Photography tips, tricks and other things to help make great photos!

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So, kuddos to our teacher KenJ! biggrin

I've taken some pictures around the house using RAW and uploaded to Aperture. Oh. My. Gosh. I will ONLY take pictures like this from now on. It is amazing the things you can do to a picture.

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!

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Wish they had a trial version of Aperture. I'd like to try before I buy.

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Miss Mikki wrote:
I finally decided. I went for the canon EOS100d. I decided that I wanted a small DSLR. I have ordered it online from a national retailer. It should be delivered in a few days. I spent PS488 (which is approx. $778). I am not a big spender normally and this is a lot of money for us but I know we will both get good use out of it and I see it as an item we will use for many years. It was actually a very good deal as the camera came with an 18-55mm lens, a lens cloth, spare battery, two 16g memory cards and a canon DLSR camera case.

Congrats on the new camera! That looks like a great model indeed. Have fun with it! biggrin

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Eeyore wrote:
So, kuddos to our teacher KenJ! biggrin

I've taken some pictures around the house using RAW and uploaded to Aperture. Oh. My. Gosh. I will ONLY take pictures like this from now on. It is amazing the things you can do to a picture.

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!

That's awesome! Glad to hear you're noticing a big difference Eeyore. It's really fun tweaking the pics in Aperture and because you're shooting RAW, you have ALL the data that the sensor gathered. Great stuff! awesome

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mrhub wrote:
Wish they had a trial version of Aperture. I'd like to try before I buy.

Yeah, it's a shame they don't offer the trial version anymore. The price used to be $200, which is what I paid for it a few years ago. Now it's about $80 I believe. I really like Aperture. It has a bit of a learning curve, but once you get used to the interface and settings, it really is amazing.

You can also link it to Photoshop so that you can pass the pic back and forth between the 2 programs at the press of a button (or menu item) and edit all you like.

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Congrats Mikki on the new camera! Hope it gets to you quickly...

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Just fixed the photo links in this thread.

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What kind of settings should I use for the rides I can actually use my camera on? Obviously, flash photography is out as I'd hate to have my enjoyment of the ride spoiled, so what settings can I use? I've got a Nikon D5200 with a 50mm prime lens, an 18-55mm kit lens that came with the camera and an 18-250mm Sigma. I can take reasonably good pics in daylight, like most people, but would love to take something at night or in a dark ride...

Any suggestions?

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Sid Man wrote:
What kind of settings should I use for the rides I can actually use my camera on? Obviously, flash photography is out as I'd hate to have my enjoyment of the ride spoiled, so what settings can I use? I've got a Nikon D5200 with a 50mm prime lens, an 18-55mm kit lens that came with the camera and an 18-250mm Sigma. I can take reasonably good pics in daylight, like most people, but would love to take something at night or in a dark ride...

Any suggestions?

Hi Sid,

Okay, this is long but will hopefully be helpful. biggrin

Although I don't have your particular camera, here are some ideas regarding what setting to use. I have no idea what your knowledge is like regarding exposure or photography in general so forgive me if any of this is stuff you already know.

First, you have to understand the scene you're trying to photograph, especially when it comes to action. Generally, the less motion in the subject or scene, the easier it will be to photograph in low light conditions.

The 3 main adjustments for any camera are:

Aperture (f-stop)
Shutter Speed
Sensitivity (ISO).

These 3 settings in combination is what is known as the exposure triangle. A change to any one of these settings will affect the others.

There are many sources you can read and learn about the exposure triangle. There is one book in particular that I found excellent and really helped me understand photography. It's aptly called "Understanding Exposure" by Bryan Peterson and is an excellent read. You can get it almost anywhere.

Here's a link to it on Amazon:
Understanding Exposure

I can't emphasize enough the importance of learning all about exposure. Once you learn it, it's like riding a bike, you never forget. It removes a lot of the mystery of photography and really helps you understand how cameras work and how the various settings affect a photo.

