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Subject: How do you take your photographs? rss

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Dan
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Hi photographers!

I'm curious on your postures and how you hold your cameras when you take your photographs.

Generally speaking, I think that I am holding my camera improperly or have my settings bad where I often get blurry pictures. That forces me to re-take the photograph, which isn't too bad but sometimes I miss the 'moment' intended. How do you take your photographs? Is there a secret to improve your photos? Other than practice.

Taking pictures of small nick-nacks (such as board games) can be quite difficult too. Sometimes my friends and I would play on a slightly lower table, and so when I want to take photos, I would sometimes 'attempt' to keep myself in a (rather uncomfortable) position to take some shots. Sometimes I even try taking photos from the hip, but to get what you want is very difficult! Have any of you ever tried this?

(aside: I have done some readings about how to hold the camera properly and such, and they are somewhat helpful. I am also not willing to set up a tripod for a quick few pictures at interesting angles during or after a board gaming session meeple)

Thanks!
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Pete Belli
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I stand on a wooden chair to get overhead shots.

Haven't broken my neck yet.
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Klaus Brune
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I don't hold the camera at all...

1) I use a nice heavy, tall tripod.

2) I use the timer so that pressing the shutter doesn't result in shake.

3) I turn off the flash and use external lighting only.

In the absence of a tripod, I'd hold the camera with elbows resting on the torso and holding the breath, and being far enough away that the flash doesn't flood out the shot, which will result in blurring even if it's not over-exposed. Also avoid zooming in, that enhances any shaking going on. Better to crop it later in your favorite image editing software.
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Christian Holmes
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Are you turning off the "auto" settings? You really get more control when you actually tell the camera what you want. Especially for getting up-close shots!
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DC
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Lighting, lighting, lighting! Indoor lighting is VERY dim from a camera's perspective. You really need a LOT of BRIGHT lights to avoid motion blur (or the awful glare of a flash).
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mateenyweeny
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When you say that you're getting blurry photographs, I can only assume what is happening. Presumably you're turning your flash off to avoid having washed out photographs. At that point the camera will have to leave the shutter open longer to let in enough light to have a properly exposed photograph. If you let the camera do all the work (i.e. auto settings) you don't have much control on how long that is. Depending on your camera and lens, the shaking from your hand will start being noticeable for anything slower than around 1/20 seconds. Also the slower that you get, the more chance that the photos start looking blurry from the objects (often people) in your photos moving.

So what can you do. The best is obviously to set up a tripod or place your camera on a surface and using a 2-second shutter delay to ensure that pushing the button doesn't cause any additional shake (ideally you could use a remote). Since you don't seem to be ready to do that, I would suggest going into the settings and increasing the ISO for the photos that you're trying to get, that will increase the shutter speed (faster) but at the cost of increased noise and reduced sharpness.
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mateenyweeny
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dcclark wrote:
Lighting, lighting, lighting! Indoor lighting is VERY dim from a camera's perspective. You really need a LOT of BRIGHT lights to avoid motion blur (or the awful glare of a flash).


And this is the most important. The brighter the better.
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Kenny Jenkins
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Checkign the EXIF data of some of your images, your main problem is exposure time. Everything longer than 1/50th of a second (or even less, depending on your focal lenght) is impossible to shoot hand-held without introducing blur from camera shake. You are regularly shooting slower than 1/10th of a second.

I'm also not sure why you're using the "Aperture priority" exposure programme of your camera.. I'd recommend using "Fully Automatic" or whatever it's called on a Nikon, if you don't understand the basic dependencies of available light / ISO / aperture / exposure time.

And yes, you need more light too.
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Dan
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Thanks for your replies, thumbsup to everyone!

I agree that lighting is important! There are a lot of times that I am in an environment that lacks the amount of light. Sturbbornly, I still try to take photos with the lack of light cry.

Gruumsh wrote:

I don't hold the camera at all...

1) I use a nice heavy, tall tripod.

2) I use the timer so that pressing the shutter doesn't result in shake.

3) I turn off the flash and use external lighting only.


This is something I will try out some time in the future. I actually want to try using this to take a picture of the moon (lunar new year is coming up soon!).

