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Thread: The things I learnt today...

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    Member GorgeWalker's Avatar
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    The things I learnt today...

    So. Perhaps I should have checked with someone before starting this but while it was all in my mind I thought I'd bash it out. Feel free to nuke it if it's an issue, promise, I won't be offended.

    I'm a complete novice in photography. I feel like I can determine what would make a nice photo upon seeing something out on my walks, the way the sun hits the side of a hill, the silhouette against a mob of roos, the way mist and fog rises behind a swan in water etc, but the technicalities behind using a DSLR are all new to me.

    Now - while I'm quite a technical person, the help I have received here has been immense and invaluable, so I thought I would give back some. I thought I would start a thread to jot down anything I learnt that may not be the things we automatically find obvious which:

    a. May just help another beginner
    b. Raise a discussion with more experienced photographers who may even refine/correct anything I have learnt.

    As I am a little way in my journey now, I will do my best to jot down a few of the things I feel I have learnt that weren't immediately obvious. I will add more as I go, and I welcome anyone else to either contribute or discussion what is raised here...

    So here goes. I'll raise the top 5 "discoveries" I have made that have made the difference for me. The only caveat I will make is a lot of these will relate to the style of photography I often engage with, which is nature and birds.

    1. Worry about composition later! Particularly for wildlife, which is a lot of what I do, use a single focus point and place it directly on the eye. Hold onto focus (See #2). Crop for composition later rather than grabbing focus then moving the frame! BIG discovery for me...

    2. Back button focus (someone here told me about it...so I',m cheating a little). At least try it! Combine this with Continuous Servo focus and I feel you have the best of both worlds...

    3. I'm starting to get the sense when in doubt, up the shutter, drop the ISO. I'm still battling with this, but feel it will give you a sharper image. Within reason of course - someone made the very true comment, birds never stop moving. With my 300mm lens I'm now doing my best to walk around with a shutter speed of around > 1/500. Given my experience, I think this gives me some buffer.

    4. Try get the sun on your back and the subject out of shade. This one hit home today - have been struggling with sharp images as I have been taking photos of subjects in poor light resulting in soft images. I made a point of this today and felt I saw big improvements. Must thank the forum for pointing this out to me. Just passing it on

    5. Go buy an external HDD!!!!!!!! You're going to run out of storage, real...bloody...quick....

    So - that's it for now. Will add more as I learn more - but please, feel free to either add more or refine further. We're always learning, right?

    Cheers,

    Brendan
    Last edited by GorgeWalker; 15-05-2020 at 2:13pm.

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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    6) I'm glad you changed the title back to "learnt"

    7) Prepare to be put up to "Intermediate" sooner rather than later
    CC, Image editing OK.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ameerat42 View Post
    6) I'm glad you changed the title back to "learnt"

    7) Prepare to be put up to "Intermediate" sooner rather than later
    Did you notice the back and forth? I normally go out of my way to keep everything correct but that one had me stumped for some reason

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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    It's called lexical flux, and it follows a whimsical trajectory over time

    Actually, either seems to be acceptable, but I have my preferences. - Or is it whimsy?
    Last edited by ameerat42; 15-05-2020 at 5:28pm.

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    Today I learnt the benefit of a cheeky whistle.

    Bell miners. There's one little strip where I can always find them, without fail. However, I can hear them, not see them.

    Today I found a little spot that is surrounded by shrub with a nice comfy flat rock to sit on (better than wet grass and a wet bum!), but as it's on the slope of the gorge, becomes about eye level with the canopy of the gum trees they seem to love.

    I quickly learnt the benefit of a cheeky little whistle - curious little guys! Found this works with Fairywrens, Weebills and Brown Thornbills too! Handy when you don't have as a far reaching lens as you would wish to.
    Last edited by GorgeWalker; 17-05-2020 at 3:26pm.

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    I knew this would happen. I might have to take one of my discoveries back

    I played with using the shutter button for focus again. Combined with continuous focus mode.


    One thing I noticed. It made getting pictures of birds in flight a little less complicated. I had a flock of Pacific Black Ducks giving me a grand old show this morning and managed some acceptable shots this way.

    I may stick with shutter button focus for a bit and see - I’m wondering if it will help with some of my focusing issues (maybe pushing the back button is pushing me off target?)

