Category Archives for Photography Tutorials

Learn a Mode Monday – Digital Macro Photography


Welcome to the first ever Learn a Mode Monday – my new mini-series on learning all about one of those little icons on your camera!  Today we are all about that little flower on your mode dial i.e. Digital Macro Mode.  This is absolutely one of my favorite modes for really making Wow Pictures and one of the easiest skills to acquire in beginners photography.  Want to capture that ickle bumblebee sitting on the azalea bloom?  How about getting that close-up of the detail on your wedding dress?  Digital macro photography is what you need to master!

1. First find your subject – something small like a bee, a bloom, a coin – anything tiny.

2. If you are indoors switch off your flash as it will only bounce back off your subject and the picture will appear blown out.  If you do this you will most likely need to use a tripod or have a very steady hand!  Best option – head outdoors into natural daylight.

3. Next, find the Macro Mode on your camera – it’s usually an icon of a little flower something like this :    Digital Macro Photography

4. Position your subject so it is well lit and that you are not casting your own shadow over it.  Opt for a plain background if you have the choice, something with little or no distractions in it.

5. Rather than using your zoom to get closer to your subject, leave your lens at it’s widest setting and physically move yourself closer to your subject until you have filled the frame with your subject.

6. Slightly depress your shutter button so that your camera finds it’s focus.  If you can’t focus, move slightly back and retry.  Repeat this process until your camera allows you to take a sharp, in-focus shot.

7. Bingo!  You’ve managed to capture the full beauty of that tiny, little flower  Well done!

Digital Macro Photography

It may take you a while to get the hang of this process but once you do you will be hooked.  Ask my mother in law – She turned from a photography novice to a real pro at taking macro shots all over the Costa Rica rain forest!

Please post your best Macro shots below with any questions or just to show off!

Bonus Tip: Compact cameras are usually way better at getting close up macro shots than DSLRs.  If you have a DSLR, and you want to do lots of specific Digital Macro Photography you’ll need to invest in a good macro lens such the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM Lens for Canon users or the Nikon 105mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR for Nikon users.

If you’re just trying to get the best digital macro shot check out the new Powershot G12 from Canon.  It will allow you to get super close ups with a closest focusing distance of  you a mere 1cm.

For more Learn a Mode Tutorials from Ingrid click here

Your Camera Mode Dial Explained

It’s been a while, I’m sorry I’ve been neglecting you guys!  I’ve no excuses other than I’ve been super busy with my new online course “Getting to Grips with your DSLR” So I’ve decided that I’m going to make a better effort to post here at the blog and in particular, make some more videos.  I recently got an email from Katie, in Dublin who chastised me for not making more videos and I really feel like I’ve let you guys down.  So lots more to come – I promise…

In the meantime, check out the video below and leave me a comment to let me know your thoughts.

Your Camera Mode Dial Explained

What’s that spot? – DSLR Cleaning

DSLR Cleaning

DSLR Cleaning

I just had an email from a student of mine who has started to notice some blurs and spots on her images.  She’s cleaned her camera lens and her filters – where can this dirt be?

Well the fact of the matter is that there are tiny specs of dust inside her camera on the actual camera sensor.  A DSLR’s sensor or CCD is an electromagnetic device and because of this, dust particulars are easily attracted to it.  It’s a bit like the way dust attracts itself to your TV screen like a magnet – same concept.

Does my DSLR need Cleaning?

If you want to see if your camera has sensor dust try the following:

Set your camera’s aperture to f22 in the Aperture Priority mode.

Then take a few shots of a plain white piece of paper or if you have Photoshop or Photoshop Elements take a picture of a blank white canvas on your computer screen.

The result will look something like this:

DSLR Cleaning Sensor Dust

DSLR Cleaning Sensor Dust

Ugh! Black spots! that’s one dirty sensor!

The can be removed in Photoshop but it really is a pain to do lots of shots like this.

What you need is a little sensor cleaning!

