Beginning Photography from a Point and Shoot to a DSLR!
Point-And-Shoot How-to-Photography for Beginners.
Want to take awe-inspiring, mind-blowing, professional photos but feel daunted because all you have is a point-and-shoot? Well, there's hope for you!!!!
You can get professional results from your point-and-shoot camera by implementing some easy how-to-photograph techniques and I'm going to show you how!
Learn how to be a photographer with this easy beginning photography tutorial and whether you're an amateur, semi-professional or pro, you're sure to learn something useful from these easy to follow photography tips and tricks! So sit back, relax and feast your eyes on some amazing photography to set your inspiration on fire!
Photo Credit: Sunflower by Arnaud S.
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Step #1: MACRO PHOTOGRAPHY - Windows in a Drop
Photo Credit: Windows in a Drop by Arnaud S.
The photo above is entitled "Windows in a drop" and was taken with a point and shoot Sony DSC-W30. It's a water drop on a flower petal and a great experiment to try on a rainy day. Within the waterdrop you can see a reflection of the Windows logo. This is achieved by shooting the flower with my desktop as background! Inside job of course in front of my PC! You have to use an aperture which would give you a focus on the drop but also give you a nice bokeh. Remember to just put your settings to macro and get up as close as you can to your subject keeping in mind to steady yourself for the shot. Here you want to avoid any motion blur and get the sharpest image possible!
The settings for this particular shot are:
Camera: Sony DSC-W30
Exposure 0.01 sec (1/100)
Focal Length 6.3 mm
ISO Speed 100
Exposure Bias -1 EV
Flash Off, Did not fire (as I have a flashlight shining on the flower and waterdrop)
1. MACRO PHOTOGRAPHY
So you want to get into macro photography but feel daunted because you don't have a professional camera? Think again! Point and shoot cameras have become progressively better every year. Aside from the fact that there's little excuse for not having one with you at all times, the pictures they take can be pretty remarkable.
Point and shoot cameras are macro friendly. Other than their compact size, one of the cooler aspects of smaller cameras is their inherent close-focusing abilities. Because point and shoots typically contain lenses with extremely short, single-digit focal ranges, they can focus closer than the longer focal length equivalent lenses found in Four Thirds, APS-C and full-frame digital cameras.
Although larger-format cameras require macro lenses in order to capture life-size close-ups, most point-and-shoot cameras can focus down to a few centimeters from the front lens element right out of the box. Even so, there are a few tools worth having, and tricks worth trying, which can make capturing macro images a lot more manageable and successful.
Turn on the camera's built-in flash and if your camera has one, dial in just enough flash to open the shadows and illuminate your subject in a manner that balances with the ambient light of the background areas of the image.
If your camera's flash (or LED array) is mounted flush to the front panel of the camera, chances are it will light your subject evenly. However, if your camera has a flash that pops up from the camera's top plate, there is a strong chance its light path will overshoot your subject and, if that's the case, depending on your choice of camera, you'll have to think of external methods of illuminating your subject with additional light.
Some photographers purchase a small diffuser or bounce device to disperse the light from the flash to envelop the subject. For more on diffusion devices for electronic flash see the section on Flash Diffusers, below.
Setting up Your Camera Controls for Macro Photography
The steps involved in optimizing your camera settings for macro capture varies from camera to camera, but the basics hold true across the board.
Assuming your point-and-shoot camera has a macro focusing mode (and most do), it's commonly set by clicking on the flower petal icon among the camera controls located on the top or rear of the camera (see your owner's manual for the specifics).
Once in macro mode, your camera will be able to focus down to its closest focusing distance, and in most cases will still be able to hit the infinity mark on a moment's notice without having to reset your camera.
Make sure you have your camera's image stabilization system turned on in order to minimize camera shake, which becomes increasingly magnified the closer you get to your subject.
To get around the lighting problems inherent to point-and-shoot macro photography, it's often necessary to resort to auxiliary flashes and accessory reflectors.
