Great News!!!!!

JacobFuentes.com Picture

Great News everyone!!!

Now Coy Photography has finally found it’s new home in www.JacobFuentes.com. Here you’ll see more tips, tutorials, and resources “made easy” by random experts to make your whole Digital Photography experience more than just a relaxing hobby, but something you can be proud of too.

I know learning photography isn’t that simple, but with my new blog I’m sure you’ll find it a lot more easier, and a lot more fun than the usual.

Coy of Jacobfuentes.com

In the new blog I give you tips, tricks, features, information, photographers and their works, and a whole lot more about photography, and the digital side of it.

Hope to see you there.

The Red Eye – Cause and Prevention

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Have you ever wondered ‘what causes the Red-Eye in digital photographs?’

Here’s a couple of things you should know to understand it.

The real cause of the red eye is the flash of the camera. Red-eye occurs when light from the built-in flash of a camera bounces off the subject’s retinas and reflects back to the camera lens. The flashlight takes on the tint of the blood vessels in the eye, which causes the eyes to appear to be glowing red in the picture.

Red-eye can result from any camera with a built-in flash, not just a digital camera. It’s because a built-in flash is positioned very close to the camera lens. When people look into the lens, they’re also looking directly at the flash, which means that their retinas pick up and reflect almost all of the light from the flash. When you use an external flash head, you can position the flash farther from the lens and also angle the flash so that it’s not aimed directly at the eyes.

Yes, I agree we can’t avoid the flash specially when the natural light of the room is not bright enough. So what can be the remedy? Well, we’ve not much choice but to rely on the software that help edit digital photographs. Pretty much any digital photographic software will do the job.


And some caeras have RedEye reduction features also.

Some of the tactics I generally use to prevent red-eye are:

(a) Turn on as many lights as you can – especially in indoor photo-shoots. This helps to neutralise the light in the room with that of flash of the camera.

(b) If it’s daytime, try to place the subject near to a window where the sunlight is in direct contact with the subject. This also help prevent shadows been generated on the photograph.

(c) Finally, switch the flash to red-light reduction mode. This feature is present on most digital cameras. It’s good to read the manual before hand so that you’ll have a good understanding of your camera. Remember it’s always good to learn the ‘rules’ before you play with the toy…

Well then good luck with your ‘click’ … ‘clicks’..

The following site is a good tutor for the beginners who are paranoid about the red-eye syndrome to test & try. Its simple and easy to follow steps are very encouraging to try & rectifying the error youself.

Some tips to remove Red-Eye from digital phtotos

Amazing Photography Blogs II

11. Brook Pifer

12. Deceptive Media

13. The Narrative

14. Mute

15. Joe’s NYC

16. Chromogenic.net

17. Orbit1

18. Thinsite

19. Stuck in Customs

20. Alakija.com

DSLRs or Compact Cameras

THE FIRST AND MOST IMPORTANT CHOICE a new photographer makes is which camera to use. But walk into any shop or browse to any online supplier, and the variety of different makes and styles are completely overwhelming.

Luckily, there is an easier way than evaluating every model in every conceivable price class.

Cameras come in two main categories: compact and SLR, and by choosing which of these is right for you, you can significantly narrow the choice, making the selection process a lot simpler.

Let’s look at each of these in turn:

Advantages of using a Digital Single-Lens Reflex camera

Digital Single-Lens Reflex Cameras

A single-lens reflex camera can be identified by the fact that the lens and body come in two separate pieces. The lenses can be bought individually and are interchangeable for specific brands of cameras. This is a tremendous advantage and means that the range of capabilities of the camera can be extended over time, such as with longer telephoto lenses or lenses that allow you to take close-up pictures.

In fact, SLRs are better thought of as the centerpiece of a system, rather than as a complete package in its own right. There is an incredible number of accessories and attachments, such as flashguns and filters, dedicated to expanding the range of capabilities of your SLR.

