THEN YOU ARE CREATING ART WORK.  THINK ART !!!   EVERYTHING YOU DO WITH YOUR CAMERA IS GOING TO BE ART.  NOT SNAPSHOTS.  WELL, FOR MEMORIES SAKE, YOU MAY TAKE SNAPSHOTS OF YOUR FAMILY, TOO, BUT, WHAT IF YOU TOOK PHOTOS OF YOUR FAMILY WITH THE IDEA THAT THEY ARE WORKS OF ART TOO?  YOU WILL ENJOY THEM SO MUCH MORE, IF YOU KNEW HOW TO TAKE PHOTOS OF PEOPLE IN THE FASHION OF ART, AS WELL.  WE WILL DISCUSS THAT FURTHER IN PART 13.  

LET’S MAKE A COUPLE OF QUICK NOTES HERE:  

  1. IF YOU FOLLOW THE RULES OF COMPOSITION, YOU WILL MAKE BETTER PHOTOS, AND THE PHOTO WILL BE MORE PLEASING
  2. WINNING PHOTOS ARE JUDGED BY HOW WELL YOU FOLLOW THE RULES OF COMPOSITION 98% OF THE TIME.
  3. PEOPLE NATURALLY LIKE PHOTOS THAT FOLLOW RULES OF COMPOSITION, THAT IS WHY THE RULES WERE CREATED….. IT’S NATURAL TO THE HUMAN BRAIN.
  4. AND OF COURSE:  RULES ARE MEANT TO BE BROKEN… BUT DON’T PLAN ON IT.

LET’S GO THROUGH THE RULES, THEN YOU WILL KNOW WHAT TO THINK ABOUT AS YOU TAKE YOUR PHOTOS:

1- RULE OF THIRDS:

Place points of interest on intersections or important elements along the lines.  Never place the subject directly in the middle of your frame.  If you place it in the middle it seems to create some kind of static.  If you place it on one of the points of 1/3, then it feels more pleasing.  composition-rules-rule-of-thirds

2-  LEADING LINES:

Use natural lines to lead the viewer’s eye into the picture.  Find lines in the photo that will draw your eyes to another subject in the viewfinder.  The lines become something that directs your eyes to the real main subject.

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3- DIAGONALS:

Use diagonal lines to create movement.

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4-  USE NATURAL FRAMING:  

You can use natural framing like doors and windows.  Outdoors, use the trees, or natural formations:

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5- FIGURE TO GROUND:

Find a contrast between subject and ground:  Portraits can be much more interesting when the subject has a darker background behind the subject.  Or if the subject is dark, go with the lighter background.

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6-  FILL THE FRAME:

Don’t waste space in your viewfinder.  Fill the frame in your photos.

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Photo by Rico Ter Haar Phtogography

7- CENTER THE DOMINANT EYE:

Placing the dominant eye in the center of the photo will give the impression that the eyes follow you.  You ever seen a photo where it seemed like the eyes were just watching you and they followed you, no matter where you went in the room.  Put the dominant eye in the center.

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8- PATTERNS AND REPETITION:

Patterns are aesthetically pleasing, but are best when interrupted.

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9- SYMMETRY:

Symmetry is also pleasing to the eye.

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THAT’S MORE RULES THAN I USUALLY COME UP WITH, BUT MOST OF THE RULES THAT HAVE COME UP WITH AS I HAVE TAUGHT THROUGH THE YEARS.  SO, THE CHALLENGE IS NOW, TO GO  OUT AND TRY TO USE THESE RULES AS YOU TAKE PHOTOS.  AND WATCH HOW MUCH MORE YOUR PHOTOS WILL LOOK BETTER TO YOU.  FOR EXAMPLE, TRY TO PUT YOUR SUBJECT IN THE CENTER, AND THEN TRY TO FRAME THEM IN THE THIRDS OF YOUR FRAME.  AS YOU TAKE SUNSET PHOTOS NOW, NEVER PUT THE HORIZON DOWN THE MIDDLE, BUT PUT IN EITHER THE TOP THIRD OR THE BOTTOM THIRD:

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Note now:  never shoot a sunset again with the horizon line in the middle. Put it either in the top third or bottom third of the photo.

