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Ok, I'm resurrecting this bish..

All you photographers out there, step up. Let's get this tutorial thread filled up, so that schmoes like me can get some education on how to use a DSLR for something other than a $500 point-n-click in auto mode :)
 

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Ok, I'm resurrecting this bish..

All you photographers out there, step up. Let's get this tutorial thread filled up, so that schmoes like me can get some education on how to use a DSLR for something other than a $500 point-n-click in auto mode :)
If you insist :)

First of all, lets step out of auto mode for a minute. It can be a useful tool if you're REALLY in a hurry, or taking a picture you don't actually care about, but in the end it takes a little too much control from the photographer. Would you want an automatic transmission in your car? Auto mode gives you as much control over the image as riding the bus gives you over your morning commute.

Anyway, here are the 4 actually important modes on your camera (Nikon exclusive terminology, probably applicable to Canon too... But I don't shoot Canon).

[A] = Aperture mode. IMO, the most important one. Your aperture controls your depth of field. Low aperture number? Low DOF. High Aperture number? High DOF. As for how to illustrate DOF, see here: http://www.dustrude.com/tim/365/dof-comparison.jpg High DOF on the right, low on the left. If you have a really interesting setting for your car shot, you probably want the high DOF, thus a high aperture number. Typical inexpensive lenses go from f3.5 - f22, or so. Pricier lenses can go from f2.8 - f55 (though probably not on the same lens, unless it's a macro). If you want to know more about the apertures themselves, there are more words on this page: http://www.stsite.com/camera/cam04.php

Note: the numerical aperture steps are as follows (these are for "whole" steps. Your camera will give many fractional steps along the scale):
1.4 2 2.8 4 5.6 8 11 16 22 32

Now, A mode fixes the aperture to your setting, but it varies the shutter speed to achieve the correct exposure. If you are taking evening shots, don't be shocked if your f/8 or f/11 setting requires a 2 second shutter time. Obviously, nobody on earth can hand-hold a 2 second shutter time and expect it to be sharp. What to do?!

1) Flashes. They're expensive, somewhat complicated, and I'll cover them later, but they're really something else, when you get used to them. It's better to learn the rest of the camera first, and hit that capability limit before you buy more equipment. Otherwise the amount of learning required can be overwhelming.
2) A tripod. Less expensive, but don't buy a piece of crap or you'll regret it. Good brands are Bogen and Manfrotto. A decent entry level brand is Sunpak, but honestly they sort of suck. Qualities to look for are ease of adjustment, flexibility (Number of leg angle settings, height settings, and tilt axes) and weight. If it weighs 35 lbs you'll never take it anywhere.

3) ISO speed. If you crank your ISO you can get away with less light, but you're going to end up with more grain in your shot.

Quick ISO terms:
The iso numbers are a doubling set that indicates sensitivity of film (and more recently digital sensors) to light. ISO 50 is "slower" (less sensitive) to light than ISO 100, but has more grain.

The steps: 50*, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200* and then usually some settings indicated by HI. The transition from one step to the next indicates one 'stop' of light requirement - the equivalent of moving a whole step in aperture on the scale mentioned earlier.

If you step up your ISO setting in the camera, you can achieve a higher shutter speed given the same aperture setting and lighting. This could allow you to hand-hold a reasonably sharp picture (which takes a shutter of 1/60th of a second or faster for the average person). The price you pay is in something called grain - you'll literally have a grainy look to your picture. In black and white this can be seen as desirable - in color images the grain is typically, well, really grainy and doesn't accurately represent the colors you were photographing. It can get ugly. I try to avoid the highest ISO settings for this reason, but if you need the shot and don't have a tripod, this could be a decent way to go.

[M] = Manual. It's all you. Aperture, shutter speed, flash synch, ISO, etc. This is the opposite of automatic, obviously. However, you can still focus automatically and the camera will provide metering information, provided you have a compatible lens.

= Shutter priority. It works the same as aperture, except that the shutter speed is fixed and the aperture varies.

[P] = programmed automatic mode. TBH, you probably don't need this at all. It is explained briefly here:
Nikon | Imaging Products | Digital SLR Camera Basics | P, S, A, and M Modes (Exposure Modes)

I would do a write up on [P] mode, if I had ever used it... I've been taking photos on a digital SLR since 2005. So, safe to say you'll probably go on living just fine without it.

IMO, all the other modes on the dial are stupid. I mean, they have their place, doing some sort of pre post-processing inside the camera, but TBH, if you want to do that, photoshop is where you should do that. If you are unsure of exposure, take 3 photos and composite them later! Don't try to use night portrait mode or some crap. This goes back to my original argument on control.

