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Author Topic: Digital Camera & Photoshop tips  (Read 109087 times)
NiX
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on: August 25, 2008, 03:35:27 PM

I've wanted to start a thread like this for awhile knowing that some of you are photography nuts and photoshop geeks. The fact that Ookii said there needed to be a thread teaching people how to fix the colours in their pictures reminded me, so here it is.

Just so it doesn't look like I was taking Ookii's idea. My only three tips that are pretty basic:

1. Learn to use flash - Natural light trumps your flash any day. Take some nice pictures with both and you'll see the difference between the two. Sometimes it even creates unexpected results that can make a great picture even better. Extreme example below.



2. Exposure time - A lot of people rely on the automatic setting of your camera, but sometimes it's not able to understand what you're trying to do. Think night shots are impossible with your point and shoot? Not really. Fiddle with the manual controls of your camera and find out where the exposure time setting is. Next time you want to take a shot that turns out to be nothing but darkness, just change the exposure time to be longer, but you need to hold the camera still for that time or else it'll blur. A tripod comes in handy if it's not an instant shot or you have the time. Example below. First one with Auto setting and the second with a 10 second exposure time. Not the greatest, but it gives you an idea.



3. Macro setting - Another feature your Auto setting won't use when needed (for the most part.) Macro, for those who don't know or care, from what I understand it takes whichever object is the center of focus and applies the entire lens to that causing the background to be out of focus, but it catches a lot more detail within the object of focus. For example.. my two pictures below.



« Last Edit: August 25, 2008, 03:41:43 PM by NiX »
Trippy
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Reply #1 on: August 25, 2008, 03:46:27 PM

2. Exposure time - A lot of people rely on the automatic setting of your camera, but sometimes it's not able to understand what you're trying to do.
Kids these days with their auto-everything cameras. Back in my day we learned on all-manual cameras (the K1000) and liked it!
NiX
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Reply #2 on: August 25, 2008, 03:49:04 PM

Kids these days with their auto-everything cameras. Back in my day we learned on all-manual cameras (the K1000) and liked it!
I'd prefer more manual controls. The auto-everything is actually removing some peoples ability to take the pictures they want. I think I'm most annoyed by Sony's "Smile Snap" or whatever the hell they call it. Do you really need the camera to make sure everyone is smiling?
stray
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Reply #3 on: August 25, 2008, 04:01:45 PM

I don't think I have the smile feature on my sony (got two of them actually). That said, Sony cameras suck anyways. Couple that with the fact that I suck with this stuff just makes for... well... a truly sucky picture from me.

Do you have specific tips for portraits, by the way? That's what I'm really not good at.
NiX
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Locomotive Pandamonium


Reply #4 on: August 25, 2008, 04:16:57 PM

Portraits rely heavily on good lighting to frame the facial features. I emphasized good because some people think you need lots of it. You just need soft light and that's not flooding the person you're taking a picture of. Everyone has had the dreaded white wash or shadow face. I find the best portraits I've taken were done sometime around sunset.

This Kodak article has some good advice and explains why certain lighting isn't good for portraits.
K9
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Reply #5 on: August 25, 2008, 04:34:37 PM

On the topic of manual vs automatic, I'm always using the auto-focus on my DSLR because I cannot for the life of me seem to get the right focus by manually adjusting. Do you have any tips for how to get better at this, or little ways I could practise focusing on stuff?

I love the smell of facepalm in the morning
Bunk
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Reply #6 on: August 25, 2008, 07:18:56 PM

I don't think I have the smile feature on my sony (got two of them actually). That said, Sony cameras suck anyways. Couple that with the fact that I suck with this stuff just makes for... well... a truly sucky picture from me.

Do you have specific tips for portraits, by the way? That's what I'm really not good at.

At the absolute basic level, "rule of thirds". Divide your frame in three, set the subjects eye's one third from the top. Never in the middle of the frame.

As Nix says, soft light is a must. If all you have is your on camera flash, try to avoid using it. Don't try taking portraits in a dim room without proper lights. Take the subject outside.

If shooting out doors, do not have subjects in direct sunlight unless its sunrise or sunset. Put them in the shade.

Learn to use whatever manual settings your camera has. A low F-stop is your friend for bluring out the background of a portrait.

Angles are usualy more flattering than stright on.

