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Old Sep 5, 2010, 12:58 AM   #1
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Default First Picture - Take 2

Hello all and thanks for all the help with posting. As I said in my last post, I didn't have time to "play" with the k-x the day it arrived, but spent a couple minutes on Friday just snapping pictures around the yard. This is a flower in the backyard. My wife tells me it's a weed. Looked nice to me. I don't know much about photography except point and shoot so give me your thoughts. I was pleased with the results. I was working on depth of field. This was a hand held picture and there was a slight breeze. I don't know if that caused the back half of the flower to be out of focus or if depth of field was too narrow.

Thanks in advance,


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Old Sep 5, 2010, 1:35 AM   #2
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Hi Bill,

So shutter speed was 1/250 - won't stop rapid movement but should be enough for tiny movements by you or the subject. You would need 1/500 and upwards to overcome any rapid movement.
However there are two other issues here regarding the OOF (out of focus) areas of the flower, one is the slight angle that you have shot from, which means you are going to need a much high F number to get more of the flower in focus (though often more appealing than a head-on shot), and the second is that you shot with F5.6 which will not give you a great depth of field (and the closer you get to a subject the narrower that DoF becomes until in macro range we are only talking of fractions of a millimeter. Try shooting at F8 or F11.

There are also some blown highlights in the petals so either shading the flower from the sun, using flash, or waiting until either the sun has clouded over or until later in the afternoon (or very early morning), would give you better more even exposure.

There is also something on the top right of the flower that is not related and not right - another flower obscured by the subject perhaps ? I'm not sure what it is because I can see the same on the OOF flower in the background so maybe it's part of the flower ?

Keep shooting, and keep posting !
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Old Sep 5, 2010, 11:03 AM   #3
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It does look like the closest petal to you (the one on the left) is the one in focus, with the rest of the flower getting out of focus. You can try to use a smaller (bigger number) aperture, but I find the exposure more of a problem than the focus/dof issue.

The camera has more than one way to meter a scene. For many pictures (family shots etc.) using matrix metering works well - it takes into consideration the whole frame and then chooses a shutter speed/aperture that averages the exposure across the whole scene. Your picture is one of those situations where you DON'T want to do that - you want the flower exposed but you don't care about the dark background.

There's a couple of ways of dealing with your scene. What I would normally do for this shot is to change to spot metering. This means that the camera will set the exposure from the specific point at the center of the viewfinder and it will ignore the rest of the frame. That will mean that the flower will be exposed correctly and the background may (or may not) go to black, losing detail. That's not a bad thing when shooting flowers. As I recall, you'll have to use "P" rather than green (auto scene) mode in order to change the metering mode.

Another thing you can do if you don't want to change your metering mode or if you still have burned out highlights (where the flower is white without detail), use the Ev control to put in a negative value (say, Ev -.7). This essentially over-rides what the camera thinks is the correct exposure, letting you purposefully under or over expose a shot. You could easily underexpose your flower picture, possibly by as much as a whole stop. It's a bit hit-and-miss, best thing to do is put in a value, take a picture then immediately review it on the LCD screen to see what difference the changing value made.

Also remember to think about your minimum focus distance when taking close-ups. Unless you are using a macro set-up, it's fairly easy to get too close to your subject for your lens to be able to focus. That's not the case here, but it's always something to consider when shooting flowers.

What lenses do you have? Depth of field is related to 3 things - relative distances (camera to subject and subject to background), focal length and aperture. If you use the same aperture but zoom in (using a longer focal length) your depth of field will be smaller. So in the case of your flower, if you are shooting it at 200 mm, you'll have a much smaller dof than if you were to shoot it at 50 mm.

The best way to get familiar with your equipment is to shoot anything and everything. Remember it's digital and there's always the delete key.

One exercise that's always fun is to go outside to a park or somewhere there's a lot of room. Then put your camera/lens to at a particular aperture and focal length (i.e., use Av mode and choose f8 and set the zoom to 18 mm). Then stand far enough away that your subject (a friend, a park bench, a tree or whatever) is small in the viewfinder (and note how far away you are from your subject). Take a picture, move 3 steps forward and take another. Keep doing that until you are at the lens' minimum focus distance. Leaving the aperture the same, do it all again using 24 mm, having the subject the same small size in the viewfinder and noting where you are standing compared to where you were standing when you started at 18 mm. Do the same thing about taking pictures every few steps. Do the same thing for the whole range of the lens.

If you still have some time, change the aperture a couple of times as you do it.

And if you want to get creative, do the same thing but take pictures from your knees instead of standing up. Then shoot from a prone position or something lower than your knees.

When you get home you'll have a whole bunch of very boring pictures. But look at each one on the computer monitor. Look at the field of view for each picture. Look at how your subject looks in comparison to the background/surroundings. Notice the difference between apertures and points of view.

If you do this several times over a month or two, you will have a really good idea of your camera/lens capabilities, and how to use them more effectively.
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