Normally, a camera will make the adjustments for you when set to auto mode and you'll get good results when the light levels are good. When it gets dark it can get tricky. The goal when taking photos in low light is to get as much light onto the sensor as possible. This can be done by adjusting one or more of the 3 settings that form the exposure triangle. And as with most things, each one has pros and cons as to which one you adjust. Let's take a look at each of them...

Aperture - also known as f-stop.
This setting adjusts the opening of the lens, similar to the iris of one's eyeball. The larger the opening, the more light that comes through. Aperture is measured in f-stops. The lower the f-stop, the larger the opening on the lens. So, when taking photos in low light, you usually want to open this up as wide as possible. Some lenses go down to f1.4 which is great for low light photography. Your 50mm prime lens probably goes down to f1.4 or f1.8. Prime lenses usually allow for lower f-stops than zoom lenses.

Shutter Speed
The shutter speed adjusts how long the shutter stays open when you press the shutter button. It's measured in seconds (or fractions of a second). The longer it is open, the more light will hit the sensor. But, you have to be careful with this one because, although you can open the shutter longer to get more light, it can also introduce motion blur. So, if you're on a ride like POTR and you select a longer shutter speed, you won't be able to "freeze" the motion and you'll get a blurry picture. However, if you are taking a photo of static objects, you can increase shutter speed without blurring (the use of a tripod is recommended).

Sensitivity - also known as ISO
ISO is an adjustment that you may remember from the old film days. Film itself was of a certain ISO rating. The disadvantage in those days was that you were stuck with the same ISO for the entire roll of film. With digital, that all changed and you can adjust it on the fly.

The higher the ISO value, the more sensitive the sensor is to light. There is a drawback however. Higher ISO values also introduce noise into the photo. Noise can be noticed as "grain" in the photo. Sometimes, the grain actually adds a nice look to a photo. But generally, you want to keep noise to a minimum. When the camera is set to auto, it will usually pump the ISO up to a high value when taking photos in low light. The larger the sensor, the higher the ISO can be set without introducing a lot of noise. This is why larger sensor cameras are generally better in low light situations

So...

In order to take photos in low light, I personally make the adjustments in this order...

1. Adjust aperture to a wide setting to something like f1.4 or 1.8

2. Adjust shutter speed to a setting appropriate for the scene. If fast action, it must be set to a shorter time.

3. After adjusting Aperture and Shutter Speed, adjust the ISO up to the point where there is enough light to take the photo.

Your particular camera has a rather large sensor (one size down from full frame) so you will be able to adjust ISO quite high. You can probably go up to about ISO 6400 safely.

The best thing to do is just take a bunch of photos in dark conditions and adjust these various settings. You'll quickly see how your camera reacts to the different settings.

Most cameras have 4 main modes on the dial you can choose from. Keep in mind the following when selecting the mode on the camera:

P - Program (automatic mode) - will adjust Aperture and Shutter Speed automatically
A - Aperture Priority - you set the Aperture and the camera will set the Shutter Speed
S - Shutter Priority - you set the Shutter Speed and the camera will set the Aperture
M - Manual - you adjust BOTH Shutter Speed and Aperture

ISO is set independently of the above modes. Usually, it's in the Auto ISO mode, but you can override this and select a value yourself.

For me personally, I tend to use Aperture Priority on my camera when taking photos in low light. I just set the aperture wide open (my 25mm prime lens goes to f1.4). I usually let the camera select the Shutter Speed, but sometimes I'll go into manual mode and adjust it myself if there's action in the scene that I need to freeze. Then, I will adjust to a faster shutter and raise ISO higher to compensate for the light loss.

Remember, although the "auto" setting are handy and what most people use, the camera may not always select the appropriate setting for the situation.

To sum up, for your camera, try starting with the following settings:

Aperture:
1.4 (or as low as you lens will allow)
Shutter Speed: 1/60 sec. (this is really variable but it's a start, you must increase shutter speed to freeze action, but then adjust ISO higher to compensate)
ISO: 3200 (this is a safe number for most larger sensor cameras, but you can go to 6400 too I'm sure)

Hopefully that give you a few tips to start with. Again, this is just my personal take on it. Other photographer enthusiasts/pros might have different or better tips.

