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1 CuriousLurker  May 25, 2014 9:26:38pm

Ha! Love the contextual “in the wild” shot.

Excellent piece. I actually considered switching over to aperture priority mode, but I’m trying to force myself to stick with manual as much as possible for now. It results in a bit of frustration, but I feel like it’s the only way I’m really gonna learn at this point (though I admit I often start off in full auto mode just to get a general idea for what will work in whatever environment I’m in).

For those of you reading, I had to take two more shots at f/11 before the exposure was right. First I tried to correct it by doubling the ISO, which helped a little but not enough. It wasn’t until I slowed the shutter speed down to 1/8 of a second and put the ISO back on auto that the pic came out okay.

The camera chose ISO 1600, so I guess to get it down lower I’d have had to choose an even slower shutter speed or used a flash. I wanted to keep things simple and was using a tripod anyway so I didn’t bother, but it’s something I’ll keep in mind for the future when I might not have such a controlled environment and/or multiple options.

Many thanks to Daniel for all the tips & for getting me to do a useful exercise!

2 Rightwingconspirator  May 25, 2014 9:38:32pm

re: #1 CuriousLurker

It’s helpful when the camera can unburden us based on circumstance. What I am still learning is how a letting two things be automated (perhaps within set ranges) and the rest up to me. Like let shutter and ISO be set by the camera. I’d still be setting the aperture to fix my depth of field.

3 klys  May 25, 2014 9:44:09pm

I shoot a lot in shutter/aperature priority and let the camera set the ISO for me. That and evaluating the histiogram after every shot has helped me teach myself a fair bit, but still so much more to learn.

Thanks for the useful look into things! It’s always good to learn what backs up my experiences with the camera. :) (Easier to get nice bokeh at the higher zooms!)

4 6monkeys  May 25, 2014 10:00:08pm

This past spring I took a photography class and it gave me an excuse to upgrade to a DSLR. I ended up getting a Nikon D3200. I’m doing pretty decent with it but I know I still have a ton to learn! These articles are truly helpful. Thank you for all the time you put into it!

Just for fun, here are a couple of my favorite shots I took for my class:

The first ‘artistic’ picture I’ve ever taken.

My attempt to photograph nature.

5 PhillyPretzel  May 26, 2014 6:13:39am

Thanks for the great explanations and tips. When I can get my hands on my dad’s old Konica (my dad bought it in the ‘60’s) I will try it out. Right now I am sticking to my Nikon L20 because my budget is tight.

6 Rightwingconspirator  May 26, 2014 10:56:42am

Question for the readers-How far past what your consumer camera can do did I go here? I don’t think any of the cell cameras have an aperture setting, I think those are all effectively pinhole cams. The new mirrorless cameras have this capacity. Mixed among the point and shoots so I’m wondering how many of you can take advantage of this method?

7 Randall Gross  May 26, 2014 11:22:06am

I recommend using Aperture value for a while until you learn that, then move to shutter priority, etc. Going full manual all of the time makes for a long process to get the photo right — even “chimping it in” (taking a shot, looking, adjusting, taking a shot, looking, adjusting…) takes time and that takes away from the time you can use to really study your shot and attend to light angles, framing, etc. which is what usually makes the most artful photographs.

8 Randall Gross  May 26, 2014 11:22:52am

re: #6 Rightwingconspirator

I haven’t seen them with aperture but some are able to zoom.

9 Rightwingconspirator  May 26, 2014 11:41:45am

re: #7 Randall Gross

I recommend using Aperture value for a while until you learn that, then move to shutter priority, etc. Going full manual all of the time makes for a long process to get the photo right — even “chimping it in” (taking a shot, looking, adjusting, taking a shot, looking, adjusting…) takes time and that takes away from the time you can use to really study your shot and attend to light angles, framing, etc. which is what usually makes the most artful photographs.

Good point. When out there on the good photo hunt, yes absolutely, get it in a mode that frees you up to work it your best. Even if that is a circumstantial mode like sports or macro. Aperture mode is super useful. I like it. With the quibbling caveat it may slow your shutter too much unless you free up the ISO, it’s a good useful step past turning the dial to the flower setting.

