Use Wide Angle Lens

Making it big

Let’s take for example a simple situation, where we have two kids, which should be of similar size. The girl is playing closer to the camera while the boy is watching several feet farther. We make a shot with a wide angle lens. What effect the lens would bring here? First of all compare the size of the girl and the boy. The boy probably would be two-three times smaller than the girl, while in reality their somewhat of the same height. OK, the perspective added its effect and make the boy seem smaller. But in the reality the boy is not that far away. On the photograph I it could seem as 15-20 feet (5-7 meters) between the boy and the girl, actually only a few feet separated them at that moment. So here you see the first effect of the wide angle lens – stretching perspective.

And I should say that there is additional benefit for a photographer in this. Because the girl appear to be bigger than the boy she becomes the main subject without any doubts or additional thinking, we just assume it by judging the relative sizes of subjects/objects in the frame. It means that with wide angle lens its much easier to focus viewer’s attention on the primary subject – the size matters. If we consider the relative sizes and how it reduces the significance of the objects/subjects that farther away from the camera, we can say that the other elements of the photograph (not the primary one) easily become the background for our primary subject. And this trail of thought leads me to a conclusion that by using wide angle lens we can separate the subject from the rest of stuff in the image by making all other elements to become the background. It looks like we push all other elements farther away from the camera and pull the subject much closer to the camera.

Though there is one side thought, it may not always be possible to get close to the subject and enforce that distance between elements in the photograph. It only works when you are very close to the subject, otherwise the use of wide angle lens will have the opposite effect – it will blend your subject in with the rest of the elements of the photograph. And sometimes it may even worsen things, such that some insignificant object on front plane becomes almost huge and draws a lot of unwanted attention. That’s why there are limits to this techniqe, as always.

Seeing a lot

So, by pushing the subject farther from the camera we blend it with background. But what if we need to include a lot of the scene? What if there is no single subject? Let’s say there is a vista or a big room full of people (some kind of event) and we want to get everything into the frame. Well, again the wide angle lens could be your choice, because the name of that range says it all. Wide angle means that you can fit a lot of stuff into the image.

Though when you put a lot of stuff into the image everything becomes small and less significant. And then the emphasis shifts to the overall “wow effect”. When the quantity of elements and their relation to each other play more importance, than qualities of a single element, this mix of many elements becomes the primary subject.

Wide angle lens help when there is a limited space and you need to jam a big subject into the picture. One of the examples is the interior design photography. Let’s say we have an assignment to take photographs of a kitchen, which I had some time ago. In my case I had plenty of room to move around, the kitchen was for a show, not for real purposes. But there are times when the space is a great issue, then the only choice is to use a wide angle lens, if you are not focusing on the details and need the overall view of the room.

Dynamics and distortion

Sometime ago I’ve taken a shot of a man sitting on a car. It was taken with “a hidden camera”, I just pointed the camera at the man from the waist level at pressed the shutter. The lens, of course, was the wide angle one – at its widest angle. The legs of the man were closest to the camera, and the head is most distant. How was it represented in the photographs? My first answer would be the disproportion of the man, his legs seem much bigger in relation to his whole body than a person usually would have. That is one of the the distortion effects which I wanted to point out. It relates to the “Making it big” issue covered earlier in this article. The body parts of the man, which are closer to the camera (in our case those are the legs) appear to be bigger than his other limbs, which are farther away. Such a distortion sometime may add a funny look to a portrait or highlight specific features of the subject. You probably have seen many images taken with a fish eye lens – the lens that cover 180 degrees and with most distortions. The first example that comes to my mind is a picture of a dog, which is sniffing the camera. The nose of the dog has the size of the dog’s head, which makes it so funny.

The other effect of distortion is that straight lines that cross the frame may appear not that straight. The farther from the image center the line crosses the frame the more it will be bent by the optics. Sometimes with fish eye lens it seems like a couple of lines create a circle around the lens. That’s how strongly a distortion can affect the scene in the photograph.

But we have not talked about the dynamics. Where are the dynamics in the photograph created with a wide angle lens? In my mind the dynamics in all aspects described above: the stretch of perspective, the differences of the subjects, which are on different distances from the camera, the unreal proportions of known shapes and forms and the distortion of the straight lines (or any other usual and known graphic elements).

