Photography 101: Picking Your Camera

March 5th, 2009 by The Laddie

It is quite important to have the good idea of what kind of equipment you would want when starting out in photography. But there is no solid rule as to which camera you should buy because in the end a great picture is nothing to do with the quality as such. But rather the subject and effect.

For example a grainy black and white image of a building might make the image look old and used this can be achieved with the cheapest of cameras.

Their are many types of cameras these days so first I will list them and then brake them down afterwards:

Camera Phone
Point and Shoot
Bridge Camera
SLR – Single-lens Reflex
DSLR – Digital Single-lens Reflex

Read the rest of this entry »

Photo Walk – Berlin 24.02.09

February 25th, 2009 by The Laddie

I switched from photographers block to writers block!

So I wanted to talk about some photos I have taken recently. Talk about my thoughts at the time.

Private Road

Private Road

This reminded me of a song ‘Bent – Private Road’. The dark and dullness of the road and the fact that even in rush hour, Berlin I managed to get the road clear. Some people that know the area are wondered if I used some magic shutter speed trick to delete the cars. No I was lucky!

It’s a fine example of how a photo walk should work. You don’t look up but also down and around you making sure you take everything in. When I crossed this street I noticed that below there was an autobahn entrance so I took the shot.

Later I added the vignette and changed the image to grayscale.

Panning Returns

Panning Returns

If you friend of mine since the very beginning when I would try very new things out with my Fuji S5700 this whole image will look familiar. I revisited a street corner where I first tried panning. This time I took the shot with my Canon 450D.

There is nothing spectacular about it other than revisiting some techniques I had forgotten. Something maybe is worth doing.

This image was left unedited!

Heavenly Tower

Heavenly Tower

Bad shot turned good. Ok it’s not the most pleasing photo I have ever taken. But there is something about this. The clouds, the blur and the incorrectly configured white balance – everything was wrong but then it worked.

It retained this retro old school Polaroid look for sure.

This image was left unedited!

Sharp Building

Sharp Building

This building is not far away from Alexanderplatz. I was inspired by the Italian Photographer Gabriele Basilico.

Here is Gabriele Basilico image.

Although I love his style, this particular photograph bothered me.

I felt it was incomplete. I mean I know the building and have pasted it a number of times and I felt he missed what the building was. Its height, its randomness and eastern Berlin scars.

So I took this shot in an attempt to bring the building into a new light. I have not failed in that regard but I don’t think I managed it!

The image was originally taken in color and I moved it into grayscale.

Review – Canon Wireless Remote Control RC1

February 16th, 2009 by The Laddie

I picked up the RC1 Canon Wireless remote the other day and I am quite happy with it.

I wanted to explain first that “wireless” is a term thrown around so often that you can class dinning table as a wireless tray device!

This remote uses Infrared to send a signal to your little infrared receiver on your camera (normally the little plastic dot on the grip). Now this means you need to be in front of the camera or at least if your lucky you can bounce the IR of your subject.

The remote has a IR LED at one end and a red button at the other. The red button is used to release the remote from its holder. The holder can be threaded through your camera strap which is not hard to do.

On the top of the remote you have the Canon logo. But its the underside where all the action is. You have the battery housing (Battery is included with the remote), shutter release button and the 2 mode switch.

The switch can be set to off, instant shutter release and 2 seconds delay.

If you are using the bulb mode in your canon you can press the shutter release and then wait, move around or press the shutter release again to stop the image from being taken.

Its really a simple device.

The con is that you need to set the Canon 450D/XSi to a remote mode to allow the remote to take control. If you leave the mode on and try to take a picture using the cameras shutter release button it will run a 2 seconds delay.

Pros:

Light, simple and low battery consumption.

Both instant and 2 second delay modes available.

Can attach to your gear.

Cons:

You have to switch the Canon to remote mode and back again when finished.

Does not support continuous shooting.

Line of sight is required.

For 25 euros I can’t help but feel that it is a little expensive for what it can do. But when you compare to other brands they are all the same price. I still recommend this device as it is Canon and it has a good build quality.

Photoshop: Finding the rule of thirds every time.