10 Randall Gross  May 26, 2014 11:47:09am

re: #9 Rightwingconspirator

There were several times in early photography days when I was in purist mode that I came across a great wildlife photo and missed it because I was too busy jiggering the settings and missed one factor or another.

11 lawhawk  May 26, 2014 11:47:49am

re: #6 Rightwingconspirator

It depends on the phone camera and what software the phone comes with. The Galaxy S5 appears to let you do selective focus, and I think a couple other new phones let you choose the focal point after the picture is taken.

12 Randall Gross  May 26, 2014 11:50:32am

Where I blow it most of the time: hand held telephoto wildlife shots at far distances when in Av mode on the Canon. If you don’t let ISO Float it can hose you up as Daniel points out.

13 Decatur Deb  May 26, 2014 11:51:42am

Speed Graphic shooter’s mantra: FATSO

Focus, Aperture, Time, (alternate) Shutter Open.

14 Rightwingconspirator  May 26, 2014 11:57:17am

re: #11 lawhawk

I was hanging out with Stephen Benskin and old school art print guy in large format. We had the darndest conversation as we were discussing DoF with a tilt lens or front element like of a field camera. I was absorbing the ideas pretty well, and then we looked up the patent for the Lytro “Light Field” cam.

Essentially that thing has moving dlp lenses all over the sensor. Then this head ache set in as I pondered what was going on with the light rays and what if you get that in a DSLR…. Whew.

15 otoc  May 26, 2014 12:08:21pm

Really nice job folks. It’s a tough subject, but defining the area of focus is part of composition.

I grew up with the Scheimpflug principle and view cameras, so today with these new fangled cameras I prefer a tripod, neutral density filters, manual focus and exposure (handheld meters) and the occasional use of PC lenses which give swing and tilt capabilities to DSLRs.

All that aside, there are a few tricks from the past that still hold to this day especially when there’s a desire to quickly establish what focus range is going to be produced. To keep the math out of the equation, I scan the areas of focus I want from front to back and note them on the lens barrel with my fingernails. Since the general rule of thumb for the focus range is 1/3 in front and 2/3s in back of the focus point, I use the depth of field scale on the lens to reproduce that range, setting the aperture appropriately. Then I look with the aperture stopped down before shooting. This isn’t for the macro examples in your post where the depth of field is measured in inches, but for scenes where you either want everything tack sharp, or a subject floating in a mist of diffusion.

16 Decatur Deb  May 26, 2014 12:10:34pm

re: #15 otoc

For quick shooting, there’s always “hyperfocal distance”.

en.wikipedia.org

17 otoc  May 26, 2014 12:26:20pm

re: #16 Decatur Deb

For quick shooting, there’s always “hyperfocal distance”.

en.wikipedia.org

lol, I don’t know if that’s quick shooting.

If I want quick shooting of street scenes (ala Cartier-Bresson), I lock the aperture at what ever yields the best shutter speed for the focal length of the lens, normally 1/(whatever the length) since it’s handheld. Set infinity at the depth of field scale for the f stop used. Adequate focus is what the range depicts. No math or focus required. It’s all about the image then, the test is whether or not the viewfinder is needed. ;)

18 Rightwingconspirator  May 26, 2014 12:43:17pm

re: #17 otoc

lol, I don’t know if that’s quick shooting.

If I want quick shooting of street scenes (ala Cartier-Bresson), I lock the aperture at what ever yields the best shutter speed for the focal length of the lens, normally 1/(whatever the length) since it’s handheld. Set infinity at the depth of field scale for the f stop used. Adequate focus is what the range depicts. No math or focus required. It’s all about the image then, the test is whether or not the viewfinder is needed. ;)

That’s the masters approach to it. Well said. Just a lil hard on my target audience here LOL. Thanks so much for chiming in. I like your perspective.

19 Decatur Deb  May 26, 2014 1:02:02pm

re: #17 otoc

lol, I don’t know if that’s quick shooting.

