NEVER MISS A GREAT PHOTO AGAIN:

amphibian animal close up color
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I AM GUESSING ALMOST EVERY PHOTOGRAPHER, AT LEAST SOME POINT IN THEIR PHOTOGRAPHIC CAREER, IS KICKING THEMSELVES BECAUSE THEY DID NOT HAVE THEIR CAMERA READY WHEN SOME INCREDIBLE SHOT HAPPENED RIGHT IN FRONT OF THEM, AND THEY MISSED IT !  AM I RIGHT?  I THINK EVERY ONE DOES THAT AND THEY LEARN QUICKLY HOW TO GET TO THE POINT WHERE THEY DON’T MISS SO MANY OF THOSE AGAIN.

LET’S LEARN SOME STEPS SO THAT DOESN’T HAPPEN:

firefighter extinguishing a burning car
Photo by David Henry on Pexels.com

1- Have your camera bag ready to get the camera out quickly:

If you have your camera in a camera bag, then make sure it is ready for a quick grab. Have it ready with automatic exposure settings, and lens caps off, etc. If you are in a crowd, make sure you keep track of your camera by having the top lid closed. I would suggest to get out of the crowd for security reasons. Crowds are when you most likely will have your camera stolen.

2- Always have an extra battery on hand:

I have never seen a good photographer without an extra battery. You know your battery will go dead when you are taking a photo of something you want. It will be the million dollar photo if you miss it because of a dead battery. Just get one.

3- Avoid the dirty lens

One of the biggest challenges we all face when using our cameras is to make sure our lenses are perfectly clean. Every speck of dust or dirt will cause your photo to look blurry, distorted or even “down right nasty”. So, check your lenses often to make sure you have the best chance for a good photo..

4- Memory cards: Always have some on hand!

Whether you have a cell phone, or a regular camera, they all have their limitations. Granted, it is better than the old film days, when you 12, 24, or 36 exposures. But that camera kept track of it better than your digital system. You just never know when you run out of memory.

Never go without having an extra card for memory. I always try to have a “few” in my bag.

5- IS YOUR EXPOSURE SETTING READY TO TAKE A PHOTO?

An overexposed forest

If you want to capture a photo fast, the best thing to do is to have everything on automatic. If you want to be the one to take a photo in manual setting, make sure you have the time to get that right. Also, there is shutter speed priority, or aperture priority mode that will help you out if you are trying to get a special effect.

6- Watch out for lens caps, or filters that may be on your lens

Oops, my lens cap is on.

How many seconds do you lose when you find out your lens cap is still on, or a filter you had on it from a previous shot? This has always been a killer for most photographers.

ONE LAST IDEA:

One last thing:  I have a photographer friend who is a professional wildlife photographer.  Wildlife photography is truly an art.  And you have to be ready at the spur of the moment to be able to grab the right camera, with the right lens at the right time to get the right photo.  I have a photo of him as he goes out to take photos in the wild.  Look at him and his equipment, and notice how he has several cameras equipped with a different lens and how he has them all ready to grab at any time he wants to get the shot he wants.  You want to become a professional wildlife photographer?  Yeah, this is what you need to become:

I love to see a true professional photographer at work. It always reminds of what it will really take to be a great photographer.

To see some of the photos that Rob has taken as a wildlife photographer, go to: ROBS WILDLIFE .

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UNDERSTANDING CAMERA SENSOR SIZES

It used to be easy to figure out what format of camera you should buy. Back in the film days, you had 35mm film, and all cameras made cameras that worked with full frame 35mm film. And some people didn’t know this, but most cameras did NOT actually give you the full image of what you saw in the viewfinder. BUT, you could get a full frame photo of the image you saw with the professional version of cameras.

35MM WAS THE STANDARD SIZE OF SENSOR (OR FILM).

I remember working for a camera store, and seeing the specs that said that with certain cameras you got 91% of the actual image. Some cameras bragged about 96%, and then the pro cameras from Nikon, Canon, and Pentax would talk about 100% of the image would go on to the film.