OK, that should be enough for now. There are a thousand more things to say on the subject, but I leave you with this:

As far as composition goes, the rule of thirds is the rule. Rule of thirds - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia And as far as the rule of thirds goes, YES some photographers do break it routinely, and yes it looks great when they do. However, this is another case where control is important: If you aren't a master of controlling your car normally, you don't break the accepted rules of car control and try to drift your butt off everywhere and expect it to turn out great. In the same way, don't break compositional rules until you understand them enough to know when and why you should break them.

I'm not trying to talk down with that last one, just trying to stress the importance of the rule. 99% of photos look 10x better with the subject not in the center.

OK, if you have specific questions, feel free to ask and I'll answer as best I can. I've never done much car photography, but only b/c I lived in the suburbs (fewer interesting settings) and I've always driven a really boring looking truck. IF you have off camera flashes, we can discuss that (this is open to anyone), or if you want to know more about the shutter speeds, various camera effects, composition, angles, etc. I'd be happy to help with any of it, someone pose a topic!
 

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I've been wanting to do some rolling car shots with a boom rig, but I get so nervous about my camera when it isn't in my hands. Sticking out on a boom attached to a moving car seems awfully dangerous to me. I also have a hard time understanding how the boom will be stable enough to take the slower shots that you want.. I guess you just have to be on a really smooth road?
 

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OK, disclaimer time: I have never actually used a boom rig. I HAVE done some high-speed panning shots though:


Very high speed, actually.

On a rolling shot, I would think that you will probably use a wide-angle lens. This will be very forgiving in terms of camera vibration leading to a blurry image.

Additional to that, I don't think you're going to have to travel very far while the shutter is open to get the motion blur that people expect - the wheels being blurry, maybe some background blur. I think you could get a very good result from a shutter as fast as 1/100th of a second. If not, 1/60th will easily deliver.

Don't try to do them at sunset and you should be fine :)

Now as far as the danger factor: Yes it is. If your driver screws something up or swerves or there's a semi re-tread in the road, you might just have to wave goodbye to the camera. I think your best bet would be to choose a set road, preferably one that has little or no traffic (closed roads are good for this, if you can find one you have access to), and plan a route without a lot of bumps or drama. Finally, before you do this at 65, rehearse at lower speeds (starting at, say, 5mph). If you can achieve the effect you want a lower speed, then there's no reason to speed up. If you cannot, step up as far as you are comfortable.

As an important pro-tip: A 10mph impact with the road or a car is going to obliterate your lens. So long as you know that going in, you're in good shape. If you can accept the risk, you can take some really great shots!

I've seen some people use a van or similar vehicle with a hatch back (hey, a newer wrx would work) and sit in the open back and sort of hang a camera out the back. Less dangerous? Well, no, but the boom is a lot shorter and therefore less clumsy, and you have a safer level of control over its motion.

I've never done it before, but I can promise you that 65 down the interstate is not where you want to have your first test lol.
 

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I've done some rig shots - not an elaborate rig, mind you, but I did have the camera mounted to the side of the car. Yeah, having 2k$ (or more) hanging off the side of a moving vehicle is a bit nerve-wracking, so I highly suggest getting the best mount/rig you can afford. If you read through the product listings on B&H or where ever you buy from, they'll have weight limit ratings and you'll want to stay well within those ratings. Yes, you will want a wide angle - I did mine with a 10-20, set at 10mm. This one was taken right around sunset of my old GC8 in Japan. I think my aperture was up at about f22 or so. ISO 100. Had an ND filter on there as well trying to cut the light and keep my shutter open as long as I could. Just a few seconds will do the trick. And really, you don't need to be driving down the highway at any great speed - or even have the car on at all. This was just done late one evening in a parking lot with someone giving me a push. So, maybe 2-3 mph? Also, if you can get a wireless remote for your camera (or one with a long enough wire) I'd recommend having one of those as well. Plenty of room for improvement, but I still really like it.



Really wanted to do some rolling shots (still do, it is still on my list) just have trouble finding someone with a minivan with free time, then finding someone with a car to photo with the free time, or finding someone who could drive my car while I worked the camera. So, anyone in the DC/NOVA/MD area that's interested - I'm free when you're free! :)
 

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Great tutorials! I am currently using Photoshop Elements 6 but it gets really frustrating. Have been considering trying Lightroom. Does anyone have any experience? Thanks!

Tara
 
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