The advantages of using a DSLR

As mentioned above, an SLR is more extendable than its compact cousins. It allows the photographer greater control over how the final image looks. Quite apart from the fact that there are more accessories available, an SLR will generally allow the photographer more control over basic camera controls, such as shutter speed, aperture and ISO selection. Whereas compacts will normally automatically adjust these settings according to a built in algorithm, SLRs will allow the photographer to set each individually, while still including the option of letting the camera operate in automatic mode. Furthermore, while most compacts will only operate in autofocus mode, an SLR will allow the user to manually focus the lens.

Because SLRs are extendable with a variety of lenses and accessories, they are also more versatile, and can be used in a variety of situations. The larger sensor sizes means that less image noise is generated in low light and that the photographer has better control over depth of field, with larger apertures throwing more of the background out of focus than is possible on the smaller Compacts.

Though this is a gross generalization, the image quality generated by SLR lenses are far superior to that available from Compacts. Of course, some Compacts are better than others and not every lens made for the SLR market is of equally high standard, but dedicated lenses at the middle to top end of the market are vastly more reliable and suffer from far fewer aberrations (or flaws) than those built into compact cameras.

One slightly archaic difference between SLRs and Compacts used to be that in a Compact the user does not actually look through the lens of the camera when taking the picture. Rather, the viewfinder was slightly of center, meaning that there was always the possibility of falling foul of a parallax error when taking the picture. Today, most compacts do allow the user to see exactly what the lens sees, but not through the viewfinder, rather by displaying the image as it will appear on the rear display of the camera. Though this is a vast improvement over the previous situation, it is not without flaws, and the image displayed on the back of the camera can often be quite faint and hard to discern in bright light. The large, clear viewfinders found on DSLRs still have the advantage.

Advantages of using a Digital Single-Lens Reflex camera

The advantages of using a Compact Camera

Firstly and undeniably, Compacts are cheaper. Not only is the amount needed to buy the camera far lower, but there is also much less scope for and need to buy accessories, meaning that you will spend far less over time.

Perhaps the biggest advantage of Compact cameras, price aside, is the fact that they are just that: compact. The small size and light weight mean that you can take it anywhere and that you are much more likely to be able to carry it with you when going on a long trip or in your pocket or purse as you go about your day to day business.

Similarly, Compacts may be a faster option if you need to take a picture in a hurry. With a DSLR and a wide range of lenses, it may take you several minutes to set yourself up. If all you want to do is take a quick snap, or if time is of the essence, you may be much better of reaching for a “point-and-shoot”.

Compacts also attract far less attention than bulky black SLRs. Virtually everyone has a little camera stashed away somewhere, and with one of these you can take pictures without anyone giving you a second glance. With an SLR in your hands, you are making a statement, you are declaring to the world that you are there to take a picture, and you shouldn’t be surprised if people took notice. Often when you visit music concerts or stage productions, the ushers will allow those with compact cameras through, but stop those carrying DSLRs.

The smaller sensor size of Compact cameras also mean it will have much more depth of field in low light and it enables most models to have a built-in close-up facility.

Some may also say that Compacts are easier to use, and as the “point-and-shoot” nickname suggests, in most cases it’s simply a matter of turning it on and pressing the shutter release button. This ease of use does come at the price of limiting the control the user has over the final image, though.

Finally, because the lens is never removed from a Compact camera, there is no opportunity for dust to get in and get stuck to the sensor, this is a common problem with SLRs, and the dust can be notoriusly hard to remove.

Which is right for you? DSLR or Compact

In the great vast world of photography, there is a place for both these formats, all you need to decide is which best suit your needs.

As a general rule, SLRs are used by those who are fairly serious about their photography. Whether as hobbyists or professionals, they are willing to take the time to master the camera and its controls in order to get the best possible images.

Compacts, on the other hand, are used by those who just want a quick snap, who want to get the job done without the hassle of changing lenses or adjusting the shutter speed.

That is not to say that professionals and serious amateurs never use Compact cameras. On the contrary, I know more photographers who have a Compact sitting right alongside their SLR than who don’t, but the fact is that they would use these two cameras in different situations. When they need to get the best picture they possibly can, they will use the SLR, but when on holiday with the family, they might use the happy-snap camera, same as everyone else.

