Entries in DSLR (59)
The histogram is a very useful way of checking and confirming exposure, especially out in the field. It may just look like a bunch of strange squigly lines or a series of jagged mountains, but the histogram tells you exactly what your photograph really looks like in terms of exposure and color. Since it is often hard to see the camera's review screen in direct sunlight to judge exposure, the histogram for a photographer is like a pilot flying an airplane by using only instruments. You do not even need to see the photograph to tell if it is a dark image, a bright one, or even a very colorful one. Essentially, the histogram looks like a rectangular box representing 256 shades of gray or individual colors, or all of them (see the histograms above showing grayscale and RGB color as Aperture 3 represents the histogram). Black is on the left edge and white is on the right edge. The more data to the left, means the darker an image is, and potentially underexposed. The more date to the right means a brighter image, and possibly an overexposed ones.
It is usually best to try and get as much of the data in the center forming a nice mountain, with no spikes at either the far left or far right edges. In the samples above, the left histogram has most of its data on the right side, indicating the photo is a bright exposure, as can be confirmed by looking at the photo itself. The histogram on the right is much more balanced and a more even exposure, as seen in the photo showing a bluer sky and better whites in the pelicans' heads.
The above image of Smacks Bayou (as seen from just off my back patio) has a histogram that is about as ideal as it can get. The majority of the data for grayscale and RGB color is in the middle-center and there is a lot of range in those colors. The taller the peaks, the more of that particular color or shade of gray. There are also no spikes at either far edge of the histogram.
One very useful feature that is often not on by default in DSLR cameras, is the view highlights mode. Enabling this mode allows you to see which areas of a photograph have blown out highlights. The areas will flash giving a clear signal that part of the photograph is overexposed and that you may want to adjust exposure to bring back detail in those highlights.
As usual, Nikon does highlights mode much better than Canon. No matter what review mode you look at on a Canon DSLR, the highlights will always be flashing. This gets annoying when you just want to see the composition of the shot and you may have intentionally overexposed some areas. On Nikon highlights have their very own review view.
In the image above the large black areas in the sky indicate the portions of the photograph that are overexposed, or blown out. Those black areas will flash on and off clearing letting you know, "hey, the sky is totally blown out, did you really intend to do that?"
I have been in contact with Gina for the past few days helping her with everything from which DSLR to purchase to which lenses to get for it as she has a very strong need to add to her photography knowledge as quickly as possible. She has already been shooting for awhile, getting a few high profile jobs even. The Canon 5D Mark II was new to her and brand new store bought yesterday so we began the lesson from the very beginning, set the time and date and putting the neck strap on.
During our 1-on-1 DSLR Photography Lesson Gina wanted me to go through every menu setting and every button on the camera leaving no stone unturned. This gave me my most indepth look yet at how a Canon DSLR works as I shoot Nikon. I have already had hands on with every Canon model made in the past five years, but before now not setting one up totally from scratch. I remain convinced the ergonomics of shooting with a Nikon of similar level are far, far better.
We finished the lesson with a review of the correct terms for referring to shutter speed, how to identify and describe a lens, among other terms.
I hope Gina's upcoming shoot goes well and I look forward to seeing the images.
With sunset coming well after 7:30pm nowadays the return of springtime weekday evening lessons starts with Jon and his new Sony A55. It was my first time to get hands on with this particular DSLR. It was smaller physically than I expected and has a useful flip down LCD viewfinder. However, the motion sensor that turns off the back LCD as you put your eye into the optical viewfinder seems like a very useful feature at first, but I found that when reviewing a photo the screen it can too easily get motion detected off.
Jon had been using point and shoot digital cameras for awhile, and long ago even took a criminology based photography class, so he had some familiarity with photography terms like aperture, ISO, etc. We started out shooting in aperture priority mode, but thanks to the light transition during our golden hour lesson I was able to show Jon how switching to manual mode really allows the photography to take control over the final image by including as much or as little of the vividness of the sunset sky.
Beyond photography Jon has also traveled in Asia so it was nice to talk about our experiences traveling there in between shooting locations. I look forward to seeing where Jon's photography goes from here.
I was first contacted by Barbie back in December. She sent a very enthusiastic e-mail. However, due to various circumstances, we were unable to have our first DSLR Photography Lesson until just today. Her enthusiasm never waned over those three months and resulted in today one of the most enjoyable lessons I have had in the nearly two years I have been offering 1-on-1 photography lessons in St. Petersburg. Barbie was just like I expected her to be from her impassioned e-mails. It is always nice to be around an enthusiastic person.
Barbie was given a very generous present late last year, a Nikon D700! The D700 is a pro-level DSLR and definitely not the usual camera one first ventures into the DSLR world with! So it is understandable to be a little intimidated by its complete lack of auto-exposure presets, labyrinth of menu settings and just overall physical girth. However, the ergonomics of the D700 are excellent allowing for quick changing of all the major settings: aperture, ISO, WB and focus mode, all of which have their own dedicated button or switch in the case of focus mode.
As of right now Barbie has just one lens, the Nikkor AF-S 70-300mm f/3.5-5.6G, so we mostly practiced making photographs with bokeh and photographing moving subjects, two things that lens is best suited for. I expect Barbie will soon be putting those skills to use to make action shots of her golden retrievers.
Barbie is already booked for three more lessons. I am sure with her enthusiasm and strong motivation to be able to photograph everyone around her, we will continue to have fun and knowledge filled photography lessons.