Panduan Fotografi

14.6.08

Travel and Scenic Photography 101

When you're driving through the mountains somewhere, and you notice a car parked half off the road and some guy leaning to the left to avoid a branch with his Rebel 2000 camera in the act of focusing, you've met me. I do this because, to me, a trip isn't fulfilling unless I've preserved that beauty for posterity. I'd like to share some of the techniques that make scenic photography such a wonderful artform - simple, yet elegant.

First off, equipment. As much as the cheapo disposable camera beckons, get real. These cameras have fisheye lenses which I call "spam" lenses. They cram everything in, with equal blurriness and boringness. Good photos are sharp, unless you use blur for artistic effect. Sharp comes from an adjustable lens. It can be a fixed lens or a zoom, but it must focus specially for each picture. Fixed lenses are limiting for scenic pictures, where to frame the shot you may need to move long distances. Imagine using a fixed lens on the Washington Monument, when you're half a block away! Zooms get my vote, even though they often don't have as wide an aperture, which limits their capabilities in low light situations.

Practically speaking, an SLR is the absolute best. They are lightweight, and can be used with top quality lenses. Film SLRs tend to be less expensive, but have the limitations of film, meaning you have to get it developed and so forth. Digital SLRs are VERY expensive, so for the budget conscious either go with a film SLR or a high quality basic digital camera. With digital, resolution is also a critical factor, so look at the specs before you buy.

OK, we've got the camera, emotions are running high, and that's great, but not too great! Sometimes I find a spot that is so wonderful, I start shooting like a madman, only to be disappointed by the pictures. What happened? Emotions. When you experience a place, there are sounds, aromas and breezes as well as the visuals of the spot. Needless to say, you can't photograph all of these elements, only the visual. When overwhelmed by the spectacle of a scenic hotspot, we are often overwhelmed by all of these elements.

So what to do? Look through your camera. The viewfinder does not lie (usually). Try to see what you are looking at as the finished picture. Most people perfunctorily take pictures, hoping that somehow the shot will come out great. If you wonder how the pictures came out when you are on the way to the drug store to get them, you're doing something wrong. At the moment you click the pic, you should know exactly what you will get. (Of course with digital, that's not a trick!).

Now, I was a tad dishonest in saying that you can't capture all of the elements of a scene. You can hint at them. For starters, motion. Yes, even in a still picture, there is motion. Something happened before, during and after your picture. In a mountain vista scene, you may find something that hints at motion, whether it be a branch of a tree that has been swaying in the breeze, or a river flowing through the valley below. These add a sense of motion.

Then there's the "rule of thirds." When you place the main object of the picture smack-dab in the middle, it is static and boring. Place it one third of the way from either side, and you IMPLY motion. Put the horizon in a landscape photo a third of the way up or down, not across the middle.

Remember, when a person looks at a picture, their eyes move. You want to frame your photo to help that movement. If you can find some lines in the scene, such as a skyline, cloud formation, path through the forest, etcetera, use it interestingly, and with the rule of thirds to draw your viewer's eyes into the picture.

Avoid "summit syndrome." You get to the top of Mount Washington and shoot the majestic vista. Great. The pictures come out ... boring! How? No PERSPECTIVE. Big vistas will be flat unless you have an object in the foreground, such as a rock or a tree, to give them perspective. Then the eye really grasps how big this scene is. People enjoying the view is a real winner, because the viewer may identify with their emotions, giving the image real impact.

Cheese! Yes, you do have to take the family photos. It's obligatory. But when you do, make sure that they show the LOCATION of the photo. Otherwise, you might as well do it on your driveway. Frame the scene in context, with landmarks as part of the picture. Find a way to tell as story in the picture, such as little Sara climbing up the rocks by the waterfall.

Finally, any element in the picture that hints at more senses than just the visual will make it remarkable. Actor headshots for example, tell a story about the subject. You can almost hear them saying their next lines. If you photograph a garden, the viewer may experience the aroma of the flowers. A tourist street with an accordion player on the corner may have your amazed friends whistling "Dixie."

