12/7/13 Tip 8
When you are out taking pictures, many times you may happen to come across an extremely picturesque subject that, sadly, is facing away from the sun, ie, the sun is behind it. In such a case, there are only two possible outcomes for your picture: a) A well-lit foreground and washed-out background, or b) a perfectly exposed background and severely darkened foreground. We've all experienced this at one time or another. It's not uncommon. And none of us want pictures like these. We want perfectly exposed backgrounds and foregrounds, but as the more enthusiastic photographer will know,  setting the exposure such that there is a balance in the exposures of the background and foreground is near impossible, and in many cases, IS impossible. In situations like these, some technical assistance is required. This comes in the form of a feature called HDR, or High Dynamic Range. Very simply, activating HDR takes two pictures of your subject. one with a properly exposed background, and the other with a properly exposed foreground. It then merges these two images, to produce a resultant image in which both foreground and background are properly exposed. Do note that HDR is not available on most older cameras as a built in feature, but is available on cameras such as the Nikon D7100 and the Canon EOS 70D (and any newer models and recent higher-spec models) and, newer models of compact and mirrorless cameras.

8/8/12 Tip 7

DSLR's have a wide array of lenses to choose from but lets say that perhaps you want to a shot which your current lens cannot do such as a wide angle shot. Using this technique, we can make create extreme wide angle shots which some ultra wide angle lenses such as the 10-24(DX) and the 14-24(FX) cannot do. First, a sequence of shots must be taken. Make sure to align the horizon to horizontal otherwise you cannot 'stitch' the photos together in editing software such as photoshop. Personally, I would recommend a tripod to aid in keeping the horizon straight and level. Also, be sure to keep some landmarks in between shots to help the editing software to distinguish between shots to align. Be sure to also keep the exposure of the scene around the same so that the stitched picture looks like one picture rather than an obvious medley of many. In photoshop once you take the pictures, go to this option called 'automate' under the file tab. There, there will be an option called photomerge. Click that and select all the pictures you want to merge to create the panorama and if the pointers above have been followed, your very own panorama will come. The advantage of this is also that an ultrawide will make everything small while using the panorama technique will allow you to keep perspective of a longer lens and also have the wide angle of an ultrawide. An example can be seen on the photos page.

21/7/12 Tip 6
High ISO

Most DSLR's now have an option called auto ISO. Most people including me would recommend it being on most of the time as it guarantees less missed shots due to blur. ISO, is the sensitivity of your digital CMOS or CCD sensor to light. You may think that increasing the ISO may result in nothing bad and even benefits your photos as you can have a high shutter speed. This assumption is wrong.Just visit this website, and select any camera and go to the high ISO performance page and you can see many many things which you may not understand. To simplify it, the higher the better. Most cameras have their highest picture quality( i.e. dynamic range, tonal depth) at the lowest ISO. At higher ISO, noise or grain gets introduced. Noise is an unwanted  digital artifact which can be removed in camera or in post-processing. Generally, even if removed in Post processing, the final image will still be of less quality then one that is taken at a lower ISO. If you have a cropped DSLR, you will notice that noise will get into your image at around ISO 800. With a Full Frame camera, you may not get noise till around ISO 12,800 on the top spec D4 or 1DX. In conclusion do not shoot at High ISO unless totally neccassary. Try and stay below ISO 3200 even with a Full Frame camera. To get the best out of your DSLR, a better lens is still suggested over higher ISO.

30/6/12 Tip 5
Circular Polarisers

Your favourite car in the window of a shop. There is a reflection on it which you cannot eliminate no matter what angle you use. What you need in this situation, is a polariser. You say polarisation to any secondary school physics student and he will immediately know what you are talking about. Polarisers, are basically directional 'holes' in the glass which help to reduce reflections by blocking out unwanted light. linear polarisers are as the name implies, unidirectional depending on how deep you screw it on or you could turn the linear polariser in front of the lens. Circular polarisers( CPL) are as the name implies can be turned. This allows you to control the degree of polarisation the light experiences. This makes CPL's much more convenient to use than linear Polarisers.

An IF( Internal Focus) lens is highly recommended for CPL usage because their front elements do not move. The kit lens with your DSLR will most likely not have this feature and the front element moves. Don't worry! I use a CPL with my 18-55 VR and I can use it just fine. The technique I use is to first focus the camera. Then turn to the degree of polarisation I want. Refocus. Then turn to wanted polarisation again then take the picture. It takes longer to use the CPL but you do not need to spend money on an expensive IF lens. CPL's also change the tint of the image from blue to red. This allows you to use a CPL as a tool for landscape shots  as well. As you would have inferred by now, CPL's block light. After testing, the CPL can block light from 0.3 EV to 1EV! Hence, remove the CPL when shooting in low light. Remember, as a rule when buying filters , ALWAYS BUY MULTICOATED. Multicoating reduces flare and improves contrast. This allows your CPL to work at its optimum in any shot. I suggest getting the Hoya HMC CPL for the best value. Always remember, you CANNOT recreate the full effect of a CPL in a photo as it physically affects the light entering the lens.

