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Photography QnA: Photographic Field Techniques

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Category: All About Photography : Photographic Field Techniques

Ready to learn about field technique for large object photography? How about for small object photography? This Q & A covers it all. Or if you are interested in private instruction, check out Kerry Drager's Field Techniques: Light and Composition online photography course.

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Photography Question 
Mindy Shores

member since: 3/13/2007
  61 .  Washed-Out Sky
I just did a wedding this past weekend. Some of the pics were outside in a park with a clear sky and at @ 6:30 pm, so the sun was coming down, although there was enough light to not use a flash. My subjects looked fine in the pic but the sky was totally washed out white, without a flash. I then went ahead and put my polarizer on, which darkened the sky but then forced me to use my flash and those pics turned out fine. Anyone give me a clue as to why the sky was all washed out?
Thanks,
Mindy

10/15/2007 4:10:48 AM

Jon Close
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/18/2000
  Simply because the sky was much brighter than your foreground subjects. Fill flash, with or without the polarizer, is one solution. Another is a split or graduated neutral density filter that reduces the exposure of the sky to better match that of the foreground.

10/15/2007 6:11:55 AM

Ken Henry

member since: 9/16/2003
 
 
 
1. Set your exposure for the sky first using manual exposure controls. Viewing your LCD monitor you would manualy adjust the exposure to how the sky looks good to you. At this point your subject should look very dark and the sky a nice rich blue.
2. Add manual or TTL fill flash to subject. I use manual flash.
3. Here are three photos showing this example. I used a 6mpxl P&S handheld.
I was practising how to do this.
$. Wouldn't you feel it makes cents to pratice your photography$

10/16/2007 10:05:17 PM

Ken Henry

member since: 9/16/2003
 
 
  sunflower1
sunflower1
 
  sunflower2
sunflower2
 
  sunflower3
sunflower3
 
 
My photos didn't show up. I'll try again.

10/16/2007 10:09:20 PM

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Photography Question 
Roberta Davis
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 4/10/2003
  62 .  Orange-tinted Pictures
Some of my indoor photos in lower light are turning out a bit orangy... Can someone assist? Thanks!

10/14/2007 7:41:00 PM

Justin G.
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/13/2004
  It's simply a white balance problem, since different light sources emit a different temperature of light. The human eyes are remarkable in that it sees most light sources as white light. Daylight (sunlight) has relatively even red, green, and blue wavelengths. Fluorescent lights are high in green wavelengths and tungsten lights are high in red wavelengths of light. What this means to you is that when you're taking pictures indoors that are primarily lit by tungsten lighting (incandescent lighting in which a filament is heated to create the light), this will give a red/orange glow on your images if your camera (or film) thinks it is seeing white daylight (or sunlight). If you are using a digital camera, search your camera manual for the White Balance setting and change it to the one that looks like light bulb when you're shooting indoors (without flash). Flash is balanced to the same as daylight (sunlight).

10/14/2007 8:08:41 PM

Roberta Davis
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 4/10/2003
  thanks for the advice.
I'll give it a try!

10/14/2007 8:33:17 PM

Roy Blinston
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 1/4/2005
  I agree with everything, except your comment of "Fluoro lights are high in green wavelengths". This used to be the fact years ago, however in recent times Fluoro's now come in the full gambit of colour temperatures. I recently had an electrician fit 10 banks of fluoro's in my refurbished home art studio and they are all "red base" and this can clearly be seen on any photos I take.
Some nightclubs use high red wavelength Flurors in the toilets, and when you look at yourself in the mirror whilst washing your hands your skin appears to be sun-tanned and very very red. This is more complimentary and makes for happier people - hence better sales at the bar etc.

10/16/2007 5:21:26 PM

Justin G.
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/13/2004
  Roy I agree with you, but I was making a generalization. They also have daylight balanced fluorescents which we use in the print-processor room so we can carefully gauge our prints.

