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Camera Creativity Technical Thread

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It occurred to me after reading several posts in the other photography threads that it might be useful to have a thread for photographers to share technical tips on taking photos. It could also be used for noobs (I would put myself in that category) to ask questions rather than bog the photo threads down with them. If people have questions either general or about specific camera's or lenses post them here. So if you have anything technical no matter how stupid ask it here. Doesn't matter if its that you dont know what an aperture is. Ask away.

My query is one on exposure. I have read that learning the manual mode on your camera is a very good idea. Even in you end up using aperture or shutter priority modes for a lot of shots it helps you understand the relationship between the holy trinity of exposure methods. Aperture, Shutter speed and ISO. This sounds logical enough, however...

The method I have been given for setting a correct exposure in manual mode based on aperture is as follows. Set the aperture for your picture that gives you the creativeness that you want. In a basic sense a WIDE aperture (low number) for a shallow depth of field (blurry background) and a NARROW aperture (high number) for a wide depth of field (having everything in the frame visible. Or a 'Doesn't matter aperture of 9-11 when it doesn't really matter. Once you have set that you should adjust your shutter speed until the light meter in your viewfinder shows a correct aperture. You can then up or down the stops correspondingly on both settings to change the creativeness and get a correct exposure every time. Makes sense.

However on my D40 camera I cant see any indicator to show me when I have a correct exposure. It could be that the D40 doesnt have this facility but the book I have talks as if all cameras should do. Based on other Nikon users what does your exposure meter look like? I would imagine it must have one because in Aperture or Shutter priority modes it is metering the light and giving a suggested setting for the other one. So presumably it works the same.

So in summary...

Any tips in general about setting correct exposures? I know you can look at the preview and if its too dark or too light up the exposure correction but thats a boring way of doing it!

Any D40 owners know if the camera does have a light\exposure meter that will tell you when it looks right in manual mode?

Anybody use separate light meters for certain types of shots? Some people I have heard love them but do you really need them?

Over to you photography gods on the forum. :-)

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The other question I have is regarding filters. I know that UV is used to filter out some haze and be used as a lens protector. I also know that a polarizer gives better saturation and removes reflections.

However does the quality of a filter make a difference? I have purchased the Hoya Pro1 Digital filters but I notice that they do a Super HMC which claims to reduce the light loss and the B&W filters seem to be even more expensive. Is the general consensus that the Hoya Digital ones give perfectly good performance?

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When I use Manual mode (on my 350d) I normally do it something like you say. Except on the 350d there is a meter on the viewfinder. In the form of the exposure compensation meter. -2..-1..0..+1...+2 When you are in manual it moves a little indicator back and forth and tells you how over or under exposed the camera thinks you are, based on the metering type you chose. Evaluative, center, spot etc. Spot is always ideal if you have it as you can point the viewfinder centre mark at exactly what you want to expose for.

It wouldn't surprise me if the D40 has this removed, but maybe a nikon user can let you know.

In extreme situitions I just set blanket manual settings and don't really give it much thought unless I know it just won't work without a change. Say in a very dark place with varying light conditions. I just set the widest aperture with the longest shutter speed I can get away with. On an overcast day I might do the same but with nice median settings.

Although to be honest I don't subsrcibe to the notion that manual is always best. As long as you know what the settings mean and what the camera is trying to do in each mode then you can do what you want. Even P mode would be fine in lots of situations.

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yeah, it's at the bottom of the viewfinder - thing that goes left and right as you move it from light to dark.

Well fuck me. I just figured this out and then saw your post to confirm it. So you can set the aperture or shutter speed then adjust the other till the meter is in the middle. Approx of course. That makes perfect sense. Can I ask how people work ISO settings into it? I generally keep mine on 200 for daylight shots. I know that when you double it you double the ammout of light that enters the lens and it should be done for dark settings but how do people know when to adjust their ISO? Is the auto setting on the camera enough? This raises the ISO if it cant get a good exposure in low light.

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Here's a page from the DPReview review of the D40 which highlights the exposure meter:

<a href="http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/NikonD40/page3.asp" target="_blank">http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/NikonD40/page3.asp</a>

Like rundll says, you should also be able to see this in the bottom of the viewfinder (see page 4 of the review).

I took over a hundred pictures with my camera without knowing what it was for...

I must have taken 1000 and only just figured it out. I knew it was for exposure but I thought it only applied to the +- auto expoure adjust in the programme mode.