My best advise, tell your subject not to pose. Seriously. Make them laugh, do something, anything is better than "say cheese!"


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Bunk
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Reply #7 on: August 25, 2008, 07:20:58 PM

As for the photoshop and light stuff - if your camera has a RAW format setting, use it! I don't give a shit if it takes up 10x more space on your memory card than a jpg, it's worth learning how to use. Having the ability to manualy adjust your white balance and exposure in post-proccessing is huge.

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Reply #8 on: August 25, 2008, 08:08:16 PM


stray
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Reply #9 on: August 25, 2008, 08:13:24 PM

Thanks guys. Good thread.  smiley
Ookii
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Reply #10 on: August 25, 2008, 10:24:26 PM

I was more talking about this type of stuff (I did a quick job, original on the right):



You can really make colors pop if you want them to (original is on the bottom):



If I saw this thread more than 10 minutes before going to sleep I might of been able to play around a little more.  awesome, for real

Trippy
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Reply #11 on: August 26, 2008, 12:17:23 AM

On the topic of manual vs automatic, I'm always using the auto-focus on my DSLR because I cannot for the life of me seem to get the right focus by manually adjusting. Do you have any tips for how to get better at this, or little ways I could practise focusing on stuff?
Generally speaking digital camera manual focus UIs suck donkey balls.

If you have a DSLR that has lenses with real manual focusing rings (some autofocus SLR lenses do not allow for that) *and* you have a true through the lens optical viewfinder then you should be able to manually focus to your heart's content. If you have an electronic viewfinder (which is most likely the case) then you have to deal with the low resolution viewfinder/LCD and zoom in crap.

The other thing you can do is learn how to "trick" the AF mode(s) to focus on what you want it to. E.g. in a very simple center mode focus setting you can focus on something that's not in the center of the frame by moving the frame so that object is in the center, locking the focus at that point (e.g. by pushing the shutter button half-way down) and then moving back to the original position.
JWIV
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Reply #12 on: August 26, 2008, 04:07:42 AM

As for the photoshop and light stuff - if your camera has a RAW format setting, use it! I don't give a shit if it takes up 10x more space on your memory card than a jpg, it's worth learning how to use. Having the ability to manualy adjust your white balance and exposure in post-proccessing is huge.


YES YES YES YES. 

People argue all the fucking time about this because they read Ken Rockwell and think he's the ubergod of photography or something.  Except he's so god damn wrong.

JPEG is great if you want to take snapshots.   If you even think you want to do any type of work on the photo to do correction or effects, you will use RAW.   I shot JPEG for years while I didn't know any better.  I shot RAW ONCE to try it out for myself.  I've never looked back.

Flash is the devil, but if  you must use it, bounce it.

Your camera has many modes, sometimes they are useful, but the greatest mode of them all is Manual.  Go take some alone time and just play with your ISO/Aperature/Shutter Speed settings and get a feel for how they relate to each other.

Trippy
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Reply #13 on: August 26, 2008, 04:24:54 AM

Unfortunately very few P&S cameras these days support RAW. It used to be there were quite a few. Now it's a feature almost exclusively for DSLRs or "DSLR-like" models. E.g. my Canon S70 supports RAW (which is one of the reasons why I got it) but they took it out of the S80 for some inexplicable reason. They also took it out of the G7 though apparently enough people complained that they added it back into the G9.
NiX
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Locomotive Pandamonium


Reply #14 on: August 26, 2008, 04:44:08 AM

You can really make colors pop if you want them to (original is on the bottom):
The only problem is you can't teach someone moderation. The original of the rope is much closer to its actual colour than the fixed one. It was a really old rope that we use every year we go camping, of course it depends on what you're trying to go for in the picture. We were just messing around with the macro setting, but if I were taking an actual shot I'd want to show off that the rope isn't brand new.
Salamok
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Reply #15 on: August 26, 2008, 07:40:10 AM

I already muddled my way through it with semi decent results (a bit grainy) but I sure wish I had had some tips on how to take better photo's from a helicopter (vibration forced me to shoot at a very high speed).  Also I shot these in jpeg (took over 500 photos and I simply couldn't have done that in RAW) but it still isn't hard to adjust the contrast/saturation/brightness even if they aren't in RAW although adjusting a RAW image combines all of the steps into 1 easy WYSIWYG step.  I mostly shoot RAW but there are times when jpeg is fine or maybe even the only option.