THIS IS THE TIME TO HAVE FUN.  THE TIME TO BECOME AN ARTIST.  WE WILL HAVE MORE INFORMATION ON COMPOSITION, SO YOUR JOB NOW IS TO PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE.

 

 

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PHOTOS OF THE WEEK: FEATURING DON WHITE PHOTOGRAPHY !

PHOTOS OF THE WEEK:  February 8th, 2018, Featuring Don White Photography !

don white 1   Once in a while we are fortunate enough to get a professional photographer, who is willing to share their photos and their talents with us.  After I had seen the types of photos that Don takes, I totally found him worthy to occupy this spot on “PHOTOS OF THE WEEK”.  His photos are amazing, and often just breathtaking.  I am pleased to present at this time a biography of a great photographer, and some of his great photos that you, too, may enjoy.  Please welcome DON WHITE PHOTOGRAPHY:

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I am a nature and landscape photographer. I love making photographs and I hope this adoration and passion comes across in my work for you to enjoy. I strive to create elegant and beautiful photographs of the places I have the great fortune to visit. In many ways, this approach produces idealized versions of these places. I feel a sense of awe whenever I’m out and about in nature and all the beauty it has to offer. I hope that in some small way, my photography can communicate this sense of wonder and awe that I always feel when I am capturing a photograph. Although most of my photography is of nature and landscapes, some may include the human elements of some kind. These are made to put more perspective and/or a better composition to make the photograph more enjoyable. To me it is more than just making pictures; it is capturing a moment in time that will never repeat itself. All my photographs are available for prints and merchandise; watermarks will not appear on prints ordered from my website. Feel free to comment on any photographs in this website or email me at http://www.donwhitenaturephotography.com/ , I would love to hear from you. I am a member of the Nature Photography Network and a field contributor for Nature Photographer Magazine.

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Today is another shot from the BIG waves at the coast last week. It was a wild and crazy surf to witness! Huge wave explosions and unique wave patterns to capture. This is from Waikiki Beach, Cape Disappointment, Washington.

 

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“Travel Tuesday” is another favorite from my archives. This is ‘When Fall Meets Winter’. I was on a photo shoot, with some other photographers, for fall colors up near Trout Lake, WA. It was kind of a cool day, with rain off and on. As I camped out, I could hear the rain during the night falling on my pickup. Just before sunrise I figured it must of stop and look outside and it was snowing! Thus, I have fall colors, fog and snow. This shot is from the Trout Lake Natural Area Preserve.

 

I received my first camera when I was about 10 years old. It was a “Hopalong Cassidy” camera and was unique, because it not only used 127 film, but I could make two different exposures to each number. When I reached high school age, my Dad gave me his Argus C3, flash attachment and light meter. My first 35mm camera. Now I could do black and white…and color! This really got my photography juices flowing. I started taking ‘real’ pictures. Did a lot of shooting on my own, especially at high school at games and plays. But wanted to learn more and took a photography class my Senior year. There I became more focused on the importance of aperture, shutter speed, different film speeds, processing my own black and white film and printing in the darkroom. My first published photo was an assignment from the photography class and they used one of my images in the yearbook. In fact, my new interest in photography, also inspired my Dad, too. He built me a darkroom in the garage. My older brother, who was in the service, heard about it, (and found a bargain somewhere), sent me an enlarger, easel and trays. It wasn’t too long after that I bought my first SLR, along with a 50mm lens and mini telephoto lens that had a built in cpl filter.

 

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“Coastal Monday” is a favorite from my archives. This is ‘Bay Mist’. The location is Humboldt Bay in Eureka, CA. It was an overcast day and we decided to check out the waterfront. The fog started to move in across the water and marina at Woodley Island and Eureka Channel. I like how the pilings were still pretty clear and the marina, in the distance, being lost in the mist and barely seeing the colors of the boats.

 

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“Water Wednesday”, is some fall colors, from a few years ago, when we visited my brother, and his wife, in Redmond, Oregon. This is the Upper Tumalo Reservoir, with the Three Sisters and Broken Top in the distance.

 

After high school I found work at a color lab that processed film and prints. Did that for awhile until I got employment at Photo Art Commercial Studios in downtown Portland, OR. It was there that I really expanded my photography experience, doing photo retouch, working with other photographers on assignments/jobs with large format cameras, developing and printing color and black and white film and photos, studio portraits and passports for customers. It was also, at Photo Art, that I worked with Ray Akteson, Karlis Grants and John Patterson.

