Photography by Louise Wolfers

Introduction

Hi Y'all.

Thanks for visiting my site!!

The following pages are meant to be helpful hints only.

I am not a profesional, but a seriously MAD keen amatuer, so theses hints may not be perfect and are just things/ways that work well for me!!

I spend alot of time experimenting with different camera settings to see what does and doesnt work (for me!).

My Kit includes:

  • Canon 300d D-SLR (converted for Infra Red use)
  • Canon 400d D-SLR
  • Canon 50d D-SLR
  • Canon A620 - Compact (for the kids to play with)
  • Canon 18mm - 200mm (great for general everyday use)
  • Canon EF 28mm - 105mm Lens
  • Canon EF 70mm - 300mm Lens
  • Sigma  150mm Macro Lens
  • Canon EF-L 100mm to 400mm Tele
  • Tokina 12mm - 24mm Wide Angle Lens
  • Kenko macro extension tubes
  • Canon Flash and off camera flash cable
  • Remote and Cable release triggers
  • Manfrotto 190XProB Tripod (Its the best tripod ever).
  • Gorillapod (love it indoors)
  • Various: Polarising, UV and Infra Red filters
  • Lots of lens cloth and other miscellaneous items

Hint: Save and Insert heaps of the little silica gell bags (from food/other goods purchases) into your camer bag to reduce moisture impacts.

Hint: Try not to use a flash if possible (or tone it down by setting the flash exposure compensation to minus 1 to 3 stops).  I rarely use a flash and rely heavily on my tripod(s) and use longer exposures (5 to 10 seconds) for most of my macro and outdoor landscape work. Modern cameras cope well with long exposures and minimal noise.

At least with digital its cheap to practice!!

Cheers

Louise

 

Hints #1

So, you want to become a better photographer ??

The first thing you must do is read your manual, play with all of the settings (take photos of the same subject using each setting and compare) and learn to use the camera on its manual settings, if it has them (ie: shutter speed, apeture = f stop and iso settings)!!

Ok, reading the manual is boring and down right painful at times and some of the newer ones are huge in size.

If you stick only to the automatic controls you will miss out on some better quality photos.  The auto settings tend to choose an exposure level which tries to compensate for all of an image light sources. It is virtually impossible to achieve the correct exposure in very bright and contrasty/high shadow conditions and is also very problematic at the beach and in the snow!!  You will often get blown highlights (too bright or white patches in the image where all of the detail is lost.

Auto settings are ok for basic happy snaps, but if youre after better images with a particular soft light or other nice effect (sunsets, fog, shade, colour intensity, etc) you really ought to use your manual settings.

Most new digital cameras have built in meters that tell you what the exposure should be (or get close to the right one).  I often use this as a guide and take a sample shot and review it using the histogram tool (built into most new digi-cams).  The histogram tells you what the exposure level is like for the image you have taken.

If the histogram bars are to the left, it means the image is too dark and you need to increase the amount of time of the exposure. 

If the histogram bars are to the right and there are some large ones at the far right of the chart then you have generally overexposed the image (ie: it will be too bright and has blown highlights) so you will need to reduce (shorten) the length of the exposure. 

At least with a digital camera, you can do it by trial and error, to get it right!!

For problematic shots like, fog, waterfalls and sunsets, you could take 2 or 3 images at different exposures (ie: one for the foreground and one for the background/sky) and these can be blended together using some of the various well known photo manipulation packages.

Hope this helps you on your way to becoming a better photographer!!

More to follow soon below (explaining f stops, shutter speed and iso settings) !!

Cheers

Louise

 

Hints #2

Howdy,

This section attempts to explain the key manual settings needed for good exposures (being: f stops, shutter speed and iso settings).

Shutter speeds

This is the key tool used for avoiding blurry images and should be used in conjunction with various f stop settings. 

