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07-06-2014, 04:12 AM   #1
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Newbie needing pointers!

Hello my name is Gemma, I am 21 and from the UK.

I purchased a Pentax K-50 a few months back and it's sat sort of obsolete since!

As it's summer time, it is now festival season and I am wanting to take lots of photographs of where I have been. I also go to a lot of gigs in club settings I'd like to photograph.

The environments will vary greatly but I was hoping someone would be able to give me some tips on settings for my camera (mode, ISO, shutter speed etc) as I'm not all that clued up, and any extra equipment I might need - lenses, flash guns etc. (preferably inexpensive at this point)

Any help will be highly appreciated as it'll give me a rough starting point and hopefully I'll be able to progress from there and get some good shots!

I mainly would like help with;
Day time festival
Night time festival
Indoor club venues

Thank you!
Gemma

07-06-2014, 07:21 AM   #2
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Hello Gemma and welcome to the Forums.
First I recommend taking it off the shelf and shooting with it . Use the 18-55 if you have it. It is not a bad lens just not a great lens. If you are new to DSLR's set it on auto . Now you have basically a large Point and shoot. Once you are comfortable using it start trying other modes. I tend to shoot mostly Av and TAv mostly others here like program modes. Everyone shoots a bit different and have different preferences. Practice holding the camera still for longer durations. In the lower light you will probably want something to steady the camera. The night time festivals I would carry a Monopod to help steady the camera. Remember to turn OFF the Shake Reduction when on any support.

The best way is to just practice, practice ,practice.
07-06-2014, 07:23 AM   #3
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Good Morning and Welcome to the Forums!

There is somewhat of a reason why your first post has somewhat languished here for a few hours. Folks don't want to deliver the news to you. dSLR cameras are much different from the standard point and shoot ones - they essentially require active user participation - that is what all the additional user controls (dials, buttons and menu selections) are for. Since you have had the camera sitting on a shelf for a while - you could have picked it up and started experimenting with and and gotten familiar with what you have - all the dSLRs out there require user participation. No camera out there has a "mind meld" mode (yet) where the camera automagically senses what you want to do, then goes and does it on its own.

Now having said that, there is a knob up on the top with a green AUTO on it. Turn the knob to AUTO and it will act like a point and shoot with the camera setting everything - where all you need to do is to point it and shoot it. So, now you want to take it out at night or inside and shoot - then come away with utterly fantastic blow your socks off images. The camera can do that - can easily do that, however it does take user participation - in terms of making some decisions. How high an ISO you want to shoot at, if you are going to use a flash (usually the built in flash is not that optimal for these occasions), if there is a lot of movement - do you want to freeze the movement or show some motion. These are all things that the photographer who is holding the camera adds to the picture making process. So here is the bad news - by just picking up the camera, you the photographer will not in all likelihood have the sense to make those decisions and set the camera appropriately.

If you are still reading - on the same dial up on top, there are a number of icons - pictures if you may. These are "AUTO" mode for specific scenarios - shooting at night, shooting indoors, etc. Turn the knob to the one most appropriate to you setting, and the camera will automagically adjust accordingly and try to capture the fantastic blow you away imagery that you are expecting.

Oh by the way - if its too dark for the camera to find its focus, there is a little selection knob over on the left hand side in the front - select "M" and then you are going to need to manually turn the little focusing ring out in front on the barrel of the lens, so as to bring the image in to focus as you look through the viewfinder - or look on the rear monitor in LiveView mode.

07-06-2014, 07:40 AM   #4
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Hi Gemma,

For day time festivals I like to take 3 types of photos, the "seize the moment" candid shots, more posed and composed shots of festival goers and shots of the show.
For the first I tend to shoot from the hip with a manual focus 28mm lens with aperture set to f11 and focus set to its' hyperfocal [the setting which will give you everything from half that to infinity in focus] distance of 2.8(ish)m. You can then just point and shoot, even from the hip, and pretty much everything will be acceptably sharp. Practice shooting without looking through the view finder, it's pretty easy with a wide angle lens, until you are close enough - with the focus on manual it doesn't matter if you are a bit out with your framing. For the iso, set it to auto and let the camera sort it out. I like this method as peoples behaviour could change as you bring the camera up to your eye, and the effect of shooting from the hip gives an interesting/different perspective on things. And if the situation doesn't change, you can always follow up with a more composed shot. Also, you can do all this with your kit lens no problems, just set the focus on your K-50 to manual, and what ever focal lenth you feel like using, find its hyperfocal length here - How to calculate hyperfocal distance: free photography cheat sheet | Digital Camera World - page 3

For the posed and composed shots, I take a trick from Cartier Bresson. Find a spot with good light and a good background, get yourself a cuppa or a beer, and wait for something/someone interesting to fill the foreground. Don't be afraid to talk to people, tell the why you like their look, and ask them if they would mind striking a pose for you for a couple of seconds. Most folk that look groovy don't do so by accident and really appreciate a compliment and will happily pose. Again here your kit lens will do just fine, but if you want to justify buying a lens (look up LBA on this forum) you won't go far wrong getting your self a 50mm f1.4 or f1.7, and playing at making the subject pop with depth of field.

