AW Photography Thread

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Orianna2000

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My dad used to be a professional photographer, he had his own portrait studio, back in the early 1980s. My brother is a hobby photographer, but he takes some pretty awesome photos. As for me, I wouldn't really call myself a photographer, either hobby or professional, but I do take a lot of pics for the articles I write--for an online magazine and for my website. It's mostly sewing tutorials and in-progress photos of the historical costumes and doll clothing I make. Nothing special. I've had an adventure finding a decent camera, though!

My first digital camera was some cheap Sony, which gave every photo a green tinge along the upper portion of the photo. Most peculiar. (Any idea what causes that sort of malfunction?) My husband bought an expensive DSLR, but it's too fancy for me. It's bulky and heavy, and way too complicated to use. For awhile, I just used my old cellphone's camera (very poor quality) but once I realized I needed decent photos to submit with my articles, I bought a Samsung WB35F. (A compact point-and-shoot.) My decision was mainly based on the fact that it came in purple. (I'm obsessed with purple.) It was an okay camera, but was disappointing because it did NOT come with auto-WiFi uploading, despite the claims on Samsung's website and Amazon's product page. I actually got a 20% rebate from Amazon to make up for their misleading product description. This camera worked okay for a year or so, but then it started producing shadows in the corners of every photo I took. The auto-focus didn't like to focus properly. And it was very slow to take pictures. I'd click the button, then wait a second or two for it to actually take the picture. I finally got fed up with it and started shopping around. I wanted something nicer, but everything was out of my price range.

Then, last week, I stumbled onto the Nikon Coolpix L840 (refurbished) on sale for $119, which was half the price of what Amazon was selling it for! In fact, it's only about $10 more than I paid for the Samsung, yet from what I've seen, it's normally a $300+ camera. It's a digital "bridge," so it's a hybrid between a point-and-shoot and a full DSLR. A decent lens, but you can't switch it out. Good auto features, if you want them, but you can also use your own settings, if you prefer. I'm still learning about f-stops and apertures and all that, so it's exactly what I needed. (And yes, it's purple! A gorgeous plum color.) It's refurbished, so it's not brand-new, but it was certified and guaranteed by Nikon. The only flaw I've found is a tiny scratch on the LCD screen. Other than that, it's in perfect shape . . . and it blows my Samsung WB35F out of the water! It knows how to focus, for one thing. It takes pictures instantly, with no delay. The picture quality is superb. I barely have to make any post-production adjustments in Photoshop Elements. Today was the first day I used it, and I have to say, I'm pretty thrilled!

I'm sorely tempted to see what it can do with flowers, sunsets, and whatnot. But I don't have a carry-case for it yet, so I'm hesitant to take it anywhere. I've ordered a case, but it won't arrive until next week.
 

mysterymantis

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My dad used to be a professional photographer, he had his own portrait studio, back in the early 1980s. My brother is a hobby photographer, but he takes some pretty awesome photos. As for me, I wouldn't really call myself a photographer, either hobby or professional, but I do take a lot of pics for the articles I write--for an online magazine and for my website. It's mostly sewing tutorials and in-progress photos of the historical costumes and doll clothing I make. Nothing special. I've had an adventure finding a decent camera, though!

My first digital camera was some cheap Sony, which gave every photo a green tinge along the upper portion of the photo. Most peculiar. (Any idea what causes that sort of malfunction?) My husband bought an expensive DSLR, but it's too fancy for me. It's bulky and heavy, and way too complicated to use. For awhile, I just used my old cellphone's camera (very poor quality) but once I realized I needed decent photos to submit with my articles, I bought a Samsung WB35F. (A compact point-and-shoot.) My decision was mainly based on the fact that it came in purple. (I'm obsessed with purple.) It was an okay camera, but was disappointing because it did NOT come with auto-WiFi uploading, despite the claims on Samsung's website and Amazon's product page. I actually got a 20% rebate from Amazon to make up for their misleading product description. This camera worked okay for a year or so, but then it started producing shadows in the corners of every photo I took. The auto-focus didn't like to focus properly. And it was very slow to take pictures. I'd click the button, then wait a second or two for it to actually take the picture. I finally got fed up with it and started shopping around. I wanted something nicer, but everything was out of my price range.

