Photography - Become a Better Photographer - Part II
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'These courses are among the best values in Simpliv' - Don
'I guarantee that you will go over this course again and again as you progress and each time you do you'll get more and more out of it. Thank you Bernie.' - Stephen
'This is a fantastic course filled with so much useful information. I am a big fan of Bernie's and he sure came through with this course. You won't be disappointed.' - Diane
Today's DSLR and Mirrorless cameras are fantastic aren't they?
The great thing is... they have an enormous number of features and settings
The problem is.........they have an enormous number of features and settings!!
And it is a problem, because although there are some real hidden gems amongst all those features, they can seem confusing or intimidating, and so a lot of photographers simply ignore or shy away from them (you know who you are!!)
This course, aimed at beginner and intermediate photographers, covers DSLR and Mirrorless basic settings, but also explains your camera's more advanced features and settings. You probably already know about some of these settings but not entirely sure how and when to use them, and there may even be some that you're not even aware of!
- Watch photos being taken and compared using different settings
- Real life examples filmed in the real world
- Clear, concise and effective photography training that works
- See immediate improvements in your photos
- Easy to follow and understand, with a fun teaching style
- All boring bits removed (well, most of them anyway!)
Here are just some of the topics covered in this course, new ones will be added over the next few months:-Basic settings:-
- Learn about the Exposure Triangle
- Understand the difference between exposure modes, Aperture / Shutter Speed priority etc..
- Learn when and how to use Exposure Compensation
- Tips for getting tack sharp images of stationary subjects
- Learn about White Balance and how to get better colours
More advanced settings:-
- Understand depth-of-field and give your images that wow factor
- When and how to use the Evaluative, Spot and Center Weighted Metering, and which is best?
- How to take sharp images of moving subjects
- Understanding Histograms
- What's the difference between Full Auto and the 'P' mode?
- Understand the advantages of full Manual exposure mode
- Learn about Auto ISO and an exciting new exposure mode.
- RAW vs JPG, which is best, and which one should you be using?
- ... and more
Real World Settings:-
- Best settings for photographing inside a church or cathedral
- Best settings for natural light portraiture
- Introduction to Landscape Photography / Camera Settings / Neutral Density filters
- 2 Live Landscape photo sessions
- Best settings for landscape photography (walkthrough with advanced landscape photographer Colin Mill)
- Learn the best basic flash settings to use
- When and how to use fill flash?
- Understand your flash max sync speed with this great shutter animation.
- Flash 'High Speed Sync', learn how this incredible feature can help you.
Important please note that for completeness,about half a dozen lectures are repeated from the Part I course, mainly the ones on 'Basic Settings'. This is so that students only taking this course still have access to those videos.
Who is the target audience?
- Although this course is aimed at both beginner and intermediate photographers, advanced photographers may well benefit by learning about some little known features.
- This course is specifically aimed at DSLR or Mirrorless cameras users ('Mirrorless' are sometimes known as Compact System Cameras - CSC).
- This course is not suitable for owners of compact or bridge type cameras, sorry!!
- This course will give you a greater understanding of your camera's features and settings.
- This greater understanding will allow you get more consistent exposures, better focussing and improved image quality.
- The real world examples provide best settings in typical scenarios, ensuring great results
Introduction to the course
Get out of the Auto mode and learn about exposure using the so-called Exposure Triangle
The Exposure Triangle explains how the individual aspects of exposure, i.e aperture, shutter speed and ISO, affect the final exposure and look of the photo.
It's a useful way of describing the relationship between the three aspects of exposure. Each corner of the triangle represents one of the three variables, aperture, shutter speed and ISO. Adjusting just one of these could change the appearance of the photo, or might make the image lighter or darker, depending on the current exposure mode.
The lens aperture controls the amount of light entering through the lens, and also controls the depth of field. It's not really complicated, so don't be put off by the weird numbering and the back to front system!
There's no doubt that with a good understanding of apertures you'll see an improvement in your photos.