Just experiment with the camera. After all, with digital, it doesn't cost anything and you can see the results instantly! biggrin

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Oh dear, Ihad decided to save some money and not buy a new camera for this year's trip, but now I am looking for one after reading this. Hubby has quite a good camera on his smartphone for bright daytime shots, but for my birthday I will be asking for a 4/3 system camera, though it can't be too expensive, are there any you would recommend as a starter for a photography novice?

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Thanks KenJ...will start experimenting a lot with the camera. Just got a monopod to help with some shots - have a remote too - so will see what I can get out of that combo!

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KenJ wrote:
Hi Miss Mikki,

I'd say it's a good camera, especially if you can get such a good deal on it. Most cameras are "good cameras" actually. It all depends on what kind of photography you're interested in and how "into" photography you are or want to be.

The SX500 is a super-zoom and it gives you a very large range from wide angle to zooming in on far away subjects (perfect for Animal Kingdom Safaris!)

You'll find that the camera will take very good photos in daylight conditions. However, it does have a rather small sensor. Looking at the chart I posted above, it is just a hair larger than the smallest one on that chart. This means that it's performance in low light conditions won't be one of it's strong points. The flash will help of course, but keep in mind that a flash has a limited useful range. It won't help you take photos in darker conditions where the subject is not near the camera.

That camera does not have the ability to capture RAW photos so, if you are at all interested in RAW, this is not the camera to get.

I'd say it's a good camera if you want the zoom capabilities. The zoom is the camera's biggest feature I'd say. It has the equivalent of a 24mm - 720mm on a full frame camera. That is a HUGE range and all in one lens. To give you an idea of how significant this is, take a look at this photo.

This is a 600mm lens for larger cameras (the larger the sensor, the larger the lenses need to be). The SX500 goes even further than this one (720mm)!

The reason the SX500 can have such a huge zoom range yet remain small is due to the sensor being small too. The lens has to guide light onto a smaller area (the "image circle") than a larger sensor camera. This is why the lenses for large sensor cameras are so big.

So, if you're looking for a decent point and shoot camera with the ability to zoom in on far away subjects, I'd say it's a good camera indeed. A super-zoom is a very convenient camera to own.

Sorry I have to correct you on a couple of points the reason the sx500, or any camera with a smaller sensor appears to have a larger zoom range than a camera with a larger sensor, is the image is formulated to be the same basic size when you view it on your computer or pc. The lens actually is covering areas inside the light-box larger than the sensor. You will notice a huge difference in image quality once you start blowing up images to poster print size or even larger, the smaller sensor image will not be as clear or sharp as the larger sensor image.

Also when talking about sensors on DSLRs being better suited for low light this is only part of the equation, the other part is the superior lens quality good DSLR lenses have, the lower the f stop, the larger the glass, the faster light travels through the lens onto the sensor reducing the time it takes to produce a quality image. You said the sensor is the bucket that is correct however the lens is the faucet that you turn on to fill that bucket.

as far as editing shadows in light room like in your boardwalk scene this is fine however keep in mind in these areas you are introducing noise you will see in a printed photo if you go large enough. Noise is not bad and does not take away from a photo just be aware it is there even if you cant see it on your monitor.

I am not trying to pick your info apart but as a DSLR shooter I felt it necessary to help out a bit. I can tell you love shooting and have the basics down keep plugging you will only get better and you already have some great images.

For fireworks you need a tripod and a camera with bulb mode that allows you to leave the shutter open, I would even consider putting a ND filter on the camera to reduce ambient light a bit. You do have to time the shots a bit to get the shots you want you open the shutter let a few fireworks go off then close the shutter.

For those who don't want to process tons of raw images I find setting your white balance manually with a gray card reduces most of my editing needs to zero 90% of the time. Also good editing software speeds up the process.

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Disney Holic wrote:
Oh dear, Ihad decided to save some money and not buy a new camera for this year's trip, but now I am looking for one after reading this. Hubby has quite a good camera on his smartphone for bright daytime shots, but for my birthday I will be asking for a 4/3 system camera, though it can't be too expensive, are there any you would recommend as a starter for a photography novice?

