Author Topic: taking up photography  (Read 3705 times)

LE

taking up photography
« on: October 23, 2008, 02:21:18 pm »
I often see the fabulous photos people on the forum take and wish I was able to take great photos too. So I'm looking for some advice. First of all I would like to know what sort of camera would be suitable. I currently have a very basic digital camera - in fact the camera on my phone takes better photos than my camera :s. Secondly, can anyone give me any tips on good photography, or guide me towards to some good photography books, please?

Thank you. 

ABlipInContinuity

Re: taking up photography
« Reply #1 on: October 23, 2008, 02:28:45 pm »
Digital SLR Cameras & Photography For Dummies was a brilliant book to get me started.

Dumies

You don't need a dSLR tho. Not to start with. A lot of the advice in the book applies to generally taking pictures.

I remember when I was searching around, there were even some on-line tutorials. I think there was a thread I started on the other place in which some really useful links were posted.

If you are keen and you can afford it, I'd recommend getting yourself a dSLR, something like a second hand Nikon D40 would probably be ideal. I would imagined the prices have dropped down quite a bit now. Even the older D50 would be fine and will work with a wider range of lenses, but if you have small hands a D40 is lighter and easier to hold onto.

Good luck.

Re: taking up photography
« Reply #2 on: October 23, 2008, 02:33:01 pm »
there are loads of really good tutorials on http://www.ephotozine.com/learn/techniques  and the forum is a pretty friendly place.

and I'm with Blip, a dSLR gives more control (and access to better lenses) but isnt essential. 

 

Jaded

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Re: taking up photography
« Reply #3 on: October 23, 2008, 02:33:55 pm »
Composition
Content
Quality.

Composition and content are key. Personally I think you can get by with questionable quality if you have chosen a great subject and then if you take care with composing. Photo forums I've been to often put IQ (Image Quality) above the other two and have tech-fest discussion about sharpness and dynamic range. Putting all that gubbins top of the list makes photography less enjoyable.

For a camera? Well, that depends on what kind of pics you want to take. One thing is for sure, more megapixels does not equal better quality. Sometimes the opposite in fact!

It's a great hobby and I never go out without a camera of some kind!

PS you can buy my D50 body if you want!  ;D
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JT

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Re: taking up photography
« Reply #4 on: October 23, 2008, 02:36:34 pm »
The OU do a short photography course: T189 is the course number.
a great mind thinks alike

hellymedic

  • Just do it!
Re: taking up photography
« Reply #5 on: October 23, 2008, 02:45:50 pm »
Many people here, myself included, will have started photography with film SLRs.
With these we learned the basic principles of composition, timing and choice of technique, over which we had much control.
Film was unforgiving of camera shake, movement artefact and underexposure etc.
We waited ages to see the results of our expensive efforts and could only learn slowly from our mistakes.
Digital photography largely eliminates these issues at the expense of control.
It is easy to get any number of acceptable pictures very cheaply.
So where and how to start?
1) Look and learn from other people's pictures.
2) Take your own and critically appraise.
Ask yourself many questions about pictures you see and take.
What does this pic do/say?
How does it do this?
Where does the light come from?
What techniques has the photographer used?
What faults can I see on this picture and how would I avoid them?
I set myself the exercise of taking pictures confined to my hospital for the first few rolls of film, when I first acquired my SLR. I took no people initially, judt looked for interesting inanimate objects. I learned to handle the camera that way.
Then I bought and read books.
I still have my 100 first shots in an album and am proud of them.
I can't turn the clock back for you. We're in the digital age now.
Maybe you should try to take  a small number of 'best' pictures and analyse them...

David Martin

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Re: taking up photography
« Reply #6 on: October 23, 2008, 02:47:26 pm »
What Jaded said.

Start with the technical bit.

Lesson 1. Take of lens cap/turn camera on.
Press shutter release.

What appears in the camera is what was in front of it.

Look at photos you like.  Try to copy them. Think about what makes them so good (where does the light come from? what was the point of view? Where is the subject positioned in the frame?) Slightly more technical: what was the focal length used (wide, standard, long)?

At this point the camera you use makes little difference.

Once the basics of composition etc. are there then it is time to think about the technical.

maybe we should start a 'picture dissection' thread  to encourage people to think more before pressing the button?

..d
Edit: And what Helen said..
"By creating we think. By living we learn" - Patrick Geddes

hellymedic

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Re: taking up photography
« Reply #7 on: October 23, 2008, 03:00:08 pm »
Maybe you should stick to using your phone for a week or two and use it whenever you see something interesting.
That way you won't spend any money yet but will have a camera to hand when needed.
You can concentrate on composition and content and make sure the subject is adequately illuminated.
Move on to a proper camera when you've acquired an 'eye'.

Re: taking up photography
« Reply #8 on: October 23, 2008, 03:02:28 pm »
You don't need a dSLR tho. Not to start with.

Yes you do.  You can have instant feedback on your efforts at no cost and experiment with numerous settings on the same composition to see what happens.

