This week your photographic challenge is to take and share a picture taken with the widest available focal length to you.
This challenge builds upon our recent tutorial – 7 Ways to Get More out of a Wide-Angle Lens which gives some practical tips on shooting this way. While not everyone has a true wide-angle lens to shoot with we challenge you to use whatever you have available. If your camera has a zoom lens – resist the temptation to zoom in this week and shoot as much as you can at the wider end of the zoom.
A few other posts that might help you tackle this wide angle challenge include:
- Using Wide Angle Lens Distortion Creatively
- 17 Amazing Wide Angle Images
- 6 Winning Ways to Work Wide
- How to Get the Best Results from Ultra-Wide Lenses
- Wide, Wider, Widest – Wide Angle Photography
Once you’ve taken and selected the ‘Wide Angle’ image that you’d like to share – upload it to your favourite photo sharing site or blog and either share a link to it or – embed them in the comments using the our new tool to do so.
If you tag your photos on Flickr, Instagram, Twitter or other sites with Tagging tag them as #DPSWIDE to help others find them. Linking back to this page might also help others know what you’re doing so that they can share in the fun.
Also – don’t forget to check out some of the great shots posted in last weeks challenge – Green challenge where there were some great shots submitted.
I’m looking forward to seeing your shots!
Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.
A guest post by John Davenport
Photography in general is easy – right? You pick up your camera, point it in the direction of what interests you, and depress the shutter button. However, there are many levels of photography, and I’m sure many of you are aware of the basics.
Today I’m going to focus on something a bit more advanced, photographing the star filled sky, also known as astrophotography.
For astrophotography you will be delving a bit deeper into the use of some of the manual controls of your camera like shutter speed, aperture, and ISO control. I also highly recommend shooting in RAW for night photography, as it will allow more control when editing the final image. If you’re not sure what RAW is and why it is important I wrote a bit about RAW photography here.
Let’s Start With What You’ll Need
- Tripod – We’re going to be dealing with exposures in the tens of seconds and I don’t care who you are, you’re going to need something to stabilize your camera.
- A Camera With Manual Controls – Manual control of your ISO and shutter speed are going to be essential for photographing the stars.
- A Wide Aperture Lens – You’ll need a lot of light and f/2.8 seems to be the butter zone for astrophotography. Combine this with an ultra-wide lens and depth of field won’t be a problem.
With these three pieces of gear you’ll be off to a great start, but of course, there’s a lot more out there that you could potentially add down the line, which I’m sure you can discuss in the comments below.
Location, Location, Location
Now, it’s not enough to just get all the gear, you need to find the right places to photograph the night sky as well. Light pollution is a serious problem for astrophotography and if you’re anywhere near a large city you’re going to have to travel at least an hour to get away from the lights.
I live just outside of Boston MA and am pretty much locked into one of the most light polluted areas of the United States – southern New England.
However, as seen in this image below, even a town of only about 30,000 people and over ten miles away can still result in some obstructive light pollution.
On top of finding the right location on Earth, you’ll want to have some idea of the location of various stars and constellations for your photography. I use an app called Starwalk for my iPhone to track these down as well as locating the core of the Milky Way, which can be amazing when photographed.
The Basic Set-up
When photographing these tiny pinholes of light you will need as much light to hit your sensor as possible. Therefore it’s important to use combination of high ISO, wide apertures, and long shutter speeds.
For the Kayaks Under the Stars photo above I used an ISO of 1250 an aperture of f/2.8 and an exposure of 30 seconds. As you’ll notice in the bottom right of the photograph there’s a bit of light pollution from a city about 30 minutes away.
One thing to do to try and minimize the light pollution is to find out where it is in a timely manner. To do this I typically will fire off successive shots all around the horizon using an absurdly high ISO (typically the highest my camera will go) simply to limit the time it takes for each shot to expose. These shots won’t be used in the final process, but they are valuable in letting me know which parts of the horizon are off-limits.
As far as exposure time goes, it’s better to keep it as short as possible, otherwise you’ll end up with movement in your stars as the Earth rotates. As an example, my kayak photograph was shot at 30 seconds, which was actually a bit long and if you look closely you can see some movement in the stars.
Now, don’t get me wrong, this can be an extremely cool style of photography in and of itself, referred to most often as creating star-trails like this shot below.
There’s a great post here on dPS about shooting star-trails, which you should check out for more information if you’re interesting in creating this kinds of photographs.
Processing the Photo
Processing these night sky photographs can be a bit intimidating, as at first they won’t look like much. As I mentioned above, I’d highly recommend shooting in the RAW format if your camera offers it, as it will allow you to do a lot more when it comes to this step.
For the shot featured at the top of this post I broke up the photograph into two zones to process, the sky and the foreground. I used LR4′s adjustment tool to selectively tweak each region until I was satisfied with the end result.
For more on how I edited this photograph watch this quick video walkthrough I made of the process.
Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.
New to DSLR photography and want a good basic lesson in focusing? This video by Phil Steele gives a good introduction to five different focusing techniques.
Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.
This article was written by Andrew S Gibson, the author of Understanding Lenses: Part I, and is the second in a series of lessons about camera lenses. You can read the first article link to first article here.
If you were to only ever use one lens a wide-angle would be an excellent choice. For many years, before I switched to digital, I used a 24mm lens almost exclusively with a simple film SLR. I loved that lens because it helped me take many beautiful and dramatic images.
The good news is that you can do the same with your wide-angle lenses, or the widest focal lengths on a kit lens. All that’s needed is an understanding of how to make the most out of that wonderful piece of glass attached to your camera.
What is a wide-angle lens?
A wide-angle lens provides a wider angle of view that what you can see with your own eyes. On a full-frame or film camera that’s any focal length wider than about 40mm. On an APS-C camera that’s focal lengths wider than around 25mm, or 20mm with the micro four-thirds format.
Wide-angle lenses have a couple of characteristics that you can exploit to take better photos:
- They exaggerate perspective, making things close to the lens look nearer than they are, and things in the distance look smaller. This stretches the sense of distance and scale. The shorter the focal length, the greater the effect.
- They have more depth-of-field at any given aperture than longer lenses. This helps you keep everything within the frame, or at least the most important elements, in sharp focus. It also means that accurate focusing isn’t so critical.
Making the most out of wide-angle lenses
Here are my tips for making the most out of your wide-angle lenses. If you’ve got any tips of your own, why not add them to the comments? I’m curious to see how readers use their wide-angles, and I’m expecting some links to some amazing images.
1. Foreground interest
This applies primarily to landscape photography. It’s a good idea to make sure there is something interesting in the foreground for the viewer to look at. Otherwise there may be too much empty space and the image becomes boring. The photo above is a good example. Can you imagine how it would look without the people in the foreground? Without the human figures, there is no photo – just a monotonous expanse of white.
2. Environmental portraiture
Wide-angle lenses let you take portraits and include the model’s surroundings at the same time. It’s a technique used by portrait, documentary and fashion photographers to tell a story. The setting is just as interesting as the person in the photo. It’s the opposite approach of using a telephoto lens and a wide aperture to blur the background.
3. Take photos inside your car
It’s been done dozens of times before, but I couldn’t resist trying it for myself. To create this photo I attached my camera to a tripod, leant the whole thing against the passenger seat and wrapped the tripod and camera straps around the seat to hold it steady. I drove around our local area at dusk using a remote release to take photos.
Wide-angle lenses are idea for taking photos in any enclosed space, where it would be impossible to capture an image with a longer focal length.
4. Using lines
Lines are a powerful compositional tool. The lines in this image take the viewer’s eye from the front of the image to the back and the mountains on the horizon. The wide-angle lens exaggerates the sense of scale and adds to the power of the lines. Training yourself to look for lines, and exploiting them in your photos with a wide-angle lens will help you create more dramatic images.
5. Converging verticals
In a similar way to exploiting line, you can tip your camera backwards when taking photos of buildings to utilise the effect of converging verticals to add drama and interest to the image. You can tip the camera back a little, like I’ve done here, or a lot to get a snail’s eye view and really take advantage of the effect.
6. The human element
Wide-angle lenses help you place a human element in a landscape photo. Here, the people in this seascape are small in the frame, adding a sense of scale and mystery. I asked my model to remain still throughout the 30 second exposure, so the sea and the children playing on the rocks in the distance were rendered as a blur.
7. Documentary photography
Finally, wide-angle lenses are also useful for documentary photography. I took this photo during a parade in a remote town in South America. The wide-angle lens helped me capture the scene by fitting lots into the frame. The lens was fairly small, so I was able to take photos without anybody taking any notice of me. I stopped down so accurate focusing wasn’t critical which gave me the freedom to concentrate on composition and capturing the moment.
Understanding Lenses: Part I
If you liked this article then take a look at my latest eBook, Understanding Lenses: Part I – A guide to Canon wide-angle and kit lenses. If you hurry, you’ll get a discount – scroll down for details.
In the next lesson I’m going to look at lens aberrations – what they are and how to correct them in-camera or in Raw processing.
Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.
I first used a mosaic application back in 1999 when, as editor of Australian Digital Camera magazine, I constructed an issue’s front cover. The cover showed my (then) 14 year old daughter, holding the (then) new Fujifilm MX-2700 camera. And, IMHO, looked stunning.
The app used was ArcSoft PhotoMontage 2000. It is still available, but only in a Windows version.
Still intrigued by the mosaic concept and wanting to review some software that explores this quirky avenue of digital photography I fell upon Andrea Mosaic, an app that is available for free download and use. Here are some of my experiences.
