Mark Bunting Photography: Blog https://www.markbuntingphotography.co.uk/blog en-us (C) Mark Bunting Photography markbuntingphotography@gmail.com (Mark Bunting Photography) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:32:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:32:00 GMT https://www.markbuntingphotography.co.uk/img/s/v-12/u598988958-o138941032-50.jpg Mark Bunting Photography: Blog https://www.markbuntingphotography.co.uk/blog 120 80 Travel Photography Gear for Normal People - Less is More! https://www.markbuntingphotography.co.uk/blog/2020/2/travel-photography-gear-for-normal-people---less-is-more DSC_3234 Edit Free Crop Nik DE lo Res LogoDSC_3234 Edit Free Crop Nik DE lo Res Logo 20191121 - Mount Ngauruhoe, Tongariro National Park, North Island, New Zealand

 

No Hobbits or any other mythical creatures were hurt during the taking of this photo.

(For non-Lord of the Ring fans - Mount Ngauruhoe is famous as being the site used as Mount Doom, during the filming of LOTR.)

Tech Stuff - Nikon D7200 / 16 to 85 mm / f3.5 to f5.6 @ 16 mm

1/500th Sec / f7.1 / ISO 100)

 

Travel Photography for Normal People

Less Gear is More!

 

For the camera & lens(es) you take with you when you 'do' travel photography, (after the obvious constraint of cost), there is the issue of weight!

Travel photography often involves you being on your feet for much of the time and, presumably, you will have your camera in your hand ready to take photos.  After all, that's the whole idea!  The rest of the time it will be in your rucksack, on your back.

And the longer you hold that camera in your hand, hang it around your neck, over your shoulder or in your rucksack, the heavier it seems to become!

So, in an ideal world, you'd like a light-weight camera for your travels.

Plus, simply from a packing point of view, you would also like it to be quite small - all the better to get other holiday essentials into your day rucksack rather than just your big & bulky camera.

(Naturally, if you are travelling by air, it goes without saying that you never - EVER - put your camera gear in your hold luggage.)

So, as happy travellers, we are looking at a balancing act between camera performance v weight - and, of course, size and cost.

Now, don't get me wrong, this blog entry is for those of us who are going on a holiday / travelling and we want to be able to take some decent snaps.

(The intrepid professional travel photographer will always take along pro level gear that means they can get the shot they want in any conditions - because they want to be able to pay their mortgage each month.  And to do that they will spend £££ on pro gear which is capable, reliable and physically tough (including weather resistant).  Cost, size and weight are all important factors but performance and reliability reign supreme so a pro Travel Photographer will trade cost, size and weight for performance and reliability.  And they will want all this to fit in a carry-on bag when they are travelling by air!) 

1 - You might already have your travel camera - your smart phone!

If you are a digital-native, (ie you don't remember analogue phones, you don't think an Apple is a fruit and you sometimes forget that you can actually use your phone to talk to other people) then you may be quite happy using your smart phone to take your travel snaps.  If you are largely looking to take urban & rural landscapes, with some people snaps, in pretty decent lighting conditions, outside, then your smartphone may well be all the camera you need.  Just don't forget to upload your photos to some form of cloud storage every few days, in case you lose your phone or it ends up at the bottom of the hotel pool.

Certainly for general holiday type snaps your smartphone may well be all the camera you need.  Just note it may well struggle in low-light / indoors but then smartphone technology is improving all the time.

2 - You might be happy with a compact camera

The phrase 'compact-camera' (give it a google) refers to a whole host of cameras that are on the market and are typically small enough to sit in the palm of your hand.  They offer advantages over your smartphone in that

+ they have a larger sensor than a smartphone which means better performance in low light

+ they may well have a zoom lens which can be a real advantage

+ they come in a range of prices so can suit many budgets

Your compact camera has the brilliant advantage that you can probably keep it in a pouch on your belt and it's going to be small and light.

Anything with a sensor with between 16 to 24 Megapixels will be fine.

Beware of adverts that say 'massive zoom - from 28 mm to 1200 mm'.  You want a lens that goes from fairly wide, say a 24 mm or 28 mm (full-frame equivalent) to say, 200 to 300 mm to let you get close when you want to.  Any advert that says 'massive 600 mm / 1200 mm zoom!' is just trying to part you from your money.

(A warning to anyone who wants to take stunning wildlife on a budget camera - you can't.  (Unless you visit a zoo!)  My rule for wildlife photography is, no matter how long a lens you have, for wildlife photography you always want a longer lens!  So the trick is to get close to the wildlife.  If you want to take stunning photos of the wildlife on a 'once in a lifetime safari' you'll want good camera gear and the proven ability to use it.  So for that 'once in a lifetime' trip in 2 years time, buy your kit now and learn how to use it.)

The disadvantages of your compact camera are

- Poor low light performance

- They generally don't have a viewfinder

- That little screen on the back can be really difficult to see in bright sunshine

and that's about it. 

Just be aware that compact cameras will generally struggle in low light ie indoors anytime or at anywhere at night.  (And no, that tiny little flash it has isn't going to save you.)

So, if most of your photos are going to be taken outside, during the day, in good light, then your compact camera should be fine.

3 - A bridge camera - the next step

It is a photographic truism that generally, more money, more weight and a larger physical size essentially buys you better low light performance. 

(For more on the relative size of various camera sensors google 'size of camera sensors'.  In the world of camera sensors bigger is better in terms of low light performance.)

A bridge camera is essentially a compact camera in a body which is similar to a Digital SLR.  (Just google 'Best Bridge Cameras' and see what comes up.)  Once again a sensor with anything between 16 to 24 Megapixels is fine and largely ignore the claims of 40 times zoom etc.  The picture quality often greatly deteriorates at the long end of such a 'massive' the zoom.

The main advantage of a bridge camera is the larger body often allows easier direct access to various controls - shutter speed, aperture and ISO.  But this is no real advantage if you always shoot on 'Auto' all the time.  However, if you want to get a better understanding of how your camera works and have more control over what the camera does, a bridge camera can be a good place to start.

+ Often has a viewfinder - a real advantage

+ Can allow easier control of various settings, such as shutter speed, aperture, ISO

+ Good for someone who wants to learn how to control what the camera does

- Larger and heavier than a compact camera

- Almost as large and heavy as the smaller Digital SLRs but with poorer performance, especially in low light. 

4 - A Digital SLR - Micro Four-thirds size or APS-C size sensor

Our journey from smartphone to here is one of increasing sensor size, and the bigger a camera's sensor the better its performance but at the cost of size of the camera, its weight and its price.  However, once you get to micro four-thirds sensor size or the larger APS-C size sensor then the camera performance is really very good.  A number of professional travel photographers use micro four-thirds sized cameras with marvellous results.

(My 'sweet spot' is an APS-C sized sensor camera body, fitted with a 16 mm to 85 mm zoom lens.  This gives me the equivalent in full-frame sensor language of a 24 to 127.5 mm zoom.  I like the wide 24 mm end as that allows me to capture wide vistas.  The 127.5 mm telephoto end just gives me some flexibility and some telephoto range.  If I had to, I could do 80% of my travel photography at the 24 mm setting.)

So, micro four-thirds and APS-C sized sensors

+ Very good camera performance

+ Used by a number of travel photography professionals

+ Can sometimes have inter-changeable lenses

- larger & heavier than compact cameras & bridge cameras

- can be very expensive

As I mentioned above, by the time you get to this category many of the cameras take inter-changeable lenses.  I'm a big fan of good quality zoom lenses and would generally suggest you get a general, good quality zoom as your first lens.  (If you have a special interest, say wildlife, then more bad news, you need to get saving for some very expensive, good quality, long telephoto lenses!)

So, if you want more from your photography, and are prepared to learn how to use your camera properly - rather than shoot on Auto all the time - then for travel and general photography, a micro four-thirds or an APS-C sized sensor is a good place to start.  For many like this, a camera body which takes inter-changeable lenses, with a general, standard zoom lens is the answer. 

Get to know your camera and lens combination and learn how to get the best out of them.  But never forget, as Ansel Adams (google him) said

 

'The single most important component of a camera is the

twelve inches behind it!'

Ansel Adams

And Finally

I'm afraid none of us can buy our way into being good photographers simply by buying good kit, we need to put in the effort to understanding our craft, and that never stops.  And the fact that the learning never stops is part of the attraction.

So, if you are happy shooting on Auto, outside, in good light, then your smartphone or a compact camera is possibly your best choice.

If you want a bit more performance and are prepared to put in the effort to understand this photography thing, then a camera with a micro four-thirds or APS-C sized sensor with a general zoom lens is a good place to start.

If you are undecided, try a bridge camera.

My own story - Started with a compact camera, moved onto a bridge camera (which I loved!), moved onto an APS-C sized sensor camera (which I still use for client work) and now also use full-frame sized sensor bodies for client work such as weddings, sports, events - especially when the larger sensor size of full-frame lets me work in really dark conditions.  For travel photography I use my APS-C camera body fitted with a 16 mm to 85 mm lens which for me hits a sweet spot of performance versus weight - which is where this blog entry started!

Keep taking those pictures!

And never stop learning!

Mark

      

 

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markbuntingphotography@gmail.com (Mark Bunting Photography) budget camera enthusiast gear intermediate photography https://www.markbuntingphotography.co.uk/blog/2020/2/travel-photography-gear-for-normal-people---less-is-more Thu, 06 Feb 2020 15:40:06 GMT
Indoor Sports Photography on a Budget - The Technique https://www.markbuntingphotography.co.uk/blog/2017/3/indoor-sports-photography-on-a-budget---the-technique

(Photo - Nikon D750 / 70 to 200 mm / f2.8 @ 70 mm

1/500th Sec / f2.8 / ISO 4000)

 

Indoor Sports Photography on a Budget

The Technique

I've covered the Technique for Outdoor Sports Photography on a Budget in an earlier Blog.  This particular Blog looks at differences in technique for Indoor Sports Photography. 

(If you've already read the technique Blog for Outdoor Sports photography, then just skip over the bits which are a 'cut & paste' from that Blog.)

1 - Sports Photography is really Action Portraiture - It's all about the Face!

Indoor or Outdoor Sports photography is really Action Portraiture!  And it's all about the face.  So make sure you focus on the face and capture the players' agony or ecstasy of the moment. So you will want to photograph the players coming towards you so you can see their face.  In Indoor Sports photography you can get really close to the players so you should be able to get some great facial expression shots.  

2 - Get as Low as You can Go!

Just as for Outdoor Sports Photography.  Don't stand up!  Sit.  Kneel.  Squat.  Get down low!  The lower viewpoint really does add to the overall 'feel' of the shot.  In fact, of all my sports photography 'hints & tips', this is the one which most people cite as making a massive difference to their shots.

3 - Shoot wide - leave space between the hands & feet and the edge of the viewfinder

Just as for Outdoor Sports Photography, if you want to shoot a group of players, leave room in the viewfinder for their hands & feet!  I tend to zoom out from the group until I get a good border around the viewfinder image which is clear of hands & feet.  You can always crop in later when you are editing.  But you can't put in cut-off hands & feet if you take the shot too closely zoomed in.

4 - Shoot close - Head & Shoulders of One or Two Players

As in portraiture they will be times when you want a full length portrait (ie including the hands & feet!).  And there will be times when you want a head & shoulders portrait.  Again, I tend to shoot a little wide and then crop in during editing.

5 - Watch the Background  

Just like normal portraiture, beware of the background.  If it is 'busy' - full of the crowd, gym gear, whatever, it will be a distraction.  Such background distractions can be a particular challenge for indoor venues.  Sometimes it is impossible to avoid but often by changing your viewpoint - moving left or right a few paces - the background improves.

And just like its Outdoor cousin, there may be an upper level / viewing gallery from which you can look down on the court area.  This will give you a different viewpoint and the court floor is typically fairly uniform and thus is a good, non-distracting background.

6 - What about the Ball? Shuttlecock? Disc?

Obviously you will want some shots which include a player with the ball / shuttlecock / disc etc.  But not every shot needs to include the ball etc.  My approach to sports photography is to treat it like portraiture so if the ball is in shot, that's a bonus.  But, typically, only about half my shots will have the ball etc in them.

7 - Running Past? Running Towards?

As I touched on above, you will generally want to shoot the player as they run towards you.  Pictures of backs of heads are not that appealing.  Remember, you want to see - and focus - on the player's face - and that means they will be running towards you.

8 - Sideline or Goal-line?

You want to be as close to the action as possible, so you want to be right on the side-line.  (But do keep an eye out for the play and NEVER get in the way of any of the players!)

Sideline shots can be good as players run towards you.  Goal-line shots are obviously good.  I tend to do some research before the game and position myself near the goal-line of the weaker team as this is probably where the stronger team is going to score.

9 - RAW or JPEG?

Many sports photographers shoot JPEG.  (As indeed do many wedding photographers.)  If the light is reasonable JPEG is absolutely fine.  Typically I shoot both RAW and JPEG but if the lighting is good I go straight to the JPEGs in the editing process.

If I am shooting an outdoor night game I will mostly use the JPEGs but if there is a shot in which I need to recover a considerable amount of detail in a deep shadow area I will then go to the RAW file.

But, by and large, for outdoor daylight sports - and indeed for well-lit indoor sports - JPEG are the way to go.