 

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My “Coastal Monday” takes you to the beautiful Mackenzie Beach near Tofino, Vancouver Island, BC. This is a shot about 10:15 pm, Iso 4000 at 8 seconds. Nice calm waters and clear starry nights up here. So quiet and peaceful, too

 

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This is “Dreamy” from my archives. The location is Seal Rock State Park. Using a Neutral Density filter and a 20 seconds exposure is what gives you the indistinct look on the water.
Best viewed large

 

Then, I had a career change…but I was never far from my love with a camera and photography. I’ve lived in 6 different places, since high school, and had a darkroom in 4 of them. I have a digital darkroom in my present home and have been digital since 2000, starting with point and shoots cameras. Bought my first DSLR about 2005 and have upgrade several times since.

 

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This is from an abandoned building at The Academy in Vancouver, WA. I love the effect of the boarded window, draped with the ivy vines and leaves, on the old building.

 

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This is “Still Of The Night”, taken at night, at the Charleston Harbor, located southwest of Coos Bay on the Southern Oregon Coast. It was a peaceful night of no wind, no rain and no moon.
Best viewed large.

 

I retired about 7 years ago and have done a lot with photography since then. Being in the digital world, and retired, has allowed me to get out to explore and create more images. Also, being on Facebook, has allowed me to be in touch easier with other photographers. I’ve been to a few photo workshops, seminars and tours with Art Wolfe, Moose Peterson, John and Barbara Gerlach, Bob Davis and Gary Randall. Have done camping with other photographers and have met many photographers along the way in my outings somewhere.

 

 

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“Water Wednesday” is ‘On The Rocks!’ from two years ago, when we had such a long below freezing cold spell with no snow. Anything that was wet…froze! This from the Columbia River side of Rooster Rock State Park. The splashing of the river, onto the rocks, kept adding with each wave and created a very thick and interesting covering of ice from the freezing temperatures.
Best viewed large

 

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‘Snow Rocks and Morning Mist’, is from the Mt Hood National Forest, at the White River Sno-Park West. The original image has some blue skies, but I wanted it to have more. So, I changed it to black/white to make it more dramatic. The early morning sunlight brought out the shadows more in the snow covered rocks and gave me more detail in the lighter portions of my image.

 

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This image is from one of the many trips to our favorite place in Poulsbo, WA. We were visiting in time for a beautiful sunset and to catch this silhouette of a crane on a dock at the waterfront.

 

Most of my photography is of nature and landscape…but have done 5 weddings and do 3 local singing groups. The singing groups all use my images on their Facebook page. Quite a few of my images, on Facebook, have also been shared with other Facebook Community pages. I do have a regular Facebook page (Don White) and a photography page (Don White Nature Photography). I have a website at www.donwhitenaturephotography.com.

 

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“Travel Tuesday” is from my archives, and a favorite, taken a few years ago on our trip to the Northeast Coast. This is ‘Fall Colors and Red Barn’ – somewhere in the countryside of Maine on one of our road treks.

 

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Sometimes, even on a cool day, the seals will sun themselves on a beach somewhere. As I quietly crawled into position for my image here, one of them kept popping up and making sure I didn’t get too close! This was on the beach at Alsea Bay in Waldport, OR.

 

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I’ve been challenged by a friend (and photographer)! Challenged to post one photo a day, for seven days, of black and white photos of my life. No people. No explanation. The original instructions are to nominate someone every day. Since I don’t want to put anyone on the spot and make them feel like they have to participate, I will “Triple-Dog-Dare” any of my friends and/or photographers to post your own. I know who you are! This is my day 7 of 7…..

Just a note:  if anyone was to challenge someone to do this:  to shoot black and white photos for 7 days, and expect this kind of results like Don just presented here???  What an amazing black and white photo.

 

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Country roads, take me home…..

 

I will also add, that I lost half my hearing when I was 5 years old. I think this has helped me a lot with my photography, to become more focused, alert and cautious, and to be more particular with what I see and getting the image and detail that I want to create. I really don’t take that many shots (compared to other photographers)…probably still stuck in old school habits from my film days. I do try to get it right on the first shot, with all the proper settings, so that there’s less work to do in the “darkroom”.