Then, last week, I stumbled onto the Nikon Coolpix L840 (refurbished) on sale for $119, which was half the price of what Amazon was selling it for! In fact, it's only about $10 more than I paid for the Samsung, yet from what I've seen, it's normally a $300+ camera. It's a digital "bridge," so it's a hybrid between a point-and-shoot and a full DSLR. A decent lens, but you can't switch it out. Good auto features, if you want them, but you can also use your own settings, if you prefer. I'm still learning about f-stops and apertures and all that, so it's exactly what I needed. (And yes, it's purple! A gorgeous plum color.) It's refurbished, so it's not brand-new, but it was certified and guaranteed by Nikon. The only flaw I've found is a tiny scratch on the LCD screen. Other than that, it's in perfect shape . . . and it blows my Samsung WB35F out of the water! It knows how to focus, for one thing. It takes pictures instantly, with no delay. The picture quality is superb. I barely have to make any post-production adjustments in Photoshop Elements. Today was the first day I used it, and I have to say, I'm pretty thrilled!

I'm sorely tempted to see what it can do with flowers, sunsets, and whatnot. But I don't have a carry-case for it yet, so I'm hesitant to take it anywhere. I've ordered a case, but it won't arrive until next week.


I realize your post is a bit old (6 months), but I love to answer technical questions....

About your green fringe, it's a phenomenon known as chromatic aberration. The technical explanation (short version) is that as light enters the lens, it becomes refracted (bent), and then focused onto the sensor or film. In a nutshell, this works the same way that your eyes do. However, with the lens, it doesn't always refract all the spectrums of light the same way, and the fancy (read expensive) cameras and lenses have ways of dealing with this. If your camera always had this problem on every picture, regardless of the direction your light came from, then I would guess one of the lens elements was crooked in some way, or possibly deformed. Being a cheapie, it could even be that the sensor was malfunctioning on that side.

Not that an inexpensive camera can't take a good photo, and even the expensive cameras and lenses suffer from CA.

Glad to hear you like your Nikon Coolpix camera. I shoot Canon myself, but I won't hold it against you if you don't hold it against me! ;) As far as the settings on the camera, here are some quick shots for you (even though 6 months later you might have figured it all out)...

1. F-stop - This number represents your aperture, which is a set of fins (diaphragm) that control the amount of light that enters your camera, and directly affects how it focuses on the sensor (depth of field). The smaller the number, the wider it is, the larger the number, the smaller. I know that sounds backwards, but it is becasue it represents a ratio (I have no idea how to calculate this ratio). Also, the smaller the number, the more shallow your depth of field becomes. More about that in a minute...
2. Depth of Field - So, what is this? This is how much of your framing will be in focus in your picture. A wide F-stop (2.8 or lower) will give you a shallow DOF, and will only keep your main subject in focus, blurring everything around it, possibly even part of the subject, depending on the lens and the size of your camera's sensor. A narrow F-stop (8 to 22+) will narrow the focus, and keep more of your framing in focus, and also has the effect of making the picture a bit more sharp. So, with that in mind, if you are shooting a portrait of someone (or object that serves the same purpose), a wide F-stop is better. If you are shooting landscapes, a narrow one is better. These of course are generalizations, and the art of the photo is always up to you!
3. Shutter speed - In most cases, your shutter speed is measured in fractions of a second. The slower the shutter, the more likely you are to pick up some blurriness from a shaky hand and a moving subject. The faster the shutter, the better the camera is at "freezing" motion, and handshake is less of a problem. That Coolpix comes with VR (vibration reduction), so that can help at lower shutter speeds, like anything less than 1/320 sec.
4. VR - called different things on different brands of lenses and cameras (IS = Canon, OS = sigma, etc), they all mean the same thing. The thing that is confusing to some, at first, is what it actually does. All it does is reduce the effect of hand shake at slower shutter speeds, it does nothing for a moving subject. The only way to counter motion blur on a moving subject is to use a faster shutter speed. They also have a limit, once the shutter gets so slow you will need to mount on a tripod or at least set the camera on a stable surface.
5. Fun - I would hope this is self explanatory, but photography can be a lot of fun. The way our eyes perceive the world is jsut different from the way a camera does, due to the special way that light is bent onto the sensor/film. So, have fun with your camera, because even if every picture you take doesn't turn out so great, you can always take another picture. :)

And as far as refurbs go, they can be very good deals. If you buy straight from the manufacturer, and the item comes with it's full warranty, then it is worth the roll of the dice. Plenty of success stories out there about this very subject. I jsut got an 80D for 420 bucks less than MSRP this way, and the only thing wrong that I can see is the shutter button has a discoloration in the plastic. Refurbs can be anything from a camera that had a repairable defect, to a cosmetic issue that doesn't affect the function of the camera, to even an open box item that was exchanged by the retailer to the manufacturer. A refurb has likely been looked at by a technician, inspected, and certified to work (if it is done by the manufacturer that is). In some cases, they are a better deal than a new in box item, as it has gone through a higher level of scrutiny at the manufacturer. It sounds like you got your Nikon for a steal of a price!