Now we have this digital world, and the camera manufactures have come up with mirrorless cameras that actually do not have close to the full frame sensor at all. And how do they compensate for that? By increasing the sensor sharpness. So, if you have a camera that is from Canon or Nikon, and they produce the APS-C format digital sensor, and they have made their sensors sharper, even up to 60MP, can you get that photo to look as sharp as the full frame cameras. Theoretically yes!

As you can see, the size of cameras can be changed quite a bit by decreasing the size of the sensor. Thus, lens sizes also come down. Olympus and Panasonic are sticking with the “Micro Four Thirds” format. And they are having great success with that format. It is obviously a smaller camera, and both these cameras are extremely well-built. And there are professional photographers using these cameras religiously.

Canon, Nikon, Sony use the larger format APS-C format, and they are producing some incredible cameras.

MIRRORLESS CAMERAS ARE NOW THE BIG THING:

Most camera manufactures now are pushing the “Mirrorless” format camera, which means, when you look through the back viewfinder of the camera, you look at a small screen, similar to the one on the back of the camera. You never look directly at the image, you just look at what it should look like on the viewfinder.

PENTAX STAYS AWAY FROM MIRRORLESS TO GIVE YOU THE ORIGINAL VIEWFINDER.

Pentax cameras are the only manufacture bucking this trend. And I like their thought process. You still get the nice screen on the back of the camera to see what it should look like as you click the shutter release, but, it just seems nice still to look through the back viewfinder of the camera and see the actual image the camera sees, and not a screen shot.

Pentax K-3 camera shown with optional high speed motor drive

Here is another look at the different size sensors and the brands that use them:

There is no digital camera today, that I could find that uses the 35mm format. And I could not even find that Canon makes the APS-H format anymore. Most camera manufactures have opted with the APS-C format.

The smaller the sensor, the harder time you will have getting a great enlargement from it because of it’s size. Notice you can see the size of the sensor with your smartphone. Yes, it may have a high resolution camera now, but, it is still so small. If your phone has a 60Mp sensor, and the APS-C format has the same resolution, you would definitely want to pick the APS-C format.

Now you can have a little more knowledge about how you pick your camera by looking at the size of the sensors.

person holding black dslr camera
Photo by Mohamed Almari on Pexels.com

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UNDERSTANDING “RAW” AND “JPEG”

The back of a DSLR camera and showing the settings

If this title sounds a bit technical, then you are right. But to some photographers, this is totally something they are used to working with all the time. So, for you new photographers, and those who haven’t tried RAW format yet, I hope to clarify today, exactly why there are 2 different formats to your camera, and why you would use either one.

WHAT’S THE REAL DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO FORMATS?

These days, pretty much every camera – including smart-phones, has the option to shoot in RAW, JPEG, or both. These are file formats, simply different ways of rendering and storing your image after you hit the shutter button.

However, while both RAWs and JPEGs will do a decent job of faithfully capturing a scene, they aren’t equally capable and do offer different functionalities, benefits, and drawbacks.

So let’s look at some quick definitions before doing an in-depth comparison:

WHAT IS “RAW” FILE?

RAW files are unprocessed, unfiltered, raw data that comes straight from your image sensor.

Therefore, a RAW file cannot be viewed by the human eye (it’s not a visual display!), and must be converted to another file format such as a JPEG or a TIFF for actual viewing. In other words, it is only data. It is not an image.

Because RAW files are unprocessed, they have zero sharpening, chromatic aberration removal, saturation, contrast, etc., applied to them. In fact, when RAW files are initially rendered for viewing, they tend to look quite unimpressive, with low contrast, low saturation, and a touch of softness.

Note that different cameras produce different RAW files, such as .CR2, .NEF, and .CR3. So when processing a RAW file, your software must be compatible with the specific RAW format.

WHAT IS A “JPEG” FILE?

A JPEG is a standard image file format that’s readable by pretty much every image program on the market, as well as internet browsers. In other words, a JPEG is an essentially universal method of displaying images.