First image I chose to be transformed was a shot of a shop mannikin, with well-defined, bold subject elements and scaled down in size to 1000×1503 pixels to suit DPS’ display requirements.
I chose 4×3 rectangles as the tile size/shape. As you can see from the screen grab I could also have chosen squares, 3×2 or 16.x9 rectangles.
In the next step, I needed to choose the source folder of the tiles. I had already had assembled a folder of 798 images of various sizes, some ranging up to 4000×3000 pixels. At this point the app showed me a demo of how the final mosaic would look. I hit the button ‘Create Mosaic’ and the dialog box suggested I tick the box marked Tile Duplication. Then there was some mucking around to choose the source folder … this took 80 seconds. The actual ‘stitching’ took only another 30 seconds.
The final size was 3300×4959 pixels. For repro purposes in DPS you are looking at 600×900 pixels. As you can see there was a fair bit of duplication to match the tonal shades in the original image but I was quite happy with the result.
Once again, this time selecting ‘no duplicates’. As you can see the result is far from OK with black tiles filling some spaces.
And again, with the same image but using the original 3056×4592 pixel image. For me, this is the way to go. Very pleasing! It will no doubt look very different on DPS pages due to the rescaling.
Another image: a night shot of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. I selected square tiles and duplication, at the suggestion of the app.
As you can see the result is not an accurate mosaic of the original but is, I figure, an interesting image in its own right.
Try again, with ‘no duplicates.’ Not a happy result.
Another original, a park scene.
Trying variations of tile duplication and spacing this is what I achieved. From my POV it seems you need lots of experimentation to achieve a pleasing result.
I enjoyed Andrea Mosaic and figure it is halfway between a terrible time waster and a magnificent experimental ‘device’! Give it a lot of time and you can expect top results. For what it’s worth, the 40 page PDF manual is detailed and exemplary.
Another facet to this wonder app is its ability to “create video mosaics (Mac/Linux not supported). The final result is a video (AVI file) where each frame is a photo-mosaic. Andrea Mosaic tries to reproduce a still image where each tile is a video clip or a still image. To realise this each video clip must be a relatively static video. The main problem is to get a large collection of short video clips suitable for this use.”
And a final fling, using the knowhow gained from my earlier trials. Simpler subject, fewer tones. Obviously, the way to go! Bold images suit it best.
An interesting sidenote: as a mosaic of an image is created with simplified subject matter (the tiles), reduced JPEG compression has little effect on the image file size.
Windows XP and 7, Vista, 2000, 2003, 98/ME/NT plus Mac OSX and Linux.
More info at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AndreaMosaic. Wikipedia comment: “Although the software has proved popular and has some powerful features, it has been criticised for not being user-friendly with a confusing and dull interface featuring atrocious grammar but providing an excellent user guide and producing excellent results.”
I have to agree! But! It’s powerful … and free!
Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.
This guest post on Timelapse Photography was written by Ryan Chylinski – author of Time-Lapse Photography: a Complete Introduction which for the next 6 days is available at a 20% discount at SnapnDeals.
You’ve probably stumbled upon an incredible work of time-lapse where you just couldn’t get the images and the feelings out of your head. Possibly you are fascinated by nature and the slow changes that occur over a period of time. A flower blooming, a sunset or a moonrise. Maybe it was a construction project or a cityscape at night, full of activity and production. I’m a big fan of time-lapse photography and I love seeing the amazing work that people create from all over the world.
I thought I’d share a few tips I’ve learned over the years as well as touch on the basics for new and intermediate DSLR photographers who might want to try time-lapse. Since there have been some great written introductions here on DPS I decided to use a few videos and screenshots from the eBook Time-Lapse Photography: A Complete Introduction (currently 20% off) instead and focus on creating a launchpad for your experiments.
We know that time-lapse is all about the capture of change in a way that we can’t normally see. But what’s really going on in the background?
Let’s take a closer look:
What is Time-lapse Photography?
Time-lapse photography is a cinematography technique whereby the frequency at which film frames are captured (aka the frame rate) is much lower than that which will be used to play the sequence back. Put simply: We are manipulating time. Objects and events that would normally take several minutes, days, or even months can be viewed to completion in seconds having been sped up by factors of tens to millions.
The best way to get a greater feel for the power of time-lapse is to watch a few. Now I know you have seen some before, (especially if you watch reality TV) but I’m not really talking about those short clips between tribal counsel elimination decisions, it can go a little deeper if we let it. What I am talking about are the compilations that really grab your attention and make you think about the world around you. The ones that give you a better understanding about how nature changes and cities work.
It’s so much more than a gee whiz editing effect. It can be used to tell a story.
The Gear You Need To Tell Your Own Time-lapse Story:
Chances are if you’ve been shooting with a DSLR camera you probably have just about everything you need to get started in time-lapse photography. Phew!
Here are the minimum gear requirements for a new shooter.