The D40 does have spot metering, the same as spot focus. It meters on whatever you are focusing on. It also has Matrix and Centre Weighted. I have only used Matrix so far but might give spot a go.

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Well fuck me. I just figured this out and then saw your post to confirm it. So you can set the aperture or shutter speed then adjust the other till the meter is in the middle. Approx of course. That makes perfect sense. Can I ask how people work ISO settings into it? I generally keep mine on 200 for daylight shots. I know that when you double it you double the ammout of light that enters the lens and it should be done for dark settings but how do people know when to adjust their ISO? Is the auto setting on the camera enough? This raises the ISO if it cant get a good exposure in low light.

I stick mine at 200 unless really pushed because of the light, because I hate the graininess.

I have zero idea about exposure compensation, thinking about it, and usually take a picture when the meter is just to the right of centre, as it's too washed out in the middle, in my experience.

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I stick mine at 200 unless really pushed because of the light, because I hate the graininess.

I have zero idea about exposure compensation, thinking about it, and usually take a picture when the meter is just to the right of centre, as it's too washed out in the middle, in my experience.

According to something I read thats a slight fault with the D40 as its meter slightly overexposes by default. In fact in program mode it recommended permanently having it on +0.7 so what you are saying sounds about right.

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You don't double the amount of light that enters the with the ISO-setting (man, if only!), the signal from the sensor is just being boosted. The D40 has got an Auto ISO mode right? I'd use that if I had a Nikon, from what I've seen it's excellent and I really wish Canon had this as well.

Note that if the D40 overexposes by default (which I doubt tbh, it really depends on your metering settings and the scene of course), then setting it to an exposure compensation of +0.7 would overexpose it even more.

Personally I wouldn't mind using ISO 1600, not going over ISO 200 would be a damn waste on a DSLR in my opinion. Sounds about right for a compact though :lol:

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I've always treated ISO as the "grainer". If I were to take a shot and think this shot would work perfectly with a bit of grain, I'd stick the ISO up and balance out the exposure via exposure metering and shutter/aperture speeds. That might be the wrong approach for ISO's, but so far its worked for me.

Essentially its all about using the camera and learning something after taking 1000+ shots, that turns out quite simple. I understood how an SLR camera worked before looking up the technical names like aperture, shutter and ISO's.

Scribble is perfectly correct in that the composition of a shot by far surpasses the technical aspects of it.

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Naturally composition is a huge part of the shot but technical aspects have to come into when you consider focus and DOF.

Good advice on the ISO though. Grain is generally more accepted than blur and it can be creative.

I also have a question about DOF and HYPERFOCAL Distance.

I understand the principle. If you are composing a landscape shot you want everything to be in focus. The hyperfocal distance is where you need to focus the lens in the frame in order to achieve the widest focus for that focal length and that aperture. You can get charts which tell you how far away you should be focusing such as this one....http://www.nikonians.org/html/resources/guides/dof/wide_angle_tables.pdf

My question is where does the distance scale on a lens come in. All the guides seem to state this makes it easier to set the best DOF and Focus but I cant see how. The routine would be....

Set up Camera - Compose Scene - Set aperture to wide DOF - Say f/22

Check Chart for focal length and f/22 aperture - Lets say it comes back with 5.4ft.

You are then supposed to focus your lens 5.4ft away and everything should be in focus from 3ft to infinity.

I assume though that you have to switch your camera to manual focus and I still cant see how the distance meter helps.

For those of you saying that its more about creativity I agree with you but this is a technical thread for technical questions! :-D

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LOL. But seriously folks. HYPERFOCAL DISTANCE! <_<

Mmm.. I don't get your problem with hyperfocal distance.. you seem to get it. Surely the distance meter just makes it easier because you can be more precise with the focus?

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Ah okay. So I am shooting a landscape at f/22. I set my shutter speed to give a good exposure and check my chart that tells me I should focus 5ft away to get the best DOF.

Do I then use the manual fous ring to focus on that spot? And if thats it where does the distance scale come in? I am not even entirely sure what it is telling me. If has markings from 1 foot to 15 foot then infitiny. Does that give the distance to the point that it is focusing on? How the heck does it know that?

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I've seen quite a few photos with a 'green/blue' thing going on. Take Scribbles bike photos in the other thread for example. I'm just wondering how this is achieved. Post RAW colour balance tinkering? Tungsten white balance? Something like that maybe... It looks pretty arty anyway. I was thinking if I took those photos, they'd look so mundane.