Advantages of using a Digital Single-Lens Reflex camera

Prosumers, Superzooms and Hybrids

This eclectic variety of names all describe the same thing. They all refer to the dirty love-child of the two types of cameras we dealt with above.

What these cameras aim to do is to bring together features of both SLRs and Compacts giving you the best of both worlds. What you end up with, however is a camera that spectacularly combines the worst of all possibilities. It is larger and heavier than a compact, yet have none of the extendibility of an SLR. The lenses offer a huge zoom range, sometimes as much as 20x optical, but the glass is generally of very poor quality and images suffer badly, especially due to chromatic aberration (meaning that different colors come into focus at different places on the image, resulting in the edges of subject detail having a colored fringe, commonly purple).

Furthermore, the degree of control over the final the image is often quite limited compared to an SLR, while the ease of use and speed of the Compact is sacrificed at the same time. The camera is also more expensive than a Compact but of much lower quality than an SLR.

In short, these are not worth the plastic they are made of, and only serve one single purpose: to teach those with more money than sense a lesson.

Buy one at your peril.

Source: Illustrated Photography

Different Digital Camera Modes

Digital-Camera-Modes

Automatic Modes

Automatic Mode

I suspect no one will need any introduction to this mode (as it seems most digital camera owners use it). Auto mode tells your camera to use it’s best judgement to select shutter speed, aperture, ISO, white balance, focus and flash to take the best shot that it can. With some cameras auto mode lets you override flash or change it to red eye reduction. This mode will give you nice results in many shooting conditions, however you need to keep in mind that you’re not telling your camera any extra information about the type of shot you’re taking so it will be ‘guessing’ as to what you want. As a result some of the following modes might be more appropriate to select as they give your camera a few more hints (without you needing to do anything more).

Portrait Mode

Portrait-Mode-1When you switch to portrait mode your camera will automatically select a large aperture (small number) which helps to keep your background out of focus (ie it sets a narrow depth of field – ensuring your subject is the only thing in focus and is therefore the centre of attention in the shot). Portrait mode works best when you’re photographing a single subject so get in close enough to your subject (either by zooming in or walking closer) so that your photographing the head and shoulders of them). Also if you’re shooting into the sun you might want to trigger your flash to add a little light onto their face.

Macro Mode

Macro-1Macro mode lets you move your closer into your subject to take a close up picture. It’s great for shooting flowers, insects or other small objects. Different digital cameras will have macro modes with different capabilities including different focussing distances (usually between 2-10cm for point and shoot cameras). When you use macro mode you’ll notice that focussing is more difficult as at short distances the depth of field is very narrow (just millimeters at times). Keep your camera and the object you’re photographing parallel if possible or you’ll find a lot of it will be out of focus. You’ll probably also find that you won’t want to use your camera’s built in flash when photographing close up objects or they’ll be burnt out. Lastly – a tripod is invaluable in macro shots as the depth of field is so small that even moving towards or away from your subject slightly can make your subject out of focus. (I’ll write a full tutorial on Macro Photography in the coming weeks).

Landscape Mode

Landscape-Icon-1This mode is almost the exact opposite of portrait mode in that it sets the camera up with a small aperture (large number) to make sure as much of the scene you’re photographing will be in focus as possible (ie it give you a large depth of field). It’s therefore ideal for capturing shots of wide scenes, particularly those witch points of interest at different distances from the camera. At times your camera might also select a slower shutter speed in this mode (to compensate for the small aperture) so you might want to consider a tripod or other method of ensuring your camera is still.

Sports Mode

Sports-Icon-1Photographing moving objects is what sports mode (also called ‘action mode’ in some cameras) is designed for. It is ideal for photographing any moving objects including people playing sports, pets, cars, wildlife etc. Sports mode attempts to freeze the action by increasing the shutter speed. When photographing fast moving subjects you can also increase your chances of capturing them with panning of your camera along with the subject and/or by attempting to pre focus your camera on a spot where the subject will be when you want to photograph it (this takes practice).