 

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Long fenced driveway…

 

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Red Leaves and Bench

 

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Location is looking across Liberty Bay, from the waterfront park, in Poulsbo, WA. This is one of our favorite places to stop and visit when we head towards Port Angeles.

 

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‘Footprints In The Sand At Sunrise’, an image from Hug Point State Park, Arch Cape Or.
Best viewed large.

 

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Mushrooms and Moss

 

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Fall Litter!

 

A reminder, that you can see his best collection at:  http://www.donwhitenaturephotography.com/

 

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The misty morning made it easier to see the cobweb and spider with the water droplets

 

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Fall colors at the Portland Japanese Garden.

 

A special thanks to DON WHITE for allowing me to use his photos for this presentation.  They are amazing.  And I appreciate having a photographer of this caliber to use as “PHOTOS OF THE WEEK”.  That alone is amazing to get such a variety of photos from just one GREAT photographer.  Thanks again Don for all these amazing photos.  I only scratched the surface of the many photos you have.

PLEASE NOTE:  ALL PHOTOS ARE COPYRIGHTED PHOTOS, AND MAY NOT BE USED WITHOUT PERMISSION FROM THE PHOTOGRAPHER.  PLEASE CONTACT DON WHITE AT:  www.donwhitephotography.com

 

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PART 11: LENSES, FILTERS, EXTERNAL FLASHES FOR YOUR ULTIMATE ENJOYMENT

Part 11 of a Series:  Getting to know lenses, Filters, and Flashes for your camera:

 

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Photo courtesy of NIKON

LENSES ARE REALLY FUN TO TALK ABOUT, AND SHOULD BE EASY TO UNDERSTAND.  AND TO UNDERSTAND LENSES, LET’S GIVE YOU A REFERENCE  POINT.  IN THE DSLR WORLD, WHICH IS THE MAIN TYPE OF PHOTOGRAPHY WE TRY TO TALK ABOUT HERE MOST OF THE TIME, WE WILL USE THE NORMAL LENS AS THE REFERENCE POINT.  FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO HAVE BEEN FAMILIAR AT ALL WITH THE 35MM FILM FORMAT, YOU SHOULD REMEMBER THAT THE 50MM LENS WAS THE NORMAL LENS.  ALTHOUGH THAT CONFUSED SOME PEOPLE BECAUSE WE OFTEN TALKED ABOUT 35MM FILM USING A 50MM LENS AS THE NORMAL LENS.  WELL THAT’S BECAUSE THE FILM SIZE WAS 35MM, BUT THE LENS SIZE WAS 50MM.  NOW, A NORMAL LENS IS DESCRIBED AS THUS:  “A normal lens then, is one that renders a printed (or otherwise displayed) photograph of a scene that when held at ‘normal’ viewing distance (usually arms-length) in front of the original scene and viewed with one eye, matches the real-world and the rendered perspective”.  OR IN OTHER WORDS, AS I USED TO SHOW MY CUSTOMERS:  HOLD THE CAMERA UP AND LOOK THROUGH THE NORMAL LENS, AND IT WILL LOOK THE SAME PERSPECTIVE AS YOUR EYE DOES WITHOUT THE LENS.  THE SUBJECT APPEARS ALMOST IDENTICAL IN SIZE.

AS WE GET TO THE IMAGE SIZE OF THE SENSOR IN A DIGITAL CAMERA, IT TURNS OUT THAT THE NORMAL LENS IN A DIGITAL CAMERA IS AROUND A 28MM LENS NOW.

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COURTESY OF NIKKOR LENSES:  28MM 1.4 LENS

