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Digital photography help needed

Discussion in 'CycleChat Cafe' started by Chuffy, 16 Jan 2008.

  1. Chuffy

    Chuffy Veteran

    Ok. I'm trying to build up a portfolio of magazine articles. For this I need to be able to supply pictures. I've bumbled by in the articles that I've written so far but that's not really good enough (for me anyway). I want to be able to take killer snaps like Steve Thomas does in C+.

    I have a decent (I think) digital camera. Fuji Finepix S9600.
    I don't like or have any interest in photography. It's just a tool that I need to master in order to do a job.

    Can anyone recommend a nice simple book?
     
  2. Jaded

    Jaded New Member

    You can learn all the mechanical bits, which will get you reasonable photos.

    You do need an eye for it.
    Also anticipation and timing.

    Maybe a John Hedgecoe book?
     
  3. alecstilleyedye

    alecstilleyedye nothing in moderation Staff Member

    give melvil a pm. his photos are pretty good and he might be able to give you a few tips.

    the one i'll offer is: take loads. expect to take about 10 different shots (from difficult angles, distances etc) if you want to get a decent one that looks good on the computer (as opposed to the lcd on the camera).
     
  4. Dave5N

    Dave5N Über Member

    Fill the frame. Nobody wants to see dots in the distance.
     
  5. Melvil

    Melvil Standard nerd

    Aw shucks :evil::evil:

    I can't recommend a specific book, though for you I would copy the pictures you like and 'deconstruct' them - how were they taken? What was the angle? How would you do something similar? Sites such as Flickr are very good for seeing what other people are doing - most people are pretty nice on there and if you message them asking them how they did certain shots they are usually very helpful and informative.

    Sounds like you have a nice and versatile camera - I would start experimenting with the manual mode as soon as possible, it really does give you more power and control over your pics. If you don't know the basics perhaps a book would be good for this in teaching you the theory behind aperture, shutter speed, exposure comp, white balance etc.

    Also, if your camera has a RAW function, Shoot RAW, it gives you a lot of control and can also recover shots (too dark, too light etc) that would not be savable if you shot in JPEG. RAW takes up much more space on a memory card but memory is cheap as chips these days so is not a prob.

    Two programs I would recommend using over any others for your photos would be Adobe Photoshop (or Photoshop elements which has most of the usability for a fraction of the price) and Adobe lightroom which is great for processing your pictures and doing quick modifications etc. Also, if you import RAW into lightroom you have your RAW files there forever and can tweak them over and over again without losing any information (they act pretty much like an old-skool photo negative)

    Hope this helps, I'm by no means an expert and, as said, a good book will teach you the basics but there really is no substitute for getting out there and taking lots and lots and lots of pics (I expect a shoot/use ratio of around 80/1 when I'm taking pics) and experimenting at every turn - you'll soon find what works for you and what doesn't.
     
  6. Speicher

    Speicher Vice Admiral

    Thank you for your advice so far, Melvil. I have been trying to master my digital camera. After ruining a good photo, by not saving the original, (they say you learn by your mistakes) I have been cautious about messing about with them. I also did not know the advantages of RAW, so I will try that. thank you.
     
  7. Chuffy

    Chuffy Veteran

    Thanks everyone. I was on a course at the local community centre this evening (Digital Photography Beginners :evil:) and picked up a few things. I guess one problem is that I'm lazy and many of the pics that I need involve getting people to pose in dynamic situations ("I say Baggy, ride past that picturesque bridge") and I don't really have the luxury of shooting a huge number of shots ("go on, just once more past the bridge") each time I go out.

    I'll try picking apart some of the pics that I aspire to, that's a good tip, and see what basic books are out there. Not sure if I have RAW on my camera (but I'll check) and I think (but could be wrong) that most mags want unbuggerated images for their pros to work with if they need treating. I'm pretty sure the guidance notes for C+ says 'don't mess about with your pics, we'll do that'.

    Cheers all! :evil:
     
  8. k-dog

    k-dog New Member

    Your camera doesn't have a RAW format - it's only really on dSLR's and I think I read about a new high-end point and shoot with that capability.