But you're average Joe fluorescents typically are green.

10/16/2007 6:49:48 PM

Roberta Davis
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 4/10/2003
  Thank you again... much appreciated advice!

10/16/2007 6:50:59 PM

Oliver Anderson
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 11/16/2004
  maybe your camera is suffering from jaundice????

10/16/2007 10:43:12 PM

Sharon J. McAulay
BetterPhoto Member
sharonmcaulay.com

member since: 2/9/2004
  Hi Roberta, If you already have the images and want to fix them, in Photoshop you can try Image-Adjustments-Color Balance, and move the yellow-blue slider closer to blue. A second option is Image-Adjustments-Photo filters, and try the various Cooling filters and adjust their density. A third option to remove an orange or yellow cast is to go to Image-Adjustments-Match Colour and click on the "Neutralize" box, then use the Density slider to adjust. You'll always get the best results if you shoot in RAW, and two excellent programmes for adjustments are Aperture and Lightroom - in both of these you simply move the "Temperature" slider to see a cooler or warmer version of your photos. Hope this helps!

10/23/2007 1:21:54 AM

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Photography Question 
Mary L. Lemley

member since: 8/31/2004
  63 .  Extension Tubes and Focusing Distance
This is for digital and film. When I want to get really close, but without a lens practically touching, (ex. flower petal), do I need an extension tube, or a costly macro lens to focus close, but from a bit more distance? I use +10 close-up filter.

10/14/2007 5:25:27 PM

  All I have ever used for my macro shots are extension tubes. They are just about the best piece of equipment I have ever purchased for my camera. I have never owned a macro lens for the reason of cost.

10/14/2007 6:09:16 PM

Mary L. Lemley

member since: 8/31/2004
  Thanks Michelle!!! Can you get several inches away, for instance, your M&M's shot is great. I have a book by a BP. Pro and he combines both. He has before and after of a bee & flower, and I think he says he uses ex. tube so as not to disturb bee, but focuses closer, in REALLY better shot. Thanks for your time!!!! MLL.

10/14/2007 6:52:49 PM

  Oh yeah! I have used my tubes with two lenses mostly. 70-300mm and 28-70mm with terrific results. If I do not want to disturb something (ie the bee in flower)I put the tubes on with the 70-200mm. The M&M's shot was with the tubes on my 28-70mm. I set them up in a long line on a black board, then placed the camera right at the start of the line and tilted the board down just a little bit for the depth of field I wanted. Quite simple.

FYI....I used a reputable eBay dealer to purchase my tubes.

Good Luck!

10/14/2007 7:26:41 PM

John G. Clifford Jr
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 8/18/2005
  An extension tube lets you focus on objects that are closer to your camera. Macro lenses also allow you to do this, usually by extending the front of the lens greatly (just as extension tubes do), and in addition, generally have specialized optical properties that aid in close focusing.
You can use extension tubes with a macro lens to get even closer to the subject (and therefore to get more magnification). If you really want close-ups of things like insects, snakes, etc., but don't want to get close enough to disturb them, get bitten/stung, etc., then a 105mm, 150mm, or 180mm macro is a great lens. You can also use extension tubes with ordinary lenses of longer focal lengths, e.g., a 70-200 zoom.
Depth of field will be very shallow with a telephoto macro lens, so you'll want to stop down, and many macro lenses will go down to as far as f/32 or even f/64. But, be warned that many high-resolution D-SLRs start becoming diffraction-limited at around f/11 or so. You're trading off depth of field for total sharpness, so try to arrange things so that the plane of focus extends along your desired subject. For instance, shoot a photo of a butterfly from the side, not head-on.

