Sunday, January 30, 2011


My first HDR picture!
Here are some Photos that I have taken recently!

HDR Photography

I am currently learning how to create High Dynamic Range (HDR) pictures. You may wonder, what is HDR Photography? It is when you merge photos that have been taken at different exposures to create a greater dynamic range or in other words be able to see detail in the shadows and highlights that would otherwise be impossible to see with the range that your camera's image sensor would pick up. It is a lengthy process but it creates stunning images. I will be posting my HDR images once I have worked out the kinks. Once I have mastered how to create HDR photos, I will have a post on how to make them, so be sure to follow up! :)
To check out some examples of HDR photos click on the following link

Friday, January 21, 2011

Camera Modes

One of the basics of photography is knowing what each mode on your camera is used for. It is surprising to me how many people own nice cameras and don't know how to use the different modes and features that made the camera so expensive in the first place. Because of this I decided that I will go over the different modes on the camera dial. There are two types of modes on cameras
automatic and creative modes. The automatic are easier to operate because they automatically set the settings on your camera to the specific shot based on the mode that you choose. The creative modes let you choose the settings of the camera and give more flexibility and creativity.

Automatic Modes

Automatic - This is a fully automatic mode that the camera sets all the settings solely based on what it detects during each different lock. This mode is the worst mode that you can shoot in because you are not giving the camera any additional information besides telling it that you are taking a picture. I would never suggest using this mode unless you feel that you absolutely don't understand anything about photography or the different modes at all.

Portrait - usually depicted as a womans head on the mode dial. This mode automatically give you as large an aperture as possible (low f/stops) to blur out the background because of the narrow depth of field that it creates. This will make the person that you are taking a picture of the central focus of your image. This mode is designed for taking pictures of a single person, not groups.

Macro - usually depicted by a flower on the mode dial. This mode lets you take close up pictures and still have them in focus. In this mode the camera will set you aperture wide open giving you as very shallow depth of field. Due to the shallow depth of field it is ideal to have a tripod because moving the camera at all can make your subject go out of focus. Using the built in flash in macro photography is a bad idea and will most likely wash out your photograph.

Landscape - usually depicted as mountains with a cloud on the mode dial. This mode is pretty much the opposite of portrait, it sets the camera to a small aperture (large f/stop) which give you a wide depth of field so that your entire image is in focus. This mode can often have long shutter speeds due to the small aperture which makes a tripod a very good thing to have. I tripod is good to haProxy-Connection: keep-alive
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anyway because it will help make you image less blurry because it will take out shaking due to hand movement and it will make you slow down and think about your shot more before you take it.

Sports/Action - usually depicted as a runner on the mode dial. This mode is used to capture fast moving objects such as people playing sports, children, pets, wildlife, and anything that moves. This is achieved by the camera setting a faster shutter speed. To be able to get a even clearer image you can try to focus the camera were your subject is going to be ahead of time. You could also pan the shot by moving the camera along with the subject. These techniques take practice.

Night Portrait - usually depicted as a person with a star behind them on the mode dial. This mode sets your camera to a slow shutter speed and uses a flash to light up your foreground and subject. Due to the slow shutter speed your images can be blurred and your background will unless you use a tripod.

Creative Modes

Program - usually a P on the mode dial. This mode is similar to Automatic mode and sometimes is automatic mode. On cameras were there is both program usually gives you a little more control over features such as flash, white balance, ISO, ect. To know exactly what your program mode does check your user manual.

Shutter Speed Priority - usually a Tv or S on the mode dial. This is a semi-automatic (or semi-manual) mode. It lets you set the shutter speed while the camera sets aperture, white balance, ISO, ect. You can still change most of the settings manually, but you can't change aperture. Set a fast shutter speed (big number) to take pictures of fast moving objects. Set it to a slow shutter (use a tripod to keep the image clear) speed to take pictures of things such as a waterfall or a river. It can also be used to make the picture brighter.

Aperture Priority - usually a Av or A on the mode dial. This is a semi-automatic (or semi-manual) mode. It is pretty much the opposite of Shutter Speed priority. In this mode you adjust the aperture in measurements of f/stops. The smaller the f/stop the the shallower the depth of field (I will explain aperture and depth of field in an upcoming post in more detail) and the more light it lets in. The larger the f/stop the larger the depth of field and the less light let in. The shutter speed will most likely be opposite the aperture so the more larger the aperture (smaller f/stop) the shorter the shutter speed and the smaller the aperture (bigger f/stop) the longer the shutter speed (use a tripod to reduce blur).

Manual - usually a M on the mode dial. In this mode you set all of the settings on the camera. This mode gives you the most flexibility but you have to know what you are doing to make your pictures turn out right.