Night Mode

Night-1This is a really fun mode to play around with and can create some wonderfully colorful and interesting shots. Night mode (a technique also called ’slow shutter sync’) is for shooting in low light situations and sets your camera to use a longer shutter speed to help capture details of the background but it also fires off a flash to illuminate the foreground (and subject). If you use this mode for a ’serious’ or well balanced shot you should use a tripod or your background will be blurred – however it’s also fun to take shots with this handheld to purposely blur your backgrounds – especially when there is a situation with lights behind your subject as it can give a fun and experimental look (great for parties and dance floors with colored lights).

Movie Mode

Movie-2This mode extends your digital camera from just capturing still images to capturing moving ones. Most new digital cameras these days come with a movie mode that records both video but also sound. The quality is generally not up to video camera standards but it’s a handy mode to have when you come across that perfect subject that just can’t be captured with a still image. Keep in mind that moving images take up significantly more space on your memory storage than still images.

Other less common modes that I’ve seen on digital cameras over the past year include:

  • Panoramic/Stitch Mode – for taking shots of a panoramic scene to be joined together later as one image.
  • Snow Mode – to help with tricky bright lighting at the snow
  • Fireworks Mode – for shooting firework displays
  • Kids and Pets Mode – fast moving objects can be tricky – this mode seems to speed up shutter speed and help reduce shutter lag with some pre focussing
  • Underwater Mode – underwater photography has it’s own unique set of exposure requirements
  • Beach Mode – another bright scene mode
  • Indoor Mode – helps with setting shutter speed and white balance
  • Foliage Mode – boosts saturation to give nice bold colors

Semi Automatic Modes

Aperture Priority Mode (A or AV)

This mode is really a semi-automatic (or semi-manual) mode where you choose the aperture and where your camera chooses the other settings (shutter speed, white balance, ISO etc) so as to ensure you have a well balanced exposure. Aperture priority mode is useful when you’re looking to control the depth of field in a shot (usually a stationary object where you don’t need to control shutter speed). Choosing a larger number aperture means the aperture (or the opening in your camera when shooting) is smaller and lets less light in. This means you’ll have a larger depth of field (more of the scene will be in focus) but that your camera will choose a faster shutter speed. Small numbers means the opposite (ie your aperture is large, depth of field will be small and your camera will probably choose a faster shutter speed).

Shutter Priority Mode (S or TV)

Shutter priority is very similar to aperture priority mode but is the mode where you select a shutter speed and the camera then chooses all of the other settings. You would use this mode where you want to control over shutter speed (obviously). For example when photographing moving subjects (like sports) you might want to choose a fast shutter speed to freeze the motion. On the flip-side of this you might want to capture the movement as a blur of a subject like a waterfall and choose a slow shutter speed. You might also choose a slow shutter speed in lower light situations.

Program Mode (P)

Some digital cameras have this priority mode in addition to auto mode (in a few cameras Program mode IS full Auto mode… confusing isn’t it!). In those cameras that have both, Program mode is similar to Auto but gives you a little more control over some other features including flash, white balance, ISO etc. Check your digital camera’s manual for how the Program mode differs from Automatic in your particular model.

Fully Manual Mode

Manual Mode

In this mode you have full control over your camera and need to think about all settings including shutter speed, aperture, ISO, white balance, flash etc. It gives you the flexibility to set your shots up as you wish. Of course you also need to have some idea of what you’re doing in manual mode so most digital camera owners that I have anything to do with tend to stick to one of the priority modes.

Source: Digital Photography School

Dealing With Backgrounds

Backgrounds present both opportunities and challenges to photographers. On the one hand they can put a subjects in context and make it stand out in a way that highlights it wonderfully – but on the other hand backgrounds can overwhelm subjects and distract from them.