For indoor sports, largely so I can fix any White Balance issues during the editing process, I shoot RAW.  This also means I can completely forget about any White Balance issues during the shoot and concentrate more on getting some decent shots.

10 - Practise Makes Perfect!

Practise makes perfect.  The more sports photography you do, whether it is indoors or outdoors, the better you will get.  So, crack on!

11 - Blog Feedback

If you have found this Blog useful, please feel free to leave a comment. 

And if you think someone you know would find it useful, please feel free to share it with them.

And if you didn't find this Blog useful, if you leave me a comment telling me why, I will try to improve it at its next review.

 

 

 

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markbuntingphotography@gmail.com (Mark Bunting Photography) Beginner Budget Enthusiast Gear Indoor Intermediate Photography Settings Sports https://www.markbuntingphotography.co.uk/blog/2017/3/indoor-sports-photography-on-a-budget---the-technique Wed, 01 Mar 2017 16:30:04 GMT
Indoor Sports Photography on a Budget - The Gear & the Settings https://www.markbuntingphotography.co.uk/blog/2017/3/indoor-sports-photography-on-a-budget---the-gear-the-settings

(Photo - Nikon D7200 / 24 to 70 mm / f2.8 @ 63 mm

1/250th Sec / f2.8 / ISO 360)

 

Indoor Sports Photography on a Budget

The Gear & the Settings

Unlike outdoor sports such as football or rugby, most (all?) indoor sports - such as basketball, badminton, ultimate, 5-a-side, etc - are played on courts which are much smaller than a football or rugby pitch.  So, you don't need humungously long (and expensive) lenses to get decent shots!  You can get very reasonable results with affordable lenses.

But in Indoor Sports photography, light levels are likely to be lower than outdoors. 

And you need to be aware of any White Balance issues.

So here are some pointers for starting out in the world of indoor sports photography.

(If you've read the Blogs on Outdoor Sports Photography, just skip over the bits that are pretty much a 'cut & paste' from those Blogs.)

1 - You are going to need a camera with a viewfinder!

Sorry, but just as for outdoor sports photography, you will need to use a camera with a viewfinder.

2 - You are NOT going to need a lens of at least 300 mm (in terms of 35 mm).

Good news!  Unlike photographing outdoor sports, you can take pretty decent snaps with much more modest gear.  Typically for indoor sports in a well-lit sports hall I would use a 24 to 70 mm zoom on one body and a 70 to 200 mm zoom on another.  (In crop sensor terms your standard kit lens of 18 to 55 mm is equivalent in 35 mm terms to 27 to 82.5 mm - which is pretty much the same as my full frame mounted 24 to 70 mm lens.)  So, if you are using a Nikon APS-C sensor camera, a 18 to 200 mm zoom gives you the 35 mm equivalent of 27 mm to 300 mm - so that is already good enough to start your indoor sports photography career. 

And if you have a prime lens lying around - say a 50 mm / f1.8 - you could put that on your DSLR crop body and it acts like a 35 mm equivalent of 75 mm / f2.7.  Use it and just zoom with you feet.  It is much lighter than your zoom lens and the 35 mm equivalent aperture of f2.7 instead - of a typical zoom aperture of say f3.5 to f5.6 - will let in tons more light than your zoom - helping you keep your shutter speed high.  So, do have a go with any prime lenses you have lying around.

3 - Shutter Speed - High Enough to Freeze the Action eg 1/1000th of a second or Faster

Just like outdoor sports photography, you will want to use a high enough shutter speed to freeze the action.  Typically I will start at 1/1000th of a second, but if lighting conditions allow (ie if it is bright enough) I will go to 1/2000th of a second or even higher.  I want to freeze the action so I can see the individual beads of sweat as they come off the players forehead! 

If you are photographing in a modern, well-lit sports hall, the lighting may well be excellent.  But if it's not, you may have to reduce the shutter speed or up your ISO to compensate for the lower level of lighting.

If you need to drop as low as 1/500th or 1/250th of a second then take lots of shots as most of them will be 'deleters' rather than 'keepers' as in many cases the players faces will be blurred - which means 'delete the picture'.

4 - Aperture - Keep it Simple - Let the camera choose

As for Outdoor Sports, you will want to let the camera choose your aperture, as you will be controlling the shutter speed.  So set your camera to Shutter Priority.  (Later you might want to shoot in manual keeping your aperture as wide open as possible to get those nice, gently blurred, backgrounds, but let's keep it simple for now.)

But in an indoor setting, if the light level is relatively low, in all probably the camera will keep your lens wide-open ie at its maximum aperture - to maximise the amount of light falling on the camera sensor.  Hence you might want to have a go with any prime lens you have lying around - especially if it has an aperture which opens wider than your zoom.

But remember that a wider aperture means more light let in - good news - but be aware that it also means a reduced depth of field - which can give a lovely effect - gently blurring the background & isolating the subject area - but the price you pay for this is you have to work doubly hard to focus correctly as your depth of field will be quite shallow.  But, if you get it right, the overall effect can really be quite stunning.

5 - ISO - Keep it Simple - Let the camera choose - But Set Your Maximum ISO!

Ideally, you always want a nice, low, ISO setting but it's shutter speed that rules the roost in sports photography and all else is secondary.  So this is where you find out what you camera is like at high ISOs.  The good news is that cameras are getting better at ISO performance all the time.  You will need to do some experimenting at your first few matches to see how high you are happy for your camera to go in terms of ISO.  And this can be a very personal preference. 

So, have a play with your camera, shoot 10 shots each at say ISO 800, 1600, 3200, 6400, 8000, 12,800 (or whichever values your camera allows) and then gauge on your desktop screen how high an ISO you are happy to use.  And then either adjust it manually during the shoot.  Or, if your camera allows your ISO value to 'float', set the max value and then shoot away.

6 - Fast Focus

Just the same as for Outdoors Sports.  You know that by pressing halfway down on your shutter button your camera focuses.  And in sports photography you will spend a lot of you time with your shutter button half depressed - ready for the 'right moment'. 

Very importantly, for sports, you need to set your camera to 'continuous auto focus' (AF - C) as your subjects will be moving!  Often very quickly!  So your camera needs to know that whenever you have the shutter button pressed half-way down, that you want it to continuously adjust the focus as the player is moving.  (The other typical focus mode is 'single auto focus' (AF - S) which is fine if you are photographing a landscape, but not any use when a burley rugby player is racing towards you!)

I also suggest you set your focus point to 'single' - ie the camera concentrates on what you have under that typically black square focus symbol in the middle of your viewfinder screen.  So you will have to work hard to keep that black square symbol on the face of the player you are interested in - typically the player with the ball! - but if you get it right, the player's face will always be in sharp focus in your photo!

Some folk will use different focus modes eg d9 in Nikon uses 9 points, d21 uses - yes, you've guessed it - 21 points - but I like the single point focus system as I know exactly where the camera will be focussed.

(It's well beyond 'Keep It Simple' but eventually you should be using the back button focus technique - and a great video on this by Steve Perry - can be accessed via this link - Steve Perry on Back Button Focus)

7 - Weather Proof Gear - Not Required!

One of the joys of indoor sports is you won't get cold or wet!

8 - White Balance Problems - Shoot in RAW

As I explained in an earlier Blog on Concert & Theatre Photography, White Balance is 'tuning' your camera sensor to the dominant colour of light.  If you are outside, in daylight - it's daylight!  If you are inside a room which is lit by tungsten lights - it's tungsten.  The 'auto white balance' setting on most cameras works pretty well, most of the time.  And even when you set the white balance manually, on many cameras you can see the effect in live view on the rear LCD screen - which takes all the guessing out of setting your white balance.  So it is worth taking some test shots - or varying the WB while looking at Live View on the LCD - to get WB at the setting you want.  But 'auto WB' usually works pretty well.

BUT!

The issue is with sports halls, community centres, that may not pay attention to lighting in the same way as professional halls.  Professional halls will go to a lot of trouble to make the lighting as like daylight as possible.  Sadly, in less grand settings you might have some tungsten lights, some incandescent lights and some daylight coming in through some skylights.  Not a great venue for even lighting.  Here you need to play around with your WB settings to get the effect you want.  But, in some cases, you will have to work very hard to get rid of any lighting induced colour cast.

So, that is the time to shoot in RAW, in fact one of the main advantages for me of shooting in RAW, is that I can set my WB in the edit phase - which gives me maximum flexibility.  Hence, for my indoor sports, I use RAW and sort out any White Balance issues in the editing phase. 

9 - Don't Splash the Cash - Well, Not Just Yet

As always, don't spend a fortune on new gear until you have tried your current kit, you might be surprised how well you can do with it.  And don't forget to give your prime lenses a go as well - and it may well turn out that you like using your prime lenses even more than your zoom.

Happy Indoor Sports Photography!

10 - Blog Feedback

If you have found this Blog useful, please feel free to leave a comment. 

And if you think someone you know would find it useful, please feel free to share it with them.

And if you didn't find this Blog useful, if you leave me a comment telling me why, I will try to improve it at its next review.

 

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markbuntingphotography@gmail.com (Mark Bunting Photography) Beginner Budget Enthusiast Gear Intermediate Photography Settings indoor sports https://www.markbuntingphotography.co.uk/blog/2017/3/indoor-sports-photography-on-a-budget---the-gear-the-settings Wed, 01 Mar 2017 16:25:58 GMT
Outdoor Sports Photography on a Budget - The Technique https://www.markbuntingphotography.co.uk/blog/2017/2/outdoor-sports-photography-on-a-budget---the-technique  

(Photo - Nikon D7200 / 300 mm / f4

1/1000th Sec / f4 / ISO 640)

 

Outdoor Sports Photography on a Budget

The Technique

I've covered the Gear & Settings for Outdoor Photography on a Budget in an earlier Blog.  This particular Blog looks at technique.  A few simple rules can really help your sports photography.

1 - Sports Photography is really Action Portraiture - It's all about the Face!

Sports photography is really Action Portraiture!  And it's all about the face.  So make sure you focus on the face and capture the players' agony or ecstasy of the moment. So you will want to photograph the players coming towards you so you can see their face.  Photographing the back of a player's head as they run away from you is not the shot you want.  

2 - Get as Low as You can Go!

Don't stand up!  Sit.  Kneel.  Squat.  Get down low!  Pros will typically bring a camping chair and sit if they are given a single spot allocation at a major game.  The lower viewpoint really does add to the overall 'feel' of the shot.  Those folk who spend all the match standing up - and maybe using a monopod - will definitely miss a trick because their viewpoint was too high.

3 - Shoot wide - leave space between the hands & feet and the edge of the viewfinder

If you want to shoot a group of players, leave room in the viewfinder for their hands & feet!  I tend to zoom out from the group until I get a good border around the viewfinder image which is clear of hands & feet.  You can always crop in later when you are editing.  But you can't put in cut-off hands & feet if you take the shot too closely zoomed in.

4 - Shoot close - Head & Shoulders of One or Two Players

As in portraiture they will be times when you want a full length portrait (ie including the hands & feet!).  And there will be times when you want a head & shoulders portrait.  Again, I tend to shoot a little wide and then crop in during editing.

5 - Watch the Background  

Just like normal portraiture, beware of the background.  If it is 'busy' - full of the crowd, advertising boards, a car park, etc it will be a distraction.  Sometimes it is impossible to avoid but often by changing your viewpoint - moving left or right a few paces - the background improves.

And whilst you would not want to take all of your shots from the grandstand, a grandstand view can help make the playing surface - typically green grass - the background which can give a very pleasant background.

6 - What about the Ball?

Obviously you will want some shots which include a player with the ball etc.  But not every shot needs to include the ball.  My approach to sports photography is to treat it like portraiture so if the ball is in shot, that's a bonus.  But, typically, only about half my shots will have the ball etc in them.

7 - Running Past? Running Towards?

As I touched on above, you will generally want to shoot the player as they run towards you.  Pictures of backs of heads are not that appealing.  Remember, you want to see - and focus - on the player's face - and that means they will be running towards you.

8 - Sideline or Goal-line?

You want to be as close to the action as possible, so you want to be right on the side-line.  (But do keep an eye out for the play and NEVER get in the way of any of the players!)

Sideline shots can be good as players run towards you.  Goal-line shots are obviously good.  I tend to do some research before the game and position myself near the goal-line of the weaker team as this is probably where the stronger team is going to score.

9 - RAW or JPEG?

Many sports photographers shoot JPEG.  (As indeed do many wedding photographers.)  If the light is reasonable JPEG is absolutely fine.  Typically I shoot both RAW and JPEG but if the lighting is good I go straight to the JPEGs in the editing process.

If I am shooting a night game - or an indoor sport - I will mostly use the JPEGs but if there is a shot in which I need to recover a considerable amount of detail in a deep shadow area I will then go to the RAW file.

But, by and large, for outdoor daylight sports - and indeed for well-lit indoor sports - JPEG are the way to go.

10 - Personal Look

Purists will protest but for my JPEG shooting I normally have 2 personal preferences dialled into my camera.  I set the JPEG mode to VIVID - which gives the colours a bit of a boost.  (This reminds me of the saturated colours I got when I used Kodachrome 64 slide transparency film.)  And I dial in an under-exposure of - 0.3 stops.  (I have found that I just like my final shots being a little bit 'dark & moody'.)  You will have your own preferred 'look'.  Which might be very different from mine!

11 - Practise makes Perfect

Practise makes perfect.  The more sports photography you do, the better you will get.  So, crack on!