However, unlike a RAW file, a JPEG is a processed version of an image. In fact, a JPEG image always starts out as a RAW file, but then undergoes various modifications, often including:

  • Compression (where some image data is deliberately discarded)
  • Sharpening
  • Increased saturation
  • Increased contrast

This processing occurs in your camera, by the way, not on the computer (though you can certainly further process a JPEG in a program such as Lightroom). So as soon as you put your memory card into your laptop and pull up a JPEG, it’s already been edited in camera.

THE BENEFITS OF SHOOTING IN “RAW”:

Remember how I mentioned that JPEG files are compressed and are missing data, whereas RAW files are, well, raw?

This comes with a serious consequence: RAW files can be converted into beautiful, large, detailed images. And while JPEGs can look great, you may end up with unpleasant compression artifacts such as banding, halos, loss of detail, and more.

RAW files allow for greater highlight and shadow recovery

RAW files contain information at dynamic range extremes – the brightest highlights and the darkest shadows. So even when an image appears totally blown out or underexposed, you can often recover detail in clipped areas.

But JPEGs discard this information, so if you blow out the sky and want to bring back some detail, you’re probably out of luck.

RAW files allow for extensive image adjustments (i.e., post-processing)

RAW files are uncompressed. Therefore, you have plenty of latitude when post-processing your photos. You can tweak contrast, change colors, adjust tones – and a RAW file will take it all in stride.

JPEGs, on the other hand, cannot be modified extensively. And when pushed or pulled too much, JPEGs will start to show banding and other problematic artifacts.

WAIT !!!! JPEG DOES HAVE SOME ADVANTAGES:

Remember how RAW files contain all of the information captured by your camera, whereas JPEGs are compressed? Well, it majorly reduces JPEG file size – so while a RAW file might take up 20 MB of storage (or more), JPEGs take up substantially less.

This is a big deal for two reasons:

  1. If you’re working on a computer with limited space and you don’t want to spend lots of money on external hard drives, JPEGs can be a lifesaver.
  2. You can fire off bursts of shots without stopping because your camera can record JPEGs much faster than RAW files. Here, the specifics will depend on your camera; for reference, the CANON EOS R5 can shoot around 350 JPEGs at 12 frames per second, compared to 180 uncompressed RAW files.

Don’t want to spend lots of time behind the computer? No problem; JPEGs are instantly viewable and are processed in camera.

Yes, you can process them beyond your camera’s sharpening, contrast, and saturation adjustments, but it’s not a requirement, and you can share JPEGs to social media without stopping for a lengthy Lightroom edit.

pathway between trees towards house
Photo by Mike on Pexels.com

SO, WHICH ONE SHOULD YOU CHOOSE?

If you want to create high-quality prints, or you want to spend time post-processing (i.e., enhancing and correcting) your photos, or you want the ability to do either of those things just in case, then you absolutely must be shooting in RAW.

In fact, if you’re on the fence about shooting in JPEG or RAW even after reading this far, then I highly recommend you just switch your camera over to RAW and leave it there. RAW files are just too darn useful to give up unless you have a really good reason to shoot JPEGs.

And if it helps, nearly all professionals and serious hobbyists shoot in RAW, especially those who photograph:

  • Landscapes
  • Wildlife
  • Flowers
  • Insects
  • Architecture
  • Cityscapes
  • Weddings/events

Of course, as I emphasized above, there are reasons to shoot in JPEG. I’d recommend going the JPEG route if you absolutely hate post-processing and don’t think you’ll ever want to work in Lightroom; that way, you’ll have easily shareable images that require no extra work. And if you don’t have the storage for RAW photos, then JPEGs are the way to go.

I’d also recommend using JPEGs if you’re photographing on a very tight deadline (self-imposed or otherwise) and you need to get your images uploaded and viewable, fast. If you’re shooting a family party, for instance, you could work in JPEG then immediately share all the images on Facebook without a significant delay for editing.

Finally, you might consider using JPEGs if you want to use your camera’s burst mode without restraint. The other option, however, is purchasing a camera with a very deep buffer, and I’d urge you to go this route if possible (that way, you can shoot indiscriminately and you can capture RAW files).

lake and mountain photo
Photo by Geoffrey Werner on Pexels.com

CONCLUSION:

What I would do if you are set up to work on “lightroom”, shoot some photos in “RAW”, then shoot the same type photos in “JPEG”, and then work with both of them in “Lightroom”. The only way to know which you would like better is to try them both. You might just become a master of “POST PROCESSING” when all is said and done. Which is not a bad thing.