If you're looking at a m4/3 format camera, the Panasonic GM-1 is really nice. It's small enough to carry around yet takes amazing photos and video. The kit lens that comes with it is small physically too. I use a Panasonic GH3 which is a larger camera but I like the ergonomics of the DSLR type cameras. If I was looking for a smaller ( and less expensive camera), I'd most likely get the GM-1.

Panasonic GM-1

That said, there are many other m4/3 cameras available and they're all very capable. Panasonic and Olympus are the main players in the m4/3 market.

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Thanks for posting Hazegry. All great points. I failed to mention anything about printing larger sizes as I don't print anything and have no experience with that (other that the odd 4x6 print on my old ink jet printer). Thanks for the tips.

Hazegry wrote:

Sorry I have to correct you on a couple of points the reason the sx500, or any camera with a smaller sensor appears to have a larger zoom range than a camera with a larger sensor, is the image is formulated to be the same basic size when you view it on your computer or pc. The lens actually is covering areas inside the light-box larger than the sensor. You will notice a huge difference in image quality once you start blowing up images to poster print size or even larger, the smaller sensor image will not be as clear or sharp as the larger sensor image.

Agreed. Other factors such as the focal length and max aperture (even fixed vs variable) also dictate the lens size. Plus the distance between the sensor and the rear lens element has a significant effect on the size requirement of the lens. DSLR lenses are also larger in part because they must take into account the mirror which increases the lens to sensor distance. My Panasonic 35-100 (70-200 equiv.) f2.8 lens is much smaller than say a Canon 70-200 f2.8 because the sensor size is half that of 35mm plus the distance from sensor to lens is much less due it the camera being mirrorless (plus other factors of course).

Hazegry wrote:

Also when talking about sensors on DSLRs being better suited for low light this is only part of the equation, the other part is the superior lens quality good DSLR lenses have, the lower the f stop, the larger the glass, the faster light travels through the lens onto the sensor reducing the time it takes to produce a quality image. You said the sensor is the bucket that is correct however the lens is the faucet that you turn on to fill that bucket.

Agreed. I touched on this in my reply to Sid Man above when discussing Aperture. I like your analogy of the faucet as it makes it easier to understand. Another thing I just thought of is the pixel density of the sensor and the whole false notion that more is better which is not necessarily the case.

Hazegry wrote:
as far as editing shadows in light room like in your boardwalk scene this is fine however keep in mind in these areas you are introducing noise you will see in a printed photo if you go large enough. Noise is not bad and does not take away from a photo just be aware it is there even if you cant see it on your monitor.

I used to be afraid of introducing noise when I was shooting JPEG only due to the artifacts the camera would sometimes create with it's built-in noise reduction. However, since I started shooting RAW, I've found that noise to be much less of a problem. The noise is more grain like and can actually add a nice effect to the photo. Then again, I'm not printing the photos so I'm sure it would be different if I were to blow up the photos to poster size as you mentioned.

Hazegry wrote:
I am not trying to pick your info apart but as a DSLR shooter I felt it necessary to help out a bit. I can tell you love shooting and have the basics down keep plugging you will only get better and you already have some great images.

Thanks! I've also enjoyed the images you've posted on the forum. I do love shooting and the constant learning is fun and rewarding. awesome

Hazegry wrote:
For fireworks you need a tripod and a camera with bulb mode that allows you to leave the shutter open, I would even consider putting a ND filter on the camera to reduce ambient light a bit. You do have to time the shots a bit to get the shots you want you open the shutter let a few fireworks go off then close the shutter.

I'm hoping to experiment more with fireworks shots on our next trip. I'd like to pick up an ND filter too as I can see it being very useful in general. Thanks for these tips. awesome

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KenJ wrote:
Disney Holic wrote:
Oh dear, Ihad decided to save some money and not buy a new camera for this year's trip, but now I am looking for one after reading this. Hubby has quite a good camera on his smartphone for bright daytime shots, but for my birthday I will be asking for a 4/3 system camera, though it can't be too expensive, are there any you would recommend as a starter for a photography novice?

