Saturday, December 4, 2010

Five Things I Learned Throughout the Semester

     There were a lot of important things that I learned throughout this Digital Nature Photography course. When I first began the course I hadn't really had much experience with photography, but I was curious and excited to begin shooting photographs. It took me personally a little while to learn the settings that the camera had, but I finally got the hang of most of them. I learned to usually always use the manual mode while taking pictures. Also I learned that the best ISO speed to use is usually 400 ISO, but sometimes I would go to ISO 800 to let more light into the lense if there was dark light on my subject.
     Throughout the class we had to do several blogs for assignments. Most of the online blogs were about photographers in which we admired for their photographs or on a certain type of photography, such as reflection shots in water, or macrophotography. Our final project also helped show my overall performance improving over the semester. I was able to show that I learned how to properly use the settings on my camera, and most importantly have learned to apply the rules of photography while shooting my photographs.
     I learned alot about the rules of photography in my class, and I know now how important they can be to your photograph. The seven rules in which we learned of were red is more attractive than yellow, jagged lines are more attractive than curved lines, light is more attractive than dark, large draws more attention than small, difference draws more attention than conformity, diaganol lines are more attractive than vertical lines, and sharpness is more attractive than blur. We had small projects in which we had to capture these rules within our pictures, but in my final project I tried to capture some of these rules in more detail.
     In my final project I really tried to incorporate my aperture, shutter speed, and ISO speeds, including some of the rules we learned during class. I learned which aperture and shutter speeds would be the best settings to have for my camera. It seemed as though for most of my pictures the shutter speed was around 1/800 to 1/1000 seconds, my aperture usually around F5, and my ISO was either set on 200, 400, or 800. I learned to periodically change my ISO settings according to the amount of light that was being transferred through the lense. The rule that I basically worked on throughout my photographs for my final project was the diagonal lines are more attractive than vertical lines, and the rule that jagged lines are more attractive than curvecd lines. I used many tree photographs within my photograph,so I had plenty of jagged lines with the oddly shaped branches.
     I believe that one very important aspect of the class that I actually didn't realize was that important was using the photoshop program on the computer. The program we used was Adobe Photoshop CS5. I really don't like photoshopped pictures very much, I believe they look sort of unnatural. Yet, during the class I learned several ways of how to use some of the tools in photoshop to make subtle changes to my pictures without totally destroying the origianality of the photograph. I learned how important a levels adjusment or a brightness and contrast layer was to your photograph. Other useful tools that came in handy for my success with photoshopping my photos was the filter layer, hue and saturation layer, and the cropping tool, along with several other tools.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Part 6 of the book

     Part six of the book is a pretty small chapter and it mainly talks about the Digital Darkroom Equipment, and then how you can set up images that you would like to present to others. The first chapter of part six is called the Digital Darkroom Equipment. As well as needing camera equipment while trying to take and create amazing wildlife photographs, photographers also need equipment such as a computer with a editing software and compact flash cards.
     Usually more than one flash card would be good for a days worth of shooting, usually two cards per day, seeings that it only takes about half of a day to fill one card up with heavy shooting. Once the flash card is full the pictures can be placed onto a computer for storage. Portable storage drives can come in handy if you don't have access to a laptop while out on shooting trips. These storage drives have a built in card reader which allows you to transfer all of your photos taken in a quick manner.
     Once you are all done on your wildlife shooting trip you need to upload the photographs onto your computer's hard drive. The picture is processed in this stage and transformed into a JPEG image. Also once the photographs are all uploaded onto your personal computer you are free to begin downloading. You can use all sorts of tools in Adobe Photoshop, such as brightness and contrast, color balance, saturation, and dodging, along with several other tools.
      The next chapter for part six is called Preparing Images for Presentation. This chapter talks all about how you can use the computer to edit and prepare a photograph that can be presented to an audience. Most photographers with a dslr camera shoot their photographs in RAW mode so that all of their images are being saved in their original states. When saving you pictures to your computer you should convert your photographs to either TIFF or PSD, but not JPEG because that will only lose some of the data within the image.
     Once in Photoshop you can use all sorts of functions and tools to modify your photographs. Such function that you can take advantage of are the color spaces. The three color spaces most people use are ProPhoto RGB, Adobe RGB, and Adobe sRGB IEC619962.1. You can easily change the brightness levels by using the Levels Adjustment layer. This tool fine tunes your camera exposure as well as giving an overall brightness to your picture. The color saturation can be easily modified by using a Adjustment Hue/Saturation layer, which enhances the colors that are already in the picture. The contrast can also be adjusted in the photograph, which measures the degree of difference between adjacent colors. Shadows and highlights added to your photograph can also help add contrast. Retouching areas that need to be taken out of picture can be done by using either the healing brush or the clone stamp tool. Sharpening is probably the most important thing to check for when putting your photograph into photoshop and it is usually the final stage in preparing your image for presentation. Sharpening can be used to put certain areas of your picture back into focus or as close to being in focus as they can get. After sharpening your photograph you can save the photograph and then start printing the image for people to have copies of your great piece of work.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Part 5 of the Book