THESE LENSES ARE MOSTLY USED TODAY IN A SMALL ZOOM LENS.  AS IS LOOK AT HOW CAMERAS AND LENSES ARE SOLD TODAY, IT SEEMS LIKE MOST CAMERAS COME TODAY WITH AN 18-55MM LENS OR CLOSE TO THAT.   WHICH MEANS, THAT I HAVE SOME WIDE ANGLE, SOME NORMAL LENS, AND SOME SMALL TELEPHOTO ALL IN ONE LENS.  THIS IS CALLED A ZOOM LENS OR VARIFOCAL LENS.  IT SEEMS SO NICE TO HAVE SO MUCH VARIETY IN ONE LENS, AND THEY CAN MAKE A LOT OF THESE LENSES NOW IN A VERY INEXPENSIVE PACKAGE.  THERE IS ONE DRAWBACK TO MAKING A ZOOM LENS.  AND THAT IS THE LOSS OF LIGHT CAPABILITY IN YOUR LENS.  LOOK AT THE STANDARD 28MM LENS ABOVE, AND THE SPECS ON THAT LENS (28MM F1.4).  DO YOU RECALL YOUR F-STOP NUMBERS AND WHAT THAT MEANS?  THAT MEANS THAT PARTICULAR LENS CAN SHOOT IN EXTREMELY LOW LIGHT.  NOW, LET’S GO TO MY 18-55MM F3.5-5.6MM LENS.  SO, THAT MEANS AT 18 MM I CAN ONLY GET A MAXIMUM OF F3.5 F-STOP OF LIGHT THROUGH THAT LENS, AND AT THE 28MM, WHICH IS WHAT THAT BEAUTIFUL PORTRAIT ABOVE WAS AT, IT WOULD BE AT ABOUT F4.  SO, I WOULD NOT BE ABLE TO GET THAT TYPE OF LOW LIGHT SHOT WITH MY STANDARD ZOOM LENS.  AND IF I WENT ALL THE WAY ON MY ZOOM LENS TO 55MM, MY F STOP MAXIMUM OPEN APERTURE WOULD BE AT F5.6.  SO, ZOOM LENSES ARE GREAT BECAUSE THEY ARE MORE LENSES IN ONE, BUT, BECAUSE OF THE MOVEMENT OF THE LENSES INSIDE THE BARREL, THERE IS NOT ROOM TO LET MUCH LIGHT THROUGH THE BARREL.  DO THEY MAKE ZOOM LENSES THAT LET MORE LIGHT THROUGH?  YES, FOR MORE MONEY.

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Courtesy of Canon Cameras:  16-35mm f2.8

HERE IS ONE OF THE FASTER OF THE SMALL ZOOM LENSES FROM CANON, AND EVEN THEN THE FASTEST IT GOES TO IS F2.8.  AND THIS ONE WILL COST MORE THAN YOUR CAMERA.

LET’S TALK A MOMENT ABOUT WIDE ANGLE LENSES.  WIDE ANGLE LENSES ARE USED PRIMARILY FOR SCENERY AND LANDSCAPE PHOTOS.  THEY ARE NOT GOOD FOR PORTRAITS OF PEOPLE.  THEY TEND TO PUSH THE SUBJECT BACK TO GET MORE ANGLE INTO THE IMAGE.  SO, IF YOU WERE TO TRY TO GET A PORTRAIT OF A PERSON’S FACE, THEIR NOSE WOULD BE GREATLY ENLARGED AND YOU WOULD FOR SURE LOSE A CUSTOMER.  BUT TO GET MORE OF THE BEAUTIFUL SCENERY IN YOUR PICTURE, THIS IS THE IDEAL LENS.

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ANY LENS LOWER THAN 28MM, WOULD BE A WIDE ANGLE LENS.  FOR EXAMPLE, A 24 MM WOULD EVEN BE A WIDE ANGLE LENS.  THE MORE POPULAR WIDE ANGLE LENS IS AN 18 MM LENS.  IF YOU START GETTING MUCH WIDER, YOU WILL START PICKING UP A FISHEYE EFFECT TO EVEN GET MORE ANGLE.  THOSE LENSES ARE CALLED A FISHEYE LENS.

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PHOTO COURTESY OF NIKON:  AF DX FISHEYE 10.5MM F2.8 LENS

IMAGINE WHAT YOU COULD DO WITH THIS LENS?  THIS LENS HAS A FULL 180 DEGREE IMAGE VIEW.  YOU WOULD ACTUALLY HAVE TO BE CAREFUL NOT TO GET YOUR SHOES IN THE PHOTO.   SO, THIS IS DEFINITELY ULTRA WIDE.

