Digital Photo Academy

Learn How To Use Your Digital Camera

Camera Setting Charts

Lion in a zoo

From Don Peters/ DPA instructor in Chicago To view more of his images please visit http://digitalphotoacademy.com/portfolio/donald-peters/ I love shooting animals…with my camera.   However, as a “city boy,” it’s tough.  Sometimes I get out of town and actually find animals roaming about, but much more often, I find fabulous creatures to shoot at the zoo. The challenge is to remove the “zoo” from the shot.  Background is everything since often it’s something else in the frame that gives the zoo away.  This problem can be handled somewhat by a blurred background (using a wide aperture (e.g. f/4), but if the animal is far away from the camera, the lens optics and the laws of physics often defeat that idea.   So, I’ve found the key is to “zoom with my feet,” to move about to get that perfect line-up between the camera, the subject and a non-descript background.  And, of course, some blur or other post processing technique can be used later to conceal any remaining clutter. Here, this noble lion “cooperated” by lying stationary and I was able to position myself between he and some “zoo rocks.”   My patience was rewarded when Leo looked my way for a moment and I was able to capture the noble “gesture” of the king of beasts, looking out over his kingdom.   Patience is key in animal photography.  We must patiently wait until that creature offers a gesture, or displays an attitude.  Often this is a subtle thing.  Taking lots of exposures will increase your odds of capturing “the moment.” (Nikon D300 with 18-200mm Nikkor lens at 200mm, ISO 400, 1/500 at f/4.5)  


Capturing Fireworks

From Josh Anon/ DPA instructor in San Francisco To view more of his images please visit  http://digitalphotoacademy.com/portfolio/josh-anon/ I am a big believer in pre-visualizing photos and then executing them.  Even if your pre-visualization isn’t perfect, it gives you purpose and lets you actively plan for a shot instead of reacting to what’s around you.  In this case, I knew that for the fourth of July, San Francisco would have a big fireworks show downtown, and the forecast was (unusually) fog-free.  That meant I had a chance to create a unique image of San Francisco, with the Golden Gate Bridge (the most distinctive icon that immediately screams “San Francisco” to a viewer) and fireworks.  I knew of a good spot in the Marin headlands and arrived hours in advance, expecting a crowd and wanting a parking spot.  A lot of photography involves patience!  I framed this shot up before the fireworks started balancing where the bridge is and where I roughly estimated the fireworks would be, based on what I saw in the paper.  To shoot, I put my camera in bulb mode, held a piece of cardboard in front of the lens between fireworks bursts, and exposed each image for 2-3 firework bursts.  While the fireworks are a tad over-exposed, I still like the shot because of how the intense brightness and shapes from the falling embers contrasts with the darkness in the rest of the frame, just like when you see fireworks with your naked eye. Canon EOS 1Ds with Canon EF 16-35 f/2.8L at 35mm on a tripod.  f/5.6, 8 sec, ISO 200.  


Finding a Crowd

From Josh Anon/ DPA instructor in San Francisco To view more of his images please visit http://digitalphotoacademy.com/portfolio/josh-anon/ A small change in perspective can make a big impact in the photos we create.  The San Francisco Ferry Building is often quite crowded during the Saturday morning farmers market, but when you’re down in it the crowd, it’s tough to capture the feeling you have of being there.  By finding stairs to a second floor, I was able to find a unique perspective, looking down at the crowd and showing how dense it was.  However, if I just took this with a regular lens, even at a small f-number, the crowd would read as a texture and the photo would lack a subject.  Instead, I used a Lens Baby to bring selective focus to just one part of the crowd, specifically an area squished in the middle of the crowd.  This blurred the crowd in such a way that it didn’t read as a texture (some is blurred and some isn’t), and it makes it clear that the focus of the photo (pardon the pun) is the crazy crowd.  Additionally, the lines in the wall converge, further brining your attention to the in-focus area. Canon EOS 1D MkIV with Lens Baby Composer.  f/4, 1/60 sec, ISO 400  