     The first chapter of part five is called Working at Close Range. In this chapter we learn of the various camera accessories that one can use when shooting for close range photography. One accessories that many photographers take advantage of are macro lenses, the focusing range is great because it can range from infinity to a close-up distance. Extension tubes and bellows can also be used while shooting macro photographs. They do usually always produce quality images, but they also reduce the amount of light that is transmitted by the lens. These extension tubes help create a larger magnification without getting a huge macro lenses with great magnification. Bellows are usually designed for high magnification work and are used for very close up work.
     Teleconverters and telephoto lenses can also be used for macro photography. Teleconverters help increase the focal length of the lens to 2X, and telephoto lenses have a great magnification range so if you can not get close to certain subjects then you certainly don't have to. Photographers can use tilt shift lenses for depth of field. The electronic flash is great to use for good exposure times and then a flash position can be great to put at certain angles for lighting purposes. You can place the flash to one side, above, or behind the subject to illuminate it.
     The next chapter in part five is titled Wild Flora. This section talks about how you can use certain approaches to photograph wild flowers.  Winds can be an extremely bad thing for taking pictures of  flowers seeing that your flowers can look like an extreme blur. You need to make sure that you stabilize your flowers so that they don't move around from wind and you have sharpness in your photograph. Light is very important to keep in mind when photographing flowers as well.Natural light is the most attractive,but in most cases photographers use artificial light. This artificial light can come from White reflectors are usually used to enhance natural light and create shadows.
     To make a successful wildflower portrait you need to make sure to use these steps. The first step is to get close enough to the actual flower. You should have sharp focus on the whole flower, but mainly focus on the stamens or pistils of the flower. Colors are important because you need to be aware of the surrounding colors compared to your main subjects colors. You have to be sure that your main subject (or the actual flower) is in focus and nothing else overpowers the main subjects presence.
     A telephoto lens can help improve several aspects of your floral photograph. The telephoto lens depth of field can come in handy when shooting flowers. Also you will be able to create a great blur of the not so important subjects with this type of lens. The last section of this Wild Flora chapter talks about not being afraid to get a little dirty while capturing great wild flower photographs. You need to be able to get right up close for those best flora shots so don't even bother using a tripod.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Part 4 of the book