Since a stable shooting platform of anykind is so important I wanted to include a page on tripod stability.
If you are really looking to push the limits of your creativity we’ll introduce some advanced gear to build and buy in the eBook and I wanted to be sure to include an example video a little later in this post.
Balancing Time-lapse Image Settings: Size, Quality, Space and Speed
Size, quality, space and speed; It’s nothing new if you’ve worked with digital images before but with time-lapse sequences poor planning can quickly cut a scene too short or leave you with a blinking “Card Full” message just as the sun peaks out over the mountains. There’s a lot to discuss here but if I were to boil all this down into a simple recommendation it would be this: Shoot in the highest resolution (actual image dimension) RAW format your card capacity, camera write speed and time-lapse planning will allow. RAW images will allow for non-destructive tweaking and correcting in post production (using standard or transitional editing). High resolution images will provide the freedom to crop as well as program in movement by panning, tilting or zooming into a sequence in post. Here’s a page to help you gauge the file size implications of your decision:
The Basics of Shooting Time-lapse
I can’t stress this enough: If you are new to time-lapse, review these basics then get out there and play. Your first few tests should focus more on experimenting with different changing subjects and a little less stress about creating a technically perfect rendered sequence (there’s plenty of time for that later). Get a few fun tests under your belt and the time-lapse bug is sure to carry you through to the next steps. After you’ve had a chance to survey the basics, we’ll walk through some specific scenarios and advanced topics.This section is obviously pretty big and pretty important but if I had to pull out only a few pages on the fundamentals of shooting DSLR time-lapse it would be this:
Composition, a.k.a. the art of walking around. Time to polish your crystal ball, look into the future and find interesting change and a dynamic scene.
Select a time-lapse interval to balance speed and flow.
Control your exposure to minimize and eliminate time-lapse flicker. The best way to explain this is a short video.
The most important concept here is full manual control. Now no worries if you are a little rusty on manual exposure. Take a look at this time-lapse exposure triangle as a refresher and be sure to lean on some other great DPS posts to hone in your skills.
The second most important exposure consideration is motion blur. Since our time-lapse images are played back-to-back very rapidly, the slight blurring in each individual photo blends together creating an added smoothness to the entire sequence. As a rule of thumb, try to keep your shutter speed under ~1/100th of a second. In order to get such a low shutter speed in daylight conditions we will probably need to use an ND filter (Like sunglasses for your camera, neutral density or ND filters reduce the intensity of light without altering its color).
Creating the Time-lapse
Compiling the images is where it all pays off. Creating your time-lapse movie from hundreds of still images isn’t very complicated, however approaching the rendering process without a set workflow can make things seem more complex than they actually are. I assure you once it’s built and you’ve run through it a few times you’ll be able to cruise through the time-lapse process. Here is the basic process in two nutshells: the first being the basic process.
and the second being several basic rendering software workflows.
Unfortunately I don’t have enough space in this post to launch into each workflow specifically but a quick time-lapse rendering tutorial search on Youtube/Vimeo or a glance through Chapter 5 for your specific software preference should take you the rest of the way.
Where to go from here?
You now have a firm understanding of the basics of time-lapse shooting, flicker prevention, and rendering. I encourage you to get out there and practice. Experience will be your best guide and the best way to gain experience is to test the limits of your understanding. In Chapter 6 of Time-lapse Photography: A Compete Introduction I’ve organized four challenges to test our planning, shooting, and processing skills. It is my hope these scenarios spark questions and a fascination on how these techniques can be applied to different situations.
- An Astrolapse
- The Time-lapse Holy Grail
- High Dynamic Range (HDR) Time-lapse
- We’ll also take the first step in considering how motion control devices can be used to create amazing time-lapse effects.
- Here’s another example of some of the amzing work thats been done combining advanced time-lapse motion and exposure control.
With all this information under your belt are you ready to head out and capture the changing world, or is there still a little skepticism inside that you can really create something great?
Eric Warren of Matadornetwork.com posed a related question:
Do you think time-lapse should be left to the pros?
“Pros are the guys you call when you want to put a time-lapse in your car commercial. And while we tend to put pros up on a pedestal, they are often bogged down by their clients’ needs. Most commercial advertising doesn’t push the envelope of an art form.
That job often falls to the independent artists, building their own equipment, and often not giving a rat’s ass about whether their work is going to sell. Not that I want to be too demanding here, but I want to see something mind-blowing. Either something I’ve never seen before or something familiar, shown in a new way (one thing time-lapse excels at.) ….
Consider this a call to all you independent filmmakers out there ready to push the limits of one of the most striking visual art forms.”
Take some of the stuff shared here and in the book and invest it in your next clip but also throw some of it away, do your own tests and rewrite sections how you please. Don’t let anyone tell you that you are doing things the wrong way. If you are getting the results you want then that’s all that matters. Never forget that you are the artist and it’s your story.
