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Subject: All the gear, no idea - How do I improve my photographs? rss

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James
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Hello photography forum.

I am a keen but talentless photographer. I enjoy using my camera
and I love contributing photos to BGG but I am often a little
embarrassed at the quality of my shonky pictures.

I don't really understand how different conditions affect pictures
or how to properly use the different settings on the camera.
I'd love to learn from the more experienced and talented
photographers here on BGG.

So, I am looking for your top tips for photographers who have
all the gear but no idea. Basics and more advanced stuff welcomed.

Thanks in advance, and don't pull your punches.

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Paul DeStefano
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Going by what gets the most thumbs up around here, you would need to add cleavage.
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James
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How big? I've got pretty narrow hips so I wouldn't want to look too top-heavy,
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Jeff Jones
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moujamou wrote:
Hello photography forum.

I am a keen but talentless photographer. I enjoy using my camera
and I love contributing photos to BGG but I am often a little
embarrassed at the quality of my shonky pictures.

I don't really understand how different conditions affect pictures
or how to properly use the different settings on the camera.
I'd love to learn from the more experienced and talented
photographers here on BGG.

So, I am looking for your top tips for photographers who have
all the gear but no idea. Basics and more advanced stuff welcomed.

Thanks in advance, and don't pull your punches.



Buy this book:

http://www.amazon.com/Understanding-Exposure-3rd-Edition-Pho...

Read it all the way through and then start taking pictures using what you have learned. Experiment with exposure, shutter speed and depth of field. Take lots of pictures. Take more pictures.

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Raithyn
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Do you have any small fuzzy animals around?

The best part is that a fuzzy picture may actually bring said animal into focus. whistle
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Michael Tunison
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Kafka wrote:


Yes, this ^^^^^!

When I started getting into photography, this was the book that really got me playing with different setting and understanding what they actually did. This is certainly my first recommendation for aspiring photographers.

Also keep in mind that if you have a standard fixed-lens point-and-shoot camera, even with some of the manual controls you'll be a bit more limited on some of the "tricks" you can do. I always tell people the advantage of a big interchangeable-lens DSLR isn't that they "take better pictures", but rather they give you complete manual control to do whatever you want to do creatively. Even with a P&S camera you can start playing with some of the basics and definitely work on general skills like composition, but if you really want to get into creative photography, you'll likely need a DSLR if you don't already have one.
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James
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The camera I have at the minute is a compact pretending to be an SLR, I understand bridge camera is the term used, so it is pretty limited. I'd like to be able to squeeze the most out of it that I can.

When I first got the thing I immediately realised why people spend many hundreds of pounds on these thing. It was pretty clear that there was limits.
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Kafka wrote:

Buy this book:

http://www.amazon.com/Understanding-Exposure-3rd-Edition-Pho...

Read it all the way through and then start taking pictures using what you have learned. Experiment with exposure, shutter speed and depth of field. Take lots of pictures. Take more pictures.



Awesome book. Totally worth the time.

While reading it take pictures, of anything. It's digital. The best thing about digit photography is that exposures are cheap. Shoot, shoot, shoot. The camera will record all the metadata (shutter speed, aperture, iso sensitivity, metering mode, etc...). Study what works, what doesn't work. Try different things, see how they work. Shoot, shoot, shoot. There is no replacement for practice.
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Andreas Krüger
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A bridge camera should be sufficient for most things you want to do.

Your images are quite good, actually. If they do not look like what you really want, you probably need to try more.

I think some shots of small pieces could be improved a bit by a more even lighting, so look up what a light box is and if you really want to get into this, build one. It seems you like close up images, and maybe your camera is not able to go as close as you would like to. Each lens has a minimum distance to shoot, so this may be a limit of your equipment.
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Andreas Krüger
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Geosphere wrote:
Going by what gets the most thumbs up around here, you would need to add cleavage.


I think we had this conversation before: Only about 10% of the most thumbed images have cleavage.
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Chris Robbins
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Does your "All the gear ..." include a tripod? Together with the auto timer (or other remote shutter release) you can eliminate most all of the vibrations that contribute to blurring. This also facilitates making numerous exposures with the camera in the same position for a visual record of what each setting changes.
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Guido Gloor
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The best thing you can do for improving your photography is shooting photographs

These tutorials here helped me a lot in understanding the intricacies of what exposure is all about:

http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials.htm

Personally, I've read three introductory books into exposure etc. after I've worked through those tutorials, and found no info in the books any more at all. Somewhat frustrating on one hand, but a great sign for the quality of the online tutorials on the other.