Monday, January 17, 2011

One a Day Photo Project Blog

So yesterday I was over at my relatives and my aunt showed me the One a Day photo blog by Jon Woodbury. He talks about how the photographer makes good pictures not good cameras. He proves this by undertaking a challenge in which he take a picture each day using only his phone camera on his android. I really liked his posts and how he showed that good cameras don't make good photographers because that is a big misconception. Someone that I know bought themselves a Canon 40D and a L series telephoto lens and was trying to take pictures of swimmers during our meet. This would have been fine, however, she had her on camera flash going off while trying to take telephoto shots which is a big no no and she had her camera set to manual!!! Why even buy such a nice camera if you don't even learn how to use the features that you paid for? She could have bought a point-n-shoot and taken the same pictures and she most likely wouldn't be able to tell the difference between pictures taken with that and her 40D since she didn't know how to use it. The only way she would have noticed is if she were to blow it up huge, but that isn't very likely. This blog is a great way to see that you don't need a good camera to be a good photographer.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

New Lenses

With my new SLR camera that I got for Christmas, I got a 18-55mm lens. Now I'm dying to get a prime lens so with a low f/stop so I can take pictures with a narrower depth of field. A prime lens would give me a lot more control over what my pictures look like. My 18-55mm lens has a f/stop of 3.5-5.6. This isn't a small enough f/stop to achieve the types of images that I want to take, so I am looking for a lens such as a 50mm, probably a 1.8 since they are the most affordable. My biggest problem right now is that my birthday is coming up in a month so I don't want to just go buy a lens and have someone else who already bought it... So I'll probably just have to wait.

Friday, January 7, 2011


To create a panorama you  need to  use a program such as Photoshop to stitch multiple images together. I will be teaching you how. What you need is:

Your digital camera
Either a tripod or a flat surface on which you can rotate your camera
Your computer and Photoshop with the photomerge utility

To begin taking your panorama you need to decide your subject and the location that your are going to be taking your picture from. This is very important when taking a panorama because you have to be able to keep your camera is the same location while you only rotate it. If you have objects obstructing the picture your are taking or you have shadows on your camera you should find another location to take the shot. It is important that you maintain as much consistency between shots as possible because when Photoshop puts the images together is looks for similar areas to merge and if two pictures don't line up close enough Photoshop will discard the single one or with only two pictures it won't create the panorama.

When taking the shot start at either the far left or right side. Take a picture to see if you have the settings you want, if you don't readjust until you do. Then once you have a good first shot swivel the camera so that you have a 20% or more overlay into the next image. It is better to have too much overlay than too little because Photoshop needs to be able to see what parts of the image line up otherwise the picture when stitched together will look terrible. Continue taking pictures swiveling your camera with 20% or more overlay between each picture.To make sure that the image ends up correct you need to set the ISO, white balance, and aperture to set values so that they don't vary from image to image. If this happens it makes it harder for Photoshop to merge the images together. It also will make the final product look bad.

Next open Photoshop and go to File-Automate-Photomerge... From there press the browse button and find the pictures that you took for your panorama. If you took the pictures from left to right the lowest number should be on top. Once they are in photomerge press ok and let photoshop do its thing. It may take several minutes to complete.

Once it is done the image that Photoshop gives will probably be a strange shape because Photoshop adjusted the pictures to compensate for and lens distortion. Now all that is left to do is crop the image and apply any final adjustments that you would like to make!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Rule of Thirds

I decided that I will start with the basic Rule of Thirds. The Rule of Thirds is essentially if you took your image and put two lines space in evenly vertically and horizontally then found the four intersections of those lines. Those four areas (circled intersections below) are the points of interest on your photo. Studies have shown that putting your subject in those points of interest make looking at the photo more natural for the viewer.

The photo to the left demonstrates the red leaf being in the upper right point of interest instead of being centrally focused.

Another thing Rule of Thirds can also be used in photography to make stronger images by making lines along one of the Rule of Thirds line through the image. An example of this would be a horizon in a landscape photo being along the upper third line or the lower third line instead of the center of the photo. In the photo to the right the skyline of the mountains is on the upper line of the Rule of Thirds lines.

While using Rule of Thirds isn't always necessary, it can greatly enhance images and make them look more natural to the viewer. A great thing about digital photography is you can crop your images to make your subject in Rule of Thirds after you have taken the photo. If you don't already I would suggest trying taking pictures with the Rule of Thirds in mind. You can even take two pictures one where the subject is centered and one where the subject is in one of the points of interest based on the Rule of Thirds and compare to see the difference. With this you can find when and where you think that Rule of Thirds make a more effective photo over a central subject.