In summation, picture taking on travel is recording the experience in a satisfying way. Use motion, perspective, sensory, storytelling and so forth, to bring your photos to life. Oh, and needless to say, make your job easy and go to great places! See you at the overlook!

By Seth Lutnick


Everybody is Fixing Their House or Apartment Up These Days. Use That Digital Camera to Capture

That's right, you go through all the trouble of making your house or apartment nicer by hauling yourself off to the local fix it yourself store or hiring some professionals to come in and do it for you, so why not capture an accurate record of it for posterity. At almost no cost I might add.

Grab your digital camera and start snapping images of your place before the project begins. Hey I even documented my wife buried in catalogs, magazines, plans and books on the couch as she researched our kitchen remodel. She did not like the shot but in the end I think she will look back on it and laugh. After the bills have been paid I might add.

Yes we are in the middle of a major kitchen remodel. Imagine taking your old semi-functional kitchen, stripping it down to the studs, knocking out a wall or two and then starting over. That is what we are immersed in these days. I decided a few weeks ago that I was going to be nothing but positive about the process no matter how painful it gets. So to that end I decided to start taking pictures everyday of the progress. Well almost everyday as there are days when no progress is made. It helps me keep my sense of humor and it has also given me a better perspective on the project that has allowed me to give my wife input on direction that might otherwise not been received too well if you know what I mean.

It all started with the excavation of the new addition off the back of the house. The contractor started with digging for the new foundation, and stripping off the fa├žade of the back of the house. While there was a bunch of activity on the outside of the house I even set up my DV video camera and shot time lapse video of all the carpentry and digging that was going on during a two hour period. It made for a fun video.

Now I work out of my office in the house so when construction began it was an earful for sure. My wife works at a local hospital so she was lucky enough to miss the din each day, although she gets an earful at work from time to time. I am able to set a timer in my day to wander up in the back of the house and take the days images. I try to find a new detail of the construction to capture each day. My favorite day, although it was the loudest by far, was the day of demolition. My contractor brought in this delightful crew of guys who hail from Russia originally. They whacked and crashed my old kitchen to pieces all the while chatting each other up in Russian. They were efficient and fun guys who tore it up in record time and created a mountain of trash out back. I documented mount trashmore with my dog standing proudly on top with a quizzical look on his face.

Of course one could say that I am protecting myself against problems with the construction and you would be right on some level. But that is not truly why I am doing it. I really want to be able to assemble a full documentation of this process that I can look at down the road when we are fully enjoying our great new kitchen.

By Kevin Rockwell


Using Film Speed Effectively

So you have this great new camera. Now you're standing in front of a display of more film that you've ever seen. All you want to do is take some great family photos but you don't know where to start. Here's short guide to help you get started.

Film speed is a number that represents the film's sensitively to light. The higher the number the more sensitive to light, in that the less light is needed to take a well exposed photo. The number is also an indicator of the detail you will receive from the negative. The higher the number the more likely that you'll see a graininess to the print when enlarged. Film speed goes from 25 to 1600 speed film.

25 to 200 Best for still life and portrait work, in studio conditions where the lighting is controlled. This is not the film for family shots indoors even with a camera mounted flash. You'd really need a complete lighting set up to use this film effectively. 200 speed film is very good for outdoor sunny conditions when you're trying to get a shot of a beautiful landscape. It offers excellent detail and color saturation.

400 Considered the all purpose film. Most films touted as all subject or general purpose are really 400 speed film. When in doubt use 400 speed film. Though you may still be using your camera mounted flash in room lighting conditions. Also good for outdoor conditions, will give you some flexibility in darker conditions and where you are trying to capture a moving subject.

800 to 1200 Made for capturing fast moving subjects in all types of lighting situations. People running, playing ball, etc. This is the film you want if you want to freeze frame the action of a baseball game. This film speed can be used for capturing fast moving wildlife, like birds, but you will see less detail if you enlarge above a 16 by 20 size.

1600 This film is for super high speed shots. Unless you shooting a car or boat race you probably won't need this film. Don't use this for nature and landscape images the lack of detail will be obvious in enlargements.