For good shots of what's going on on the stage thing aren't much more difficult, but can be more expensive. I use a 200mm f2.8, but depending how close you can get to the stage you can get, an 80mm f4 could do, but you will get lots of "up the nostril shots". I find this the least interesting of the 3 types of festival shots, cos unless you are good and lucky, you will end up with the same shots as everyone else. And don't bother with a flash if you are more than 4 or 5 m from the stage, it will not compete with the stage light, fool your camera into under-exposing your shots, and piss off the act.

Night time festivals is pretty much the same, you might want to experiment with off camera flash, but basically the ambush method at a well lit spot works for me most time. Your on camera flash will leave your images flat and featureless, and should really only be used if there is no other solution.

For indoor club venues the best bit of kit is a small step ladder if you can get it past the door, if not a strong mate with comfortable shoulders ;-) .. If you're not bothered about what's going on on stage, and you are prepared to be in photog mode all evening, then you can work with off camera flash, or an external rotatable flash and a reflector, but I find that a lot of gear to be responsible for in a club environment. So I use a 77mm f1.8 lens and find myself a good vantage point, then play with available light and shadows, then if I get bored the whole lot can slip in a bumbag (uncool, but very practical) while I do the usual club things.

Lastly, don't be afraid to fail, a lot, that's how we learn

Chrispy

07-06-2014, 07:58 AM   #5
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Do not use AUTO. Use P instead. The difference is that AUTO allows no adjustments, and limits some functions.

Read about exposure value compensation (EV) in the manual, find the button on the camera for it, and learn how it works. It's easy. This will allow you to lighten or darken the exposure when the camera gets it wrong - which it will.

The 18-55 lens should get you around outdoors until you want to spend money for something better, but for clubs or other dark areas you will need to increase the ISO to 1600 or more, and use a bigger aperture (smaller number) on the lens, such as f2.8. The 18-55 doesn't open up that far and probably won't work here, so you will need a "faster" lens. "Faster" generally costs money. The older autofocus Sigma 30mm f1.4, Pentax FA 50 f1.4, or a cheaper manual-focus 50mm are some options. Flash would be a simple - though annoying and possibly not allowed - option.
07-06-2014, 08:31 AM   #6
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As noted above by many learning to use a dslr requires active participation. And learning photography takes even more. It is not particularly hard but there are skills, jargon and concepts that you need to learn. Most of all it requires practice. Taking pictures, noting the camera settings and looking at the image to see what the result was. I average 15,000 exposures a year and learn something new almost every day. Photography truly is a journey not a destination.

As a primer may I suggest a book by Brian Peterson, "Understanding Exposure" it is in the 4th edition now and older copies are often available used, though the 4th edition includes more information on digital than some of the earlier ones. Get it, read it, practice and read it again.

And not to be a downer, but if you are expecting to just put the camera on a few settings and snap away I think you will be disappointed. There is a learning curve and it requires practice to get good.
07-06-2014, 10:31 AM   #7
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Hi Gemma

First thing - gotta get out there and take pics. You're not going to learn anything looking at the camera on the shelf.

Do what I did, take lots of pics. The great thing about digital - doesn't cost anything. Rather than just snapping away, do a bit of reading online so as to have some principles, ideas, techniques in mind to what ever it is you are imaging: flowers, people, scenery, sights, indoors, etc. Some of the web sites I picked up on and can recommend (besides this forum) are:

Cambridge in Colour - Photography Tutorials & Learning Community
The Luminous Landscape
Tutorial Links
Bob Atkins Photography Home Page - www.BobAtkins.com

And then check them out on the PC. These days I use Faststone a lot (it's free). I used to use Irfanview, but when I upgraded to win 7 the inbuilt pic viewer meant I didn't really use it any more. Faststone has good facilities for doing all the usual things with ics: cropping, resizing, playing with contrast, colours, comparing pics taken at different apertures etc. BTW you get the message that its not just about your camera, if you're serious it's about a learning curve on the PC as well.

RTM and use the different modes: Av, M, Tv. This will make you think about what the priority is for different circumstances (aperture? shutter? ASA?) and the primary means of getting the exposure right (read up abut the "exposure triangle"). Check out pics taken at different f stops and see how the depth of field is affected, and at different focal lengths. Review all the rubbish pics, like me you'll have plenty, don't worry thats normal, just learn st from them and make liberal use of the delete button. Go back and see if you can correct what didn't work when you first took the pic.

IMO splashing a modest amount on a "nifty fifty" is a worthwhile investment in the learning curve. Admittedly the manual focus is going to multiply your quota of out of focus results, particularly because the standard focus screen in the camera isn't really designed for MF use, particularly with fast (ie f2, f1.7, f1.4...) lenses, but do what I did and make a lot of use of Live View to focus and to check focus. The fixed focal length will concentrate your attention more on the composition and on what is most appropriate for the focal length. The discipline of working in M mode or Av mode will make you think about your shutter speeds and f stops. And the high quality when you get it right will be the reward.

And most of all enjoy yourself.

Last edited by marcusBMG; 07-06-2014 at 10:49 AM.
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