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What do you want to understand better about photography?

Discussion in 'Photography' started by JohnRice, Sep 24, 2017.

  1. JohnRice

    JohnRice Executive Producer

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    Hey everyone. I've been looking around at all the instructional videos and posts that seem to be growing online these days. I'm kind of amazed at how much of it is misinformed or just downright wrong. I want to work on some stuff to try and clarify and correct some of this. I know the "exposure triad" is a popular topic, but there are more complex ones that are almost universally misunderstood.

    So, what topics do you have trouble gaining an understanding of? One problem is, so often we think we do understand something, when what we know is wrong. I'm just looking for suggestions of topics that others feel they lack an understanding of.
     
  2. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    Oh boy!

    Thanks, John. I'm gonna just bet you had me in mind when you created THIS thread! :D

    Here's another picture from my granddaughter's first birthday party. Here she's hanging out with my mother (who is closing in n 88 years old).

    I'm really partial to this shot as it really shows the fun these two have together. And it does it by ignoring the obvious contrast of year-old skin versus nearly 90-year old skin textures.

    I shot this before I switched over to shooting RAW. It was another one of those instances in which my subjects were in the shade and the background got all blown out in heavy sun.

    [​IMG]
     
  3. JohnRice

    JohnRice Executive Producer

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    Did you have a question, Mike?
     
  4. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer

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    My biggest weakness is with artificial lighting, and how best to meter for using an external flash to get both a well-exposed subject in the foreground as well as exposing the background properly. I can muddle through it via trial and error, but rely on the automated camera's functions, such as ETTL, more than I would like.
     
  5. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Studio Mogul

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    Expose for the ambient light for the background (after settling on your DoF before taking the shot, and no external lighting/flash in the shot), and then adjust your foreground lighting with a few more test shots, 2-3 shots after making adjustments to the flash power after each test shot will get you dialed in. Do it enough times, you can look at a photo and see that you are either under-exposed or over-exposed on the foreground, and make the changes as needed.
     
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  6. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    I will, John. Several.
     
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  7. JohnRice

    JohnRice Executive Producer

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    There are so many levels you can take that to. I spent most of my professional career lighting on location using studio strobes, monolights, and hot lights, which would be the extreme. I'm kind of with Patrick here. Take advantage of the camera's TTL, but understand and take control of it. You'll want to experiment on random subjects so you have a grasp of how it works when something you really want to shoot comes up.

    I don't know what your camera's capabilities are, but here are some general suggestions.

    1) Don't use matrix metering. Set the camera for center-weighted metering with a large metering area. The point is, you want to know exactly what the meter is doing, rather than having it try to figure out the scene for you.

    2) Set your main exposure compensation to adjust ambient light only. Hopefully your camera has separate exposure compensation adjustments for ambient light and flash. You want to keep them separate. In case you didn't know, changing the shutter speed has no effect on the flash part of the exposure, only the ambient light. Changing aperture affects both. I'm not going to get into high speed flash shutter. For the time being, just stay with conventional shutter flash, which probably maxes at 1/200 or 1/250 sec.

    3) Get a cheap off-camera TTL flash cable and either a small soft box or bounce attachment (like a Rogue or brand x version) so you have an easy way to experiment with moving the flash off camera. There are some really cheap ones that work just fine. You should be able to find a cable for about $20 and the soft box or reflector for less than $15.

    Find a backlit subject to experiment with, like maybe a flower or something stationary. Even set up the camera on a tripod so you can get identical test photos with different settings

    Take a series of shots finding out how adjusting the exposure compensation individually for ambient and flash alter the results. What you do will depend on what kind of result you want. You might want to do something dramatic, with the ambient technically underexposed and the flash normal. Just realize that the setting to do that might actually have both saying they are underexposed. You really don't know what you will like until you take a test shot and see what you get.

    When you want a natural looking fill, you'll probably want the ambient exposure overexposed a bit and the flash normal or underexposed. Your eye knows that situation should have a background that's lighter than the subject and if you completely balance them, it won't look natural. You just want to drop down the highlights and bring up the shadows, not fully light the subject with the fill flash.
     
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  8. Message #8 of 88 Oct 4, 2017
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2017
    JohnRice

    JohnRice Executive Producer

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    Ken Rockwell is an idiot.

    I just needed to say that.

    I feel much better now.

    I know it's trendy to say that, but the staggering amount of misinformation he spreads is infuriating.
     
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  9. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer

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    ...and water is wet. ;)
     
  10. JohnRice

    JohnRice Executive Producer

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    I want to back up my statement just a little bit, and then move on.

    Most of my complaints come from his extreme hyperbole. Every lens Nikon makes is the greatest thing that's ever been created. Until the next one comes out. His constant claim that if you're lucky enough for an independent manufacturer lens to work on a camera today, it won't work on anything tomorrow. I suppose this has happened at times, but it's rare. In fact, I have two Tamron lenses and about six Sigmas, and the only lens I own that doesn't work on every camera is the new Nikon AF-P 70-300mm. Nikon is open about this, but the AF-P lenses don't work on any camera from before 2013, and aren't fully compatible with some since. These lens manufacturers keep the majors on their feet. Sigma, in particular, has been kicking everyone's butt lately, especially with high quality, fast primes, but also with some amazingly high quality zooms.

