Monday, January 18, 2010

Lesson 6: Shooting Indoors

Lesson 6: Shooting Indoors (.pdf)

This lesson was mainly about using available light without the flash indoors.

When taking pictures inside my house (especially in the winter), I almost always have to sacrifice my ISO, shutter speed, or depth of field (and sometimes all three).

When ISO gets sacrificed, the pictures get "noisy" and grainy.

When shutter speed is too low, there is often camera shake or motion blur.

I usually sacrifice my DOF first, but the smaller the DOF the harder it is to keep a mobile baby in focus. It's also hard to sacrifice your DOF when your lens doesn't let you! The Canon Rebel kit lens only goes down to f/3.5 when zoomed all the way out.

I love my 50mm f/1.8 because it gives me more flexibility indoors.

When shooting indoors you want to find and use as much natural light as you can. Open those windows!

Here I was trying to get a glow on my son's face by having him parallel to the window.
(He decided to get as close as possible.)
(ISO 1600, SS 1/80, f/2.2 in AV)

I was trying to catch catchlights in these next few.
(ISO 800, SS 1/125, f/2.2 in AV)

(ISO 800, SS 1/125, f/2.5 in AV)

(ISO 800, SS 1/100, f/2.5 in AV)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Lesson 5: Composition

Lesson 5 is more about the artistic aspect of photography. I'm more left brained, so I prefer the technical aspect of photography more than the artistic composition of photography. Luckily, there are some tips, rules, and guidelines to help make a picture more appealing.

Tip #1 -- Keep it Simple.

Tip #2 -- Apply the Rule of Thirds

Tip #3 -- Keep an Eye on the Horizon

Tip #4 -- Frame your Subject

Tip #5 -- Fill the Frame

Tip #6 -- Try a New Perspective

And remember beauty is in the eye of the beholder and rules are made to be broken!

And this weeks challenge was to consider one or more of the following as you compose your photo(s).

Here are some of my attempts at art... don't laugh.

Fill the Frame

Does this count as "Frame you Subject"?
Keep it Simple
Try a New Perspective (Do they each tell a different story?)

Rule of Thirds and Frame your Subject

Rule of Thirds

Fill the Frame

Frame your Subject and Rule of Thirds

This is a what NOT to do. Don't have random trees growing out of your subjects head. Someone might think the branches are long strangely hairs.

Here are some more composition tips!

I guess I should do an introduction.

Hi. My name is Janae, and I am currently a stay at home mom to my almost 11 month old son. I got a new dslr camera in late October of 2009. It was an early Christmas present. Now, I'm determined to learn how to use it. I learn best by thinking out loud, hands on experiments, and outlining what I've read. My baby blog was beginning to turn into a photography blog, so I decided to make a separate blog for my photography posts! (The first couple of posts here were copied straight from my baby blog.) Feel free to follow my journey of learning my dslr.

In my camera bag, I have a Canon Rebel XSi, Canon 50mm f/1.8, Canon Speedlite 430EX II, and the basic Rebel kit lens.

If anyone has any questions, tips, or comments feel free to leave a comment. Even if you have a question that I don't have an answer to, I would love to find and answer and learn along with you.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Trying fill flash again...

I feel like I have a better grasp on how to use fill flash, but I still need to practice more. It even harder trying to take before and after. The fastest my ss (shutter speed) will go is 1/200 when my flash is on. I'm guessing my flash won't fire any faster. I always like my f/stop low, but it doesn't exactly work with a ss of 1/200 on a sunny day. Fill flash is definitely taking me out of my comfort zone.

Here are my SOOC pictures. They are in order of no flash, flash, no flash, flash....

I'm not pleased with the wb, but I wanted to share the SOOC pictures. I was to busy thinking about the flash to remember to incorporate the other lessons. woops.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Lesson 4: Flash

Lesson 4: Flash

I am not a fan of the flash. Before I got my external flash, I tried to avoid the flash all together. However, there are times when the flash is unavoidable!

Most cameras come with a built in flash. This is called an internal flash. You can also get a flash that attaches to the camera. This is called an external flash. For this lesson, I acted as if I only had an internal flash.

Here are some purposefully bad pictures that were taken with the flash.

