Friday, 21 January 2011

Another Night of Photographing.

Last night was perfect for nightshots, so I went on a little phototrip and kept snapping away untill both of my batteries were depleeted.
Here are some of the best pictures:

Also I got a great shot in the afternoon just as the sun was about to set:

Thursday, 20 January 2011

ISO-speeds: What is the difference?

Many new photographers ask the question: "What is ISO-speed and how does it affect my photos?".
I didn't know this when I started shooting with my DSLR, I did a little searching and figured it out:
In a film-camera, the ISO-speed determines the light-sensitivity of the film surface, in a DSLR it determines the light-sensitivity of the sensor.

So what does this mean to you, when you are taking pictures?
Basically it is very essential to getting good pictures at different light levels, choosing the correct ISO-speed can mean the difference between getting a clear shot or a grainy/blurry/underexposed one.
Many people wrongfully believe that ISO1600 is the best thing to take pictures at, giving the best photo, why?

 - It gives shorter shutter times.
 - It takes up more space on the memory card.
 - It drains the camera battery more.
 These are all things that would make a camera beginner think: "It gives all those disadvantages, so the image quality must be better for it!".

But in fact there are entirely different reasons for all of this:
The shorter shutter time, is due to the increased light-sensitivity making the camera able to create an image with less exposure time.
The space it takes up is due to noise, noise takes up more space, than actual image data.
The sensor uses more power when it's sensitivity is increased.
The actual result of changing the ISO-speed can be seen in the example below:

All taken with a Canon EOS 1000D with a Canon EF-S 18-55mm MKII, taken at Av with f/22 (enlarged to show quality)

When the image is not enlarged, the grainy, high ISO images looks the same as the others.

As it can clearly be seen, the ISO100 to ISO400 are pretty clear, but anything higher than that, gives a lot of noise.
the camera settings for the photos are as follows (all taken at f/22, because higher exposure times gives more noise, and makes comparing them easier):

ISO100: 3.2seconds shutter time, 2.00mb space required.
ISO200: 1.6seconds shutter time, 2.23mb space required.
ISO400: 0.8seconds shutter time, 2.69mb space required.
ISO800: 0.5seconds shutter time, 3.09mb space required.
ISO1600: 0.2seconds shutter time, 3,89mb space required.

So what speed is best?
Under these circumstances: ISO100-ISO400 are pretty much the same quality and at 3.2seconds shutter time, camera shake is a major problem if the camera is handheld, so ISO200 or ISO400 would be the best, if you have a high capacity memory card, go for ISO400 in this case.
In this case low ISO-speeds are best, but if it is dark, you don't wanna use the flash and you don't have a tripod, a high ISO-speed is the way to go.

If you are in doubt and you're in a generic situation, you can't really go wrong with ISO200 or ISO400, if the picture is shaken go higher, if the picture is grainy go lower.

If your lens has Image Stabiliser, you might be able to go to a lower ISO-speed, without the camera shake.
If you are new to manual ISO-speeds and you are shooting something that you will not get a second chance on, play it safe an choose automatic ISO-speed until you have mastered the manual ISO-settings.

I am not a professional photographer, all the information in this guide is based on personal experiences, Internet searching and the example images displayed above.
As with any photography-technique trial-and-error IS the way to go, this is just a guide to point you in the right direction.
High ISO-speeds are not bad, they are there for a reason, but don't use them if you can get a good photo at a low speed.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Going Pro (sort of) Part 1 of 3: Upgrading to USM

Recently I purchased a Canon EF-S 17-85mm IS USM.
This is widely regarded as one of the best value for money lenses on the market, it is extremely versatile and it has a genuine ultrasonic focus-motor, giving fast and accurate focus, without all the noise and jitter, also it has full-time manual focus and image stabiliser.
Canon EF-S 17-85mm IS USM f/4-5.6

While the kit lens that came with my camera (Canon EF-S 18-55mm mkII) is an alright lens for family and vacation photos, it does not serve the EOS 1000D right, it lacks capabilities and only has approximately 3x zoom.
Besides there is no point in buying a DSLR if you're only going to use the kit lens supplied, then you might as well buy a top of the range point-and-shoot camera.

The 17-85mm USM gives you the capabilities that makes it perfect for an all round lens:
 - Full time manual focus
 - Ultrasonic focus
 - 5x zoom
 - Internal focus
 - Image Stabiliser

All these features makes it the ideal lens to keep on the camera at all times, it doesn't do one thing perfectly, but it does however do a lot of things really well.
I have decided to buy the optional lens hood (Canon EW-73B) to avoid glare and protect the lens.
Lens hood attached

I will post a comprehensive review later, when I have gotten used to the lens and have example photos to show.

Next in this 3 part series: The Canon BG-E5 battery grip.

Friday, 7 January 2011

First attempts: Monochrome Photography

A few days ago it was really gray, which gives a really dull and boring photo, colours need light to really come alive.
So instead of trying to get bright, radiant colours out of nothing, best remove the colours all together and make a monochrome photo (black and white).
Although great monochrome pictures can be taken without radient colours, it still requires high contrast areas, otherwise it wouldn't be easy to see details in the photo.



In this picture I wanted it to look a little old-fashioned, but still with the clarity and quality of a modern photo, I achieved this by snapping the picture in RAW-format and converting it on the computer, also I took this picture as an HDR (High Dynamic Range), meaning that I took 3 photos with different exposures to get better contrast in the image.

These pictures were taken with the same technique as the previous, but processed a little differently on the computer.

Monday, 3 January 2011

First attempts: Car light trails

On the way home during the holidays I decided to stop at a motorway bridge and snap a couple of long exposure shots of the car-lights.
This is my first real attempt at this, since my previous camera (Canon PowerShot G1) had an exposure limit of 8 seconds, which isn't great for car light trails.
I got a couple of okay ones, one at 60 seconds shutter time and one at 200 seconds.  Both are taken at f/9 and ISO-100 to get a clear photo with little noise.



 I will try this again soon and post my results, I am currently trying to find the perfect spot for this kind of photography, as these photos are definitely not taken at a great location.