Most of the time you'll only need a 400 speed film for basic snapshots. But it doesn't hurt to use the other speeds for special occasions, you'll notice a difference.

By Kelly Paal Kelly Paal


Choosing The Right Digital Camera

Let's get something straight right out of the box. If you're looking to buy a new digital camera, you don't really have to be an expert in pixels and mega pixels and all that kind of stuff. If you expect to find that kind of deep technical discussion here, you're in the wrong place.

Actually, there's a whole lot of stuff you don't really need to know before tackling the daunting task of choosing the right digital camera for you.

First of all, forget all the high-tech jargon. It's mostly a lot of sales hype anyway. Choosing a good unit is pretty simple really...pretty much all you have to remember is that the higher the mega pixel rating on the front of the camera, the bigger picture you can make without it breaking up into little chunks (called pixels) and most likely the more cash it's likely going to pry out of your pocket. Each model has an array of techno-widgets that go by different names but they all have the same basic focus, to help you take a better picture.

I have a quick (and admittedly simplistic) overview of the pixel story. The shot on the left on my web page

http://www.great-nature-photography.com/digital-cameras.html

is one I took with a high pixel rating and the one on the right was with a much lower rating. They've been enlarged way beyond what you would normally do, but I do have a point to make here. If you look carefully you can see there's a terrific difference in the way they look or, in the 'resolution'. The image on the right has already broken up into small pieces (pixels) (I hope) you can readily see. The picture on the left was magnified several times more than the one on the right which should give you an idea of how big you can enlarge it and still retain a fairly decent result. By the way, these shots are of a very, very small piece of a picture I took of snapdragons in our front yard.

A camera with a 5.0 mega pixel rating or higher can produce a decent 16X20 print but one with a 2.0 mega pixel rating or lower should be restricted to a maximum of 4X6 prints. For the most part, you won't be happy with pictures any larger than 4X6 from the lower rated camera.

Okay, Let's Pick A Camera...

Well, I have my favorites and my not-so favorites.

When I looked at all the digital cameras available, I was more than a little astounded at the vast selection of available equipment. It seems that every company that's ever heard the word "computer" has jumped on the bandwagon. It seems they lay their hands on some lenses, wrap a computerized box around them, added a few techno-widgets and bingo, instant digital camera! What can you say...it's money in the bank!

Where did I start looking? Well, I went back to my tried and true method of buying a film camera that I talk about later. It's always worked for me and didn't let me down this time either.

My personal digital camera finally wound up to be an Olympus C-5050. By the way, in my opinion Olympus didn't do themselves or their customers any favors by dumping the f1.8 lens on the C-5060.

I chose this camera for the fast f1.8 lens and ease of use. I'm lazy at best and wanted a unit that's going to do most of the work for me while leaving me with the option of doing what I want to do when I want to do it.

This unit has all the automatic features I'll ever need but I also have the ability to set up the camera completely manually. I can still do minimum depth-of-field work among other things. I never want to completely lose control to a mindless computer although they do have their uses at times.

The first thing I did after I opened the box was print off the user manual - all 265 pages of it! I figured I had done my duty by it and promptly ignored it.

After very quickly killing my first two sets of "high-capacity" alkaline batteries, I sprung for a couple sets of Nickel-Metal Hydride (Ni-MH) rechargeables. Not only did they last longer but it was a heck of a lot cheaper than replacing the alkalines every darn time I picked up the camera.

It boils me to have to admit this but I actually had to go back to the user manual. I wasn't getting the results I wanted and there was also some 'stuff' on the camera I had no clue about using. The moral of this story is that you're gonna have to at least have a nodding acquaintance with your user manual. Sorry, but that's just the way it is.

Back to choosing a camera...

Throughout the years I've learned that if a camera 'fit' my hand it worked well for me. It may sound a little strange at first but just think about it. If you're handling something that feels awkward, your results are going to look like it. I had a Mamiya RB-67 for a lot of years. It was a big, ungainly unit but it was a good 'fit' for me and produced a great image. I also used a Hasselblad for quite a while but I much preferred the Mamiya and it gave me better results than the Hasselblad. (Don't tell Hasselblad lovers I said this, they'll kill me!)