12 - Blog Feedback

If you have found this Blog useful, please feel free to leave a comment. 

And if you think someone you know would find it useful, please feel free to share it with them.

And if you didn't find this Blog useful, if you leave me a comment telling me why, I will try to improve it at its next review.

 

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markbuntingphotography@gmail.com (Mark Bunting Photography) Budget Gear Photography Settings Sports Technique https://www.markbuntingphotography.co.uk/blog/2017/2/outdoor-sports-photography-on-a-budget---the-technique Tue, 28 Feb 2017 11:49:04 GMT
Outdoor Sports Photography on a Budget - The Gear & the Settings https://www.markbuntingphotography.co.uk/blog/2017/2/outdoor-sports-photography-on-a-budget---the-gear-the-settings  

(Photo - Nikon D7200 / 70 to 200 mm / f2.8 @ 200 mm

1/320th Sec / f2.8 / ISO 5000)

 

Outdoor Sports Photography on a Budget

The Gear & the Settings

As for wildlife & aviation photography, in outdoor sports photography, the long telephoto lens is King.  Football pitches and rugby pitches are BIG!  But, even with normal kit, not the thousands of pounds worth of high quality 600 mm or longer telephotos used by the pros, you can get pretty reasonable results.

Here are some pointers for starting out in the world of outdoor sports photography.

1 - You are going to need a camera with a viewfinder!

Just as for wildlife & aviation photography, using a 'point & shoot' camera and trying to focus & shoot the sporting action using the screen on the back of the camera isn't going to work.  Such a camera will be absolutely fine taking pictures of the teams when they are stationary, or moving slowly, but when the action gets fast - or far away - it will all get too difficult for the 'point & shoot' camera.

So, as for wildlife & aviation photography, for fast moving sports (football, rugby etc) you will need a camera with a viewfinder.  It can be either an optical viewfinder or an Electronic Viewfinder but a viewfinder makes taking photographs of players moving quickly so much easier.

2 - You are going to need a lens of at least 300 mm (in terms of 35 mm).

As football & rugby pitches are pretty large, the longer the lens the better and typically for sports photography on a budget, the minimum 35 mm equivalent lens is 300 mm.  So, if you are using a Nikon APS-C sensor camera, a 18 to 200 mm zoom gives you the 35 mm equivalent of 27 mm to 300 mm - so that is already good enough to start your sports photography career. 

Certainly DON'T go out a buy a specific lens for your sports shooting until you have tried your current kit at a few matches.  You may well find that, with a bit of practise, your current kit does just fine.

(And before you buy a new lens (either new or second-hand), always try to borrow one for a test to see how it feels.  That long zoom might look great on paper but after a few hours it might weigh a ton!)

Often enthusiast sports photographers buy a 70 mm to 300 mm zoom lens - which on a Nikon crop sensor body (x 1.5) is equivalent in 35 mm terms to a 105 mm to 450 mm range - which is a very useful range for outdoor sports photography.

3 - Shutter Speed - High Enough to Freeze the Action eg 1/1000th of a second or Faster

Depending on the sport you are shooting, you will want to use a high enough shutter speed to freeze the action.  Typically for football / rugby I will start at 1/1000th of a second, but if lighting conditions allow (ie if it is bright enough) I will go to 1/2000th of a second or even higher.  I want to freeze the action so I can see the individual beads of sweat as they come off the players forehead! 

If the light fades, I might - in an emergency - go as low as 1/500th or 1/250th but with these 'long' shutter speeds I know I will be shooting mostly 'deleters' rather than 'keepers' as in many cases the players faces will be blurred - which means 'delete the picture'.

4 - Aperture - Keep it Simple - Let the camera choose

To begin with, you will want to let the camera choose your aperture, as you will be controlling the shutter speed.  So set your camera to Shutter Priority.  (Later you might want to shoot in manual keeping your aperture as wide open as possible to get those nice, gently blurred, backgrounds, but let's keep it simple for now.)

5 - ISO - Keep it Simple - Let the camera choose - But Set Your Maximum ISO!

Ideally, you always want a nice, low, ISO setting but it's shutter speed that rules the roost in sports photography and all else is secondary.  So this is where you find out what you camera is like at high ISOs.  The good news is that cameras are getting better at ISO performance all the time.  You will need to do some experimenting at your first few matches to see how high you are happy for your camera to go in terms of ISO.  And this can be a very personal preference. 

In the past I have had cameras that I would not use with an ISO setting of higher than 800 or 1600.  Later as technology improved my more recent gear could operate as high as ISO 3200 before I became concerned that the image was getting too flaky.

With my current camera bodies (Nikon D7200 and Nikon D750) I am happy - if required - to go as high as 12,800 with the D750 (full-frame) and get perfectly acceptable results up to 8,000 to 10,000 ISO.  Due to its smaller sensor, I don't go quite as high with the D7200 but I am very happy shooting at ISO 6400 or even a bit higher.

So, have a play with your camera and gauge on your desktop screen how high you are happy for the ISO to go.  And then either adjust it manually during the shoot.  Or, if your camera allows your ISO value to 'float', set the max value and then shoot away.

6 - Fast Focus

You know that by pressing halfway down on your shutter button your camera focuses.  And in sports photography you will spend a lot of you time with your shutter button half depressed - ready for the 'right moment'. 

Very importantly, for sports, you need to set your camera to 'continuous auto focus' (AF - C) as your subjects will be moving!  Often very quickly!  So your camera needs to know that whenever you have the shutter button pressed half-way down, that you want it to continuously adjust the focus as the player is moving.  (The other typical focus mode is 'single auto focus' (AF - S) which is fine if you are photographing a landscape, but not any use when a burley rugby player is racing towards you!)

I also suggest you set your focus point to 'single' - ie the camera concentrates on what you have under that typically black square focus symbol in the middle of your viewfinder screen.  So you will have to work hard to keep that black square symbol on the face of the player you are interested in - typically the player with the ball! - but if you get it right, the player's face will always be in sharp focus in your photo!

Some folk will use different focus modes eg d9 in Nikon uses 9 points, d21 uses - yes, you've guessed it - 21 points - but I like the single point focus system as I know exactly where the camera will be focussed.

(It's well beyond 'Keep It Simple' but eventually you should be using the back button focus technique - and a great video on this by Steve Perry - can be accessed via this link - Steve Perry on Back Button Focus)

The other part of 'fast focus' is the quality (which sadly translates into cost) of your lens.  A typical enthusiast sports zoom might be a 70 mm to 300 mm zoom - but not all 70 mm to 300 mm zooms are created equal!  So, 3 different 70 to 300 mm zooms from 3 different manufacturers might all have different focus speeds.  As a sports photographer you will want the one that focuses fastest - within your budget.  Even 70 to 300 mm zooms made by the same manufacturer can have different focusing speeds.  So, if once you have done some sports photography and know it's for you, you will need to consider focus speed of any lens you plan to buy. 

(There are plenty of online review sites - www.dpreview.com - www.cameralabs.com - www.techradar.com - www.camerajabber.com - which review lenses etc in minute detail.)

7 - Weather Proof Gear

It may not seem important now - but unless you only shoot sports in the Atacama Desert - you & your gear will eventually get very wet.

Either get - or make - some rain-proof coverings for you camera & its lenses - or - if you're really minted - buy gear which is weather proof.

8 - Practise! Practise! Practise!

And, as Henri Cartier-Bresson said 'Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.'

So practise, practise, practise.

Go to a few games with your current kit and see how you get on.  Don't be too critical, there will be lots of blurred shots at first - but, over time, we all get better.

Shoot at 1/1000th of a second.  Then shoot at 1/2000th of a second.  Then shoot at 1/500th of a second.  Which do you prefer.

Shoot some shots in auto aperture ie shutter priority.

Then shoot some in fixed aperture - say f4 & f8 & f11 - which do you prefer.

And certainly don't spend a fortune on new gear until you have tried your current kit, you might be surprised how well you can do with it.

Happy Sports Photography!

9 - Blog Feedback

If you have found this Blog useful, please feel free to leave a comment. 

And if you think someone you know would find it useful, please feel free to share it with them.

And if you didn't find this Blog useful, if you leave me a comment telling me why, I will try to improve it at its next review.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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markbuntingphotography@gmail.com (Mark Bunting Photography) Budget Gear Photography Settings Sports Technique https://www.markbuntingphotography.co.uk/blog/2017/2/outdoor-sports-photography-on-a-budget---the-gear-the-settings Tue, 28 Feb 2017 11:39:29 GMT
Aviation Photography on a Budget https://www.markbuntingphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/8/aviation-photography-on-a-budget  

(Photo - Nikon D7000 / 18 to 200 mm / f3.5 to 5.6 @ 200 mm

1/250th Sec / f11 / ISO 100)

 

Aviation Photography on a Budget

As for wildlife photography, in aviation photography, the long telephoto lens is King.  But, even with normal kit, not the thousands of pounds worth of high quality 600 mm telephotos, you can get pretty reasonable results.

Here are some pointers for starting out in the world of aviation photography.

1 - You are going to need a camera with a viewfinder!

Using a 'point & shoot' camera and trying to follow the action, focus & shoot using the screen on the back of a point & shoot camera isn't going to work.  Such a camera will be absolutely fine taking pictures of the aircraft when they are stationary on the ground, but when they are in the air, it will all get too difficult for the 'point & shoot' brigade.

So you will need a camera with a viewfinder.  It can be either an optical viewfinder or an Electronic Viewfinder but a viewfinder makes taking photographs of aircraft in flight so much easier.

2 - You are going to need a lens of at least 300 mm (in terms of 35 mm).

Longer is better and typically the minimum 35 mm equivalent lens is 300 mm.  So, if you are using a Nikon APS-C sensor camera, a 18 to 200 mm zoom gives you the 35 mm equivalent of 27 mm to 300 mm - so that is already good enough to start your aviation photography career. 

Certainly DON'T go out a buy a specific lens for your aviation shooting until you have tried your current kit at a few air shows.  You may well find that, with a bit of practise, your current kit does just fine.

(And before you buy a new lens (either new or second-hand), always borrow one for a test to see how it feels.  That long zoom might look great on paper but after a few hours it might weigh a ton!)

I used a Fuji Bridge Camera for many years - with a lens in 35 mm terms of 28 mm to 300 mm.  And then I moved onto using a APS-C senor Nikon with a 18 to 200 mm lens (equivalent on a APS-C body to 27 to 300 mm).

Only after many years did I find my aviation photography - for me - sweet spot with:

- a Nikon APS-C body with a 300 mm lens (equiv to 450 mm in 35 mm) (for single aircraft in flight)

- a Nikon full-frame body with a 70 to 200 mm lens for the wider shots (for 2 aircraft flying as a pair or larger formations) 

3 - ISO - Keep it Low

Ideally, for air shows, you want a nice, low, ISO and I try to keep it at 100 or 200 ISO.  That lets me crop the image if I need to - and in aviation photography there will be a lot of cropping - so setting your ISO at 100 or 200 ISO will really help.

4 - Aperture - Keep it Simple - Let the camera choose

You will want to let the camera choose your aperture, as you will be controlling the shutter speed.  So set your camera to Shutter Priority.

5 - Shutter Speed for Jets

Depending on the aircraft you are shooting (jets, props or helicopters), you will want to use different shutter speeds.  For jet aircraft it is really easy.  You want a shutter speed as high as you dare (but obviously one that still allows the camera to correctly expose the shot!).  Typically I shoot jets at anything from 1/1000th to 1/4000th of a second because I know it will help my pictures be sharp.  If it is a really bright day I might go even higher.  So, for jets, choosing a shutter speed is really easy, it will be 1/1000th of a second or higher.  Just try using 1/1000th, 1/2000th, 1/4000th and higher to see if you can see any difference in your shots.

6 - Shutter Speed for Propeller Aircraft & Helicopters

So the right shutter speed for jets is easy.  But you have to think a bit more with propeller-driven aircraft & helicopters.

          In the air - 1/250th to 1/500th

A shutter speed of 1/250th to 1/500th gives some prop / rotor blade blur but also gives you a good chance of getting a sharp photo of the aircraft in flight.  Obviously at 1/250th there will be more prop / rotor blade blur, but you will also have more chance of a blurred shot due to aircraft movement.  I am very happy with using 1/500th for prop aircraft & helicopters in the air.  You will need to decide which shutter speed you like using the most - 1/500th, 1/250th or even 1/125th - but you will need a very steady hand to use 1/125th with a long lens and keep the whole shot sharp - hence my preference for 1/500th (or at a push, 1/250th).

(Photo - PBY Catalina - Nikon D7200 / 300 mm f4 (35 mm equiv 450 mm)

1/250th Sec / f5.6 / ISO 100)

 

          On the ground - 1/50th to 1/100th

For prop-driven aircraft with the prop turning on the ground - either stationary or taxiing - you can try using 1/50th to 1/100th - just take lots!  That way, at least some will have the aircraft fuselage nice and sharp.

 

(Photo - Memphis Belle - Nikon D750 / 70 to 200 mm / f2.8 @ 130 mm

1/50th Sec / f18 / ISO 100)

 

7 - Practise! Practise! Practise!

Go to a few shows with your current kit and see how you get on.  Don't be too critical, there will be lots of blurred shots at first - but, over time, we all get better.

And certainly don't spend a fortune on new gear until you have tried your current kit, you might be surprised how well you can do with it.