If I want quick shooting of street scenes (ala Cartier-Bresson), I lock the aperture at what ever yields the best shutter speed for the focal length of the lens, normally 1/(whatever the length) since it’s handheld. Set infinity at the depth of field scale for the f stop used. Adequate focus is what the range depicts. No math or focus required. It’s all about the image then, the test is whether or not the viewfinder is needed. ;)

Yup, that’s how we put in the hyperfocal distance, if the lens had a DoF scale. Don’t think any view cameras I’ve used could do that, linking the lens to the bellows bed. Maybe a Linhof or something, not a Deardorff.

20 wrenchwench  May 26, 2014 3:54:12pm
21 CuriousLurker  May 27, 2014 12:46:07am

re: #15 otoc

re: #17 otoc

I only understood a little bit of your comments, but I’m adding them to my notes anyway in the hopes that at some point in the future I’ll “get it”, so thanks.

22 CuriousLurker  May 27, 2014 12:58:22am

I’d like to add that part of the problem, for me at least, is that in addition to trying to remember which setting affects what and any associated formulas, you have to remember how/where to access the settings—which button to press or wheel to turn, which screen it was on, etc.

I’m still having a hard time with focusing points. I know how to change the setting, but still don’t really get how the ones in the viewfinder work. When I first got the camera I intuitively understood setting the focus point on-screen in live view, but since my T3i doesn’t have a touchscreen, using the cross keys to move it around can be frustratingly slow.

23 otoc  May 27, 2014 3:34:24am

re: #19 Decatur Deb

No, the best option Speed Graphics and Linhoffs had were rangefinders, focus scales, and infinity stops because they were used for weddings and press events before the SLRs came in. That was even before my time but not before my teacher’s. Deardorfs, beautiful works of carpentry, were more for field photography and were all about the ground glass from what I saw.

Here’s a little history. Harry Truman call the White House Press Corps the “One More Club” because the old Speedos didn’t always cooperate. Loading 4X5 film holders, pulling dark slides, popping in flash bulbs, composing and shooting wasn’t the best way to shoot a press event. “One more!!!” was the call from the shooting gallery.

c-span.org

24 otoc  May 27, 2014 3:40:18am

re: #21 CuriousLurker

I only understood a little bit of your comments, but I’m adding them to my notes anyway in the hopes that at some point in the future I’ll “get it”, so thanks.

I understand, stating visual things in words are tough.

Simply stated, as this shot from Ken Rockwell shows, at f8 I can expect acceptable focus from 10 feet to infinity.
Image: D3S_6584-focus.jpg

25 Decatur Deb  May 27, 2014 4:31:21am

re: #23 otoc

Went back and did some checking—used to have a Mamiya C33. It had a complex system for moving information from the 3 common interchangable twinlens sets to the manual focus scale. It didn’t carry a DoF indicator.

Image: Mamiya_C33_Professional_-_focus_chart.jpg

Image: Mamiya_C33_Professional_-_film_roller.jpg

Strangely, my first adjustable camera was my highschool’s Speed Graphic. Nothing like 4x5/2x3 film on a zero budget to teach discipline. Later our studio used 8x10 and larger Deardorffs, with reducing backs if we wanted 4x5. (I was a mere ‘camera operator’. The ‘photographer’ was the guy who yelled at the models and pushed the button.)

26 otoc  May 27, 2014 5:39:04am

re: #25 Decatur Deb

Went back and did some checking—used to have a Mamiya C33. It had a complex system for moving information from the 3 common interchangable twinlens sets to the manual focus scale. It didn’t carry a DoF indicator.

Image: Mamiya_C33_Professional_-_focus_chart.jpg

Image: Mamiya_C33_Professional_-_film_roller.jpg

Strangely, my first adjustable camera was my highschool’s Speed Graphic. Nothing like 4x5/2x3 film on a zero budget to teach discipline. Later our studio used 8x10 and larger Deardorffs, with reducing backs if we wanted 4x5. (I was a mere ‘camera operator’. The ‘photographer’ was the guy who yelled at the models and pushed the button.)

Oh my, a fellow old fart. And a C33, not a C330 to boot. I too learned by being yelled at. There’s nothing like being an assistant after years of school.

Large format taught many skills, frugality being one. 35mm taught me creativity after I burned out my first slr from cycling so many rolls.