The big challenge of macro imaging is being able to get in close enough to the subject without crossing the light path of the lens. If your camera has one you may want to attach a compact slave flash or you can opt for an LED array attaching it to a small bracket that can be mounted to the tripod thread of your camera, angled inward toward the lens and triggered by the camera's flash.
A bit of practice and flash positioning is most likely in order, but the results can be quite good.
If you go the flash route, you should take advantage of any flip-down or snap-on diffusers that might be built into or included with your flash as a means of softening the blow of the flash when it fires close to your subject.
If your flash doesn't offer any diffusion options, you still have the choice of purchasing any number of plastic and fabric snap-on / slip-on bounce diffusers for shoe and bracket-mounted accessory flashes as displayed further below.
Another way to go is to "do-it-yourself". There are a number of ingenious ways to make a home-made gadget. Try covering your camera's pop-up flash with a cigarette box or yogurt container. Or be creative and cut some plastic from an old water bottle
Tripods and Camera Supports
Not everyone has a tripod. If you don't have a tripod try steadying yourself on a table or firm object or resting the camera on supports or books close to your subject.
Choosing the best form of camera support for macro photography depends greatly on what you're shooting and where you're shooting it.
Full-size tripods are fine and dandy except when shooting subjects beyond the reach of a camera. At times like this your choices are hand-holding with your camera's IS system (image stabilization) turned on.
So you're crazy about macro photography? - Photographer's top choice....
I'm mad about...
Step #2: HIGH SPEED PHOTOGRAPHY - Liquid Gold
Photo Credit: Liquid Gold by Arnaud S.
The above image is called "Liquid Gold" and was taken with a Nikon D90 DSLR. It's a waterdrop in a beaten golden vase. It's what I had on hand at the moment when I took this shot. This time I used the built-in flash. No fancy setup...just water dripping from a tap with the vase underneath and the colors are natural! I chose a vase that wasn't smooth on purpose. See all those crazy reflections? Well, they're caused by the irregularities in the vase and the shiny golden surface is what takes it to the heights!
Camera Nikon D90
Exposure 0.006 sec (1/160)
Focal Length 105 mm
ISO Speed 800Exposure Bias 0 EV
2. HIGH SPEED PHOTOGRAPHY
REMEMBER TO FOLLOW THESE SIMPLE STEPS:
*Use the "Macro Mode" -- this is the 'flower icon' on your camera's shooting modes. Most, if not all cameras have this mode.
*Use the shutter priority mode and set the fastest flash sync possible)
*Set a Background if you feel it is necessary. If you are shooting in your sink you might consider a towel or something basic to cover up the faucet. Some people also use colored paper on the bottom of their sinks which creates a great colored reflection on each drop. In the above shot I used a gold colored vase.
*Use light! turn on the lights to eliminate dark, and shadowed rooms.
*Play with white balance settings to make the water "blue"
*Use your Flash!
*Try to synchronize the water dropping with your reflex on the shutter button.
*Don't get discouraged! It can take over 200 shots on your first time to get it right the first time. Many people have said that only after a week of practice they were able to take excellent shots.
*Don't delete shots on the scene. Once uploaded to your computer the snapshots look much better, and you will find a couple of nice surprises.
Beginner or PRO? - Are you a master with the camera?
When it comes to photography I'm a....
Step #3: NATURE PHOTOGRAPHY - Curiosity
Photo Credit: Curiosity by Arnaud S.
Another Nikon D90 shot taken last year....this little kitten is just poised on top of some garbage bins a bit puzzled about how to get down. He is debating whether or not he should jump, will he make it or not? A cute story.
Every photograph tells a story in one way or another. It involves both the subject and the viewer in an active way.
Equipment: Nikon D90
Exposure 0.033 sec (1/30)
Focal Length 105 mm
ISO Speed 100
Exposure Bias 0 EV
Flash: No Flash
3. NATURE PHOTOGRAPHY
Nature photography presents some challenges, especially if all you have is a point and shoot. You may not have the powerful lenses that professionals use, but you can take advantage of the telephoto setting equipped on most point and shoot cameras.