10/14/2007 7:44:30 PM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member
cammphoto.com

member since: 7/17/2003
  If you need "working distance", extension tubes (and/or bellows units) work better with short to medium telephoto lenses (in the 80 to 200 mm range) ... and better still if the lens is specially designed for close-focusing.
Shorter lenses will allow you to reproduce a larger image within the frame but you WILL need to get in there very close to the subject before it will pop into focus.
Most of my macro work is done with a 105 mm lens mounted onto a bellows assembly, which operates pretty much the same as extension tubes...only adjustable. The size of the image in the frame varies by how much lens extension is used.
The working distance with this lens is around 10 to 12 inches.
A longer lens will add even greater working distance...up to several feet depending upon how many millimeters of extension are applied.
This photo was taken with a 180 mm lens and a 36 mm extension tube from around 2 1/2 to 3 feet away.
(Sometimes, a situation arises that requires full-frame coverage ... but you REALLY NEED to back up.)
Here's a few tips when using extension tubes:
*Depth of field will be limited so you should focus (manually) onto what's most important to your composition ... like an eye of an insect or that particular particle of that flower that first caught your eye.
*Meter something "neutral" in the same light...then re-compose.
Too often, great macros are ruined when the primary point of interest is very dark or very light and a shot that can't be re-done is taken in haste.
*A tripod and an immobile subject are essential.
Camera-shake and subject movement will be amplified exponentially the closer you get.
Hope this helps.
Bob

10/14/2007 7:44:45 PM

Mary L. Lemley

member since: 8/31/2004
  I so much appreciate you guys help. Now I get it!!!! And Bob, "that picture" is a great example of what NOT to get close to,:0)!!! It makes the snake in a pic. I took lately.... well let's just say you have to look hard to SEE it!!!! I knew the answer would be from some great folks, with some beautiful galleries, I might add. Mary Lemley

10/14/2007 8:18:20 PM

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Photography Question 
Sharon K. King
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Sharon
Sharon's Gallery

member since: 4/2/2005
  64 .  Action Portraits
I have been doing a lot of portrait photography indoors and out. During these sessions, the clients are sitting still and I am able to use a slow shutter speed. I have been asked to do more candid outdoor portraits and am getting a lot of motion blur. Oh, I will be using a Canon 24-105 F4L IS USM lens. I also have a Canon 50mm fixed lens. Thank you so much!

10/12/2007 6:52:53 AM

Raymond H. Kemp
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 4/2/2004
  You'll need to kick in your flash in combo with a slow shutter speed. Use a balanced fill setting so the flash does not become the dominant light. This will produce some "action" with blurring but the flash will freeze the subjects as long as your shutter speed is not too low.
I use this method when I photographing paramedics in the back of the ambulance. I use a slow sync setting on the camera that pulls in the ambient light and then triggers a small burst of flash to pull in some detail and freeze the action. Sometimes I get some hand-motion blur, etc., but this does heighten the action which I like (as well as my publishers!).
I would recommend that you experiment with different settings with a friend or family member first. Then you'll be ready when you shoot the real thing.
Good luck!
Ray

10/12/2007 8:04:54 AM

Jeff Coleman

member since: 2/5/2005
  Sharon, You just need a faster shutter speed! I think you should open up your aperture and if need be bump up your ISO. At F/4 you should easliy be able to stop action.

10/16/2007 4:02:24 AM

Raymond H. Kemp
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 4/2/2004
  From the thread title "Action Portraits" I assumed Sharon wanted to depict some action but was getting too much motion blur and needed to tone it down a bit. If she needs to freeze everything, then Jeff's suggestion would be the way to go.

Ray

10/16/2007 6:16:11 AM

  Thank you Ray and Jeff. I played with the ISO during some sessions over the weekend, and it did make a big difference. My problem was the lighting, it was dark in the woods where I was shooting. However, the portraits came out much better this time. I didn't want any blur at all in the portraits. Your paramedic shots Ray are great and I do agree, some motion blur adds to the feel of your shots. Thanks again for both of your help.

