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05-26-2008, 06:50 PM   #16
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LBA starts here

Oh, and a spare lens.

05-26-2008, 07:34 PM   #17

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Develop a routine workflow.
I keep my blank SD cards in their little plastic carriers in my bag. When I remove a SD card - I lock it and get an "new" one. When I put the "new" card (unlocked) I format it and I am ready to shoot. If I grab a card and it is locked - that means I have not uploaded it to my photo bank/PC. Make backups of your images to DVD or other backup media.

Carry the minimum amount of equipment. If you have too much equipment to carry around with you - it will become a burden. Just remember, when you are out and about, you will have to stack, store and find a place to put things that just might impact what you are able to shoot. For instance - if you carry every lens you could possibly have, just try to sit in a crowded eatery or tourist bus. Also think about not changing lenses every three seconds. When you are changing lenses - you can not take pictures.

Charge the battery the night before the shoot. Get a second battery and keep it charged too.

Format the SD cards in the camera not the computer.

I would suggest that you look to cover the widest range in mm's of focal length. You should be able to cover at least 18-200 mm as you see fit. At a later point, you can invest in additional lenses that fit what you are shooting.

Read as much about technique that you can - if you find the authors saying "You can only do this with <<fill in the brand>> - find someone else to read. Equipment bigots are to be avoided at all costs. Learn basic rules of basic composition and if you want to shoot in the dark get a external flash. Read everything you can about how to set up the camera for your style of photography.

Shoot till you drop. - I would suggest that you shoot RAW, but that would open up a real can of worms.

The Elitist - formerly known as PDL
05-26-2008, 09:59 PM   #18
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While I'm definitely still a newbie to serious amateur photography , I have already learned so many things through practice and mistakes.

Here are some things I've learned through trial and error, maybe they will help you:

1) Tweak your camera's "memory" options to make sure it remembers what you want it to, and nothing more.

I still remember the first time I took my K200D on an outing, I had the White Balance set to memory...unfortunately, I was outdoors with a memoried WB of Tungsten! What's worse, I was shooting JPEG only, so Photoshop couldn't save the images as nicely as I would have liked. I caught my mistake after about 10 photos.

2) Practice composure. Practice composure. Practice Composure.

In my earlier shoots, I would just machine gun everything, taking about 10 pictures of the same subject but with slightly different zoom lengths, vertical instead of horizontal, etc. This is a waste of time. I was getting good shots only because of 10% skill and 90% probability, all the while making a difficult workflow (lots of pics), wasting shutter actuations, and cropping like a mad man.

This is not to say cropping is bad, but for an exercise do this -- Make your zoom a "prime" by only shooting at a single focal length for a while. This is I think the best way of forcing oneself to think about composure before shooting.

Do you have a foreground distraction?
Is your horizon level?
Could you get a slightly better angle to eliminate / reduce background distractions?

All questions to ask.

I believe it will also encourage you to be creative -- If you're "stuck" at this focal length, how do you get the shot and make it look interesting? Are you going to foot zoom, or do something different than what you expected? Sometimes the neatest shots are from the least obvious approaches.

I'm certainly not a prime fanatic, as my future lenses will be zooms, but I must admit prime made me think more about my shots, one facet of thinking being the actual composure.

Better composure = less cropping (if any) = time saved = "normal" proportioned picture for printing = more of the photo real estate filled with what you want = a better photo.

2b) Master Depth Of Field

Know how to work Depth of Field to your advantage and how things vary that DOF. Online Depth of Field Calculator <-- Great bookmark

3) Learn to love your histogram

Check your histogram on some shots every now and again. Underexposure makes images boring, dark, and makes you waste time PPing them. My camera and lenses (except the FA50mm) seem to underexpose by 1EV, so I compensate, as long as my highlights aren't being clipped.

4) Frame for the future, not the past

This is really cryptic sounding but is easy to explain -- Frame your subjects, if they can walk / run / crawl / look / fly / etc. to be going somewhere, not come from somewhere. Of course there are exceptions.

