Photography Tutorial 1 – Creating the Best Photo

flowers-photo-processed

There are so many battles over what is the best camera, DSLR vs point and shoot and megapixels.  This is all and well but what do you really need to take great photographs?

Sure an $8000 to $20,000 dollar DSLR camera will do excellant photos.  It better for that price range.  But what do you get for your money?  Speed , accuracy and low noise.  The more you spend, the faster your camera will be at focusing, lower digital noise in your photo and setting up the cameras automatic settings at a fraction of the time a lower priced camera does.  Faster storing of an image to memory, a larger CCD sensor (the cameras “eye”) and a host of other features.  but does this make for a better photo? Yes, it can but if you are not a pro photographer making a few thousand bucks an hour, you still have hope.

You can create a great photo with or without spending thousands of dollars on a DSLR (digital single lens reflex) but it takes a bit more work.  I own DSLR cameras now and even still, they don’t take a perfect photo every time.  You have to set it up for every condition you run into.

I used to own an old sony digital point and shoot camera that stored the photos it took onto mini cd disks.  I don’t remember the model but this little camera (it was actually big) took the best photos I had ever seen in my life.  Really vivid colors, sharp detail that almost looked 3d and made great photos in almost any lighting condition… all automatically.  Not even any of my DSLRs can do that.

So this just shows that even point and shoot cameras can take great photos.  You don’t have to have really expensive equipment.

Flowers Photo Before Digital Editing
Flowers Photo Before Digital Editing

How do you get great photos with what camera you have now?  The secret is digital editing.  If you have never done it before, you should start learning because it could be the difference between an alright photo and one that stands out and “pops”.

When I’m photograping a subject or object, I don’t worry too much about the color.  I try to get it close but it’s not a big deal.  I want to get the shot framed correctly, have the right amount of light if possible (lower noise) and want it to be in sharp focus.  That’s what I concentrate on most when I take a photo.  Brightness, contrast, vividness, color levels and special effects can all be added post production by digital editing.  Also, if your camera has another picture type other than jpg, use that to get the best photo to work with.

 

Flowers Photo After Digital Editing
Flowers Photo After Digital Editing

My DSLRs have raw format which allows me to correct the photo before converting it to a jpg.  Another good format would be tiff.  These formats use a lot of your memory card up but are worth it when doing post processing.

When I take a photograph of a subject, 50% of my attention is devoted to getting the correct image, the other 50% is post processing or digital editing.  After I get the photo, I made sure I have focus sharp, a basic framing of the subject and the best light I can get.  Once I have that, I fix everything else in digital editing.  I’m not proud.  Digital editing is like the duct tape of the photography world.

You also don’t have to buy expsensive digital editing applications like photoshop if you don’t have $700 bucks to plop down on software.  I use Paintshop Photo Pro X3 Ultimate which does just about everything you can do in Photoshop… plus some cool extras.  No need to spend hundreds of dollars.  I’m serious here.

Of course there are tons of other cool photo editing packages out there professional and non professional but I mainly use one package and that’s it.  Unless you are a photo studio charging thousands of dollars for you time, you don’t need anything else except maybe some backdrop apps or something small like that.

To wrap it up, no matter what camera you are using, make sure you get your shot in focus with good lighting.  You can fix the rest in post processing with digital photo editing software.  The pros do it and so can you.

Let Your New DSLR Teach You Photography

Canon Rebel EOS XSi DSLR Camera

 

So up until now, you’ve only used point and shoot cameras.  One day, you decided to break down and buy a new DSLR carmera because you got a good price or you just want a more professioal camera.  Whatever the reason, you have a good bit of learning to do now.

All of the new DSLR (digital single lens reflex) cameras have all types of settings you can use to take your photos.  There are special modes for special photos like landscape, portraits, sunny days, cloudy days, sports and others.  These are called presets that set up your camera for the type of photo you are wanting to take.  But you are learning nothing by using them.

It’s okay to start out using them on your new DSLR.  Once you do, you will want to start to use more advanced modes.  A lot of people I know just use the Total automatic settings which is good to start out with but you must improve your photographic knowledge if you want to really have a hobby or business with photography.

There are tons of books on the subject of photography but reading is boring.  Doing is fun.  So how do you learn photography just from your camera?  Your new DSLR can teach you.  Those totally automatic modes can teach you about photography.  But how?