And finally, your first ten air shows will be your worst!

Happy Aviation Photography!

8 - Blog Feedback

If you have found this Blog useful, please feel free to leave a comment. 

And if you think someone you know would find it useful, please feel free to share it with them.

And if you didn't find this Blog useful, if you leave me a comment telling me why, I will try to improve it at its next review.

 

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markbuntingphotography@gmail.com (Mark Bunting Photography) Aviation Budget Gear Photography Settings Technique https://www.markbuntingphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/8/aviation-photography-on-a-budget Wed, 03 Aug 2016 07:15:00 GMT
The Story Behind the Picture #1 - Keep Your Eye on the Game! https://www.markbuntingphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/7/the-story-behind-the-picture-1---keep-your-eye-on-the-game

(Photo - Oxford v Cambridge Ultimate Frisbee Varsity Match

Sunday 28th Feb 2016 

 Nikon D750 / 24 to 70 mm f2.8 @ 70 mm

1/500th Sec / f4 / ISO 100)

 

The Story Behind the Picture #1

Sometimes you just need to shoot from the Hip!

(Or, always, always, always keep your eye on the game!)

 

I wasn't even looking through the viewfinder when I took this shot.  It was getting to the end of a day of sports shooting - it was the Ultimate Frisbee Varsity Match between Oxford & Cambridge Universities.  Even though it was February in Middle England it had been dry & sunny - but my bones were starting to get cold as the temperature dropped.

I was starting to think more about getting into my car and putting the heater on than the Match.  Play had stopped for a moment or 2 and the disc was right at the other end of the pitch.  So I took a few seconds to review the last few shots, in particular to check the histogram for any clipping at either the under-exposed or the over-exposed end.

As my gaze was fixed on the rear screen I heard the steady 'thump thump' of players heading towards me - at some speed!  I knew the lens was set at the 70 mm end and, without even looking up, I swung the camera so it was horizontal and fired off a few shots on the 6 frames per second setting.  By the time I had moved my gaze from the back of the camera to the pitch I saw these 2 players - very close - and I hurriedly moved back!

I didn't expect any of the shots to be any use, but one, this one, worked.  The 6 frames per second setting gave me several bites at getting a good shot.  And thankfully the autofocus locked onto the players.

So, I got lucky!

But it would have been much better to have been watching the Match all the time!

(If you have found this Blog useful, please feel free to leave a comment. 

And if you think someone you know would find it useful, please feel free to share it with them.

And if you didn't find this Blog useful, if you leave me a comment telling me why, I will try to improve it at its next review.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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markbuntingphotography@gmail.com (Mark Bunting Photography) Beginner Enthusiast Gear Intermediate Lens Photography Sports Technique https://www.markbuntingphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/7/the-story-behind-the-picture-1---keep-your-eye-on-the-game Wed, 27 Jul 2016 05:30:00 GMT
Scout's Honour. Be Prepared! https://www.markbuntingphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/7/scouts-honour-be-prepared

(Photo - Somme 100th Anniversary 'Remembering'

 Nikon D7000 / 70 to 200 mm f2.8 @ 200 mm

1/200th Sec / f2.8 / ISO 200)

 

Scout's Honour - Be Prepared

OK.  I confess.  I wasn't in the Scouts.  But, at least in terms of photography, I like to 'Be Prepared'.

This does not mean taking mountains of gear with me everywhere I go.  But it does mean - typically - having 2 cameras with me - pretty much all the time, wherever I am.

The Not So Humble Cameraphone

Some of you might think my first camera is a cheat - because it's my cameraphone.  But I am a big fan of cameraphones as - in good light - they can take a pretty reasonable picture.  If you are trying to shoot the moon or photograph F1 racing cars in anger then maybe not - but for pictures of friends & family, scenic views etc - cameraphones are not bad at all.  In fact, each year, they get better!  And - the big advantage is - we pretty much have our phone with us all the time. 

The Pocket-Sized 'Point & Shoot'

My other - always with me - camera is a small, lightweight, Canon S120 'point & shoot'.  It has a zoom lens which in 35 mm terms is equivalent to 24 mm to 120 mm - a very useful range - and at 24 mm end the f number is f1.8 - so a nice large aperture.  The advantage of the Canon over the cameraphone is the optical zoom - 24 to 120 mm - typically I don't use digital zoom in a cameraphone - just my personal preference.

So, with these 2 'ever ready' with me, I can have a reasonable stab at getting a shot - certainly one more than good enough for social media.

On Holiday

If I am on holiday / away for the weekend, I would have taken my Bridge Camera in the past.  Now I take my APS-C / DX DSLR.

I prefer the APS-C sensor as it is better at handling low light situations than a Bridge Camera sensor.  That said, I used a Fujifilm Bridge Camera for quite some time and absolutely loved it.  And it was much lighter - & cheaper - than my current APS-C Sensor camera. 

My 'on holiday' DX set-up is a DX body with a consumer zoom - say a Nikon DX body with either a 18 to 200 mm zoom or a 16 to 85 mm zoom.  I take the 16 to 85 mm lens with me when I know I will be doing a lot of indoors photography - castles & cathedrals, museums, etc.  The DX 16 mm is equivalent to 24 mm in full frame and I like the 24 mm equivalence for indoor shots - and indeed for wide vista landscapes & for cloudscapes.  So the 16 to 85 mm zoom suits what I shoot.

I take the 18 to 200 mm (equivalent to 27 mm to 300 mm in full frame) when I know I want the extra reach.  I lose the wider angle of 16 to 18 mm in DX / ie 24 to 27 mm in FX - but I gain at the longer end.

(Trust me - owning a 18 to 200 mm lens & a 16 to 85 mm lens is NOT sensible!  Either own one or the other.  The typical set-up is to buy a camera which comes with an 18 to 55 mm lens & then buy a say 55 to 200 or 55 to 300 mm lens later.  But, if you can afford it - or borrow it - or buy it second hand - a 18 to 200 mm zoom lens on an APS-C body is possibly the only zoom lens you will ever need for your DX camera.) 

I might take a 35 mm / f1.8 DX lens as well (equivalent on an APS-C Sensor to a 50 mm on a Full Frame camera).  This 'nifty fifty' is excellent in low light and, used correctly, it can create that lovely blurred background so much loved of many photographers.  However, in all the times I have carried a 35 mm DX or a 50 mm FX 'just in case' - I have never used it!  I just use a slower shutter speed with the zoom lens and find something to lean on to help steady the shot.  And it usually works!

The Big Guns - the Full Frame DSLR

If it is a major trip to somewhere well worthy of good gear I might take the big guns - my Full Frame Body - with a 28 to 300 mm zoom.  But, in fact, my APS-C camera can do 90% of what my Full Frame can do - so I might not bother carrying that extra weight & bulk.

The full frame body / larger sensor does give better low light performance - both in terms of noise & in terms of being able to quickly focus in ever darker situations.  The downside is they are large, heavy, & expensive.  However, amongst many other positives, their low light performance - a deal breaker for me - is stunning.

But moving to Full Frame is not obligatory at all.  You can do almost as well with APS-C / mirrorless / Compact System cameras - with much less damage to your wallet - and they are much lighter to carry around all day.  And an increasing number of Professionals are using non-Full Frame DSLRs - eg mirrorless systems such as the Fuji X Series and the Olympus OM-D series.  So, non full-frame DSLRs are already good enough for professional work.  And I expect they will get better each year. 

Amateurs do not 'need' full-frame - but many amateurs 'want' full frame.  Professionals will need any system that gives them outstanding results for their type of photography.  Photography is a very serious business if you are relying on it to feed the kids and pay the mortgage.   

Ever Ready?

So.  Carry your phone & a camera - be it a point & shoot or whatever.  And use it!   Be prepared!

Blog Feedback

If you have found this Blog useful, please feel free to leave a comment. 

And if you think someone you know would find it useful, please feel free to share it with them.

And if you didn't find this Blog useful, if you leave me a comment telling me why, I will try to improve it at its next review.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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markbuntingphotography@gmail.com (Mark Bunting Photography) Beginner Enthusiast Intermediate Photography https://www.markbuntingphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/7/scouts-honour-be-prepared Wed, 20 Jul 2016 06:00:00 GMT
Review the Reviewer! https://www.markbuntingphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/7/review-the-reviewer  

 

Review the Reviewer!

 

There is, as you might expect, a mountain of online advice, guidance, hints, tips, reviews, etc on every possible aspect of photography.  I have my own favourites and I will cover them in a later post, but today, I just need to point out a flaw with all that online advice.

 

All that advice is written by a human being with their own opinion. 

 

Let me explain.

 

I am - mostly - a concert & theatre photographer.  So my nirvana is a camera that has superb ability to focus near-instantly in low light conditions and has extremely good high ISO performance.  Those two key features govern my choice of camera.  So, at the moment, I am wedded to my (relatively large & relatively heavy) DSLRs.

 

A landscape photographer will crave megapixels.  A 24 megapixel sensor, a 36 MP or a 50 MP?  More megapixels, typically, means more detail (when matched to a high-quality lens) and landscape photographers crave detail.  (How do you know you are a landscape photographer and not just someone who takes landscapes?  Firstly, you get up hours before dawn to drive to a location to get 'the shot'.  Secondly, you always shoot using a tripod.  So as I don't do either, I am a Landscape lightweight!)

 

A wildlife or sports photographer will want long reach and a high frames-per-second rate.  So might prefer a smaller sensor size - APS-C or compact system camera - which (it's a physics thing) - gives more magnification for a given lens length.  But the trade-off is the smaller sensor will not be as good at low light, say, as a full-frame sensor.

 

A wedding photographer might prefer the light-weight and small size of a mirrorless system.  And one real advantage I look longingly at in mirrorless cameras is the ability to have a completely silent shutter.  (There are times in my concert & theatre work when I wish my big & bulky DSLR had a quieter shutter - but I love its ability to practically focus in the dark and its superb low light ability.)

 

Film?  Yes.  Film.  There is a core of enthusiasts who lovingly use film SLRs and produce superb results.

 

And there are medium format camera users, who despite having to be a champion weight-lifter to transport their camera, just love it.

 

So, before you read that review, just take a moment to read the reviewers bio (most reviewers will give a little 3 or 4 sentence biography on themselves.)  And just bear that in mind as you read the review.  A good reviewer will argue the pros & cons of all systems and not be - overly - biased to their own system.  If the answer is always a DSLR or always a mirrorless - then just be wary.

 

Given an infinite budget I would have:

 

1 - a 2 or 3 body DSLR full-frame system for concert & theatre photography

2 - a 2 or 3 body DSLR APS-C sensor system for sports, wildlife & aviation photography

3 - a 2 or 3 body mirrorless system (Fuji - your mirrorless cameras are works of art......) for wedding photography

4 - a drone - just because I want one

5 - and a small truck to carry all of the above

 

But until then, I will use my DSLRs - full-frame (concert & theatre) and APS-C sensor (sports, wildlife & aviation).

 

BUT WHAT IS MY OTHER CRITERION?

 

Weight!  You may not think it, but the weight of your camera & lens is a major factor.  From experience I know that I can carry a DSLR (about 750g to 1 kg) and a lens (say 1 kg) pretty much all day.  If I am really serious I use a double-shoulder harness with a DSLR (750g to 1 kg) plus long telephoto (1kg plus) on one shoulder ad a DSLR (750g to 1 kg) with medium zoom (1kg plus) on the other.  And I can wear this all day.  (I do look a bit of an eejit whilst wearing the harness but one needs to suffer for one's art!)

 

But even I look at wedding photographers who use lightweight mirrorless cameras and prime lenses and I think - yep - that is just soooooooo light - with a degree of envy.

 

Even I, if I am 'Dog Walking with camera', will take a lighter lens (say a 500g to 1kg lens) rather than a heavier 1.5kg plus.

 

Those of you who use compact system cameras / mirrorless will just laugh at me carrying such a load of gear - and you are right!  But for me, at the moment, DSLRs are the best compromise for my kind of photography.

 

So, bear that in mind when you read my advice!

 

Blog Feedback

If you have found this Blog useful, please feel free to leave a comment. 

And if you think someone you know would find it useful, please feel free to share it with them.

And if you didn't find this Blog useful, if you leave me a comment telling me why, I will try to improve it at its next review.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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markbuntingphotography@gmail.com (Mark Bunting Photography) beginner enthusiast intermediate photography review reviewer https://www.markbuntingphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/7/review-the-reviewer Wed, 13 Jul 2016 06:30:00 GMT
You are an Artist - Not a Technician https://www.markbuntingphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/7/you-are-an-artist---not-a-technician

Rathlin Island, Co Antrim

 (Nikon D750 / 24 to 70 mm f2.8 @ 34 mm - 1/200th Sec / f5.6 / ISO 100)

 

You are an Artist - Not a Technician

 

Photography is one of those activities where you can get lost in the technical detail.  The specifications of the latest cameras & lenses.  The parameters of 'that shot'.  What shutter speed?  What aperture?  What ISO?  What 'tweaks' - or more - do we do in what photo editing software?

 

And whilst that is certainly part of photography - it is really just the set of tools that you use for recording the picture.  Do not lose sight of the fact that you are an artist first, and a technician second.

 

A painter, using water colours or oils, understands the subtleties of their paints, their brushes, their canvas.  But their real gift is in seeing the picture first.  If they can never see the picture, then they can never record it on canvas.

