The Basics

Discussion in 'Photography Forum' started by Wack, Jun 14, 2007.

  1. Tom W

    Tom W Elite Refuge Member

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    Some of the best images on this forum are of our Dogs. I believe everyone enjoys seeing them both in action as well as a nice portrait once in a while.
    A lot of us have darker colored dogs and if the lighting is not right we tend to loose the shadows all together as well as subtle detail in the 3/4 to slightly darker mid-tones of our images. (lighter shadows). If the lighting we use is the Sun and its high above and behind us we can get nasty shadows below the dogs nose and chin. (This is just like photographing our friends or children with hats on their heads and we loose the forehead detail or get that "Raccoon" look) We shoot them in the shade for nice even lighting and we tend to get an underexposure and that yucky blue hue.

    Most of us already know that when shooting the darker dogs we need to bump exposure compensation +1/3 or better to get a proper exposure in the shadows for shape and detail. This is just as we underexpose by -1/3 or better on the white fur or feathers of our birds to hold subtle detail.
    The above rules will even apply while we use fill flash as well. We can use "tricky spot metering", but most of the time that alone can cause a problem, especially by blowing a lighter background.

    So all in all, the ideal situation would be the sunlight 45 degrees above our backs, somewhat muted and we would still add about +1/3 stops for the darker subject. But then, How often do we get the ideal situation?

    We could use this quote: "One of the greatest lines I ever heard from a professional photographer was this... Sometimes you have the right light, sometimes you leave the camera in the truck! " I have to say I would just have to go out business as a Photographer using this as a reference. I also would have to say that over here on the East Coast as well as the Pacific Northwest, we might not see the sun for two weeks at a time.

    So! The good Lord gave us the Canon Techies and the Know How to produce controllable artificial light

    I must also say that I know very little about the Nikon dedicated flash system available, but I am sure they offer something comparable to the Canon Speedlite's. I will use the Canon system as a reference but you Nikonite's just apply this to your system.

    I know a lot of you guys with Xti's as well as the new EOS 40D have a built in flash. This is fine but you need to find a way to *diffuse it. *(soften and spread out the light) You can cut out a piece of translucent material or even a white "hanky" will do! I suggest that even with the built in flash that you invest in an external so that you can use the swivel and tilt-able head for bounce and offset light through accessory diffusers. The built-ins are notorious for hot-spots and red-eye with out some way to disperse the light they produce. Canon offers a reasonable priced 430EX and a highly technical 580EX that can act as a master and trigger slaves. These offer many modes of operation to help you create the best effect you can. The best thing is that our cameras with the use of these Speedlites offer FEL. (Flash exposure Lock) You will preflash the subject with a button on the camera body. (FEL) or (*). This will let the camera pre-meter the flash and lock it in to be used over and over until you pre-flash again. This will work with all modes on our EOS cameras. (AV, TV, M, P) (This was the Wedding or Candid Photographers "Dream Come True)

    I primarily shoot the Speedlite in TV mode (Shutter Priority) between 1/60 and the highest shutter that will sync with the flash. This is great for Candids and portraits with lens between 100 and 200mm. 200mm is max for the Speedlites and you need to check your guide number for distance. You can even fire handheld at 1/30. Remember the flash is firing much faster and will freeze the subject. I use 1/30 to add extra ambient light into my background when needed. ( If you have a very dark BG you are trying to hold some detail in) Since I shoot RAW I use the "Auto White Balance" that way I can correct any problem with the ambient during post processing. I use the FEL mode as well!

    AV mode can ruin your day in darker situations by allowing the shutter to remain open and can cause movement blur or all sort of strange effects:

    Below is a perfect example of this: I came inside and forgot to change the mode!

    [​IMG]

    You notice the movement! This was total and costly mistake! Luckily I caught myself by checking the LCD which I hardly can find time to do during Weddings.

    The next image is a "properly" done AV fill flash image. Just enough to fill those dark shadows and faces of the folks in the shade and to minimize the contrast on the Bride!

