I've always liked your photography. I'll keep this thread flagged so I can keep up with how you go (I can never keep up with dA), but I won't bookmark your site just yet because I'm having Foxmarks issues.
Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more
If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough
1. Leave the SLR at home. Get a small point-and-shoot (P&S) camera so you aren't loaded down. Make sure shutter lag is slim to nil; the venerable Canon PowerShot A620 (photos) has been in my pocket since 2006, though it's harder to come by as its gone out of production.
2. Keep one, versatile lens. While this contradicts the above tip, there are some situations where you'll need an SLR. P&S's aren't typically suited for low-light, so if you're out in the evening or anywhere indoors, where P&S's can't work with the ambient light, take an SLR and a fast lens. My choice for such situations is the Canon EF 50mm f1.4 (photos); open the aperture and crank up the ISO speed, and you'll be able to hand-hold without a flash even for night-time street photography. Then there is bright mid-day, where a slower, zoom lens will be your best bet. I still use the Canon Rebel XTi kit lens (photos); it's a good start for wide-angle photography and produces sharp photos at f/8.
3. Drop the camera bag. While a bag for your lenses is acceptable (though picking one lens will save weight), your camera needs to be at the ready for baby Lucy to skip through those mud puddles. I'd never be quick enough to get this shot with my camera cooped up in a cozy bag. If you have a P&S, stow it in your pocket, or sling an SLR around your neck.
4. Freshly charged batteries are a must. Murphy's law states that your batteries will fail just when you need them the most.
5. Have space for 100 photos on your memory card. While you may not capture that many brilliant photos, you won't have time to swab the decks when that seagull grabs the fish, or those clouds form your Aunt Mary's face. With the burst modes on modern cameras producing three photos a second, you'll want plenty of temporary space for crazed snapping.
6. Set your camera. That 15-second exposure with tungsten white balance won't cut it for a spontaneous afternoon portrait. Set your ISO speed, white balance, and flash preferences, then choose your aperture or shutter speed in the priority modes, and have the camera take care of the rest. If you've forgotten to do this, dial in Auto mode real quick for that fleeting Kodak moment; sub-optimal results are better than an over-exposed, blue mess. Use RAW mode for editing leeway, though note that the larger file sizes will slow you down from shot-to-shot.
7. Brace yourself. Blurry photos of your precious moments are no fun. Turn up the shutter speed as much as you can; the same as your lens' focal length at minimum (i. e. 1/50 second for the EF 50mm f1.4, or 1/80 on the XTi because of the crop factor). Hold still, keep the viewfinder glued to your face, and support the lens barrel with your other hand while you click three shots, then delete all but the sharpest. If you have a P&S, don't keep it at arm's length as you'll shake the camera more.
8. Turn off auto-focus. Even on SLRs, auto-focus causes the biggest delays from click-to-shoot. If your subjects will be consistently far from your camera, lock in the focus and switch to manual mode, then enjoy the lightning-fast shutter lag.
Photography is as much about skill as it is being in the right place at the right time. When those picture-perfect moments pop up, be sure to have your camera at the ready.
ah, great! I've been waiting for a photo thread. your photographs really are brilliant.. *__* I definitely love the raindrops one the most. you can see some of mine at my deviantart account, my username is in my signature.
Thank you very much for the kind comments, Kitty2000, Peter01, The_Black_Tide, doomolo, and fawful12!
Nice gallery, doomolo. I like this the best, for the cool lighting and unique composition. I've been keeping up with my deviantART gallery for two years, though I switched over to my own website last month.
"When you're doing action photos, do you use the viewfinder, or an LCD display that you can look at from a distance? What are the advantages/disadvantages for each?
I ask because I've been *attempting to* take school basketball pictures lately, which I find extremely difficult. Much more difficult than football or wrestling photos, because basketball is much faster-paced. The ball typically switches players within 1-2 seconds, and by the time I find a good photo, they're on the opposite side of the court. If you could think of any advice that might be helpful, I'd really appreciate it."
I use the viewfinder, but I have a digital SLR, where you can't use the LCD screen anyway. On my smaller Canon PowerShot A620, I have both, but I generally use the LCD, to avoid the parallax error, which is quite bad on my camera, even at far distances. If you notice the LCD screen lagging in low light, the viewfinder is better.