10/16/2007 7:28:20 AM

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Photography Question 
kasey d. ales

member since: 1/31/2006
  65 .  Backgrounds for Family Pics
I am helping my church with the family photos for the church book. What color of background would work best for families of all ages? Thank you!

10/7/2007 12:55:02 PM

Debby A. Tabb
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/4/2004
  Kasey,
If you're going to shoot for photos in the Church Directory, then I would suggest using the traditional blue.
If the photos are just for regular family portraits, then brown is wonderful for bringing out the skin tones.
I believe there may be a example of both in my gallery.
I hope this helps,
Debby

10/7/2007 7:18:33 PM

kasey d. ales

member since: 1/31/2006
  Thank you for you help. I am just leaning, were would I buy my background, and what kind? Again thank you for your help.

10/8/2007 6:18:47 AM

Debby A. Tabb
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/4/2004
  Kasey,
You can find some nice antique (traditional) Muslins on Ebay.
Here's a link:
Brown:

http://cgi.ebay.com/MUSLIN-6x9-PHOTO-BACKDROP-BACKGROUND-3-BROWNS-NEW_W0QQitemZ200158443956QQihZ010QQcategoryZ30079QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem


Blue:

http://cgi.ebay.com/NEW-OLD-MASTER-PHOTO-CANVAS-BACKGROUND-BACKDROP-C010_W0QQitemZ230175006627QQihZ013QQcategoryZ79004QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

Keep in mind you will need a back light as well for a really Nice look.
I hope this helps,
Debby

10/8/2007 7:32:08 AM

kasey d. ales

member since: 1/31/2006
  Thank you so much. I really apreciate all your help. What is a back light for and are there certain ways to use it. KC

10/8/2007 5:10:28 PM

Joan Bellinger

member since: 9/6/2001
  Kasey, when doing the same thing, I used the church santuary with walls of off white and a circular stained glass window with a dove in the center.

10/12/2007 6:51:51 PM

kasey d. ales

member since: 1/31/2006
  This is a very old small church. There are no windows, all old panel. Thank you very much.

10/12/2007 9:29:44 PM

W. 

member since: 9/25/2006
  If you can find a nice background in the church, go for it. An appropriate background and therefore much better than an impersonal bland background.
You would then need a minimum of 2 strong flashguns. One to light the background, the other as a hair/back light on the subject(s). This last one to spill over onto a reflector that is placed in front of the subject(s), just below the lens axis, illuminating their faces, for which you expose.

Have fun!

10/13/2007 12:16:17 PM

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Photography Question 
Cassandra  Ann Smith

member since: 10/2/2006
  66 .  Shooting in Natural Light Without Flash
I have been doing a lot of shooting with just available light and experimenting with flash. I am having some difficulty with stopping the motion and missing out on a lot of great images. I cannot remember if I need my shutter speed to be higher or is it is the ISO or something else? Can you help? Thanks!

9/28/2007 4:25:44 PM

W. 

member since: 9/25/2006
 
Hi Cassandra,

please tell us what you are trying to take photos of, and what you then end up with. Post examples of those photos here.

Then we might have something to go by.

9/28/2007 4:37:21 PM

Cassandra  Ann Smith

member since: 10/2/2006
 
 
  Blur Blur Blur
Blur Blur Blur
 
  Blur Blur Blur #2
Blur Blur Blur #2
 
 
Here are a couple images. I am shooting people.

9/28/2007 4:54:13 PM

W. 

member since: 9/25/2006
 
Either the subjects or the camera is moving. Possibly both. I'd recommend shorter shutter times and a TRIPOD!

Have fun!

9/28/2007 6:15:18 PM

Jon Close
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/18/2000
  >>" I can not remember if I need my shutter speed to be higher or is it is the ISO..."<<
Yes and Yes. You need faster shutter speeds to stop motion. You get them by shooting at a higher ISO and/or using a wider aperture(smaller f-number).