    [​IMG]


    This is just a drop in the bucket of what the Speedlites are capable of: There is also an AV function that allows just what you say in the first Boo Boo but if done correctly it can create quite a "mood" shot. The camera needs to be on a tripod. Here is an example through a description. I have images like this but buried in my archives. Perhaps you want to photograph the pooch with a beautiful sunrise behind him and control DOF. You will light Doggie and still hold the subtle sunrise.

    I could spend hours trying to explain all of the neat features of "fill flash" and how to operate the Speedlites but, I let you guys learn more on your own through practice!

    One way to learn the Speedlites is through this very good DVD! You can get it at Adorama or other Mail Order such as Amazon.

    Understanding the Canon Speedlite 580EX/430EX by Blue Crane digital)

    Now Back to the Dogs!

    I love Pet Photography! I bought an entire "Cool Light" non flash lighting system for this pursuit. Stands, Boom, Soft boxes, Umbrellas, and back-lights.
    I use this in studio or on Location if I have multiple customers.

    Sometimes on location, I will use three 580EX's on stands with umbrellas off camera. Photogenic makes a very nice little package of a Light Stand, Umbrellas and mount for the Speedlight. You do need the Canon ST-E2 transmitter to fire the master and slaves. I love this system. You can also use the ST-ET just as an auto focus assist in low light without any flash. It's a life saver with it's IR focusing assist!

    And then as the images below, I just used a single 580EX with a 30 degree up-tilt ( for better dispersion) and a Amber diffuser to warm on the Basset and a white one on My dog Tucker, the Choc Lab

    These were shot with the EOS 5D at ISO 100, AWB, TV and FEL mode with a single 580EX, +1/2 comp through the EF 70-200 f2.8L.

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]


    Use Fill Flash Guys! Don't give up and crawl back in the Truck!

    Enjoy Dizzy
     
  2. Wack

    Wack Elite Refuge Member

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    HUH? :z Dizzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz....you actually made me Dizzy and not a day goes by that I don't use Photoshop. With all due respect, most people don't think like graphics guys...they think like photographers. Or want to...

    IMHO, this tutorial is going to remain above most peoples heads. It seems a complicated and time consuming way to accomplish a fairly simple task. Too much 'graphics guru' (I can't begin to tell you how many cuss fights I have had with graphics dudes at ESPN) speak, and not enough simplicity. Some of these guys are trying to figure out what an f-stop is...and you got them trying to fly an F-15. :yes

    If you're working with a fairly decent image, the same results can usually be achieved using the shadow/highlight tool, simple curves adjustments using the slide bars, or levels adjustments, etc. Or a combination of the three. Every photo is different and with practice and use of a post processing program, you learn to recognize what a photo needs, and to quickly make adjustments.

    From a personal standpoint, when we're working I'm under the gun, and there is no time to take color/black point/white point readings on every photo. It's just not feasible for a working photographer most of the time, with deadlines etc.

    I use a preset in my shadow/highlight tool that get most photos close to acceptable...then adjust a bit from there.

    When I'm working an event and time is an issue, I use a series of recorded actions, as you know...that work by using the function buttons F2, F3 etc; One for sizing, the next for shadow/highlights, saturation, then lastly, sharpening.

    My shadow/highlight action is set up to bring out shadows and dark areas very slowly...so I can just keep hitting the button until I get the desired results. Depends on the photo.

    Same with saturation and sharpening actions.

    Those function buttons slowly saturate, and slowly sharpen. This way the functions are versatile enough to use on just about any photo, providing subtle changes.

    There are of course times I have to take more time....but I should have it close enough in the camera to use a simpler method if I do my job right with the camera.
     
  3. Dizzy Duck

    Dizzy Duck Elite Refuge Member

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    You mean there's not room for both in here? I hear what you are saying! I remember at National Geo, I wanting to take some of our photographers out and literally spank them. They were great photographers but just could not understand what we had to do to their images to get the Press to reflect their efforts. The magic we had to work!........So be kind to us Graphics Guys!!!!!!!:grvn

    I realize what you are saying here! I too do and use what you are saying.
    Just for simplicity. I am simply trying to let folks see what is going on when they hit that switch or click that mouse by the old school means.