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This article is mostly written by Darren Rowse of Digital Photography School. Thanks for helping us all with this information.

CONTROLLING YOUR SHUTTER SPEED AND IT’S EFFECTS:

time lapse photography of vehicle tail lights
Photo by Nikolett Emmert on Pexels.com
Another article on: “Something you can’t do with a cell phone”

If you want to be a serious photographer, this is another series of why you should have a “real camera” instead of doing all your photography with your cell phone.

Controlling your shutter speed on your camera is there for you to seriously give you the control to create something beautiful and exciting. The photo above, for example, is just one great photo that was done by having control of your shutter speed. Simply done by putting your camera on a tripod, and then having your shutter speed set so that the lights on the road become a blur or a long string of color. Judging from how long the lights are streaking there, I would say that shutter speed was around 6 to 10 seconds long. Can your camera do that?

SETTING YOUR CAMERA’S SHUTTER SPEED TO “B”.

Photo by Tom Podmore on Unsplash

One of everyone’s favorite things to do when setting the shutter speed slow is to take a photo of a waterfall. When it is slow it just blurs the water and gives it a dream effect. If someone is in the photo, yes, they will be a blur as well. But, that kind of acts as an effect most people will like with this photo.

The “B” setting on your camera stands for “Bulb”. And back many years ago, the photographer would have his camera set on the tripod, and then use a “bulb-type” plunger that you would screw into the camera’s button. This is where the “B” came from. You can still use a remote trigger on your camera, but, it may not be a “bulb”, but, a “cable release” or even use your self timer, so you don’t touch the camera during a long exposure.

EFFECTS OF A FAST SHUTTER SPEED

Photo by Michael Constantin P. on Unsplash

Is there something wrong with this helicopter? No, this photographer used a very fast shutter speed, like 1/1000 or 1/2000 of a second to be able to stop the helicopter blades from showing any motion. Totally freezes anything that moves when you use a fast shutter speed.

Here is another photo showing fast shutter speeds:

Photo by Max Frajer on Unsplash

Of course, changing your shutter speeds, may involve you changing your ISO setting as we mentioned in the previous blog. And your aperture setting may change as well. All 3 of these settings have to work together. You will just need to know what type of effect you are after in order to use the right settings, or making the decision what setting is most important with the type of photo you want to take.

On the next blog, we will go over the results of changing your aperture setting on your camera. What will you create using different aperture settings? See ya then!

UNDERSTANDING ISO

photo of candles inside cages
Photo by Craig Adderley on Pexels.com
ANOTHER ARTICLE ON: “SOMETHING YOU CAN’T DO WITH A CELL PHONE”

Too often in today’s world, it seems that people are thinking that cell phone photography is getting close to everything a regular SLR or DSLR, or even a mirrorless camera can do.

This article will dispel that myth so you can see that cell phone photography is still far away from doing what a good camera can do.

WHAT IS ISO?

ISO refers to your camera’s sensitivity to light. The higher the ISO, the more sensitive your camera sensor becomes, and the brighter your photos appear.

ISO is measured in numbers. Here are a few standard ISO values: 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200.

That said, pretty much every camera offers intermediate ISO values (for instance, ISO 125 and ISO 160 between ISO 100 and ISO 200). And most cameras these days include additional ISOs on the high end of the range, such as ISO 6400, ISO 12800, ISO 25600, and beyond.

WHAT DOES ISO STAND FOR?

ISO is the acronym used by the “International Standards Organization”. This is where the ISO came up with it’s standard across the world.

For the purposes of photography, the name isn’t important. Just think of ISO as your camera’s sensitivity to light, and you’ll do just fine!

ISO AND YOUR EXPOSURE SETTINGS:

By increasing the ISO in your camera, you are making the light meter more sensitive to light. It would allow you to shoot in different types of light, even when light is not good.

person standing beside waterfalls
Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Pexels.com

The first number that you would use in your ISO setting is usually 100, and is the basis for shooting in good light, such as sun, and bright light. You would then be setting your shutter speed and aperture according to what your desired effect is.

