This shot of a rogue wave is not a set up. Nor has it tasted any image editing apart from cropping and setting the color balance correctly de laPhotoshop style. This is the kind of photograph that presents itself in an instant and if you blink it is gone. We had decided to spend some time on the aft of deck 4 of the MV Orion as it headed back to Bluff, New Zealand from Mawson’s Hut — Commonwealth Bay, honing our skills of capturing birds on the wing. After an hour or so the sun had retreated and it was to say the least cold. Patti had decided, wisely, to take a break and warm up with something from the Leda bar. I stayed out longer (getting colder) and after another hour I dropped my gaze to the sea in front of me and a wave travelling across the swell started to build. I framed and waited, the hard part was not to blaze away and find the camera would not fire because I had filled the buffers. Holding off until I felt that the Cartier-Bresson moment was about to happen I took just three shots. The first was the money shot, in the second the wave had collapsed over the clear section and the third, taken less than a second after the first, showed the wave was now absorbed into the swell. Patti got some great bird on the wing shots too — Look for Wingover I & II.
Photography is so much more than equipment and trying to remember a bunch of composition and exposure rules. There is always the elements or preparedness and luck.
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If you had started in photography when most pictures were taken using B&W film then it is possible you have heard of this rule and made use of it. Before the introduction of reliable exposure meter systems built in to a camera a photographer learnt how to “read” the scene’s light to decide on the correct shutter speed and aperture (f/stop) they would need to get the shot. Most photographers were not that experienced and would make use of a hand held light meter to achieve the same result.
With digital cameras now being 100% dependent on having a working exposure system you are unlikely to have to figure out the exposure variables before shooting.
But, as a little exercise see how you camera stacks up against “The Rule”. I used a Nikon D3 for this exercise. At midday I pointed the cmera at a suitable scene and set the ISO to 200, f/stop to f/16 and shutter speed to the reciprocal of the ISO, namely 1/200 sec and then pressed the shutter release. I then took another shot using the same ISO but set the camera’s auto exposure system to work and it delivered the picture with a shutter speed of 1/100 sec. In other words the auto system is over exposing relative to the Sunny 16 Rule. What’s going on here.
Simple – it is after all a Rule of Thumb and it was designed to give a reasonable exposure in the B&W film days. If you are going to use this to amaze your friends with your skill of not needing an exposure meter don’t forget to experiment and see if you have to add or subtract any shutter speed or f/stop to get the exposure you want. Apply that adjustment for when you are shooting and on a sunny day the results will speak for themselves.
Of course if cloud intrudes that will lower the amount of light and you have to give more exposure to achieve a well exposed image. But that is for another day.
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Any text on photography often starts out telling you that the word is a two parter; photo — light and graphy — writing, hence writing with light. Quite an apt description. But since the root words really came from Greek were the Greeks running around with Box Brownies and developing their film in ouzo and showing the results at their local photography club nights?
No. The term photography was only coined at the time that a viable technique of capturing and fixing an image became public knowledge.
Two astronomers, Johann von Maedler (1794 – 1874) from Berlin and Sir John Frederick William Herschel (1792 – 1871) from Britain are credited with the coining the word photograph. Both used the term when describing the first commercially successful image capture and display process, the Daguerreotype, in 1839. The Daguerreotype process was developed by Louis Jacques Mande Daguerr (1787 1851) and Joseph Nicephore Niepce (1765 1833).
Did you notice that Niepce died prior to the demonstration taking place? Niepce, being Daguerr’s development partner prior to his passing, is credited with the very first photo in 1827.
Although there is now controversy as to the real first photograph and thus who invented the technology this is certainly one of the first images that has survived from those first faltering steps towards what we do today digitally.
And this is considered one of the first photographs that included people in it. Until this picture all streetscapes were uninhabited. This was simply because the exposure time was so long no one stopped long enough to be recorded! And that explains how these gentlemen took the honors as one had stopped to get his boots cleaned and polished!