If the bird is flying to the right, make sure it's framed on the left.

If the person is looking left, frame him on the right -- Make the viewer wonder what the person is looking at, not wonder why the person is looking at the left edge of the photo!

It sounds easy, but many times early I made this mistake, especially with my first shots of birds in flight. I was too busy trying to get a good zoom of the bird that I didn't realize my shots looked static and boring. Sometimes I still make this mistake when I'm not thinking.

5) Experiment and have fun!

This I think is more important of all! Photography should be a pleasure...this is why I'm thankful I don't have to shoot for a job, as I think it would ruin it for me. Then again, maybe I would love my job?!

Experiment with various ways of shooting, like:

Out-of-focus shots
Painting with light
Interesting perspectives
Shakey pictures
Long exposures
HDR photos
05-27-2008, 04:49 AM   #19
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QuoteOriginally posted by PDL Quote
I keep my blank SD cards in their little plastic carriers in my bag. When I remove a SD card - I lock it and get an "new" one.
My suggestion is that you flip the card over so it is visibly recognisable as being used, even when sitting in the carrier. The little tab is quite invisible. This is one of my many tips in this article.

BTW, where does one get an SD card carrier here in the EU? Have not seen any anywhere.

05-27-2008, 05:35 AM   #20
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Congrats on a great combo. I have the 17-70 on my K10D as my general use lens and it is a great range. Not to mention that the images look great too.

Another good program to have is either exposure plot or smart photo statistics. Both of these let you analyze a group of photos for settings such as iso, shutter, focal length, etc. They each have their strengths and weaknesses - you may want to get both. But in analyzing a group for info, they are nice.

Now, stop playing online and go out and shoot!
05-27-2008, 06:09 AM   #21
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QuoteOriginally posted by sabarrett Quote
Another good program to have is either exposure plot or smart photo statistics. Both of these let you analyze a group of photos for settings such as iso, shutter, focal length, etc.
Just so people know, both of these require JPGs. This makes them useless to me. If anyone knows of a similar program that works on PEFs let me know.
05-28-2008, 04:22 AM   #22
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Original Poster
Thanks to all for your replies. Lots of useful and helpful advice, links and positive comments, that are greatly appreciated. I'm loving the K20D + Sig combo (not enough hrs in the day) and with the up coming weekend's forecast looking brilliant, I"m all set to get out and test what I've learnt during the week from all the reading, practice and advice that I've digested.

By the way camera's should come with a warning on the box regarding LBA and accessories buying (tripod, bags etc) that everyone is sure to experience.

Thanks again and stay tuned for some of my photos.

05-28-2008, 08:15 AM   #23
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Two books I'll recommend:

The Digital Photography Book by Scott Kelby - good intro to photography. Each page is a self-contained tip/instruction so you can read it at anytime and still pick up something to try.

Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson - great overview of the essential piece of photography, exposure. It's not specific to digital or film, it just covers the practicalities of getting the correct exposure, and all the different ways you can do it. Very good book.

Oh, and take lots of shots. The "film" is free.

05-28-2008, 01:39 PM   #24
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Books are fine if you can understand what they are trying to tell you... but if your brain dosen't work like it did in the 60's and 70's then they aren't going to help either. The only way I can understand what people are trying to say if for them to show me face to face. I live too far from any big city to go to a class. I just have to wait till they have some sort of class with-in driving distance. But like they say Shoot Shoot Shoot.. and good luck.
05-28-2008, 02:56 PM   #25
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My tip is to spend time on each subject to analyse how best you would like to capture it.

Angles, composition, focal length, distance away from the camera, aperture, shutter speed are all variables you should try different variations of to get the effect you want. Then check your results out on your digital darkroom (computer) to see how each set of settings created the effect you wanted.

Once you've got the theory in your head, put it into practice and try new things. All the best!

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