Low shutter speeds are generally used to capture images in dark places (ie: at night or in a dark forest or indoors or for special effects like soft/milky water falls) . These low speeds should generally be used with a tripod to ensure sharp images.  Hence if its too dark in the forest or at night you wont be able to hand hold your camera at normal settings and get a sharp (blur free) image.  I always use a tripod for low light conditions where possible.

High Shutter speeds are necessary to capyure action, a bird flying, moving cars/bikes, fast people , sports, etc.

ISO settings

If you dont have a tripod you can increase the ISO setting which makes the camera sensor more sensitive to light and may allow you to take hand held pictures in these lower light conditions (ie: indoors, at night or in dark places). However, if you do increase the ISO setting it will rersult in more noise (grainy dots) on your images. 

Low ISO settings of 100, 200 and even 400 produce minimal noise are are good options for low light situations. 

Higher ISO settings of 800, 1600 + will produce noticeable noise.  Sometimes if you really want that particular shot at night you will need to use these high ISO settings!!

F. Stops

F.Stops (the Apeture setting) allows you to change the area of your image that will be in focus (in terms of distance - front to back).  This is more important for macro subjects and for some landscapes and for special effects where you dont want the background to distract the main subject.

Lower the f stop numbers (ie: f.2.8, f.4, f.5.6, f.10, etc) means less area of the subject will be in focus (measured front to back at the point you have chosen to focus on).   This is often used deliberately to blur the froground and background of an image so that the key feature subject is the only thing in focus (good for people portraits, flowers,etc). The low f stop settings also allows much more light into your senor allowing you to use higher shutter speeds (good for fast moving action, boats, birds ,etc).

Higher f stop numbers (ie: f.16, f..8, f.20, f.22, f.25 +) will allow a greater area of the image to be in focus and hence more of it will be sharp.   This ideal for detailed landscapes and for small macro subjects (ie: small objects = bugs n fungi).  There is however a noticeable loss of light as the lens has a smaller internal hole in it, so you will need to take a longer exposure (more time).  A tripod is essential.

There is always trade off between light and sharpness that varies between what type of image you want to capture and depends on the quality of your camera/lens. 

Macro photography at high f stops like f.20 will need very long exposures (ie: up to 4+ seconds for a fungi on a dark forest floor) and a tripod is essential in most cases.  

Sometiomes the highest f.stops do not procude the best results (it can depend on the quality of the lens used).  I generally use an f.stop of approx 2/3rds of the maximum f setting (ie: f.20 on an f32 rated macro lens).

Go and test your Camera !!

Pick a single subject that is outdoors approx 3m away from your camera (ie: a medium sized object in your garden -a big pot, a bird bath, someone sitting in a chair, etc) and play with your camera settings and check out the results on your computer. You will need to adjust the shutter speed accordingly (remember use your built in meter and histogram to help adjust the shutter settings to suit).

Use a tripod, focus specifically on the suject and try the following settings :

f2.8 (it will show that most of the foreground and background is out of focus, generally leaving the subject only in focus),

f8 (more will be in focus inn front of and behind the subject) and;

f20+ (some compact digital cameras wont go this high, but most D-SLR lens will) and you will see that almost all of the foreground, the subject and the background is in focus and it shows more detail overall).

Compare the thre eshots and you should see the differences.

Many people choose lower f.stops (f8 or less) for portraiture, as it provides a lovely soft fuzzy background to the person you are photographing.

Higher f.stops are good for landscapes and macros where you want to maximise whats in focus.

Its then a matter of chosing what effect you want and applying the right settings to achieve it.

Give it a go!!

Cheers from Louise.

Remember, PRACTICE, Practice, practice and then do some more ... practice!!

Hint: Go and buy some photo mags, read their help/technical sections, talk to lots of people, join a local camera club, enter competitions and listed to their judging, and you will improve, it just takes time!!

 

 

Hints #3 - Composition

What makes a good image stand out??

Firstly, everyones opinion about and image is different, its a personal thing, so dont be offended if someone does or doesnt like the image!!  As long as you like it, sometimes that all that matters.

However, there are some basic things people look for in a good image, especially in competitions.