When you've got it licked, then you buy a film camera   ;)

David Martin

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Re: taking up photography
« Reply #9 on: October 23, 2008, 03:05:26 pm »
Maybe you should stick to using your phone for a week or two and use it whenever you see something interesting.
That way you won't spend any money yet but will have a camera to hand when needed.
You can concentrate on composition and content and make sure the subject is adequately illuminated.
Move on to a proper camera when you've acquired an 'eye'.


Seconded. Take a load of pics of the same thing. Post the ones you like in the other thread and we will be merciless provide constructive criticism.

You don't need a dSLR tho. Not to start with.

Yes you do.  You can have instant feedback on your efforts at no cost and experiment with numerous settings on the same composition to see what happens.

When you've got it licked, then you buy a film camera   ;)

You get instant feedback on technical changes on a compact with manual settings. But more important is to learn to look. That doesn't need a dSLR.

When you get it licked you get a light meter and a field camera.

..d
"By creating we think. By living we learn" - Patrick Geddes

Biggsy

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Re: taking up photography
« Reply #10 on: October 23, 2008, 03:08:07 pm »
You don't need any particular sort of camera or even any technical knowledge to take great photos.  You just need some artistic talent, or luck.  (I wish I had some more of both of these!).

That said, I would urge you to at least think about a digital SLR because they are so powerful and enjoyable to use.  You have all the control that you would with a film SLR, and you could put almost anything you learn about photography into practice with one.  Of course they are less convenient to carry than a compact camera, but carting one about is possible via bicycle.  I would recommend Pentax for value for money.
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Re: taking up photography
« Reply #11 on: October 23, 2008, 03:10:36 pm »
You don't need a dSLR to learn to look but it helps. Basically because it has a viewfinder. Most cameras these days don't have a viewfinder which makes it hard to know exactly what you are taking a picture of. A range finder would be equally good but only film range finders are anything like affordable.  Something like a Cannon G series has a viewfinder too but again is quite expensive new. I would also go for something that can shoot in RAW mode as then you get to play with processing a lot more than if it shoots in JPEG.
I think you'll find it's a bit more complicated than that.

David Martin

  • Thats Dr Oi You thankyouverymuch
Re: taking up photography
« Reply #12 on: October 23, 2008, 03:12:18 pm »
Having a dSLR will not magically make you a better photographer. I take loads of crap pics with mine.

What it does do is to give you the best tools money can buy. The most important tools though are the ones you were born with - your eyes and your imagination.

..d
"By creating we think. By living we learn" - Patrick Geddes

LEE

Re: taking up photography
« Reply #13 on: October 23, 2008, 03:16:23 pm »
Observation 1 - A camera never took a good photo.

All a camera can hope to do is get the focus and exposure correct.

Observation 2 - It's the person holding the camera that can take a good photo.  

Assuming the camera takes care of the focus and exposure then it's down to you to fill the viewfinder with pleasing things.

Observation 3 - There are some damn fine digital cameras out there for not much money now.  £200 gets you a camera capable of breathtaking results.

Don't believe me?

Take a look

Edit.  This fella has an eye for composition.  Sure the location/light gives lots of potential for great shots but the composition of some of the shots tells me (and most people who viewed them) that he made the most of it.

"Leaves in front of Flags" is a superb shot that 99% of people wouldn't even spot. That's about compostion and not equipment.

It's also a bloody good advert for that Canon camera as well

Edit 2 - Whether or not the fella knows it (I wager it's an instinct) or not, he uses the classic 'rule of thirds' when he composes a lot of his shots. 

If it's not a natural instinct then you can do worse than read up on it and practice it in the field.  You can improve many shots just by folowing this simple rule (some LCD screens have gridlines to help you do just this.

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Re: taking up photography
« Reply #14 on: October 23, 2008, 03:30:15 pm »
As others have said, you can get decent photos from any camera.  I remember seeing a load of stunning photos taken by a professional photographer using a 35 mm disposable camera.  Simply start of playing with what you already have and then you may begin to discover what sort of camera you'd like to buy. 

The only photography book I own is a Lonely Planet book written by Richard I'Anson.  It starts are covering the basic stuff (equipment, composition etc.) and then discusses a variety of situations (eg citycapes / landscapes / portraits / sports events) (click for the contents pages).  It doesn't deal with digital photography, but things like composition / depth of field / shutter speed applies equally to digital and film cameras.
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hellymedic

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Re: taking up photography
« Reply #15 on: October 23, 2008, 04:06:43 pm »
Make sure your hands and arms are strong enough to hold any camera (and lens) you may consider REALLY STEADY before you part with any money.
Some of these DSLRs are wonderul machines but they can be HEAVY.
I am no longer strong enough for a decent camera (***ing MS) but use a Canon IXUS or phone for all my pictures.

FyPuNK

Re: taking up photography
« Reply #16 on: October 23, 2008, 04:07:56 pm »
For books, get yourself to the library, its a great source for information. I still use film, and still lump around my Mamiya 645. I bought a Nikon Prosumer  camera which has all the functions of a slr without having the lenses and get fantastic shots to the point I have not upgraded as yet to the full kit, there have been times when the flexibility of having lenses has been an issue but i have got by. I have spent a lot of time learning Photoshop and Lightroom to do justice to my digital shots but I have to say I still spend more time in my darkroom than my computer.

