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Old Aug 6, 2006, 11:42 AM   #1
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I have the Canon A520 and I understand it is not the best camera (although it is good for what it is), but I do plan to spend about $500 on something better in the near future (I know, $500 is still pocket change when it comes to cameras, but I have alot of hobbies and can't afford to go all out on every one). The A520 has manual controls and so I am taking my time right now experimenting with them so that I will have a better idea of what I want when I do purchase a new camera.

Anyway, on to my question. I have been taking photos of waterfalls here in northeastern Pennsylvania and I can't seem to get the photo's I am trying to produce. I was wondering if someone could tell me if a bettercamera is what I need to achieve the results I'm looking for.

One type of shot I am trying to get is to capture the water in detail as its falling (I amtrying to 'stop' the waterfall). I am not an expert at this point and I amsetting up the camera to the way I believe it should be (I plan to read up more on manual controls soon). I set the ISO to 100 or 200 (this camera goes from 50-400). From my understanding, the ISO has to do with the quality of the picture, like the grain of the picture, but the lower it is set, the more light is required to get a good picture. I set the shutter to around 1/400. And I set the F number to 4. The picture comes out OK like this, but the things that surround the water falling from the water fall that I also capture in the picture come out dark. No matter what I try its either the water looks blurry or the things other then the water look too dark. There is no happy medium.

Why is this? Could it be just that I am not setting the camera up correctly?Could it be that thelens isn't bringing in enough light?Perphaps theCCD on this camera is too small? Should this camera be able to do what I am trying to do? Woulda 'prosumer' camera greatly outperform the A520. I am looking at the S3 IS, but it appears that it has the same size CCD anyway (1/2.5 inch). I assume it has a lens that would be able to bring in more light, so I suppose that might makethe S3 ISworthdropping $450 (aside from its other features).


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Old Aug 6, 2006, 12:38 PM   #2
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The problem appears to be the camera is metering for the waterfall, which is presumably quite light and the surrounding area is darker.

Thus the water turns out fine, but the rest is underexposed.

You could see if Photoshop can bring out the shadow details via the shadow/highlight tool, for a nice example of what that can do see here.

Or take one pic metering for the waterfall and then another metering for the darker surroundings and then merge them in Photoshop.

ISO controls how sensative the camera is to light.

Increase the ISO the light signal from the sensor is amplified, but this also amplifies the "noise".

Read more at , http://www.dpreview.com/learn/?/key=sensitivity

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Old Aug 6, 2006, 12:40 PM   #3
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Your problem is that there is big gap, interms of contrast, between the white water and the dark objects to it's side. So a fast shutter will freeze the water and darken the sides, and a slow shutter will lighten the sides, but not freeze the water.

Depending on the lighting condition, even exepensive cameras will have the same problems. I assume this waterfall is in a shaded area.

One solution is to do HDR. Put your tiny camera on a tripod, and shoot two different pictures from the exact spot: one exposing for the water, and another exposing for it's sides, and combine them in photoshop to what you want it to look.

Edit:Sintares beat me to it:-)
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Old Aug 6, 2006, 1:18 PM   #4
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Thanks alot for the tips guys! I really appreciate it.

I like the photoshop idea. Is there any chance that there is a step-by-steptutorial on how to do that? BTW, I'm just curious...how would this be overcome if you where shooting with a film camera?

I am glad to know that this is just the nature of this type of shot and not nesecarily a limitation of my camera.
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Old Aug 6, 2006, 1:32 PM   #5
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BTW, here is one the better pics...

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Old Aug 6, 2006, 11:44 PM   #6
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Contriver asks: I like the photoshop idea. Is there any chance that there is a step-by-steptutorial on how to do that?

Check out this link:


If you have access to CS2, there is a special HDR compositing tool. Look for a tutorial on that on the same website.


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Old Aug 7, 2006, 3:20 PM   #7
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In his book "Understanding Exposure" Bryan Peterson recommends using either the blue sky or surrounding greenery to meter these kinds of shots.

Have you tried this?
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Old Aug 8, 2006, 12:24 PM   #8
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-You need to understand ISO better, look that up. But as another experiment try setting the camera to the maximum ISO setting and letting it set the exposure - typically the easiest way to get stop-action.

- You're asking too much if you think a camera can even out the light and dark areas. You either need to add a light source (flash) or process the photo after shooting.

- Light is a function of the lens size and the CCD size; bigger lens delivers more light to the CCD. So if the S3 lens is bigger than the one you have now, it will do better. But it won't fix this problem.
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