I want to earn the term 'photographer'

kdabbagh

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I've always thought I have the eye for photography, and my friends and people who see my pictures will tell me that from time to time. However, I feel that's only half of what I need. I am really baffled with all the technique and terms I see discussed on this forum.

I read threads about panning, HDR, aperture, shutter speed and all these weird numbers (1/40, 1/60, etc..). I feel really overwhelmed with all this and I know it will take time to learn but I want to know where to start. My question is: How can I get the basics down?? I have a brand new DSLR (Nikon D40x) and I was out in the desert the other day (in Saudi Arabia) and I couldn't capture one decent shot of my friends and I on ATV's (in terms of exposure, colors)

I am a student and live on a very tight budget and I noticed photography teaching books and lessons are costly, and I was wondering if the experienced photographers on this forum could help me as I am sure you all faced the same problem starting out.

Any advice will be much appreciated :)
 

elsaspet

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It sounds like you already have the "built in parts" and that is a natural eye, and a willingness to grow.

The rest will come, the speed depending on how much you apply yourself. The links given to you are good ones.
But this is also an area that you never stop learning in. It's always evolving.
Good luck to you!
 

Fate

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well what do you wana know :) the combined experience of everyone on this forum is much better than any book, i can tell you that!

well heres a low down on what you mentioned at the top!

HDR: High Dynamic Range - its a technique where you take (for example) one shot underexposed, one shot exposed as the meter shows it and one shot over exposed. You then combine them together in a final image which therefore has a MUCH greater dynamic lighting range. Thats not a great explaination.. but its the jist of it!

Panning: When you follow the subject with your camera in a smooth horozontal motion (usually anyway) and select a slightly slower shutter speed than usual... maybe 1/60 of a second in stead of 1/250... therefore the background becomes blurred, giving a sense of movement but the subject stays sharp due to you following it in a "panning" motion.

Shutter speed and aperture are essentially the two elements that determine how much light is let onto your camera's sensor for how long.

Shutter speed is measured in 10ths 100ths and 1000th of a second usually... and then into seconds when its a long exposure (for night landscapes for example).

So a fast shutter speed (to capture a footballer maybe) would hve to be about 1/500 of a second in order to totally freeze him - and get no blur.

A slow shutter speed of like 1/8 of a second might be needed to capture a darker a scene like a party. remember though that at this sort of speed, it becomes hard to hand hold it without blur. so either use a tripod or increase the ISO (which makes the sensor more sensative to light, and thus allows faster shutter speeds to be used... remember this increases noise in the photo though)

Aperture is the part of the camera that determines how much light gets into the camera. Confusingly, smaller numbers let in more light, and larger numbers let in less :p Aperture is measured in "F-Stops"

SO for example an aperture of F/1.8 is a very large aperture and therefore lets in a lot of light. Whereas an aperture of F/22 is a small aperture and lets in a small amount of light!

Aperture (along with things like distance from subject) effect a thing called "DEPTH OF FIELD". A large DOF is obtainted by using a small aperture (like F/22) so in a shot taken at F/22, most of the secene will be pin sharp... great for lanscapes etc.

In comparision, if you wanted to get shallow DOF, you would use a large aperture like F/1.8 or F/3.5 or something. This would result in the subject in focus comeing out pin sharp, but the background (and sometimes bits of the foreground) drifting into a pleasing blur.. a nice technique for isolating a subject for a portrait.

theres a start lol.... hope it kinda helps... you may well allready know alot of it :)


Dave
 
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kdabbagh

kdabbagh

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Panning: When you follow the subject with your camera in a smooth horozontal motion (usually anyway) and select a slightly slower shutter speed than usual... maybe 1/60 of a second in stead of 1/250... therefore the background becomes blurred, giving a sense of movement but the subject stays sharp due to you following it in a "panning" motion.

So a fast shutter speed (to capture a footballer maybe) would hve to be about 1/500 of a second in order to totally freeze him - and get no blur.

A slow shutter speed of like 1/8 of a second might be needed to capture a darker a scene like a party.


SO for example an aperture of F/1.8 is a very large aperture and therefore lets in a lot of light. Whereas an aperture of F/22 is a small aperture and lets in a small amount of light!

Aperture (along with things like distance from subject) effect a thing called "DEPTH OF FIELD". A large DOF is obtainted by using a small aperture (like F/22) so in a shot taken at F/22, most of the secene will be pin sharp... great for lanscapes etc.


Dave

Dave, I reallllllly appreciate you taking the time to explain all these things; but I will ask for more of your time :)

For the techniques I quoted above, can you tell me how to change them in the camera? (the settings) For example, what setting should I be looking for in the camera to change the F stops. On my LCD screen it says F3.5, but I have no idea how to change that. Also, if you can tell me what metering is and what it's used for...I am such a noob am sorry lol



Also thanks to everyone else who posted their 2 cents, I will also definitely try to buy the books suggested :)
 

sabbath999

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Here's a hint: do whatever you can to avoid changing lenses out in the open in the desert. If you absolutely HAVE to, then turn your back to the wind, get the new lens ready, point your camera down, and change as quickly as you can... trying to avoid any breeze around your camera's open lens hole.