Basically, if the camera is to close to the subject, the subject will become shiny and/or washed out, and if the subject is too close to a wall, it can create harsh shadows. You want to move away from your subject (the lesson suggests at least 5-6 feet away), and you want to move your subject away from the wall (at least 5-6 feet away).

Another thing to consider when using the flash is glare! I've noticed in pictures of my son that his lips and drool sometimes creates a strong glare. My husbands glasses also create a glare. The lesson had tips to get rid of eyeglasses glare and red eye! You'll have to read the lesson on your own to get those tips. :)

You can even use your flash for good outdoors by using fill flash. "Basically, a fill flash is your normal flash. But in scenarios where you already have ambient light, your flash is merely 'filling in' the areas of your photo that may be shadowed or poorly lit. Here's the important part -- not only is a fill flash helpful on bright, sunny days where your subject is back lit, but it can help 'pop' your colors on gray, overcast winter days."

I've tried practicing fill flash a few times and failed miserably. My "no flash" pictures always look better. A couple times I think I was trying to force a fill flash where one wasn't needed, and other times I was rushed by my husband or son. I am determined to get a good example of fill flash someday.

This weeks challenge was actually to take pictures using fill flash.

1. Use fill flash to "pop" colors on a gray day.

2. Use fill flash to eliminate dark shadows on the face on a bright day.

3. Use fill flash to combat backlighting on a shadowed subject.

I think I succeeded in "popping" the colors, but I'm not sure if I like that picture better.

no flash

fill flash

Here is a little bonus tip/trick/lesson that I picked up from another blog...

One of the benefits of an external flash is the ability to bounce the flash! BUT this can also be done with an internal flash. You could spend $20 and by something called a lightscope, OR you could use a little aluminum foil.

I took a little card that I got in my junk mail from netflix (a credit card or gift card would also work), I wrapped it in aluminum foil, and I held it at an angle in front of my flash. This directs the flash up to to bounce of the ceiling.

I took these next two pictures in a hurry. I think the camera was in portrait mode. The first picture was with the flash, and the second picture was with the flash AND my foil card sending the flash up. Which do you think looks better?

These next three pictures were taken in manual (ISO 800, f/2.2, 1/100).

no flash

flash (-2/3)

flash (-2/3) w/ foil card

ETA: This is what my foil card looks like.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Lesson 3: The Color of Light

I don't feel like summarizing this lesson, so you'll have to read it on your own.


just watch this video (you can skip the first 2 minutes).

And a summary of FontaKnowledge is...

"Auto white balance - bad.

Manual white balance - good.

Custom white balance - tip top, baby!"

I always try using manual white balance (like cloudy, tungsten, daylight, flash, ect.), but I FINALLY learned how to use my cameras custom white balance.

Here is a video how to set a custom wb on a Canon Rebel XSi.

This lesson's challenge was to take pictures with auto wb, tungsten wb, and custom wb. I even threw in a few bonus ones because I was using a window, tungsten, and a flash for lighting. It was also cloudy out. These are all SOOC (straight out of camera).

Auto White Balance


Custom White Balance





Can you see the difference?

I'm really glad I finally learned how to do a custom wb.

Up next: FLASH... my frienemy.

A review of lesson 1 & 2

Sometimes I learn better by watching videos, so I wanted to share this.

Fundamentals (Aperture, ISO, & Shutter Speed)

He has several videos on photography. If you have extra time on your hands, watch some of his other videos.

When I first got my camera, I watched a lot of his videos to help me learn about photography.

He also comes out with a new video every month!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Lesson 2, part 2: But Wait -- there's MORE!

This might turn into "12 days to better photos". lol. I need better photos now... before Wesley's big 1st birthday! Anyway, here is my summary of lesson 2, part 2.

We've learned aperture, ISO and shutter speed. Now it's time to learn about balance.

In the first challenge I took this photo with an aperture of f/22. It took a lot of light to use that high of an aperture. I actually had to use a tripod because my shutter speed was so slow. My shutter speed was 1/8th of a second which was way to slow to hand hold. (I guess I could have upped my ISO of 800 to get a faster shutter speed, but I was trying to keep the ISO the same for all three pictures.)

