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Thread: Photography 101

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Tokyo Japan

    Photography 101

    OK, I don't know that much about photography, I'd like to learn more, in particular, taking pictures of my work, turnings and even the occasional flatwork

    I've got a decent camera, an Olympus SP-570UZ........
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    Now I'll show you some pics, these are right off the camera, only resized to fit the limits of the uploads here.

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    I've put the ISO the Exposure Compensation, Shutter Speed, and the Aperture, for each picture. I think the VIII picture is best.

    I am using a photo tent, with three 5100K lights, I have the camera set on a tripod, I use the self timer to click the shutter, and I have the camera about 4 feet away from the photo tent, and have used the optical zoom to bring the image closer.

    What am I doing wrong, what could I do better...??

    Please teach me how to do this better.

    Should I change the ISO? I have the option of going from 64 to 1600

    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
    William Arthur Ward

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    The Heart of Dixie
    I used to be pretty serious about photography. Sold my pro cameras stuff but saved the money because I want to do that again just Digital this time. I don't know how the ISO affects a digital camera since I haven't played with digital camera that has that. I know how it affects film but .....

    What I am seeing is the Exposure Comp is your difference. Your basically overriding the what the camera 'thinks' is the correct exposure. You see the results and I agree that last is the best one.

    Your aperture will affect the Depth of Field, how much is in focus in front and back of the point you focus on. Sometimes stepping it down (larger number) will increase sharpness, depends on the lens too. But I doubt your are going to see a noticeable difference.

    EDIT: I meant to add, what I would suggest, is start with the camera recommendation. Then "Bracket" your exposure. That is do what is says, then take photos with more and less exposure and see what looks the best. You could just use the exposure compensation and start with a half stop and maybe a full stop over and under. So 5 photos. Then see what is the best. The camera will get you close though to start with.

    Experimentation is your freind. Only thing I would try it maybe the exposure control, going positive instead of negative just to see. I think your on the right track though.
    Last edited by Jeff Horton; 05-15-2008 at 11:43 AM.
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    ABQ NM
    I agree that number 7 is the best of the bunch. It still looks like the back of the bowl isn't as well-focused as the front, though.

    There are a lot of variables, and it's easy to make one change and cancel another. For the type of photos you're doing, here are some basic thoughts. Sorry if some of it is too simplified, but I'll try to keep things in layman's terms for everyone's benefit.

    Let's forget about ISO and exposure compensation for now...we'll get to those in a minute.

    Two primary things control how the picture comes out: How big the hole in the lens is (the aperture) and how long the hole is kept open (the shutter speed).

    The bigger the hole, and the longer you leave it open, the lighter the picture will be. Conversely, a little hole left open for only a brief time will result in a dark picture.

    Shutter speeds are pretty self-apparent. A 1/60 of a second speed will mean the hole is open less time than a 1/30 of a second speed. So the smaller the fraction, the darker the pic will be.

    Apertures are a bit less intuitive. A small aperture setting (or f/stop) means a big hole, and a larger number means a smaller hole. So the higher f/stop numbers equal darker pics.

    These two things work hand in hand, but can also cancel each other out. A big hole left open for a short time will be about like a small hole left open for a long time. Both pics will look similar. In general, if you want lighter pics, you either leave the hole open longer, use a bigger hole in the lens, or both. In other words, for a lighter pic, you need to slow down the shutter speed, or use a lower f/stop number, or both.

    Next, to get both the front and back of the bowl in focus, you need more 'depth of field'. As it turns out, a small hole tends to have a bigger depth of field than a big hole. In other words, a setting of f/22 might have everything in focus from 4 to 6 feet away from the lens, but a setting of f/2 might only focus from 4 feet to 4 feet, two inches. (These are not real numbers, but just used for illustration.) The trick to getting a lot of depth of field is to use as high of f/stop possible, slowing down the shutter speed enough to keep the picture from being too dark. For some real world numbers, the knife pics I posted a while ago were shot at f/29, with a 1 second shutter speed. And I still ended up lightening them a tad with Photoshop afterward. I could have use f/22 at about 1/2 second and gotten about the same results brightness-wise, but with less depth of field.

    There is a distinct ratio between f/stops and shutter speeds, and a fair amount of math and science behind it. Lots of info on the web to go to sleep by. Here's one I found:

    The ISO originally referred to how fast film reacts to light, The higher ISO numbers react quickly, and the lower numbers are slower. With no other changes, a pic taken with ISO 1600 film would be lighter than one taken with ISO 200 film.'ll be grainier, too. ISO 1600 is great for picture of fast-moving objects or people. ISO 200 (or less) is great for still life pictures and portraits. In digital cameras, the ISO is more of a sliding scale across which the f/stop and shutter speed are applied. A higher ISO setting will result in a lighter, but grainier picture. For still life pics like you and I take, we want less graininess, and don't really care how fast it is, so the lower ISO numbers are better.