DSLR Cleaning Tips

The problem is that cleaning this sensor can be a tricky job one and having been in the business, I never recommend doing it yourself.   In my opinion, unless you are very confident and know precisely what it is you are attempting, leave this job to the professionals.  Find your local camera service centre and ask for a service quotation which should include sensor cleaning.  Then shop around till you find the best deal.

The best thing you can do is try to avoid this problem in the first place.

  • Keep your camera body attached to a lens at all time.  There is no need to separate the lens from the body unless your are changing lenses.
  • When you are changing lenses do it as swiftly as possible and try not to do it in very dusty/sandy windy environments
  • Store your camera in a specific camera kit bag link
  • Vacuum out the inside of the bag on a regular basis
  • If you do have to get your camera senor cleaned try and go to a local service centre where possible so that you can have a faster turn around time than mailing off your camera body back to the manufacturer.

If you are interested in cleaning your sensor yourself this is a really great website which goes through the procedure step by step.

Be warned though this is not my recommendation and if you mess up your sensor – bye bye warranty and sometimes byebye camera….

Best idea – keep it clean people!

Happy snapping

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Image thanks to  petar_c http://www.flickr.com/photos/ceklic_petar/1208075186/

How do I Back Up My Pictures?

What was that I hear? “ I save them to CD…When I remember” or “ I print everything” hmmm or the best – “I don’t back up my pictures!”

Well, I’m not hear to judge you. I admit I’m not the world’s most organized person but I do try. I’m currently trying to gain control of my hard drive and it’s contents. Mostly my pictures. I couldn’t believe it when I opened Picasa last week and realized how much stuff is on there. I have so many photos on my hard drive! Especially since having my daughter. I’ve probably taken more photos this past year than I had in the previous 3 years. And they’re all just sitting there…waiting…until someday, I burn them onto DVDs and file them away, possibly even delete them to free up some space on the hard drive. Oh a girl can dream…

Now, I teach all my students the importance of a good “workflow”:

Take Pictures – transfer to computer (my choice – use Picasa) – delete Pictures off memory card – Edit –

Print or Share – BACK UP.

I’ve got to be honest. I’m great at the taking, uploading and could use a little improvement on the “share” but when it comes to remembering to Backup my pictures, I have failed miserably.

It’s constantly on my list of things do.

Or should I say it WAS constantly on my list of things to do. Now I don’t worry about it thanks to a cool online back up service called MOZY! For $4.95 a month they back up my entire hard drive . That’s unlimited storage. Pictures, documents – EVERYTHING! How awesome is that? It works away in the background, uploading any new files and storing them on their servers and I can honestly say I don’t even notice it doing it’s thing.

They’ve just recently redesigned their website and it’s super easy to use.

  • Just sign up and give them your info. They even have a free service where you can get 2GB without paying a dime. I decided to go for the MozyHome Unlimited Plan though – for less than $5 a month for unlimited storage.  It walks you through the necessary steps but basically you just do the following:
  • Download MozyHome
  • Then select the files you want them to back up (they give you a suggested list.)
  • Over the next few days or weeks, depending on the size of your files, they back up your entire hard drive. (it took me 2 weeks).
  • After that they periodically backup when your computer is idle.

Cool or what? No more CDs no more external hard drives No more “long finger.”

So go check it out before you regret it!

Remember: It’s not IF your hard-drive fails, but WHEN it fails. Don’t loose all those memories. Check out Mozy here – Trust me – you’ll sleep better at night!

Use this link and the coupon code AUGUST to get 10% off annual and biennial Mozy Unlimited or MozyPro

Happy snapping!

Ingrid

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White Balance – Learn a Mode Mode Monday

It's All About Balance

It’s All About Balance

What is White Balance?

The White Balance setting (WB) on our digital camera controls the overall color cast of the image.  The reason why there may be a color cast on our pictures is because this is the way that digital cameras react to light temperature.

Every light source- the sun, light filtered through clouds, a bulb inside or florescent all have a different light temperature.  And each temperature results in a different color hue.   Our eyes naturally filter out these color differences and in most cases all light appears the same.