9/28/2007 7:09:21 PM

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Photography Question 
Julie C. Martin

member since: 3/31/2007
  67 .  Lighting for Family Portrait
I will be taking a family portrait and would love any tips I could get. I plan to do the sitting at 6-6:30 pm. Would I do best using side-lighting? Or backlighting? This will be my first job :) Do you usually use a tripod when doing outdoor portraits?

9/20/2007 5:47:27 AM

KIM SCHULTZ
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/15/2004
  You don't mention the number of people in this portrait, and that would make a difference. The more faces you have to watch, the more consistent the lighting needs to be. I use a tripod for 95% of any portraits that I do. It's just one less thing that could move to ruin a good image.
I prefer side-lighting, if the group is small enough. Backlighting is good if you have the ability to provide some soft frontal lighting - reflectors or even a flash.
Try both methods, you might be surprised!

9/20/2007 6:45:32 AM

Julie C. Martin

member since: 3/31/2007
  There will be a total of 6 people. Then I will do some shots with just the parents and just the kids. Thanks for your advice. I will try both lighting situations.

9/20/2007 6:49:42 AM

W. 

member since: 9/25/2006
  Yes, side or backlighting to prevent squinting. A reflector or fill-flash can open up shadows. Bracket your exposures. Shoot Raw if you can, and as many exposures as possible.
Try to avoid them standing side-by-side in a dull row. Sit a few down, with others behind them. Maybe one crouching next to a chair, and another bending over a bit. Make 'em come alive in the pic, like let 'em toast the central figure. Or you, the camera. Make 'em DO something!
If it's a festive occasion, you could bring a couple of confetti shooters (party shop?): you shoot one so that it falls into the frame from above and lands on the group and you expose while it does ... preferably with a sequential setting of 3fps or higher speeds. Hopefully, your camera's buffer allows that.
Tripod is a given, unless flash is the main light source. After composing and focusing, a tripod allows you to stand beside the camera and watch carefully for how the scene unfolds, like facial expressions - with your finger on the button to expose instantly.
Good luck!

9/20/2007 5:34:51 PM

Julie C. Martin

member since: 3/31/2007
  Thanks for both of your great advice. I will definately show you the pics when they are done. Anyone willing to post family photo's you have done? I would love to see them.

9/21/2007 5:39:37 AM

Denyse Clark
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 10/2/2002
 
 
 
This is not my best work from a technical perspective, but here are a few from family sessions I've done that the clients really liked. And I like them for the variety in posing. I always like to do some w/ families tightly grouped, but then do some w/ them spread out, using the surroundings like in the one w/ trees.

9/21/2007 9:20:15 AM

Denyse Clark
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 10/2/2002
 
 
 
got an error, trying again for the other 2 pics...

9/21/2007 9:22:06 AM

Denyse Clark
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 10/2/2002
 
 
 
hmm, one more time, if it doesn't work I give up, lol

9/21/2007 9:24:11 AM

Denyse Clark
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 10/2/2002
 
 
 
last one

9/21/2007 9:24:53 AM

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Photography Question 
Jean H. De Buren

member since: 9/19/2007
  68 .  Which Lens for Photographing Kids and Families?
Hi! I'm looking for a new lens and am wondering which lens is your favorite, and why. I typically photograph kids and families with my Nikon D50. Thanks!

9/19/2007 7:58:29 PM

John G. Clifford Jr
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 8/18/2005
  My favorite lens for shooting children and families (basically candids at varying distances) would be my Sigma 24-70/2.8 EX zoom. On my particular cameras (Sigma SD10/SD14), the lens is equivalent to a 40-120mm lens. That is a good range for portraiture, and the zoom lens lets you move around a little rather than being in people's faces. The large aperture also lets your camera focus very quickly even in low light, and isolates the subject from the background.
Now, if I'm just taking portraits of an adult who will do what I tell them, I pick a different lens. Maybe a prime, or maybe a longer zoom. Or...???