If you're looking at a m4/3 format camera, the Panasonic GM-1 is really nice. It's small enough to carry around yet takes amazing photos and video. The kit lens that comes with it is small physically too. I use a Panasonic GH3 which is a larger camera but I like the ergonomics of the DSLR type cameras. If I was looking for a smaller ( and less expensive camera), I'd most likely get the GM-1.

Panasonic GM-1

That said, there are many other m4/3 cameras available and they're all very capable. Panasonic and Olympus are the main players in the m4/3 market.

Thanks Ken, I was looking at some Lumix cameras last night, found some at a reasonable price too and like you say they look nice and compact so handy to carry around. Will make sure everyone knows what I want for my birthday laugh

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Ken if you like the ergonomics of DSLR's look for a used one in your area you can usually find a good one at a very reasonable price. I have seen Nikon d5100's going for under 500 bucks with lenses. I just found a Nikon D3s for 1750 but the camera fairy still needs to grant my wish on that one lol.

I am glad you found the info helpful and if you haven't printed at least some 8x10's of your favorite shots I suggest you do so. I can tell you they almost always look better in print than on the computer. I watch for deals on groupon for canvas prints and my house has several canvas wraps of my Disney images.

One thing I forgot to mention for the fireworks is get a infared remote for your camera if it can use one or use the timer that way your not shaking the camera when you release the shutter this is very important with all night photography.

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Hazegry wrote:
Ken if you like the ergonomics of DSLR's look for a used one in your area you can usually find a good one at a very reasonable price. I have seen Nikon d5100's going for under 500 bucks with lenses. I just found a Nikon D3s for 1750 but the camera fairy still needs to grant my wish on that one lol.

I am glad you found the info helpful and if you haven't printed at least some 8x10's of your favorite shots I suggest you do so. I can tell you they almost always look better in print than on the computer. I watch for deals on groupon for canvas prints and my house has several canvas wraps of my Disney images.

One thing I forgot to mention for the fireworks is get a infared remote for your camera if it can use one or use the timer that way your not shaking the camera when you release the shutter this is very important with all night photography.

Thanks Hazegry!

I currently have a Panasonic GH3 which is very DSLR like in the ergonomics department. I'm really happy with it as I've only had small cameras in the past. It's about the size of a small Rebel...


You've got me thinking about printing now. LOL. Now that I think of it, there are several images that I would like to print and hang on the wall. I have an old Canon ink jet printer which is good for sizes up to 8x10. I may go and pick up some 8x10 photo stock today and give it a shot. Now, canvas sounds incredible! I must look into that option as well. I have one shot in particular that I'd love to get blown up to a decent size and display it. It's our resident chipmunk in our backyard.

Thanks also for the tips regarding the fireworks. I don't have an infrared control but the camera does have a built in timer. I picked up this handy mini tripod and it's been absolutely great since it can go with me anywhere. Those Gorillapods look interesting too as you can attached them to almost anything. The downside is that I've read the joints come loose.

I've been experimenting with taking night sky shots using my tripod and the timer built into my camera. Also spent time just taking shots of our backyard at night. I've had fairly good success. I usually set the ISO to the lowest setting and I seem to get nice clean images.


Something I really want to get at some point and learn how to use is a polarizing filter. Polarized photos just look incredible with the rich colors and how the sky just "pops".

It's such an incredibly fun hobby! biggrin

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your on your way with night images as far as a polarizing filter get a circular polarizer screw the filter on the lens turn it until the image suits you and click away its that easy. Also don't be afraid to go old school and use graduated filters, and old school techniques to get the photos you want. Its nice to have someone who's into photography as much as I am. I am starting to build out my gear and I am getting ready to start doing family portraits and weddings after my next deployment.

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On the gorilla pod tripods I don't like them I much prefer a small tripod like you have as a matter of fact where did you get it?

