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12-12-2011, 09:17 AM   #16
Ali
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Thanx for the comments VanBaloney and RioRico!! Seems to me that hyperfocal focusing is the way to go with landscape photography - I saw a couple of videos on youtube, though I am still a bit confused about reading the markings on my sms 50mm prime lens. In the same vein, I would imagine that shallow depth of field may also be achieved through 'zone focusing' if I have been able to understand the concept at all. Anyhow, I think I can now use the 50mm for landscapes using this technique, instead of relying exclusively on my 50-200mm kit lens. Thanks for teaching me something new guys - its always a nice high!!

12-12-2011, 09:49 AM   #17
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QuoteOriginally posted by RioRico Quote
VB mentions hyperfocal technique. Technically, it's zone-focus; with hyperfocus, the zone extends to infinity. Here are examples:

I drove to the top of Mt Evans (14250ft / 4275m) in Colorado's Front Range, the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains that drop precipitously to the Great Plains. Sunlight was intensely bright so I stopped-down my Zeiss 50/2.8 (12 iris blades) to f/11. I prefocused at 10m for DOF from 5m to beyond infinity. I shot features and structures atop the mountain, and vast vistas of the Front Range extending from Wyoming to New Mexico, all without refocusing. For that, 10m was the hyperfocal distance.

I drove down to about the 12000ft / 3600m level and saw a bunch of marmots (sorta like wombats) playing by the roadside. I prefocused to 2.5m for DOF from 1.25m to 5m, and snapped the critters whenever they were within that 1.25-5m zone, all without refocusing. The glare was so bright that I couldn't see to focus anyway. The DOF zone didn't extend to infinity, so it wasn't hyperfocus, just zone focus.

How to use zone focus on a dSLR with old lenses: Those lenses have DOF scales marked for 135/FF cameras. The scales must be interpolated for out APS-C dSLRs. I fudge by a bit over 1 f-stop. So if I have the aperture at f/11, I read the scale just under f/8, maybe around f/7. In the first example above, I set the infinity mark to just inside the f/8 mark. That puts the 5m mark just within the other f/8 mark, and points the index to 10m. Use this technique to define any zone you want in focus.

Our modern lenses no longer have such DOF scales. Bummer. We must rely on software or guesstimation or extreme stopping-down. Bother. When in doubt, make sure the subject is in focus and don't worry about the rest. A basic rule: NAIL THE FOCUS -- EVERYTHING ELSE CAN BE FIXED IN PP.
Hence the old PJ saying f8 and be there. though now i guess it's f11 and be there

I do like having the DOF scale on the lens
12-12-2011, 06:07 PM   #18
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ali Quote
Seems to me that hyperfocal focusing is the way to go with landscape photography ... In the same vein, I would imagine that shallow depth of field may also be achieved through 'zone focusing' if I have been able to understand the concept at all.
A technique for VF folder and RF cams: Pacing. Pace-off the distance to a subject. Or pace-off the near and far edges of a DOF zone. (With practice, this can be done by visualization.) Then use in-booklet or on-lens DOF scales to figure the aperture and focus. I did this decades ago and still do exactly the same when shooting with my old folders. Just remember that APS-C DOF is about 1 f-stop thicker than 135/FF DOF, and fudge by another 1/3 stop to make sure the zone edges are sharp.

QuoteOriginally posted by eddie1960 Quote
Hence the old PJ saying f8 and be there. though now i guess it's f11 and be there

I do like having the DOF scale on the lens
Exactly right. Stop down to f/11 and stay alert. On my Tokina 21/3.8, hyperfocus to 2m at f/11 gives me DOF from 1m to infinity. Just point and shoot...

Modern AF lenses are great when you want to nail a subject (and have no BF/FF issues). Old MF lenses with DOF scales are great when you want to precisely control the focus zone. That's part of the difference between TAKING pictures and MAKING them. I think it has to do with patience.
12-12-2011, 11:21 PM   #19
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QuoteOriginally posted by RioRico Quote
I think it has to do with patience.
And experience, knowledge and craftsmanship.

12-13-2011, 12:34 AM   #20
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QuoteOriginally posted by jatrax Quote
And experience, knowledge and craftsmanship.
We learn good judgment from our experiences.
We gain experience by making bad judgments.

We gain craftsmanship by being patient enough to learn a craft.
We gain knowledge by being patient enough to remember stuff.
We gain patience by being forced to slow down, observe, think.

I think it's all about patience. My last cat was a wondrous animal. Early on, we conditioned Petrushka to wear a harness, then to walk on a leash. You want to learn patience? Walk a leashed cat. A cat comfortable with a leash is mostly in no hurry. Therefore the human at the other end of the leash is mostly in no hurry either. And sometimes the leashed cat is in a great hurry. The owned human must run also.

This is a very humbling experience, patiently learning to observe what and how a cat observes. After a few cat-walks, with extended periods of watching grass grow and ants scurry, mundane tasks are easier. Impatience ends. Fingers stop twitching. Time slows down. Everything around you becomes clear.