Firstly, the subject should be in focus, particularly the eyes or face if its a person or animal. Its what we tend to look at first = the expression of that person or animal can provoke amazing feeling for the subject.

Secondly, the lighting and contrast of an image is important.   Is it too bright or dark.  Does it have blown highlights (washed out white areas) or is it too flat (ie: is it lacking depth in colour range or tones).  These can generally be easily adjusted with most photo manipulation software packages, some even come with your digital camera.

Thirdly, Are there any annoying distractions which lead your eye away from the main subject. Things like bright objects in the background, blobs of white or other bright colours, unusal/un-natural shapes or objects all of which can be distracting.  Some of these distractions can be toned down/cloned out with various software manipulation packages.  If your using digital, review the shot (in-camera) and try to spot any distractions, then you may like to re-compose and shoot the shot again.

Fourthly, the rule of thirds provides a basic principle for pleasing composition.  Imagine your shot is divided into nine equal sized rectangles (3 x 3) and the four centre disecting points are the places you should place the key feature or subject.         Ie: below

     
     
     

It is recommended that you try to place the main subject on one of those 4 disection centre points (person, tree/car or whatever the key subject).       I dont know why but it does look better.

Wide landscapes with large expanses of grass in the foreground/or a beach scene often look better with a rock or feature in one of the 2 bottom disecting points. 

Sometimes, the rules are meant to be broken as you may want a central subject for symetry or other reasons.

Go on and try it with and without using the rule of thirds.

Ask your friends which one they prefer (without telling them why)!!

Go and have a look at some photo mags/books at the local newsagent/library/book shop and look at the "Wow" shots and try to see what makes them so great (what makes them a wow shot in your mind) whilst remembering what ive said above!!

More to follow ... soon!!

Cheers from

Louise

Infra Red

 

Infra Red Photography with Digital Cameras

 

Infra red photography is unique and somewhat unusual.  It utilizes

a special filter which removes most of the colour from your images

and leaves only part of the red spectrum of color.  These filters

often leave a red, purple or orange colour cast on modern LCD

screen based digital cameras.  Some D-SLR cameras do work,

 or if not, you can have them converted specially for infra red

 photography.  Some digital and film other cameras leave a pure

black and white toned image (which is considered by some to be

a proper infra red result).   Some cameras don’t work at all.  You

 need to test your camera before buying a filter or have it

converted specially for that purpose.

 

What kind of images do you get?

 

Infra Red Photography is generally used to create interesting

outdoors or landscape photography but also makes interesting

images of people, buildings, etc... The most significant effect is

that it makes most vegetation (leaves) change from green to grey

or white.  This is very striking on green grass and certain European

 trees which appears as if its snow white.        

                                    

What subjects / plants work best?

 

I have found that Australian trees and shrubs don’t produce

that dramatic white effect with externally mounted filters

but display more grey and darker tones.   They are almost white

 when using an internal filter.

 

The best plants appear to be the North American and European

 species such as Birch, Willows, Oaks, Elms, Ash and other

northern hemisphere trees and shrubs that are of a deciduous

nature (those that lose their leaves in winter).  Also traditional

European grasses work great and look like snow.   Flowers look

fantastic too!!

 

The best spots for infra red landscapes are botanical gardens,

local parks and creeks/rivers that have lots of European tree

plantings.  Even a plain looking river bank can look great.  You

should try shots along water ways where you can get good

reflections which show great white leaved reflections.  Autumn

time produces nice white effects on the ground where the leaves

 have fallen.

 

Infra Red filters also have a dramatic effect on the sky in these

images.  Blue sky looks really dark (almost black depending on the

angle to the sun) and the best images are those with a mix of mid-day

 blue sky with streaky, wispy or puffy bubble types of clouds. 

 

For those using an external filter which requires long exposures,

people that move through the picture and passing cars also have

interesting white/grey ghost like effects.  I often try to go to a

park where people are sitting down or who are slow moving to get

good ghost like effects.

 

What filters do I need?

