What do you want to know?

I need to go shoot some examples before I write the next couple of lessons.  Unfortunately, I’ve been spending painfully long hours in the office this week and haven’t had time to get out and shoot.

In the meantime, what do you want to know?  My plan is to fill out the basics of aperture and ISO, and then do… something.  What should I write after that?  Do you have questions about what I’ve written so far?

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “What do you want to know?

  1. Mike Woodhouse

    Sharpness? How sharp is sharp enough? How sharp should we expect to be able to get, and how do equipment and settings affect it?

    Just a thought…

  2. Laura Barnson

    I have a question regarding the shutter speed numbers. The numbers shown on my viewfinder range from 60 to 4 as whole numbers. Then it goes to 3.2, 2.5, 2, 1.6, 1.3, 1, 1/1.3, 1/1.6, 1/2, 1/2.5, 1/3.2, 1/4, 1/5, 1/6, 1/8 and so on until it gets to 1/2000. When you mention setting a shutter speed for “20 seconds” how exactly is that notated on the viewfinder? Is it 1/20 or 20 without the fraction? This seems to be one thing I can’t seem to wrap my brain around. I’m sure it’s because of the fraction. LOL! They always gave me panic attacks in school. Along with story problems. LOL!

  3. stopshootingauto

    Laura, it sounds like 60 on your viewfinder is 60 seconds, down to 1 which is 1 second. If I’m correct, 20 on your viewfinder is 20 seconds, an 1/20 would be one 20th of a second. Everything from 1 up to 60 is in seconds, and everything below that (everything that’s designated as 1/something) is in fractions of a second.

    So if you wanted to set a shutter speed of 20 seconds, you’d use 20. If you want to prove that, just set the camera for 20 and take a picture. You’ll quite easily be able to hear the difference between 20 seconds an 1/20 sec.

    Don’t be afraid of the fractions when it comes to shutter speed. Unlike junior high, you don’t have to add them, multiply them, or do any sort of higher math. You really only need to be able to figure out that 1/100 is faster than 1/50, and the camera helps you out on this by displaying them in order when you turn the dial. OK, truth be told it also helps if you can figure out that 1/100 is twice as fast as 1/50, but if that’s too scary then you’ll still be OK.

  4. Laura Barnson

    Thank you so much for the clarification! Since the technical aspect of photography is new to me I appreciate your patience with my dodo questions. LOL! THANK GOODNESS I don’t have to multiply or add them, that would send me running & screaming! It’s starting to make sense now that I have discovered your website. It is EXTREMELY helpful! I have learned more from this site than I have anywhere else. Keep up the good work & I look forward to more lessons.

  5. TJ

    Patti, I had a really frustrating experience last year when I attempted to take pictures at a zoo. Most of the occupants were birds and were housed behind 1″ grid wire. Frequently, they were shaded and I (and the camera) were not. Sometimes they were moving. Sometimes I had to shoot up into a tree and the sun was shining directly into the lens. Often, my camera wouldn’t focus, so I had to shift to manual focus. Sometimes, it wouldn’t even snap the picture when I was doing the focusing. I have a Nikon D70s. Might you give some tips on what I could’ve been doing wrong and how to shoot these types of pictures better?

  6. stopshootingauto

    TJ, that’s a really hard set of circumstances to work under, because you have so many things working against you. This is exactly the sort of situation that will confuse automatic modes on your camera, and require you to switch to manual settings in order to get good shots. I’m not sure I have a magic formula, but let me see if I can break the problem down and show you how I’d think about it.

    First the fence. It’s going to do two things– get in the way of your shooting, and confuse your autofocus. Switching to manual focus is a great way to solve the latter problem, since you’re smarter than the camera is and you know to just ignore the fence. Once you’re in manual focus, you have two choices on how to deal with the fence– you can either stand back and use the fence as part of the composition, or you can put the lens up against the fence and shoot between the grids. Using a wide aperture will help the fence blur and fade out of the picture, especially if you’re close to it.

    Here’s where things are going to get hairy and conflict with each other. You’re manually focusing on a moving target, so you sort of want to leave yourself some room for error– if you have a lot of depth-of-field, you’ll still have the bird in focus even if he starts moving. However, that’s in direct conflict with wanting to use a wider aperture to make the fence fade away. I would probably opt for using something like f/11 and then getting as close to the fence as I could, but I’d play around with it and see what worked for that particular situation.

    Once I found an aperture that I liked, I’d try to find the best shutter speed that worked with it. If I couldn’t get a fast enough shutter speed to capture the birds well, I’d increase the ISO until I did. If that still didn’t work, I’d open up the aperture until I found something that worked.

    This is one of those places where digital has a huge advantage over film– you can try out the shot and see how it works. The birds aren’t going anywhere, so you can afford to spend a few minutes setting up a few shots and seeing what works, then making adjustments. Whenever I’m shooting under tricky lighting conditions, I always do a few test shots beforehand so that I can get my camera set up the way I want it.

    Backlighting, especially shooting into the sun, is just hard. Don’t forget that your feet are an invaluable photographic tool. If you can’t get the shot because the sun is right in front of you, take a few steps. You’ll probably be able to find a better angle on your subject.

    I haven’t used a Nikon dSLR, so I don’t know what will stop it from taking a shot. I know that my Canon will stomp its foot and get pouty if it can’t focus. It may be that in automatic modes the camera won’t take the shot if it can’t find an exposure that it likes– I’ll try that tonight and see what happens.

    This was a great question! I think I’ll expand on it and turn it into its own entry, but first I need to find a fence and shoot some sample images.

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