Well, hope I didn't bore you too much. :)
 

Orianna2000

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Thanks for explaining the green tinge! Good to know. And no, you didn't bore me. I keep meaning to pull out my camera's instruction manual, and one of my how-to photography books, and just play around to see what the camera can do. But I never seem to find the time.

I'm still pretty happy with the Coolpix, although lately, it's had trouble with the auto-focus. Especially if I'm trying to take a picture of something white or beige against a white background. It doesn't like that very much!
 

Saoirse

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My first digital camera was a Coolpix. They are pretty good cameras. And I've found the best way to learn your camera is to play with it. Take pictures. Lots of pictures. Don't be afraid to get out there and do it. :)
 

mysterymantis

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Some questions...

1. Are you shooting in Macro mode? Macro photography is notorious for having issues with auto-focus. The macro focus range is .4 inches on that camera, which means as long as you are within .4 inches it can focus in macro mode. This is not the same thing as minimum focus distance, and only applies to macro photos.
2. You might be too close to your subject. The minimum focus distance is 11.8 inches, if you are closer than that it will have a hard time finding the focus. Can you manually focus? If so, try to use the manual focus to get close to where you want it, then allow the AF to find the rest. Another issue could be the points the AF uses might be getting confused. If you can select a single point or area to focus from you might get better results too.
3. Do you have a different color backdrop you can try? For contrast alone, your subject and your backdrop should be different, but the similar colors might be part of the reason your camera is having trouble focusing.

I've never had a Coolpix camera, so I can't really tell you how to navigate the menu. I would guess that you need to turn off autofocus when using manual focus. Sometimes it can harm your camera if you try to focus manually while in Auto.
 

Orianna2000

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As far as I know, there is no manual focus. I'll check the manual, though.

I switch back and forth between macro and regular mode, depending on how close I'm photographing. Occasionally, if it won't focus in one mode, it will focus in the other. But sometimes, it simply won't focus. Period. Today, I tried taking a picture of green fabric against a white background and it absolutely refused to focus, no matter what I did. The little green squares would appear, as it auto-focused, but the second I hit the button halfway to lock in the focus, the green squares were replaced with a red box and it lost the focus. I tried switching to macro, to no avail. I tried getting closer, nope. I tried moving farther away, didn't help. I even changed up the angle, but nothing worked. It simply wouldn't let me take the picture. Very frustrating.

Why is there such a difference between regular mode and macro, as far as distance is concerned? If I'm understanding what you said, for regular you have to be almost 12" away, but for macro you have to be less than half an inch from the object? What if you want to take a picture from, say, six inches away? Is there nothing in between?
 

mysterymantis

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Hmm, without having the camera in hand, I don't know how much more help I can give. I did find that there is no manual focus on that camera, which seems a little odd, but I think has become pretty common with these types of point and shoot style cameras.

Let me at least expand a bit more on focal length...

What macro focus means, is that normally you can't focus reliably closer than 11.8", except in macro mode. Depending on the camera, sometimes that means there is an extra lens element, but more times than not it just tells the camera to use a different method for finding focus. It is typically very finicky, and the closer you are to your subject the better. Your depth of field might be too shallow though, since typically in macro mode the camera opens up all the way to allow the most light in. So, as a result, the picture is blurry, and the AF has trouble figuring this out, becasue the shallow DOF doesn't give it much to work with. It doesn't necessarily mean you can't get the camera to find focus between the minimum focus distance and the macro range. Macro range is just the closest you can be and still be able to focus.

I think also on your camera Macro mode limits the range that it will focus from, so that it isn't going through the entire range to find focus. This is done to speed up the focus at short ranges, or even a the longer ranges in normal shooting modes (it ignores the macro focus range). As a result, if you recently took a shot that was outside the limit of it's current range, the camera won't even try to focus, because it is being told not to. So, here is a test to try out...

1. Set to your normal shooting mode, full auto is fine. Also, set your zoom to be fairly wide, not all the way wide. If you can set it to 35-50mm, that is good. If there is not a way to tell the zoom range, then zoom all the way wide, then in just enough to not be all the way wide (wide angle tends to warp the light coming in, and might mess with the test). Fully wide, the Coolpix is 23mm, for reference.
2. Focus on a subject from 3 feet away. Once it is in focus, take a shot. If that is in focus, move to 2 feet away, do the same. Then move to 1 foot. Do this whole step in the same shooting mode, at the same zoom.
3. Move to 6 inches, and try to focus. If it will not focus, then switch to macro mode, and try again. If this works, then move to 3 inches, try again. Then move to 1 inch, and try again. Otherwise, if it will still focus at 6 inches in normal mode, move to 3 inches, and so on, until it won't focus.