Of course, there is then the issue that point-and-shoot cameras don't operate well without a flash indoors (even if it's fairly bright). Have you ever noticed at the basketball game, or any indoor performances, that people from 40 feet away have their flashes flashing away? The flash will do no good at that distance, and they'll get grainy, under-exposed shots and be disappointed. This is due to two problems: one, they have their cameras set to an automatic mode, and the camera does what it thinks is best, which is in this case, horribly wrong (no flash is the only way to go beyond about ten feet). Two: compact cameras have small sensors that do a poor job at gathering light compared to SLRs. I struggled with this problem for two years before getting a Canon Rebel XTi last August, and found the following options:
1. Use the largest aperture setting (lowest F number), though this won't be enough alone. 2. Increase your camera's light sensitivity (ISO speed), though this produces grainier photos (digital noise). 3. Use a tripod, hold really still, or brace the camera against a hard surface such as a chair, table, or wall. Get your subjects to hold still too, though this is not an option at a basketball game, of course. 4. If you can't do 3, use image stabilization, though you're out of luck if your camera lacks the feature. 5. Go into manual mode and use a faster shutter speed, deliberately under-exposing your photos, and then brightening them on the computer afterwards. This is a bad option, as it lowers the quality your photos' quality on many levels: shadow detail is lost; posterization and JPEG compression artifacts become noticeable. It won't be so bad if you use RAW mode, but if your camera offers RAW mode, it's probably high-end anyway, and you won't need this kludge. 6. Take three or four photos where you normally would've taken one. You're likely to get one sharp photo, even with a 1/20 shutter speed. 7. Zoom out all the way, because zooming in magnifies camera shake resulting in photos that are more blurry.
Use 1, 2, 3, 6, and 4 (image stabilization) if you have it (but not on a tripod), and you'll have a winning combination. 7 works if you have to balance the camera yourself, but you'll include a lot of clutter and barrel distortion may become noticeable.
For the technical details, use "Sports" mode, or if you have an Aperture Priority mode on your camera, switch to it, raise the ISO speed up to 400, and change the F number to the lowest setting (2.8 on my Canon PowerShot). If the photos are still blurry, raise the ISO speed to 800 (if available), or use a tripod or equivalent.
Even after doing all this, you'll still have the problem of shutter lag. You press the button, and then 2 seconds later, after automagically choosing focus, aperture, shutter speed, white balance, and the flash to use, the camera takes a photo of the empty side of the court. The biggest thing you can do to combat this is to have the camera make these settings in advance, and this is accomplished in almost every camera by pressing the shutter button down half-way, holding it, and then finally pressing it down all the way at the right moment. Keep in mind that your locking in the settings with the half-click, so if you do it on the dimly lit edges of the court and then move to the bright center, you'll get a photo that's too bright, and moving close-to-far or vice-versa will merit an out-of-focus image.
Thanks everyone! I added a photo called Symmetry, a brightly-lit yellow flower against a deep-blue sky background.
AJJ94: Thanks, and have fun with your camera. You can post some of you work here if you want, as I don't mind this being a general photography thread.
doomolo: I got my first camera in October of 2004, but didn't become serious until August 2005. I got a digital SLR in August of 2007, and started my own website three weeks ago, so my creative options are more open now. Take a lot of photos as it's nice to have plenty of work to show; I dug out the banner at the top of my latest article from September of 2005.
walkingonthesun: Thanks for posting the photo and the comment on Sunrays. Nice photo of your dog! What I can suggest is to lay down in the grass or kneel to her eyes' level, then snap away to get a more compelling photo.
videogamer3586: Nice to see you again too; I've been gone here for a while. All the work on my website so far is copyrighted with all rights reserved, though I do have a small section of freely-usable stock photos at my deviantART gallery. My favorite from there is Leafy Droplets Stock.
Kitty2000: I recommend PicMarkr, as it's an easy-to-use online service that will add a watermark to your photo with the text of your choice, and can resize the photo so it loads quicker, optionally.
Most of my photography is located in this photobucket. I am in the process of getting some of it moved over to dA though. (the photobucket has some photoshopped, and stuff I saved, so it isn't all mine.)