 

A writer can type a thousand random words, but it is not a story.  The core of the story comes first.  Then it is recorded onto the page.

 

As an artist, you need to see the picture first.  Only then can you record it.  You might be into wide vistas of dramatic landscapes.  You might be into the macro-photography world of plants & insects.  You might be into street photography.  Or you might be into portraiture.  But in all of these, your gear is your bag of tools for recording the picture that you see.

 

And, occasionally, your work might, just might, inspire others.

 

On a recent trip to the magnificent North Antrim Coast in Northern Ireland, the weather was worsening and I thought that picture taking was over for the day.  We reached the town of Ballycastle and just offshore is Rathlin Island.  A weather front had just arrived.  The sea had turned dark and the rain clouds were gathering.  I composed a few shots looking at Rathlin in this advancing gloom.

 

Later, I tweeted the picture on my twitter feed - @MBuntingPhoto - and it was seen by Mary Cecil - @RathlinPoet - who, as her twitter username would suggest is a poet who lives on Rathlin.  (For Mary's work see Rathlin Poet )

 

Mary kindly sent me a copy of her poem which was inspired by the picture above of Rathlin Island.

 

So, by all means pay due attention to your gear, to the tools of your trade.  But be under no illusion, you are an artist first and a technician second.

 

 'Between Sea And Sky' by Mary Cecil

 

The heavenly horizons between sea and sky,

That drifts over oceans of enchantment

Where magical swans sailed,

Transported to the land of light

 

Where golden hares and mighty hawks,

Lie low through winter storms

Chastened by the roaring winds,

Where mythical creatures are born

 

Remote those beckoning shores,

Where monks in their fastness prayed

Against the godless Vikings,

On their killing raids

 

And all the dividing seas,

That shimmer far and near

Around the shores of Rathlin,

Standing proud and clear

 

 

(With many thanks to Mary for permission for me to use her poem.)

 

 

 

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markbuntingphotography@gmail.com (Mark Bunting Photography) Art Artist Beginner Camera Creative Enthusiast Gear Intermediate Photography Picture Settings Technician https://www.markbuntingphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/7/you-are-an-artist---not-a-technician Wed, 06 Jul 2016 10:45:00 GMT
My Type of Photography - Concert & Theatre https://www.markbuntingphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/6/my-type-of-photography---concert-theatre

Band Master at Work

(Nikon D7000 / 18 to 200 mm f3.5 to 5.6 - 170 mm / 1/15th / f5.6 / ISO 800)

 

My Type of Photography - Concert & Theatre

 

By far the most difficult technical conditions I shoot in is concert & theatre photography.

 

(By difficult here I do not in any way compare this to nature & wildlife photographers who may spend hours, days, weeks or months in the cold & wet - waiting for 'the shot'.  So, let's keep this in perspective!)

 

My concert & theatre events are usually indoors and often in low light conditions with the extra dimension that I can't use flash.  Sometimes I can get close to the performers. Sometimes I can't.  And, very importantly, I must not disturb any of the performers - or the paying audience - during a live performance - or I will get thrown out on my ear!

 

So my kit needs to have good low light performance - both in terms of low noise at high ISOs and the auto-focus needs to work very well in low light conditions.

 

And I need not to get in peoples way.

 

As I am not trekking across moors all day the kit can be large & heavy - size & weight are not major considerations here - but low light performance is.

 

I typically use an FX Nikon with a 24 to 70 mm f2.8 or a 70 to 200 mm f2.8 and bring along 50 mm & 85 mm / f1.8 primes.  That way, if the lighting is too low for the zoom, I switch to using the f1.8 primes. By doing so I lose the convenience of the zoom but gain the low light ability of the primes.  As a back-up camera, I also bring along a DX Nikon body.

 

(In an ideal world I would use 2 FX bodies - but my set-up is one FX and one DX - and I keep the DX because its crop factor of 1.5 gives me a real advantage when I am doing my next most difficult type of photography - aviation.)

 

Don't get too hung up on gear specifics - I shot concerts for ages with an APS-C Nikon body and a 18 to 200 mm f3.5 to f5.6 zoom.  I just had to work harder!  Using a Nikon DX camera body with both consumer zooms and f1.8 primes works fine, but the FX / Full Frame body does bring substantial advantages in terms of low light auto-focus and good performance at high ISOs.

 

Tricks of the Trade

 

1 - Build a rapport with the performers

 

As is often the case when photographing people, building a rapport with the subject(s) always pays dividends.  You either do this on the day of the shoot by arriving early and getting to know them or, even better, meeting them before the day of the shoot if you can.  Some of the choirs I shoot I have been photographing for years, so it is more like meeting friends - and that really helps build & keep the rapport.

 

2 - Use the dress rehearshal well

 

If it is a theatre performance which will run for days or weeks, a good place to get shots is at the dress rehearshal.  This has the real advantage that there will be no audience to disturb.  And, if you get permission, you might be able to use flash - if you want to do so.  Even if it is just a one-off performance, choirs will often arrive early at a venue to do a mini rehearshal before the audience arrives.  And this can be used to get all those - often close up shots - that you will not be able to get during the live performance. And you can use flash - if you want to.

 

3 - Time spent on reconnaisance is never wasted

 

It obviously pays to know the performance venue.  Either by visiting it before the shoot - ideally at the same time of day as the performance to see, if there are windows, and how the light plays into the venue.  But even if such a pre-visit is not possible, you should arrive early on the day and take a good walk around the venue - looking for shots - looking at how to get from shot location to shot location - and introducing yourself to the venue staff.

 

Most of your shots taken during the performance will be from the left, right or centre of the audience. (Using the typically access stairs in a theatre.)  But there might be a balcony, from which you can get some wide angle shots.  Or get some telephoto shots using the balcony's higher vantage point.

 

Depending on the show, there might be some shots from the back of the stage.  But you will need to ensure the audience cannot see you! - and you will also need a discret 'escape route' - otherwise you will be stuck there!   

 

4 - Dress the part

 

I typically dress smart casual - decent shirt, decent trousers, comfortable - and very quiet! - shoes.  But if the event dictates, a suit or even a DJ may be more in order - and it is better to be over dressed than too casual. Certainly don't pitch up on performance day in stained tee-shirt, ripped jeans and flip flops. 

 

5 - Make friends with the gate keepers

 

As well as building a rapport with the performers, it is a real advantage to do the same with the key folk at the venue and the main organiser / the PR rep of the show.  If you have their blessing, and their confidence, it will all be a lot easier.

 

6 - Performers move faster than you think 

 

Shutter Speed

 

Depending on the performance, the performers can move pretty fast!  Even with choirs, a shutter speed of over 1/100th of a second is needed to stop mouths and fingertips from being blurred.  For a rock concert higher shutter speeds will be needed.  Indeed, of the 3 dance partners, shutter speed, aperture and ISO, most performance photography is driven by shutter speed - which you will usually want just fast enough to either freeze any movement, or, if you want this effect, just slow enough to allow a hint of movement - but keeping all the facial features sharp.

 

Aperture

 

You will typically want to use as large an aperture as possible - to allow the shutter speed to be as fast as possible - but take care - at apertures of f4 and lower - depth of field can be quite small - so make sure everything that you want to be in focus is covered by this small depth of field - and that normally means the performers face - and, in particular, their eyes.  Eyes are not called 'the windows of the soul' for nothing!

 

ISO

 

Again, driven by the low light conditions, you need to use higher ISOs - but still keeping to those which have an acceptable - as opposed to an unacceptable - level of noise.  From previous experience I know that my Nikon D7000 can shoot at ISO 1600 to 3200 and still give me acceptable noise levels. My Nikon D750 can shoot at much higher levels and still give acceptable results - hence the advantage of the D750 (but then it is larger, heavier & much more expensive than a DX model.)

 

Focus

 

Typically you will focus on a particular performer's face - if you are close enough, focus on the eye nearest you.  And as they might be moving quite quickly, so might you in terms of tracking them in the viewfinder!  (Many cameras have an auto focus function - which automatically tracks the subject - but depending on the camera, they may not be up to the job in low light.  I tend to use single point focus - and refocus manually as required.  It works for me.  You will find your own method which suits you.)

 

The ability to quickly focus in low light is typically one of the main benefits of parting with more of your hard-earned cash for your camera.  My Nikon DX is no slouch but my Nikon D750 can focus quickly even in very low light conditions.

 

Of course, there is another way to focus if the low light level defeats your camera, just focus manually. It might be a bit scary at first but you soon get the hang of it.  You might even like it.  And it is a lot cheaper than buying a new camera! 

 

Exposure

 

Typically you will use spot focus and take your exposure from the performer's face.  Or you may want to try some matrix exposure shots and manually adjust the exposure - up or down - to get the effect you want.  Your camera will try very hard to make dark conditions look like daylight!  This may not be the effect you want!  So, if that happens, adjust the exposure down a stop or even 2 - to give that dark / moody look.

 

7 - White Balance

 

White Balance is 'tuning' your camera sensor to the dominant colour of light.  If you are outside, in daylight - it's daylight!  If you are inside a room which is lit by tungsten lights - it's tungsten.  If you are using flash as your dominant light source - it's flash.  The 'auto white balance' setting on most cameras works pretty well, most of the time.  And even when you set the white balance manually, on many cameras you can see the effect in live view on the rear LCD screen - which takes all the guessing out of setting your white balance.  So it is worth taking some test shots - or varying the WB while looking at Live View on the LCD - to get WB at the setting you want.  But 'auto WB' usually works pretty well.

 

BUT!

 

The issue is with smaller venues, say church halls, community centres, that may not pay attention to lighting in the same way as professional concert halls.  Professional concert halls will go to a lot of trouble to make the lighting the right colour for the desired dramatic effect.  And part of this is using even lighting of the same colour / type.

 

In less grand settings you might have some tungsten lights, some incandescent lights and behind the stage they have painted the wall deep blue!  Not a great venue for even lighting.  Here you need to play around with your WB settings to get the effect you want.  But, in some cases, you will have to work very hard to get rid of any lighting induced colour cast.

 

If you shoot in RAW, in fact one of the main advantages for me of shooting in RAW, is that I can set my WB in the edit phase - which gives me maximum flexibility.  Hence, for all my concert & theate shoots, I use RAW. 

 

8 - Black & White

 

However, if you just can't get rid of a colour cast - even in editing - because of the mix of lighting there is a fix!  Convert your shots to Black & White!  These can look really classy, &, by definition, being black & white there is no colour cast!  Simple!

 

9 - Practice! Practice! Practice!

 

Like all things in life, the more you practice, the better you get.  The more concerts I shoot, the better I get.  But the most important lesson is that - like portraiture - concert photography is much more to do with the relationship you have with the performers than the gear you have slung over your shoulder.

 

10 - Blog Feedback

If you have found this Blog useful, please feel free to leave a comment. 

And if you think someone you know would find it useful, please feel free to share it with them.

And if you didn't find this Blog useful, if you leave me a comment telling me why, I will try to improve it at its next review.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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markbuntingphotography@gmail.com (Mark Bunting Photography) Budget Concert Gear Gig Photography Settings Technique Theatre https://www.markbuntingphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/6/my-type-of-photography---concert-theatre Wed, 29 Jun 2016 10:45:00 GMT
The Most Important Photos You'll Ever Take https://www.markbuntingphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/6/the-most-important-photos-youll-ever-take

Family Portrait 

(Nikon D7000 / 16 to 85 mm f3.5 to 5.6 - 52 mm / 1/30th / f6.3 / ISO 200)

 

 

The Most Important Photos You'll Ever Take

 

We generally start our photographic journey taking pictures of people.  Our family.  Our friends.  At Christmas.  On holiday.  At a special dinner.  At a party.  

 

Then as we get more adventurous we start to take pictures without people in them.

 

The deserted beach.  The woodland scene.  The cloudscape at sunset.

 

We develop a taste for various types of photography.

 

Landscape.  Nature.  Macro.  Portrait.  Street.  Abstract.

 

But, never forget to keep taking those pictures of the people most important to you - your family & friends.

 

I've just spend a few weeks de-cluttering.  And as part of the process I ended up going through bags & bags of old photogaraphs - spanning 4 generations.  It was like travelling back in time.

 

The oldest photos were few and far between.  Taking photographs in the 1930s & 1940s was a serious business.  Some are in sepia.  And some in black & white.  (Interestingly most are pin sharp - possibly helped by the fact that they were most likely taken with a fixed focus lens.)  And the photos themselves are very small - some just one and a half inches by one and a half inches square.  And all of the photos in this period were of people.  My photographic ancestors obviously thought that the only thing worth photographing was people.  And it was a frivilous waste of time (& money) to shoot anything else.  

 

People at weddings.  People on holiday at the beach.  People at a family gathering.  But the common theme is people.

 

Then in the 1950s things get a little more sophisticated.  The photos are still in black & white, but there are more of them.  And they get bigger.  Typically around 3 inches by 2 inches (around 8 cm by 5 cm). And the subjects are now often smiling in the pictures.  And it is not just weddings, holidays and family gatherings - although they feature heavily.  But they now also include people at such 'frivolous' activities as dances! 

 

In the 1960s the prints get even bigger - and there are much more numerous.  And I start being featured in them.  And as taking photographs has become much more affordable, the camera is now being taken everywhere.  And we start to get some pictures without people.