Lapppi wrote:
Checkign the EXIF data of some of your images, your main problem is exposure time. Everything longer than 1/50th of a second (or even less, depending on your focal lenght) is impossible to shoot hand-held without introducing blur from camera shake. You are regularly shooting slower than 1/10th of a second.


Sneaky Kenny, you checked out my EXIF data! Yeah, I was playing around to see how well can I take photos with VR enabled.

Lapppi wrote:

I'm also not sure why you're using the "Aperture priority" exposure programme of your camera.. I'd recommend using "Fully Automatic" or whatever it's called on a Nikon, if you don't understand the basic dependencies of available light / ISO / aperture / exposure time.

And yes, you need more light too.


I don't think I will ever take photos on "Fully Automatic". The reason is that I'd like to practice properly in order to further understand the exposure triangle (you can study all you want but it's experience that will help, or at least for me)

I have also played around on manual to see what I can get for the different settings to compare and contrast. All for the sake for the learning and practicing process. For now I would like to play around more on Aperture priority, but I do agree that I need to clear up my understanding on exposure time.

--

The photos I have of the random board game boxes on my profile was taken in my bedroom... horrible lighting. I would like to practice shooting in low light condition though.

Quick note of my gear:
Nikon gear with a bunch of DX lenses

Nikon D90
Nikon AF-S DX 18-55mm VR kit lens
Nikon AF-S DX 35mm f/1.8G
Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm VR

18-200 replacing the 18-55, ordered based on sequence of purchase. Prime lens is to practice low light.
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Virre Linwendil Annergård
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Holding stable is the main thing, tripods certanly helps.

Also for a quicker shutter time etc, an external flash (with settings on how strong it is) and a wireless release for it might also help.

But the one big thing is tripods.
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Johan Haglert
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Obviously your 35 mm will be best as far as light into the camera goes. I guess you want the convenience of the 18-200 but if you had got a 70-200 over at Canon camp you could had got it at f/4.0, I think Sigma may have made such lenses to?

Regardless I think the obvious companion for the 35 mm would be something like the 105mm micro but I know the Nikons got VR and hence it cost quite a bit more than canons 100mm macro would had done. There's also close-up filters which you could probably get for the 35mm which would be much cheaper but you'd be losing light. Probably still is an option for you

I assume you've got the camera on some sort of auto-iso, if you don't let it go up if needed and of course you'll get less shake (but more noise but I don't know whatever that matter too much if you scale the image to 1024x768 or something such.
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Dennis
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I agree with nearly everything that's been mentioned in the thread.

As far as your gear, your 35mm f/1.8 should be great for lower-light situations. It's really an incredibly useful and versatile lens for Nikon DX cameras.

A tripod would be very useful but without one, you can improvise for more stability. Set your camera down on a pillow/beanbag, brace it against a wall, and/or use the self-timer, for instance.

If you're hand-holding, turn up the ISO rather than lowering the shutter speed too far. Noise is better than blur.
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Kenny Jenkins
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Yes, use your f1.8! I've got the Canon "nifty fifty" (50mm/f1.8) and it's certainly my favourite glass for low light. 100% agreement on upping ISO instead of lowering shutter speed / increasing exposure time.
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Dan
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More thumbsup to everyone! Thanks for your contribution, tips, and ideas!

virre wrote:
Also for a quicker shutter time etc, an external flash (with settings on how strong it is) and a wireless release for it might also help.

But the one big thing is tripods.


Yeah, I'm thinking of investing into an external flash sometime in the near future. I do like how I can change the power of the flash on my stock flash, but it is no where as reliable as an external flash (my 18-200 does not like stock flash!). Maybe I'll find a cheap meter to accompany my flash adventures as well.

aliquis wrote:
Obviously your 35 mm will be best as far as light into the camera goes. I guess you want the convenience of the 18-200 but if you had got a 70-200 over at Canon camp you could had got it at f/4.0, I think Sigma may have made such lenses to?


Your exactly correct, I wanted the convenience for 18-200. I'm trying to adopt the "one lens per photo session", and see what are the best photos that I can take with what I have. Afterwards, I alternate the lens to the other (I'm too poor to get two bodies).

