A&P Newbie to Digital Photography

Discussion in 'Lifestyle' started by mudghost, May 26, 2004.

  1. mudghost

    mudghost Hot[Sauce]

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2001
    Messages:
    736
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Yay Area, CA
    I finally took the plunge and, after a fair amount of research, purchased a semi-cheap digicam - the Canon SD100. Being new to this whole taking pictures thing, I'm not familiar with many of the terms nor how to take good pics. Does anyone have any tips for someone just starting out?

    I've heard night shots, particularly in bars/dark rooms, can be difficult - any help with these would be appreciated.

    Will I need to use the Manual Mode most of the time to get acceptable quality or should the Automatic Mode produce good pics on its own?

    Thanks
     
  2. Jcolman

    Jcolman OT Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2002
    Messages:
    43,131
    Likes Received:
    90
    Location:
    east coast
    Time for a little photography lesson. Subject: lighting in dark places.

    The reason that night shots or photos in bars, etc are difficult is simply because of the lack of decent light. Photography is all about light and composition. You need light to make a picture and the placement and amount of light is what makes a good photo.

    There are basically two ways to shoot in dark environments. Use available light or add more light to the scene.

    Using a flash on a camera will give you light...but in the wrong place and usually way too much. When the light is next to the lens (as in a flash attached to the camera) you get very direct light that does a good job of illuminating the subject, but that's all.
    About the only time that direct flash works well is in daylight situations where the light "fills" the shadows created by the sun. Using a flash in a dark environment like a nightclub will overpower the exsisting light, giving you the "snapshot" look.

    If you want to use the exsisting light, it requires a fast film, slow shutter speeds and fast lenses. A "fast" lens can be described as a lens that lets in more light than another lens of equal focal length. For example, a 50mm f/1.3 lens is "faster" than a 50mm f/2.8 lens. The drawbacks are that the available light isn't color corrected to match your film (but with digital photography you can often "white balance" your camera to the available lights color tempreture) and the light is usually not in the best place for your subject. Another disavantage is that you have to use such a slow shutter speed that you are forced to use a tripod and can still end up with a blurry photo if your subject is moving.

    You can acheive better results by using a very small amount of fill light, usually from your cameras flash. You can somewhat control the amount of light that your built in flash produces by taping a white hankerchief or white napkin over the flash head. This will reduce the output and soften the light a bit. Professional photographers use flash units that are totally controllable as to the amount of light produced by their flash units. They also rarely use direct light, rather they tend to "bounce" the light in an umbrella or off of a white card. This softens the light and spreads it out.

    Adding more light units is the best method. You can add several flash units that are synced via a "slave unit" and therefore will fire at the same time. This gives you plenty of light and you can place the light to best illuminate the shot. Of course the drawback is the expense of additional lights, and the time required to place them.

    Another method is a trick called "painting with light" whereby you can use one flash unit to illuminate an entire scene but this is an advanced method that requires a lot of practice to produce good results.

    You'll probably find that you can use the automatic mode on your camera for most "snapshots". With some practice and experience, you'll find that you can acheive superior results by switching to manual mode and learning to think like a photographer.

    You also may want to get a book on basic photography and start learning what the camera controls mean and what they do. The camera is only as good as the person operating it. An expensive camera won't give you better results until you learn how and why to use it.
     
  3. Revelation

    Revelation .

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2003
    Messages:
    5,086
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Jersey
    Very good post
     
  4. mudghost

    mudghost Hot[Sauce]

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2001
    Messages:
    736
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Yay Area, CA
    Thanks, man. I appreciate the info.

    I used my cam for the first time this weekend and was very successful with the daytime shots. Night, however, posed some problems. Using the snapshot feature, my pictures were quite blurry and of low quality even though I was using the 'Superfine' picture function.

    There is no way I am going to buy a secondary flash or anything like that, so what can I do with the camera itself to increase the quality of my low light shots? There must be some easy fix to this. (I hope)
     
  5. Jcolman

    Jcolman OT Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2002
    Messages:
    43,131
    Likes Received:
    90
    Location:
    east coast
    Your shots were blurry due to the extremely slow shutter speed necessary to let in enough light. You need a tripod to shoot at shutter speeds slower than 1/60 sec. If your subject is moving in low light and you want sharp pics, you'll need to use the fastest, or lowest quality, setting on your camera.

    Your camera may or may not be capable of shooting in low light situations and give acceptable results. You need a camera that has a "fast" lens, and adjustable sensativity settings (or in the case of film, you'd just use faster film). A "fast" lens would be one that has an effective f/stop of around f/1.2.
     

Share This Page