What's a shutter and what is 'shutter speed'
Very basically, shutter speed is the amount of time that the shutter is open. In film photography it was the length of time that the film was exposed to the scene you’re photographing, but similarly in digital photography shutter speed is the length of time that your image sensor ‘sees’ the scene you’re attempting to capture.
Bear in mind that it's not usually a good idea to think about exposure and Shutter Speed in isolation from the other two elements of the Exposure Triangle (aperture and ISO). As you change shutter speed the camera will (in any of the auto modes) automatically change one or both of the other elements to compensate for it.
The ISO setting is very important, especially if you want take photos indoors, or if the light is failing outside, and that's because the higher ISO values on your camera will allow you to take photos in much lower light.
This video explains what it is, why you need to understand it, and how to change the ISO settings on your camera.
Ever had your photos come out too light or too dark?
If so, congratulations, you've just fooled your camera's metering system!!
Too much brightness in a scene can cause and image to be too dark. Weird eh? You'd think it would be the other way around!
This lecture shows the problem in more detail and describes how the simple exposure compensation setting can be used to brighten or darken your pictures.
Depth of field in photography
Improve your photos by using depth of field to control which parts of the image are in focus. Aperture size is the main control for depth of field, but focal length and how far away you are from your focussed subject also make a difference.
It's much easier to show than it is to explain, so get a better understanding of depth of field in photography by watching this film.
Semi auto modes on your DSLR. Aperture vs Shutter Speed priority, which is best?
As well as the fully automatic green Auto mode, all DSLR's have several other very useful exposure modes.
Aperture Priority and Shutter Speed Priority are semi-automatic modes that will give you exactly the same exposures.
So why use one over the other, aperture or shutter speed priority, which is best? This is where you start to get creative, watch the video for full information.
Understand Spot metering, Evaluative/Matrix metering and Centre Weighted metering
Exposure metering modes explained
Metering is the brains behind how your camera determines the shutter speed and aperture, based on lighting conditions and ISO speed.
The most common types of metering options on DSLRs and Mirrorless cameras are Evaluative zone or Matrix, Center-Weighted and Spot Metering. Each of these have their own strengths and weaknesses, so understanding these can improve your photographic intuition for how a camera measures light.
What exactly is the 'P' mode for, and how is it different from Full Auto
This question comes up quite a lot, what's the difference between the full Auto mode and the 'P' Program mode? You might even switch from one to the other and not notice any changes in your settings, but in fact they're quite different. My advice would be to get out of the habit of using the Auto mode as soon as you can, and the 'P' mode might be just the thing for you.
Why use Manual Exposure Mode on your DSLR or mirrorless camera?
Why bother using Manual Exposure Mode, surely the camera does it all for you anyway, erm... not really, no!
Manual exposure mode allows you to set your aperture, shutter speed and ISO without the camera automatically changing any other settings. It's the preferred setting for many professional photographers.
There are various reasons why it's sometimes very useful to use Manual mode instead of one of the other semi-automatic modes like Aperture or shutter speed priority. When taking several shots of the same subject or within the same lighting scenario, why allow the camera to set the exposure for every single photo, the light isn't usually changing by the second changing is it?
In this video I concentrate on the consistency of exposures when using the Manual Exposure Mode.
Manual Exposure Mode is easy and useful- don't be scared of it!
The best open secret - Manual Mode and Auto ISO
Aperture and Shutter Speed priority
When using Aperture priority, you select the ISO and aperture, and then the camera selects the shutter speed. Similarly in Shutter Speed priority, you select the ISO and shutter speed and the camera selects the aperture. In both cases, you are in control of the ISO, but what if you could select the aperture AND shutter speed and then just allow the cameras to choose the ISO?
Manual Mode and Auto ISO
Auto-ISO is a relatively new feature that lets the camera take control of the ISO. Generally speaking it will provide a correctly exposed final image based on the calculations from the camera's metering system in combination with your chosen shutter speed and aperture. Although it can be used combined with Aperture or Shutter Speed priority, I personally find Auto-ISO to be the most useful in M mode.