The Canon 70-200 f/4L is about $600* (I consider that cheap). f/2.8L is double that, and with IS is another $600 - $800 respectively. I can't say how great it is optically, but the Nikon equivalent is a true pro lens and requires a very modest investment. Personally, I would rather just spend that additional $1000 on board games shake

clockworkd wrote:
If you're hand-holding, turn up the ISO rather than lowering the shutter speed too far. Noise is better than blur.


For sure my base, the noise performance is decent up to ISO800. Have far have you gone up until you are completely dissatisfied with the noise?

Lapppi wrote:
Yes, use your f1.8! I've got the Canon "nifty fifty" (50mm/f1.8) and it's certainly my favourite glass for low light. 100% agreement on upping ISO instead of lowering shutter speed / increasing exposure time.


Yep! I got the 35 f/1.8 because I wanted to try to get the nifty fifty feel. With the aps-c's crop factor, it is somewhere near 50mm.


... so many things I want for photography, but I must resist!!! Must improve skills first before buying more accessories. cry


EDIT: prices reflected based on new lenses. With those prices, I would probably pick the specific lens up used, though there is very little price depreciation.
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marauder / media
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If you are not willing to set up a tall and heavy tripod, maybe you could try on of theses gorilla-pod thingies:



you can hang them on to almost everywhere - even to a table or a lamp.

If lighting is a problem, the topic you should do some research on is "available light photography"
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mateenyweeny
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Will one of those hold up an SLR?
 
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Kenny Jenkins
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They do come in different sizes: http://joby.com/gorillapod/slrzoom/specs
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slinkydink wrote:
Will one of those hold up an SLR?


According to this article

http://www.cameralabs.com/reviews/Joby_Gorillapod_SLR_Zoom/

there are severral models, which hold up to 3 kg (~6.5 pound)
Maybe there is a camera-store close to you, where you could try one out
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Morten Lund
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Many of the above are good points

I turn my flash upwards and away from the subject to soften up the light and avoid the glare

And I shoot in RAW, and then adjust the picture in photoshop or similar
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mateenyweeny
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Yes. The amount of recovery you can do for over/under exposed photos when taking photos in RAW quality should not be understated. A nice photo editor like Lightroom is a great investment.
 
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Dennis
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slinkydink wrote:
Will one of those hold up an SLR?

Yeah, I've successfully used a GorillaPod SLR-Zoom with a DSLR & relatively sizable lenses (Nikon 70-300mm has been the largest I've tried with it). It wasn't super-stable and I wouldn't have hung it off a pole and walked away, but it was definitely usable for the situation.

It's not going to be a substitute for a solid tripod, but it'll give you quite a few stops of stability.
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I'll point out that, on the other side, there is only so much that you can do with a RAW photo. RAW is not a miracle drug, but it can help you a bit with over/under exposure. If you don't start with good lighting and proper focus, you're not going to get them through editing.
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Dennis
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slinkydink wrote:
Yes. The amount of recovery you can do for over/under exposed photos when taking photos in RAW quality should not be understated. A nice photo editor like Lightroom is a great investment.

Since we were also talking about raising ISO to preserve usable shutter speeds:

Lightroom's built in noise reduction is also extremely easy to use and quite effective. Alternatively, Topaz DeNoise is a remarkably good (though not cheap) noise reduction plugin for Photoshop.

I don't have any familiarity (and thus no recommendations) with any free noise reduction software.
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mateenyweeny
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I'll agree on focus/blur for sure (RAW won't help you on that end) but you can shoot a few stops down and still get a decent photo (works even better for overexposed photos). Compared to what you can do with a jpeg, RAW offers much more flexibility.
 
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mateenyweeny
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clockworkd wrote:
slinkydink wrote:
Yes. The amount of recovery you can do for over/under exposed photos when taking photos in RAW quality should not be understated. A nice photo editor like Lightroom is a great investment.

Since we were also talking about raising ISO to preserve usable shutter speeds:

Lightroom's built in noise reduction is also extremely easy to use and quite effective. Alternatively, Topaz DeNoise is a remarkably good (though not cheap) noise reduction plugin for Photoshop.

I don't have any familiarity (and thus no recommendations) with any free noise reduction software.


Also LR4 (free public beta released this week) has even further improved the already great noise reduction capabilities.
 
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