If at 6 inches it flashes red instead of focusing, that means that the camera is too close to focus in that mode, due to the camera limiting the range it can focus. As I mentioned before, the camera does this to focus faster; it doesn't "waste time" seeking for focus at ranges it can't catch. (Some of the high end lenses have switches on the side for this same purpose.) In any case, if you have focused in in this manner, you should be able to go to macro mode, and be able to focus from there.

From what I have read, this is not uncommon on point and shoots. I've read that some people will find something intermediate to focus on, to kind of "walk" the focus in.


Hopefully that helps.
 

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A photography thread! Yippee! I'm in my last few weeks! Finishing up my degree in digital photography ^^ I'm currently working with a 7D Mark 2 DSLR Canon camera. I'd love to upgrade to a 6D, and from there, a 1D one day! Have had a lot of experience with a variety of lenses, and in studio in between assignments. Good to know there are other camera users on here :D
 

noirdood

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I have photographs I took of Elvis and the Beatles on film. Nobody has them on digital.
Truth be told, who cares if Joe Doakes uses digital and Robin Rederick uses film? Or Canon vs. Nikon. Or Toyota vs. Honda.
Digital is easier? Well, film is easier than oil painting. So.....? (Van Gogh owned a camera. Probably glass plate. Slow....)
 

shakeysix

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My grand daughter and I enter photos in our county fair every summer. I've done this for years and managed to get one of my grandkids interested. My county is a small one, so small that we take entries in the open class from neighboring counties. Still, there are many accomplished photographers in this county. Our 4H kids have a great photography teacher for their club. My grandkids live out of county so are not 4H members so have only me to teach them. The photo classes I have taken are from the Flinstones Era--35 mm film-- so we are learning about digital photos together.

This July I entered 9 photos in the adult division. My grand daughter entered 6 in the youth division--open class. I won two blue ribbons, two red and two white. Magnolia won 6 blue ribbons! She is at the top of the youth division so next year will have to compete as a teen, against older kids, but when she was seven she won a blue ribbon--quite a deal.

County Fairs are a great way for kids to learn photography. They have to mount the pictures, explain the shot and decide which photos to choose--not always easy. We keep our potential photos in a folder on my desktop and begin going over them in April or May. We also take a serious photo trip or two over the year. Magnolia took trips to Colorado and Washington DC this summer and used her camera on both. A black & white shot of the Lincoln Memorial took a blue ribbon.

Fairs are good for older folks too. Competition sharpens my eye. There are 4 0r 5 people around the county who are pretty darned good. Every summer we try to outdo each other. After judging, the photos are exhibited for the whole county to look at. It is best when there is a big old ribbon hanging on the photo, but sometimes someone will say "Oh, I know that spot!" or "How did you do that?" or "How did you get such a great picture of that? I drive by it every day and never thought it was worth looking at."

Anyway-- the fair season is almost ove,r but if you stop by your county extension office they will gladly give you the information for entering next summer's fair. I don't pickle stuff, or grow giant pumpkins or quilt but I do love the photo competition. --s6
 
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Alan Aspie

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Some views about photographing....

1. It is not cameragraphing. It is photographing. Camera is not your main tool.

2. Your most important tool is shadow. Light is the second. Lens is third.

3. With SLR/DSLR -cameras you should first choose your format. (Mid format, FF kino, crop kino) Then you think about lenses. After that you choose a body that suits those lenses, your hands and your way of thinking.

Knowing your gear is much more important than what that gear is.

4. If you want to learn something, then starting with good primes is better than fooling with dark and smutty zooms. And FF is much better than a crop.

If you buy a used FF with a good 50mm/1.4 lense and really think about your photographing you can make wonders.

One of those wonders is that you decide the depth of field in your pictures.

5. Photographing is art of reducing. You get two things. And then you photograph the relation between these two things - not them. You reduce all else out of attention. You think how you can do it.

Your kid is playing with his/her favorite toy. DON'T take a photograph that shows how he/she looks. Go inside the kids world of playing and take a photograph about kids relation to his imagination.

6. Tell, don't show. Picture that shows something is nothing. Picture that tells a story, emotion, something... That's good.

7. Use photographing to develop your visual and narrative thinking.

8. Take your visual thinking to your stories and your narrative thinking to your photographing.

9. A good photographer always looks lazy.

10. If you wan't to photograph outside, then bad weather is the best weather for you. Dark, rain, smog, fog, freezing cold...


Here is something that shows you what I am talking about. Finnish photographer Hannes Heikura was photographing war in Afganistan 2007. And there was also the other kind of war - war on drugs. So Hannes took a photo about soldier in a poppy field...

https://www.valokuvataiteenmuseo.fi/fi/nayttelyt/hiljaiset-kuvat
 
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