Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Kit and advancement question...

Hi Guys,

A quick question that will be useful to me, but also to others... can you briefly describe your set up?

Camera, lenses, tripods, software, output, choice of printers, medium, paper etc?

How did you make the transition from snaps to time consuming, loving, tempremental, emotional shots?

I am considering jumping from snap happy Sony digital to Canon Eos 350D and Photoshop CS2 (free through my work thankfully).

Will be using Kelby's book "Photoshop CS2 Book for Digital Photographers" (there are no specialist classes out here) to improve processing skills and have started posting on a local site with regular meet ups and field trips to learn from better photographers than myself...

A good way to progress? Comments.

If this thread should be deleted to preserve the image flow, let me know and I'll delete.

Thanks again though...


Critical Light said...

Hello there,

OK. My set-up is pretty basic but is evolving, albeit slowly.
Canon EOS 350D
Canon EFS 17-85 mm IS lens
Canon EF 100-300 mm lens
Manfrotto 141RC tripod
UV filter for each lens and one polarizer filter
Set of four close-up lenses
Pelican 1400 case
Photoshop CS2

The book that I use for Photoshop is by Martin Evening (Adobe Photoshop CS2 for Photographers). I really like it; very easy to follow.

To bac-up files I have a LG DVD/CD writer but hope to purchase an external hard drive.

I have no printer yet (I use a local photo store) but am looking at buying the Canon i9900. Haven't done it yet because lots of photographers seem to choose Epson. However, the equivalent Epson model (R800) seems to have a problem with the inkjets clogging between use, unless the printer is used everyday. The issue with the Canon is the limited paper choice and there have been no tests on the ink for longevity, although they say they are rated for at least 25 years. So, I am stuck a bit with the printer issue. Any advice?...

OK. My transition. I have been taking photos since 1990 with my first camera being the Minolta x-700, followed by the Canon eos 100, Nikon f90x and now back to Canon. I have always enjoyed taking photos but, when shooting film, I never pursued it much, mostly because of the cost of film. I was given a point and shoot Nikon Coolpix 4300 for xmas in 2003 and it sparked my interest again. But never went much further. Recently, I had a jolt in my life and it has blossomed my interest in photography, to the point that I am now using photography to earn myself some dosh. Now, whenever I go out, I see photos everywhere.

As for developing one's skill. I have never had any lessons in photography and one short workshop/seminar in photoshop. I go out with my camera, on my own, and shoot what I see. Being on my own means that I can completely fall into the scenes around me. When I do that, the images just appear. With digital I can play around with exposure and shutter speeds to find the best shot at no extra cost to me. I then come home and play with Photoshop to adjust the image to what I saw.

So that is me. But we are all different. You should use the resources and people around as you see fit.


Anonymous said...

First off, the 350D is a great entry DSLR, combining all the features you’d want with great image quality, in-camera processing speed, access to the best EF and EF-S (optimised for digital) lenses and price. The kit lens is OK, but if you can, add the 17-85 EF-S with IS (Image Stabilisation). The pixel war that has raged over the last few years is basically over – now, it’s pixel quality that counts. Hence, we’ve seen Nikon release the new D50 and D70s, both still 6.1 MP but with better pixel quality and image processing. You can now get 10.2 (Nikon D200) and 12.8 (Canon 5D), but this is currently not worth the additional money, especially as the jump to 10MP means less than an inch each direction on maximum print size above A4!

I have:

Canon 350D with 17-55 EF(kit) lens
17-85 EF-S IS lens
Polariser (essential)
Neutral density grad filters (Cokin P series) - essential - 0.3 and 0.6.
Warm up 81A and 81B filters.
UV filter for all lenses.
Manfrotto tripod.

That's it - and that's really all you need for most stuff.

Photoshop is definitely the way to go to. Industry standard, and all the magazines feature it prominently. That’s how I learnt the basics – buying Digital Photo each month, and doing the lessons on the cover CD. I had a knocked off version of PS6, before splashing out £600 on CS. I’ve not upgraded to CS2. I’ve also been on two courses run by the Peak District Photography Centre, and now have BIPP (British Institue of Professional Photographers) accredited qualification in Advanced Digital Imaging. Scott Kelby is a great Photoshop author, and his books are really good, focussing on digital imaging. I also have Martin Evening’s book, like Damian, and this is a more through all-encompassing manual, still focussing on photography, but covering everything you’d ever need. So, it’s one or the other, and both are good.

Transition – I got an original Olympus Trip in 1980. I always liked taking pics, but found film costly and hard to experiment with. I bought a 4MP Canon Powershot in 2002 for a trip to Chicago, and it went from there with the PS6 I mentioned earlier.

I favour Epson printers, and have a Photo 950, a forerunner to the R800, but just as good. No issues with ink clogging for me.

Mixing with other photographers is good, but make sure you don't sacrifice being able to do what you want to do photographically. I also have numerous books by my favourite photographers, and have shamelessly copied their styles to improve my image making (Joe Cornish, Tom Mackie and Charlie Waite to name a few).

I have found that the best images require either good luck or good planning. As the former is anyones guess, it has to be good planning. Trying to get up and out, or thinking about a shot and coming back several times (as Damian has done) is the ideal way. It does take time and effort, but the results are so much better. Even if you get 1 out of 100 that is stunning, it's worth it.

For CS2, try to have as much RAM as possible, at least 512 but pref over 1,000. I think I have over 1,000 and it flies along, no worries, even big files.

It doesn't take long to do the basic PS alterations - if it does take too long, either the initial pic isn't right, or the image is being over-manipulated. I do

1. Levels
2. Curves
3. Hue/Satn
4. Cropping
5. Colour balance
6. Shadow/highlight (if required)
7. Resize (not interpolated) to be 300ppi which is print quality
8. Final manipulation (always final) is unsharp mask. 100% at 0.7-1.0 pixel. Don't overdo it, and watch out for "halos".

Any technical issues with CS2 etc or digital files, drop us a line - between us we'll figure something out.

Critical Light said...

I guess the other thing I forgot to mention is to use this site as much as you can. I post images for the sole purpose of getting some critique (and some confidence in shooting). But if you wanted to play with a particular type of photography, for example landscape shots or fast action, you can post your best here and let us evaluate them. None of us are experts but we each have our own eye and Ivan has a great and valuable skill in photoshop.


Anonymous said...

Totally agree with Damian - get your images up here and let's all get into a good discussion about them. I think we all have "the eye", and everyone's eye is different, so it can only benefit us. I may have Photoshop skill, but I sense my young (?) paduwan jedi is coming up increasingly fast on my heels...his recent shots do show a liking for the "dark" side (get it?).

Critical Light said...

To follow on from Ivan's comments and a recent discussion Ivan and I had. We are thinking of making this site work for us through some 'homework'. Basically, the idea is once a month one of us chooses a particular photography or photoshop technique and each one of us have to go away and work on that technique. For example, it could be fast action photography, or landscape or a skill in photoshop such as converting colour to BW or whatever. Once we have completed the task, we post the best of our results on the web for open critique/discussion.

In this way, we will be pushed to extend our photograph/photoshop technique beyond what we would normally do.

So, Grant, let us know what you think and whether you would be up for that. If you are, Ivan will give us our first task starting April.

bishopsindubai said...

Hi Guys,

I think a monthly theme is a fine idea. I will certainly by up for trying this out.

Count me in...

Regarding posting more - I could, that is true, however I usually only put up what I think is at least half decent in some way... I'll have a look, there are shots I should be working on - more soon I'd hope.

Ivan - just don't make the first them seals or frosty mornings - ok!