THE HIGHER THE ISO NUMBER, THE BETTER YOUR RESULTS WILL BE IN LOWER LIGHT:

Now if we go from 100 ISO to say 800 ISO, you will now have some control over what is normally not scene in the darker shadows of your photo. Like this:

an underexposed image of a room
A Picture shot at 100 ISO.
a well-exposed image of a room
Maybe shooting the same photo at 800ISO will give you a great exposure inside where it once was dark.

Both the above pictures have something to be aware of. If shooting at 100 ISO, the photo is usually perfect if shooting outside. Look at the exposure of the outside through the window, with the first picture.

Now, looking at the second exposure, for sure it seems like it’s a better picture. But, now the outside is so washed out, the picture really seems kind of useless, because it is now over exposed. Although it looks perfect inside, where the lighting isn’t so good. So, which one do you like? Either one will work, it just depends on what you want in your photo.

HOW DOES YOUR ISO WORK WITH YOUR SHUTTER SPEED AND APERTURE?

To get the perfect exposure, it is all a combination of ISO, the proper shutter speed, and the best aperture setting. All 3 of these are important. Let’s look at why you would change your ISO setting when you have the perfect light.

A QUICK LESSON ON SHUTTER SPEEDS:

I know this is a lesson on ISO settings, but, let’s look at the other settings it has to work with: The first being the shutter speed.

If you set your camera at ISO 100, the perfect exposure outside will probably be: 1/125 second, and the aperture or F Stop will be F16. Perfect exposure. If you will recall, the faster the shutter speed, you can now stop action:

timelapse photography of green and white racing vehicle on lane
Photo by Chris Peeters on Pexels.com

If you want to stop action, then your shutter speed will need to be close to 1/1000 second. To get the proper picture then, the easiest thing to do is to raise your ISO from 100 to 800 ISO to get the proper exposure. (That is as long as the aperture stays the same).

You see that changing your shutter speed, you will need to change your ISO to keep things in proper exposure.

CHANGING YOUR APERTURE WILL ALSO GIVE YOU THE NEED TO CHANGE YOUR ISO:

pink rose
Photo by Jonas Kakaroto on Pexels.com

Now let’s see what can happen if you want to change your aperture setting to get a shallow depth of field, like the above photo.

If you change your setting on your aperture to F2.8, there may be the need to change your ISO, but it can’t go lower than 100, right? (Most newer cameras will only go as low as ISO 100). So, the only thing you can do here again, is to change your shutter speed, to match the ISO of 100. Changing it to F2.8 would mean you would need to change your shutter speed to 1/2000 second. That will allow you to get the exposure you need.

DIFFERENT SCENARIOS YOU WOULD USE TO CHANGE YOUR ISO SETTINGS:

* WHEN TO RAISE YOUR ISO:
  • You’re shooting at an indoor sports event, especially if your subject is moving fast
  • You’re shooting a landscape without a tripod and you need a deep depth of field
  • You’re shooting a landscape at night (or doing astrophotography) and you need a reasonable shutter speed to freeze the stars
  • You’re photographing portraits in a dark room or in the evening/night
  • You’re shooting an event indoors with limited window light (such as a party)
  • You’re photographing a dark concert
  • You’re photographing an art gallery, a church, or a building interior (you might also consider using a tripod, but this is against the rules in a lot of spaces)
  • You’re photographing wildlife in the early morning or evening (especially if you need a fast shutter speed)
  • You’re photographing fast-moving subjects and you need an ultra-fast shutter speed
* WHEN TO LOWER YOUR ISO:
  • You’re shooting motionless landscapes and your camera is mounted on a tripod
  • You’re photographing portraits in good light
  • You’re photographing an event, and you have plenty of window light or you’re using flash
  • You’re photographing products with a powerful artificial lighting setup
portrait of a handsome man with muscular body
Photo by emre keshavarz on Pexels.com

CONCLUSION :

ISO and shutter speeds and aperture settings all work together. It just depends on what you want to achieve in your photo, that will be what you need to set for ISO, Shutter speed, and F Stops. We will go into why you would change your shutter speeds and the effects you can get with changing it. And then we will get into why you would change your aperture setting as well. Keep with me…….

