October Seminar: Photographing photographs

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Magrathea
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October Seminar: Photographing photographs

Postby Magrathea » 01 Oct 2009, 08:23

Why do we take photographs?
Ever since the daguerreotype and calotype were introduced to the world in1839 it has been a fascination of capturing and preserving a moment in time.
The earliest of these images were simple still life or street scenes, views from studio window.

Portraiture quickly became the most popular use of this new invention. Unfortunately for the sitter it would mean being clamped in place for up to as long as fifteen minutes. If you ever happen upon these images, take a close look at peoples eyes, especially childrens’. They may appear blurred or ghost like. This is due to the eyes blinking over a long period. Portraits were very serious at this time, partly down to the sitter having to remain rigidly still for a length of time; the photographer unable to capture candid moments. Instead a more sombre approach; images of the dead made as keepsakes for bereaved families was used.
As photography developed, everyday life was suddenly interesting. Portraits of people at work, play and at home, Things we consider now as snapshots would have required a photographer, an assistant and a lot of time and money. Next time you take a photograph, try and imagine what lengths people would have gone to, to get that image.



Landscape documentation.
The publics desire for a photographed landscape encouraged growth in this area, which is still strong to this day. For the photographer, they were able to capture landscapes, nature and architecture with a truly faithful representation of their subjects in an artistic manner. For the public it meant glimpses of wonders they have never seen before or souvenirs to bring home from holiday. In the early days it wouldn’t have been uncommon for the photographer to transport his darkroom with him in a tent! Incomprehensible today, with digital technology that fits in our pockets.


What I’m trying to get across here, is that photography has advanced so much, the modern digital (all singing, all dancing) camera is indeed, a magic box of tricks. Gone are the needs for lots of lenses, filters, light meter and various other equipment a photographer would carry around with him. And still does with a dslr. But don’t be intimidated by this, a dslr is required for the extra quality used in publication. Whereas the compact does everything and more, that a dslr does and is perfect for snapshots and uploading to the www. of your choice.
It was only about ten years ago that my fridge would have rolls of film in it and I had a darkroom set up in a friends spare room, up to my eyes in chemicals and washing prints in the bath tub!
Farewell old friend.

Now, the concepts of photography still remain and it is much more affordable and eco friendly I suppose. A memory card would appear to last forever whereas a film would last 12, 24 or 36 shots…sorry I’m wandering off again. I would like to use this seminar as an opportunity to help and hopefully inspire creativity through the lens and say goodbye to…AUTO.


Taking photos
Basic composition. The rule of thirds is not law, don’t think this, it is merely an aid to producing a more aesthetically pleasing composition and isn’t necessarily always the best option. Basically what it is, is you divide your frame into nine sections using imaginary horizontal and vertical lines. Mainly used for landscape shots. If there is an obvious focal point, try to position it on one of the four intersection points of the grid so that it is one third in from either the top or bottom of the frame and one third from one side of the frame.
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An ideal and inexhaustible supply of composition tips is right in front of your eyes. Movies and television. Having done a media course, I found myself having to go back to the cinema to see what the film was about as first time round I was too busy watching how it was made. Granted most of the shots are moving and that is a different media, but they are still composed in much the same way. The next time you watch a movie, just take the time to absorb the start and finish of each shot. At the end of the day, the director of photography is suitably named.
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Magrathea
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Re: October Seminar: Photographing photographs

Postby Magrathea » 01 Oct 2009, 08:40

Landscape mode.
This is an area that I am drawn to and I’m sure many of you reading are too. It can be very straightforward or it can be very calculating. Let’s start with the mode button on your camera. The purpose of this pre selected program is to enhance outlines, colours and contrast. With a wide field of view and vivid colours you are set to take stunning vistas.
Many of the shots I take nowadays are just snap shots, which I find great for documenting and journaling my journeys in the most Gonzo way I can think of. Most of my pictures are taken with my digital compact 3 mega pixel camera (yes it’s that old) that fits in my pocket.
Now the complicated bit. A landscape shot can be a snap shot or it can be something you want frame don your wall. A snapshot can easily be turned into a great shot by simply being there at a different time of day. LIGHT IS YOUR FRIEND. This of course being down to the sun. Knowing where the sun is going to be at what time can be the best bit of knowledge a photographer possesses. I’m sure you can all relate to this observation. For me living on the east coast of England it’s the sunrise I feel more connected to. So typically, to go out with the intention of photographing the sunrise I would have to ensure what time sunrise was, roughly whereabouts on the horizon it would rise (hmm a stone circle would come in handy) and arrive about 30 minutes before. Of course it’s all down to luck as you never know what the weather is going to do. Too many clouds is a wasted journey and usually no clouds at all is a waste. But if nature decides to throw a few clouds into the mix, it’s picture frame time.
The light hitting clouds approximately 30 minutes before and up to 30 minutes after, both sunsets and sunrises is the perfect light for such photographs. Known as the golden hour.

