As a photographer, one of the most exciting but nerve wracking things you can do is get on a plane with camera kit. Before you go, you have the mental anguish of what to take and what to leave behind and then you need to figure out how to get all your photo kit into a bag so that it goes onto the plane easily.
Tag Archive for: Landscape
Flash is possibly one of the most widely misunderstood areas of photography. There are many photographers, amateur and professional alike who have only scant knowledge of flash and how to make it work, and hence avoid it like the plagued. However, a good understanding of flash and what it can do will improve your pictures massively – almost irrespective of what subjects you shoot.
To illustrate the point, most people think of flash as being a light source dedicated to shooting people, or at most perhaps macro (helped no doubt by the existence of dedicated macro flash units). However, what about wildlife photographers? Or landscapers? I’ve used flash successfully for both disciplines and more besides.
Here’s two wildlife images, both lit almost entirely with flash – the ambient light components in both are negligible.
The first is badger cubs. Obviously badgers are mainly only visible at night, so there is no ambient light. This shot was taken using three flashguns – all Speedlite 580EX II. The lights were positioned to ensure both the foreground and background were lit sufficiently and also to provide a wide area of light in which the badgers could be – wildlife doesn’t perform to order so you need to make allowances in your light setup for them to move around (however much some nuts and dog food will help keep them in one area!).
The second image is of a blue tit on the feeder in my garden. Blue tits are much easier to see in the day, but I was aiming for something a bit crisper and with a little more depth than normal. As such, I once again used three Speedlite – two lighting the feeder from the front and one to light the background to make sure the green was nice and vibrant. The advantage of the flash here is that it has provided more contrast and sharpness on the head and helped bring out the details of the feathers – and it gave a nice catchlight in the eyes.
So, next time you’re out shooting, don’t leave the flash in the bag. Get it out and have a play. And if you think you’d like to know more about flash to help you use Speedlites in a wide variety of situtations, book a place on one of our Speedlite courses.
How can a camera help you to take better pictures?
Digital SLR cameras have come on in leaps and bounds, the technology packed in to the latest cameras like the EOS 650D is nothing short of amazing. [Amazon]
Digital SLR cameras, just like film cameras, are not able to record the same range of brightness as the human eye can see. For new photographers this is one of the top things to learn and then make use of to improve their pictures. You need to prioritise which elements in the frame are to be rendered correctly and which are ok to blow out or fall in to shadow. This limitation is termed the dynamic range.
“Better” range for your pictures
In recent times a technique scarily titled High Dynamic Range (HDR) imaging has become more popular. Basically this involves the taking of several frames of the scene at different exposures then combining them together in software to make an image with apparently greater dynamic range than the camera could capture. Execute the technique well and it can look quite good, do it badly, or overdo it, well that’s where you might call it art.
EOS 650D puts increased dynamic range right at your fingertips
The EOS 650D adds Handheld Night Scene and HDR Backlight Control to the scene modes on the camera mode dial. Handheld Night Scene icon is at the 9 o’clock position on the mode dial above and the HDR Backlight Control mode is at the 8 o’clock position.
Handheld Night Scene mode
Taking advantage of the increased 5fps frame rate, the camera captures four shots at a shutter speed fast enough to prevent camera shake. The four shots are then combined in-camera to create a single well-exposed shot with minimal blur in low light conditions, lessening the need to use a tripod. This will make sure that more photographers get better pictures in low light conditions, giving them confidence to use the camera more often.
HDR Backlight Control mode
This is a typical HDR type mode, the camera captures three shots in continuous shooting mode, again using the faster frame rate. One shot is under exposed, one is at the metered exposure and one is overexposed. Then the camera analyses the frames to create a composite image with greater dynamic range than would be possible with a single shot.
THe EOS 5D Mark III also has a HDR mode, but it’s more hidden in the depths of the cameras menus, here’s a simple example of an HDR scene that the camera captured and processed to give the impression of wider dynamic range.
It’s really great to see this kind of modes coming to the EOS 650D since it will help more people get better pictures in difficult photographic situations. The key question is how will someone know if it’s the right time to use these modes? For that I suggest a short session of training or consultancy with EOS Network.
Do you geotag your images? Do you know what geotagging is or how it’s done?
When you geo-tag your pictures, you are simply adding in a latitude and longitude data point within the EXIF data so you know exactly where the image was taken. It alos allows you to share the location of images you’ve taken on the web. But is it a good thing to do?
If you want to geotag images there are two ways to do it. Either, you have it done automatically by the camera (and some accessories) or you manually input the data later on once the images are back on the computer. Some programs like Aperture allow you to do this for a batch as you input your files, others you’ll have to manually adjust the EXIF data for each image.
How to add location data to your images automatically…..