    They ask what they can do better or what they have to do in Photo Shop to correct a flaw. So I try to come up with an answer. What you say about getting it right in the camera is true, especially with digital. I'm sure you shot your fair share of Koda Chrome back when just as I did and then stuff like this was used by Pre Press folks like my self. You have to remember that Photo Shop was designed to be used by Pre Press folks not Photographers until this digital age and now you are the Pre Press person and control your Images in essence. Photoshop CS was the beginning of the Photographer use interface.

    So I apologize for hijacking your thread. I wish Tom could put this stuff in another sticky and we could keep this graphics stuff seperate from the Photography stuff. Ill pM Tom and see if we can work something out. Tom put the fill flash one in here at the request of some. I deleted the one on curves. I feel this may be the problem, so again sorry......

    I do understand what you are saying about your time and lack of it. I have that same problem at times. This stuff is aimed at the folks who do have the time and interest in diving a little deeper into the theory.

    I promise I wont ask for a 3% bleed or talk trapping issues!

    Dizzy
     
  4. willowtreelabs

    willowtreelabs Refuge Member

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    please keep this going. i am just starting to look at buying good camera and would love to keep this to look back at all the great info. Thank You Wack
     
  5. SilverHunter

    SilverHunter Refuge Member

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    Wack, thank you very much for all of the wonderful information. I have taken a few photography classes in the past and what they've taught, you have managed to put into a single thread :) Thank you for the quick (and very useful) reference guide. I know that I will be referring back to it often! I am looking into taking more waterfowl pictures out in the blind and was wondering what you feel are the best settings for in-flight pictures throughout different times of the day...and info would be greatly appreciated!! Thanks again! :tu
     
  6. Pantherdux

    Pantherdux Moderator - MN forum / Photography Moderator

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    Thanks
     
  7. dosch

    dosch Elite Refuge Member

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    What a great thread all the way through!

    As a "beginner" into the wonderful world of photography I find myself always coming back to these basics. It's great to have such reputable guys in the forums that are willing to share their knowledge.
     
  8. swampswimmingshrek

    swampswimmingshrek Elite Refuge Member

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    I want to thank everyone that worked on this. Dizzy maybe you could make us a sticky for Graphics? I know I enjoy both sides and I'm trying to understand both sides. I really appreciate you guys making this for us.:tu
     
  9. Wack

    Wack Elite Refuge Member

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    Using graduated neutral density filters:

    If you decide to get into landscape photography they are invaluable. How many times have you looked through your CF cards, dissapointed and thought, "This is not how I saw this scene?" Your skies look stark with very little detail, while your foreground looks fine. We always need to keep in mind that the camera does not see the range of light the human eye does.

    You'll never be able to completely cover all the stops of light from the darker foreground, to the much brighter light posed by the sky/sunsets/sunrises, until you make the move to GND's.

    Without the GND's you have to make choices, usually none of them good for the overall image. You can meter the foreground, then end up with a very bright sky that shows little detail in clouds or color. If you meter the sky, you end up with no detail in the shadows in the foreground.

    In this first one, which was JUST at dawn, the foreground was barely visible to the naked eye, but the sun rising was 4 stops brighter.
    I mounted the 4-stop GND and was able to expose both the foreground and sky. This allowed me to record the scene as seen by the naked eye.

    I realize this is'nt the greatest of photos, but without using the filter, those little clouds on the horizon...they would probably be washed out from bright light with very little color or detail. The blue, to red, to yellow in the sky would not appear like it does in this photo.

    [​IMG]


    A few minutes later I drove around to this little creek drain in a pasture. The foreground was becoming more visible as dawn turned into early morning. There was now 2 stops difference in the sky and the foreground. Swapped out the 4-stop filter for the 2-stop GND.


    [​IMG]
     
  10. Wack

    Wack Elite Refuge Member

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    How to meter the scene using GND's:


    Your first step is to determine the strength of filter you'll need.

    The simplest method is to point your camera at the ground and take a meter reading with the ground filling the whole of the frame without the filter in place.
    Now repeat this step but this time with the sky filling the frame.

    The difference between these two readings will indicate the strength of graduated filter that you need.

    Once you've decided on the filter you need, use the meter reading you took from the foreground to take your shot.
     

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