Photography 

Although I am admittedly still a relative novice in photography, it is a hobby that I have maintained for nearly thirty years. Over the years I have even occasionally  sold some of my photos commercially. This page is intended as a collection of links and a few tips that I have learned over the years.

Tips & Tricks:

  • I know that there is some controversy on this point, but I almost always shoot in RAW format. It holds four times as much information on the photos, so that later on it is easier to correct or revise shots. Some people argue that it is a waste of space, but IMHO the difference between fitting 2000 photos on a DVD and fitting 400 higher quality RAW files on the same DVD (which cost less than 50c each)  is trivial when compared o the security of being able to re-edit an important photo later. The only exception I make is in shooting frames of a time lapse video or other experimental methods that use high numbers of photos.
  • Expose to the right - the sensor in most digital cameras actually records better detail if the photo is overexposed in the camera and then corrected later on a computer. The reason is that the sensor records photons of light in a linear way, with the brightest 20% of the image being assigned over 50% of the total number of colours and shades in the final image. So a properly exposed photo may have 2000 shades of white in a single distant cloud and only 200 colours available for all of the interesting features like buildings or trees. By overexposing, some of those 2000 whites can be used instead for the foreground colour and detail, and then corrected later in a post-processing.
  • In contradiction to the last point, sometimes I find it better to expose to the left. A dark exposure lacks a lot of information, but it also has much less camera shake when photographing low light situations, especially if there isn't a steady tripod handy. And by taking multiple underexposed RAW images, it isn't too difficult to remove the extra noise created and to generate a good picture. I find it much easier to combine three or more sharp but dark photos rather than trying to unblur one bright photo.
  • Again, most serious photographers already know this, but I like to leave my camera in the Aperture priority mode most of the time. Use f/11 or f/14 for landscape photos (lower and the photo gets blurred in some areas, higher and the diffraction effects of the lens show up) and f/4.5 or lower for macro and portraiture.
  • Another tip that is well known, but worth repeating, is to take night shots or low light shots using a tripod, with image stabilization off (because it negates the steadiness of the tripod in many cases) and with ISO set to 100 (to avoid any effects of noise)
  • With the invention of high intensity and low power LEDs came cheap video lights that run on batteries and attach to the hot shoe of the camera. Most tech stores sell these things for under $20. Although they aren't exactly professional level lighting, they are small and can be handheld, which makes them perfect for keeping in the camera bag for emergency lighting. I have used mine in power outages, in dark trails and caves, and other places as a small flashlight.
  • Using the same cheap video lights can be handy for nighttime photos or dark scenes, not as a light in the photo but as a tool to setup the camera. I find that when the AF on the lens/camera can't focus in dim light, if I use the video light the focus comes in sharp and then I can carefully switch to manual focus, turn of my light, and then get a good long exposure with perfect focus.

Software:

  • Adobe Photoshop - The industry leader, though it can get pricey for amateurs photographers needing full features.
  • Gnu Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) - Opensource alternative to Photoshop

Add-Ons:

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Manufacturers:

  • Canon - Leader in cameras and photography
  • Canon Canada - Same as above
  • Sigma - Manufacturer of some nice dSLR lenses

Merchants:

  • Vistek.ca - Canadian supplier of more pro-level equipment
  • Henrys.ca - Canadian store with good used selection
  • B&H Photo Video - US store with wide selection and good cross border service


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