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Reply #16 on: August 26, 2008, 09:21:21 AM

The two things I hate about my p&s are the flash recovery time, and the fact that anything taken without a flash is blurry as shit because I don't carry a tripod with me when I go hiking. I got some great shots from the top of Mt Batty at sunset, but had to throw most of them out due to camera shake (I was using a parapet to steady it somewhat). I hate missing so many great shots because of that, I'd rarely use the flash if I could keep it steady for the exposure time.

I've played with macro stuff, that's fun. I definitely want to do more f-stop and exposures, but I've forgotten most of what I learned in school. And that pesky blur thing.

Ookii: more tell with your show, please :)

Salamok
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Reply #17 on: August 26, 2008, 09:34:19 AM

The two things I hate about my p&s are the flash recovery time, and the fact that anything taken without a flash is blurry as shit because I don't carry a tripod with me when I go hiking. I got some great shots from the top of Mt Batty at sunset, but had to throw most of them out due to camera shake (I was using a parapet to steady it somewhat). I hate missing so many great shots because of that, I'd rarely use the flash if I could keep it steady for the exposure time.

I've played with macro stuff, that's fun. I definitely want to do more f-stop and exposures, but I've forgotten most of what I learned in school. And that pesky blur thing.

Ookii: more tell with your show, please :)

The flip side of this is you are far more likely to have your point and shoot on you at all times than a DSLR.  Sounds like you may have some camera holding technique issues.

edit: remember to keep those elbows down and tucked http://www.nikonians.org/html/resources/guides/technique/handholding1.html

edit #2: For the itty bitty camera types http://www.pcmag.com/image_popup/0,1871,iid=205011,00.asp

also helps to control your breathing which may be a bit tough if you are running/jogging/backpacking or somtin
« Last Edit: August 26, 2008, 09:42:18 AM by Salamok »
Bunk
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Reply #18 on: August 26, 2008, 09:59:35 AM

I already muddled my way through it with semi decent results (a bit grainy) but I sure wish I had had some tips on how to take better photo's from a helicopter (vibration forced me to shoot at a very high speed).  Also I shot these in jpeg (took over 500 photos and I simply couldn't have done that in RAW) but it still isn't hard to adjust the contrast/saturation/brightness even if they aren't in RAW although adjusting a RAW image combines all of the steps into 1 easy WYSIWYG step.  I mostly shoot RAW but there are times when jpeg is fine or maybe even the only option.


The thing to realize is, that making adjustments in RAW is more than just one easy step, its about adjustments without losing data. Any time you make an edit like you just did on those photos as .jpgs, you are stripping out data. The more adjustments, the more data loss, the grainier your picture looks. It really would be worth your while to shoot those in RAW.

My 8MP DSLR in RAW fits about 300 shots to a 2GB memory card. You can get a 2GB card for under $50 these days.

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Salamok
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Reply #19 on: August 26, 2008, 01:06:49 PM

I already muddled my way through it with semi decent results (a bit grainy) but I sure wish I had had some tips on how to take better photo's from a helicopter (vibration forced me to shoot at a very high speed).  Also I shot these in jpeg (took over 500 photos and I simply couldn't have done that in RAW) but it still isn't hard to adjust the contrast/saturation/brightness even if they aren't in RAW although adjusting a RAW image combines all of the steps into 1 easy WYSIWYG step.  I mostly shoot RAW but there are times when jpeg is fine or maybe even the only option.

My 8MP DSLR in RAW fits about 300 shots to a 2GB memory card. You can get a 2GB card for under $50 these days.

when I shot those my 1gig card was about $80  and a 2g card was like $130.  editing jpeg is fine as long as you do it all in 1 session, it's the many opens/many edits/many saves that screw up your quality.  If you do it in 1 session it's the same as converting jpeg to a lossless format then editing it then converting it back to jpeg.  but yes RAW is better not argung that.

edit: the reason my pictures are grainy have nothing to do with RAW vs. jpeg and everything to do with it being a low visibility day and helicopters (and the passengers inside them) vibrate quite a bit.


of course if I had taken thisin RAW format I could tell you what the shutter speed was.
« Last Edit: August 26, 2008, 01:18:29 PM by Salamok »
Salamok
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Reply #20 on: August 26, 2008, 01:26:53 PM

hmm then again maybe not, seems like i wasn't able to see the rotor from within the cabin that must be some black trim around the window.. glanced through some other photo's and this is probably the only shot with window trim visible at the top of the photo butit looks sort of like the window trim i see at the bottom of the other photo's.  been so long i can't remember.