If you need help or have further questions on anything, or just want to share some feedback or shoot the breeze, e-mail me at email@example.com
It has been a pleasure sharing this information with you and I can’t thank you enough for your feedback. I would love to hear some of your stories and see some of your work and again I hope this resource has been helpful. If you are interested in learning a little more about exactly what is in my eBook take a look at this overview video.
Get Time-Lapse Photography: a Complete Introduction for 20% off at SnapnDeals (limited time offer).
P.S. Here are some of my favorite time-lapse resources for continued learning:
Time-lapse and related forums:
- Timescapes Digital Time-lapse forum
- OpenMoCo (photographic motion-control)
- Magic Lantern firmware wiki
Time-lapse Motion Control Equipment:
Astronomical data and guides to our sky:
- NOAA sunrise/sunset calculator
- Dark Star Finder
- Sky Chart
- Dark Sky Association
- City lights data
- Stellarium Sky Map
Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.
Declan O’Neill is a professional photographer who lives in the South Island, New Zealand. He travels extensively capturing the beauty of New Zealand’s extraordinary landscape. The photographs which accompany this article are part of a series entitled ‘The Anatomy of Melancholy’ which is dedicated to the memory of his sister, Ann, who died from Multiple Systems Atrophy.
1. Our photographs tell us what is important to us
When you ask people what possessions they would rescue from their burning house, one of the most frequent answers is the photograph album or a computer with their digital images. When in panic mode it’s interesting that we would probably grab photos rather than valuable jewelry. This impulse to save our recorded memories is a powerful force which tells us much about the role of photography in our lives and our constant desire to distil our most precious moments into images.
We preserve the important events and people in our lives. The ceremonies of birth and birthdays, marriages and anniversaries, holidays and new houses are all recorded because they matter. Photographs are our personal story, a timeline of our lives filled with faces and places that we love. They are our story, which we can share with others. The hundreds of images come together to form a narrative of our lives.
2. Photographs are part of our legacy
Once I remember sitting in a train as it passed a playground where children were standing to attention for the annual school photograph. Across the front row sat the teachers and behind them, hundreds of children neatly preened and uniformed. For the briefest second the entire assembly was motionless. We were passing just as the photographer clicked the shutter. Suddenly, as if in slow motion, the huge group scattered as children escaped their enforced immobility. The neat rows dissolved and broke into individuals who were now kicking footballs or huddled in friendship groups. None of those children realised that the photograph was probably going to outlive them. A couple of generations later it might surface among old papers in an attic and someone would search for granddad among the fresh young faces. Photographs matter because they freeze moments of our lives which pass unremarkably and which seem to have little importance to us at the time. The significance, however, may be for others who search for the person we once were or the places we once knew. They can be small pieces of a jigsaw that complete the larger picture of our lives.
3. Photographs allow us to share and to communicate.
Images are much more than a simple record. Photography speaks to the best and most generous part of our human nature – the desire to share what we find beautiful and interesting with others. You only have to look at Flickr and a multitude of photo sharing sites to see this impulse at work. Millions of people sharing their personal, passionate and sometimes quirky take on the world around them. Our images can involve a world of strangers in our life. How powerful is that?
4. Photography makes us artists
Photography allows us to express ourselves through an art form. We notice a beautiful landscape or an old man’s lined face and we want to capture it. Each of us will have a different reason to do so but, essentially, we want to create something. However humdrum our nine-to-five lives may be, the creation of an image makes us an artist. It feels good.
5. Photography is a complex language
Our images can express joy and sorrow, wonder and sympathy. Every human emotion can find a place in photography. For many years I never valued my photographs of overcast landscape because I believed that there was no beauty in a land with muted colours and a leaden sky. I wanted the land to be alive with colour and vibrancy. However, lack of colour in a landscape makes you search for other things that often go unremarked in bright sunlight. It could be a symmetry of hills or a tree standing out from a forest of thousands. I have suffered from depression for most of my adult life and photography gave me a language to express feelings for which I can find no words. We have a miserably poor vocabulary for mental illness and photography has allowed me to develop a visual language for some of the most difficult emotions.
6. Photography has the power to move us
Photographs can grab our attention and speak directly to our emotions. Nick Ut’s photograph of a crying Vietnamese girl whose clothes have been burnt away by napalm embodies the power of a single image. At a more subtle level, we can learn lessons about a whole range of emotions. Grief has the power to wash away the luminance and chrominance of our lives. There is no magic way to restore them at will. We have to be patient. But while waiting we can search for the shapes and patterns that are still there in the greyness. They will lead us back to colour eventually. At moments of great sorrow in my life I have used images to express that hope of returning colour.
Photography, at its best, is a powerful language which speaks to our emotions. It allows us to tell our story and show others our framing of the world around us.
Declan O’Neill is a professional photographer living in the South Island of New Zealand.
Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.