So, rule of thumb...if it fits your hand nicely, if the main controls are handy to your fingers, if it has the mega pixel number you want and falls within your budget, you can be pretty confident this will do the job you want it to do. Oh yes, if it's a brand you've never heard of before, be very, very wary. It may work well and it may not. If it doesn't, there may not be any tech backup for you to be able to access.

The major camera companies spend lots of money developing new photo technologies. Although the latest techno-widgets go by different names, they all have the same goal, to make your pictures look as good as possible.

Pretty well every company in the world that has even come close to producing a good digital camera has gotten into the "SLR Wars".

Single lens reflex cameras dominated the photo market for years until digital technology hit the market. Because of design and price limitations, SLR technology has not been widely available in the non-professional digital cameras until the last year or so.

The furious pace of technological developments has completely overtaken the market and even professional photographers are being boggled trying to keep up.

Remember the old Nikon F2? It was the major link in the Nikon chain of professional cameras for over 10 years! This was pretty much the norm until the computer hit the photographic industry big time.

Changes used to come slowly and deliberately and it wasn't hard to keep up with the latest and greatest when major new developments came along only two or three times in a decade. The battle now is to produce digital cameras that operate faster, can be sold cheaper and will produce a better picture. Severe competition even exists within the same corporate structure where teams of developers do their utmost to 'outgun' other camera designers who work in the same building as they do!

Nikon has a distinct advantage over many of the other manufacturers in that owners of some of the older series of Nikon lenses can use them with the new digital bodies, a tremendous dollar saving to the photographer.

Most of this rapid development is focused on the professional photographer. But, with technology changing as rapidly as it is, a camera technology that sells for several thousands of dollars today will undoubtedly become available to people like you and me in the next couple of years for a whole lot less money.

One of the hardest jobs a new camera buyer will have is determine which of the new techno-widgets does the best job and is the best value.

One thing to keep in mind about camera features?they all have the same job and that's to help you take a better photo.

Picture this if you will. If you lined up 10 cameras from different manufacturers, each with similar basic features, took the same picture with each, I think even the camera manufacturers would have a tough time picking out which of the resulting photos came from their units.

Getting feedback from all kinds of users is one very excellent use of newsgroups. Serious photographers, amateur and professional both, love to talk about their latest 'toys'. This is a good way to spend time and a good place to ask questions and (sometimes) get intelligent answers.

Don't wait until you've made the investment to start doing your homework.

Another rule of thumb, if you're happy with a particular brand name already, my suggestion is to stick with it. You'll probably be more satisfied in the long run.

Now, having said all that, there are currently five search engine 'favorite' companies among the people looking for information on the Internet, Sony, Canon, Olympus, Kodak and Nikon in this order of popularity. Of this group, Sony is the only one with no prior experience in camera building before digital.

Understanding how to set your camera's resolution is absolutely vital. There's no shortcut and there's no way around it. This is the core of taking a good, reproducible photograph. If, for instance, your camera is set for 240X360, you can forget making any kind of decent print above a 'thumbnail' size.

The low-end cameras are not a bargain if you're looking for good photo reproduction. Labs are constantly arguing with customers who submit low resolution digital images from a cheap camera for printing and then aren't happy with the results. They simply don't understand why the pictures from their brand new digital camera are so lousy. Lenses and the type of digital image recording technology are also critical factors.

I won't get into the technical details of why but I will suggest you consider spending in the $250 to $400 range if you want something that will satisfy you.

Let's spend a few minutes on lenses. Pretty well all of the digital cameras these days have a form of zoom lens. Most of the higher-end cameras have the capability for the user to add either an external telephoto or wide-angle lens. Depending on the type of photography you want to do will determine whether or not this is of value to you.

One thing to watch out for. The higher end cameras have very good glass lenses. It's part of what you're paying for. The lower-end units have progressively less expensive lenses and consequently, a lower image definition.