If you want to geotag images to make them location aware, you’ll need a Canon WFT WiFi transmitter. These WiFi units have a full-size USB plug on them allowing you to connect an external GPS unit like something from the Garmin eTrex range. With this connected, the camera will automatically collect the GPS data from the eTrex and add it into the EXIF data of each image you take with the camera. However, having a USB cable to a large GPS unit is a bit of a faff and there is a smoother way of doing it… It is possible to buy a very small blutetooth receiver that is hardly any bigger than a thumbnail and plugs into the USB socket on the WiFi unit. If you pair this with a Bluetooth GPS receiver, you can keep the bluetooth receiver in your bag and not have to worry about trailing cables.
OK, so now you know how to collect GPS data, should you?
This is something that I’ve been thinking about for quite a while and I’m not sure I have a fixed answer yet. In truth, I think it depends on exactly what you shoot. Imagine the scenario – you find a cracking location for a landscape photo. You spend months exploring the area, working out the best angle and time of day. Waiting for the right weather etc. And you geotag your image. If you post that image on the web with the GPS data embedded in it, anyone else can walk up to exactly your spot and repeat your picture. OK, so this may be a bit frustrating, but it’s not the end of the world and I’m not sure is a good enough reason not to geotag your images. After all, photography is about sharing and they will never have the same light as you unless they too put in the hours waiting.
However….now imagine the site becomes very popular, with hundreds (or thousands) of photographers turning up to capture the great beauty you’ve found. You may find that the wonderful location you’ve found is reduced to nothing more than a muddy criss-cross of tracks and tripod holes. And because photographers like to find their own angles, it could be over a wider area as others search around trying to improve on what you’ve done. Without the right infrastructure and sadly because not all photographers treat the areas they visit with as much respect as they should, it could lead to overwhelming damage to a previously unspoilt beauty spot.
Ok, so you may feel this is a bit far fetched, but how about if you photograph wildlife? Perhaps you’ve come across a badger sett, or something rarer like a Ghost Orchid site. If you merilly always geotag your images and then head off to shoot the ghost orchid, it may not be long before the location becomes known to all and the site again suffers damage through over-visiting. God forbid the orchid is trampled by someone clumsy who just doesn’t see it. Again, the world hasn’t ended, but there has been avoidable damage caused by geotagging of images.
All this is not to say that geotagging is bad though. There are many situations where it may be good to geotag your pictures – photojournalism for example where you want to prove the veracity of images and where they were taken. Or on a simple scale, sports photography at say a race track or football stadium. Setup cleverly you could have your images tagged and then with the use of a smart folder sorting system on your computer you could automatically group all images taken at a given venue.
So what’s your view? Do you geotag your images? If so, is it an automatic or manual process and if you do tag, have you had this same internal discussion about whether it’s a good or bad thing? Light up the comments with your views.
High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography is one of those ‘marmite’ types of photography, with some folks loving it, and others detesting it. Regardless of which side of the ‘great HDR divide’ you sit on the requirements of a camera for the ultimate in HDR imaging are pretty specific. Basically HDR photography requires that several exposures are taken of the scene at slightly different exposure settings, usually the shutter speed is varied and aperture kept the same.
It was after an email from one site reader with his full set of requirements that the ideal camera for HDR imaging could be selected for him. With HDR there are several camera requirements
- Can shoot several exposures automatically bracketed around the cameras measured exposure – most cameras offer auto exposure bracketing (AEB), but often it’s limited to 3 shots
- Can shoot the bracketed images quickly after each other. For natural landscapes the key for a successful merge of images is that all the images are shot as fast as possible
- Good clean higher ISO performance
- Mirror lock-up that doesn’t come down between each bracketed exposure
Given the original question, and the thoughts that the EOS-1D models might be the ideal here’s a few tips for configuring an EOS-1D Mark IV.
- EOS-1D models have custom function C.Fn I-6 for 2, 3, 5 or 7 shots in a sequence. It’s also possible via another custom function C.Fn I-4=1 to set the camera to not automatically cancel the automatic exposure bracketing even if the camera is turned off. Since EOS cameras allow the steps of the bracketed exposures to be set from 1/3 to 3 stops this would mean the EOS-1D models could actually do autoexposure bracketing over a range of 18 stops.
- EOS-1D Mark IV shoots at 10fps or reducing the difference between multiple frames, making even handheld HDR possible.
- EOS-1D Mark IV has great high ISO performance, and even if needed can be set to shift the ISO setting if an extremely wide range of bracketed exposure would result in over or under exposure. C.Fn I-8=2 sets ISO safety shift.
- Mirror lock-up can be set to only return the mirror with the SET button after a sequence of exposures using C.Fn III-17=2, though live view mode achieves a similar effect
- Since most HDR applications automatically can arrange the sequence of bracketed exposures the C.Fn 1-5 which changes the order of the bracketed sequence is not needed, though I have found that setting C.Fn I-5=1 to start capturing the bracketed sequence from the under exposed frames makes it easier to see the sequence when reviewing the images on the LCD out in the field.
hdr-photography.com has a great autoexposure bracketing by camera comparison table listing not just Canon cameras [link]
Hit the comments to let us know how you shoot HDR, or even if you are on the ‘anti-HDR’ side tell us why?