Before getting started the first thing to remember is that all animals, whether household pets or wild, are quick-moving and won't pose for you. To capture them on film, you must be very patient, be willing to shoot a lot of film, and persevere. Watch through your lens until you find an opportune moment, and click your shutter.
If you're stuck on wildlife photography and live in the middle of a city, with no prospects of going on safari to Africa anytime soon-where can you find wildlife to photograph? It's easier than you might think. There are zoos, nature preserves, aquariums, pet shops, farms and aviaries, some of which may be close to home.
Whether you photograph animals on safari, in a national park, or at the zoo, remember that most wildlife is most active in the morning or late in the afternoon. At noon, they're often napping. Besides, as with shooting portraits of people, it's best to avoid harsh, midday sun when photographing animal close-ups. The only benefit to bright daylight is that you can use a fast shutter speed to freeze action when photographing creatures on the move.
Panning your camera to follow the motion of the subject is a creative approach for photographing a bird in flight or a running animal. Set your camera to ISO 100 and put your camera on its landscape mode to give you a slower shutter speed (the sports mode will freeze action).
Click the shutter as the action begins and rotate your body to follow the movement of the animal. A good way to practice this technique ahead of time is to stand on the side of a road and pan the camera on cars as they pass your field of view. A successful panning shot depicts a relatively sharp-focused subject against a blurred background, giving the impression of motion and speed.
Equipment check. Some essential items to pack before you go on a photoshoot. - Don't Forget Those Memory cards, Batteries and Bags.
Before going on a photo shoot you will want to pack a few essential items in your vest or photo bag. Here a just a few items that have proven handy while outdoors and in difficult situations.
Photo Credit: Famous Last Shots by Geir Akselsen
Do you like to photograph animals? Have you ever photographed birds, butterflies, insects, reptiles or your pets?
subjects I photograph:
Step #4: Photo techniques - Understanding Light
Photo Credit: Light by Arnaud S.
"Light is more than watts and footcandles. Light is metaphor. Light is knowledge. Light is Life"!
How I did this:
A great experiment for a rainy day! I think this shot came out best with the minimal amount of light...only just as much as needed. With a flash light pointed directly down into the cup somewhat near the handle and another well-aimed just behind my hand. Hope you like my pic! Oh yeah...it's a point and shoot!
Camera: Sony DSC-W30
Exposure: 0.125 sec (1/8)
Focal Length: 6.3 mm
ISO Speed: 320
Exposure Bias: 0 EV
4. UNDERSTANDING LIGHT
Check your camera for a low light/ Nighttime mode. Most point and shoot cameras have this mode in their automatic settings or on a little dial on the top of the camera. It's a wonder tool that has many great benefits when taking low-light photography. It enables pictures to be taken with very little light while hand holding the camera, basically if a single candle is the light source a steady hand held shot can be got.
Sometimes LESS is BEST! Try experimenting with light by turning off the automatic flash on your camera and relying on other sources of light to illuminate your subject. Lamps and flashlights don't cost much, are easy to handle and and work really well as you can see form the above.
Keep handy a wi-fi Remote, Trigger or Flash. - If you're like me you won't want to be without a remote trigger at all times.
Remote triggers enable you to snap a picture remotely without having to actually be behind the camera. The trigger fires the flash or photo with the flick of a button. These are incredibly useful for long exposure shots, high speed photographs or casual portraits.
Step #5: Portrait Photography
Photo Credit: Daydreamer by Arnaud S.
"When you photograph people in color you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in B&W, you photograph their souls!" ~Ted Grant
The quote from Ted Grant makes an important point. You do not need color to effectively make your pictures speak. In the above photo the eyes say it all. This is an example of simple portrait photography in black and white.