     The first chapter of section four is called Finding Photogenic Landscapes, which talks about ten major clues that can help you find the best landscape setting. The first clue is called Color First which talks about how strong color can make for a great photograph and also it talks about how red is the most appealing color to humans. You should place these red hues and cool colors in sharp detail in the foreground of the photograph. The second clue is called Clouds Make The Difference, which says how clouds are best when they are near the horizon and above the target area. The clouds help accompany the main point of interest in the photograph and clouds help with pulling through light for good shadowing effects. The next clue is called Calm Atmosphere For Detail which talks about how stillness of subjects is great for shooting because it can create great depth of field for the subject and create a sharp object.
      North/South Camera Angles talks of how you should angle your camera in the North and South directions to illuminate your subject with great sidelight. Foreground Details is an important clue because these foreground subjects can help set up the scale of a scene, it helps combine a flat scene with the accompany of three dimensions. Magic Moments Beside Still Pools is a great clue because still ponds, lakes, and beaver ponds make great reflection shots which can create wonderful lighting and repetition.
     The next chapter in part four is called The Power Of Perspective. When shooting a subject for a photograph the photographer needs to be aware of the size cues of their subject. The closer you are too your subject the bigger it may appear and it is just the opposite with how far away you are from the subject. You should remember to find subjects of similar size and then change the angle of the camera to make them into different proportions. Overlapping is very important when it comes to setting up a good photograph. You should mainly overlap simple areas of contrasting color, line direction, and brightness of shape. Overlapping can be especially helpful when intersecting different planes.
      With hazy days you have to be careful to make sure how close your main subjects appear in such things such as snow or fog. This is important because on hazy days there are plenty of particles that are being suspended into the atmosphere which make objects appear closer than they actually are. When trying to capture deep perspective scenes you should be aware of the five planes. These are the foreground plane which show landscape details that set the scale of the composition of scene, the midground plane holds the size cue proportions ,the feature plane shows the center of interest in the photograph, the cloud plane, and the sky plane holds the final backdrop of the photograph.
      The last chapter of this part four is called Nature's Mystical Mirrors which are usually always created by lakes or rivers, or areas with water.When shooting in water you should always use a tripod that does not easily get jammed by water and zoom lenses usually work best for this kind of shooting. When trying to capture reflections in the water you should avoid wind on the water. You should always keep your camera position extremely low,trying to find a foreground element close to your view for the picture your trying to capture. For your wilderness reflection shots you will need a polarizing filter , a one-stop split neutral density, and a filter holder. With the filter you can get the pool to show its most distinct reflection. Using two different filters may be important to create a dark and light section of your photo. The two stop split neutral density filter can be put on top to create a darker gray shadow over the cloud section and you can use the lighter gray one stop split neutral density filter to create a lighter shadow over the reflection and the water.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Part 3 of the book

     In the first chapter of part three we learn about Getting Close. Sometimes when shooting wildlife you have to be careful with how close you get to the subject. A photographer always needs to do their homework before going out into the field to shoot wildlife. If the subject is comfortable with you being close to them then that is perfectly fine, but if their is tension with the subject due to your distance from the animal then you should probably back off a little. Photographers must also study the natural history of the animal before trying to shoot it.
     If you still want to capture a great photograph of a animal without putting yourself in a harmful position then you should use a telephoto lens. This way you can get great picture quality and a sharp image just as if you were right up close to the subject. Every photographer needs to remember to remain quiet and move slow while following a subject for their safety and the animals safety and also you should never fence the animal in and avoid trying to intimidate the subject. You can use your cars or other blinds that can be set up in the trees or on ground to hide from your subject. These blinds usually blend in with your surrounding and a animal usually will not go near many cars.
     The next chapter talks all about capturing animals in action within your picture. The best places for a photographer to catch large groups of animals in action would be at national parks, bird sanctuary, or a wildlife refuge. In these areas the animals are use to photographers so the photographer can get in at a close range to capture a wonderful picture. In most cases it is usually best to be at the site where you will shoot before sun rise. This way you will be able to capture the best light possible for your picture and some great action shots as well.
     Photographers should also remember to use a tripod for sharp pictures and stability and also they should always lower the tripod down to eye level of their subject. This eye level straight on shot is more appealing than a picture taken from below or above the subject. The background will become softer in the picture and the subjects pop from the picture .Also your smaller size will prove to be less intimidating to the subject. When taking several shots of wild animals we need to remember to shoot first and then edit later. This way we will not miss anything interesting or perfect for our picture. And if we keep waiting then we will waste precious lighting that we have right now. In most cases auto focus or the manual mode can be used to capture great focus of your subject. The last thing that a photographer needs to do is to study the behavior of the subject they are going to shoot before hand. This way you know what interesting habits that the animal has that you should look for when trying to capture your photograph.
      The last chapter of part three is called Wildlife Portraits. When shooting larger wild animals photographers need to remember to keep their distance. For this reason wide angle lenses should never be used when shooting larger animals instead photographers should use telephoto lenses. With the telephoto lens you can create significant changes  in the composition of the background and foreground of the picture. Also because of the lenses already shallow depth of field their is a ready blur already set on the not so important elements of the picture. The picture should also be set up in three different planes, the foreground, midground, and the background. Foregrounds can usually be grasses or flowers, the midground is dominated by the subject. The most important thing on a wild animal in a nature picture is the face. For this reason the photographer needs to make sure that they have the face in focus. They need to make sure they have good light on the face and the eyes should definitely be wide open.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Part Two of the Book