1/320th at F11, ISO 800 (17mm) – Canon 5D Mark II.
Capturing strangers candidly, yet tack sharp, is probably the toughest technical skill to learn in street photography.
With a genre such as landscape photography, you can find your location, plan your shot, wait patiently for the correct lighting, and make sure that you are ready to pounce when the perfect moment hits. But candid street photography is an entirely different beast. Often, you are presented with a moment so quickly that your reaction time is severely tested. It is so tough to frame correctly, focus correctly, and capture a spontaneous shot at the right moment, all while trying to keep things candid.
The solution? Learning to zone focus. Not every street photographer zone focuses, but the ones that do swear by it. While I use autofocus when I can, I too swear by it. And with a little practice, it’s not all that hard to learn.
Honestly, it’s way harder to explain it than it is to actually do it.
Depth of Field (DOF)
1/250th at F4, ISO 3200 (28mm) – Canon 5D Mark II.
Before we go into what zone focusing is, we need to talk about the factors that go into creating DOF. If you know this already then feel free to skip to the next section.
The term Depth of Field refers to the area in front of and behind a subject that you focus on that will appear acceptably sharp. For instance, say you focus on a subject that is 10 feet away. Depending on your camera settings, that might mean that everything from 8 feet away to 14 feet away will be acceptably sharp. That would be your depth of field. Also, keep in mind that the area behind your subject that is acceptably sharp will always be greater than the area in front of your subject, and in many cases much greater.
Depending on four factors, your aperture, your focal length, the distance that you are focusing at, and on your camera’s sensor size, your depth of field can change drastically. Here are the four factors in detail:
- The smaller your aperture, the more DOF there will be in a scene. So if you are shooting at F16, much more of your scene will be sharp than if you are shooting a F2.8.
- The wider your focal length, the more DOF there will be in a scene. So if you are shooting at 28mm, much more of your scene will be in focus than if you are shooting at 100mm. This is why I rarely zone focus using a lens longer than 35mm.
- The further away you focus, the more DOF there will be in a scene. So if you focus on a person 10 feet away, then you may have a range of three feet in front and six feet behind your subject that will be sharp (depending on the other three factors), whereas if you focus on a person that is 3 feet away, you may have a range of 3 inches in front and 6 inches behind your subject that will be sharp.
- The larger your camera’s sensor is, the less DOF there will be in a scene. If you are using a full frame camera like the Canon 5D, then there will be less DOF then if you are shooting with a camera with a smaller sensor, such as the 7D, 60D, or a micro-4/3rds camera, with the same settings.
Here is a website to test out these different depth of field factors: http://www.dofmaster.com/dofjs.html. Keep in mind that the term ‘acceptable range of sharpness’ is just an opinion. As your subjects veer further from the focus distance of your lens, they will appear less and less sharp, whether or not they are in the ‘acceptable’ range on the chart. So practice with your own camera and lens to figure out what is ‘acceptable’ to you. This website is only a general guide to get your started.
1/400th at F8, ISO 1600 (17mm) – Canon 5D Mark II.
Zone focusing is pre-focusing your camera to a certain distance away, say 10 feet, guessing the DOF that you will have at that distance with the settings you are using, and then photographing subjects as they enter that range, and hopefully as close as possible to the actual focus distance on the camera.
It is also being able to change your focus distance quickly and accurately, without looking, as a subject moves closer or further from you.
The reason for doing this is that both using autofocus and turning the manual focusing dial takes time (and often will be noticeable to your potentially candid subjects) and most of the time things happen so fast on the street that you need to be focused ahead of time. If your camera is already focused to an average distance away, then you can just wait for your subject to enter that range and there will be no delay from when a moment happens to when you are able to click the shutter. It will be instant. In addition, this will allow you to shoot without looking through the viewfinder, if you decide that you want to ‘shoot from the hip.’
Here is a specific example based on common settings that I use. With the 5D Mark II and a 28mm focal length, if I pre-focus my camera to 8 feet away at F8, then everything from around 5.5 feet to 15 feet away will be ‘acceptably’ sharp. Of course, as you get to the outer areas of that range the subject will not be perfectly sharp, but for fast-moving street photography, it gives me a serious range to work with. At F11 or F16, even more so.
The only problem is that you need to have a lens with a manual focusing meter, such as the one in the photo above, that shows you the distance that the camera is focused at and is easily manipulated. Many cameras and lenses don’t have this but some will tell you the focal length in the camera’s menu or viewfinder. While not perfect, this will work somewhat.
But if you want to do candid street photography then I highly suggest getting a lens with a manual focus meter.
So it should be obvious to you why we generally want the range of sharpness to be as great as possible when zone focusing (unless you want more bokeh for aesthetic reasons). It is for when we mess up slightly in guessing how far something is away so that there will still be enough leeway for our main subject to be sharp, or so we can get multiple subjects at different distances to all be relatively sharp. These are two reasons that many street photographers prefer to use wide-angle lenses, such as 28mm or 35mm. My go-to focal length is generally 28mm.
