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Photography Tips

By: David Pix

  • The Ten Travel Photography Golden Rules
  • Most People are Buying a Digital Camera Lemon!
  • SLR Photographers Only Need to Learn 25% of Photoshop!
  • 75% of People Buy the Wrong Digital Camera – Don’t Let It Happen to You!

The Ten Travel Photography Golden Rules

Rule one. Plan your trip. Research on Google images what you want to shoot before you leave and write them in a small notebook.

Rule two. Insurance. Get all you serial numbers from your equipment before you leave your home. This can say you heaps of time if you loose equipment especially overseas.

Rule three. Customs. Customs at any airport does not know that your camera is second hand, they can often look at your camera and say “no that’s a new camera that you have purchased on your trip and you will have to pay duty on it. Call customs before you leave and fill in the simple form that proves it was yours to start with.

Rule four. When you are overseas take your photos to a camera shop and get a disk of your photos made and post them back to yourself.

Rule five. Remember in Islamic countries not to photograph the women. Respect the local customs. Look on the web for any restrictions in the place that you are going to visit.

Rule six. Get people shots, landscapes and close ups of interesting things that you don’t see everyday Try to capture things out of the ordinary.

Rule seven. Lenses. Take an 18 to 200 lens this will limit taking on and off your lens which in turn will keep your CCD clean.

Rule eight. Take a charger for your camera with a all country power adapter.

Rule nine. You get the best images early in the morning with no crowds. Hire a taxi early. They know where you will get the best shots.

Rule ten. Use your fill flash to brighten up your subjects even during the day. Practice this before you leave home. Look for the unexpected seek out guides, not tourist guides but just a local fisherman and his boat they will know where you will get that amazing off the beaten track photo.

Most People are Buying a Digital Camera Lemon!

I am a full time photography teacher and as such I see a new bunch of students of every age every 8 weeks. All have a new camera in there hand.  Everyone is excited about how their new camera will perform however, cameras that all look the same do not perform the same and here lies the problem. So just how can you tell a lemon from a good digital camera? Well the answer is that you can’t by just looking at them you have to run a few simple tests and you can do this at the shop. So what are the steps?

 Step 1.

Turn the camera on and see how long the camera takes to become ‘camera ready’. A slow camera with a slow processor can take up to 2 seconds. A good camera will turn on immediately and be ready for fast action.

Step 2.

Now we want to know how long the camera will take to focus. So the simple test is to focus on something close to you and then focus on something far away and then something close again. This is stressing the auto focus to see if it is a fast focus or if it’s going to always be slow. A good camera will focus immediately as a poor camera will take up to 2 seconds to focus. Now this is a real problem if you are trying to take a child blowing out candles. You may just end up with dark candles and smoke.

Step 3. 

The third test is after you press the button to take the photo how long does it actually take to capture it? this is called shutter lag and as in the point above it can be very annoying to keep missing the shots that you actually bought the camera for. A good camera will take the photo instantly. Why some cameras take longer and others are quicker? Well it’s all in the maths speed of the processor within the camera. Some cameras let you take low quality video and to do this they sacrifice the quality of the camera processor.

Step 4. 

You must check your CCD in the actual camera that you are going to buy. The CCD within your camera (which has replaced film) otherwise known as a charged coupling device. Your CCD is a grown crystal of sorts and they do get imperfections which can’t be helped. So what are these imperfections? They are missing pixels.

SLR Photographers Only Need to Learn 25% of Photoshop!

As a working photographer and part time Photoshop teacher I have found that there is a lot of difference in how much a photographer and a graphic artist needs to know about Photoshop.

Its true a graphic artist needs to know about 75% of the program to get by, but a photographer only needs to know about 25%.

Lets face it, we photographers just used to take photos, our day was concerned with did that film turn out or did I get the lighting right?

Now that we have digital cameras we are forced to look at the images on a computer screen and the net thing we say to ourselves is I wonder if I could up the lighting or get rid of that colour cast, etc.

The up-to-date photographer is not only now taking digital images but also involved with manipulating them as well. So just how much manipulation should a photographer be expected to do?

As a wedding, glamour and portrait photographer you would be adjusting;

1) Lighting 
2) Eliminating any colour casts 
3) Fixing minor facial problems such as acne 
4) Sharpening a photo

For a Commercial product photographer;

1) Lighting 
2) Eliminating colour casts 
3) Fixing focus issues 
4) Blending layers together with type

For the Fashion photographer;

1) Lighting 
2) Eliminating colour casts 
3) Fixing focus issues 
4) Blending layers 
5) Using filters

In each case the photographer has a range of tools available to them and not only that, they also have a number of different ways of reaching the same outcome.

75% of People Buy the Wrong Digital Camera – Don’t Let It Happen to You!

When I teach a new class learning digital photography, over 75% of the students turn up with the camera the salesman suggested.

Guess what? They soon find out that its wrong one for them. This can be a very expensive mistake. So the big questions are what is the right one for me and how do I know which is best for me.

One of the first things that you want to know about the camera that the salesman is trying to sell you is as follows –

How long does the camera take to turn on and be ready to take the shot? In the consumer market this can range between 1 to 5 seconds most being towards the 5 seconds mark.

How long does the camera take to focus on the subject? (not to take the picture) most cameras take between 1 to 3 seconds most at around the 1 second mark.

How long does the camera take to actually take the photo after you have pushed the shutter button completely? Again, most cameras take between 1to 3 seconds.

Now you can see to take a photo can take up to 5 seconds just to turn on and up to another 3 seconds to focus in and the up to another 3 seconds just to actually take the photo.

In a cheaper camera, but not necessarily cheaper it can be up to 9 seconds to take a photo. You may say “yes but I will leave my camera on” ok that’s fine, but you may still have a lag time of up to 6 seconds just to take a photo.

Just imagine how annoying it will be now that you have purchased your new digital camera costing you around $400 – $500 to find that you just can’t catch your child blowing out the candles because your new camera at the critical time of blowing the candles out took 1 second to focus and a further 2 seconds to take the photo.

What was the result?

A child sitting in front of a cake with black smouldering candles.

Can you set the white balance on your camera?

Just what is the white balance?

The white balance is simply this; if you were to look at a piece of white paper outside in the morning it looks white to you and I, that’s because our eyes adjust to the blue light of morning but our camera sees the paper as light blue.

At noon the paper will look white to the camera and at dusk with the warm sun it will appear yellow. So we can set our cameras white balance to reflect the light at the time.

About 60% of digital cameras don’t have this adjustment, you must buy one that can be set manually, not just one that has an “auto white balance” as they are not as good as they advertise.

Does your camera have different exposure modes?

Exposure modes are simply where does the camera take a light reading from? The cheaper cameras just do an all over reading which can be very limiting to say the least. A good camera will have a “spot”, “centre weighted” and “matrix” metering system, which allows you to take great photos in any light situation.

When buying a digital camera, buy it for the fact that it’s a camera not a video camera as well. One student showed me all the features her camera had and that’s why it was more expensive – the only thing that it didn’t do well was take still pictures!

You can get so much out of your new digital camera you just have to put some time in for learning how to use it properly and how to take better pictures – remember no one will ever want to look at a poor quality photo twice!

If you want to take really great pictures that will be in your family for years put in a little effort with your new digital camera.