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    Ausphotography irregular Mark L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GorgeWalker View Post

    I may stick with shutter button focus for a bit and see - I’m wondering if it will help with some of my focusing issues (maybe pushing the back button is pushing me off target?)
    Using AI servo you just need to keep your thumb on the BBF button and it should track things okay.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark L View Post
    Using AI servo you just need to keep your thumb on the BBF button and it should track things okay.
    Yeah I'm just not sure what's going on... logically it shouldn't make a difference. But for some reason I feel like I'm "hitting the mark" more with the single button for focus and shutter.

    What advantage is there to BBF - as far as I have seen it is advantageous as I can either tap focus then compose the shot, release the shutter or be able to hold the button to continuously track. However - till now my learnings have seemed to indicate I'm always going to be using continuous focus, partocularly on birds. So why do I bother with dealing with an extra button (Honest question).

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    Member formerly known as : Lplates Glenda's Avatar
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    When birding, I prefer BBF as using the shutter button I sometimes accidentally depress it fully before I want to. For landscapes etc it enables me to more easily focus and recompose.
    Glenda



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    Made a revelation yesterday.

    Addressing chromatic aberration, particularly in Lightroom isn’t always as simple as checking a box.

    Discovered an extended menu where you can tweak those settings and even sample the worst of the CA in your image and LR will adjust accordingly!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Glenda View Post
    When birding, I prefer BBF as using the shutter button I sometimes accidentally depress it fully before I want to. For landscapes etc it enables me to more easily focus and recompose.
    I played with BBF again today. Perhaps it’s just me getting to know it all a bit better now but I didn’t find I had any more focusing problems as I did with using the shutter button

    This photography business is complex.
    - Brendan

    Nikon D3500
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    NIKKOR AF-P DX 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3G ED VR
    SIGMA 150-600mm C

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    I'm taking something else back - I've been really bumping up the ISO to bring the shutter speeds up which hasn't resulted in the best images.

    I've been trying now to get a balance here rather than have one being more prominent than the other. Once I'm upwards of ISO 1000, thinks start to look like poo.

    I also played around with aperture priority again today. Starting to see why birders prefer this mode as I think I'm coming to the realisation that of the 3 variables in taking a photo, ISO can often have the biggest impact in image quality.

    Today was quote sunny so walked around fluctuating between ISO400-800 and let the shutter speed work itself out. Was quite happy with the way it worked out.

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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    ^It's called building up your own experiences. Don't be surprised if you come to a quite
    different conclusion some time hence... - and then another

    Ie, beware of building up "rules" that may limit your photographic versatility.

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    Learnt a bit of a trick yesterday into getting a background that is a little more pleasing to the eye. Won't work unless you already have a half pleasing Bg to start with. But, if you have something to start with, in LR, lay down an adjustment brush on the background and:

    - Reduce sharpness
    - Reduce clarity
    - Lift noise reduction

    This seems to wash out the background nicely and help your subject remain the centre of the viewers attention.

    Happy to hear other tips on this though!
    Last edited by GorgeWalker; 28-05-2020 at 9:13pm.

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    Member formerly known as : Lplates Glenda's Avatar
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    I think that is one of the most important lessons to learn in PP - not to apply all adjustments globally but rather selectively. Our eyes are naturally attracted to the brightest/most saturated/sharpest parts of the image, so it's important to draw the viewer's eyes to the area you wish them to look at. Good on you for learning this so early in your PP journey.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Glenda View Post
    I think that is one of the most important lessons to learn in PP - not to apply all adjustments globally but rather selectively. Our eyes are naturally attracted to the brightest/most saturated/sharpest parts of the image, so it's important to draw the viewer's eyes to the area you wish them to look at. Good on you for learning this so early in your PP journey.
    Thanks Glenda. Only issue I'm finding is at times I'm not quite covering all the way (if that makes sense) and get some haloing. i.e. Around the bird/subject, and around tree branches.

    Any tips - or is it just a matter of zooming in and getting more fussy with the brush?

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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    There are lots of techniques...
    Selecting: yes, zoom in like you say; alter the sensitivity of the selection tool to get more/less; expand or contract
    your selection by pixel increments; feather the edge by pixel increments...

    Tonal adjustments: limit the range of your tones to be altered: like the darks, mids, highs. If you select an eye region
    to lift shadows a bit and it contains other tones, no matter: just make the shadow range very low. Same with highs...
    ...
    and
    ...
    etc.

    See if you can come up with some specific problems that you might post in the PH&A section.

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    Member formerly known as : Lplates Glenda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GorgeWalker View Post
    Thanks Glenda. Only issue I'm finding is at times I'm not quite covering all the way (if that makes sense) and get some haloing. i.e. Around the bird/subject, and around tree branches.