Some of the common problems that photographers have with backgrounds include:

  • Distracting Focal Points – we’ve all seen this happen – we line up a shot of a friend to take as a portrait and just as we press the shutter someone else pops their head up over their shoulder with a silly face. The result is that the real focal point of the shot becomes the face pulling person. This is an extreme example of distracting focal points in the background but it’s something that happens quite a lot.
  • Protruding Elements from Subjects Heads – I nearly didn’t include this one but it’s so common that I just had to mention it. When shooting a portrait one of the common mistakes is for some background element to look like it’s sticking up out of a person’s head – like a horn. It’s often trees (as in the photo to the left) but could be anything. These shots can be quite comical but can also really throw the composition of a shot off.
  • Competing Lines – if your subject has lines in it and your background also has strong lines they can compete in such a way that the image becomes busy or so that the lines clash with one another.

So how do we deal with these problems?

1. Check your Background Before Hitting the Shutter Release

Ok – this strategy isn’t rocket science, in fact you’d think it almost goes without saying – but unfortunately it doesn’t and many of the mistakes that I see in photographs could have been avoided simply by checking the background before taking the shot and taking some sort of evasive action.

Always scan the background of your shots before taking a shot. Look for colors that don’t fit with the rest of the image, bright patches that might distract the eye, lines that clash, people that don’t belong etc.

2. Move Your Subject

This is once again a fairly simple technique but is probably the first thing you should consider. Quite often asking a portrait subject to take a step to the left or right will fix things either by putting the distraction behind them or by putting it out of frame.

Background-Blur-1

Photo by alterednate

3. Change your Shooting Angle

If you have distracting elements in the background of a shot but can’t move your subject another strategy is to move yourself and shoot from a new angle. This might mean rotating around your subject but could also include getting down low to make the sky the background or even getting up high and shooting down onto your subject to make the background the ground.

4. Using Aperture to Blur Backgrounds

One of the most useful things to learn as a way to combat distractions in backgrounds (and foregrounds) is to use the power of your lens to throw the background out of focus using depth of field. What you’re trying to achieve with this technique is a nice blurred background where you can’t really make out what’s going on there.

The easiest way to do this is to use a wide aperture (the smaller the number the wider the aperture). The wider your aperture the more blurry your background should become.

The quickest way to see the impact of this strategy is to switch your camera into aperture priority mode and to take a number of shots at different apertures. Start with an aperture of f/20 and work your way down – one stop at a time. Once you get down to under f/4 you’ll start seeing the background in your shots getting blurrier and blurrier.

5. Using Focal Length to Blur Backgrounds

Another way to help get your backgrounds nice and blurry is to use a lens with a long focal length. Longer tele-photo do help a little to get narrower depth of field (although the amount is less than many think). In actual fact the impact is smaller than it seems and the main reason for the change is that with a longer focal length the subject actually takes up more space in the frame. Lots of arguements have been had over whether focal length impacts this – you can read more about it here and here – I’ll leave it to the experts to discuss the finer points but will say that using longer focal lengths does seem to have some impact and is worth experimenting with.

6. Place Subjects In front of Open Spaces

Placing your subject a long way in front of other objects will also help to make those objects more blurry. For example if you have the choice between shooting your subject standing right in front of a brick wall or standing in front of an open field – the open field shot will have a much more blurred background simply because the brick wall is just centimeters from your subject and inside the focal range whereas an open field stretches off into the distance where everything will be out of focus.

7. Fill your frame with your subject

One of the most effective ways of removing distractions from backgrounds is to remove the background altogether by totally filling the frame with your subject. Get up close and/or use your zoom lens to tightly frame the shot and you’ll not only remove distractions but could end up with a high impact shot as well.

Background

Photo by Keith Morris

8. Make your Own Background

Sometimes there just isn’t any suitable background and so you might want to consider making your own. This could range from buying a purpose built studio background or simply buying some cloth to do the job for you.

I know of one keep photographer who goes out shooting photographic portraits and carries large colored sheets of card with him to put up on walls to act as a background.

The other thing to keep in mind is that in many instances you can move things around in the background of your shots (especially if you’re shooting indoors). For example I was recently photographed in my home for a newspaper and the photographer had me move a number of pieces of furniture during the shoot because they were distracting in the shots. It took a little effort but the impact in the shots was quite incredible.