There are both optical and digital zoom capabilities on digital cameras. The term "optical zoom" simply means you're using the glass lenses to do the magnification. "Digital zoom" on the other hand simply increases the size of the pixels to make the image larger. For reasons of image clarity, the optical zoom is a far better way to go.

One last note - if you run across the "best deal in town" on a very low-priced name brand camera, check to make sure it isn't badly out-dated. Buying well-priced clearance stock is okay if it isn't too old. In this computer age, pretty well anything over a year old is considered 'old technology'. As new technologies are developed the price keeps going down so you could actually be money ahead by investing in the 'latest and greatest'.

Always keep in mind the old adage that 'you usually get what you pay for.

If you go to a 'box' store looking for the best price, don't expect service. The folks there simply don't know what they're selling. Their job is to move as much merchandise as they can as quickly as possible. It's not to give you advice.

Go to the Internet to get the latest data directly from the manufacturers. It changes very, very quickly. When you do this, try to climb through all the sales hype to get to the 'meat' of what the cameras are all about. Newsgroups can also a very excellent source of advice for 'newbies'.

Most people will be very happy to give you their personal opinion of what you should buy. Just remember, they won't usually tell you what the downside to their purchase is. They don't want to look less than 'expert' in your eyes. Do your own homework. This is an investment you probably won't repeat for several years.

A specialty camera store on the other hand gives the buyer both service and product and usually very well. Keep in mind that the specialty store personnel are quite often very highly trained and will probably be well prepared to help you find the best equipment for you and will also give you a 'leg-up' in getting started using it.

We need to spend a couple of moments on storage media. Whatever size media card you stick in your camera will determine the number of pictures you can take and store. It's like a roll of film, the bigger the roll the more pictures you can take. Digital images are no different. The greater the number of available megabytes (Mb), the higher the number of pictures you can take.

A word of caution - never, never, never leave your media card in a photo lab. The incidence of loss is high and most labs won't replace lost cards. Quite frankly, I don't blame them. Far, far too many false claims have been made and labs now refuse to take any responsibility for your memory cards.

That's it for now. Keep your film dry your lenses clean!


By Gordon


Using Film Speed Effectively (Black & White Film Thoughts)

It's hard to find sometimes but it's making a resurgence, black and white film. If you've never used this film now is the time to try it out. Here are some tips to using b&w film and what you can expect from the results.

1. Forget color. This is the hardest thing to do and the number one reason that you will not get good results with b&w film.

2. Look for contrast. Once you can ignore color look for contrast. You will want your image to have a bit more contrast than you would normally want in a color image.

3. Consider shooting situations that are more formal. Black and white film gives such a wonderful timelessness to an image and it's perfect for formal situations.

4. Keep your photos simple. Black and white film simplifies so don't fight it. Keep the images simple by keeping close to your subject or place your subject against a simple back drop.

5. Babies and pets look great on b&w film. Place the pet or baby on a white background and you'll be stunned at the beautiful results.

Black and white film creates a timeless simple look. It's wonderful for portraits and formal events. After shooting a few rolls of b&w you'll notice that you start to pay attention to composition of your image more, since you don't have to worry about color. If you're just learned photography try using b&w film for awhile it will help you teach yourself good composition. Think of light and dark, black and white, and good composition and you'll find that b&w film could be a whole new hobby for you.

By Kelly Paal Kelly Paal


How Can I Preserve My Lifetime of Memories in Photographs?

Like most folks you have probably have organized and sorted your photos atleast once. The problem is they never seem to stay organized no matter how hard you try, and even if they do they seem to lack that original impact that they had shortly after you took them or if they do, you never drag them out until sadly, someone passes on.

Now you can not only organize them for good, but ensure they maintain that original sentiment felt when you first took them and are readably available for that sentimental journey at a moments notice. How would you like to be able to share your most cherished memories "with" your loved ones and preserve them for future generations as well?

There is a a technique known as "video scrapbooks" that can transform your static photographs into a true cinematic experience. Much like a paper scrapbook this media places your photos into a digital format and "turns the pages" automatically for you. Once placed in this format your memories are preserved forever and can reproduced easily for sharing.

But beware!!