 

And then in the 1970s, colour arrives.  Although looking at the faded, muted colours, it is a colour palette that does not marry with real life.  Photos are getting larger.  And more shots are 'non-people' shots.

 

In the 1980s, 1990s and beyond the prints continue to grow in size - the last few batches 5 inches by 7 inches (around 13 cm by 18 cm).  And lots of pictures of 'things' - but by now - my Mother & Father - for it is their house I am de-cluttering - have a new favourite subject to photograph - their grand children.

 

The span is over 80 years - but family & friends - but especially family - are the constant theme.

 

And as I sort, the ones I am keeping are largely those.  A snapshot of family in years gone by.

 

And what of the deserted beach shot?  The waterfall shot?  The harbour by night shot?  All with no-one in them.  Sorry.  They don't make it.  I admire them. I appreciate them.  But the keepers are the ones with family.

 

So, don't stop taking your landscape shots.  Or nature.  Or macro.  Or abstract.

 

But do still find time to photograph your family & friends.

 

Because, in all probability, those are the ones your children, your grand-children & your great grand-children will want you to keep. 

 

 

 

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markbuntingphotography@gmail.com (Mark Bunting Photography) Beginner Camera Enthusiast Family Gear Intermediate Photography Settings https://www.markbuntingphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/6/the-most-important-photos-youll-ever-take Wed, 22 Jun 2016 10:45:00 GMT
Getting Serious - #6 - I'm a Lazy Zoomer https://www.markbuntingphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/6/getting-serious---6---im-a-lazy-zoomer

 

Malta Sunset

(Nikon D7000 / 18 to 200 mm f3.5 to 5.6 - 200 mm / 1/250th / f5.6 / ISO 250)

 

 

Getting Serious - # 6 - I'm a Lazy Zoomer

 

Many use the mantra - zoom lens convenience v prime lens quality.

 

Zoom lenses are everywhere.  Pretty much all consumer 'point & shoots' & all Bridge Cameras. Even Compact System Cameras & Digital SLRs are typically sold with a kit zoom lens.

 

But there are many enthusiast snappers who disown zooms and stick to prime lenses.

 

Many professional wedding photographers prefer to shoot using primes - and wide primes - say f1.4 or wider - to let them snap away in gloomy conditions without resorting to the often mood-changing use of flash.

 

As in many aspects of life, there is no right or wrong answer - and the answer probably depends on you and the type of photographs you mostly take.

 

Let's hear it for the Zoomers.

 

If I am travelling, and taking my Nikon DX / APS-C sized sensor camera body, I will typically take my DX 18 to 200 mm / f3.5 to f5.6 zoom lens with me.  This body plus lens combination is pretty small, and gives me the 35 mm equivalent of 28 mm (pretty wide) to 300 mm (a decent telephoto).  The aperture of f3.5 to f5.6 isn't that wide - but if it gets dark, I just use a higher ISO. And accept a little bit more noise in my photo.

 

If I am taking my Nikon FX (Full frame) body I will strap on my FX 28 mm to 300 mm / f3.5 to f5.6 lens. (Yes.  I am very predictable.)  This FX body & lens combination is a bit bigger & heavier than its DX / APS-C counterpart - but the larger sensor in the FX body gives me better ISO / noise performance and better Auto-Focus than my DX body.  (In fact, the Auto-Focus system on the Nikon D750 can perform extremely well in very low light conditions.)

 

So, when I am travelling, or even if I am just on a general walkabout, I am very happy to take a wide to tele zoom.

 

Quality v Convenience

 

But, does not the 'quality' - by which most people mean 'sharpness' - suffer?  Well, even consumer zooms - like the ones above - will give you more than enough 'quality' for most uses.  If you know the print is going to be the size of a bill board, then you probably choose the wrong lens.  But for everything else - and especially for online / social media use - the combinations above are absolutely fine.  (In fact, for social media use, they are over kill - use your phone instead.)  I have taken pictures with these consumer zooms that have been used both online and in hard copy in local and national newspapers. 

 

The big advantage of zooms is their convenience.  For DX the 18 to 200 mm and for FX the 28 to 300 mm is pretty much a bag full of lenses in one, neat, package.

 

The main disadvantage is the aperture - typically f3.5 at the wide angle end and say f5.6 at the telephoto end.  Not great, but with today's digital cameras having decent ISO performance that is not a problem for most general photography.

 

Having Your Cake & Eating It

 

But, you can have your cake and eat it.  As well as taking either the DX or the FX kit above, if I am going DX, I also bring along a 35 mm / f1.8 DX lens (equiv in Full frame to 50 mm).  And for my FX kit I bring along - yes, you've guessed it - a 50 mm f1.8 FX lens - often referred to as 'the nifty fifty'.

 

These small - and comparativey cheap - prime lenses are used when I am shooting in low light. The aperture of f1.8 compared to the zooms' f3.5 really helps in low light conditions.  Plus the ability of the wide f1.8 aperture to blur out the background and isolate the subject - especially in portrait conditions - is another advantage.

 

The Best Starter Zoom

 

If you do buy a Compact System Camera or a Digital SLR you may wish to save up a bit more, and not purchase the offered kit zoom - typically on a APS-C sensor camera a 18 to 55 mm lens (equiv in full frame to 27 mm to 82.5 mm).  If you can afford it, a 18 to 200 mm (equiv in full frame to 27 mm to 300 mm) is quite possibly the only zoom most of us will ever need.

 

But if you can't afford it, enjoy using the kit zoom of 18 to 55 mm.

 

The Best Starter Prime  

 

Eventually, you will want a prime lens.  I would suggest, for most of us, the best starter prime is a 35 mm / f1.8 (for DX / APS-C cameras) or the 50 mm / f1.8 (for FX/ full frame cameras).  These are cheap-as-chips primes and can give beautiful pictures, used properly.

 

So, enjoy having your cake & eating it!

 

Blog Feedback

If you have found this Blog useful, please feel free to leave a comment. 

And if you think someone you know would find it useful, please feel free to share it with them.

And if you didn't find this Blog useful, if you leave me a comment telling me why, I will try to improve it at its next review.

 

 

 

 

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markbuntingphotography@gmail.com (Mark Bunting Photography) Budget Gear Lens Photography Settings Technique Zoom https://www.markbuntingphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/6/getting-serious---6---im-a-lazy-zoomer Wed, 15 Jun 2016 10:45:00 GMT
Getting Started - #6 - Showing Your Sensitive Side https://www.markbuntingphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/6/getting-started---6---showing-your-sensitive-side

 

London by Night - Looking towards St Paul's Cathedral from the South Bank, London

(Canon PowerShot S120

26 mm (in 35 mm full frame equivalent) / 1/20th / f1.8 / ISO 1600

with good use of a wall to lean against!)

 

 

Getting Started - # 6 - Showing Your Sensitive Side

 

We've looked at shutter speed (anything less than 1/100th of a second and be warned that you might get blurring).

 

And that's just for family pics.  In sports you will need to use shutter speeds of 1/1000th and above!

 

We've looked at aperture - the pupil of your camera lens.  

 

Large f number - say f 32 - means small hole (small pupil) - which stops a lot of light get into your camera - good for bright conditions.  

 

Small f number - say f 2.8 - means large hole (large pupil) - which lets lots of light get into your camera - good for poorly lit conditions.

 

So now we'll look at the third dancing partner - Sensor Sensitivity - which together with shutter speed and aperture makes the picture happen in the camera.

 

Camera sensors are to digital cameras what film was to film cameras.

 

Film came in different 'speeds'.  Kodachrome 64 being Kodak's world famous colour slide film - with a speed of 64.  I used Kodak Tri-X, a black & white film, which had the - then - electrifying speed of 400!

 

Camera sensors work in a similar way.  A sensor is just an electronic device - with lots of electronic cells on it - which are sensitive to light.  The more sensitive to light, the better the sensor can cope with poor lighting conditions.

 

And sensors have a key advantage over film - and that is you can vary the sensitivity of the sensor at the flick of a switch!

 

Pretty much all digital camera sensors start their sensitivity at 100.  So already we are ahead of Kodachrome 64.

 

And many camera sensors allow you to then set their sensitivity to a maximum of 3200, 6400, 12800 or even higher.

 

Speeds that were unthinkable in the days of film.

 

But this great speed comes at a price.

 

The higher you set the sensor's sensitivity - say 3200 - the more likely you are to get 'noise' on the image.  That is specks will start to appear all over your image, and you will start to lose detail in the picture.

 

But don't panic, a picture taken at speeds of 800 or 1600 or 3200 - depending on the camera - is more than likely to be good enough for looking at on the back of your phone or on social media.

 

And, as you might imagine, more expensive cameras are better at keeping the noise - these specks - to a minimum - so top of the range Digital SLRs can take pictures at simply astonishing sensor settings.

 

But such fantastic performance costs money.  So the rest of us live with more affordable models and accept more noise in our photographs.

 

Much of the time the noise is invisible - or you certainly have to look very closely to see it.  And for pictures taken at low sensor speeds of say 100 or 200 or 400 the noise is virtually invisible.

 

At the 'Getting Started' stage - that's all you need to know.  You will soon judge for yourself at what level you regard your pictures as being too noisey.  But for typical sensor speeds of 100 to around 800 - you will need to look very closely to see any noise at all.

 

(Insight - I take a lot of photos in concert / theatre conditions.  So it's very low light and the subjects - the actors or singers - move at surprising speed.  So I need a camera which has a very sensitive sensor so I can keep the shutter speed quite high (certainly above 1/100th of a second to have a reasonable chance of avoiding blur).  My first decent camera was a Fuji Bridge Camera - an excellent learning tool - and as I progressed I reckoned the noise in the snaps from the Fuji were acceptable up to a speed of 800 to 1600.  I then, after a few years, moved on to an APS-C / DX sensor sized Nikon DSLR - the D7000 - and with the D7000 I could take pictures at a sensor setting of 1600 to 3200 which were acceptable - certainly for online use.  Then, after a few more years, I moved onto a full frame sized sensor, on the Nikon D750 - and with my D750 I can use sensor speeds of 6400 to 10,000 and still get acceptable results.  Of course, my Fuji Bridge Camera was much smaller, much lighter & much less expensive than my Nikon D750!)   

 

Blog Feedback

If you have found this Blog useful, please feel free to leave a comment. 

And if you think someone you know would find it useful, please feel free to share it with them.

And if you didn't find this Blog useful, if you leave me a comment telling me why, I will try to improve it at its next review.

 

 

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markbuntingphotography@gmail.com (Mark Bunting Photography) Aperture Beginner Budget Camera Enthusiast Gear ISO Intermediate Noise Photography Settings https://www.markbuntingphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/6/getting-started---6---showing-your-sensitive-side Wed, 08 Jun 2016 10:45:00 GMT
Getting Serious - #5 - Do a Background Check! https://www.markbuntingphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/6/getting-serious---5---do-a-background-check

(Tech details - Nikon D750 & 300mm f4 - 1/500th / f4 / ISO 4000)

 

 

Getting Serious - #5 - Do a Background Check!

 

It took me a look time to realise that the background in a portrait photograph can make it or break it.

 

We have all done the 'lamp post out of the head' mistake.  But before we take the portrait / family group we should look at the background.

 

Is it very busy?

 

Will it detract from the subjects?

 

Can I do something about it?

 

It may be there is not much you can do about it but more often than you think you can choose the background.

 

If the subjects want their portrait taken, look for say a wall or a hedge which they can stand in front of. (Note the wall or hedge needs to be taller & wider then the subjects - it needs to fill all the frame behind the subjects.)

 

A nice, uniform, background makes a good backdrop.  It helps the viewer's eye concentrate on the subject - the people.

 

You can see this technique being used in lots of magazines, newspapers and online.  Once you look for examples of it, you will see them everywhere.

 

Using such a backdrop for your portrait shots will make a marvellous difference - so next time, give it a go.

 

And anytime you are planning to do a portrait shot, do a background check first. 

 

And the lady in the photo?

 

My wife.  Obviously less than entralled by my company that day!

 

Blog Feedback

If you have found this Blog useful, please feel free to leave a comment. 

And if you think someone you know would find it useful, please feel free to share it with them.

And if you didn't find this Blog useful, if you leave me a comment telling me why, I will try to improve it at its next review.

 

 

 

 

 

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markbuntingphotography@gmail.com (Mark Bunting Photography) Aperture Background Beginner Budget Camera Enthusiast Gear Intermediate Photography Portrait Settings https://www.markbuntingphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/6/getting-serious---5---do-a-background-check Wed, 01 Jun 2016 10:45:00 GMT
Getting Started - #5 - Aperture - The Hole in Your Camera's Eye https://www.markbuntingphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/5/getting-started---5---aperture---the-hole-in-your-cameras-eye Branch with Lichen, Cambridgeshire

(Nikon D7000 / 50 mm f1.8 - 1/320th / f2.8 / ISO 160)

 

 

Getting Started - #5 - Aperture - The Hole in Your Camera's Eye

 

If the camera's shutter is a bit like your eyelid - it opens & closes allowing light to enter the camera. Then the aperture of your camera lens is like the pupil of your eye.  And like your pupil of your eye the aperture of the lens can vary in size (in fact, in diameter) from large to small.

 

A large aperture - your pupil being wide open - lets in lots of light - good for when there is not so much light around.

 

A small aperture - your pupil being very small - cuts down the amount of light getting in - good for very bright scenes - say outside in bright sunlight.