Getting personal

Among those technical aspects of the wide angle lens, there is one, which adds its own appeal to me. Considering that you are using the lens to take photographs of a person, you are bound to come closer to the subject. Coming closer, huh? It means that most probably the person would notice you and your camera, which will almost touch him or her. And if your are noticed by the subject, then the attention will be turned at you and all the activities or interests that kept that person busy and made him/her interesting for you will be forgotten for a little while. And the scene, which you were hunting for, is gone. It seems like you are losing the advantage of a candid shot and are left with a posed one.

Not at all, if you stick just for a few more minutes and spend some time around the subject, the person would be bored with you and shift his attention to some other, more interesting activities or objects. That’s the moment we have been waiting for – we are close and unnoticed. And the time which we spent waiting for that we made an invisible connection with the subject. We learned about some personal side and probably made some impressions and conclusions. All those small things count, they will appear in the photograph, it will create that personal touch and add the mood to the photograph, which is based on the photographer’s understanding and impression of the subject. I consider this side-effect of the wide angle lens one of the important aspects. And even if the subject is a simple rock laying in the grass, we will have to pay more attention to the rock and by doing so we cannot escape a deeper impression. This personal connection makes as think more about what subject we select to include into the frame and what we know about it, what we want to express, which is the core of photography.

Digital Camera Batteries

Leaving aside the ever power thirsty LCD screens and flashes, the digital cameras themselves exhaust batteries much faster than film cameras, due to their state of the art electronic designs and intricate circuitry. Many digital cameras run from AA cells, around 4, and can even drain a set of alkaline cells in less than 1 hour of working! For example, the Kodak DC120 draws about 210mA during start or switch ON, but progresses to around 1.3A with the association of the LCD fully working and can go ahead to about 2.1A while picture taking and after it too.

With all these nightmares regarding the batteries of the digital cameras, it is worthwhile to analyze and reveal some of the available batteries for the digital cameras in an effort to explore area of power consumption in this fantastic device. Coming to first one of these, like its great name suggests, it is the Li-ion (Lithium Ion). It is one of the latest cell types available to digital camera users. This has many advantages to its credit. It is light in weight and currently available for many commercial uses and thus being so the Li-ion (Lithium Ion) battery type is becoming quite popular. This has an added advantage of being able to endow with more power than any of the other main cell types available. It is also free from the problems of memory effect, hat some battery types do have, and maintenance is least in this type of battery. These are but real goodies about this Li-ion (Lithium Ion) battery. Yet it has one major disadvantage, that is, the price is usually significantly higher than conventional batteries, due to its sophisticated design and technology.

Coming to the next one in the line, the NiMH (Nickel Metal Hydride). This is a battery that is perhaps the most frequently under use for not only digital cameras, but also for other sophisticated devices like laptop computers! This has the advantage of being cheap in price due to the fact that it incurs cheap manufacturing costs, and thus a choice for many users! But this does have the problems of memory effect, and much more maintenance and care is required while handling this kind of battery.

Another such battery is the NiCAD (Nickel Cadmium) Battery. This is perhaps belonging to one of the older cell types generally available for older laptops and electronic devices. These batteries or cells have an aptitude for handling high power loads, and therefore is more frequently found in handy power tools and devices that require more amounts power to work efficiently and perfectly. Yet again, these batteries too have the problems of memory effect, and much more maintenance and care is required while handling this kind of battery.

Apart from the different batteries themselves, the selection should be based upon the charging techniques and the different charges available for all these digital camera batteries. Latest batteries come handy with charging free techniques too! So care needs to be taken in this area also, depending upon the requirements of the user.

Buying a Digital Camera

Megapixels:

With the exception of the high-end professional digital cameras of 12 plus megapixels, the number of megapixels a digital camera is capable of generally speaking is the most important quality factor when it comes to how good your digital photos will come out. In the case of the high-end digital cameras the lenses themselves will also play a very important part.

When comparing digital cameras by the number of megapixels they are capable of, you will need to look closely at the small print on the digital camera or in the digital cameras manual. You may find that the camera is in reality capable of less megapixels then it leads you to believe.

For example some digital cameras will have in big print on the camera and or in its documentation say six megapixels, but underneath in small print it will say something like five megapixels enhanced to six using software. Basically this means that the camera is really only capable of five megapixels but the software in the camera will attempt to enhance the quality of the photos to six megapixels, this will never be as good as a true six megapixel camera.

How much zoom do you need?

You’re going to have to decide just how much zoom your camera will need, for this think about the type of photography you want to take with the camera, if a lot of long-distance photos are going to be taken, obviously more zoom will be very useful.

