Saturday, September 30, 2006

Photography field day in Stratford Upon Avon

For the whole week this week, I have been SO looking forward to the weekend. Believe it or not, it has only been around 4 days since I acquired the 400D. During the weekdays I haven't had much time to get more acquainted with the new camera.

However, much to my disappointment the weather in England today was horrendous! Overcast skies, rain, poor visibility and the occasional sunshine. Yeah, much like any other day in England really.

Not to be discouraged, I reminded myself that an overcast day is also good for low contrast photography and so, I dragged the family on a photography trip to ... where else? Stratford-Upon-Avon again.

Good 'ol Stratford. Nice place for a photography field day
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I used fill-flash for this picture to highlight the foreground statue (thanks Uncle De for the tip). It brought out details of the statue BUT looks too highlighted and unrealistic I think.
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Experimentations with depth of field, I used an aperture of 5.6 for this picture.
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Sarah doing a "top-model" impression
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Like daughter like mother
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Finally a picture of the camera shy Amar on the blog!
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On the way back from Stratford we dropped by the town centre (we're planning something for tomorrow, please look forward to it!). It was still rainy, and the kids were cranky so apart from doing our shopping I wasn't able to take much pictures. That, and because I have already filled the 2Gb CF card with 400 pictures from Stratford! (gasp!)
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During the evening, Sarah and I had an excursion to a "non-specific" coffee shop nearby (sorry DITH, Nnydd etc2 - but my last cup was when DITH posted this on her blog!). Anyhow, the "non-specific" coffee shop has a new hot chocolate drink, and MAN! Even the normally fussy Sarah liked it.
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My first ever long exposure night photo, manual setting too! Okay I agree the composition is not very good, but that's why it's called an experiment. For this picture, I placed the 400D on top of a book on top of the roof of my parked car. I took an exposure reading using the "P" setting. It showed F5.6 and shutter speed of 4 seconds. I then went to the manual setting and set the aperture to F11 and compensated enough stops for the exposure. The result was the above picture - yesss! I can't wait to take a proper picture of something more interesting now. Oh, any tips about night photography anyone? (ISO was 200)
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Much to my amusement, PMS managed to take this shot. Compare it with this extreme photographer:D
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After one whole day of experimentations with the 400D I have to say I am still struggling. Taking pictures with it is like squabbling with a friend, or wrestling. The 400D wants to take pictures one way and I wanted the pictures to turn out a different way. One thing that extremely confuses me is the Auto Exposure mode (when I set the camera to the "P" setting). Often times I feel the 400D is SEVERELY underexposing the picture. What I often had to do was switch to manual and overexpose by several stops. It really is weird ... any pointers anyone? Or was it because it was a dark, overcast day?

Anyway tips & pointers are definitely most welcome. Even from you Naja :p

ps
  1. Great photography tutorials at photoxels: Link.
  2. This is a sample of what I meant by the 400D's tendency of taking underexposed photos:

This shot was taken with the sun right behind me and on full AUTOMATIC mode. WT heck??

Another sample of an underexposed picture. This time under Aperture Priority mode. I set the aperture to 5.0 supposedly to make everything behind this ?goose/?swan/?duck blurry. I was hoping for magic but instead got this dark, sharp-ish picture. ???. (in other words, i was aiming for Bokeh, but got Vignette <-- sorry, photography joke)

19 comments:

alynnsaripuddin said...

i'll be quick, later i'll revisit this entry.
one trick for nite shots and thats using a tripod ;)

mynn said...

alynn
i already have a plan on what to get next. I originally mean this post as a joke but scarily enough it seems that I'm getting each item on the list one-by-one.

Today in Stratford I stopped by Jessops and gawked at all the lenses, filters and tripods. especially the tripods (i was lifting them, trying to see the weight, some even have handles - prices vary but one was 30 pounds)

next on that list is photoshop CS2 (which i dunno whether im going to eventually get or not) then it's a tripod.

we'll see how things turn out :)

dith said...