 

Now, this is where it gets a little complicated.  But just accept it.  Because of the way aperture is defined, a very large aperture number - called an f number in camera-speak - means the aperture is very small.

 

And a very small aperture number - means the aperture is very large.

 

Large f number = small aperture.

 

Small f number = large aperture.

 

Phew!

 

Just think of it as bigger f numbers mean the lens is good at cutting down the amount of light getting into the camera.

 

And smaller f numbers mean the lens is good at letting lots of light into the camera.

 

So a lens set at f 32 - has a small aperture (because 32 - here - is a big number) - and this small f 32 aperture is good at stopping lots of light get into the camera.  So you might use this high f number setting when the scene is very bright.

 

And for a lens which has its aperture set to f 2.8 - a large aperture (because 2.8 is a much smaller number than 32) this means the lens lets lots of light into the camera - good for poorly lit scenes, at night, at concerts. 

 

And it is the lowest f number setting - ie the largest aperture of a lens - that makes a world of difference to your photography - and to the price of your camera or lens.

 

The lower the f number of a lens, the more flexibily you have with its other 2 dancing partners, shutter speed and sensor sensitivity - to get the picture you want in low lighting conditions.

 

All cameras can take good pics in good light.

 

Where the rubber hits the road is in the camera & lens combination's ability to take acceptable pics when the light is poor - at night or indoors.

 

At the 'Getting Started' stage you can largely ignore aperture - but you can't ignore shutter speed as shutter speed - if it is too low - say longer than 1/100th of a second - can lead to blurred pictures.

 

And if your camera lens has only a medium sized maximum aperture - say f 3.5 or f 4 or even f 5.6 - that means the shutter speed gets longer (ie more chance of blurring) more quickly than if you had spent even more money and bought a camera lens which has a large maximum aperture of say f 2.8 or f 1.8 or f 1.4 or even f 1.2. 

 

So why don't we all have camera lenses which have large maximum apertures like f 2.8 or f 1.8 or lower?

 

Answer - Expense & weight!

 

Such lenses - often called 'fast' lenses typically cost lots of dosh and are often very heavy.

 

A professional photographer will use such heavy & expensive lenses because they increase the chances of him getting the shot his editor wants - but for those of us with kids to feed and a mortgage to pay - we live with more affordable lenses with smaller maximum apertures.

 

At the 'Getting Serious' stage, you will want to be able to use different apertures to get different effects but that's for another post. 

 

But at the 'Getting Started' stage you just need to know that aperture is one of the key dance partners with shutter speed.

 

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markbuntingphotography@gmail.com (Mark Bunting Photography) Aperture Beginner Budget Camera Enthusiast Gear Intermediate Photography Settings https://www.markbuntingphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/5/getting-started---5---aperture---the-hole-in-your-cameras-eye Wed, 25 May 2016 10:45:00 GMT
Getting Serious - #4 - A Picture a Day keeps the Doctor Away https://www.markbuntingphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/5/getting-serious---4---a-picture-a-day-keeps-the-doctor-away  

 

Barley?  Or Wheat? - Cambridgeshire

(Nikon D7000 / 50 mm f1.8 - 1/800th / f2.8 / ISO 160)

 

 

Getting Serious - #4 - A Picture a Day keeps the Doctor Away

 

One of the characteristics of a 'Getting Serious' photographer rather than a 'Getting Started' one is not just how much they understand about their craft, but how often they practise their craft.  That is how often they take pictures.

 

A 'Getting Serious' one will pretty much always be on the look-out for a good picture.

 

Now, here, life gets in the way.  School, work, looking after the kids, all that stuff takes up much of most people's time.  So you may need to work hard to find the time to take photographs.

 

It might be on your commute to work you walk through a city or a park and that's a good place to take some snaps.

 

Or some of your friends need someone to take some publicity shots for some charity event.

 

But it works best if you can carry a camera all the time - and that includes your phone - and you keep an eye out for pictures.

 

Of course, there will be times when you can really get the photographic bit between your teeth - a walk in the country, a walk by the sea, a day out in the city, a trip to a museum or art gallery.  Grab any opportunity to hone your photographic skills.

 

Because we typically learn by doing.  The more photos we take the better we get.

 

But 'getting' better in photography does benefit from knowing some basic guidelines - both about the artistic side and the technical side - but to start with:

 

1 - take the picture.

 

2 - look at it on the screen.

 

3 - think about how you would improve it.

 

4 - then take the improved shot.

 

You can be your own best critic - looking at your photos and then improving them. 

 

 

 

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markbuntingphotography@gmail.com (Mark Bunting Photography) Beginner Budget Camera Enthusiast Gear Intermediate Perfect Photography Settings https://www.markbuntingphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/5/getting-serious---4---a-picture-a-day-keeps-the-doctor-away Tue, 17 May 2016 10:30:00 GMT
Getting Started - #4 - The Un Shutter Button in your Smart Phone https://www.markbuntingphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/4/getting-started---4---the-un-shutter-button-in-your-smart-phone Fence Post, Cambridgeshire

(Nikon D750 / 24 to 70 mm f2.8 - 52 mm / 1/50th / f5.6 / ISO 1800)

 

Getting Started - #4 - The Un Shutter Button in your Smart Phone

 

Smartphone photography is really popular.  And why wouldn't it be.  Smartphones can have pretty decent built-in cameras and you always have it with you.

 

Ready to take snaps of family, friends, pets, parties, sunsets & sandy beaches.

 

But just like a camera, a smartphone can be severely affected by how violently you press the shutter button.

 

Press it violently and the whole phone moves and your photo has much more chance of being blurred - especially when the light is not that good.

 

But, what might come as a complete surprise is that - for some smartphones - the shutter works in the opposite way from a camera shutter.

 

In many smartphones, in camera mode, a button symbol appears on the screen - and by pressing that you take the picture?

 

Not always.

 

For a number of smartphones, the picture is taken when the shuuter button is un-pressed - ie when you gently take your finger off the button.

 

So, you can place your finger on the button symbol, keep it there, and then, when you gently remove your finger - snap - the phone takes the picture.

 

So, check if this is how your smartphone camera mode button works - and it might help you keep the phone nice and steady when it takes the picture.

 

And keeping the phone nice & steady will help your pictures be sharper, more often.

 

 

 

 

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markbuntingphotography@gmail.com (Mark Bunting Photography) Beginner Photography Shutter Smartphone Technique https://www.markbuntingphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/4/getting-started---4---the-un-shutter-button-in-your-smart-phone Wed, 11 May 2016 23:15:00 GMT
Getting Serious - #3 - The Perfect Camera for You https://www.markbuntingphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/4/getting-serious---3---the-perfect-camera-for-you

Street Art, Belfast

(Nikon D7000 / 16 to 85 mm f3.5 to 5.6 - 35 mm / 1/160th / f6.3 / ISO 125)

 

Getting Serious - #3 - The Perfect Camera for You

 

Unfortunately - despite the title above - there is no such thing as the perfect camera.  Sorry!  

 

However, a good camera for you is one which will have a few useful characteristics.

 

1 - It will be fun to use - if it isn't, you won't use it - and thus it obviously is not a good camera for you.

 

2 - You are happy to carry it around / have it nearby / ready to use lots of the time.  If you're not, it's not the camera for you.

 

3 - It suits most of the sort of photography that you like doing.

 

Let's unpick this one a bit.  All cameras do general photography very well.  If they didn't, they wouldn't sell.  So pretty much any camera will take good pics in good light of family, friends, kids, pets, beaches & sunsets.  That's a given.

 

But what really floats your boat in terms of your type of photography?  If it is typical, general photography as in the paragraph above then you are sorted.  And indeed, it might only be after having had your camera for a while that you think it would be great if it was good at wildlife photography or macro photography (photographing bugs & creepy crawlies) or concert photography.

 

Certainly, use your camera for your general photography - enjoy using it - and use it lots.

 

Now, as I've already said, there is no such thing as the perfect camera.  I use my phone or my 'point & shoot' Canon S120 for much of my general photography but for certain circumstances I strap on my considerably larger & heavier Digital SLR.

 

So no one camera will do it all.  And indeed, at the moment, you might not know what sorts of photography you want to get into outside of the general photography that we all do.

 

I mentioned in a previous post that a good starter camera is a Bridge Camera (borrow one if you can rather than splashing out your cash).  And such a Bridge Camera will help you explore any 'specialist' areas that might appeal.  

 

If you find yourself mostly using maximum zoom to photograph wildlife, or birds, or aircraft - that is one area of interest.  If you frequently use the camera's macro-mode (if it has one) to photograph creepy crawlies, then that is another.  If you turn down the zoom to get the widest angle possible to take in landscapes, then that is another.

 

But bear in mind that if  you want a camera (or more correctly a camera & lens combination) that is optimised for wildlife / aviation - then that will be different from one which is optimised for macro photography and different again from one which is optimised for landscapes.

 

So, a Bridge Camera, with say a zoom range of 28 mm at the wide end (good for landscapes) to a telephoto max of say 300 mm (or more) is a good place to start for you to flex your photographic muscles.

 

No camera can be perfect at everything, but a 28 mm to 300 mm Bridge camera will let you find out what sort of pictures you like taking.  And it might be all the camera you ever need. 

 

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markbuntingphotography@gmail.com (Mark Bunting Photography) Beginner Budget Camera Enthusiast Gear Intermediate Perfect Photography Settings https://www.markbuntingphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/4/getting-serious---3---the-perfect-camera-for-you Mon, 09 May 2016 23:15:00 GMT
Getting Started - #3 - Pressing the Shutter - Shoot like a Sniper https://www.markbuntingphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/4/getting-started---3---pressing-the-shutter---shoot-like-a-sniper

Jet Skier, Lough Neagh, from Masserene, Co Antrim, Northern Ireland

(Nikon D750 / 28 to 300 mm f3.5 to 5.6 lens - 300 mm / 1/500th / f9 / ISO 100)

 

Getting Started - #3 - Pressing the Shutter - Shoot like a Sniper

 

It's a real pain when your photo turns out blurred.  But there are only a few reasons why that can happen.

 

1 - The subject moved.

 

2 - The camera moved.

 

3 - The camera did not have time to focus before you pressed the shutter.

 

We'll look at 1 - 'The subject moved' in a later post - but how your finger presses the shutter button has an enormous effect on 2 - 'The Camera moved' and 3 - 'The camera did not have time to focus before you pressed the shutter'.

 

Most shutter buttons are designed to be half-pressed and then fully-pressed.

 

Half-pressing the shutter button switches on the focus mechanism of the camera.  In good light - say outside in bright sunlight - the camera just takes a fraction of a second to focus.  And you can normally tell when it has finished focussing because typically a box or a cross will appear on the focus point in your viewfinder or rear screen.  (Have a look at your camera instructions on what symbol appears in the viewfinder or on the rear screen to show you that the camera has finished focussing.)

 

Once the focussed symbol has appeared you can then press the shutter fully to take the picture.

 

Job done.

 

Sadly, a very typical early mistake is to press the shutter button quite violently - not giving the camera time to focus and indeed pressing it so forcefully that the whole camera moves in the process.  That means the camera has moved and it hasn't focussed - so, unfortunately, you get a blurred photo.

 

Instead you need to use the shutter button as a sniper uses a trigger.

 

First, gently, depress the shutter button to the halfway point.  And stop.

 

Give the camera time to focus.

 

In bright light this will be almost instantaneous.

 

In poor light it might take up to a second or two.

 

Only - and only - when the focus symbol has appeared in your viewfinder or on the rear screen - then you can - gently - press the shutter fully down - gently - so you do not move the camera.

 

It's a really little thing, but learning to press the shutter gently, first to the halfway point, and then fully down, really makes a big difference to the probability of your photo being blurred and in focus.

 

Try it.

 

(We'll look at 1 - The subject moved - later - but, for the moment, learn to press the shutter button the way a sniper presses a trigger!  Good shooting!)

 

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markbuntingphotography@gmail.com (Mark Bunting Photography) Beginner Budget Intermediate Photography Settings Shutter https://www.markbuntingphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/4/getting-started---3---pressing-the-shutter---shoot-like-a-sniper Wed, 04 May 2016 23:00:00 GMT
Getting Serious - #2 - In the Blink of an Eye - Shutter Speed Basics https://www.markbuntingphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/4/getting-serious---2---in-the-blink-of-an-eye---shutter-speed-basics  

Flying Greyhound

(Nikon D750 & 28 to 300 mm f3.5 to 5.6 lens - 250 mm / 1/500th / f5.6 / ISO 110)

 

Getting Serious - #2 - In the Blink of an Eye - Shutter Speed Basics

 

Your camera is a bit like your eye - just not as clever.  The shutter is just your camera's eyelid.  But your camera can open its eyelid for very precise amounts of time - say one tenth of a second, or a hundredth of a second or a thousandth of a second.

 

So what?

 

Well, with a bit of understanding of your camera's eyelid, you can greatly reduce your number of blurred shots.

 

Now, if you are the sort of person who always shoots with your camera on a tripod and never has any moving objects in your picture - then you are sorted.

 

But, if like the rest of us, you often have objects that move in the picture - people, pets, kids, cars, waves on a beach - then knowing a bit about your camera's shutter can really help.