It is also the reason why you want to shoot at a high ISO in street photography (unless the light is strong). If you shoot with a high-ISO, it allows you to shoot with a smaller aperture. With my 5D Mark II, ISOs of 800, 1600, and 3,200 are usually my standards (unless the light is strong). For many cameras, the ISOs may not be ideal at these levels, however that is quickly changing these days with each new camera released. Test your camera at different ISO settings to see what its acceptable range is.
If you are like me then you often do street photography in less than ideal lighting, such as in the subway system. When you’re shooting at F16 in bright sunlight, you don’t have to think as much about it. It won’t matter much if your subject is 9 feet away versus 10 feet away. But when you are shooting at F2.8 in the subway, it really does matter.
1/250th at F2, ISO 3200 (35mm) – Fuji X100.
For this reason, it is important to learn the distances away from your camera’s lens, all the way up to around 12 feet away. I suggest using a tape measure and measuring out the distances, from 2 feet from your lens all the way to 12 feet.
Go out and practice. Find different objects and try to guess how far they are away. Before I go out I will still pick an object around eight feet away and focus on it to make sure I’m guessing my distances right. It’s a skill that you need to constantly calibrate. I have gotten a lot of strange looks over the years from people who have seen me focusing intently on lampposts 8 – 10 feet away.
The other reason to get good at guessing distances is that people move and scenes develop. You might want to capture a person walking towards you at both 10 feet and 5 feet away. So when you hold the camera you want to always have one of your hands on the focusing ring. Practice manual focusing back and forth from 10 feet to 8 feet to 6 feet and so on. Eventually, you’ll be able to capture someone walking towards you sharp at both 10 feet away and 6 feet away, without having to look through the viewfinder. It’s an incredibly effective technique. Doing this well, however, can be tough.
1/320th at F5, ISO 1600 (28mm) – Canon 5D Mark II.
My final word of advice is that if you have the time to autofocus or manual focus with a viewfinder on a subject without them noticing, then do it. That is much more consistently accurate than trying to guess distances and zone focusing. But for a majority of the time, zone focusing will be your best and quickest weapon on the street.
Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.
Today I’m excited to launch a brand new dPS web presence – our very own dPS Pinterest Account.
Pinterest is a social media site that has been gaining a lot of momentum over the last year or so and we know a lot of our readers are active ‘Pinners’ because we see a lot of you sharing dPS articles on your own Pinterest accounts.
If you’re not familiar with it – Pinterest is a way for you to organise and share the great things you find on the web. It’s also a great way to discover great that others are sharing. If you don’t yet have an account – you can get one here. and click the ‘Join Pinterest’ button at the top of the page.
So over the last week we’ve decided to join Pinterest and have been working hard to develop a series of photographically related ‘boards’ that we think you’ll really enjoy.
So far we’ve set up 38 ‘boards’ on different aspects of photography where we’ll be sharing the best photography related content from around the web. We’ve already shared over 400 great links on a range of topics including:
- Photographing Children
- Sunrises and Sunsets
- Natural Light
- Much much more
We’ve Only Just Begun and We Want to Involve You
This is only the beginning. We’ll be sharing a lot more links on a daily basis. These boards are your boards and we’d love to have your involvement in a number of ways.
- if there’s a topic you’d like to see us develop a board for – please suggest it in comments below.
- if you have a photography board of your own please let us know about it in comments below – we’ll be following as many as we can and ‘repining’ the best of the best from our community.
- in future we’d love to start some community boards where we let dPS readers pin content to our account. Stay tuned for more on this.
Thanks to everyone who already is following the dPS and to those who’ve been sharing dPS content for a year or more already. We greatly appreciate it and look forward to interacting with you more on Pinterest.
Don’t forget to follow the dPS Pinterest Account here.
Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.
This article was written by Andrew S Gibson, the author of Understanding Lenses: Part I, and is the first in a series of lessons about camera lenses.
Lenses are one of the most important pieces of camera equipment you can own. A good lens, well looked after, should last you decades, much longer than any digital camera body. That’s why professional photographers spend thousands on glass, and why so much has been written about which lens (or lenses) you should buy.
If you are like most photographers, your buy your first ‘serious’ camera (ie one with interchangeable lenses) with the manufacturer’s kit lens (the EF-S 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 IS II lens pictured above is a Canon kit lens).
Most kit lenses are, by their nature, inexpensive (a polite way of saying cheap). That’s understandable – all the manufacturers are in competition with each other and they keep the prices of their camera kits down by creating inexpensive kit lenses. A kit lens will get you started, and you can buy other, better quality lenses when you outgrow it.