    His photos tend to be sharpened to the point that they make my eyes hurt. He also sends the vibrance over the edge. Most of all, there is his insistence on touting ONLY shooting jpg. If there is a single thing that's the greatest about digital photography, it's the ability to shoot raw. Not only are there the capabilities of raw, but jpg is highly lossy, so any time you make ANY change to an image and save it again in jpg, you are creating another generation, and an additional level of image loss. Go ahead and shoot jpg when it makes sense, but understand the down sides. The only time I shoot jpg is when I do photography for a friend who operates a non-profit. I'll take photos of some of their events and save raw to one card (using a camera with dual card slots) which I keep, and mid resolution, fine+ quality JPGs to another card, which I give to them after the event. They know that if a certain shot needs some fine tuning, or they want one for reproduction, I'll produce it from the raw file.

    I could go on, but I'll move on to something more productive. He's OK for some tangible feedback, simply because he gets his hands on a LOT of equipment and posts extremely large photos of it.

    But for newbies and anyone wanting to learn...

    ...just be careful.
     
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  11. Message #11 of 88 Oct 5, 2017
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2017
    JohnRice

    JohnRice Executive Producer

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    I wondered if everyone knew how the focal length of a "normal" lens is determined. It's pretty simple actually, but I don't remember why it was decided to be the way it is. It's based on the diagonal dimension of the film/sensor. Sometimes it tends to be increased a little, if only to round it off to a nice number.

    35mm film (the same as full frame) is 24x36mm, which comes out to 43mm. There used to be a lot of 42-45mm lenses, but 50mm became the standard, probably just because it's such a nice, round number. I think that tended to bump some of the other formats too. 645, which was popular in wedding photography comes out to 68mm, but normal has usually been 75mm. BTW, the dimension of a 6x4.5 image is more like 41x54mm, not 45x60mm.

    What makes things less clear is that not all formats have the same aspect ratio, so even though 6x6 (which is actually 54x54mm) is 76mm (normal lenses for 6x6 are 80mm), it really doesn't correspond that closely to a 43mm on full frame, since the aspect ratio is so different.

    Here are some calculations for a "normal" lens.

    35mm/Full Frame (24x36mm): 43.3mm
    Nikon APS-C (23.6x15.6mm): 28.3mm (Nikon sensor sizes actually sometimes fluctuate slightly)
    Canon APS-C(22.2x14.8mm: 26.7mm
    Micro 4/3 (17.3x13mm): 21.6mm

    As digital photography evolves, I see more and more people complaining about a lens that says it's 50mm is "actually" 75mm, 80mm, and so on. I know most of you probably already know this, but the focal length of a lens is what it is. It doesn't change as the sensor or film format changes.

    Lenses have an optical center, and the focal length is the distance from the optical center to the image surface, when it's focused at infinity. The shorter that distance is, the wider the angle of view needs to be to cover the needed image area. Any mathematically "normal" lens has the same angle of view with all sensor sizes, as long as the image area has the same aspect ratio. So, it only takes 22mm of distance to cover it with Micro 4/3, 27-28mm for APS-C and 43mm with full frame. It takes 100mm to cover 6x9cm, which is actually 54x84mm. It takes 150mm to cover 4x5" film.

    So, if you set up a Micro 4/3 with a 22mm lens, and a 4x5 camera with a 150mm lens next to each other, you'll get basically the same photo. Except, the depth of field will be vastly different, because one lens is physically a 22mm and the other is physically a 150mm. Changing the format does not change the focal length of the lens. Both lenses cover the same angle of view with their different formats, except one has a focal length almost 7x as long as the other. Imagine shooting with a camera where your "normal" lens has depth of field as shallow as a 150mm. That's why people who have shot formats ranging from 35mm to 4x5 and even 8x10 tend to chuckle when they hear people claiming there's a massive difference in depth of field between APS-C and full frame. Just think about how challenging it can be to shoot on a format where the "normal" lens is 150mm. It's also why large format lenses typically stop down to f/64, and why view cameras have movements. So you can manipulate the focal plane, trying to get what you want in focus.

    TMI? Or did all of you already know this? There's a lot of talk about the exposure triad, but very little about how the optics of photography work.

    BTW, "Telephoto" probably doesn't mean what you think it means.
     
  12. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer

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    Definitely not too much info. I knew some of the facts you listed, but didn't know the diagonal dimension of the sensor / film frame was what determined a "normal" lens. I always thought it was just the focal length which provided the perspective of what would be considered a "normal view" as if you were looking at the subject with no lens.