(Excerpt from MIP’s Photography 101 Course (History of Photography)
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Do you have a camera or lens that has some kind of image stabilization function? Do you take photos of your children playing sport or you like photographing race cars on the track or any other kind of fast moving subjects? Try this tip next time you are out and about.
Turn stabilization OFF! When you are shooting you probably want to use continuous (motor drive) shooting as well. With stabilization ON there is extra time taken to process each image before the camera is ready to take the next shot. Your frame rate drops! However, since you should be using shutter speeds faster than 1/500 sec and probably nearer 1/1000 sec on a bright day there really is no benefit gained with keeping stabilization on.
With apologies to all Wedding and Event Photographers who really do love the thrill of getting a great shot but unless you really enjoy the feeling of unrelenting pressure, reject all offers and inducements (particularly your family’s application of moral blackmail) and leave this type of shooting to the pros! But in the event you do succumb here are some hard won Does and Don’ts:
Know what the highest ISO is on your camera that produces acceptable digital noise and in low light scenes use it. Rather than using a lower ISO and perhaps a shutter speed that is two slow for the focal length of the lens you are using. Camera shake is deadly to a good result.
Use prime lenses rather than zooms as this normally gives you at least one or two stops faster (wider aperture) and hence faster shutter speeds can be used
Use a “soft box” on your flash and get a flash bracket to get the flash axis away from the lens axis. Using the “peanut” flash that pops up from a lot of cameras will almost always give you the “deer caught in headlights” look. But some enterprising photographers have made a little “scoop” that redirects the flash upwards so that it softens and spreads the lihgt onto the subject. The downside is that the flash’s light output is reduced onto the subject which means that you may not be able to take as wide an angle shot as you could with the flash light going directly to the subject.
If no soft box, angle the flash head at the ceiling or wall (watch out for colored walls as they will throw a color cast on the scene – ceilings are almost 100% white)
In the garden shots – use fill-in flash, always. Fill flash softens shadows, puts catch lights in the subject’s eyes.
With fill flash use flash compensation and reduce by -1 EV to make the fill subtle.
Carry your memory cards on you with two wallets – one with freshly formatted empties the other for filled. Color code the wallets to avoid confusion!
Set the camera to Slow Rear Curtain sync (if available) to allow ambient light to fill in the background that would otherwise be black when shooting with full flash
If the card has a Write Protection switch – use it when you take it out of the camera and put it in the “Filled” card wallet..
When shooting groups that are in rows
2 rows – focus on front row faces
3 rows – focus on middle row faces
Regardless use the smallest f/stop (larger number) you can get away with
To get a uniform set of open eyes in group shots get the group to close their eyes and then on the count of 3 open them – you shoot on 4!
Try to get some motion blur in the dancing shots – try 1/3 or 1/5 sec as a starting point. You can add motion blur in post but can easily look fake
full length portraits place the camera at waist level
7/8 ths portraits (from the mid calf up) place the camera at chest height (the subjects not yours)
head & shoulders place camera at subjects eye level
Backgrounds – the plainer and simpler the better – locate 3 to 4 different backgrounds at each location to provide variation.
If during the day single head or double head portraits can use window light place subjects 2 – 2.5m (6 – 8 ft) away – (don’t forget fill flash though)
With double head portraits get the subjects to get much closer than they think is close
Bouquet tossing should be a wide angle shot looking from over the shoulder of the bride
Although Mosaic Images Photography doesn’t “do” weddings we have many years collective experience shooting special occasions and this post covers a lot of that hard earned experience. Oh, and did we mention that this type of photography is best left to the professionals? Don’t forget to choose one that you are comfortable with and their portfolio shows clearly the style(s) they offer. For our Australian readers you should try Infinity Photography.Looking for something to make a blank space on your walls look interesting tryMosaic Images Photography for prints and Instant Downloads (for screen savers, digital photo albums or your Digital TV slide show).