Every photo you take in an automatic mode uses the same principles and photography fundimentals that you need to use and know to be a good photographer.   You need to know what f-stop or aperature, shutter speed, ISO and other settings do on your camera and why you need to set them and also why.  Your camera can show you what it does to take a good photo.

Every photo your new DSLR takes in any automatic mode still sets the aperature, shutter speed, ISO and all of the other settings needed to take a photo,… and it tells you what it did.  Every photo has what aperature, shutter speed and ISO was used when it took the photo.  You can use this information to see what it did and figure why it did what it did.  Your camera will tell you that it used for the aperature setting.  Look and see what it set it to and why.  Was it dark outside or inside?  Was it sunny?  Was the sun in the back of the photo?  Figure out what the conditions were and then look to see what it set  the aperature to.

Do the same for shutter speed.  Do the same for ISO.  Was it dark? was it really light out?  What did the camera set the ISO to.

A couple of quick definitions is all you need to start learning what settings to use to take any photo and why once your new DSLR camera shows you what it did.

ISO = light sensitivity.  100 for daylight, 200 for shade, 400 for indoors (unless really good light) 800 for darker room and higher than 800 for really dark rooms or scenes.  Not that the higher the ISO, the more digital noise that is in the photo so use the lowest ISO possible for the light conditions.

Aperature = The opening of the iris of your camera (how much open it is).  Just like you eye, your camera has an iris that can close down or open up to let in more light or reduce the amount of light coming into your eye.  Your camera does the same thing with the aperature.  Knowing how to set this will take some work.  View photo settings in automatic mode to see what the camera uses.

Shutter Speed = Your camera opens a window and closes it to take a picture.  The longer it is open, the longer the “exposure” to light.  If the shutter is open for a longer time and something moves during that time, you get a blurry photo.  There is a trade off in that if you are doing sports, things move quickly.  You can only have the shutter open a fraction of a second or you will get a blurry image.  Problem is, a quick shutter speed cuts down on the exposure and you will have to have a lot more light to get a decent photo.  You need bright lights or as much as possible.  Equate this to your eyelids.  Keep your eyes closed then open them quickly and close them again.  How much did you see?

With these basic photography terms, you can look to see what your camera is setting in automatic mode and take notes as to why it chose what it did.  Tkake note of the lighting conditions, amount of light,etc. to see why your camera chose what it did.

There are also focus and zoom but these are pretty much slef explainatory.  Aperature, ISO and shutter speed isn’t that self explainitory.  Play around with different lighting conditions and moving action to let your new DSLR teach you.

If you need a better understanding of the basic concepts of ISO, aperature and shutter speed, more than I can provide here, check out this book then let your camera teach you the rest…

Click the book above
to s
ee a preview.

For a great entry level DSLR camera, click the camera below.

Let me know what you think by commenting below.

Cheap Digital SLRs: Discount Prices and Low Prices

 

Canon Rebel EOS XSi DSLR Camera
Canon Rebel EOS XSi DSLR Camera

I have other articles about buying cameras but people ask “where do I get cheap digital slrs”?  First, define cheap.  I hope you are asking for inexpensive digital slrs.  I don’t think anyone would actually want a cheap digital slr camera.  An inexpensive dslr that’s good quality is what everyone wants.

You can get cheap digital slrs but don’t expect to get a top professional dslr camera.  For the price factor, you will probably start off with an entry level dslr, which is fine but it won’t have the speed, low noise levels and options a higher priced digital slr will have.

I have pulled some of the best cheap digital slr cameras from Amazon becuase for one, Amazon has pretty good product technical information and specs on the cameras, and two, they have the best prices.

You can buy from somewhere else if you like but you most likely will not get a better price.  If you can find a better price on cheap digital slrs, then you might want to keep that source because they are going to be as good as gold and you don’t find them that often.

Here are the cheap digital slrs I looked up that are decent dslr cameras and have a great cheap price.

You can save even more if you have a lens already. You can just buy the body but all of the cameras I included above have lenses because this article is mainly for people who want to move up to a dslr camera.