Good luck and have fun with it!
 

rdompor

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A good way to explain aperature is by thinking of the number as the total area blocked by the curtain in the lens.

For now let's consider the inside of your lens while thinking of the lens as just a circle. The curtain is something that blocks light from coming through the lens by surrounding the edges of that circle and leaving only the center exposed. The f-stop can be thought of as the area of the lens covered by the curtain. The smaller the area which is covered (less curtain), the larger the uncovered area is and more light is let into your camera.

As for changing the value of your f-stop, I think it depends on your camera. I use a Canon XTi and to change the f-stop, i have to hold down a button next to the LCD screen while turning the cog behind the shutter release. Since you're using a Nikon, I really have no idea....=\

Metering helps you choose how to properly expose your photo. You might notice that as you change some settings on your camera, the meter will move up or down (left or right / positive or negative). The meter effectively measures the amount of light coming into the camera and tells you whether the subjective image will be under/overexposed. Use the meter to pick what settings to use. Eventually, you'll notice that even though the meter is balanced at 0 (not negative or positive) the image may still be under/overexposed. This is usually because the environment around your subject is either very bright or dark. This will result in your meter misreading the situation, but you will learn to compensate for this.

And to expand on Fate's description of DOF...

Depth of Field is the considered as the range of objects near and far which are in focus. For example, if you wanted to take a photo of something with it's background out of focus, you would want a small DOF. So you would select a large aperture like f3.5 and focus on your subject. Only the subject will be in focus in this situation. If you select f8, the subject and something a bit farther back into the background will be in focus. If you select f22, then the subject and something even farther back will be in focus and so on.....

If you need help with anything then I highly recommend reading the threads in this forum. Use the entire site and don't be afraid to venture into other parts of the site such as the Critique Gallery, Photographic Discussions, and even the Film forums....You can learn something everywhere. I've only been shooting for a few months and I've been on the site for even less, but I feel I've learned a lot just by reading around.
 

JerryPH

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Well, you could take the online course in photography. I feel it would help you a lot.

Its very reasonably priced and walks you through the basics.

www.proudphotography.com

I'm just walking through it now.
 

Fate

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Dave, I reallllllly appreciate you taking the time to explain all these things; but I will ask for more of your time :)

For the techniques I quoted above, can you tell me how to change them in the camera? (the settings) For example, what setting should I be looking for in the camera to change the F stops. On my LCD screen it says F3.5, but I have no idea how to change that. Also, if you can tell me what metering is and what it's used for...I am such a noob am sorry lol



Also thanks to everyone else who posted their 2 cents, I will also definitely try to buy the books suggested :)

No problem :)

The light meter is essentially the computer in the camera that determines the correct exposure for the scene its pointed at. It will tell you what f-stop and shutter speed to select in order to gain what it thinks to be the best exposure (and when in auto mode, will set it to those settings.) The internal light meter can, unfortunatly, be tricked from time to time... for example, when a scene is heavily lit from the back, it might try and expose for that part of the frame and therefore underexpose. It also tends to be tricked by very white subjects, such as snow, and very dark subjects, such as a black jumper. There are usually 3 differnt light meter modes in dslrs: "Centre weighted" (where the camera takes a reading of the whole scene but is bias towards the centre of the viewfinder), "Spot metering" (where the camera takes a reading from the centre of the camera in a very small area.. usually about 3% of the viewfinder or something), and finally matrix metering (where the camera takes readings from all over the viewfinder using differing points, and determines the best overall exposure. The last one is generally fine for all shooting, but as i said, is more likly to be tricked by backlighting than say an accuratly done spot meter. hope that makes sense :)

As for changing your aperture in camera - i think on your camera, to get it into "aperture priority" (where you select the aperture, (the fstop), but the camera selects the shutter speed) you need to put the dial on the top to "A". then use the jog wheel on the back, or an in menu option to either make the f-stop larger or smaller. I dont have your camera so i cant be totally sure.
 

Sideburns

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There is a wheel that changes your apertuere when you are in A mode, or M mode. Good luck.
 

sabbath999

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The light meter is essentially the computer in the camera that determines the correct exposure for the scene its pointed at.

I have officially never felt so old in my entire life...
 

osirus

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My advice.

Take pictures.. lots and lots and lots of pictures.

go out in a day walk around and take like 1000 pics..
go out the next day take another 1000 pics.
read the basics of photography, read tips ect.. ask questions .
get familiar with your camera.

go out again and take a ton more pics.
try things, experiment.
dont be afraid, theres always the delete button
and thats the best way to become familiar with all the settings on your camera, by using them and playing around.
soon you will see what works for you and what dosent.
the first time you go out, out of your 1000 pics, you may only have one 'keeper'. but so what its fun right?
and i bet if you keep at it, soon enough, out of every 1000 pics there will be a few hundred 'keepers'
then people will be asking you for advice :p
 

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