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Do I then use the manual fous ring to focus on that spot? And if thats it where does the distance scale come in? I am not even entirely sure what it is telling me. If has markings from 1 foot to 15 foot then infitiny. Does that give the distance to the point that it is focusing on? How the heck does it know that?

If I'm understanding what you're getting at right, then yeah, the distance scale does give the distance to the point its focusing on. It knows that just because of the way optics work- the elements in a certain alignment will focus at a certain distance.

I've seen quite a few photos with a 'green/blue' thing going on. Take Scribbles bike photos in the other thread for example. I'm just wondering how this is achieved. Post RAW colour balance tinkering? Tungsten white balance? Something like that maybe... It looks pretty arty anyway. I was thinking if I took those photos, they'd look so mundane.

Haha.. cheers. I'm not going to give away my secrets- I like my photos standing out and looking a bit original. I will say Photoshop, though.

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Okay thanks Scribble. That makes sense.

Number28 - Not tried that type of post processing myself but there are a lot of filters and settings out there to change. I guess the key is experimentation.

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mm, i think it looks really nice as well, 28, but when it comes to doing that kinda thing with my own photos, I usually hate it and thing it looks really fake and wrong. i suppose cos i'm tinkering away with drawings all day that when it comes to photography i want to let the camera do all the work, but maybe i should just lighten the fuck up and experiment a bit :3

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mm, i think it looks really nice as well, 28, but when it comes to doing that kinda thing with my own photos, I usually hate it and thing it looks really fake and wrong. i suppose cos i'm tinkering away with drawings all day that when it comes to photography i want to let the camera do all the work, but maybe i should just lighten the fuck up and experiment a bit :3

The cameras just another tool.. :lol:

Its an interesting one though, on how far you can go with photoshop manipulation without things looking out of place. I always find fake vignette's really fake and wrong looking.

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I've recently taken to shooting exclusively in RAW, I was just wondering what program you all use to edit your RAW images? I'm just using Photoshop CS3 at the moment but I'm finding it a bit clunky and juddery (I'm on a six year old PC) and was just wondering if there were any more streamlined programs out there that would run a bit smoother?

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Lightroom is hard to beat, but RAW processing likes a beefy CPU and RAM.

If your comp is truly six years old then buy the cheapest Dell there is and it will blow your old thing out the water. A good investment for a couple of hundred pounds. A new computer will probably sort out your probs with CS3 too, lightroom and PS share the same RAW 'engine'. (Lightroom costs £200 so probably hardware would be the better buy if you already invested in CS3)

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I reccomend initial photo organisation, batch processing and minor changes in Lightroom (Version 2 just out) and major manipulation in CS3. They both link up perfectly too. You can right click and open up a photo in LR in CS3 and when you are done it saves the changes back to the LR catalogue. As Fraggle said though you are likely to need a more modern machine but nothing expensive is needed. Just a cheap dual or quad core with a couple of gig of Ram will do the trick.

I use LR2 for all my processing but then I dont know how to use CS3. Yet.

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Lightroom is hard to beat, but RAW processing likes a beefy CPU and RAM.

If your comp is truly six years old then buy the cheapest Dell there is and it will blow your old thing out the water. A good investment for a couple of hundred pounds. A new computer will probably sort out your probs with CS3 too, lightroom and PS share the same RAW 'engine'. (Lightroom costs £200 so probably hardware would be the better buy if you already invested in CS3)

Six years old and a budget model at the time too :) I've beefed it up a bit over the years but it is painfully slow. Looks like you're right, a new computer's the only solution, just have to find a job first :)

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In what ways might CS3 be better for processing than LR? I only use Lightroom personally for processing but if I'm missing out I'd definitely make use of CS3.

Clone stamp, mainly.

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LR does very well with saturation, colour, greyscale, sharpness, cropping, healing, and manipulation of the whole picture. Version 2 now has some features for area specific manipulation and gradient stuff which seem really useful.

CS3 is really good for professional manipulation of areas of your picutre. Changing skies, Adding rocks into your foreground that are in your background editing out items better that sort of thing. As well as layering and creative editing. LR doesnt really offer any creative options.

For me LR does everything I really want it to.

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If you open the RAW image in CS3, then you'll just see the exact same controls as in LR, so I see no added benefit in LR for that. Even if you'd open a jpg in PhotoShop you could do the same, but it helps if you know your way around it of course :)

LR is very helpful as a means of maintaining your library and going from an image to print, all in one package.

Oh, and LR it doesn't edit your original file of course, which is always very helpful.

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