Where is the Cheapest Place to Buy a Camera?

nikonOver the many years I have been taking photographs and have been into photography, I have purchased cameras from many different places.  I have bought from camera shops, department stores, online stores and directly from other people.  I have been asked “Where is the best place to buy a good camera?”, “Where is the cheapest place to buy a camera”?,”Who is the best place to buy from?, etc.  Sounds like easy questions but there are many things to think about.

If all you are worried about is price, then Amazonhas far better prices on just about any camera you would ever want to purchase.  All of my latest cameras have been bought there.  I had shopped around and could not find prices any cheaper.  On my DSLRs, they were a couple of hundred dollars less than any of the electronics stores but, the prices go up and come down so you need to watch.

Buying from an electronics store is okay, but you are not going to get the best deal.  I’ve seen sale prices in the electronics stores that still cannot even compete with my online buys.  If anything goes wrong with your camera though, you do have a place to take it back to.  If you buy online, you have to send it back which is a bit more of a hassle.  Luckily, I’ve never had to send one back.  I am a bit disappointed with the prices in the big electronic stores for a decent DSLR.  You would think that they could beat anyones price since they can buy in large bulk quantities.

Large department stores is okay but you get what you pay for.  They may run one cartain make and model of a camera on sale but again, the sale price always leaves something to be desired.  I also think the choices are rather limited.  You do however have a place to return your camera to if it does go bad.

Camera stores are one of the best placers to buy your camera from if you are going to need support and help.  You are not going to get the best price on your new camera but most camera or photography stores will help you with anything you need help with.  You also have a place to return your camera to if it breaks.  Price though is always going to be an issue with a local camera store.

So as you see,  where you buy your camera from really depends on your needs…

1. If you want a really cheap price and don’t need support and you don’t care to send things back if they are broke, buy from Amazon.

2. If you want an alright price and want a local place but don’t need too much support, buy from a big electronics store.

3. If you just want a camera and don’t need a particular model and want a good price, buy from a department store.

4. If you don’t care about price, want a good camera and want really good help or support, buy from a local camera shop.

As I said, I buy online now almost always for my cameras and supplies but don’t count out other sources if your needs require more than just purchasing a camera.

Here are some of the cameras Amazon has to offer just so you can compare these prices to other stores or shops.

Cameras on Amazon

What do you think?  What’s your experiences with buying cameras?

What is SLR?

t3-eosSLR – stands for Single Lens Reflex.  Okay still, What is SLR mean?  Single Lens Reflex.  Now your saying, “Yeah, that tells me a lot you moron”.  Calm down.  I’ll go into simple detail.  Now in the digital age we have DSLR.  Digital Single Lens Reflex.  Back in the film days, it was just SLR.  But still, what does it mean?

Single Lens Reflex is simply a description of how the camera takes a photos.  The camera has one lens (not a separate view finder lens).  When you look through your view finder, you are looking out directly through the lens of the camera.  What you see if what you get.  This is accomplished with a mirror right behind the lens that directs the image up to your eye when you are looking through the viewfinder.  When you click the shutter button to take a picture, the mirror drops down and lets the image hit the back of the camera.  You will notice when this happens, you won’t see anything in the viewfinder for that split second.

In the film days, the film was behind the mirror. When you click the shutter button and the mirror dropped down, it exposed the film until the mirror popped back up again.  How long the mirror stays down is called your shutter speed.  It is very quick and if you blink you will miss it happening.

In todays digital world, it still operates the same exact way except behind the mirror is a digital sensor that picks up the light.  The digital sensor acts like the film except it converts the light into a digital photo. When the mirror drops down, the digital sensor is exposed to the light.  It converts that light into digital data and then that data is stored on your memory card as a photo.

I hear you saying now that today’s point and shoot cameras show you the image on the back display of the camera.  Isn’t that “what you see is what you get?”.  Actually it is.  But what’s the difference?  D – SLR cameras are made to be a bit more professional and since they are, the DSLR cameras usually have a bigger more powerful light sensor. The bigger the light sensor, the better the photo.  The more money you pay for a camera when you buy a DSLR, the better and faster the sensor will be.  This could be an article in itself so I’m going to cover that in another article.

So when you hear the term SLR, think single lens reflex, which is merely a mirror that lets you see through the camera’s lens and then drops out of the way to take the photo and then back again.  This is the way all SLR cameras work, no matter what brand of camera you have.