This image was taken with a point and shoot Panasonic DMC-ZS1 in broad daylight without the flash. You can set your camera to fully automatic settings for daylight shots and turn off the flash (which can cast some ugly blowouts on your subject).
Camera Panasonic DMC-ZS1
Exposure 0.01 sec (1/100)
Focal Length 42.6 mm
ISO Speed 400
Exposure Bias +0.33 EV
Flash Off, Did not fire
5. PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHY
As you can see a great portrait can be done with a simple point and shoot digital camera. All you need to keep in mind are some simple hints and tips to take a great portrait.
One of the key things any professional photographer knows is how to work with light. Bad lighting can ruin a picture by washing out the subject or by over encompassing them with shadows.
The light has to be just right when taking a portrait. If you want to take a portrait inside you should use soft lighting from something like a lamp- no spotlights or overhead lighting!
If you must use your flash when inside for lack of proper lighting try softening it with a diffuser. If you want to take your portrait in natural day light do it very early in morning at day break or wait until the evening when the light is the best.
The sun is not harsh and glaring and the natural glow of the setting or rising sun compliments everyone.
In order to take good portraits, the subject should be the main focus and not their clothes or their background. Have your subject dress in neutral colors and no busy fabrics. Anything crazy will overwhelm the portrait and over take the person themselves.
It is also a good idea to have a very subdued background. If you are shooting inside you can hang a monotone sheet on a wall or use the wall itself as a portrait backdrop.
Do not use cluttered living rooms or bedrooms to take a picture because then the focus is forced onto the surroundings of the subject and not them personally.
C. Point of view
Something that at first you may overlook. How important it is to get that personalized feel in your shots! Get to the eye level of your subject.
For children, squat down to take pictures of them. If your adult subject is sitting down, then you should get to his/her eye level, too. This makes them more relaxed as they don't have to raise or lower their head to look at you, which may cause some unnecessary discomfort.
D. Creative framing
To get a little more creative, try framing your subjects off center. Try depressing the shutter halfway to focus. Recompose the photo off-center, and take the shot. This should keep the focus on the subject, even if it is not at the center of frame, adding a dynamic element particularly to your portraiture photography.
This should work with most point and shoots, but some cameras will default to the center as the point of focus. In that case, change the AF setting to "Spot" or "Tracking AF" via the menu system.
Passionate About Portraits!
What do you like about portrait photography?
Step #6: HDR Photography - Something Old Something New
Photo Credit: Something Old Something New by Arnaud S.
This old car evokes a sense of modern elegance. It is shot with a point and shoot Sony DSC-W210 no flash. The subject is particularly suited for an HDR treatment to bring out the details and color.
Camera Sony DSC-W210
Exposure 0.01 sec (1/100)
Focal Length 6.4 mm
ISO Speed 125
Exposure Bias 0 EV
Flash Off, Did not fire
6. HDR PHOTOGRAPHY
Taking amazing photos is something many aspiring amateur photographers strive for. And HDR effects can really make your images pop. Compact digital cameras (point-and-shoot) are the cheapest entry into high dynamic range photography.
HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. In other words, HDR photos cover a large exposure range, allowing for deeper contrast in both shadows and highlights. HDR photos are striking to look at, but the effect can easily be overdone.
There are two basic types of HDR photos. The first are true HDR composite photos, created by taking multiple shots of a subject at different exposures and combining them. The second technique involves using Photoshop effects and adjusting the shadows, highlights, and other settings.
Basic Equipment for HDR Photography
If you're interested in creating real HDR images, you'll need slightly higher-end equipment than many amateur photographers have. Here's a list:
*A camera capable of taking images in RAW format
*A good quality tripod
*Software such as Photomatix or Photoshop
Post-processing software allows you to blend photographs with different exposures. This clearly increases the dynamic range of the final output photo. There is also tone mapping which reveals highlight and shadow details in an HDR image made from multiple exposures.
1. Choose your scene. HDR will often bring out the best in any scene, so this is up to you. Some find a scene with plenty of cloud works well as HDR photos bring out a stunning amount of cloud detail.