There are two kinds of zoom, optical and digital. Optical zoom zooms in using lenses within the camera, so there will be no quality lost. Where as digital zoom on the other hand will simply make your pictures bigger and so will lose you are lot of picture quality. Here too many digital camera manufacturers will try to mislead buyers by stating the digital zoom in big letters, but only revealing that it is in fact digital zoom in small print underneath.

In my opinion digital zoom is about as useful as mud, I’d much rather not use digital zoom and instead digitally enlarged the picture at home on my PC. This way I would be able to see exactly how much picture quality I would be losing and I would still have the original picture at full quality.

The powersupply for your digital camera:

The powersupply is something greatly ignored when people buy digital cameras. People just don’t consider it, yet when you think about it having a reliable power source for your digital camera is vital to make sure you don’t ever run out of power right when you need your digital camera most.

AA and AAA batteries are the most common method used to power the lower end digital cameras. In many ways having this kind can be a good thing in that these batteries are cheap and easily replaceable at anytime.

Some lower end and most of the higher end digital cameras will only accept their own powersupply specifically made for that camera. These powersupplys are normally Lithium batteries and can be quite expensive. They will generally give you the advantage of lasting longer, however it is still wise to have at least one spare pack charged and ready to go with you at all times. When considering price on different cameras remember to take into account the added price for battery packs in the future.

A few digital cameras have the capability of being able to take both their own specific battery pack and normal AA or AAA rechargeable batteries you can find at any supermarket. If you take into account everything mentioned above when you compare digital cameras, you should have no problem in choosing a good camera for your usage. Also remember to check out on-line reviews as they will help you compare each camera.

Red Light Camera Solution

The cost of traffic tickets and the rate of being ticketed are both rising. A big reasons for the increase in the number of traffic tickets being issued is the proliferation of red light cameras. These red light cameras are there to take pictures of the license plates of vehicles that pass through an intersection after the light has turned red. Somewhere between two weeks and two months later a ticket is mail to the offender, often with his or her picture attached. The tickets can range anywhere from $30 to over $300. The private companies that supply and operate these red light cameras share the revenues with the municipalities where the cameras are located.

We’re told that these cameras are placed at intersections for our own good, and not for the financial windfall. The fact is there has been over 1 billion dollars in traffic fines issued to date because of these red light cameras. There are even people who swear that some of the traffic lights are calibrated to increase the number of red light tickets.

There are three huge flaws in this photographic ticketing system.

First, there is the obvious one of a camera malfunctioning and photographing a vehicle when the light has not yet turned red. How do you successfully argue such a case?

Secondly, what if there was a legitimate reason for being in an intersection when the light turned red. Maybe there was a pedestrian straggling through the crosswalk. Or maybe late, oncoming traffic prevented an intersection committed driver from making a left turn before the light turned red. Perhaps there was some obstruction in the road that caused a driver to have to slow down, and thus get caught in the intersection when the light turned red. These type of mitigating circumstances could be explained to and verified by a police officer who could then decide not to issue a ticket. But how do you explain anything to a camera?

Thirdly, there’s the problem of the time lag between the traffic infraction and the actual receiving of the ticket. It can be as short as two weeks or as long as two months. How is someone to fight a ticket for an infraction that he can’t remember, or didn’t even know he committed?

The case against the use of red light traffic cameras has gone to court and in some municipalities there have been moratoriums placed on their use. But, despite these little victories, there use continues to spread.

While the law wrestles with the legality of the red light cameras, the people have decided to fight back. The resistance is two-pronged: legal and creative.

Exposure Compensation

Looking at different digital cameras, even temperately costing digital cameras have arrangements for exposure compensation settings. To explain in a bit detail, the exposure compensation allows the users to control the amount of light entering the lens. And thereby the illumination of the photograph is decided. Exposure compensation can be altered manually or by the help of a digital camera’s exposure compensation setting that lets one override the metered exposure set inside the digital camera itself. Strictly speaking, the exposure values provide an expedient line of attack to put a figure on the available light intensity and therefore exposure.

As per general norms of the users of digital cameras, certain standards exist for selecting such values. These values are specifically known as Exposure Values (EV). Selecting an up to standard Exposure Values (EV) helps maintain the details contained in dark areas of a photo, or diminish the more than usually bright areas. Again, looking from technical point of view, the Exposure Values are numbers that refer to an assortment of combinations of apertures of lenses and shutter speed respectively. They have a selective range of values, ranging between -2 to +2 Exposure Values (EV). As a general rule positive exposure settings are used for cases where bulky areas of a scene are especially bright such as taking pictures of a snow scene and also during times of photographing when the background is a good deal brighter than the focal area under consideration. Also, negative exposure settings are used for cases where bulky areas of a scene are especially dark and also during times of photographing when the background is a good deal darker than the fore area under consideration.