Books I can recommend for starting out:

Freeman: The Photographer's Eye (aspects of composition)
duChemin: Photographically Speaking (composition, intent, "rules" and why)

Don't give in like I did and buy Within the Frame from duChemin, he has some great points but those two books are waay too similar The Photographer's Mind by Freeman on the other hand is a great companion to his earlier book, and if you want to learn how to use Lightroom, then Vision & Voice by duChemin is really great.

Great books that explore particular aspects of photography in more depth:

Hunter, Biver, Fuqua: Light - Science & Magic (light in all of its forms, both natural and studio)
Johnson: Science for the Curious Photographer (optics, sensors, DOF etc.)
Sontag: On Photography (historical, psychological, philosophical and cultural aspects, no pictures whatsoever in this book)

I've read quite a bit more and am really enjoying Mastering Photographic Composition, Creativity and Personal Style right now, but these are the ones I can recommend most for reading before others.

What you can do right now for improving how much you can do with the pictures you shoot now when post processing them later: Switch your camera to also store RAW format data (in addition to JPG) for all your images; a bridge camera should be able to do that easily. What the camera does when you make it give you JPG is, it shoots RAW and converts that to a JPG with automated and relatively dumb blanket algorithms, then throws away the RAW. Personally, I'd rather have more control over the image creation process than that, so I keep the RAW. Personally, I have mine set to "RAW only", but I guess that's for freaks
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James
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bltzlfsk wrote:
Does your "All the gear ..." include a tripod? Together with the auto timer (or other remote shutter release) you can eliminate most all of the vibrations that contribute to blurring. This also facilitates making numerous exposures with the camera in the same position for a visual record of what each setting changes.


Yeah I have a tripod, no remote shutter release though. The camera does not appear to accommodate one, although it does have a delayed release so I can press it the let go by the time it goes off.
Problem is, I only started thinking about these things after I bought the thing.
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James
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Thamos von Nostria wrote:
A bridge camera should be sufficient for most things you want to do.

Your images are quite good, actually. If they do not look like what you really want, you probably need to try more.

I think some shots of small pieces could be improved a bit by a more even lighting, so look up what a light box is and if you really want to get into this, build one. It seems you like close up images, and maybe your camera is not able to go as close as you would like to. Each lens has a minimum distance to shoot, so this may be a limit of your equipment.


Hey thanks for the encouragement. Light is one thing that I need to figure out. I live in an old house so the windows are quite small and there are trees on the street taller than the buildings so already the light indoors is limited, and now its winter we don't get much daylight at all, so photos indoors rely on electric light, which is a bit orange.
I will be looking into light boxes. Do you think it is worth spending a bit of money on electric lights made specifically for photography?
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James
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haslo wrote:
The best thing you can do for improving your photography is shooting photographs


I'm starting to get the message!
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Lucas Smith
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This one is your worst, I think! (it's not so bad!) The flash is too hard.
I´d try to open the aperture more (maybe to the max!), to get a lower depth of sharpness, a nice effect, for ex. when takin a picture of a whole board (only the foreground will be sharp, the rest won't) Obviosly information about the background is lost, but the focus makes pistures more exciting!!

Many pictures you made are simple, you can't do so much wrong, they're good.
What camera do you have? A DSLR?

btw nice rhyme
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James
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smithlucas wrote:

This one is your worst, I think! (it's not so bad!) The flash is too hard.
I´d try to open the aperture more (maybe to the max!), to get a lower depth of sharpness, a nice effect, for ex. when takin a picture of a whole board (only the foreground will be sharp, the rest won't) Obviosly information about the background is lost, but the focus makes pistures more exciting!!

Many pictures you made are simple, you can't do so much wrong, they're good.
What camera do you have? A DSLR?

btw nice rhyme


The flash was not used on that. It is the late summer sun.
The camera is not a SLR, it is Fujifilm S4400.
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Patty Pilf
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You won't get much recognition for quality photo's here on BGG.