February 11th, 2009 by The Laddie

This is a short action tutorial for drawing guides in Photoshop that display a rule of thirds grid no matter what the resolution of the picture.

It can be really useful when cropping in Photoshop saving you the hassle of opening the image in something like Lightroom just to crop.

- Open Photoshop (CS2 ,3 and 4)

- Make a new image 800×600 pixels (you could just open an existing photo)

- Press ‘Ctrl+R’ to display your rulers.

- Right click on the ruler and select ‘percent’

- Go to your actions tab and create a new action – Call it ‘Rule of Thirds’ and assign a hot key.

- Go to the menu ‘View\Delete guides’ (this removes any existing guides)

- Now you action is recording select the menu ‘View\New Guides’

- Leave it selected as ‘Vertical’ and type in ‘33%’ then click ‘Ok’

- Create another new guide ‘Vertical’ at ‘66%’

- Create two more ‘Horizontal’ guides (one at 33% and one at 66%)

- Stop the action from recording.

- Right click on the ruler and select pixels (or your preferred measurement)

That is it! Every time you use your hot key or just run the action it will clear the existing lines and create new ones. Because you made the lines in percent, when you crop or resize it will always redraw the correct rule of thirds grid

Ok Long Time No Post

February 10th, 2009 by The Laddie

Hey guys,

I have not made a post in a while because I have been suffering photographers block but thankfully I am seeing light at the end of the tunnel.

I got some new content lined up. Some photoshop tips and a bucket load of Links for friday!

Just some flickr news.

We started 2 new competitions:

February Theme “Perspective” Competition – Votes start on the 25th so get snapping!

Random Word Theme Thread – Hopefully never ending!

That’s it for now. Thanks for reading Hatphoto!

Alternative Photography – Photosynthesis?

January 28th, 2009 by The Laddie

Hey there campers.

While doing a little bit of stumbling on the net I came accross this little gem written by Rosemary Horn at alternativephotography.com

She manages to expose a photo directly onto a leaf. I have to admit this idea is uber geek and AWESOME!

You guys really need to check this out. –>Click Here<–

I for one can’t wait for winder to fade and spring to come into affect. This for sure is something I will try

Links Friday – 23.01.08

January 23rd, 2009 by The Laddie

Every Friday I am hoping I can post the best links I come across about photography. So here is this weeks selection

  • Visit Squeeze The Lime for a fantastic video on “Quick Ambient Light Portraits”. Bert Stephani give us a guide to making fantastic portraits without using any flash equipment, using the full potental of the light that simply comes through the window. –>Click Here<–


LIME004 – Quick Ambient Light Portraits from Lime Photography on Vimeo.

  • At This Week In Photography new contributor Andy Ihnatko columnist for the Chicago Sun Times and Macworld Magazine, gave a great insight in the personal issues we photographers face. People using Auto mode! –>Click Here<–
  • Finally Yamaneko also on the flicker forum posted a tutorial on drawing a picture using light. Something I have been meaning to try for a while. Thanks Yamaneko and congratulations on getting the 450D! –>Click Here<–

How I Compile A Time Lapse!

January 16th, 2009 by The Laddie

I got several questions after my recent post about making a time lapse video, about which software I use compile the images into a finished video.

I have several steps I personally us, they might not be the most efficient but since I have some of the software already I don’t have to buy extra software. (I have not been able to find any decent all in one package)

Software:

  • Image Ready CS
  • VirtualDub

Step One

Download your images from the camera to a local drive. I found that since  these images are typically nothing to do with my normal work flow and I tend to manually move them instead of using lightroom or canons own management tool.

Step Two

Image Ready – Open Image Ready and select the menu File>Import>Folder as Frames

Step Three

When the one image is loaded you can resize it to a more reasonable resolution 800×600 for example (you can do this before hand by using Photoshop actions which is much quicker but explaining actions is for another post)

Step Four

In Image Ready select File>Save Optimized File As and then save the file as a “.gif”

Step Five

Open the .gif file in VirtualDub

Step Six

Select the menu Video>Compression and then select your preferred compression method. (note: I normally leave it uncompressed for later use but if you select Divx it will give you a frame rate error)

Step Seven

Select the menu File>Save as AVI and name your video

Step Eight

With your finished AVI you can bring it into any video editing software to add music and to add additional movies etc.

On Being Addicted To Shapes And Shadows…

January 15th, 2009 by scalespeeder

Hard Standing“My names Rob, I’m 36 years old and I’m addicted to shapes and shadows.”
Few! I feel much better now that I’ve got that off my chest. The problem is, I don’t think there’s a way to treat this affliction. If I’ve got a free day, I have to stop myself looking out of the window , otherwise if there’s just a hint of direct Sunlight my camera bag is on my shoulder and I’m out of the door before my Wife even knows what’s happening.

I skulk around Industrial Parks, Historical Land Marks, Old Buildings and Slipways. I cannot pass by a subject where I see a shape, or even better a shape with a shadow, without taking a photo.

Public Pontoon, Priddys Hard

I didn’t mention reflections. Oh yes, I have to shoot those too. If I’m taking my Son to school, and there’s not a breath of wind in the air, I gotta go. I gotta find those scenes!

Wooden Hut On Pier. 10 of 365.

Low Sun on a bright day. That’s the best time to shoot shadows. They’re everywhere, sharply defined and changing the very nature of my landscape. Normal buildings suddenly aquire character, and boring shapes are given extra dimension.

I Smell Black Powder...

So I’ve bared my Soul, my addiction to Shadows and Shapes. What’s yours?

Cheers, Rob.

Canon 450D Time Lapse Demo

January 15th, 2009 by The Laddie

***EDIT*** See how I made this time lapse video here ***END EDIT***

A while ago I attempted to make a time lapse video using the S5700 (sorry there is no post for that) but I hit quite a few road blocks in terms of the cameras speed and performance. In the end I had to abandon the experiment as it seemed impossible to get the effect I wanted.

But things have changed and I have a Canon 450D now which is a very powerful DSLR.

The basic idea of time lapse is this, you take a series of images of a scene thats moving and put them together to make an animation or video. You can do this by using the continuous shooting mode which when you hold your shutter release button it will not stop taking photos until you let go.

You will find it better to use a remote of some kind if you are using a Canon or Nikon. You can also get them with timers on them so you can take an image every 20 seconds or every 2 hours. In the Fuji S5700’s case there is no remote at all available for it so a trick I have learned is to get a rubber band and some paper and used the band over the shutter release button so it pushed the paper into the button.

Unfortunately to get a really good time lapse you need a fast camera that can take 3 or more frames in a second. If you imagine taking a time lapse of a street crossing. When a person starts to cross the road you would start shooting. But with a camera thats slow, by the time you have taken the second image the person will be either out of the frame or at least a great distance to where they started. This is not smooth and can cause an effect called “blip”. Where people or objects are only seen for a frame or two when in motion. This was the core issue with the Fuji S5700 as it takes 1.4 frames per second and if something was fast moving it would blip. In the other hand the Canon 450D can take 3.5 frames per second which is perfect.

The next thing to remember is too “drag your shutter”. This was at first a difficult concept for me to understand so I hope I can explain it.

To obtain a perfect exposure you must configure three settings in the camera: ISO, Shutter Speed and Aperture. Your photo is a product of a balance of the 3 values. To drag your shutter you need to slow the shutter speed down and use the aperture and ISO to compensate for the large amount of light that would come through (assuming your taking a time lapse during the day). So if you where to take an image with a F3.5, Shutter of 1/250 and ISO 200 you would need to lower the shutter speed, close the aperture and lower the ISO. I would then use F22.8, 1/3 shutter and ISO 100.

The effect is that anything that moves into or across the frame will have a motion blur effect and when you make your final time lapse the motion will look smooth and effective.

One final thing before I show you the demo I made. Using the Canon 450D as an example – If you set the camera to the highest quality you will get about 10 shots before you have filled the buffer and then the camera will slow down the picture taking process. Lower the quality and you wont have that issue and the camera will continue to take images uninterpreted.


Canon 450D Time Lapse Test from The Laddie on Vimeo.

This was taken at f22.8, 1/3 sec. and ISO 100 – 64 frames

In my next post I will look into how I make this into a video.