Technical help needed please!

chris82

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Ok so ive been taking pictures scince about summr 2006 and I love doing photography and im passionate about it,but i never do much technical work in cam before I shoot.The only thing I would adjust is the shutter speed so I think it is safe to say that even though I use av mode on my cam Im still only using it as a point and shoot. Sometimes I would play with the iso but then more often than not I end up choosing the wrong iso and ruining the shot.

So my question is can anyone give me some advise on how to become more skillfull with the technical side of things so I can know how to set my camera up for various conditions.My aim is to be able to take a photo and have it look close to how I planned it to look by adjusting settings to suit conditions and not having to over manipulate it in photo shop.I generally just want to be more skillfull than lucky lol. Thanks
 

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...
So my question is can anyone give me some advise on how to become more skillfull with the technical side of things so I can know how to set my camera up for various conditions. My aim is to be able to take a photo and have it look close to how I planned it to look by adjusting settings to suit conditions and not having to over manipulate it in photo shop. ...

No one can tell you exactly how; all we can do is point you on the right path. You've got to walk the path yourself.

To start with I'd recommend a good bit of reading. Start with a solid basic book on the mechanics of photography. I'd recommend one from the older pre-digital era. There were thousands of such books written. One example of the type (one still languishing on my bookshelfs since its my wife's; its not the best of the class but not the worst either) was "Photography" by Charles Swedlund, originally published in the '70s and updated in the '80s. A lot of what's in these books still applies to modern equipment and digital sensors. In my opinion, far too many of the modern books are orientated toward steering the automatic systems and lack real explanations of how things actually work.

After that, its a matter of experience. This only comes with shooting, keeping notes on what you did, and seeing the results.
 

dcclark

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As far as hands-on work, I recommend focusing on one thing at a time. For example, maybe take a week or two, and focus on working with shutter speed. Find things where you think the shutter speed will matter -- such as fast moving objects, water dripping, cars that you want to track, low-light shots. Try messing with the shutter speed, and seeing how it changes, as you take several different photos.

Then change to focus on the aperture. Try macros (flowers, for example), landscapes, etc. and take several photos each time, with different apertures. Observe the changes.

At the same time, read up on each topic as you work with it, so that you know a little of the theory. That should reinforce things for you.

That will help you get started. Good luck!
 

Hertz van Rental

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I generally just want to be more skillfull than lucky

Extensive technical ability isn't as important as people think. Certainly not for someone seeking to improve their work.
You don't need to know how something works - just what it does and why.
I can drive a car and have done so for over 30 years without hitting anything so I could claim to be a good driver - yet I don't have any mechanical skill at all and couldn't change an oil filter to save my life. Such a skill is not relevant or important to being able to drive.
The same is true of Photography.
A simple understanding of the basics (aperture, exposure, ISO and focus) and how they work together is all you really need to start with. Any other knowledge will be on a purely need to know basis.
As I used to tell my students: if you don't know you need to know it, then you don't need to know it.
Which is just another way of saying 'if you don't know it's a problem then it's not a problem'.
People tend to get bogged down in the technicalities because they are quantifiable. (For example, something is either in focus or it isn't so you can say 'this is in focus' and no-one would argue.) So this makes it easier for people to deal with than the real issues of Photography.
Just take a look at the responses people give when someone posts a picture. It will usually be comments like 'it looks a bit under-exposed' or 'I think your colour balance is off'.
Only rarely do people comment on what the image 'means' or the response it invokes in the viewer. Which is surprising given how many people would claim Photography is an Art form. If it's an Art form then why are people so keen to ignore it's main purpose and treat it as if it is a technical subject, like plumbing?
For anyone wanting to improve as a photographer, the biggest step you can take is to stop obsessing about technical perfection and start asking yourself questions.
Why are you taking the picture? What is it about the subject that makes you interested enough in it to want to photograph it? What are you trying to do? What do you want people to see when they look at the picture?
The last question is actually the simplest to answer as it only really has two answers: You either want people to see the subject 'as it is' (mug shots and passport photos are a good example of this) or you want people to see the subject through your eyes - to see it as you do.
And the second answer leads you to asking yourself the other questions (and a lot more besides).
And answering them is the pathway to improvement. Although I would pint out that it's not an easy path.
In short, pay more attention to what you are looking at through the viewfinder and a lot less on whether you are using the right ISO or not. ;)
 

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Tricky to answer after Hertz on this one! ;)
Overall I do agree with him as I am slowly starting to question as I shoot and why I shoot - even though much of what I shoot is animals and insects where I have no direct (and often no indirect) subject control at all - even in a zoo I don't have that control - and of course I can't just wait for better light like a landscape shot.