hehe on closer examination my camera stores the image stats on jpegs too, exposure timeon that shot was 1/2500 of a second.
« Last Edit: August 26, 2008, 01:30:19 PM by Salamok »
Bunk
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Reply #21 on: August 26, 2008, 01:43:19 PM

Yea, based on shooting at that speed, I'd just advise waiting for a really sunny day to take pictures  Oh ho ho ho. Reallllly?

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Salamok
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Reply #22 on: August 26, 2008, 02:17:29 PM

Yea, based on shooting at that speed, I'd just advise waiting for a really sunny day to take pictures  Oh ho ho ho. Reallllly?


Pretty much had to take what we could get with the weather, helicopters go for a premium in the gulf (almost all of em tied up for transport to and fro oil platforms) we lucked out and a friend of a friend of a friend allowed us to rent his private copter for half a day at a modestly insane rate (a bit over 2k i think).  same flight in austin probably would have cost under $500. 

I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time.  On top of getting a free 3 hour helicopter tour, my boss gave me the day off work (with pay), the person I was taking pictures for gave me a $200 lowes card for xmas and it was easily the most fascinating experience I had in a long time.
Viin
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Reply #23 on: August 26, 2008, 06:13:13 PM

Is there a free app that lets you make these types of adjustments to RAW image files?

- Viin
Salamok
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Reply #24 on: August 26, 2008, 08:43:21 PM

maybe gimp or the software that comes with your camera
Trippy
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Reply #25 on: August 26, 2008, 10:33:11 PM

GIMP doesn't support it directly (last I checked). UFRraw may support it, depending on your camera and RAW format, and it can be used as a GIMP plug-in.

http://ufraw.sourceforge.net/
Bunk
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Reply #26 on: August 28, 2008, 06:57:38 AM

I use software that came with my Canon - "Digital Photo Professional" they call it. There is also a free Photoshop Plugin available, if you have access to Photoshop.

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Salamok
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Reply #27 on: August 28, 2008, 02:23:07 PM

Trippy
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Reply #28 on: August 28, 2008, 07:44:12 PM

David Pogue is all hot and bothered about the movie record feature but the fact that each clip can only be a few minutes in length (otherwise the sensor overheats) means it's not a real substitute for a camcorder for making movies.
Salamok
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Reply #29 on: August 28, 2008, 08:21:10 PM

still a fairly large step forward for a DSLR 2 minutes is plenty for youtube ;P
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Reply #30 on: August 28, 2008, 11:57:41 PM

Oh wow, that's awesome.
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Reply #31 on: August 29, 2008, 12:26:16 AM

Damn. I'm going to have to go get one... And a fisheye lens.

stray
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Reply #32 on: September 17, 2008, 06:21:48 AM

Man, I'm so getting a DSLR asap. My camera (p&s 7 megapixel) is shit. Shit. How does anyone get a good photo out of these damn things? Kinda wish I didn't purchase a new guitar recently, but hey..

Just for reference, what's a good start? Under $500 if possible (not including mem card).
« Last Edit: September 17, 2008, 06:31:22 AM by Stray »
Bunk
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Reply #33 on: September 17, 2008, 06:42:56 AM

under $500? With a lens? You are looking at an outdated used camera for that range I'm afraid.

If you are talking new, and want to keep the budget down, for Canon I'd look at the Rebel XTi:
http://cameras.pricegrabber.com/digital/m/24712314/

$600 - $700 with a kit lens. Basically the same camera I have.

If you have a little more budget, the Canon 40D can be gotten for a pretty good deal right now, because the 50D is just coming out.
Buddy of mine picked one up for just under $1k without a lens.

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stray
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Reply #34 on: September 17, 2008, 06:48:11 AM

OK then.. How about something that bridges the gap. A P&S that isn't complete crap?

[edit] Uh nevermind. Apparently, Canon does a good job in this category too. The G9 is supposed to be good, but the G10 is out next month. Just in time.

Either that, or a Panasonic LX-3. Anyone use one of these yet?

« Last Edit: September 17, 2008, 07:19:09 AM by Stray »
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