We take pictures by seeing compositions and snapping the shutter.
We make pictures by considering the components, building an image.
Yes, making pictures requires experience, knowledge and craftsmanship.
But mostly we need patience.
12-13-2011, 10:02 AM   #21
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That sounds very Japanese RioRico - watching grass grow and ants scurry... I guess I have to come to grips with patience - or the lack thereof, and find what way works with me. God knows, I need it at this point in my life. That's why I reckon I am taking up photography as an outlet to vent my frustrations.
Speaking of which, I am getting quite impatient with my AF!!! Just got a tripod today, and none of my lenses is giving me sharp focus. The image is always a bit blurred, regardless of the f-stop. While I will certainly be trying out the hyperfocal and zoning techniques, I just figure that the K-x is not reputed to miss too many shots. By and large, people who have used it tend to be satisfied with the results they get even with the 18-55 kit lens. Using focus assist with my smc A50mm is also giving me the same sort of results - almost one in 5 or greater pics are blurry Any ideas on how to fix this??
12-13-2011, 10:33 AM   #22
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Have you tried turning of the image stabilization and using a remote, or setting the delay timer for 2 seconds. Also a tripod that shakes will not give a sharp image no matter what you do.
12-13-2011, 10:40 AM   #23
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Yes RickParkhurst - image stabilization is on, and the tripod is quite sturdy. It has two bubble indicators, and I took snaps using the 2 second timer delay as well, but still the pics are not sharp. I only have 3 or 4 usable pics from a batch of 26-28 pics I took, that's why the concern.......

12-13-2011, 10:42 AM   #24
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ali Quote
Yes RickParkhurst - image stabilization is on, and the tripod is quite sturdy. It has two bubble indicators, and I took snaps using the 2 second timer delay as well, but still the pics are not sharp. I only have 3 or 4 usable pics from a batch of 26-28 pics I took, that's why the concern.......
2 second delay should turn SR off (so don't use it hand held ). If not then turn it OFF. SR should not be used with a tripod, it will cause blur
12-13-2011, 10:45 AM   #25
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Thanks eddie1960 - will keep that in mind and take a few more snaps, though come to think of it the 2 sec delay did turn the image stabilization off. But, will try and make sure....
12-13-2011, 11:01 AM   #26
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SR is wonderful. It's also only for handheld shooting, and not for close shooting. Pentax doesn't say how close is too close, but I'll guess that if the subject is less than 5 focal lengths away, SR won't help. And SR must DEFINITELY be switched off when the camera is immobilized, whether it's on a tripod or sitting on a tabletop or rock or wall. Using any of the delay or remote modes will automatically turn off SR.

If the camera is immobilized, the SR system tries to compensate for nonexistent motions. This can introduce blur, and even shake the camera. My experience: I put a heavy fisheye adapter onto a midrange zoom on my K20D. I turned the camera on and switched SR on. I put the camera in LiveView and set it down on a smooth tabletop. The camera vibrated, and moved across the tabletop.

Yes, whenever your camera is on a tripod, either switch SR off or use one of the remote or delay drive modes.
12-13-2011, 08:51 PM   #27
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QuoteOriginally posted by RioRico Quote
But mostly we need patience.
I bow to the superior patience of the cat walker..........
12-13-2011, 09:42 PM   #28
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ali Quote
Sorry for the dumb question folks.. Was wondering how to apply the rule of thirds using manual lenses (for instance my smc a50mm f1.7 lens) for portrait photography?? That is to say, how can I manually focus on a subject not in the middle of the screen?? I am sorry, but I have just entered the magical realm of photography and cud do with some tips here...)
Of all the compositional rules/guidelines for portrait photos, I think rule of thirds is the least important. Positioning a head on a stick from middle to a third doesn't make a boring photo interesting. Much more important is to worry about capturing their personality through their gestures or an expression that is typcial or unique to them, an interaction with someone or something, them doing something, their environment providing some context or back story etc etc. Rule of thirds is a straight jacket IMHO.

That said, focus and recompose is still a very important technical skill to master
12-14-2011, 05:06 AM   #29
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Thanks RioRico for the tip - I turned off SR and noticed an improvement straight away Also, it was the first time I cud really use long shutter speeds on my camera, and am beginning to understand all the fuss about 'exposure', so I guess I am on my way here...

Twitch, thanks for the input. Indeed, I find that what you are saying is very true. All the pictures I have shot, that I like the most, are the ones that have managed to capture some personality, unique trait, or the mood of the moment. However, I have also realized when looking at slideshows, or looking at people's pics whom I consider 'photogenic', all seem to be adept at falling somewhere along the intersections of the rule of thirds grid.

Jatrax, that's a deep bow mate!! And well deserved too, for I had heard of puss in boots (really want to watch it btw, any reviews?) but this is a first!!! However, I am deeply respectful of RioRico since he strikes me as a guy who is completely self-aware and someone who doesn't seem to take the small things in life that really matter for granted.

BTW, are you guys in the habit of using gray cards? Seems to be a nice way for getting the WB right....
12-14-2011, 05:10 AM   #30
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QuoteOriginally posted by twitch Quote
Of all the compositional rules/guidelines for portrait photos, I think rule of thirds is the least important.
Yup. We can and do have many compositional rules. Some have evolved over many centuries of typesetting -- see typographical guides for real info on how to structure our presentations. [SPOILER: Ain't no rules of thirds there.] But also look at comic books, see how panels are laid out, where the emphasis is. [HINT: It's centered.]

I use rules of halves, thirds, quarters, fifths, whatever. I mostly like composing with strong diagonals -- every line should hit a corner. Rule-based shooting is easy with TLRs and other cameras with horizontal viewfinders. Just draw lines on the viewer. Or shoot what's there, then compose to a rule-of-whatever in PP by cropping etc.

IMHO compositional rules are for people who are 1) students, 2) busy elsewhere, 3) blind to composition, and/or 4) rules junkies. Look at many many images. See how they are structured, composed. Imprint those forms into your memory. Learn to see those shapes in whatever you see, and how they differ from reality. It's called, Developing Your Eye. You can see a lot just by looking.
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