Analyzing photos

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Analyzing photos

Postby just4fun » Sun Jan 04, 2009 11:12 am

I got a new camera for Christmas and am a real novice. It is a Nikon H50. I downloaded the manuel etc but some is still rather greek to me. It is very foggy here today, and it is 2:00 pm so my husband and I went out to the lake and I experimented with different settings including some of the manuel settings. I have downloaded the pictures but I am not sure what to "look" for. I have a fine arts degree so composition, color etc are familiar to me but it is the technical that I get lost in with photography. I imagine it is all subjective, such as sharpness or soft focus but how do I tell for example "out of focus" vs soft. I was wondering what you first look at when editing your own photos. Is it technical and then composition? I just don't know where to start in trying to develop a "eye for photography".
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Re: Analyzing photos

Postby Frankie » Sun Jan 04, 2009 11:22 am

Great questions. I'm sure there are as many opinions out there as there are picture opportunities. As for myself, I'd have to say that the best thing to do is to take things slowly. Try using the different settings of your camera in different ways, for example spend some time just taking action shots and vary your shutter speed to see what effects you get - what worked and what didn't. Then try some landscape shots and vary your depth of field by changing your aperature. As far as out of focus and sharp. I think it depends on what your intent was to begin with. Some of that may also have to do with the quality of the lens that you have as well. But the most important thing to remember is to have fun and take lots of pics. That's the best thing about digital. Every shot is free, free, free - so take lots. You'll develop your own style along the way - just like you do in design. That's my two cents worth. I know that there are some members of the forum that are really excellent photographers and they may some better technical advice than this, but this might be a good starting place.

Have fun!
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Re: Analyzing photos

Postby jdgouk » Sun Jan 04, 2009 1:10 pm

As Frankie says - a great question and very much a matter of what pictures work best for you. One persons perfect shot will be anothers "delete to the trash bin".

In terms of getting to know your camera I would recommend buying a good tripod if you intend to take landscapes or pictures in low light. This investment will payback dividends overtime as you will reduce the number of poor images.

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Re: Analyzing photos

Postby stickgirl » Sun Jan 04, 2009 2:03 pm

I believe a photographer has a gift for seeing and capturing something the average person does not. I also believe this gift is discovered at an early age and is developed as time goes on.

I also believe the average person can take good pictures.

I would suggest taking a class to understand aperture, shutter speed, iso, light, etc. and how they all work. If you can't take a class, buy some books. Then I would practice, practice, practice. In time, you will discover what works best for you. Don't forget simple things like the rule of thirds and paying attention to what you see in the view finder. You could also join a photography forum and post pictures for others to comment on.

I tried looking up a Nikon H50 but could not find it on Nikon's website. Is this a brand new model for 2009?

Congratulations on the new camera.

Kathy
Last edited by stickgirl on Sun Jan 04, 2009 3:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Analyzing photos

Postby gpsmikey » Sun Jan 04, 2009 2:55 pm

As they say "experiment" - try going to aperature priority and shooting the same scene at different aperatures and notice the difference in depth of field etc. One of the coolest things about digital cameras is the EXIF data - instead of having to write down the f-stop and shutter speed etc for every show so you can look at it later, the camera does that all for you and puts it in the EXIF data that is part of the image. If you don't have a copy of the ever so handy utility "Irfanview" (FREE), grab a copy and put that on your system - makes it much easier to snoop through the pictures and view the EXIF data. One of the big secrets (shhhhhh - don't tell anyone !! ) is the best time for landscape type shots is right around sunrise and right around sunset (+/- 30 minutes or so) - you get some really great lighting effects (of course it requires you to be awake at those times ... ). Another thing that seems to escape many people (based on the pictures I see) is the effect of your zoom lens - if you want a picture of Aunt Martha with the beautiful mountains in the background for example, don't shoot wide angle - she will fill the frame and the mountains will be very small. Back up a ways then zoom in to get her full frame - the mountains will now be big and actually visible in the shot !!

mikey
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Re: Analyzing photos

Postby just4fun » Sun Jan 04, 2009 3:50 pm

Thanks guys,
I do have the tripod and I can already see that is a huge help. I will make a show of some of my fog shots from this morning. Some were not too bad. I did have water droplets on my lens in some of them before I noticed that it was starting to mist. I wanted to get some shots of the seagulls and was suprised to see that they were in a few shots.
I was looking at the photography classes at our local university today. I will have to start with a digital class and I think it is too late to get in this quarter. This will be one of the best "gifts" for turning 60. In Ohio, you can audit classes that are not full free of charge at a lot of the universities and I have about 6 in the area if Antioch opens up again. No grades and no tests, so I am really looking forward to taking advantage of this.
Mikey, thanks for the info on the EXIF data. I will find it some where. I was playing with some of the different settings this morning and I can definitely see some that did not work at all and halfway through I was thinking that I should have brought along a note pad because I was never going to remember what I was changing. There was a hawk or vulture in a tree that I was trying to get and never did get that shot clear enough to make out what kind of bird he was and now I will be able to find out what I tried and did not try. To many options and I was working off memory as I left all my printed material in the car.
I was really hoping to be able to play more with the light as the fog lifted but we were out for an hour and a half at noon and it never lifted.
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Re: Analyzing photos

Postby just4fun » Sun Jan 04, 2009 4:27 pm

Ok, I am totally loosing it. I downloaded the Irfanview and it gives me all the data cool.........even that fact that my new camera is a Sony DSC-H50 not a Nikon. My old camera was the Nikon.
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Re: Analyzing photos

Postby Frankie » Sun Jan 04, 2009 5:43 pm

There are lots of places to go online to learn about photography as well. You might want to check this link out. It's one of many http://www.dcresource.com/forums/showthread.php?t=7146

Wow! Auditing classes for free. Sounds like a good reason to move to Ohio!