In the second challenge we played around with shutter speeds. This next picture was taken with a shutter speed of 1/1000. It also took a lot of light in order to use a shutter speed this fast. My ISO had to be as high as possible, and my f/stop was as low as possible. This made for a very "noisy" picture with a very narrow depth of focus.

"To achieve what your camera considers to be correct exposure your aperture and shutter speed need to balance to let in enough light to expose your image. (The exposure is the image created by the light entering the camera and being recorded onto the film or digital sensor.)

Thankfully for us, most SLR cameras come with a built-in meter that tells you when you are correctly exposing your images."

On my rebel, the meter is found on the back screen and in the view finder.

"If the line is on the minus section, your image is underexposed. If the line is on the plus section, your image is overexposed. If the line is centered, you have achieved what the camera considers to be the correct exposure."

The aperture, ISO and shutter speed are also displayed on the back screen and view finder. This is how you learn to use the manual mode (or "M" on my rebel).

"When in manual mode, you use the exposure meter to balance your f/stop with the shutter speed to equal a correct exposure. Really, if you have already set your ISO for the amount of light you have or the situation you are in, then operating in manual mode means you're just making 2 choices -- your shutter speed and your aperture."

This makes the very scary intimidating manual mode a lot more friendly.

This lessons challenge was taking a picture in manual mode.

Choose a non-moving object either indoors or outdoors.

Set your ISO according to the lighting available, and balance the f/stop and shutter speed.

ISO 1600 f/1.8 1/50

I'm not very pleased with this picture, but I needed to turn in my homework. I had absolutely no light to work with. I wish I could have cheated and used my speedlite. I normally hate taking my settings to the max. The high ISO makes things too noisy. The f/stop is too the lens' limit, and it loses the sharpness. AND the shutter speed is way too low, and I had to get out the tripod to take the picture. Moral of the story... I need more light. This picture would not have been possible without or tripod or with an awake baby.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Lesson 2: Part 1: ISO & Shutter Speed

This lesson is two parts, so I'm making it two posts.

Here is the summary, paraphrase, and key points of the lesson...


ISO determines how quickly the picture is captured on film or digital sensor. The lower the ISO, the longer it takes and the more light you will need.

"It's a good rule of thumb... In general, use:

100-200 - outdoors & bright lights
400 - in the shade, overcast outdoors, and indoor with a lot of light
800-1600 - indoors, low light conditions, and sports or action

The trade off is that the higher you set the ISO, the more digital noise (or film grain) is created on the image. The faster the camera captures the image, the less time it has to be accurate, so the sharpness of the image will suffer... The higher the ISO, the more digital noise."

Shutter Speed

"Your shutter speed is how quickly the shutter, or little door that opens in front of your film or image sensor , operates."

Basically, your shutter speed with either freeze action or blur action. A fast shutter speed will freeze a fast baby in action, and a slow shutter speed adds a blur effect. I've noticed if my shutter speed is too slow the first thing to blur is Wesley's fast waving hands. I always try and keep my shutter speed 1/100 or higher (and 1/60 at the minimum).

"As a general rule of thumb:

Use a tripod (or flat, stable surface) for shutter speeds slower than 1/50th of a second -- so any shutter speed reading 50 or below, and anything with inch marks.

If you are hand-holding your camera, set your shutter speed at a minimum of 1/60th of a second (indicated by the number 60) or faster. Hold your breath while taking the photo to help keep yourself steady.

If you are wiggly or have a wiggly subject, increase your shutter speed."

Weekly Challenge: The Kitchen Sink Test (or bathroom in my case)

Find a sink

Find an object to obstruct the water flowing from the faucet.

Use TV mode (this allows you to select your shutter speed and the camera will do the rest)

Set your shutter speed to 1/80th. Turn on water and take a picture.

Set your shutter speed to 1/1000. Turn on water and take a picture.

If you have a tripod, try taking a picture with a really slow shutter speed.

Here are my pictures...

They are in order of slowest to fastest.

Another fun shutter speed challenge...

Use a tripod, a really slow shutter speed (a few seconds long), and try writing something with a flashlight. It was a fun experiment... a little more fun than the sink experiment.