If your only lens is a kit lens, does that mean you should go out and buy a better one straight away? No it doesn’t – no matter what anyone says, or how much you lust after expensive glass, your kit lens is a great lens to get started with. If you’re in a position where you can’t afford to buy another lens, or you simply just don’t know which one to buy, don’t sweat it. You’ll be surprised at just what you can do with your kit lens once you know how to get the best out of it.
Don’t believe me? Then check out this blog post by Jingna Zhang – a professional fashion and editorial photographer. She’s good, and she got her start with an EOS 350D and the 18-55mm kit lens it came with. The quality of images she created with that camera and kit lens, manufactured in 2006 and an outdated combination by today’s standards, is very high. Take a look and you will see what I mean.
Her article resonated with me because I got started with the same camera and lens combination. I didn’t know what lenses to buy for the camera, so I decided to stick with the kit lens to start with and took it with me on a trip to South America. I soon realised that the lens wasn’t a great one (thankfully it has been discontinued and Canon sells a much better kit lens with its entry level cameras).
However, despite the relatively poor image quality some of the photos I took with that lens were good enough for publication. I illustrated my first published article, a piece in Practical Photography, with photos taken on that journey with the kit lens (illustrated above). Several more of the photos were published in other photography magazines. It wasn’t the world’s best lens, but it was good enough to get me started – the Practical Photography article was a turning point for me because it gave me the belief that I could make it as a writer.
Getting the Best out of your Kit Lens
So, how do you get the best out of a kit lens? My approach is to think of the lens as two lenses in one. If you have a kit lens of typical focal length, 18-55mm, then treat it as an 18mm and 55mm lens in one. The 18mm is a moderate wide-angle that is great for landscapes, architecture and environmental portraiture. The 55mm end is a short telephoto lens ideal for compressing perspective and taking portraits or closing in on details.
That doesn’t mean you can’t use the in-between focal lengths, and there are times when you can’t avoid it, but by sticking with the shortest and longest focal lengths you will learn how those focal lengths behave. Lenses are the ‘eye’ of your camera system and your photos will improve as you learn the characteristics of each focal length.
Some kit lenses also have another useful feature – an Image Stabiliser (Canon’s term, Nikon uses Vibration Reduction and some lucky camera owners have it built into their camera bodies). An Image Stabiliser lets you take photos at slower shutter speeds than would otherwise be possible. So, theoretically, you could hand-hold the camera, set the focal length of the lens to 18mm, and take a photo without camera shake at 1/4 or even 1/2 second. That’s awesome in low light and lets you explore the creative potential of taking photos in the evening or at night.
Kit Lens as Wide-Angle
The above photos were taken at the 18mm end of my kit lens. You can see how I got in close to the subject, sometimes tilting the lens backwards to take advantage of the converging verticals effect.
Kit Lens as Short-Telephoto
These photos were all taken at the 55mm end of my kit lens. The photos have a completely different quality, thanks to the compressed perspective and limited depth-of-field.
Shortcomings of Kit Lenses
Your kit lens is probably a better lens than you think it is, but it’s still not a great lens and has several shortcomings. At some point you will bump up against the limitations. This is not a bad thing, it simply indicates that you’re at the stage where a different lens will help you take better photos.
These are the main limitations of kit lenses:
Focal length: You may find that even the 18mm end of your kit lens is not wide enough – you need a shorter focal length so that you can crate more dramatic images or fit more in. In that case it’s time to start thinking about buying a new wide-angle lens.
On the other hand, if you find the 55mm end doesn’t get you as close as you would like to your subject, then you need a telephoto lens. This could happen if you are photographing wildlife or sport, for example.
Autofocus: The autofocus on kit lenses tends to be slower and noisier than that on more expensive lenses. If the autofocus performance of your kit lens is holding you back, it may be time to upgrade.
Aperture: Kit lenses are ‘slow’ lenses. This means they don’t have a very wide maximum aperture. The reason is simple – the wider the maximum aperture the larger the lens body and lens elements required, which pushes manufacturing costs up. Kit lenses are made with relatively small maximum apertures to keep the price down.
The maximum aperture at the 55mm end of most kit lenses is around f5.6. If this isn’t wide enough, you could buy a zoom that covers the same focal length with a maximum aperture of f4 or f2.8, or a prime 50mm lens with a maximum aperture of f1.8 or wider. The wider apertures on these lenses help you take photos in low light or to use narrow depth-of-field creatively.
Build quality: If you tend to knock your camera around a bit, or shoot in bad weather, then you may need a lens that is built better than your kit lens. The top lenses in each manufacturer’s range have metal bodies, metal mounts and weatherproofing.
Understanding Lenses: Part I
If you liked this article then take a look at my latest eBook, Understanding Lenses: Part I – A guide to Canon wide-angle and kit lenses. If you hurry, you’ll get a discount – scroll down that page for details.
In the next lesson I’m going to take a look at wide-angle lenses, how to get the best out of them and some of the points you should consider before buying one.
Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.