HOW TO DO PANORAMIC PHOTOS:

green trees near body of water
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

A popular technique for landscapes, panoramic photography enlarges the viewpoint beyond the size of a camera lens. When you do a panoramic photo, it seems to eliminate a lot of the foreground and background and highlights the main subject.

The DSLR cameras and Mirrorless cameras, almost all of them have a “Panoramic” mode, and it works so amazing. And even on your cell phone, they have a “Panoramic” mode, and you will get results like that photo above.

I tried it not too long ago. I was in an area in my state, and thought the mountains and the scenery was perfect for such Panorama version.

Photo I took in Panorama mode to get a wider angle of the beautiful mountains.

In your DSLR camera, you usually put the camera in the panorama mode, and then, once you push the button, it asks you to slowly pan from one side to the next in order to get as wide as possible, wider than a wide angle, and then it will automatically produce the panorama. You do have to be careful as you do this that your horizon line stays the same, or this won’t work well. Concentrate, as you scan that you don’t move your camera up or down. Something to practice, I’m sure, but, once you get this, a framed photo of a panorama shot looks amazing in your home.

reflection of trees on water
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

As you can see, comparing the 3 photos on display so far, that they can be a different size. The above photo is not as long and skinny as the others. Sometimes, a panorama photo is done in your cell phone or camera, and simply doing it by cropping it the way you want. That works too, if you want a panorama and have a display in mind.

unrecognizable traveler walking on sandy coast near mountains
Photo by Maksim Romashkin on Pexels.com

So keep this in mind if you want to do a panorama. Also, vertical panorama is possible when trying to do a waterfall, a tall tree, or something like that. Be creative and enjoy this new series of photos to try.

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UNDERSTANDING YOUR CAMERA SETTINGS – 101

crop unrecognizable woman looking at photos in camera
Photo by George Milton on Pexels.com

Probably the scariest thing that can happen to a new photographer who just purchased a SLR (Single lens reflex) camera is the settings on the camera.

Let’s look at each of these settings and help you out a bit.

Mode dial - Wikipedia
Automatic setting

This “auto” setting is the one setting most photographers will use until they understand all the others. It’s fine to use, but, as you go along, you will find it doesn’t always get the results you want.

Digital camera modes graphy Digital SLR Mode dial, Camera, camera Lens,  aperture, shutter Speed png | PNGWing

The “M” or “Manual” setting is where the creativity begins. In this mode you have to use the shutter speed dial, and the aperture setting to get what you want properly exposed. However, keep in mind that shutter speed control will give you a unique photo ability, and the aperture setting will give you a unique ability as well. We will go over those tomorrow.

A Simple Explanation of the Camera Mode Dial
The “Green” mode

Some cameras have an automatic mode called the “green” mode. It is the same as automatic, other than the camera manufacture programmed to recognize certain scenes and give you a better exposure, without you having to do anything.

Av Mode

Why these camera manufactures came up with some of these dial names is beyond me. But, the Av mode is “Aperture Value”. With this, if you understand what the aperture setting will do for you, you can set the aperture at your desired setting, and the camera will set the shutter speed automatically for you.

The Shutter speed mode

Tv, you guessed it: Time Value. This is the control where you can set the shutter speed at a certain setting, and the camera will set the aperture automatically to get the perfect exposure.

Camera Controls | Learn the Basics of Your Digital SLR Camera
All the mode settings on a DSLR camera

Then, all cameras seem to have these icons that will get you certain results. The head is for portraits, the mountains is for scenery, and flower is for close-ups, the guy running is for sports photography, and the starry, starry icon is for night photography and the crooked arrow with a line through it, means NO Flash.

All cameras have other buttons and settings on the camera, but, those are for convenience, and not necessarily to help with exposure. And every camera has something different on their camera to help you take better pictures.

Now, if you have any questions about your camera, then feel free to ask me any questions, and I will personally answer any question you have: