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Old 11-06-10, 09:47 AM   #1
listerdiesel
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Default Photography Hints & Tips

Out of the hundreds of pictures that are posted on the Forum, quite a few are sufficiently poor to make it worth posting some information to help those 'photographically challenged' members to produce some decent shots.

Good photo's and images DON'T need the biggest and best camera, a lot of the shots that I post on the Forum have been taken with an old Sony Mavica 1.2mp camera (which has a Macro facility that my bigger cameras cannot match)

Phone cameras have their uses, but the limitations of their flash and lenses make them second choice really, you do need a proper camera.

WHICH CAMERA?
Which camera is entirely up to you, one of the mainstream brands would be fine. Compact cameras tend to be a little deficient in the long-distance department, but are very convenient.

We use three main cameras:
Sony Mavica MVC-FD100 1.2mp, obsolete by any standards but has superb macro facility
Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-F717 5mp, my main camera, has taken nearly 10,000 images.
Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-F828, 8mp my second camera, very 'feature-full' but not as user-friendly.

LIGHTING
You must have sufficient light on the subject to get anything like a decent image. Colour and contrast wash out when there is not enough light, or too much light for that matter.

Don't shoot into the sun, try and get the light above and behind you where possible. Try and avoid reflections, a different camera angle can nearly always take out unwanted reflections, and as a last resort, get a polarising lens.

Too much light will overexpose any picture, and while you can adjust the camera for light levels, it isn't always successful, better came back later and take the shot when lighting conditions are better.

SUBJECT MATTER
Choose your subject and how the shot is going to be framed, BEFORE you take the shot. Don't just 'point and shoot', think about what the picture will show to those looking at it in future.

Fill the frame with the subject, don't have a big ring of other stuff around it which is not relevant to the subject, especially stuff and clutter at rallies! Try and get that all out of the shot, so that all you can see is the subject.

Try and be consistent with the way you take pictures, your 'style' if you like. Once you have found a style that suits you and the subjects you are picturing, stick with it and try and improve where you can.

If the subject is a particularly unusual item, always take a few extra shots, especially close-ups of the interesting features of the engines, and always the display board or the engine plate, to give you that information later on when you have forgotten it!

BACKGROUND
The bane of all photographers, background clutter and other material is a nuisance but can be relevant to the item you are shooting, so think about it before you take it out. Possibly do a couple of shots at different angles, with and with the background stuff.

Sometimes a low-level shot down at grass level can take out a lot of unwanted background and give a fresh view of an engine etc.

FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY
I tend to use flash a lot, especially where strong lighting has caused deep shadows on the subject, a fill-in flash will lighten up the detail and make a better picture.

Otherwise I don't shoot much at night, as night shots tend to be unusual with engines, and it is often the case that too much detail gets lost around the fringes of the picture.

I do have an add-on larger flashgun that I use with my two larger cameras, and tend to take them to places like Portland in the USA where strong sunlight
can cause problems on some of the open-air shots.

FOCUS
An out of focus shot is no good to anyone, so give your camera time to focus properly before you press the button. If the focussing mechanism uses a pre-determined area in the viewfinder, then make sure that the bit you are shotting is in that area, or you'll find a nicely focussed background but an out of fucus item in your shots.

Some cameras have manual zoom, but generally I find the built-in system works fine for me on almost all shots.

BATTERIES
Rechargeable batteries are best for me, I have two cameras that share the same type, and another three that share a different type, all are Sony. I can shoot for a whole day on one battery, Memory Stick space tends to run out first. I take the charger with me when abroad, plus three or four batteries, I haven't had a failure yet, but there's always the first time.

If you use non-rechargeable batteries, always take a spare set in your camera bag. Ditto with the flashgun, my large flashgun takes AA batteries, so I carry a spare set of four in the bag. Fortunately you can buy AA batteries almost anywhere these days.

PICTURE EDITING
Almost all my pictures are edited for size, and a few for colour/contrast. I use Paint Shop Pro 7 for nearly all my picture editing, there are plenty of others around.

Always save a copy to a new filename when editing, keep the original as it was, then if you have an accident with the copy, you still have the original to fall back on.

While you can recover a poor picture to a degree, I find it better to review what you have taken before leaving the site, and re-shoot any that are of questionable quality.

PICTURE BACK-UPS
Do keep pictures backed up on DVD or hard drives. I try to remember to back my stuff up regularly and duplicate backups over more than once PC and DVD.

CAMERA MEMORY
Most mainstream cameras will use a proprietary camera memory card. SD, Compact Flash, Memory Stick and so on.

Whichever camera you choose, make sure that it uses an easily available storage media, and one that you can get replacement or larger memory for. Fixed memory with no expansion slot is not a good move. A USB port is useful, but not necessary if you can just change the memory card.

Some cameras can take only part of the range of available sizes, so you'll have to watch out when buying. The Sony Memory Stick comes in sizes up to 8gb, but not all Sony cameras can take that size due to addressing limitations in the hardware inside the camera.





Pictures are a record of what you have done, what you have seen and where you have been. They are a visual record of your efforts and travels, so keep them safe so you can enjoy them in the future years.

I'll add a bit more to this when I get a minute.

Peter
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Old 11-06-10, 10:32 AM   #2
The wild eye
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Another little tip that I will add .

If your pictures are often slightly blurred and fuzzy it could be because you are not holding the camera steady .

Now the usual advice is to stand firm and get a good grip .

But if you take a piece of stout cord and attach a bolt to one end that fits in the tripod fitting of your camera and on the other end attach a small piece of board or tin ( big enough to hold down with one foot )

Attach one end to the camera and stand on the other end then pull the camera tight against the string and this will hold your camera still for you .

It works just as well for video cameras too .


Steve
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Old 11-06-10, 10:39 AM   #3
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As I started with a Canon T90 I find using the manual mode on a camera produces a lot better results,

Sometimes on auto it sets the aperture to wide and the ISO to high, I find that some pictures come out over exposed or look false do to the colours being to vibrant,

being a 35 mm fan I tend not to mess to much with my pictures normaly just a crop if needed, I hate entering competitions where there is heavy edited photos up against mine shot on a 35mm. I always take a bit more then need so i got room to crop later.

Lens quality makes a big difference, you get what you pay for! After test a few, I found leica produce some of the best, plus there range finder cameras are a Joy to use!


Just play about with your camera settings until you get something you think looks good!

Oh and have fun,

Just a note the pics I posted the other day from down in cornwall were taken on my phone, was one od the rare moments I didnt have a camera!

Cheers steve
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Old 11-06-10, 10:44 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The wild eye View Post
Another little tip that I will add .

If your pictures are often slightly blurred and fuzzy it could be because you are not holding the camera steady .

Now the usual advice is to stand firm and get a good grip .

But if you take a piece of stout cord and attach a bolt to one end that fits in the tripod fitting of your camera and on the other end attach a small piece of board or tin ( big enough to hold down with one foot )

Attach one end to the camera and stand on the other end then pull the camera tight against the string and this will hold your camera still for you .

It works just as well for video cameras too .


Steve
or keep the shutter speed faster then 60th (or is it 30th) of a sec shouldn't get and noticeable camera shake above those speeds, I tend to use a tripod. And like shooting a rifle squeeze don't snatch the trigger,

Cheers Steve
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Old 11-06-10, 01:36 PM   #5
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Another from me...

Get down to the same level as your subject,

Cheers Steve
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Old 24-08-10, 11:51 AM   #6
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Good to see another into 'proper' photography !
I only use digital for reference shots, such as when dismantling etc, and ebay.
Otherwise it's 35mm for me, just love my Nikon F2AS and Contax rangefinder.
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