     Exposure is the first thing that we learn about in the part 2 of the book. . The histogram can help out a lot when trying to keep track of your camera exposure. Exposure is based on through the lens light meter reading that transmit the luminance of scene onto the camera. One can control their exposure manually or automatically and by using the aperture and shutter speed. The histogram records the luminance of scene and tells you if all parts of scene have been recorded on sensor. The amount of light that is hitting the sensor can be measured by the shutter speed, which makes adjustments to its durations, or by its intensity, which is the aperture. The aperture priority mode gives priority to depth of field and the shutter priority mode helps shoot at a fast shutter speed for a frozen image or a slow shutter speed for a blurred picture. The exposure compensation feature can be used for improving base of exposure and by improving chances of well captured exposure the first time by compensating for meters failings. This is usually a convenient button or wheel. For lighter subjects you should increase exposure by a few stops and for darker subjects you should decrease exposure by a few stops. White scene will record as gray without exposure compensation.
     The second chapter of Part 2, Reading the light, talks about which times of the day are best and worst for taking nature photographs and also it talks about the various different kinds of lighting. The different types of lighting consist of sidelight, frontlight, twilight, and overcast light.Frontlighting is when you are shooting a specimen with the sun directly behind you, this illuminates the subject and shows the saturated color and the contrast between different colors and fine detail in all parts of the scene.From sidelight the sun can illuminate the scene to reveal its form and texture.Backlight works best when the sun is directly behind the subject. More highlights of certain parts of your subject can be produced with backlighting. Lens flare is a big problem to look out for when using backlighting in your photographs. Twilight happens when the sun is just below the horizon and the light from glowing sky overhead illuminates the scene. With clouds present the picture can appear to look warmer and you should shoot with long exposures with twilight. Overcast light creates a very soft light that will not ruin the photo with deep shadows. Both fine detail and saturated color will be captured greatly.
     The depth of field of your photograph shows the subject in sharp detail. You can adjust your depth of field by setting the aperture to a f/stop that you have for your set exposure. This shows you what is sharp and what is not so sharp. Depth of field can also help control your exposure and point of focus when shooting. Depth of field goes right along side magnification of subject and your aperture size. If your magnification is higher then your depth of field is less and its the opposite with aperture size.The next chapter is all about motion effects and using your shutter speed and camera movement to control the effect of motion. Both shutter speed and aperture can be used to
     Modifying natural light can be done from using filters and reflectors. Filters help reduce contrast and they also enhance color of subject. You can find several different brands of filters out there on the market. You can typically find one size of filter to use for all of your lenses and then just use step up rings for your smaller lenses. Polarizing filters are probably the most convenient way to go, they produce greater color saturation by reducing or eliminating reflected glare from non-metallic surfaces. These filters can also reduce scene brightness. There are also split neutral density filters half of it is clear and then other half is gray which will darken part of scene which it is placed over. The dark part of filter is usually placed over brighter part of scene. The graduated neutral density filters, this can help define clear and dark regions. You can get warming filters or blue/gold polarizing filters to help in areas of pictures with those certain colors.
     The chapter called Designing The Picture Space is probably the most important part of the book.  Dominance is a key when using certain elements to capture a great photo. These seven elements that we learned are red is more attractive than yellow, large draws more attention than small, difference draws more attention than conformity, jagged lines are more striking than curved ones, diagonal lines are more attractive than vertical ones, sharpness is more attractive than blur, and light is more attractive than dark. Along with seven elements color grabs a persons attention quite well. The warm colors; red, yellow, and orange have more visual power than cool colors, like blue and green. The center of interest can usually  be placed anywhere and someone will find it, but usually you should place it according to the rule of thirds, one third from sides and top and bottom.