9. Post Processing

I’m no expert in using photo editing software but there are numerous ways of editing a shot after you’ve taken it to get rid of distracting elements. These can include blurring techniques, actual removing of elements and replacing them and techniques such as selective coloring (ie making your subject stand out by making your background black and white (or at least sucking some of the color out of it).

Source: Digital Photography School

Tips on Shooting Fireworks Display

Now that the Christmas season is coming to a near, learning to shoot fireworks might just be something you’re not gonna regret after the year ends.

So here are some tips for shooting good firework photographs:

1. You must arrive early

This is the first important thing to do if you want to get the best spot in the venue. It is even better if you spend some times to scout the location and have a little talk to the event crews to determine where the fireworks will be launched. Once you’ve got all the information needed, try to position yourself wisely. Find a clear, unbostructed view that meets your compositional requirements based on the terrain. Also try to find a place where people won’t be able to wondering around in front of the camera or worse kicking your tripod in the mid-exposure

2. Always use tripod (& camera remote control/cable release)

To be able to capture the light trail as shown as the fireworks picture above requires long exposure times ( 4-10 secs). You will definately need a tripod to do that kind of shot. There’s no way you can hold your camera for at least 5 secs without making any movement. The camera remote control is used to ensure that you won’t have to physically touch the shutter release thus eliminating the possibility of camera shake.

3. Your Focus Setting

If you have a point and shoot digital camera, try to set your camera to landscape mode which typically designated by an icon that looks like a small mountain range. This will set you lens to infinity that will free you from any focussing issues.

If you have a DSLR camera, then it’s better if you set your camera to M (manual) mode and also manually set your lens to infinity.. or in my case, with the fireworks exploding over the bridge, i tried to focus my lens on the bridge.

4. Your Exposure Setting

There’s no exact rules for your exposure settings, where shorter exposures don’t always capture the full burst and longer exposures tend to produce washed-out results. The beauty of Digital camera is that you can always check your picture before deciding the next exposure setting to get a better picture. My first fireworks picture above was shot at ISO 100 at f/16 and 8 secs.

If you have a B (Bulb) shutter speed setting you can use it to control exactly how long your shutter is open. The trick is to open the shutter right at the beginning of the burst and close it when it reaches its peak.

Using one of the suggested apertures listed below, you can use your preview to test and then compensate the aperture accordingly.

ISO 50
Aperture range: f/5.6 – 11

ISO 100
Aperture range: ƒ/8 to 16

ISO 200
Aperture range: ƒ/11 to 22

It’s highly recommended that you’re using ISO 100, which makes your correct aperture will be somewhere between ƒ/8 and ƒ/16. As I mentioned earlier, watch the first few explosions of the fireworks show in the camera’s preview. You don’t want the exposure to wash out the colors of the red, blue and green bursts. They should appear clearly, but they should show their actual color rather than wash out to a yellow/clear tone.

Riverfire Fireworks
River Festival Fireworks, Brisbane – Australia (ISO 100 at f/16 and 8 secs)

5. Always use the lowest ISO setting & Highest Quality Setting

In the digital world; long exposures, higher ISO settings, and even higher temperatures can introduce noise into your digital photographs. You can’t avoid long exposures when shooting fireworks, but you can always choose a lower ISO setting.

By choosing a high Quality-setting you will reduce the amount of compression applied to your images. Less compression means fewer image artifacts and ultimately better image quality.

6. Bring extra batteries & memory cards

Have backup batteries in the event that your primary batteries give out during the show. Also don’t get so excited in the beginning that you fill your card before the grand finale. A good finale will produce peak light, color, and excitement. So make sure you have ample storage space available. Also make sure that your batteries have enough power to photograph the finale.

Source: DPhotoJournal.com

How To Choose the Right Tripod for Your Digital Camera

Tripods really are a necessity if you’re serious about photography, and that’s that. I know they’re big, bulky and a pain to carry around, but if you want to get rid of that camera shake that seems to appear in every one of your photos, then it’s time to start the hunt for a good tripod.