 

The shutter is an eyelid that opens for a set amount of time.  Sometimes the camera sets the time - say if it is in automatic mode.  And sometimes the photographer sets the time - if the camera is set to shutter priority mode or to full manual mode.

 

So what difference does one tenth or one hundredth or one thousandth of a second make to your picture.

 

Well, at one thousandth of a second, pretty much all movement will be frozen - and probably pretty sharp.

 

Certainly people, pets & kids.  Normal cars will probably be OK - but for Formula 1 racing cars you might need an even shorter sutter speed!  (And, indeed for many sports.)

 

At the other end of the scale, one tenth of a second, if anything moves in the picture, and indeed if you can not hold the camera steady enough, then you will get blurring.

 

At one hundredth of a second, you get much better results then at one tenth of a second - but not as good as one thousandth of a second.

 

So, what's the catch?  Why don't we always shoot at one thousandth (or shorter) of a second? Well, getting the exposure right is a dance between shutter speed, aperture and ISO (the sensitivity of your camera sensor).

 

Don't worry about aperture or sensor sensitivity just at the moment - but do take on board that long shutter speeds - say 1/10th of a second can cause blurring but short shutter speeds - say 1/1000th of a second greatly reduce the chance of blurring.

 

So, if you are shooting in poor light, or indoors, or at night - watch the shutter speed.  If it falls to much below 1/100th of a second, you greatly increase you chance of getting blurred pictures.

 

But, you can still stack the odds.  If you are photographing a group of friends, get them to pose for the camera - this normally greatly reduces their movement - so that helps a lot.

 

And take 3 or 4 shots of the same picture - so hopefully 1 or 2 of them will be relatively sharp.

 

And, if you can, lean on someting - a wall, a table, whatever - to steady you & the camera as you take the picture.

 

(I'm a world champion leaner!)

 

That way you greatly increase the chance of an unblurred shot. 

 

So find out where your shutter speed is displayed on your camera - in the viewfinder or on the rear screen - and watch and learn how different shutter speeds affect your shots.

 

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markbuntingphotography@gmail.com (Mark Bunting Photography) beginner budget gear photography settings shutter technique https://www.markbuntingphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/4/getting-serious---2---in-the-blink-of-an-eye---shutter-speed-basics Mon, 02 May 2016 23:00:00 GMT
Getting Started - #2 - Fill the Frame https://www.markbuntingphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/4/getting-started---2---fill-the-frame

Inquisitive Cow, near the Offords, Cambridgeshire

(Nikon D750 & 28 to 300 mm f3.5 to 5.6 lens - Lens at 34 mm / 1/500th / f3.8 / ISO 110)

 

Getting Started - #2 -  Fill the Frame

 

The single most important thing about taking a 'good' picture is seeing it with your eye.

 

If you don't see it, you won't take the photograph.

 

If you do see it, you might - just might - be able to photograph it and do it justice.  

 

And if you follow a few guidelines, your pictures will improve dramatically.

 

Fill the Frame - Because Your Brain is much cleverer than your Camera

 

Your eye is a fantastic piece of engineering - and the processor that converts the image in your brain is world-class.  No modern computer comes close. (Yet!)  So you have to be aware of how clever your eye & brain are, compared to your camera.

 

The brain will focus its attention on one part of the picture.  So, on a beach there is a marvellous sand-castle in the distance.  The brain will focus your attention on the sand-castle.

 

In a garden, you look at all the marvellous trees and bushes and your brain focuses on a lovely bush.

 

Uncle Bill & Aunty Mabel are standing some distance away along an empty street.  Your brain will focus on Uncle Bill & Aunty Mabel.

 

But your camera is not so clever.  It does not know what is holding your interest in the scene.

 

And, most of us take the shot which turns out to be:

 

A large expanse of beach with a very small sand-castle in the distance.

 

A garden with a confusing collection of trees and bushes.

 

A mostly empty street with two people in the middle distance.

 

And none of those are the pictures we saw with our brain - nor are they the pictures we wanted.

 

The advice we need to follow is:

 

If your pictures aren't good enough, you aren't close enough - Robert Capa.

 

So, we need to walk up to the sand-castle, get it to fill the viewfinder and then take the snap.

 

(And, to add another degree of complexity, we might even get down low to give us an unusual viewing angle, instead of the 'just another shot taken at head height' - but let's not get too complicated, for the moment concentrate on 'fill the frame'.) 

 

We need to walk up to the particular bush in the garden, get it to fill the viewfinder and then take the snap.

 

We need to walk up to Uncle Bill and Aunty Mabel, ask them politely if we can take their photograph, and then fill the viewfinder with a nice 'head & shoulders' shot of Bill & Mabel.

 

So our feet need to help our camera 'see' like our brain - and we use our feet to get up close to the subject of interest - get it to fill the viewfinder and then take the snap.

 

Of course, as digital 'film' is free you can take 2 or 3 or however many shots, and maybe even move slightly from shot to shot to get a different viewpoint - but the most imporant point is to fill the frame.

 

And I will let you use 'zoom' to get closer and to fill the frame - but only if you can't get any closer using your feet.  Learn to 'zoom' - ie get closer - using your feet.  It is a good technique to master.

 

So, learn to 'fill the frame' and see if you like the result.

 

(And google 'Robert Capa' to learn more about this great photographer.)

 

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markbuntingphotography@gmail.com (Mark Bunting Photography) Beginner Gear Intermediate Lens Photography Settings Technique https://www.markbuntingphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/4/getting-started---2---fill-the-frame Thu, 28 Apr 2016 10:45:00 GMT
Getting Serious - #1 - Don't Buy a Camera! (Well, not just yet!) https://www.markbuntingphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/4/getting-serious---1---dont-buy-a-camera-well-not-just-yet

 

Interior shot of Crumlin Road Gaol, Belfast

(Nikon D7000 & 16 to 85 mm f3.5 to 5.6 - Lens at 16 mm (24 mm in 35 mm equivalent) / 1/50th / f3.5 / ISO 800)

 

 

Getting Serious - #1 - Don't Buy a Camera! (Well, not just yet!)

 

So you want to make the move from taking pictures with your smartphone (which is perfectly capable of taking some pretty decent pictures) and get a 'real' camera.

 

That's great!  It does assume that you are also looking to learn - at least a little - about how the 'real' camera works - because if you are going to use your 'real' camera on auto all the time you may as well save yourself some money and stick with your smartphone.

 

The dilemma most people face is which sort of camera to buy for their first 'real' camera.

 

Let me help you here.

 

Don't buy your first real camera - borrow it instead.

 

Talk to your friends & family - or contact your local camera club.  There are thousands of much-loved but no longer used cameras in drawers & cupboards up and down the land.  And their enthusiastic owners will be only too glad to lend you one to help you get started.

 

I have found that photographers are generally a pretty friendly bunch of people and that is especially true of helping those new to their hobby.

 

But which sort of camera to borrow?

 

A simple 'point & shoot' / shirt pocket / cigarette box sized camera - small & light enough to easily carry?

 

A bridge camera - a sort of half way house between a 'point & shoot' and a more sophisticated Digital SLR (Single Lens Reflex) camera?

 

A CSC (Compact System Camera) - smaller than a Digital SLR - but able to change lenses.

 

A Digital SLR - able to change lenses, sophisticated & able but larger, heavier then CSCs or Bridge Cameras.

 

OK - if you can, borrow a bridge camera.

 

If you find it too big & bulky that tells you you may wish to go down the smaller, more portable 'point & shoot' route.

 

If you like your borrowed Bridge Camera, I would suggest you stick with it and use it whilst you get to grips with some basic techniques and learn about shutter speed, aperture and sensor sensitivity.  Once you have cut your photographic teeth on the Bridge Camera you can then decide if you are happy to stay with Bridge Cameras - many of which are extremely sophisticated - or move to a Compact System Camera or a Digital SLR - both of which are able to change lenses.

 

Now, at this stage, if I were to ask you what is the most important aspect of a camera you might say image quality, or sharpness or ease of use.  All of which are important.  But actually the most important aspect is size & weight.

 

The larger & heavier it is, the less likely you are to want to carry it with you when on a day out / whatever.  You may not believe me now, but try lugging a top of the range Digital SLR plus a pro zoom lens around for a day and you'll agree.

 

So, the Bridge Camera is a good compromise between the small & light 'point & shoot' and the larger & heavier Digital SLRs.  And many Bridge Cameras weigh about the same as some Compact System Cameras.

 

So, get networking, ask around, contact a local camera club - in a drawer or cupboard somewhere nearby is a Bridge Camera waiting to be borrowed by you.

 

(Insight - So what do I use?  I always have my phone with me, so, that's one camera for starters.  In my rucksack - which is really my man-bag as it pretty much comes everywhere with me - I carry a fairly sophisticated 'point & shoot' - currently a Canon S120.  And if I am out walking the dog / out for the day I carry a full-frame Nikon Digital SLR with one lens - typically a 28 to 300 mm / f3.5 to 5.6 consumer zoom.  On an assignment I would take 2 Nikon Digital SLRs and a collection of lenses, depending on what I am going to shoot (landscape, nature, theatre, sports etc) and where (outdoors or indoors) and when (in daylight or at night).)

 

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markbuntingphotography@gmail.com (Mark Bunting Photography) Beginner Budget Enthusiast Gear Intermediate Photography Settings Technique Zoom https://www.markbuntingphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/4/getting-serious---1---dont-buy-a-camera-well-not-just-yet Tue, 26 Apr 2016 10:30:00 GMT
Getting Started - #1 - Your Smart Phone is probably all the camera you need. https://www.markbuntingphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/4/getting-started---1---your-smart-phone-is-probably-all-the-camera-you-need

The Vertical Gallery, Linen Hall Library, Belfast 

(Smartphone - Samsung Galaxy S5 neo - 1/33rd Second / f1.9 / ISO 80 / Lens equivalent to 31 mm full-frame.)

 

 

Getting Started - #1 - Your Smart Phone is probably all the camera you need.

 

So you want to 'get into' photography.  You like taking pictures.  It's fun.  But you are confused by the apparently millions of different cameras on the market and you would like some advice as to which one is right for you.

 

You will already have looked at lots of different websites for advice - and you are still looking.

 

Well, here is some stunning - and very sad - news - a 'better', more expensive camera will not improve your pictures.

 

Yes.  I know.  It is a painful thing to hear.  But it's true.  Sadly I can not walk into a camera shop, buy the world's most expensive camera and become an ace photographer.  I only wish I could.

 

Now, let's qualify this a bit - here I am talking about normal people - the people who take photos at Christmas, on holiday, of special family events, of their friends / dog / cat / whatever and maybe the odd sun-set or two.  Which is what most normal folk take most of the time.

 

And most normal people do not print their pictures - they post them on social media & keep them on their phone.

 

So for photography such as this, you probably already have all the camera you need (as opposed to the camera you want - but I will cover 'Gear Envy' in a later post) and it's your smart phone. Yep.  Most smart phones are perfectly capable of taking good to very good photographs, most of the time.

 

So, if most of us already have the camera - that is our smart phone - that is already capable of taking pretty good pictures then the question we need to ask is - How do I take better pictures? Which is a very different question from Which camera will help me take better pictures?

 

So what improves your picture taking is improving your technique - and first and foremost it starts with being able to 'see' the picture with your eyes, before you take it with your camera.  

 

 

 

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markbuntingphotography@gmail.com (Mark Bunting Photography) Beginner Budget Enthusiast Gear Intermediate Photography Settings Smartphone Technique Zoom https://www.markbuntingphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/4/getting-started---1---your-smart-phone-is-probably-all-the-camera-you-need Thu, 21 Apr 2016 10:30:00 GMT
So what's this Blog all about then? https://www.markbuntingphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/4/so-whats-this-blog-all-about-then

St Paul's Cathedral from the Tate Modern, London

(Tech Stuff - Canon PowerShot S120 - Lens at 41 mm (in 35 mm full frame equivalent) / 1/200th / f3.2 / ISO 80)

 

Well, if you are looking for a Blog on politics, entertainment, sport or shopping - you've come to the wrong place.

If you are taking your first few steps into the world of photography. Or if you have been taking photographs for a while but feel you are ready to move off the 'auto' setting. This might be the place.

I hope that this Blog will provide those new - & not so new - to photography some pointers - it will pass on what I wish I had realised very early on in my journey with photography. Plus it will sometimes cover topics which may be of use to those more experienced in photography.

The 'Getting Started' series is just that. For those who are just starting out and want to know more on how to get the best out of taking pictures on their smartphone or their camera.

The 'Getting Serious' series builds on the 'Getting Started' posts and goes further into techniques & technical detail. I have tried to make each post self-contained so if you read something which you have already read in an earlier post, please just skip over it.

But, just to contradict myself, if you are reading the 'Getting Serious' posts, I assume you have already read or already know, the information given in the 'Getting Started' posts.

Please note that I will not always be right.

Also note that I might change my opinion.

But I will, at least, hopefully be some help along the way as you learn about photography.

And the first lesson is that photography is not really about the gear you have - it is about how you use your eyes to see the world around you. Once your eyes have seen the shot - then the camera is simply the tool you use to capture the scene you see with your eyes.

 

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markbuntingphotography@gmail.com (Mark Bunting Photography) Beginner Enthusiast Gear Intermediate Lens Photography Technique https://www.markbuntingphotography.co.uk/blog/2016/4/so-whats-this-blog-all-about-then Tue, 19 Apr 2016 10:01:23 GMT