Mynn,

You would have made a magnificent addition to the twosome in Parangtritis sunset months ago! I can imagine the 3 of you chuckling away in the still of dusk 'fighting' for the coveted spot, :p

tsk tsk tsk, Nisak, dia nak tripod, pulak!!

Ikelah said...

Yea, poor contrast outdoor pics. however, the one in automatic mode is great, with the dark sky and the people as it they are moving away from the coming storm.

a bit bluish and if you shoot RAW, you can still readjust the WB to get the correct temperature.

hahahaha...extreame photographer tu tak best, yang best.... dengan D2H with the big white lens and the volcano with the pyroclastic flow in the background. ;)

mynn said...

ikelah
the extreme photographer tu actually has two links:

extreme --> to your pyroclastic picture

photographer --> to the one where you're crossing the road

mynn said...

dith
i think the other two photographers are in a different league then yours truly. in a couple of years maybe i could catch up to be level:)

ps
you don't know how compatible you are with PMS!

ikelah
yeah, one of my next experimentations (and probably) post would be "experimentations with RAW". i immediately see the benefits: every setting on the camera - sharpness, contrast, colour, white balance - could be done on the PC without affecting the original image: brilliant.

Ikelah said...

Yup... baru perasan the other link...

good luck with RAW. i believe that you will never go back to JPEG once you shoot RAW. Not only you can modify on PC but there is no lost of detail due to lossy compression as in JPEG. You can maintain your shot mode or convert to black/white or sepia.

dith said...

Mynn,

Tak tido ke? Or are you just like iKelah who suffers from post-call syndrome?

Naja said...

My 2 cent:

I especially love the photo of MS because the object (MS) and the background are contrast.

Yup I agree with you the woman statue does look like it's been PSed. But I'm not really fond of statues either. They always scare me!

Experimenting is good. Keep up the good work. Who knows, maybe I'll hire you one day *wink wink*

mynn said...

ikelah
my trials with RAW will start today, im looking forward ... ill be shooting in RAW + JPEG format, i.e the camera will save both formats automatically. hoping for good results..

dith
hehehe, haah tidur lambat smlm but not post call syndrome. it's the sleep late during weekend syndrome:)

naja
is that a hint of a near future wedding naja??

Naja said...

Muhaimin, photography is not only for weddings. Nahh, you read too much between the lines ni hehe

Dyanna said...

Naja, your previous statement will require a further detail interrogation from me one day; whenever I see you the next time.

moby said...

Aii?? Garangnye photographer ni .... hehe!!

Right ... as soon as I have the time to get away from the two kids, I'll do some experimenting.

Eh, I like that "non-specific" coffee shop. My absolute fav! In fact I'm craving for a nice "non-specific" cup of coffee now! :D

mynn said...

naja
i have a tendency to read deep between the lines, hehehe.

dyanna
interrogate her for more info! then share with all of us, okay?

moby
hehehe, god i miss the "non specific" coffee shop. i've been abstaining since DITH's post on banning those products. the new hot chocolate is just LUSH!
me <---craving---

Kynne said...

Mynn, I have a lot to comment about the pictures you took. Tapi, nanti eh, nak kena update blog dulu. Lol.

Btw, I think our pre-packaged lens are the same. EF-S 18-55mm 1:3.5-5.6 II, kan? I have two other lenses : Canon Zoom Lens EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III USM with Ultrasonic Focus Drive and Sigma Macro 50mm F2.8 EX DG lens too. And of course, the faithful tripod which is a must for all budding photographers! :)

I'm patiently saving for wide-angled and fish-eye lens before I make my trip to the Scandinavian countries, hopefully sometime next year. Itu wide-angled lens penting tu! :)

Ah nanti saya comment lagi ye. Nak kasi abis blog entry pas tu kena belajar. Hehehe.

Paul Moss said...

Which mode is your WB set to? The light metering? Looks like your light metering was fooled by the white duck.
Want to maximize the blur of the back ground? Just set to longer zoom. Another tip...set focus on the duck eyes.

mynn said...