LET’S GO THE OTHER WAY TO TELEPHOTO:  ANYTHING LARGER THAN A 28MM IS THEN PULLING THINGS IN CLOSER TO YOU TO GET THE IMAGE CLOSER.  THIS ONE HAS SOME REAL PROS AND CONS TO IT.  THE PROS, OF COURSE IS THAT YOU CAN BRING IN SOME INCREDIBLE IMAGES FROM FAR AWAY, RIGHT TO YOUR FACE:

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PHOTO COURTESY OF NIKKOR LENSES:  180MM – 400MM F4LENS

NOW, HERE IS THE ONE BIG CON TO HAVING A LENS LIKE THIS:  YOU ALMOST ALWAYS NEED A TRIPOD.  BECAUSE OF THE MAGNIFICATION OF THE IMAGE, IT ALMOST ALWAYS SHOWS ANY LITTLE TINY MOVEMENT OF YOUR CAMERA.  AND I HAVE HAD PEOPLE SAY THAT THEY HAVE NERVES OF STEEL, COME AND BUY A TRIPOD.  THEY JUST CAN’T DO IT.  THE MOST POPULAR LENSES IS USUALLY IN THE 100 – 300MM ZOOM LENS.

NOW LOOK AT THE TOP PICTURE OF THIS BLOG, THE MAN WITH THE BIG LENS.  THAT PERSON COULD BE MOST LIKELY A SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHER.  YOU WILL SEE PHOTOGRAPHERS WITH BIG LENSES LIKE THIS AT THE SIDELINES OF FOOTBALL GAMES, SOCCER GAMES, BASKETBALL GAMES, ETC.

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PHOTO COURTESY BY NIKON:  300MM F4 LENS

THESE LENSES CAN GET REAL BIG AND MASSIVE.  THEY WILL GET UP TO 1000MM OR EVEN BIGGER, AND THEY WEIGH A LOT.  THERE IS A LOT OF GLASS IN THEM, AND THEY ARE VERY, VERY EXPENSIVE.  TO DO THIS KIND OF PHOTOGRAPHY, YOU WOULD PROBABLY BE HIRED BY SOME PUBLISHING COMPANY.

MOVING ON TO ONE MORE FUN LENS:  THE MACRO OR MICRO LENS.  THIS LENS IS THE ONE LENS THAT IS DESIGNED TO GET YOU INTO THE CLOSE-UP WORLD.  THIS WILL LET YOU JUST FOCUS EXTREMELY CLOSER THAN ANY OTHER LENS, LIKE WITHIN AN INCH OR EVEN CLOSER.

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PHOTO COURTESY OF NIKKOR LENSES:  85MM F3.5

ALL I CAN SAY ABOUT MACRO PHOTOGRAPHY IS THAT YOU CAN GET ADDICTED DOING THIS.  YOU WILL FIND THINGS ABOUT THIS THAT SHOCK YOU.  THIS IS ALL AROUND YOU, AND FIND IT SO FASCINATING, THE MACRO WORLD.  BUGS, FLOWERS, COINS, IT IS A NEW WORLD OF EXPLORATION.  HERE AGAIN, A TRIPOD WILL BE A MUST BECAUSE YOU WILL FIND YOU CAN’T HOLD YOUR CAMERA STILL ENOUGH TO GET THE SHARPNESS YOU DESIRE.  THERE ARE SEVERAL TYPES OF LENSES IN THE MACRO WORLD.  NIKON AND CANON AND SONY AND PENTAX, ALL HAVE LENSES THAT ARE BIGGER THAT WILL ALLOW YOU TO TAKE THE SAME TYPE OF CLOSE-UPS BUT, YOU DON’T HAVE TO GET SO CLOSE TO THE SUBJECT.  SO, THE JOY OF TAKING CLOSE-UPS OF BUGS IS EASIER WITH SAY, A 200MM MACRO LENS.

flash photography:

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PHOTO COURTESY OF CANON CAMERAS:  CANON SPEEDLITE 600EX

MOST OF YOU HAVE A BUILT IN FLASH ON YOUR CAMERA.  THERE ARE SOME ISSUES WITH HAVING A FLASH BUILT-IN ON YOUR CAMERA:

  • The flash is small and doesn’t have a real long range
  • Because the flash is so close to the lens, it shoots straight into the back of your iris of your eye, and causes “red-eye”.  And that is why you have “red-eye” reduction system in your camera (note it is a red-eye reduction, and not a red-eye eliminator)