There are many "so called" professional services out there that can do this for you. Sadly many of them use nothing more than a "cookie cutter" software package or PowerPoint. While they may do the job to a minmal standard,they are usually considerably over priced. The cost can range from $500.00 to $2,500.00 for a mere 60 photos worth of work.

When looking for that true professional service ensure that they use the pan+zoom technique made famous by Ken Burns and include music in their presentation.

Ken Burns is the film maker that created an entire movie covering the Civil war using only photographs that were brought to life by panning across the photos and zooming in for closeup shots.

Gathering your photos and sorting them is where you get to take that sentimental journey and pick out your favorite memories to preserve.

--The Steps--

Step 1 is to decide if you are going to order your photos by date, event or person or a combination of all three.

Step 2 is placing them in the order that you would like your video to flow from first photo to the last.

Step 3 is to write on post-it notes the number of the photo, i.e. photo#1, photo#2 etc. It is important to do this prior to placing the post-it note on the back of the photo since the pressure ogf writing can mar the actual photo.

Step 3 if sending your photos via mail is to make sure your photos are placed inside of a water proof or zip-lock plastic bag and then securely place between two sturdy pieces of cardboard.

Step 4 is to make sure you place them in a shipping box (e.g.USPS, FED EX, UPS etc.) and make sure the box is label as fragile to ensure proper handling.

Step 5 it is best to send in a manner that your package can be tracked and a signature from the receiver can be obtained. Most services will pay the return shipping cost.

Whomever you choose you will definetly be glad you did once you see the results.

By Paul F. Olshefsky


The Photography Portfolio: Building Your Reputation

If you have hopes of becoming a professional photographer, or even just of trying to get your work published in a public forum, you will need to create a photography portfolio. So what's so important about a photography portfolio anyway?

There are many reasons why having a portfolio of your work available for others to view. If you are seeking employment as a photographer, then the need for a portfolio is obvious. If you are not seeking a photography job, there are still good reasons to have a portfolio. For one, you love photography and you take a lot a pride in your work. They are important to you. Most likely, some of them are very good. Why not create a portfolio that showcases your best work so you can show it to others (even if it's just friends or family that comes over for a visit)?

- Building a Photography Portfolio

Before we get into what goes into your portfolio, let's discuss the portfolio itself. What should it be made of? How big should it be? You may have seen portfolios with covers made of all types of materials such as plastic, leather and even stainless steel. These fancy covers are usually much more expensive and may not be practical for a beginner. If you are competing for high-price jobs and want to stand out from the crowd, these expensive covers may be a nice touch. But for most people, a regular black plastic cover will work just fine. It's what's inside the portfolio that is most important, right?

So, you are probably best to stick with a plain black plastic cover and work hard on beefing up what's inside. Don't decorate your portfolio with cutesy stickers and such; this will look amateurish and unprofessional. It's not a scrapbook; it's supposed to represent your high-quality work.

Now, as for size, this is going to depend on the size of your largest pictures. An 8 X 10 is probably going to be your largest. If your pictures are not this big, you don't need a portfolio this big. Your biggest will most likely be an 11 X 14 and it could be as small as a 4 X 7.

The most important thing for you to remember is convenience - both for you and for the person who will be looking at your portfolio. You want to keep it professional and easy to hold, carry and look over.

- Using a Photography Portfolio

So now that you know what a portfolio is and what type to get, how do you actually use it? Well, we mentioned you are going to fill it with your best work. This means you want a portfolio that can easily be changed. You may want to pull out old ones and add in new ones. You don't want to go for a job carrying along every picture you've ever taken. You're going to want to have 15-20 of your best work. You are also going to want to be sure your pictures are relevant to the job. If you are trying out for different types of assignments, you may want to create portfolios that work for each of the types of work you are doing.

Of course, you only want to show your best work but you want to give the impression that you can handle any type of assignment given to you ad not that you are "stuck" in only one type of photography.

You want to showcase your best work; this is best technically as well. You may have a photo that is really important to you because of the image it represents or the memory it brings but if it is not technically perfect, it doesn't belong in a business portfolio. Save that one for your coffee table.


Panduan Fotografi