19/6/12 - Tip 4
Black and White
As every photographer knows, black and white photographs have a certain magic to them. To anyone born before the 1960's, these help to relive the good ol' days. To the modern photgrapher, Black and white photography presents the challenge of perspective in a world that is becoming more and more colourful by the day. Anyway, technically speaking, black and white reduces noise in your pictures, so making for a clearer picture, which is even more beautiful than a colour picture. Enjoy, and embrace the magic of Black and White.

Till next time,

6/6/12 - Tip 3
Wildlife photgraphy
You're out in the woods. You see a bird, or a snake or some other beautiful creature. You want a picture of it. You snap it with your kit lens. What you see will, more often that not, not be what you wanted - professional quality that you would expect from a DSLR. The picture isn't enough of a close-up. You decide to crop it.What most people fail to realise, is that cropping effectively reduces your image quality. Not by a lot, but it still does. So cropping, unless you really need it, not a good idea. Another problem is that your subject moves away. So the solution to both these problems is to get a telephoto lens. A lens that goes up to, or beyond 200mm is good enough for you to get a close-up and still put some distance between you and your subject so as to not frighten it away. The leading DSLR and lens manufacturers Canon and Nikon, both make very affordable, yet effective telephoto lenses. We usually use the Nikon 55-200mm or Canon EFS 55-250mm telephoto lenses. Both these lenses are perfectly matched with the most common kit lens, the 18-55mm. Lenses from third-party companies like Sigma are also a good option.Of course, there are many more choices out there, over 150 choices to choose from. So enjoy mixing and matching!!!

Till next time,

21/5/12- Tip number 2
Neutral density( ND) filters

Picture this. A lush landscape. spectacular clouds. Colours so vibrant you go wow. You wish to capture this scene on your brand new shiny DSLR. After you press the button and review it on the screen or on a computer in your place of stay, you realise that this is not you wanted to capture. Your image is lacklustre and uncontrasty. Depending on your exposure, the sky, so vibrant or colourful may have its highlights 'clipped'. The ground so full of shadow and colour may appear 'crushed'. In this scenario, you need what is called a ND filter. ND filter's are generally a piece of glass which has a colour gradient in the middle usually a transition from dark to clear. Usually photographers, place this ND filter such that the dark area is covering the sky and the clear are on the ground. This is to allow the photographer to overexpose the scene to expose the deep shadows and colours while allowing the highlights in the sky to remain unclipped and clear. The final image can be further enhanced by post processing using HDR photography( covered later) or using a HDR camera such as the D800 or medium format camera which allows more highlights or shadows to be recovered if blown out or crushed. General consensus on the internet is that Cokin filters offer the best value for money.

Till next time, Ciao!!

16/5/12 - Tip no. 1
Macro photography
As we all know, macro lenses are pretty expensive. Of course, Canon and Nikon make some of the very best ones. Third party lenses are also good, but still really EXPENSIVE!!!  So here's a cheaper solution: If you have say, an 18-55 lens, or a 50/1.8, basically any lens with a small zoom range that is not a fisheye, reverse mount it, which is basically holding the front of the lens against the mount, manual focus and voila!! You will have pictures that look like they were taken by macro lenses. It's also good if the lans of your choice has a dedicated aperture ring. Composing the shot will take a bit of practice. We've already started doing this. nikhilk has even added a new post entitled 'Macro' -  pictures taken using this method. They may not be great, but we're still learning and we'll have new pictures like that soon. Again, this will take practice, and very steady hands with strong grips. DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS IF YOU ARE A BUTTERFINGERED PERSON.  IT COULD POTENTIALLY DAMAGE LENS IF YOU DROP IT!

Note: For Nikon users, Nikon make reverse rings for your lenses in 52, 58, 67 and 77mm sizes. Just mount the front of your lens to the reverse ring and happy snapping in macro mode! A suggestion is to use D lenses which have an aperture ring to allow you to see what aperture you are shooting at. Modern G lenses may have VR and silent AF but since the lens contacts aren't on the body, they are useless and worse is that there is no aperture ring so you need to use the feeler on the lens mount to guess the aperture.

Till next time, ciao!!

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