Paul Moss
Many thanks for the tips. WB mode is sometimes set to auto, depending on whether I like the results or not. The day was overcast - so i keep changing the WB to cloudy, daylight, and shade - depending on the situation. (i find that if i shoot indoors at night, and set the WB to tungsten it becomes too blue)

Light metering
- in the duck picture i set to aperture priority. In the Mama sarah picture i set it to "P".

I agree the whiteness of the duck probably fooled the light meter into underexposure, probably should have exposure-compensated by a few stops.

(ps - another reason to shoot in RAW right? all the WB could be done on the PC)

Kynne
As a fellow canon user, I cant wait for your comment on the pictures - are the settings wrong? Yup, i bought the camera with the Kit lens ... only afterwards did I realise I should have got the body only, and buy better lens seperately, argh. you have quite a good collection of lenses there -- the next one i'm getting would probably be the fast 50mm prime one.
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Thanks both

Kynne said...

Mynn, the EF-S 18-55mm 1:3.5-5.6 II lens comes with the body lah. If the body comes without the lens, matilah kita. Daylight robbery! Hehehe.

When I was about to purchase the 350D, the salesman (really knows his stuffs in photography too!) recommended me the zoom lens. At that point of time, I was actually purchasing the camera for my first amateur assignment, i.e. My best friend's wedding! Tapi in the end, I wasn't the photographer. My cousin took my place instead cos I was the bridesmaid, hehehe. Buat suspen jer eh.

I'm not that much of pro-photographer actually, I'm more of amateur who is very critical of her photos (mata ku macam radar) and aims for perfection (mata ku punya pasal). I'm flattered you might value my comments. But since I'm still crawling-to-be-a-pro, kalau ade comments yang tak munasabah... maaf jer lah ye? :)

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Statue pic :
1) I don't really like it cos of the flash. I'm not fond of using flash for any photos I take. Even for night shots. Kalau dah terpaksa, because of poor lighting or none at all, then I'm forced to use the flash. You could use WB : daylight option, that'll give you a better "lighted" picture without having to use flash, yes?

2) Understand you wanted to highlight the foreground statue. But in my eye of photography (steady ah!) it made the picture messy. Complicated background. There are 2 statues in there and 1 face-statue-thingamajig at the bottom-centre. All 3 are of the same dark brown colour. The "trunk" that holds the horsey statue clashes too much with the white clouds. Which one is your main subject?


Purple flower pic :
That picture would have been better if you stepped further in front. That way the photo would be 3/4 filled with the purple flowers. More focus (crisp, clear and more details) on the flowers with the background blur. For me, that'll be a good depth-of-field photo. How about using the cam's picture style of " Landscape- Vivid blues and greens, enhanced sharpness"? Maybe that would be better? Cubalah lain kali kalau boleh, I would like to see the "enhanced" effects.


Daughter's and Missus's pics :
Great composition! To add a bit of pro-ism (macam betul jer saya ni) on your daughter's pic, move your camera to the left or right of the frame, so it'll look like your missus's picture. Macam pro gitu kan? Or what you can do next time, be on her left or right, ask her to turn to look at you, focus, snap. Baring, tonggang terbalik pun boleh. It's all in good fun! Even if the people surrounding you may think you just came out of a mental hospital. Lol. For potrait, you could try vertical format. That is essentially the most natural and appropriate way. Give it a try next time. :)


Pic of Sarah tengah minum anonymous air cokolat :
Another good photo but I would zoom on her to lessen the background of the 3 guys. Hehehe... Maybe even squat to take pic of her from bottom-upwards.


Tesco nyer gambar, time malam :
Good shot! Amik gambar time malam-malam lagi. Best kan kalau dapat long exposures? Asalkan jangan indecent exposure suah. Lol.


Pic of your missus pushing the stroller :
Bad pic, flash is evil! I rarely using Automatic mode, most of the times it's "No-flash" and "P" modes. Macam flash, automatic mode is evil! Lol.