Tripods are especially good for nature shots or macro-photography where you want your subjects to be as clear as possible, but they’re definitely not limited to those types of photography. They’re also good for long exposure shots, slow shutter speeds or low light situations. Even if you try to just use a high shutter speed, you still wont have as crisp of a shot without a tripod.

Your camera’s babysitter

When buying a tripod try to think of it as looking for a babysitter for your kid. If I have doubts about a daycare or babysitter, then the kid isn’t going there! I know a child and a camera aren’t the same thing, but in both situations, I want a stabile, trustworthy babysitter/tripod to look after my baby! Look for good construction and stability. These two factors really make or break a tripod.


A weighty issue

Keep in mind when shopping around for tripods the weight of your camera plus the weight of extras. Make sure that tripod can carry the load of the camera, lenses and flash. The last thing you want is for that tripod to topple over with that nice, expensive digital (or film) camera!

Hangin’ loose

Remember to check stability of the tripod when the legs are fully extended and the tripod adjusted to a comfortable height for you. Does it wobble any? Does anything seem loose? Remember, after using it over time, parts will get worn. If something is a little loose or wobbly when the tripod is new, you can probably bet the farm it’ll be a lot worse later.

Tall tales

Also, remember and check for the height. What’s its maximum, minimum and folded heights? Do the heights work for you? You can find tripods that are extremely tall, or even pocket table-top varieties.

Go for stability

Stability and construction really go hand in hand. Try to avoid the plastic models. Yes, they’re lightweight and cheap, but do you want to trust it with your camera? A heavy tripod is a stable tripod. You probably don’t want to carry around one of the old heavy wooden ones. Tripods made out of magnesium alloy, titanium and carbon fiber are available, but for a higher price.

A good head on its shoulders

Examine what type of head it has. Is that what you want? Does it come with one? The head is what attaches your camera to the tripod and, without it, you’d basically just have an expensive mini tee-pee skeleton. Some of the tripods come with one that’s removable, which will allow you to just buy whichever type you like. Some come with one that is not removable, and your stuck with it., Then there are the tripods that don’t come with any at all and allow you to buy whichever you like.

Heads come in two varieties. There are the pan and tilt heads and the ball and socket heads. I think both have advantages and disadvantages. The pan and tilt heads move up and down, left to right. It doesn’t have as much fluid movement as the ball and socket type, and setting up vertical shots is a little more time consuming. They’re usually a little cheaper. The ball and socket, which positions in any direction, is nice for moving your camera around while on the tripod. I find if you’re trying to just set up a picture and you simply need to move the camera a tad in one direction, this type is more of a challenge.

If you want to move the camera a little to the left with the pan and tilt, loosen it and move it to the left and tighten. With the ball and socket though, you loosen and then you have to try and keep the camera level while you move it to the left. You might end up moving it to the left and down or up or left and who knows what direction.

Now that you believe you’ve found a pretty good tripod. You’ve checked out the construction, stability and “kicked the tires,” determined which type of head you need, you should be well prepared to choose the perfect tripod for your needs.

Source: About.com

Digital Camera Care Do’s and Dont’s

Do…

  1. Regularly clean the camera.
  2. Handle all moving parts of the camera with care.
  3. Turn off the camera before removing or disconnecting the power source or a cable, or removing the battery or memory card.
  4. Keep your camera dry and free from condensation.
  5. Store your camera correctly if it isn’t going to be used for a long time.

Don’t…

  1. Subject your camera to knocks, vibration, magnetic fields, smoke, water, steam, sand or chemicals.
  2. Store or use it in humid, dusty or dirty places.
  3. Subject it to extreme hot or cold temperatures.
  4. Place it in direct sunlight for prolonged times or in a car when it is hot.
  5. Scratch the camera with hard or sharp objects.
  6. Drop it in water. It may be damaged beyond repair.
  7. Used canned air. Most consumer digital cameras are not air-tight and canned air may blow dust into the inside of the lens.

4 Reasons Not to Write off Shooting in Automatic

Sometimes photographers have a complex about shooting in automatic. I shoot primarily in Aperture Priority (and am not here to knock manual settings AT ALL), but I have a tender place in my heart for ol’ Auto. Here are 4 reasons not to write her off too quickly.