SO THAT IS WHY ALL CAMERA MANUFACTURES MAKE THESE HUGE FLASHES TO GO ON THAT “FLASH SHOE” ON THE TOP OF YOUR CAMERA.  IT DOES SEVERAL THINGS FOR YOU:

  • IT HAS MUCH MORE POWER AND MUCH MORE FLASH RANGE
  • IT HAS BEEN EXTENDED UP AWAY FROM YOUR LENS, THUS ALMOST ELIMINATING THE CHANCE FOR “RED-EYE”.  PLUS IT HAS “BOUNCE FLASH” TO TOTALLY ELIMINATE RED EYE BECAUSE YOU ARE BOUNCING THE LIGHT OFF THE CEILING, AND SO THE LIGHT IS NOT EVEN SHOOTING DIRECTLY INTO THE EYES ANYMORE, PLUS IT MAKES THE LIGHT MORE DIFFUSED AND MAKING THE LIGHT MORE NATURAL.

THE FLASH THAT COMES BUILT-IN TO YOUR CAMERA HAS A RANGE OF ABOUT 30- 35 FEET (DID YOU EVEN REALIZE THAT LIGHT GOT WEAKER AND WEAKER AFTER IT LEAVES THE LIGHT SOURCE?  YUP, IT DOES.  THAT’S WHY THE SUN IS BRIGHTER ON THE PLANET MERCURY THAN IT IS ON EARTH).

THE FLASH ON THIS BIG HUGE CANON FLASH HAS A RANGE OF:  196 FEET WITH YOUR LENS AT 200MM.  AND THIS FLASH IS SYNCED WITH YOUR ZOOM LENS, SO THAT IT WILL GIVE YOU THE PROPER LIGHT COVERAGE FOR EVEN A 20MM LENS.  IT AUTOMATICALLY HAS A ZOOM FLASH HEAD FROM 20MM TO 200MM.

SO, IF YOU ARE A SERIOUS FLASH PHOTOGRAPHER, YOU WILL NEED ONE OF THESE.

filters to consider for your lenses:

IN PART 10 OF THIS PHOTO SERIES, WE TALKED ABOUT A FEW FILTERS THAT I FELT YOU SHOULD HAVE THAT WAS A NECESSITY TO HAVE ON YOUR LENS, JUST TO PROTECT YOUR LENSES.  NOW, I WANT TO TAKE IT ONE STEP FURTHER AND TALK ABOUT FILTERS THAT YOU WOULD USE FOR CREATIVE PHOTOGRAPHY.

THERE ARE 2 TYPES OF PHOTO FILTER SYSTEMS OUT THERE, AND THE CHOICE IS YOURS.  IT WILL DEPEND ON HOW MUCH YOU GET INTO THE FILTER WORK.  LET’S LOOK AT THE TYPES OF FILTERS THAT ARE THE MOST POPULAR AND YOU CAN SEE AT WHAT DIRECTION YOU WANT TO GO, AND I WILL SHOW YOU THE DIFFERENT TYPES AS WE GO ALONG.

  • THE CIRCULAR POLARIZING FILTER:  THIS ONE IS PROBABLY A MUST IN EVERYONE’S BAG.

Basically, polarizing filters absorb polarized light, which is light that is being reflected off non-metallic surfaces, as well as some light from the sky. So, they’re really great at removing reflections from surfaces like water, glass, book spines, leaves and other vegetation, or anything shiny really that isn’t metal. And, when it comes to shooting the sky, you can get a nice, deep and dark blue color when you use a polarizing filter.

dark blue sky photo

HOW TO USE A POLARIZING FILTER

The effect you get in the final image really depends on how much you turn the filter. You want to make sure you buy the right size filter for your lens, so it can be screwed onto the front of it. Once it’s on, you turn the filter in a left or right circular motion to adjust how dark you want the polarizing effect. Check out the difference it can make when photographing water:

shiny water surface photo

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If you’re photographing the sky, the effect only works if you shoot at a 90 degree angle from the sun. It doesn’t work if you shoot directly into the sun or away from it. For this reason, you might not want to use a polarizing filter with an ultra wide angle lens because you could get some uneven results. You may also get some strange, colorful effects if you shoot with a wide angle lens through a window.

polarizing effect photo

A polarizing filter will block around 50 to 75 percent of your light, so don’t forget to remove it when shooting indoors or when it’s getting dark outside. These are just some basic facts about polarizers and a few simple tips to keep in mind.