One point that is worth noting is that light meters cannot see color. They deliver every scene as 18% middle gray and become accustomed to the exposure accordingly. And most digital cameras will allows a photographer to compensate the exposure by 1 to 2 EV plus or minus in 1/3 or 1/2 stop increments. A very important realization for any photographer is that the right exposure is only “correct” in the eye of the photographer; Exposure Value compensation can also be used as a creative tool.

Camera Bags

If you are in the market for a new camera bag, you should know that there are a lot of different options to choose from. When shopping you may have a hard time deciding which bag is just right for you. Many photographers find that they actually need two different bags: one bag for when they will be out and about and need many lenses and a smaller bag when they will just be shooting for fun and won’t need to carry as many lenses with them.

When you are shopping you need to consider how easily you can access your camera at any one time. If you are on the go and you need to be able to grab your camera with ease, you should look into a shoulder bag. A shoulder bag will give you the fast access that you need. If you don’t need to access the camera quickly and you don’t want to deal with a bag that swings to and fro when you walk, you may want to consider a backpack.

A backpack is a great option because it is on your back, will protect and transport, but will not get in the way of you walking and will not swing around. Many people feel that this is simply a much more comfortable way to carry their camera and other items because it is accessible but very stable.

If you know which style of bag appeals to you the most, you also need to consider how much storage space the bag has. If you will be carrying many lenses with you, you need to consider if the bag will be able to house your lenses, as well. Another important consideration should be if the bag can house extra memory, batteries, flashes and the like. A bag is only as good as its ability to hold all of the items that you need to be the best photographer that you can possibly be.

If the bag cannot house all of your lenses, you may want to look into lens bags. These are bags that are meant just to transport and store your lenses. Lenses are very costly, so you shouldn’t force them to fit into a camera bag if they cannot fit the way they should. It would be better to simply purchase another bag meant specifically for your lenses.

Focusing Digital Camera on Moving Objects

  • manually or automatically to infinite. As long as the moving objects stay within the infinite focus range the photo will be sharp and clear. Although this is applicable in some scenarios it is not useful in many others such as shooting sport events or air shows.
  • Manually correcting the focus: Using this method the digital camera is put into manual focus mode. Focus corrections are done manually by moving a focus ring n the lens or pressing focus in and out buttons. When the objects move and change their distance from the camera the photographer manually corrects the focus as needed. This is good in some scenarios where the objects are moving relatively slow and their movement is predictable. Manually correcting the focus for objects that move very fast or move unpredictably is not practical.
  • Single focus mode: When using this method the digital camera is put into single focus mode. The camera will automatically focus on the object when the shutter button is pressed. This method can be combined with the manual focus method. The photographer manually focuses on the object and the camera is executing the final focus fixes when the shutter is pressed and the photo is taken. This method is limited to either slow moving objects or high end fast focusing cameras. Focusing is a mechanical process and takes time. If the camera takes too long to focus by the time it is focused on a fast moving object the object will move and the photo will not be in focus anymore.
  • Continuous auto focus: In this method the camera is put into continuous focus mode. Once the shutter button is pressed and as long as it is held half way down the camera continuously focuses on the objects in the photo. In this method the camera continuously corrects the focus as the objects distance from the camera changes. This method is very useful. Even if the object is moving fast the camera can track its movement and continuously correct the focus. By holding the shutter button half way down and continuously moving the camera to follow the moving object the camera will continuously keep the object in focus. When you are ready to shoot the photo simply press the shutter button all the way down. One drawback of this method is high power consumption as the camera continuously corrects the focus it uses the power hungry motors in the lens in order to move the optical components.

Taking good photos of moving objects is not easy. It requires practice and experience. In addition to making sure that the objects are in focus you have to continuously consider the composition, the changing lighting conditions, shutter speed to freeze or capture movement, the changing zoon and more. Go and practice shooting a lot of moving objects photos. By shooting a lot of photos in different situations you will grow the instincts that will make all these processes and considerations an unconscious automatic process.

Canon Underwater Cameras

Underwater cameras have most of the same features as the handy cameras that we used outdoors – the only difference is that they have certain functions that are more innovative because they are water resistant and can be used to capture pictures under the sea.

Of course, these underwater cameras are not only exclusively for taking pictures under the sea because some of them are also designed to be used in outdoor activities. In heavy rain these cameras will not be affected because of the protective device to guard against water and pressure damage. They come in a number of forms, with their prices relecting the entire range of normal camera pricing.