1. If you’re relatively new to photography.

If you’re relatively new to photography, Auto can give you a great opportunity for exploration, frankly because it’s less to think about. You have the freedom to “go out on a limb” artistically speaking that you wouldn’t be able to were you going mad metering light, selecting shutter speeds and fiddling with apertures. I really believe that photography takes a certain amount of training of the eye to fall into your personal artistic niche- you’ve got to be free to do that, no strings attached. You can’t surpass the limits of shooting Auto until you become familiar enough with your camera (and photography in general I must add) to know what they are. I shot in Auto for over a year before making the transition over. Shamelessly! The images were superb and it is very rare (like it’s NEVER happened to me once) for anyone to look at a great image and say, “Wow, but did you shoot that in Auto?” No one cares. A good image is a good image is a good image. Period.

ANY friend of mine who comes to me early on in their photography “career” asking for lessons is forbidden from shooting in any mode other than AUTO for at LEAST 3-6 months. In my mind that’s enough time to get your framing style down to the point where it’s just, for lack of a better word, automatic. . . second nature. When that happens, THEN you’re ready to explore other settings. I’ve known too many photographers who are technically off the chart but can’t frame an image worth poo. Don’t fall into that trap by plugging up the artist in you by focusing too much on the technical aspect. It will come. It will. I PROMISE.

2. It can save you when you’re just not QUITE sure.

I have a little “trick” that I use every so often.

If I’m busy shooting away in manual or AP and I’m just not 100% sure I’m nailing the shot, I’ll fire off a few frames in Auto just to be safe. That way if I’ve muffed my shot, there’s still hope. It’s been amazing for me, as it’s saved me a few times over. It’s also been great because it’s given me confidence. There’s nothing like the insecurity of not knowing if you’re really capturing what you hope you are. Yes, I know, LCD screens are helpful. But let’s just face it, they could be a whole heck of a lot bigger. Plus, if you’re shooting anything other than a 100 year old woman who couldn’t move if she wanted to, you don’t have time to check to be sure you got the shot after each frame. You’re rippin’ shots off just about as fast as you can and don’t have time to check to be certain you’re nailing each and every one. There’s nothing as depressing as coming home, uploading and finding that an entire batch is totally underexposed.

Over time you’ll come to where you’re generally happier with the images where you were the boss of your camera rather than the other way around. Mmm. That feels good.

3. The terms: Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority and Manual mean nothing to you.

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Awesome! Less pressure! Just don’t mess where you aren’t yet comfortable. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was Ansel Adams. Just keep pressing forward. You’ll feel inclined to learn when you’re ready. No rush. Just don’t pick your son’s first birthday party as your day of camera setting exploration. . . set a time and run a test shoot. Play it safe!!

4. Your subject won’t sit still.

Sometimes I run into issues shooting in manual when I’m doing candid shots of kiddos. They’re constantly running in and out of the light, and up and down and around and through and over and under and. . .you get the picture. I can’t switch my settings fast enough to catch them before they’re on to the next adventure. When that’s the case I click over to automatic and thank my lucky stars! She’s so good to me!! Sure if I had time and patience I could fiddle and faddle around to get the precise setting, but generally I’m working against the light, against the clock (a 1 hour sitting) and against the patience of a two year old! I’ve gotta be quick so that I have a broad selection post shoot.

Example: I shot the most darling little boy the other day at a beach that also has forest, caves and cliffs. He’s just the coolest little kid ever AND he’s got enough energy to put my 3 year old to shame (and if you know Cardon you understand that that’s REALLY saying something. . .REALLY). He was EVERYWHERE. I couldn’t fire off a shot before he was on the move again. I was going haywire trying to focus. The changing light as he would run in and out of thick forest (remember I live in Hawaii, the canopy is dense) and climbing up onto bright cliffs, was really throwing me for a loop, so I hopped on over to Automatic and yippee! She saved the day.

Source: Digital Photography School