However I would say this - especailly to those new to the game - whilst technical perfection is not everything and developing ones thinking mind is extremly important to getting better overall results - I do feel strongly that one needs to have a good understanding of the tools you have, the results they can get, how you get those results, what limits are present in the scene and lighting which will affect those results and more - Basically one has to have an understanding of the technical side in order to have that control to then realise the vision that your wanting and able to get from the camera.

Once you have that understanding and control then things will come a lot quicker - when you don't have to look at ISO to change it - when you don't have to look at shooting mode to change it - then your vision can come to the fore - you have less to worry about and thus you can really concentrate on the viewfinder image.

Key to all this is time and experience - it takes time to learn and it takes time and different conditions and places to get that experience - there is no shortcut to this, though tutors and books can really help prepare you - its out in the field when you will do the most learning. Learn to use your histograme on your camera, learn also that you don't have to look at it after every shot - use it when you have the time and use it well.
 

Hertz van Rental

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... one needs to have a good understanding of the tools you have, the results they can get, how you get those results, what limits are present in the scene and lighting which will affect those results and more - Basically one has to have an understanding of the technical side in order to have that control to then realise the vision that your wanting and able to get from the camera.

That is using a hammer to crack a nut.
It can work but it is overkill.

I will clarify.
All you need to start with is the basics - just aperture, shutter, ISO and focus.
And you don't need to know why they do what they do, you just need to know how they work together and what effects they have on your results.
And anyone who has half a brain cell can learn all that in 10 minutes.
Then by questioning what you are doing, why you are doing it and the end result you want you can use your basic technical knowledge to explore your answers.
And for a great many people (who just want to take better family and holiday snaps) that is all they will ever need.
The answers to their questions will just keep them focused on what they are doing and not get them side-tracked.
Beginners in particular get discouraged with Photography for two main reasons: the technical side appears confusingly complex and they take pictures aimlessly with no real pattern or purpose other than they think they are supposed to.
If you keep the technical side to the bare bones you sort out the first problem. And thinking about what you want to take and why solves a lot of the second problem.
There may come a time when you find that you can't quite get what you want, or you are having a problem, because of a 'hole' in your technical knowledge.
Then you can take remedial steps.
Or it may happen that you see a picture in a magazine that stimulates you to increase your technical knowledge a bit. Then you can use your knew knowledge to push your creative bounds further.
Until you come to the next problem.
And so on.
You learn as you go along by learning what you need when you need it.
If you fill your head full of information from the word go - a lot of which you will almost certainly never need - you will give yourself so many things to worry about that you stop thinking about the actual picture.
And for anyone that still has a problem with my argument, try thinking about how you live your life. We do it in exactly the same way, learning what we need to know as we need it.
Learning and self-improvement requires an organised, structured approach to be effective and useful. And it takes time.
I'm just advocating the same approach to Photography.
 

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actually I think we are agreeing just that we are wording things differently - I am certanily not talking about understanding all the maths behind things - just what you call the bare bones (aperture ISO shutter speed) which probably shows there are some rather big areas that I don't know about as yet ;)
 

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its transfering something - got to be doing that at least
and its modulated or some such
and its a function

but beyond that --- is it a form of HDR?

wiki shows me maths and other sites show me lots of graphs of things!
and I think there might be some algebra at some stage too! ( I did that stuff once - I could sort of understand it to C grade at A level - but something tells me this could quickly go way way beyond that)!
 
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chris82

chris82

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Wow some ineresting comments here! I will have a closer and harder look at them tomorrow when I return from work as I work the grave yard shift,But I must say Thanks for taking the time to put up some really intersting and eyeopeing comments on here. I will have the weekend to ponder over what you have all said. Thanks again. P.S. Hertz Have you ever thouht of becoming a professiona speech writer e.g. The persion who wrights inspirational speeches for the likes of Borak Obama?...Just a thought lol.
 

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what a waste - we should just pressure him into writing a series (or just one big volume) on photography :)
 

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i second the series on photography.... unlike many i've read up on, he actually resognates photography with real life... a rear quality indeed... very rear....
 

old grumpy

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And you don't need to know why they do what they do, you just need to know how they work together and what effects they have on your results.
And anyone who has half a brain cell can learn all that in 10 minutes.

Not quite. For someone who has newer before heard of shutter time and aperture and how they work together it can be quite confusing. Add to this sensitivity, Iso.
Just a simple thing like a higher aperture number means smaller aperture and less light.

It did take my wife a couple of weeks to get the hang of it, and she is not stupid.
 

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