There are several situation where Manual and Auto-ISO is not useful, and so I'd recommend turning off Auto ISO:-
1. Where light is abundant and fairly constant, i.e where every shot turned out to be iso 100, this might yield some over-exposed images where the camera was unable to lower the ISO below 100.
2. No point in using at all when you're using flash.
3. Where lighting is completely controlled. e.g in a studio where typically you would be using full manual.
Nail the exposure using a photo histogram
For todays' photographers, the image histogram is a very powerful tool, the trouble is that many people either don't know of their existence or think that they are too complicated.
The good news is that the histogram is actually very simple to read, and once a few simple concepts are grasped, it will enable you to get more consistent exposures.
What is Exposure Bracketing and when is a good time to use it?
At one time or another in your photography career, you'll come across what you might call a 'difficult lighting situation'. No matter whether you're using Aperture or Shutter speed priority, the photo or maybe just parts of it, will be too dark or too light.
One way around this problem is to take several photos at different exposure, and either just use the one that turned out best, or merge the photos together to create one High Dynamic Range (HDR) image
In a nutshell, exposure bracketing allows you to take three photos (sometimes more), with only one click of the shutter, each in different exposures. The result will be one photo a bit too bright, one just right (depending on which part you’re looking to expose properly) and one a bit darker.
Some great focusing tips and tricks to get sharper photos
This video shows 5 ways to help you get sharp focus:-
- Get out of Auto and select your own focus area
- Focus and re-compose
- Make use of edge-contrast
- Manual pre-focussing
- Use 'Live Mode' for improved manual focusing.
Back button focusing, what's it for, how to use it, and what are its advantages?
With back-button focus, you use a button on the back of the camera to focus, and use the shutter button just to set the exposure and take the picture. The shutter button never tries to achieve focus because it is re-configured not to focus.
I made the permanent switch to focusing using the Back button a while ago, and I’ve become a huge advocate for this type of focusing. Alongside using the Manual exposure mode, I'd say it was one of the most revolutionary changes I ever made to how I take pictures. It seems like such a small thing, yet it’s such a huge difference in the way your camera works, and should probably be the standard setting on all DSLR.
There are several advantages to this technique, and they are explained in this video, however it must be said that some people try back button focusing, and just don't get on with it, so it's not for everybody. But it is worth investigating, you could be missing out and might just find that it's something of a revelation!
Utilise shutter speed to freeze or create motion
A camera's shutter speed controls exposure, but it's also one of the most powerful creative tools in photography, this video shows how it can convey motion and freeze action.
A camera's shutter is like a curtain that opens and lets in light to start the exposure, then closes to end it. A photo therefore doesn't just capture a moment in time, but instead represents an average of light over a timeframe. The term "shutter speed" is used to describe this duration.
Whenever a scene contains moving subjects, the choice of using fast and slow shutter speeds therefore determines which of these will appear frozen and which will be recorded with a blur. However, one cannot change the shutter speed in isolation — at least not without also affecting the exposure or image quality.
Slow down your shutter to get a more dramatic 'running water' creative image
If you just use your camera's full auto mode to photograph moving water, most if not all of the motion will be frozen by a reasonably fast shutter speed. While this might give an accurate depiction of the moving water, it probably won't look very dramatic.
Water in motion is ever-changing and ever-magical, and by slowing down the shutter speed you can get a beautiful creamy effect in the water, conveying a sense of soft movement. This fluid-motion technique can be applied to all types of waterfalls, streams, ocean surf, fountains, and even lawn sprinklers.
Unless you have very steady hands, or something to rest the camera on, you're going to need a tripod for this to prevent camera shake and blurriness, but the result will be dramatically different from an image taken using the full-auto setting. The slower the speed of the shutter the smoother the running water will become, giving it a softer and opaque appearance.
Exposure and metering modes and focussing for portraits
This film describes the settings I use most for portraits
Many factors come into play when taking portraits, lighting, composition, clean backgrounds etc..., and although I touch upon these in this video, the emphasis is on camera and lens settings.
Best exposure settings when photographing churches
Churches are usually quite dark, and trying to get a great shot showing the church interior with the lovely ambient light can be a little challenging.
