Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I really like this rendition of The Three Arches near Cape Meares, Oregon. I used the Monochrome feature of my Nikon D300 set to Sepia. I also used a high ISO, a small aperture for depth and fast shutter to freeze the grasses. This is number 54 of the 55 images I kept and is from the fourth tripod position.

The text above is what I wrote on facebook when I first published this image.

I used those settings because the day was very difficult for landscape photography. It was one of those days when the fog is thin and the clouds high with the sun making the sky very bright. This made the light range between the lights and darks too much for my camera to handle in normal modes. I tried using the feature my camera has of overlaying images but that didn't work well either.

As I set up to shoot this scene the wind came up and began blowing the grasses around which I didn't want. I set the ISO to 1250. That's really high, but I knew it would allow me to use a faster shutter speed and a small aperture than at 200 or 400 where I usually set the ISO. Next I set my aperture to F/29 for a deep depth of field. I also set focus to manual and hyper-focused the lens. I wanted the grasses and foreground in focus so I set the focal length slightly long for the grasses and let the small aperture take care of rocks in the background. Oh! my lens is the 18-200 Nikkor zoom that came with the camera. I left vibration reduction on but did not think to set it to the tripod setting. I was mounted on my old Bogan-Manfrotto 3220 with the 3030 head.

As I said before I used the monochrome setting set to sepia for this shot but I also used several other settings and filters as I worked my way along. The bright sun reflecting off the water caused me to re-position my camera so I could remove the blown highlights. My histograms kept climbing both ends of the scale until I went with the monochrome settings. I really didn't know what I was doing here since I don't usually shoot in this mode. I depended totally on the histograms to show me what was going on. My eyeglasses are the kind that darken in sunlight and without them I couldn't see my camera settings and with them the images on my screen were not true renditions of the images. The histograms made all the difference for me. Eventually I discovered that underexposing the image by 2/3 stop brought the lines off the histogram walls.

It was a good day!

Photography Tips

Here are a few things you can do to improve your photography that will apply regardless of what camera you use. These are the basics that every photographer should know and do to get reasonably good pictures out of any camera.

Make sure you have a clean lens. Don't just blow the dust off, but use a clean cloth suitable for cleaning lenses and do it right.

Set up so your camera is stable and won't move as you press the shutter. You can do this a number of ways. If you will be handholding the camera, hold your elbows in against your sides, and stand with your feet apart with one slightly forward of the other. You can also lean against a solid object like a light pole, tree, building or whatever. The best method though is to use a tripod or monopod. I have both but I like to carry the tripod best. If I want to use it as a monopod I just extend only one leg and us it as I would a monopod. I'll add instructions about to how to use these tools later.

Finally the "First" basic thing you need to do is read your manual and learn what all the parts of your camera are for and how to use them. If you understand how your meter works and what white balence is you'll go a long way to getting that shot you want when the light is wierd and you are wondering why your pictures are all dark or yellow instead of like what you saw on the monitor or in the viewfinder.

I'll expand on all these topics in the coming weeks and months so you'll want to check back and see what I've added from time to time.