Re: taking up photography
« Reply #17 on: October 23, 2008, 04:24:28 pm »
Quote
This fella has an eye for composition

Thanks for posting this, LEE. Somehow I missed it first time around.

Re OP  - I've often about this Q  - I've still not got a digital camera (it's less than 2 yrs since I took the plunge and got a mobile phone  :-[ )

One more Q  - where's best to get a entry-level digital camera. Is it like bikes, where you go to a specialist, or is the like sof Argos just as good?

Biggsy

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Re: taking up photography
« Reply #18 on: October 23, 2008, 04:27:47 pm »
Make sure your hands and arms are strong enough to hold any camera (and lens) you may consider REALLY STEADY before you part with any money.
Some of these DSLRs are wonderul machines but they can be HEAVY.

That is true, though some of the Canon ones now are no heavier than plastic toys, seriously, and Pentax is bringing out a new lightweight one soon as well.

Actually, the heavier the camera, the easier it is to hold steady.  It's just a question of whether you can hold and carry one without too much fatigue in your hands, wrists, arms, and even back and shoulders.
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Biggsy

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Re: taking up photography
« Reply #19 on: October 23, 2008, 04:31:31 pm »
One more Q  - where's best to get a entry-level digital camera. Is it like bikes, where you go to a specialist, or is the like sof Argos just as good?

Argos and eBay etc can be just as good when you really know what you want already, but you'll be much better off going to a specialist old-fashioned shop to actually see what the cameras feel like and to get personal advice.
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hellymedic

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Re: taking up photography
« Reply #20 on: October 23, 2008, 04:37:42 pm »
If you know what you want, have a look at Amazon; you could order a book and camera (and bigger memory card and camera case) at the same time.

Re: taking up photography
« Reply #21 on: October 23, 2008, 05:11:10 pm »
Having spent 35 years in the business and getting some of the highest qualifiactions possible, the best advice I would give is:

Always try to see you picture before you think of picking up the camera. It cannot record anything that you cannot see. So learn to see light. It is something you can do all day every time you look at something or some scene. You don't need a camera to practice.

I have judged many qualification panels for photographic bodies and one of the biggest rejection reason is poor use of light. Just try to imagine you are trying to put a three dimensional image on a two dimensional plane. The only way you can do that is to use the light available to give you depth.

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Re: taking up photography
« Reply #22 on: October 23, 2008, 06:04:52 pm »
Another important part of photography is taking risks. Don't stay on the safe side, making only photos in the way you know that they will succeed. Do try new things, do try awkward techniques and situations. Your limit of photography may be different of that of another person, try to push your limits further away. In the digital age this is a lot easier to do so take advantage of it.

clarion

  • Tyke
Re: taking up photography
« Reply #23 on: October 23, 2008, 06:17:48 pm »
Good advice from David:

...Start with the technical bit.

Lesson 1. Take of lens cap/turn camera on.
Press shutter release.

What appears in the camera is what was in front of it.

This is the most important.  Just get taking photos, and, when you're not taking them, thinking about framing a shot.  This will be informed by:

Quote
Look at photos you like.  Try to copy them. Think about what makes them so good (where does the light come from? what was the point of view? Where is the subject positioned in the frame?) Slightly more technical: what was the focal length used (wide, standard, long)?

At this point the camera you use makes little difference.

So you get to looking at a scene and deciding how to capture it.  What's important or interesting to you?  Colour, texture, shape, action can all be suitable subjects.  Look at it from different angles, walk about, wait to see it in different light if you have the luxury.  Is there a better view?  Do you want a brighter light to heighten the contrast, or does that flatten it out too much?

Don't be afraid to get in close.  Shots tend to get more interesting the closer you are.  Yes, you can crop later, or use a zoom to enlarge what you're seeing, but getting close to your subject is particularly satisfying.

Don't worry either about taking a lot of shots of the same subject using different settings/viewpoints etc.  It used to be that I'd have to be careful because of the costs of film & processing, but, with digital, you can take more and delete them once you understand why you don't like them.  That's an important point in itself.  David is encouraging us all to be more self-critical photographers, and that's important.  You need to understand why you like the ones you like, and why you think the others don't work.

Quote
Once the basics of composition etc. are there then it is time to think about the technical...

I think the first technical issue you need to consider is your camera.  It's a box to capture light in.  But it won't capture anything at all if it's not thee when you want it.  A compact is a good start.  One with a good lens will be fine - and that doesn't mean it has to be a super-duper long zoom.  You want something with a moderate wide angle for general purposes, and a short tele for portraits etc.  If it's light and not complicated to use, you'll have it with you when the moments happen.

Last bit of advice:  Have fun!

I've rambled on long enough.
Getting there...

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Re: taking up photography
« Reply #24 on: October 24, 2008, 08:18:52 pm »
 For ideas you can look at Flickr there are some great photographers on there and many photos you can see the settings of the camera at the time in the side bar information.
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