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Midday practical exercise- White balance tricks.
On a sunny day, with beautiful blue skies and happy little clouds, go out and take a landscape picture in the midday sun. Happy? Quite plain?… Tell your camera who’s the boss, put it on MANUAL and set the white balance to cloudy. It should add a warm tone to the overall picture, making that standard snapshot stand out from the rest. I can't promise the outcome here as all cameras are set up differently :-(



On the subject of the sun, try to take your photo, either with your back to the sun or at a right angle to the sun. This will give you a blue sky and your subject won’t be silhouetted against the sky. If it isn’t possible to move around the subject, try pointing the camera at the ground. Half press the shutter-release button; this will cause the camera to take a meter reading without the glare of the sun. Still with the button half depressed, point the camera at your subject, compose the shot and press. You should be able to see the subject clearly against a probably white sky. You have to decide if the subject is more important than the sky.
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Another time you will have to deceive the camera is in the snow. The cameras sensor just cannot cope. You will often find pictures looking grey and dull. What needs to be done is, is to put camera onto MANUAL mode and overexpose the shot by +2 or +3 to bring some of the whites to life.

Here is a quick example of underexposure (because there is no snow around at the minute to show you overexposure). In the auto exposure picture the camera has tried to get an equal balance between the light and dark. This has resulted in it taking a slightly washed out picture. The underexposed shot (underexposed by -1) has brought detail to the centre of the flower and made the colour of the petals deeper. It is down to personal taste though.
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Magrathea
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Re: October Seminar: Photographing photographs

Postby Magrathea » 01 Oct 2009, 08:47

Macro mode
The world of the close up. This mode on the camera optimises it by selecting a central focusing area and shallow depth of field. Making your subject stand out from a blurred background. Again digital technology has brought this specialist area to everyone, without the need for specialist lenses etc. Ideally a tripod should be used and the timer facility to avoid any camera shake but it’s not a necessity.
Subject matter is endless yet it is mainly used for flowers and insects, with them being so small. It is easy to zoom right in to the little critters.

Here's a couple of fine pictures taken by Butterfly Watcher
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But don’t stop there, everyday objects can become something completely abstract when not seen in its normal wholeness.


That about wraps that up for now. I had intended to do a step by step guide to uploading pictures, but there's actually a problem at the moment linking images from host sites. Please, any questions, feel free to ask though.

Thankyou
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Dathi
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Re: October Seminar: Photographing photographs

Postby Dathi » 01 Oct 2009, 14:12

Nice one, Magrathea.
Some useful tips here and plenty of good ideas. I have an immediate urge to go out and play with some of these.

CFN,

Dathi
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Seminar. October 2012: Druids & Bushcraft viewtopic.php?f=326&t=41256

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Re: October Seminar: Photographing photographs

Postby butterfly watcher » 01 Oct 2009, 19:41

:applause: :applause: Great seminar M, thanks for all the helpful tips. I`ve had some fun with my camera since following some of your advice on the message board, with good results on the A, P, & S settings. :grin:
Thanks again and keep your lovely photos coming. :wink: :curtsey: BW
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Re: October Seminar: Photographing photographs

Postby Dryadia2 » 02 Oct 2009, 03:34

Wonderful seminar Magrathea! :clap:
Thanks for the tips & tricks! :wink:
I hope to get an opportunity to use them soon!

:dryadia: /|\
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Re: October Seminar: Photographing photographs

Postby Ade Sundog » 02 Oct 2009, 12:13

Cheers Mags . I hope to put some these ideas into practice soon . Nice one :shake:
:sun:

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Re: October Seminar: Photographing photographs

Postby Andeg Myeengun » 05 Oct 2009, 02:54

Great seminar. Here's a tip of my own.

Taking pictures through windows:
First, set your camera to macro mode, it makes the camera focus on the subject and not the window. (It's good for more than close-ups.) You need to take your picture at an angle to the window or turn the flash off. Otherwise, you get a big white dot in the middle of your picture.

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X | | \ | | like this \| not like this X----|-- | | |\ |
Great introduction to using a camera. I may print this out as a reference for my sister. Do you mind is I attach a printable version in a future post?
Andeg
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Magrathea
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Re: October Seminar: Photographing photographs

Postby Magrathea » 05 Oct 2009, 15:53


Taking pictures through windows:
Didn't Hitchcock make a film about that :-)

yes by all means use the information however you like Andeg, although please ask butterfly watcher if you want to use her pics too
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Bracken
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Re: October Seminar: Photographing photographs

Postby Bracken » 14 Oct 2009, 13:06

This is just brilliant, Mags. Thanks a million. Let's hope it inspires more photography assignments.
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Re: October Seminar: Photographing photographs

Postby Bracken » 01 Nov 2009, 23:46

Wow! It's that time already. A massive thank you to Magrathea for all the work he put in to this seminar, and now it's over to Snaegl...
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Integra
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Re: October Seminar: Photographing photographs

Postby Integra » 04 Jul 2010, 21:10

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this, gave me lots of useful information.


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