Things have changed so much in the last 15 years. What we spent careers learning is now a push of a button on screen. It’s not a bad thing, mind you, but we have lost some history. I recently had a discussion with a young man buying some studio gear of mine. He said digital to inkjet yielded better prints than silver based. He based that on what he saw from prints recently produced. All I could do was laugh.

Here’s a photo assembly from the 90s before the times of photoshop. 5 separate shots, all shot to scale for quick assembly by layered optical masking and duplication on to a single 8X10 transparency film. That one shot took a week to produce. Photoshop could do it in a day.
Before photoshop

27 Decatur Deb  May 27, 2014 6:05:58am

re: #26 otoc

…snip
Things have changed so much in the last 15 years. What we spent careers learning is now a push of a button on screen. It’s not a bad thing, mind you, but we have lost some history….

Sure, that. Trying to get up the energy to eBay a closet full of tech and get a digital. Dream camera might be a micro view with full swings and tilts and a digital sensor of an inch or so. (Then I want to make it levitate and go record the interior of the cathedral in Cremona.)

Image: lom-cr-duomo2.jpg

28 otoc  May 27, 2014 6:30:52am

re: #27 Decatur Deb

Sure, that. Trying to get up the energy to eBay a closet full of tech and get a digital. Dream camera might be a micro view with full swings and tilts and a digital sensor of an inch or so. (Then I want to make it levitate and go record the interior of the cathedral in Cremona.)

Image: lom-cr-duomo2.jpg

Time for a drone? They are even available in the Apple Store.

Towards the end of my career, I looked into a photo-ballon franchise. A tethered helium ballon that held a camera. Things do change for the best sometimes.

29 klys  May 27, 2014 10:27:03am

re: #22 CuriousLurker

I’d like to add that part of the problem, for me at least, is that in addition to trying to remember which setting affects what and any associated formulas, you have to remember how/where to access the settings—which button to press or wheel to turn, which screen it was on, etc.

I’m still having a hard time with focusing points. I know how to change the setting, but still don’t really get how the ones in the viewfinder work. When I first got the camera I intuitively understood setting the focus point on-screen in live view, but since my T3i doesn’t have a touchscreen, using the cross keys to move it around can be frustratingly slow.

I do it the cheat-y way: set the focus using the center mark and then recompose while maintaining focus before triggering the shot.

30 Rightwingconspirator  May 27, 2014 10:58:07am

re: #22 CuriousLurker

I’d like to add that part of the problem, for me at least, is that in addition to trying to remember which setting affects what and any associated formulas, you have to remember how/where to access the settings—which button to press or wheel to turn, which screen it was on, etc.

I’m still having a hard time with focusing points. I know how to change the setting, but still don’t really get how the ones in the viewfinder work. When I first got the camera I intuitively understood setting the focus point on-screen in live view, but since my T3i doesn’t have a touchscreen, using the cross keys to move it around can be frustratingly slow.

What can be confusing about focus points is they vary by focusing mode. The controls, well they are a bit awkward on the Rebel, but muscle memory overcomes that with time. It’s a lot to learn.

31 Rightwingconspirator  May 27, 2014 11:03:41am

re: #24 otoc

I understand, stating visual things in words are tough.

Simply stated, as this shot from Ken Rockwell shows, at f8 I can expect acceptable focus from 10 feet to infinity.
Image: D3S_6584-focus.jpg

So many consumer lenses lack that feature, it’s annoying. “Consumer” is often student, trying to learn these methods and principles.

32 lawhawk  May 27, 2014 11:14:13am

re: #20 wrenchwench

If you’ve got a complex subject or one that has very high contrast, autofocus might not return the most sharp image. It might focus on the wrong spot (depending on which autofocus mode you’re in).

Depending on the camera, you can adjust the autofocus point so that you can choose where the autofocus will fix on.

Or, if you’ve got good eyes, switch to manual and have a go at it.

I normally shoot in autofocus because I’ve got glasses and getting tack sharp can be hard. But then I run into the issue where the focus might not be entirely where I want it to be (and wont always see the results until I’m back home on a big screen to see the product).

For my night shots, I’ll shoot in manual since the autofocus often has nothing to focus on.


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