Bridges and Fog

From Josh Anon/ DPA instructor in San Francisco To view more of his images please visit http://digitalphotoacademy.com/portfolio/josh-anon/ Even though Mark Twain never actually said the coldest winter he’d ever had was a summer in San Francisco, the near-daily fog does make for some cold summers.  And some beautiful pictures!  The bay area’s geography is also unique in that there are hills in the east bay, and the hills are often a demarcation line for the fog.  Depending on the weather conditions, there are days where a low, thick bank of fog rolls into the bay but below the top of the hills.  This makes it so that you can get a great vantage point, looking across the city and seeing where the fog is.  I was in the hills on one such day, guessing the weather conditions would be correct, but I arrived before sunset and before I could see for sure what the fog was doing.  As the sun started to set, the fog moved across the bay.  A long lens on a tripod (roughly 400mm) let me isolate the features that make the scene say “San Francisco,” that is the bay bridge, Sutro tower, and the downtown skyline.  Even though the fog covers most of them, you still have a sense of geography.  Waiting for the lights to come on also added a nice element to the shot, a bit of warmth and brightness contrasting with the fog. Canon EOS 1Ds with Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS on a tripod at 400mm.  f/16, 1.6 sec, ISO 100, -2/3 stops in evaluative metering.  


Motorcycles Street Scene

From Josh Anon/ DPA instructor in San Francisco To view more of his images please visit http://digitalphotoacademy.com/portfolio/josh-anon/ I often carry a Sony RX1 with me, as it’s got great image quality in a very compact form factor.  I don’t always want to carry a big DSLR.  Especially on photo trips, when I’m in a different environment, even when I’m not shooting my main subjects, I often see opportunities for interesting photos that make me want a camera.  This street scene is one such example, as I saw it while leaving dinner in China, near Mongolia one evening.  I liked the row of bikes and the people walking, as it captured how the town felt.  The converging lines into the distance added depth and visual intensity, and the warm colors on the signs provided a nice balance to the cool shadows.  And as I framed up a shot, I saw a car starting to drive down the street.  I quickly focused and shot a burst, getting the car in different positions.  It was sheer luck that this one guy looked back at me (it’s possible I swore when I saw the car and rushed to get the shot setup), creating a nice connection between the photo and the viewer. Sony RX1 at 35mm, f/2, 1/80 sec, ISO 6400  


The Panning effect

 From Frank Siteman/ DPA instructor from Boston View more of his images at http://digitalphotoacademy.com/portfolio/frank-siteman/ The technique used to make this photo is called panning.  It is a very effective means of conveying motion, and can bring amazing energy to a photo. To obtain images like this, one moves the camera with the subject, keeping the main object in the same place, relative to the edge of the frame.  The image of the background sweeps from side to side while the car remains centered….or wherever you’ve placed it in the frame.  You can check out the intensity of the blur by simple experimentation, moving the camera at different speeds and/or following subjects which move at different velocities.  I like to find a shutter speed which gives me an acceptable and appealing blur and then find an aperture/ISO combination which gives neither an over nor under exposed file, checking your histogram to ensure you are not unnecessarily blowing out important detail.   Digital photography makes taking pann shots relatively simple, as it gives you the means to adjust your settings to meet whatever situations you encounter and provide you with an instant preview.   In this instance, I was in the small village of Lyme Regis in England and saw this red coupe coming towards me at a relatively slow speed.  In order to show it’s motion, I knew from experience that I would be able to get the results I wanted by setting my camera to it’s shutter priority mode and to a 1/15th of a second.   If the car had been traveling slower, I might have used a 1/8th sec exposure.   This technique is wonderfully effective when shooting runners, people biking, dogs running or even kids playing soccer.  The important thing is to find the shutter speed which works for your particular situation and then work around that setting.


Camera Setting Charts

Camera Setting Charts Need to know what all those little buttons on your camera do? Well here are some charts for each brand that will help guide you.  They are in PDF format so you can print them, bring them to class, or just have them for your own reference.   CAMERA SETTINGS CHARTS (must have ADOBE FREE ACROBAT READER): > Download PANASONIC Camera Settings Chart (.pdf format) > Download SONY Camera Settings Chart (.pdf format) > Download SAMSUNG Camera Settings Chart (.pdf format) > Download PENTAX Camera Settings Chart (.pdf format) > Download OLYMPUS Camera Settings Chart (.pdf format) > Download NIKON Camera Settings Chart (.pdf format) > Download KODAK Camera Settings Chart (.pdf format) > Download HP Camera Settings Chart (.pdf format) > Download GE Camera Settings Chart (.pdf format) > Download FUJIFILM Camera Settings Chart (.pdf format) > Download CASIO Camera Settings Chart (.pdf format) > Download CANON Camera Settings Chart (.pdf format)


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