    I did always wonder why Canon chose a slightly different (i.e. smaller) sensor size for their APS-C cameras than the other camera manufacturers. The difference is very small to the point of being irrelevant, but I still find it odd.
     
  13. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    Let me ask this.

    In another thread, you fellas convinced me to switch to shooting RAW (up from a very large .jpg setting).

    So now when I open an image in Photoshop (version C5.5), I go through that process (I can't remember the name of it) before I can start manipulating the image.

    Are there any particular things I should be looking for (or looking to do) in those preliminary settings before the image gets actually opened? I guess what I'm wondering is what is the reason behind this layer of manipulation of image settings that's different from whatever manipulations one might make during "regular" use of the software?

    And I believe you fellas told me that no matter what I do to the image in Photoshop, the original file remains unchanged. Is that right? So I could open a RAW image, change things in that preliminary step and then alter it further in Photoshop...but the raw image remains intact? Even if I don't do a "Save As?"

    I have already noticed after shooting this way for a few months that it has allowed me to do some pretty amazing things in terms of image manipulation--things which wouldn't have worked out nearly as well before.
     
  14. JohnRice

    JohnRice Executive Producer

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    I'm at work, so I'll give a couple quick answers and can come back when I have time and others can jump in.

    Second first. You HAVE to do a save as when you opened a RAW file. You CAN'T save an updated RAW file.

    Think of JPG, which you had been using, as the final product. Basically, RAW captures 10-20x as much info as you need to create a photo, but you can use that extra data to make significant alterations to it, like restoring shadows and highlights. With RAW you start off with this enormous amount of data, then start selectively discarding what you don't want. When you save a jpg, the same thing is happening, but the camera is making all the decisions for you. So, when you open that RAW file in in the RAW converter, you start the first step of discarding what you don't want. Then you take it further, once the image has been opened and saved in PS or LR. Then, usually your final step is to create a jpg which discards anything that isn't absolutely necessary to create the image you want.

    You can't do the same adjustments with a jpg, because the extra 90-95% of data has already been discarded. It's gone for good.
     
  15. JohnRice

    JohnRice Executive Producer

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    Oh yeah, if you save your RAW files in the highest bit depth your camera allows, then save them in PS as 16 bit, you retain basically all that data until you convert them to 8 bit, which you should always do, and save the final jpg. You can also probably shoot in AdobeRGB as opposed to sRGB, but that depends on personal preference. Not many final stages can take advantage of full RGB.
     
  16. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer

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    Based on John's description, it appears that Photoshop works differently than Lightroom regarding how it saves edits to RAW files. With Lightroom, all changes are automatically saved to a separate database which Lightroom calls a catalog -- nothing is saved to the actual RAW file. DxO Optics Pro, which I am playing around with as a potential replacement for Lightroom, does something similar, although some edits are saved to the database, and some are saved to a sidecar file -- I thought it was strange that it did both.

    Glad to see you are giving RAW a try and having a good experience, Mike. I was apprehensive at first when I started shooting RAW many years ago, too, but quickly found a workflow that worked for me and saw how much of a difference it made in being able to create a quality image. I started with Canon's Digital Photo Professional, which which was (and still is) free for Canon camera owners (and only works with Canon RAW files), and moved to Adobe's Lightroom a year or so later. Now I am looking for something to eventually replace Lightroom due to Adobe no longer selling a perpetual license version of the application.
     
  17. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    Here's a recent project about which I'm really happy with the results:

    [​IMG]

    My wife was all over me to get a good picture of our two grandkids (ages 3 & 1). Those are not always easy ages for cooperation...especially when sitting together. They are tense, ill-at-ease...and forget about telling them to say "cheese" or else the oldest one will screw her face into some unknown contortion thinking it's a smile.

    So I came up with the idea (I'm sure I'm not breaking any new ground here) to photograph them separately. The image above is a composite of two different images I took. I shot them w/o a tripod. The biggest challenge in composition was keeping the wagon (and photographer) still in terms of position of both the camera and background. But photographing them separately worked like a dream. And having all that extra resolution in Photoshop really made the marriage of the two images so much easier. ( don't know the specifics as to WHY that's true. I just know how easy everything came together.)

    One thing I had to be careful about was making sure I used the same settings with the two separate images when importing them from RAW so that they retained a similar look.
     
  18. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer

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    Mike,

    That's some great work on the composite photo! It looks very natural, as if it was taken in a single shot. Nice job!

    BTW, your grandkids are adorable.
     
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  19. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    Thanks, Scott! I cannot disagree. I'm very high on those two! Between them and my dogs, I'm all set for photography subjects! :D

    Here's the originals:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    When you stick 'em both in the wagon at the same time...someone's gonna get their eye poked out!! :laugh:

    [​IMG]
     
  20. JohnRice

    JohnRice Executive Producer

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    It's fun to create a composite.

    I've never shot portraits of children, but I've heard you NEVER tell children to smile for exactly the reason you described. They give an expression that looks like they stuck their finger in a wall outlet.
     

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