2. Set up your camera. Put your camera on a tripod if you have one; find a solid surface to rest it on if you don't. If you have a remote release for your camera, all the better; you could also use a short self-timer if you don't. Whatever you use, it is very important that the camera does not move between shots.
3. You need to take 3 or more photographs. Take a photo, adjust the shutter speed one or two stops faster (i.e. if you're at 1/250 sec, go to 1/500 or 1/1000 sec), take a photo, then adjust it one or two stops slower than your original shutter speed (i.e. if you were at 1/250 sec, then set it to 1/125 or 1/60 sec), and take another photo. You will now have three photographs: one overexposed, one underexposed, and one normal.
4. After the shoot, transfer the images to your computer. There is a merge to HDR feature in many photo editing software including Adobe Photoshop, Photomatix Pro, Dynamic Photo HDR and others. Adobe software is considered the best and most expensive of the list but if you click on the box to the right you can easily get a FREE trial download directly from the Adobe website!
Creating and Tone-Mapping an HDR Image
1. Load your images into Adobe Photoshop, Gimp or other graphic program and browse for the three photographs you just took.
2. Look for the "Tone-map the HDR image" mode. Hit the "Tonemap the Hdr" button in the toolbar. A window will pop up with a slightly bewildering array of tone mapping algorithms and parameters. The default setting does a very good job. But you may want to play with the others as well. Hit "Apply" to tone-map the image.
3. Save your image. You can post-process your image a little more now if you want. Adobe Photoshop is great but you can use GIMP or other photo editing software of your choice. You may want to fix the colour/white balance (this should not be done with photos before creating your HDR image, as it can have weird effects). Applying subtle amounts of "Unsharp mask" can be a very good thing.
If all this seems difficult to grasp don't lose your cool! It's a lot easier than you think and with practice you'll soon get the hang if it!There you have it! 3 small steps closer to achieving fantastic results with your point and shoot camera!
If however, all you want to do is create that HDR look in your photos, all you really need is a good point-and-shoot (or DSLR) camera and Photoshop.
Everything in this technique is done in post-processing, so you'll just want a camera that's capable of taking high-quality originals with a good exposure range. Post processing is the last stage in HDR photography that you can really control. This is where technical skills merge with creative sensibility.
What I like about HDR...
Step #7: Landscape Photography
Sunset at 7
Photo Credit: Sunset at 7 by Arnaud S.
We had an awesome sunset awhile back (they usually happen at 7 pm) and I just kept snapping pics. This one was taken with my point and shoot Sony DSC-W30 no flash. Set your camera to landscape mode and use the night settings on your point and shoot camera. Make sure to try it without the flash!
Camera Sony DSC-W30
Exposure 0.008 sec (1/125)
Focal Length 6.3 mm
ISO Speed 160
7. LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHY
TIPS AND TRICKS!
A. Use the manual mode.
Make the bold move to switch the camera dial from "Auto" to "Manual." More point and shoot digital cameras these days come with built-in manual modes, depending on price and manufacturer.
Some point and shoot cameras include manual features in which users can control aperture and shutter speed, features that were once only limited to higher-priced SLRs for advanced users. Manual functions give you the benefit to control shooting capabilities in varied lighting and speed situations.
You can access aperture and shutter speed through the camera's menu settings and then via a zoom button. Although not all compact cameras have aperture and shutter speed controls, the majority of point-and-shoots include controls for ISO speed (usually 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, and sometimes 3200), flash (On, Off, Auto, Red-eye Reduction), and sometimes exposure stops (+/- 2).
Experiment with the manual modes by first playing with the menu items. Change your menu settings by pressing the zoom toggle or main four-way controller, depending on the layout for your camera.
B. When to turn off the flash
Point and shoots tend to employ a flash-on setting as the default mode. For travel photography though, most situations will call for little flash compensation since most vacationers spend their time outdoors that is already well lit.