    Any tips - or is it just a matter of zooming in and getting more fussy with the brush?
    Not sure whether your version of Lr has the "auto mask" option for the adjustment brush but if it does make sure it's checked and it gives a much better selection. Alternatively if there is an erase brush option use it with a harder edge to brush out areas you don't want selected. Easier to do this with the "show mask" option - again not sure whether you have this option. I know how to remove halos in Ps but not in Lr.

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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GorgeWalker View Post
    ....

    3. I'm starting to get the sense when in doubt, up the shutter, drop the ISO. I'm still battling with this, but feel it will give you a sharper image. Within reason of course - someone made the very true comment, birds never stop moving. With my 300mm lens I'm now doing my best to walk around with a shutter speed of around > 1/500. Given my experience, I think this gives me some buffer.

    ....

    5. Go buy an external HDD!!!!!!!! You're going to run out of storage, real...bloody...quick....

    So - that's it for now. Will add more as I learn more - but please, feel free to either add more or refine further. We're always learning, right?

    Cheers,

    Brendan
    Righto!
    point 3. Up the shutter = up the ISO. There's no defying the laws of physics(in this instance the physics of optics and electromagnetism!! )
    after point 5 you should note that it may be imperative that you start the process of cataloging religiously!
    It doesn't seem important, but if you end up like some of us(I won't point fingers at anyone in particular .. like someone who's name starts with an A .. and maybe a K in there somewhere too... ) you could end up with hundreds of thousands of images that you just cant find easily due to the sheer number of repetitive image types you have captured over the years. Cataloging now eliminates the need to do so in bulk at a later date when you finally realise that it's important for the sake of your sanity.
    You don't know where the hobby will lead you, and cataloging could ensure that this won't be to a centre that deals with mental health issues 'cataloging procrastinators'

    Quote Originally Posted by GorgeWalker View Post
    .... This photography business is complex.
    Wasn't it Malcom Frazer that said life wasn't meant to be easy!
    What I think he was referring too way back in 1971 when he said this, was that digital photography was going to be the bane of obsessive compulsive types(that forget to catalog their images! ) .. that can't yet decide on which 'process' is best for them.
    I think he had the foresight to understand that digital photography was going to be a thing, and that thing could drive some folks stark raving looney too.

    Quote Originally Posted by GorgeWalker View Post
    I'm taking something else back - I've been really bumping up the ISO to bring the shutter speeds up which hasn't resulted in the best images.

    I've been trying now to get a balance here rather than have one being more prominent than the other. Once I'm upwards of ISO 1000, thinks start to look like poo.

    ....
    OK, forget my reply above to point 3.
    I think the other way. Shutter speed is more important as too low and you get blur, you can't REALLY sharpen out blur, even tho some software try too. Of the three exposure triangle variables you can learn to master, the only one will be shutter speed.
    The other two(aperture and ISO) are a must.
    That is, a slower shutter can be used in some instances, once your proficiency has matured, and you could handhold a 600mm lens at 1/100s using good technique and support. But the others are dependent on physics again.


    Quote Originally Posted by GorgeWalker View Post
    Thanks Glenda. Only issue I'm finding is at times I'm not quite covering all the way (if that makes sense) and get some haloing. i.e. Around the bird/subject, and around tree branches.

    Any tips - or is it just a matter of zooming in and getting more fussy with the brush?
    One of the reasons I suggested to use Nikon's free CaptureNX-D. the colour control point editing method is far simpler and quicker.
    As an alternative to the sometimes woeful CNX-D(but I persist with it) is DxO's PhotoLab software.
    Also nice to use as it has control point editing too, but it's far more complete in it's tools than is CNX-D.
    Photolab has a free trial thingy bit.
    The only advantage in using Nikon's software is there are some useful tools to align nicely with the camera.

    I reckon that using LR or Photolab(PL) you may not be seeing what you see in the software looks like what you see in the camera at the time of shooting.
    This is normal, as the raw file rendering processes are different relative to each other.
    So if you had both LR and PL, and you compared the captured images shown by each software relative to each other, each one will display a different images(and hence histogram).
    With the Nikon software WYSIWYG both in camera and on the computer later on. It also has some other interesting features that are a bit hard to fully understand as well.

    As for noise, use the noise reduction tools in any of your software, they're very good nowadays. With your comments re noise, I'm assuming that you're cropping quite a bit, so hence those comments.

    IIRC, I think you also got yourself a tripod when you got the Sigma lens? Have you tried to use it for wildlife/birding yet?
    Last edited by arthurking83; 29-05-2020 at 5:15pm.
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