The highest thumbed pictures are generally blurry, poorly lit, and show little in the way of artistry, composition, rule of thirds, or skill.

However, what they do have is either a female, cleavage, or a cat in a box.
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Rob Robinson
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I've taken a back-seat from uploading pictures to BGG.

I get a lot more thumbs from uploading files, which is really saying something!
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Patty Pilf
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zombiegod wrote:
I've taken a back-seat from uploading pictures to BGG.

I get a lot more thumbs from uploading files, which is really saying something!


That really is a crying shame. Your photo's are in a different league and class to most of the dirge posted here on BGG.

Such a sad loss soblue
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Andreas Krüger
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AntandBeeandtheABC wrote:
You won't get much recognition for quality photo's here on BGG.

The highest thumbed pictures are generally blurry, poorly lit, and show little in the way of artistry, composition, rule of thirds, or skill.

However, what they do have is either a female, cleavage, or a cat in a box.


Have you actually looked at the highest thumbed images?

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/images/boardgame/all?username=&...
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Thamos von Nostria wrote:
AntandBeeandtheABC wrote:
You won't get much recognition for quality photo's here on BGG.

The highest thumbed pictures are generally blurry, poorly lit, and show little in the way of artistry, composition, rule of thirds, or skill.

However, what they do have is either a female, cleavage, or a cat in a box.


Have you actually looked at the highest thumbed images?

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/images/boardgame/all?username=&...


My point exactly. Stuffed toys with MSPaint scrawled on top, more stuffed toys, a woman with her boulders in danger of spilling onto the table, a Rubiks cube throwing a massive flash shadow, Random people sat around, etc etc etc.
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Moujamou, here's my two pence worth.

I think some of you photos are pretty good. I like the palastgefluster ones.

However some of you photos have a yellow tint. I think this is due to you not having set the correct white balance.

I agree with Haslo's recommendation of the cambridgeincolour website. It has an excellent explanation of white balance. Basically cameras are rubbish at compensating for different types of light ( humans are great). You can set auto white balance (AWB) where your camera will make its best guess at what type of light is present, or you can tell it what type of light is present. Your camera has the following options:-
Fine, Shade, Fluorescent light (Daylight), Fluorescent light (Warm White), Fluorescent light (Cool White), Incandescent light, Custom.

You can correct the jpegs afterwards using photoediting software if you have the wrong setting. However as per the website it's best if you get it correct initially as there is a little degradation in doing the correction. If a camera can record RAW images ( which unfortunately you're camera cannot) then you can correct afterwards with no degradation.

I sympathise with you. UK, winter, and small windows. Even so daylight has about a 100 times more light than your typical room, at night, lit by bulbs.

So if you can, shoot near you windows during the day. If you want to shoot at night then you may struggle. You probably don't want to run your camera above iso 400 (from camera review). Your lense's most sensitive aperture is f/3.1 and only at its widest zoom, changing to its least sensitive at the narrowest zoom (f/5.9) In a room at night with normal lights you will need to use long exposure times possibly up to the maximum of your camera (0.25 seconds). With this long an exposure you need your tripod to avoid hand shake and your timer.

My tip for improvement would be to buy yourself a cheap set of lights and maybe a light box ( although you can make one from a cardboard box and some tissue paper). It will only be useful for small things that fit in it, but you will get good colour and even illumination. You should be able to match your cameras white balance to the light you are using. You could use an existing lamp or possibly get a better bulb for it.

£30 small light box kit
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ex-Pro-Photographic-lighting-Cube-da...

How to make your own lightbox
http://digital-photography-school.com/how-to-make-a-inexpens...

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I admit to having been an avid amateur photographer 'back in the day' when we used silver compounds instead of doped silicon binary states.

It occurs to me that 'tilt' ,as available in the old view cameras, would be quite useful for games.

Perhaps there are classes you could take local to you?

that said, I'll just encourage you to study composition (thirds, crash points, odd numbers of subjects,etc.), learn to control depth-of-field (to isolate a subject from fore and background), then work on lighting and color-balance. Though i suppose the latter is easily manipulated nowadays.
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James
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Loads to think about. Thanks.
 
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