Try shutting off the automatic flash or suppress the pop-up in situations with plenty of light and see what effect it has. To turn off the flash, hit the multi-controller button marked with a lighting bolt icon, which is oftentimes the preferred method that point and shoots identify the flash setting.
Change the "Flash On" setting to "Flash Off." Ever thought of using the natural light shining through a window during the daytime instead of the flash?
You can also turn off the flash for nighttime shooting. To compensate for the lack of light and flash, the camera will boost ISO or slow down the shutter speed, usually automatically, unless overridden in manual mode by the user. In this mode camera shake should be avoided to get the best shots.
You might want to also use a mini travel tripod or simply set the camera on a firm surface to keep it stable. Use the automatic timer that is included on almost every camera for the increased time it takes to capture the night picture. Most point and shoots have a 2 second timer.
C. When to turn on the flash
Some situations do call for the extra help of a flash such as the standard indoors settings or even outdoors in bright sun or shady days. Turn on the automatic flash when facing a strong light source or shooting into the light. For those outdoors situations, users should consider turning down flash to fill in for overcast or shady conditions. Not all point and shoots offer this adjustable feature to increase and decrease flash increments, but if your cameras does, use it. It can help properly expose your outdoor photos for even lighting.
D. Point of View
Point and shoots often have a landscape mode. Try using it. It will give the widest angle to your shots filling your viewfinder with as much of the scene as you can get in.
Be creative! Change your point of view by getting down low for your shots. Lie down in the grass if you have to! Point your camera upwards to make things in the foreground appear much bigger than they really are. Look for things like street signs with the city behind it or flowers in the foreground with the grassy knoll in the background.
Also consider shooting overhead for a bird's eye view. Climb to the second level of a shopping mall or other multi-floor venues, and shoot down below. Zoom out, and keep your camera parallel to the ground. This will get the tops of people's heads, which is interesting for big crowds or people in formal wear. This is particularly effective for wide shots in banquet halls for weddings or rockers at concerts.
You can consider using the tripod for landscape shots. Rotate the camera horizontally using the tripod. Take a series of photos at the same level for a 180-degree, panoramic view. If you choose to, you can use this series of photos for a post-processing stitching to create one long, wide photo. You can achieve all sorts of interesting effects with angle and camera shake as well.
E. landscapes and night scenes
Tripods are helpful for nighttime and landscape photography. Bolt the point and shoot to the camera socket on the tripod. Be careful to twist just enough for stability, but not too tight, particularly if the socket is made from plastic, which can peel if worn away from over usage. The tripod will steady the camera. Try shooting cars zooming by on a busy city street. The long exposure will make the cars look like streaks and the light posts like starbursts.
F. Always be ready to take a great photo
If you are using the manual mode on your p&s, make sure you have the settings correct for the environment you are in (i.e. ISO set to 100 for broad daylight, or 800 for nighttime, aperture and shutter speed appropriate for action or still shots). If you are suddenly inspired to take a photo, or something interesting happens, be ready to capture that moment instantaneously without fumbling to change the settings.
Also, it may seem obvious, but all users should remember that battery life during vacation is the key to successful travel shooting. Charge your batteries the night before your hike for the full amount of required time that your manual dictates. Most chargers have a blinking light that signals when the charge is complete. Remember that overcharging your battery can also lead to damage to your battery. Read the fine print on your camera's battery charge times, as spelled out in your manual specifications.
Essential gear for the outdoor photographer. I highly recommend a photo vest while shooting outdoors.
Photo vests are extremely practical and saves you a lot of extra baggage when shooting outdoors. You can keep all your memory cards, filters, batteries and triggers on hand while shooting in hard to get places.
You Can Do Professional Photography!
My favorite photos are of....
Which is your preferred camera?
Battle of the Cameras
Purple Star award
This is my first lens. On Jan 3 2013 this lens was awarded the Purple Star award. A big THANK YOU to HQ and all those who squidliked and nominated this lens. I remain forever grateful!