Today’s Photo Tip Of The Week is part two of a five-tip series. The series is spread out over a five-week period where I take you on an alphabetical journey to cover a magnitude of photographic instruction as I explore numerous photo concepts from A to Z. Check last week’s Tip Of The Week to get tips from the letters A-E.
While every letter of the alphabet isn’t covered, many key photo topics will be explored based on the letter with which they start. Enjoy the journey down the alphabetical trail to garner photo knowledge and wisdom.
F is for Focus: Today’s DSLRs are complex and have many focusing options. It behooves you to read your manual to learn the differences in more detail than what I can cover in a paragraph. Single shot focus works fine for static subjects. Continuous works great for moving subjects. In Continuous mode, the camera is programmed to predict the movement and speed of the subject. Single shot focuses on a single plane and unless that plane is in focus, the shutter doesn’t release. If you’re photographing motion, it’s the kiss of death. Add into the mix Dynamic focus, 21 or 51 point focus, 3D focus or close focus priority, and it gets even more complex. The point I want to make is that each option works better for a given situation. Learn all the options and, based on what you photograph, set the camera to the best one for that situation.
G is for Graduated ND Filter: A 2-stop soft edge graduated neutral-density filter should be in every landscape photographer’s arsenal. They help tame the contrast of a bright sky in conjunction with a dark foreground. They also help tame a bright foreground, such as a flowing river or white rocks, in conjunction with a dark background. The dark part of the filter gets placed over the bright upper or lower portion of the composition. The resulting image has much less contrast and often saves time in post processing HDR or multi-layered images.
H is for Histogram: DON’T judge exposure by what it LOOKS like on the LCD. Let me repeat that: DON’T judge exposure by what it LOOKS like on the LCD. I guarantee you’ll underexpose just about every photo you make. Most images “LOOK” better on the LCD when they’re a bit darker, but digital images are about numbers and math—ones and zeros. A histogram from an image that looks better will be pushed more to the dark left side and result in shadow areas that may lose detail. If you try to bring up that shadow detail, they become noisy. With the above in mind, base exposures off the histogram as it shows the actual exposure values of all the pixels.
I is for ISO: ISO controls the sensor’s sensitivity to light. The higher the number, the more it’s amplified. This allows you to make photos in lower light. This is wonderful, but the trade off of high ISO images is more noise, softened edges, blocked-up contrast and poor image quality. Every camera has its limits as to what ISO can be used to obtain a useable photo. Additionally, every photo session has a different standard as to what defines a useable photo. If you need a huge enlargement, refrain from using too high an ISO. Run your camera through a series of tests to see how raising the ISO impacts image quality.
J is for Juxtapose: Juxtapose isn’t a photographic term, but its meaning runs deep with regards to composition, color harmony, size relationships and more. For instance, how you juxtapose key elements in a composition helps determine the success of the image. Try to prevent mergers so each element stands on its own. If they do touch, there should be an obvious reason. With regards to color, juxtapose colors on the opposite side of a color wheel for drama and to make a specific-colored subject stand out. Also, juxtapose colors that harmonize so the hues blend with one another. Juxtapositions of different-sized elements show depth and dimensionality. Work with the perspective of super-wide angles to juxtapose a small foreground element against a far background one to make the foreground item appear much larger than it actually is.
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