This film provides some tricks and tips for getting the best exposures without resorting to flash, which is not only frowned upon in many churches, but is also guaranteed to ruin all of that lovely light.
Before we start on actual shooting, take time to watch this short introduction to the wonderful world of landscape photography.
In this video I provide my thoughts on locations, the weather, the light and tides.
What are the best camera settings for landscape photography? Well of course there's no one specific answer, it all depends on what you're trying to achieve, and the look and feel of the photo.
But in this video, I talk about the various considerations for camera settings including exposure and focusing.
Neutral Density (ND) filters are vital for landscape photography, especially if you don't like to spend ages in Photoshop tweaking exposures. This video describes the various types and shows some examples of their effect, taken quickly in my garden.
This is a shoot at golden hour on the hill around Ashridge / Ivinghoe Beacon. Got a couple of good shots, but disappointed with one or two of the others.
Watch the video to see my rather harsh critique of my own work!!
A very quick session along the Grand Union Canal in Leighton Buzzard. I was very pleased with the final result, using the twisting canal and tress and some ducks for the best composition.
Landscape image walkthrough with Colin Mill - Part I
Take a look at these stunning images
Learn how Colin creates these great images, and listen to the stories behind them. He's taken so many that I've had to split this video into three parts - <strong>this is Part I</strong>
Each image shows the camera setting, plus Colin explains his reasoning for using specific camera and lens settings, along with his use of Graduated Neutral Density filters.
Landscape Walkthrough Part II, with settings and explanations
Landscape Walkthrough Part III, with settings and explanations
Which format should you use, RAW or JPG?
At some point in your photography 'career' you'll face the question, should I be shooting in RAW or JPG. The answer is not always straightforward as much depends on your shooting style, your subject, and what you intend to do with the final images etc...
This video is designed to show you the differences between RAW and JPG from a pragmatic real world point of view. I'll show you a great fun analogy with a certain character I'm sure you'll recognise, plus some actual image examples being processed in Adobe Lightroom to help show some 'real world' differences.
Proper camera white balance has to take into account the "colour temperature" of a light source, which refers to the relative warmth or coolness of white light.
Our eyes are very good at judging what is white under different light sources, but digital cameras often have great difficulty when used with the auto white balance mode (although not as much as in the early days of digital), and can create unsightly blue, orange, or even green colour casts.
Understanding digital white balance can help you avoid these colour casts, thereby improving your photos under a wider range of lighting conditions.
On-board flash basic camera settings
My favourite settings when using flash indoors.
Although I much prefer to use natural lighting, sometimes there's no getting away from using flash indoors at family or friends get-togethers, parties, evenings out etc... Most people will just put their camera in one of the auto modes and hope for the best. Generally speaking you'll get a good exposure whatever exposure mode you use as the auto mode of the flash will help to keep the flash output just right.
But the basic camera settings that I show in this film will quite often give you a more natural looking image, especially in fairly dark environments where your subjects might otherwise look like they've been photographed in a cave somewhere in the black hole of Calcutta!
Maximum sync speed and High Speed Sync explained
What exactly is a flash sync speed, why does it happen, and what's the way around it
Maybe you're already aware that your camera's shutter speed is limited to (usually) around 1/250th of a second when using flash. But why is that, and what happens if you ignore it, (assuming your camera allows you to ignore it?) There is a way round it using High Speed Sync, but it's not a perfect solution.
This film includes some focal plane shutter animation to explain in detail what it's all about.
Fill flash explained
Using a flash when outside It might not occur to you to use a flash outdoors, especially when it's quite bright and your photos are exposing ok. But hang on, look closely at your subject's face, is it a little dark, do they have shadows round the eyes, if a close-up shot, can you see the colour of their eyes.
Or maybe it';s mid-day with the sun directly overhead and you have no choice as to how to position your subject, what can you do?
Fill flash to the rescue!! This film explains what it's all about, and provides examples of when you might want to use it, (and when you might not!)
Camera Settings FAQ
Some of my photos and their settings
Conclusion - Some of my photos and their settings
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