9/20/2007 8:39:36 PM

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Photography Question 
Mike King

member since: 12/19/2003
  69 .  How to Warm a Portrait
I would like to be able to warm up my portraits with a haze/softening effect. I'm shooting a Canon Rebel Xti and processing using Photoshop Elements 4. How can I achieve that effect?

9/19/2007 5:24:43 PM

William Schuette
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/8/2006
  You could duplicate your background layer, and then, on the new layer, add a Gaussian blur to soften and adjust your color balance to enhance yellow and red to warm. The advantage of doing the adjustment on a seperate layer is that you can fine-tune the effect by lowering the opacity of the layer or even mask out the effect on portions of the photo if you desire. Alternatively, Nik Color EFX filters have a Midnight filter that both warms and blurs.
Bill

9/20/2007 10:00:55 AM

dennis w. mcclain

member since: 8/2/2004
 
 
  senior 2008
senior 2008
 
 
try this. open the image. fix any flaws, like blemishes, scares, hot spots. then use your noise reduction. after that, make a layer copy and change the blend mode to multiply. add a 20 gausian blur. do a image stamp ( ctl alt shift e) change the blend mode to screen adjust the opacity. add a hue/sat adjustment layer, then reduce saturation a bit. if the image is a little to dark, use the adjust shadow highlights. once you get it looking like you want, merge layers, then sharpen to taste. as a final step I like to focus in on the eyes. use your selection brush on the iris, feather the selection from 3-5px invert selection, then (ctrl alt j) this will put the iris on a new layer. unsharp mask with amount 200, 2px thr 0
see how that works.

9/25/2007 7:32:30 AM

David S. Nadal
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 4/14/2005
  ...or a soft/warm filter: you know, [i]glass[/i]. Cokin and Hitech both make an affordable version. Quaint and old-fashioned, I know, but think of all the keystrokes that could be saved.

Dave

9/25/2007 8:39:37 AM

Vishal Sharma
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 2/23/2006
  Excellent Dennis! I will try to play with some portraits.

Thanks
Vishal

9/25/2007 12:56:13 PM

Angie Ray
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 12/24/2006
  I would also recommend the NIK Software - it offers a wonderful 'Warmth&Brilliance' Filter as well as a 'Soft Gold Reflector' Filter which I use on a regular basis. You will never want to be without this software again!

9/26/2007 6:50:50 AM

Stacy L. Robertson
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 2/26/2006
  Sometimes I use a "sweet spot" filter on my camera to get a nice soft portrait, then add a warming filter on the computer. It works very well.

9/26/2007 11:10:42 AM

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Photography Question 
Cindy Wibowo

member since: 10/9/2005
  70 .  Continuous Light Vs. Flash Light
Could compare these? Which is better? I have a 16"-tall artist's doll to sell on Ebay. Any opinions would be appreciated. Thanks!

8/29/2007 5:30:20 PM

  Hi Cindy,
Strobes are better. You donít have to work on a tripod, your shooting area doesnít become overheated, and your color is accurate. Strobes are more expensive and take more time to learn to use, but they provide better results. So if you are doing this once, I would get someone else to make a quality picture. If you are going to do this a lot, then I would get strobes.
Good Luck! John Siskin

8/29/2007 6:09:31 PM

Cindy Wibowo

member since: 10/9/2005
  Hi John,
Thank you for reply. I wonder what do you mean strobes ?
Strobes = flash light ?

Thanks !

8/29/2007 6:33:56 PM

  Hi Cindy,
I try to be careful about these two words. Strobe means any very short duration light, generally less than 1/1000th of a second, made by passing an electric spark through a tube filled with Xenon and other gasses. AS flash is a single use bulb with a duration of about 1/60 of a second. The light is made by burning an aluminum filament in a bulb filled with oxygen. You donít see many flashes these days. The thing on your camera is a strobe.
Thanks, John Siskin

8/29/2007 7:31:14 PM

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