Tag Archive: Basics

Setup a Tripod Correctly

Having a tripod helps in capturing sharp & steady photographs. However, it is just as crucial to know how to setup a tripod properly to get the steady photographs in the first place. Even with a tripod, photos can come out shaky/blurry if one does not pays proper attention to its setup.

Proper Leg Position – As you setup a tripod, how many times have you paid attention to its legs? Ensure the next time you setup, the out-stretched leg make a ‘V’ towards you as the third leg goes parallel to the lens ahead. This positioning ensures you can move freely without accidentally tripping or inducing blur due to tripod shake.

Proper Leg Grounding – As you lay your tripod on the ground check if all the legs lay flat on the ground and not on stones, pebbles, greasy land or slope of any kind. If the tripod is not on a proper ground, it will shift during exposure or may even fall off being imbalanced. If you can find three small flat stones, use them below each of the tripod’s legs to ensure a good grounding. A proper grounding helps in a sturdy shooting experience.

Proper Leg Lock – As you extend your tripod’s legs, make sure the leg locks are secured properly. Whatever the type they may be, pull out & lock or twist & tighten – make that they are tight and there is no shift in their position due to the weight.

Proper Bubble Level – This is a no-brainer, yet most ignore it. Ensure the bubble in the bubble meter is centered. This ensures the tripod is properly levelled & there is no tilt. Also check if your camera is properly levelled on the head to ensure straight axis & other lines in your frame. If your camera has electronic level meter, make use of it.

Proper Head Lock – Ensure the head is locked securely in the shooting position. Check if there is any visible change in the head’s angle due to the weight of the camera. This happens when the lock is not secured properly which causes the head to rotate in the axis due to the weight of the camera attached. This is crucial as long exposure magnify even the tiniest of movement.

Proper Camera Plate Lock – The quick release camera mounting plates ensure a peace of mind yet they need to be checked properly. At times, the camera can move if the mounting plate is not properly secured in its mechanism. Check this before you go ahead and shoot. If your camera has a neck strap attached, roll it over the head to prevent it from wind and causing vibrations.

Proper Center Column – Most of the tripod’s allow you to raise the centre column to gain additional shooting height. However, the center column when raised to the extreme tend to get imbalanced as the centre of gravity changes. Even light breeze can induce shake. I recommend not to raise the center column but in case you require it, raise it only to the absolute minimum you can, never above half of its length. Ensure it is tightly locked when raised.

The Good Old Hook – If in-spite the measures you feel the need for additional stability, use the good old hook on the tripod. Attach your bags/sandbags to this hook to keep the tripod secure when shooting in windy conditions.

Now go ahead and capture breath-taking fireworks on the upcoming Independence day or some nice landscapes. Choice is yours. :)

Beginners grappling with the mystery of shutter-speed, aperture & ISO will heave a sigh of relief. Canon has introduced an interactive website which goes through all these elements in a lucid & entertaining manner.

Canon outside AUTO

Canon outside of Auto is a website where Canon urges users to get outside of auto mode by teaching the ropes of the manual mode by clever use of animation. You can first read about the elements of the exposure triangle & then with the knowledge try your hand at the inbuilt DSLR simulator. It’s unlike other simulators around the web & give detailed report about the shot you clicked. It mentions what you did correctly in the shot & also what you did not.

Amateurs to DSLR camera will find it challenging to take on the challenge against the clock wherein one is given different targets to achieve as quickly as possible. What’s more, there is also a glossary of the technical mambo-jumbo which can be pulled out from left corner.

Once the beginners learn these technique, they can practice in the real world. The transition will be easier. No more fear of the manual mode. This is really a great resource for those who has just got a DSLR/Prosumer camera but never ventured out of auto mode due to lack of knowledge of exposure basics.

