Photography Tips

No one will let me buy this.. =(

Not my friends, family, Santa, Easter Bunny, or even the Robot Devil.. =(

I'm no professional photographer, but I do know how daunting it is to have a non-point and shoot camera and just expect to know how to use it. Over the past few months these are some things i've learned:

Bring your camera everywhere.
Yes, you won't feel comfortable bringing it with you. Yes there may not be good opportunities, but its worse being presented with a perfect photo opportunity and not having a camera to take photos. Earlier in the month, I wanted to take some photos of the horizon and the Oracle building after my late shift at work, but was too lazy to bring my camera. When I did eventually bring my camera, the nice sunset wasn't reflecting off the building.

The main things I adjust on my camera IF i go full manual:
Shutter speed, Iso, F-stop/aperature, white balance

Shutter speed is basically how fast you want the camera to take the photo; sometimes you don't want to the camera to take a frozen shot, sometimes you want there to be movement or a blur; this is most evident in nightshots with streaking lines. Fast shutter speed is necessary when you want to prevent blur BUT at the cost of a darker/unexposed shot. The numbers range from extremely small fractions to 30s-bulb (which is dictated by the user)

ISO will allow you to increase the brightness captured in your shots. The lower in number the darker the shot but the less noise. Noise is the grainey look to photos you may see which is something you want to avoid at all costs. The higher the ISO number will allow you to take shots in the dark as it'll pick up more light. This increases the noise and the photo will appear more grainey.

F-stop/Aperature is explained through depth of field. I think the best way to explain it is by saying whether if you want mostly/everything in focus or less things in focus. It all depends on the situation in which you want a different depth of field. F-stop numbers below 5ish result in the main object being in sharp focus while the rest of the background will appeared a bit blurred/out of focus, this also allows more light to enter the camera. F-stop numbers of greater than 5 will allow more objects to be in focus but will let less light come in, resulting in a darker photo.

White balance. As humans we're special, we can look at a white object and know it is white, a camera can't always tell depending on the lighting. Have you been in a house where the tungsten light gives a yellow/warm look? It makes differentiating white and non-white harder, and especially hard for the camera. There is an auto setting, but a vast difference will be seen through a bit of trial and error.

Having talked about those 4 areas, its all a balance between them, but mostly between Shutter Speed, ISO and F-stop. It will be trial and error and even now I take practice shots to make sure I have a good setting. My friend Soto advises to put the camera to Auto setting which will try it's best to find optimal settings and take note of the settings it uses and then go full manual and tweak it from there.

Don't be shy.
I don't like getting in people's personal space b/c I hate it when people get in mine. I prefer not to know someone is taking photos of me. Knowing this, sometimes the good shots require you to get out of your comfort zone and do things that you wouldn't normally do. It will feel weird, but you may be rewarded for you attempt. If you want a shot but are afraid of getting into people's personal space, getting a telephoto lens will allow you to accomplish that. A telephoto lens generally 200mm+ has fantastic zoom which gives the distance that a set of binoculars will give. The draw back it is hard to get a steady shot; its like holding a stick, its much easier to hold a 2 foot stick than it is a 20 foot stick.

There is no shame in going full auto.
I used to think it wasn't really photography if you weren't full manual (where you pick all your settings), but you need the photographer's eye and courage to take the great shots. The window to a photo sometimes comes in an instant and you dont' always have the time to optimize each setting manually.

Take advantage of the other modes: shutter priority, aperature priority. It saves time and you get better control.

Get a good tripod.
Sure when you start out, you don't want to spend lots of money on lenses, filters, and tripods, but they will all be worth it. Whereas my friend Pat and I spent 30$ on out tripod and are VERY careful when transporting it (usually unattached), Soto has a much more expensive version where he is confident enough to keep the camera attached to the tripod and just hold the legs of teh tripod. Its 10 times more convenient for him, he sees a shot, plants his tripod and shoots. Pat and I have to setup the legs, put the camera on and then shoot. By then the shot can be gone. The good thing about photography is there is good resale value in your equipement; if you check prices online, used items are not that cheap, especially the high end products.

You don't necessarily 'need' to buy every lens.
Some people need to, but I don't believe so. Figure out (from your own experience) what kind of photography you're into and get the necessary lens. Major areas people like to dabble in is macro (super close up) photography, landscape, buildings-urban, nightshooting (my personal favorite), animals, people, sports. Each of these areas don't necessarily require that you have every single lens. Like a nightshooter doesn't need a macro lens. A person doing portrait (close up, usually one person subject) shots doesn't need a telephoto (super zoom) lens.

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