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Hazegry wrote:
your on your way with night images as far as a polarizing filter get a circular polarizer screw the filter on the lens turn it until the image suits you and click away its that easy. Also don't be afraid to go old school and use graduated filters, and old school techniques to get the photos you want. Its nice to have someone who's into photography as much as I am. I am starting to build out my gear and I am getting ready to start doing family portraits and weddings after my next deployment.

Excellent! Thanks. I love night photography and am constantly playing around in that area. The sensors in cameras just keep getting better and very usable at higher ISOs. It's a great time to be into photography. Lots of exciting things going on. I think I'll get a polarizer soon and start experimenting with it. Sounds like a great plan you have for portraits and weddings. Do you shoot full frame or APS-C?

Hazegry wrote:
On the gorilla pod tripods I don't like them I much prefer a small tripod like you have as a matter of fact where did you get it?

Yeah, I looked into the Gorillapods but started reading many stories of how the plastic ball joints come loose over time. The idea of the camera falling because of it quickly made me lose interest in them. Then I saw the table top tripod. I can't say enough good things about it. So handy to have in your camera bag as it takes up no room and is extremely quick to deploy and shoot with. Of course, you still have to have a decent surface for it to sit on, but I haven't had a situation yet where I couldn't use it. I found it great for interesting perspective shots like this:

I picked mine up at Henry's camera store (I'm in Canada). I see that B&H also sells the exact model I have. It's a Manfrotto 709B and is all metal and built extremely well. Very durable. Here's a link to it at B&H...

Manfrotto Table Top Tripod

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right now I shoot DX as I am a Nikon guy but its the same as canons APS-C more or less. The D3 I want is full frame and was Nikons top pro camera up until the D4 came out, but the D3 is better in low light and that's why I am sticking to the D3

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Hazegry wrote:
right now I shoot DX as I am a Nikon guy but its the same as canons APS-C more or less. The D3 I want is full frame and was Nikons top pro camera up until the D4 came out, but the D3 is better in low light and that's why I am sticking to the D3

I've always liked the Nikon line of cameras and lenses. The D3 is a beast! Very nice camera indeed. awesome

If I ever upgrade to a larger sensor, it'll be a Nikon.

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Now I just need some advice on taking good (mediocre?) pics with an iPhone! biggrin

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Princess Cupcake wrote:
Now I just need some advice on taking good (mediocre?) pics with an iPhone! biggrin

Tip #1. Buy a camera wink

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Any reviews good or bad on the Samsung NX1100 as there seems to be quite a good bundle deal here in the UK atm. ?

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Mrferret wrote:
Princess Cupcake wrote:
Now I just need some advice on taking good (mediocre?) pics with an iPhone! biggrin

Tip #1. Buy a camera wink

Tip #2. Find something good to take a picture of. awesome

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Mrferret wrote:
Princess Cupcake wrote:
Now I just need some advice on taking good (mediocre?) pics with an iPhone! biggrin

Tip #1. Buy a camera wink

this is true buy a good point and shoot camera first. If you cant afford one look for iPhone camera tips I am sure they are out there

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Yes, I do believe it's time to buy another camera. I'm a super dolt when it comes to photography, so a super easy point and shoot is the way to go. I was thinking of getting a waterproof camera to use on the second part of our trip. Anyone have any suggestions on an affordable one that takes good pics when wielded by an amateur? silly

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I know not allot of you shoot in Raw format but if you have the ability look at this
http://schewephoto.com/ETTR/
some very interesting info there this is a shot I took in the backyard

and that's from facebook and facebook kills image quality. I also took a portrait of Peg and was able to get a very nice finished portrait I would print and hang if she wasn't so anti picture lol (maybe she used to be in the CIA I don't know lol)

Anyways like I said very interesting info and not that difficult to mess with.

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Great article Hazegry. awesome Your shot is a great example of what can be done and looks really good considering it's been through the Facebook grinder!

I'm very interested in this technique and have tried playing around with it. I usually have my histogram up on the screen all the time which really helps.

Here are a couple of shots where I ETTR. I tried the night shot just to see what would happen. wink