 

The most commonly used filter if the Hoya R72 and 87c.  Conika also

 makes these filters too.  D-SLRs usually have a screw end to put

the filter directly on the lens.  Some other smaller digital cameras and

video camcorders have a removable ring around the lens base which

allows you to fit an adapter which will take the Hoya R72 or an

Hoya 87c (its darker) = 58mm sized filters.

 

I know my older Canon 300d D-SLR doesn’t work with an external

filter and I have recently had id converted with an internal filter. 

 The main problem is that some cameras cant focus properly with an IR

filter screwed on front (its just too dark).  I also bought a Canon A620

(a non SLR) digital that has an adapter ring and the  LCD screen produces

 good infra red images.  Many non D-SLRs will work.  The movie mode of

 these non D-SLR cameras and some camcorders also produces similarly

 good IR results.

 

Camera conversions

 

If you have a “spare” D-SLR or other camera, you might like to

consider an internal filter conversion.  

 

This usually involves the removal of the internal blocking filter

 (many cameras have this to block infra red light reaching the

sensor) or interchange them with an infra red filter so that the

camera can take IR photos. 

 

I have recently converted my older Canon 300d DSLR by having

an R72 filter inserted internally and it now produces great IR

shots at normal hand held shutter speeds.  You will need to set the

custom white balance (by taking a photo of a solid grey image and

setting the custom white balance based on this image = a bitumen

road works well).  This will allow nice “black n white” toned images

 without a red/orange colour cast.  Sometimes you can get a hint of

colour (blue and red tints) which looks quite dramatic on a stormy day.

 

You will need to find a camera conversion specialist to change the

internal filters of these DSLR type cameras.

I went to David Burren at the following link =  www.burren.cx/photo

who did a great job converting my old canon 300d slr.

 

 How long should my exposures be?

 

Infra Red photography takes out almost all of the light entering your

 camera (unless its been specially modified) so long exposures are

usually required and a tripod is absolutely essential.   

 

Note: the specially modified cameras often work at normal shutter

speeds so you generally do not need a tripod on bright days.

 

A typical warm (25+ degree celsius) summers day with bright

sunlight (i.e.: blue sky with some patchy cloud) will usually

 require ¼ to ½ a second at the lowest “f” stop setting of f2.8/f3.5

and sometimes longer for higher f stop rating of specific lens. 

 Some cameras will require considerably longer exposures.

Changing the ISO to a higher level (200/400iso) will help

increase light sensitivity but then you can get too much grain

 (so it’s a personal choice as to how much grain you want). 

 I prefer a lower ISO level and slightly longer exposures to

allow for image editing especially if you want to convert these

 images to pure black and white tones. 

 

With image editing, I recommend converting the images (mainly

those which have a colour cast) in Photoshop via the Gradient

Mapping method which produces much more striking black and

white tones rather than using the common de-saturation or channel

 mixing methods.   I also usually reduce brightness a notch and increase

 the contrast for better “white plant” results. 

 

The warmer summer days are best.  Overcast conditions don’t

produce great results so I haven’t done much I.R. photography

over winter.  I find that hot and bright midday light (and leaves

 on the trees) seems to help produce better results.  Shots towards

 the sun produce silhouettes and interesting results too!! 

Night time images also work well, but need very long exposures.

 

How do I know if my camera works with infra red?

 

Most cameras with an LCD (live view) screen will work.

 

The main way of testing your camera is to turn it on and you

need to point the infra red sensor on a remote control of your

TV, VCR, DVD player directly at the lens of your camera (about

 50cm away) and when you press the button of the remote control

you should be able to see a white or bright spot appear on the

LCD screen.  The LCD screen needs to show an active “live” image

 and doing it indoors is easier to see the white spot.

 

If you have a digital SLR, maybe you could go to your local camera

store and ask to test/try a Hoya R72 filter on your camera and

see if it works!!  Some of the more recent digital SLRs will work

and even mention it in their manuals.

  

Hopes yours works, so give it a try !!

 

Cheers

 

from       

 

Louise