Digital cameras however do see the differences in different light temperatures and hence different “colors” of light.  The White Balance setting adjusts to counteract these color casts.

Just use Auto White Balance?

In most cases our camera’s Auto White Balance does a pretty good job at setting this mode correctly, however in some scenarios we are going to have to adjust this setting manually.  This is especially true if we are shooting without flash and in a particularly unusual lighting situation.

Here are some pictures I took without flash to demonstrate.  My subject’s dress is supposed to be snowy white:

Auto White Balance

Auto White Balance

As you can see in the first picture, by leaving the camera’s White Balance setting to Auto, the light inside gives an overall yellow hue or cast to the picture.

White Balanced adjusted for Tungsten

White Balanced adjusted for Tungsten

In the second picture I changed my White Balance setting to compensate for this by changing the WB to Tungsten – Much better and definitely more realistic!

Experiment

You can experiment with the White Balance Setting on your camera.  Look for the WB symbol either on the back of your camera as a shortcut button or in the functions menu.

Most types of light are preset for you there

Daylight

Cloudy

Fluorescent

Tungsten (which just means a regular bulb)

Check your camera manual so that you can decipher the WB icons and play around with the settings to see the different effects that you get.  This works best if you take a series of the same shot, especially if your subject includes something white so that the effect is really obvious and shoot without flash.

You’ll see how by changing this one small setting on your camera you can achieve very different results.

Happy snapping!

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Continuous Shooting Mode – Learn a Mode Monday

Hi Guys,

For today’s Learn a Mode Monday I thought I’d try something a little different and post a video of how to use your continuous shooting mode.  This mode is perfect for capturing fast moving subjects like wildlife, athletes and 11 month old babies!

Check it out and let me know your thoughts!

  • So remember, for shooting fast moving objects look for your camera’s Continuous Shooting Mode button  Continuous Shooting Mode Button
  • Keep your finger fully depressed on the shutter button and capture all that action!

A great way to use up an entire memory card 😉

Here’s the Transcript of the video for those of you who like to read:

Hi everyone! Welcome to the 1st Camerashy  Learn a Mode Monday via video. This is an exciting day for me because this is the first time that I’ve ever done a video blog. Also I would like to give a special warm welcome to all my Facebook fans. Over the last number of days our numbers have actually doubled on Facebook so I’m super excited about that. I hope that I will be able to deliver all the good content that your guys are looking for.  In the meantime,  lets go over to the Learn a Mode Monday since it is Monday. Today’s mode is going to be continuous shooting mode. Now this is a good mode if you are at a sporting event and you want to catch fast movement or if your kid is just on the go like my little Sophie who is always moving all the time. I want to be able to just snap quickly as she moves along and not missing a shot. So what I use for that is I use my continuous shooting mode. You might have seen this on some of the more professional looking cameras but most compact cameras can actually do this feature as well.

I’ll show you first where it is on my Digital SLR  which is my Canon so that I can show you where the mode is. First of all I’ll have to turn it on at the top  and the mode is usually at the back of the camera that usually has a symbol like a stack of papers.

Holding up closer, this one is just there. So all I do to select that is to turn on the continuous shot mode. Usually with most cameras you have to scroll through a couple of different modes to get the one that you want. If you are  looking for that little icon like the stack of papers which I’ll be posting so you will know what it looks like under this blog.

All you do is keep your finger on the button while you’re shooting. So it’s just a matter of snapping. All I do is to continually keep my finger pressed down on the button. The method of doing it if you are at a sports event is to keep your focus onto what you are looking at.  Keep your fingers on the button  and you should move the camera and follow the actions along. That action is called Panning and we will probably talk about that in another blog.

On the compact camera, it’s the same exact icon. At least it is for the Canon cameras and most cameras have the similar thing. And for this Canon, it is the shortcut button on my particular camera – it is the little stack of papers symbol that you can actually see better than  on the  Digital SLR.

So that’s Continuous  Shot Mode or Continuous Shooting Mode. Remember you keep you fingers pressed on that button and you will never miss any of the action.  Thank you very much for tuning in to my latest blog cast. Hopefully I can keep them coming so keep snappin’! =)

Keep snapping!