  • PROBABLY THE NEXT MOST POPULAR FILTERS COME IN VARIOUS STRENGTHS:  AND THAT IS THE NEUTRAL DENSITY FILTERS.  THEY WOULD COME CONFIGURED LIKE THIS:  ND2, ND4, ND8, ND10.   THESE FILTERS ARE NOTHING MORE THAN A GREY FILTER THAT CUTS THE LIGHT BY A CERTAIN DEGREE.  THIS IS MOSTLY USED WHEN YOU GET OUT INTO BRIGHT SUNLIGHT, AND YOU WANT TO FORCE YOUR CAMERA TO SHOOT A SLOWER SHUTTER SPEED, BUT, YOU CAN’T BECAUSE IT’S TOO BRIGHT OUTSIDE.  SO YOU NEED TO MAKE IT DARKER.  I WOULD RECOMMEND THAT YOU GET A NUMBER ND4, AND AT LEAST A NUMBER 8  TO GIVE YOU THE VARIETY THAT YOU NEED.
  • the graduated neutral density filter system:    NOW THIS TYPE OF SYSTEM IS UNIQUE BECAUSE IT USUALLY, AND IT MAKES SENSE, COMES IN SQUARE SHAPED FILTERS.  I AM GOING TO SHOW YOU PICTURES OF THE FILTERS, AND THEN RESULTS OF HOW THEY ARE USED:

COKIN WAS THE INVENTOR OF THE SQUARE FILTER SYSTEM, SO I WILL USE THEIR SYSTEM TO SHOW YOU THE EXAMPLES.  THERE ARE OTHER BRANDS OUT THERE THAT ARE ALSO SQUARE FILTERS LIKE THIS, BUT COKIN IS THE PIONEER IN THIS FORMAT:

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PHOTO COURTESY OF COKIN:  THE COKIN SYSTEM USES A FILTER HOLDER, AND ATTACHES ONTO YOUR CAMERA LENS.  

THE SQUARE FILTER FORMAT HAS SOME UNIQUE FEATURES TO IT:  1- YOU BUY 1 FILTER FOR ALL YOUR DIFFERENT LENSES.  THE FILTER HOLDER WILL WORK ON ALL YOUR LENSES.  THE ONLY THING THAT IS DIFFERENT IS YOU BUY A LENS ADAPTER SIZE FOR EACH DIFFERENT FILTER SIZE.  FOR EXAMPLE: MY NORMAL LENS FILTER SIZE MAY BE A 58MM.  MY WIDE ANGLE LENS FILTER SIZE MAY BE A 52MM, AND MY TELEPHOTO LENS MAY BE A 62MM FILTER SIZE.  I WOULD BUY THE DIFFERENT LENS SIZE ADAPTERS, AND 1 FILTER HOLDER, AND THE FILTERS WOULD FIT IN THE FILTER HOLDER AND WORK ON ALL THE LENSES.   SO, I WOULD NOT HAVE TO BUY A FILTER FOR EACH LENS, ONLY THE LENS ADAPTER, WHICH IS RELATIVELY INEXPENSIVE.

THE BIGGEST SELLING FILTERS IN THE SQUARE FILTERS ARE THE GRADUATED COLOR NEUTRAL DENSITY FILTERS:

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PHOTO COURTESY OF NISI FILTERS

THESE FILTERS COME IN A VARIETY OF COLORS, AND THEY JUST DROP INTO THE FILTER HOLDER, AND YOU CAN ADD JUST A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF COLOR OR MORE, JUST BY ADDING ANOTHER FILTER.

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AS YOU CAN SEE, YOU CAN GET QUITE A VARIETY PACK FROM AMAZON AS WELL IN DIFFERENT BRANDS.  QUALITY CAN VARY ON THESE SO LOOK FOR THE ONES THAT ARE NOT COOKIE CUTTER TYPE.  GET THE BETTER QUALITY ONES.  COKIN IS THE MAIN BRAND, NISI IS A GOOD ONE, AND THERE ARE OTHERS IF YOU WILL DO YOUR RESEARCH.  BUT YOU CAN HAVE A LOT OF FUN WITH FILTERS.

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article written by Lanny Cottrell   for 123Photogo