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Re: Analyzing photos

Postby Tarafrost » Mon Jan 05, 2009 12:14 pm

You might want to pick up some solid basics books on photography to help kickstart the process. Something like the Joy of Photography and it's ilk might be a good investment of time and effort.
....Andrzej (aka: the curmudgeon)

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Re: Analyzing photos

Postby gpsmikey » Mon Jan 05, 2009 6:01 pm

One more comment here that *may* be of help -- one of the tricks to learning from experimenting is to try and limit your experimental changes to 1 variable at a time - a series of shots of the same object from the same location using different f-stops (and the shutter speed that goes with it) to see how that affects depth of field for example (even if it is kind of boring to have a bunch of shots of the same thing sometimes :lol: ). Try shooting down a railing for example and see how it changes depending on the settings - you can get some interesting effects on an old wood railing for example.

mikey
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Re: Analyzing photos

Postby just4fun » Mon Jan 05, 2009 7:37 pm

In the fog pictures I took yesterday, I have a seagull standing on a piece of floating ice. Why we have seagulls in the middle of Ohio, I have no clue but I used the "burst" and it snapped three shots within 1 second. I am not in love with any of the shots. I had it on landscape mode as that said it would focus on a far away target. The last shot was the darkest and I thought it was my least favorite but it is the sharpest which I like best, so I guess I am learning that I like sharp images. I put the Exif info in columns across from each other and the only difference is the Exposure time 1/100, 1/125 and 1/160. ISO on all is 100 and the Fnumber was 5.60. Max Aperature was 2.71 on all.
I am curious, if I used the manuel next time, what would I want to play with first to see if I could get a sharper image.

Also, I have heard some talk of adjusting in PSP, and I could live with a little clean up work but the closer I get to what I am looking for the less I would need that.
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Re: Analyzing photos

Postby pd » Tue Jan 06, 2009 1:36 am

Dear Just4fun,
You have admitted that you are being bogged down by the technical side of photography. Therefore as Tarafrost has suggested, get a basic book about photography. Never mind that you have a state of the art Nikon D50, any old book will still be valid. Now learn about F numbers (aperture), speed, iso (sensitivity aka asa) and learn about the simple relation of each to each other. Then go for metering. (your camera has several options0 The correct choice will affect the final result. You could take the same photo using different settings, resulting in correctly exposed photos, but with different depth of field. Using a different combinations, you could have blur.
As you have concluded, it is best that you get as close to the desired result in camera. Post work in photoshop will enhance the good product, remove things which cannot be done at the shooting stage and so forth.

You may already be overqualified and I think that will make you overly critical of your work. You have a great camera and not afraid to ask. I expect good output from you in a short while and looking forward to a contribution soon.

pd
regards.
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Re: Analyzing photos

Postby stickgirl » Tue Jan 06, 2009 5:12 am

just4fun wrote:I am curious, if I used the manuel next time, what would I want to play with first to see if I could get a sharper image.


Is the image unsharp because it is out of focus? Is it unsharp because of camera shake? Check the exif to see what the metering mode was set to. Was that area of the picture in focus?

Also, I have heard some talk of adjusting in PSP, and I could live with a little clean up work but the closer I get to what I am looking for the less I would need that.


Very little adjustment can be done in PSP and that adjustment would apply to the entire picture. You are better off having software like Photoshop, Photoshop Elements or Gimp to name a few.

Have you considered learning the different exposure modes and what each does before trying to tackle ManuAl mode?

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Re: Analyzing photos

Postby Nelson » Tue Jan 06, 2009 6:01 am

You have lots of great information here.

Here's another tip I learned: Now that your camera is on a tripod, after you have taken your experimental shots in manual, TV, or AV modes, then shoot one in pure automatic mode. On my Canon, pure automatic mode ignores all my settings, including ISO, exposure, white balance, and more. It will do what it thinks needs to be done to capture a "decent" image. It is often successful. (You may ask why bother with all the other modes if that is the case, but there are clearly lots of creative and technical reasons to do so).

Using the EXIF data you can then see what the camera did and compare the results to your images. This can be an interesting exercise.

Automatic mode can also be useful if a situation suddenly arises that quickly requires a completely different camera setting than you are currently using. Switching to an automatic mode is usually the fastest way to accomplish that if you have only a few seconds to react before the scene changes.

Have fun with your new toy!

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Re: Analyzing photos

Postby just4fun » Tue Jan 06, 2009 10:40 am

Is the image unsharp because it is out of focus? Is it unsharp because of camera shake? Check the exif to see what the metering mode was set to. Was that area of the picture in focus?


The metering mode was set to multi-segment. These three slides are all done with the landscape mode. I am not sure since I had been using the aperature at F2.71 if it keeps those setting when I change out of manuel or if that is the natural setting for this "scene" mode.

Have you considered learning the different exposure modes and what each does before trying to tackle ManuAl mode?


My Nikon had very similar exposure modes and that is what I would normally use, playing it safe, so to speak. But with the fog, I knew this is a special lighting challenge so I thought it would make a good experiment. Often time, the extreme situation sort of helps make little problems a lot bigger and I learn more. Also, I know that the fog in and of itself, will not produce a sharp picture, and the only area that I would like for them to be a little cleaner was the wildlife.
Vivian

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