When I was starting in Photography, I had no clue as to how shutter-speed, aperture & ISO affect the exposure. I had no idea as to why or when to one open up aperture or to raise or lower the ISO. Gradually with trial & errors along-with some reading up, I got grasp over these three elements of the exposure triangle. As the adage goes, when your basics are strong you can make better progress. I often feel most amateur photographers just blindly shoot without learning these basics as they feel them to be boring. Its partly true but that does not mean one should ignore them as every great photographer has these three elements deep sculpted in his mind. With “Right Click”, one can now no longer make any excuses for learning the ABC’s of Photography.

Right Click is an Android application which teaches you the basics of photography. It has two modes – View Mode & Read Mode. Under View mode, one can see the effects of change in aperture, ISO & shutter-speed. All illustrated by amazing visualizations. Under read mode, you can read in brief about them. The best thing about this app is the camera interface which mimics the Canon & Nikon DSLR’s screens so beginners will feel right at home. Apart from the basics, the app also briefs you on various genres of photography which I recommend reading. If you’re a beginner chances are that you’ve not yet found the genre of your liking in photography. Even if you’re not, each genre lists some handy tips which will help you shoot the particular genre with ease.

With the popularity of Android smart-phones, this application will find many takers. However there are a few typos within the read mode which need to be resurrected by the developers. Further I would like the application to provide some challenges to users like throwing up a scene & letting users set the ISO, exposure, aperture for the same. Furthermore expanding on the read mode will be a great addition. Also when user goes into read mode, the orientation changes from landscape to portrait which can be irritating. Else nothing much to complain. This tiny application will come very handy for someone starting with manual photography. And did I say, it offers all this for Free? If you’re beginner in photography & have an Android smart-phone, Right Click is an app you should definitely install.

Its a human tendency to lust on luxurious things. Photographers are no different species. Their wish-list is often filled with high end camera bodies & further high end fast glass. If you happen to go through it, you’ll find most of lenses having a fast aperture of f/2.8, 1.8, 1.4 or even 1.2.

The thing is, they believe owning these fast lenses will make their job easier. They will be able to shoot in lower light, get more creamier backgrounds & come close to making photographs like their role model photographer. However, there is also another aspect to this thinking. No doubt, one will get benefit of shooting at lower ISO’s with these fast lenses or getting creamier backgrounds. But has anyone given a thought to the shallows DOF’s provided by these fast lenses?

The shallow DOF commands the photographer to be very perfect in his shooting technique. Since the DOF is very shallow(and get even shallower at telephoto ranges), a photographer must be adept at his focusing technique. A small lapse in focusing and the picture will go straight into the Trash Bin. Here amateur photographers are better off with consumer grade lenses which offer medium apertures & conceal any mistake of the photographers when it comes to focusing. Also not to forget professional lenses like 70-200mm f/2.8 weigh a lot & if you’re not build like a tank, you’re going to get fatigued which will ultimately result in shaken pictures. In worst cases, you may prefer to keep such lenses at home & shoot with your normal consumer lenses which defeat your original purpose of getting a fast lens.

So as you see, its not that simple. Before you go out to buy those fast professional lenses, take a quick look at your capability. Ask yourself – How accurately you focus? How often you need to shoot Wide open? Do you really need the f/1.4 or a f/2.8 or f/4 lens will suffice? Its a case of, “With Great Power comes even Greater Responsibility”. Its better to hone your basic camera skills with your consumer lenses for a year or two before you take the path of getting fast professional lenses. This does not only applies to lenses but to any high-end photography gear. Any high-end photography gear might make your job simpler but will also magnify any of your shortcomings. So first measure your photographic capability before splurging.

Often you’ll find some applications not available in your OS repository/third party repository or you need to install a recent version than the one in your repository. Whatever the case might be, you’re left with no option but to compile & install the application from the source tarball provided from the application’s project website. Beginners might feel this process to be intimidating but its not that difficult. Once you repeat it a couple of times, it will become a second nature to you. I’ll outline some basic steps which will help you to install the application from a source tarball.

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