    Then there's exposure compensation. That's another fancy way of saying adjusting the lightness or darkness of the picture. I don't know if digital cameras do it mechanically by tweaking the f/stop and/or shutter speed, or if they do it electronically. Either way, just think of it as another way to lighten or darken a picture. The positive numbers will make a lighter pic and the negative numbers will give you a darker pic.

    My recommendation would be to stick with an ISO setting of 200 (or less), and leave the exposure compensation at 0 until you get the two main variables (f/stop and shutter speed) dialed in to the range that results in pictures you like. Start with your highest f/stop number and adjust the shutter speed down until the pics are light enough. That should give you good depth of field. Then, if need be, you can tweak the exposure compensation a bit on individual pics as you see fit to lighten or darken things a bit. But first, get a feel for the other two variables. Like Jeff said as I was typing this...experimentation is your friend.

    That's my (way over) two cents...
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

  4. #4
    I am not a photog but was quite serious with 35mm film kit at one time. The beauty of digital is the low price of taking lots of pics.

    The truth is that which pic is "best" will depend on what you are trying to say with the pic. Most of my photography these days is product shots for the business. I shoot in natural light and natural settings. I take lots of photos. My wife will look over my shoulder and say someting like "Why have you taken 153 photos of the same chair?" and the answer is because it costs me nothing to do so and I can choose the angle/lighting/exposure that best matches what I want to show.

    I use bracketting all the time. My camera has an automatic feature that will bracket 2 shots either side of the auto exposure. That means that I can set up the shot and get 5 exposures up to 2 stops under or over exposed from the cameras guess. The degree of difference is adjustable from 1/3 stop up to a full stop. I love this feature and use it mercilessly.

    ISO used to refer to the speed at which the chemical on the acetate reacted to light and roughly corresponded to the granular size of the crystals. Big crystals reacted faster but you ended up with grainier pictures. From memory Kodachrome is/was generally ISO64. Not a bad start point as any film that has one of the great songs of history written about it has to be significant. As far as digital goes, I don't see it as that significant and leave mine at 64 all the time.

    In the film days there was also a difference between the colour spectrum of different manufacturers. I used to prefer Fujichrome's pallette to Kodak's. My main camera (a Fuji) actually has a setting which emulates the pallette of Fujichrome and the colours really do come out different. So I often will take half of my shots on one setting and half on another to get the option of which I prefer.

    Pro photogs don't expect to click the shutter once and get exactly what they want and neither should we. Experiment and cover as many bases as you can and select later. Enjoy!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Tokyo Japan
    Thanks guys, that is a lot of good info!
    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
    William Arthur Ward

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Mountain Home, Arkansas
    At four feet, I'm surprised you are having focus problems. Even at f4.3 you should have more depth of field than what we see. Does your camera have a 'macro' setting? Certainly, more light would help.

  7. #7
    Thinking about it, if you want to get more depth of field (distant objects in focus at the same time as near ones), set the camera to an aperture priority mode, set the aperture to a big number - 22 is a popular high limit on many cameras - and let the camera decide on the shutter speed, which is of no importance because you are working on a tripod anyway. Shutter speed for handheld ideally needs to be 1/60th or shorter but with the tripod it doesn't matter as long as the camera can handle it. Also - I would set ISO to 64. Ignore exposure compensation which is really just another way of making shutter/aperture combination.

    Those settings should give you the crispest, least granular picture with the maximum depth of focus, as long as there is enough light. Make a note of what shutter speed the the camera selects. If you want to then you can go to full manual and make a reference set of images by holding shutter speed at that point and increasing the aperture size (selecting smaller numbers). This will let you get a feel for the depth of field effect etc.

    The real fun of digital cameras is that you get to experiment for basically no cost and with an immediate review of the results. It can be useful to hook the camera up to a laptop while you are doing this so that you can see the results more clearly than you can on the camera's own LCD.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Constantine, MI
    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Barley View Post
    It can be useful to hook the camera up to a laptop while you are doing this so that you can see the results more clearly than you can on the camera's own LCD.
    Wow. I never realized that could be done! I gotta try that.
    Does the camera send the image directly to the PC or do you need to go into the memory card and open the pics one at a time? Any special software involved?
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  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Rennie Heuer View Post
    Wow. I never realized that could be done! I gotta try that.
    Does the camera send the image directly to the PC or do you need to go into the memory card and open the pics one at a time? Any special software involved?
    Depends on the camera Rennie. Mine will lets me plug in a USB lead and I just download the card to the screen from time to time. I think that some of the higher end stuff might have a mode which just puts the image directly to the screen.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Central (upstate) NY
    Where's Ned? He is a photog pro!

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