    I would recommend Scott Kelby's Digital Photography Book. Lots of good stuff in there in an easy to read format.

    My local library had it so I didn't even pay for it. It's a useful book to carry around for a while and refer to for tips on how to shoot in the situation you're in.
     
  9. If you can afford it, I'd recommend a digital SLR. But I'd also say that it's not the quality of your gear that makes your pictures - the most important part of any camera is the eight inches behind the viewfinder.
    Have a look at treklens.com - my bit of the site is in the link in my signature - that's a very useful place if you really want to improve your photography. Be warned though - they don't pull their punches on there! If a picture is rubbish, they'll say so, but will also usually give suggestions as to how it could be improved.
     
  10. Globalti

    Globalti Legendary Member

    You need to practice, practice and practice. Also have a look at Videojug for some useful hints on composition especially the thirds rule.

    Best advice anybody gave me on digital was to set the ISO of the camera as low as possible so as to avoid noise, which is the grain you get on pictures taken in poor light. However this means you'll need to take more care to avoid camera shake, by using a tripod for example.
     
  11. John the Monkey

    John the Monkey Frivolous Cyclist

    Location:
    Crewe
    I find flickr can be a bit friendlier in terms of the feedback you get - feel free to add me as a contact if you get set up on it.

    I'd have a look at the photo magazines in Smiths, and anytime there's one about sports, grab it - they'll walk you through the technical gubbins you need to know. Most photo mags do a 12 month cycle of article topics (portraits, sport, black and white etc) so you should be able to find one. For understanding the basics of how everything works, I really like "Understanding Exposure", but it might be a little too in depth if you're not overly interested in the mechanics of it.
     
  12. John the Monkey

    John the Monkey Frivolous Cyclist

    Location:
    Crewe
    Think of ISO as being one of the sides of a triangle - you have shutter speed and aperture which control how much light hits the film or sensor, and ISO which decides how sensitive the film is to that light. The less sensitive the film is, the wider your aperture must be (aperture is expressed as a fraction of the lens' focal length, so smaller numbers = wider aperture) OR the slower your shutter speed must be (it's open longer, so more light hits the sensor).

    Complicating this is the fact that;
    1) Aperture controls how much of your picture is in focus behind and in front of the thing you are taking the picture of. At f/16, you can be reasonably sure of everything being in focus - at f/1.8, not much will be (depending on how far you are from the subject).

    2) You need at least the inverse of your focal length in shutter speed to avoid blur due to camera shake. So, if you're shooting zoomed into 100mm, your shutter speed should be 1/100s (realistically, around 1/125 seconds). Then you need to think about whether you're trying to freeze the motion of your subject or have it with a little motion blur to suggest movement. (I did find a rule of thumb on this somewhere, I think it's something like 1/500s to freeze a cricket ball in flight, maybe 1/250 to freeze runners etc

    For sport, I'd say the most important factor is shutter speed really - I'd sooner have a grainy shot than no shot at all (but then I've shot T-Max 3200 for fun, and love Delta 3200, so what do I know :becool: )
     
  13. beanzontoast

    beanzontoast Veteran

    Location:
    South of The Peaks
    Another vote for going to your local library and browsing the photography section first. If nothing else, it saves you splashing out on a book that you outgrow in no time, but there's also the chance you'll find one that is really good and that you can then buy in Waterstones (my local one has a fair sized section) or wherever to keep as a reference.

    Another vote for Scott Kelby books too. Tends to be very practical, which sounds like what you want. His humor (sic) doesn't go down well with some critics, but I've found it lightens the mood of what could otherwise be a dry subject.

    Finally - watch the focussing on that electronic viewfinder! :becool:
     
  14. NickM

    NickM Über Member

    I know little about the technical aspects of photography, but on the odd occasion that I have taken a passable landscape picture it seems to have helped to go to the place in question more than once. You get a better feeling for where to stand and what to include if you're not just passing through. Often the light is flat and just doesn't make for interesting pictures no matter how pleasing the view, so you need to return on a better day, or at a better time of day.