The cheapest type of underwater camera for instance is the simple disposable underwater camera. These cameras are able to take about twenty to thirty pictures. These cameras are waterproof enough to be utilized when there is harsh rain and snow storms. These are best use for fun scuba trips and family vacations; it will certainly capture the memorable parts of the family fun.

One of the best known brands of underwater cameras is the Canon. It has been proven efficient in all forms of underwater adventures. Canon underwater cameras have a lot of designs that offer different features. Each of the cameras gives advantages and special features that you will really enjoy. However, as you would expect from a quality brand like Canon, these cameras might appear a bit expensive because of the gadgets used on it; nonetheless they are of best quality and you will have no regrets once you see the resolution of your pictures.

Many conventional digital and film cameras have waterproof housings. Placing your camera inside will allow you to ‘transform’ your existing camera into an underwater camera. However, if you want excellent photographic quality from under the water, we would always advise purchasing a dedicated underwater camera.

Canon underwater cameras came in various models. The higher the photo resolution that it has, generally the more expensive the price is. Many of the underworld photographers that I know prefer to use Canon underwater cameras because they offers a “one of a kind quality”. The Canon Company is one of the pioneering companies that launched underwater cameras in the market and you know you will be getting quality when you buy Canon.

Lens Madness

On the other side of the coin, my father has a lens for his film SLR that he bought over 30 years ago. It is ragged, chipped and squeaks a bit. But he won’t part with it. It was cheap(ish) but it lacks some of the functionality of my friend’s DSLR lens.

My friend’s lens is huge. I can see him coming in the distance simply because he had a large photo-rucksack on his back to hold all his equipment. It is a splendid piece of glass but requires a tripod or monopod for all but the brightest of conditions.

The lens is also white. It stands out and says to everyone “I am a lens to look at”. My friend loves it and gives him added impetus to get out there and take pictures.

My father, however, gets the same results – and has been doing for 30 years – with his rag-bag of assorted accessories, some of which are nearing the end of their useful life. His lens, although tatty, produces excellent results and gets HIM out in the field taking shots, just like my friend’s does for him.

My father’s lens doesn’t choose the subject for him, compose the scene and tells him at which point to release the shutter…

…. nor does my friends.

And therein lies the reason why my father is a successful champion of many camera club competitions where my friend has yet to win one

Zeroing in on Flash

The proper position of the flash is directly over the lens. This will ensure that any shadows from the flash will occur behind the head and body and not to one side. Of course, when shooting square format like Hasselblad, the flash can be fixed in that one position. For shooting with a rectangular format like Bronica ETR or Canon DSLR, the flash must be mounted on a swinging bar so that the flash can be positioned over the lens in either a horizontal or vertical shot.

I have determined through many tests that the ideal distance of the flash head above the lens is twelve inches. There are many advantages to using this distance. First, the unavoidable reflections on the forehead, nose, cheeks and chin are conducive to making the subject look good. The forehead reflection is positioned higher on the forehead, almost into the hair line and much diminished in strength. This leaves the flat portion of the forehead reflection free and retaining the natural color of the skin.

The shape of the nose is determined by the fall off of light along the sides and the position of the reflection on the bridge of the nose. When the flash is positioned closer to the lens, the bridge or indentation receives no highlight but rather the bony lower part of the nose is emphasized. The tip of the nose also benefits from the twelve inch distance of the flash head by appearing smaller and less intense.

Cheek reflections are considered acceptable when they are centered on the upper portion of the cheek. With a lower positioned flash head, the reflection highlight the unattractive line of muscle from the cheek to the nose. The twelve inch flash position also enhances the cheek bones. Chin reflections lower down on the point of the chin are unattractive and make the chin look wet. Alternatively, the twelve inch flash position just places a small crescent shaped highlight under the lip. An added benefit also occurs in the form of a more defined chin line and the placement of some double chins in shadow.

Those terrible eye glass reflections are greatly minimized with the twelve inch flash. The flash highlight now appears near the top of the eye glass, completely avoiding the area of the iris and pupil. The eyes are the most important feature of the face and ugly flash reflections can wipe out the eyes completely. An added benefit is a slight darkening at the bottom of the picture, enhancing the composition with a natural fade out.

Remember that since most natural light comes from a position over the horizon the most natural flash lighting will do the same for the face. Don’t let convenience prevent you from capturing your flash subjects in the most attractive light.