Ingrid

Flash Photography Tips at the Pumpkin Patch

Fill Flash

Fill Flash

It’s Pumpkin time! And of course what does one do if one has both a baby and a pumpkin?  You sit on on top of the other of course!  Well, in my case the baby won’t stay on the pumpkin and tries to eat everything around her in the great outdoors – grass, gravel, bugs…(she doesn’t get outside much.)  So for my pumpkin picture we had to have daddy in the frame too.

It was quiet a gloomy day in Smyrna, so check out the two photos below to see what happens when I used my “Fill Flash.”

This first picture was taken in Auto Mode and as we were outside the camera detected that no flash was necessary.

No Flash Used

No Flash Used

But I know better than my camera!!!

Fill in flash Used

The second picture is so much more vibrant and bright.  I did this by simply switching my Flash to “on” or “Fill-in” so that it will fire outside. this is one of my top flash photography tips!  This give just enough light to brighten up the shadows on my subjects’ faces and adds a bit of sparkle in their eyes.

To do this…

  • First, find your Flash button (usually denoted by a “lightening strike”  Flash Icon ) and a “shortcut” button on the back of your camera.
  • Select Fill In flash from your flashy type choices – Usually denoted by the” lightening strike” symbol again.  This will ensure that your Flash will fire regardless of lighting conditions that the camera senses.
  • Don’t forget that you have to be within about 3 to 4 feet of your subject, otherwise the flash effect will be lost.

So no need to worry if it’s not the perfect Fall day when you have your trip to the pumpkin patch – Use Fill-in Flash!

Black and White Photography

At a family gathering this weekend I was reminded of the beauty of black and white photography. Instead of the usual family snapshots of people posing , fakey smiles and bright colors, our efforts were rewarded with a set of timeless pictures where we are not distracted by fashion or fads and the true personalities of our subjects can shine. A lot of times we forget how beautiful Black and White can be, choosing instead the “reality” of color. I have to be honest and say that in the past I’ve kept Black and White for Landscapes and Scenery and the odd posed portrait shot. So think about using this mode for an unusual twist on what could otherwise be another set of snapshots.

Black and White mode can be found on most cameras within the scene mode menu. Look for BW icon or a color mode. I feel it works best in situations where you can forgo flash so if your inside, turn off your flash and push up your ISO to 400 or 800.

If you’d prefer you can desaturate the color from your images after they have been taken by using a photo manipulation program such as Adobe Photoshop Elements or Picasa 3. This will certainly give you more control over the black and white effect you apply but can sometimes be quite laborious if you have several shots to work on.

Learn a Mode Monday – Discovering Landscape Mode

Beginners Photography

Landscape Mode

Since it is now the middle of summer and thoughts of vacations with pretty scenery and breathtaking views are all around, this week I thought we could talk a little about Landscape Mode. Landscape photography is one of the most rewarding types of photography and the easiest to achieve astounding results, as mother nature has usually done most of the hard work for us!

This mode is usually denoted by a symbol representing a mountain range and is sometimes called infinity mode. When we set our cameras to to Landscape mode the focus will switch to focusing at infinity and the lens will be set to a narrow aperture so that when taking a landscape shot, all of the scene will remain in focus (i.e. have a deep depth of field). This may result in a slow shutter speed being used, so wherever possible, use a tripod for a steady sharp shot.

In some digital cameras, using landscape mode will actually put a filter on your images to enhance blue skies and make green grass greener thus helping to make your scenic shots pop!

Landscape Mode

Landscape Mode

Use this mode when you are trying to capture a wide cityscape or a beautiful vista from your hotel balcony and you won’t be disappointed! You’ll bring back some pictures for your home well worthy of a mat and a frame which will serve as a great reminder of your awesome vacation.

Much better than those tacky souvenirs now isn’t it?

Top tip: Try capturing landscapes at different times of the day for really stunning shots – early morning and evening light make great pictures and are well worth the extra effort!