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Posts Tagged ‘tips’

This past Sunday I needed to bake some bread as we were out. I started baking bread about a year ago when the cost of bread started to get so high. It saves us about $$30-$40 a month, after so long of baking my own bread, my family has become spoilled, and we no longer even like the taste of store bought bread. I was also really aware that of the past 3 posts I have used a photo of my son. While I certainly think he’s one of the best subjects around to take photos of, it can get boring to see photos of the same subject over and over again. So I figured it was a perfect oportunity to photograph the bread making process.

I decided I would take photos of the entire process, much the same way I would if this were a food or baking blog. However what I learned from the process was very interesting. One thing I realized is that people who take great food shoots for their food blogs probably don’t have a very demanding four year old “helping” the entire process, and if they do they must have less clutter in their kitchen than I do. It is hard to get a four year old to wait while you wash your hands between each step and then take photos, they just want to get on with the fun of playing with the sticky dough.

Nikon D300 24-70mm @ 32mm f/4 1/80, ISO 800

I only got this one shot of the dough after the first rise before my son started rolling it in the flour, so of course I didn’t get a chance to either recompose the shot, or move the empty beer bottles. I even tried to use the blur function in Aperture 3, but it made for a strange line along the counter edge so I couldn’t fix it that way. If anyone knows how to do a decent blur without leaving a funny looking line along the counter edge please let me know.

Nikon D300 24-70mm @ 42 mm f/4 1/100, ISO 800

While I knew this before, I thought it best to share this tip. Take the time to also take the photo that your child wants you to take. It makes a world of difference in how well they cooperate with what you want to do. He thought the two loaves looked like dinosaur feet, and his arms were the legs.

Nikon D300 24-70mm @ 28mm f/2.8 1/100, ISO 800

Never trust the back of your camera to check for white balance. I took this with the white balance set to incandescent, when I looked at the back of my camera it looked horrible, but in reviewing the photo on my computer this image is not that far off correct. The bulb looks pure white and after all the bulb was the only light source.

Nikon D300 24-70mm @ 31mm f2.8 1/80, ISO 1250

The last thing that I of course should have realized but simply didn’t consider is that while making bread takes all afternoon, the sun does not stay in the same place, same intensity, or same colour temerture all afternoon. This photo was taken 2 1/2 hours after the first photo. The first 2 photos worked with the sunny setting, as they were light by window light on a bright sunny day. However by the time this photo was taken the sun had moved, and I didn’t take that into consideration when I took the photo, this was the best white balance I could achieve in post processing.

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My Nikon D300 goes from ISO 200 to 3200 not including what it calls “Hi-1” which is equivalent to 6400.  However I have been too afraid to shoot at anything above 800 as I don’t like digital noise. Anytime I have have taken photos over ISO 800, I haven’t liked the results.  This has always confused because I have often looked at other people’s photos taken at 1600 or even 3200 and loved the results.  I fell into making excuses for my lack of results: ” My camera isn’t good enough”, “if only I had the D700 I would get better results”, “I need a better noise reduction program”.  You know the game, we’ve all done it, and we’ve all tricked ourselves into believing these excuses to be legitimate. Recently a friend of mine posted this picture, and asked my opinion of it.  I was hit with a huge case envy.  How could he get such a great photo at ISO 1600 when I couldn’t?

Shallow depth of field has also caused me grief when taking portraits. My favorite lens is my Nikon AF 24-70 F2.8.  I have always been glad that I bought the fast lens, but when it came to shooting people I rarely used anything lower than the recommened 5.6. When I did, I wasn’t happy with what I got. Recently I read on mostlylisa that for portraits you should use between F2.0 and F5.0.  Why could she take such awesome portraits at such a wide aperture, and I was having a difficult time at the guideline of F5.6?

Last year I took the following photo.  It’s not a bad shot, but I was not happy with the focus.  I thought for the longest time it was that F1.8 was too wide.  However I now realize that my focus point was off by just the tiniest bit.  The focus is on the crease of his eye, and not his pupil.  The problem itself was not the shallow depth of field but the focus point, and as such could have been easily solved.

[Click on photos to enlarge]

Nikon D300 50mm f1.8 1/100sec, ISO 400

This year I took the following photos, and I’m much happier with the results.

Nikon D300 85mm F2.5 1/100sec, ISO 1600

This time the focus is right on her pupil, and clearly makes a much better photo.

Nikon D300 24-70mm @48mm 1/50sec, ISO 1600

Again the focus is right on her pupil. You’ll also notice that this photo is taken at 1/50sec @48mm and the sensor has a crop of 1.5. The guideline to avoid camera shake would be at least 1/72sec.  But by using steadying techniques I managed to take a good photo at High ISO and with shallow depth of field, despite pushing the rules of camera shake.

Nikon D300 24-70mm @24mm f3.5 1/50sec, ISO 1600

As you can see, the photos I took this January are much better despite using ISO 1600. I am no longer afraid of ISO 1600 or shallow depth of field.  I have realized that in order to get better photos at ISO 1600, you simply need to take a better photo, and one key way to do that is to avoid underexposure. That means slower shutter speeds, so you have to control camera shake.  Following is a list of  things to help avoid the lack of focus camera shake causes:

  • Always make sure that the shutter speed is equal to or greater than the focal length. (or 1.5 times the focal length on a crop sensor)
  • Hold the camera to your eye for a second after taking the photo, especially at slower shutter speeds.
  • If using a shutter speed lower than the focal length (accounting for crop factor), use steadying techniques.

I notice that these photos are lacking in digital noise.  I think the reason I may have been getting digital noise before was underexposing the photo.  I will have to look into that some more, perhaps in another post.

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