Pic of the quacks :
Underexposed, yes. You mentioned overcast weather kan? Takper lah, better luck next time. :) Animals can be difficult to shoot, yet at the same time when you do get a good picture of them, awesome. But again I would say, which is your main subject? I would try to see if I can capture only 1 duck even if that would take time cos they never stay in 1 position.

But it's fun taking animals photos. You might want to check out my Flickr animal photos. These are some of my favs.

Saki-monkey : http://www.flickr.com/photos/kynderz/89729183/in/set-72057594057302718/

Pelican : http://www.flickr.com/photos/kynderz/89734590/in/set-72057594057302718/

Koi : http://www.flickr.com/photos/kynderz/95274124/in/set-72057594061568474/

Ginger "The Poser" Cat : http://www.flickr.com/photos/kynderz/161775651/in/set-72157594157658222/


I'm more into macro photography .I love to zoom on my main subjects, so a lot of my photos are actually close-up ones. Hence my purchases on the 2 extra lenses. I actually have tons more pictures that I have to upload to my Flickr account. Tapi, sejak dah mula sekolah balik, penat gitu. Malas pun ada. Lol. Nanti lah, during the weekends, I'll upload the rest of them, Insya Allah. :)

And don't worry about getting extra lenses. Just practice with what you have first. Get better at it then purchase a new lens. Baru best tu!

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My own way of getting a good composition :
1) Get into I-am-going-to-snap-your-photo position
2) Point at the main subject (usually within centre of the focusing area)
3) Finger on the shutter button half-way. Use the cam's superb 7-point AF. In this case, your 9-point AF. Better explanation from Canon : "This locks the focus on the main subject, and an indicator, usually at one side of the eyepiece, will light and a beeper may sound"
4) Move your camera/yourself around to position the main subject/details that you want in the photograph. Photography term called "composing the picture." You may need to change position at times, especially if you're like me who prefers natural lighting.
5) Press the shutter completely to take the picture.

I do a lot of Point 3 and 4, different position, different composition and later various intepretations of photo. Don't be embarass if you have to squat, spread your legs (Lol!) or do anything that might seem crazy to you and the surrounding crowd! Sebab tu kekadang my ibu cakap anak dia ni tak betul. I have even lied down on the floor to get the composition I wanted! Gila lah tu.

Tip from Canon which I devoutly obey : "Changing position is very important. You may need to get closer than your zoom allows, or move back to get an even wider view. You can also move left and right to change the composition, or even up and down to avoid unwanted elements. After all, it are you who is taking the photograph, not the camera."

Tip from me : It takes a good practice to get it right. Never stop, keep on going.

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Mekkk! Panjang nyer comments. Lol.

I hope it helps Mynn! I'm striving to be a better photographer myself. :) Sama-sama belajar lah ye? :)

mynn said...

kynne
phowar! you weren't joking when you said "I have a lot to comment about the pictures you took." - seriously many thanks! all of what you said I find really useful. especially coming from a fellow canon user - you now the ins and outs of the autofocus systems, white balancing and different shooting modes.

one thing i am still doing as m.yamashita (or was it p.moss?) pointed before is I include too much in the picture. i really have to learn to minimise everything and exclude all that's unnecessary.

easy said than done! i'm still finding it difficult to translate how what i see in the viewfinder would translate to a 2D picture on the computer screen - hopefully this will come with training and experience.

i also value your comment about not using flash, flash is evil etc2. you are not the first person i've heard saying this. infact, most of my friends say the same.

i also find it VERY difficult not going the flash route -- i feel so far, that taking pictures is a struggle to get "enough light" in order to use smaller apertures or faster speeds... any tips on this ke kynne?

i've actually had a look at all those photos already, even before you mentioned them :) i would love to see more sample pictures from yourself.

cayalah, thanks kynne:)

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and again, many thanks for all of you more advanced DSLR users who are so willing to give pointers to a beginner like me. looking forward to more critiques and lessons :)