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      09-17-2009, 09:40 AM   #1
immiketoo
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How do I improve my photo skills?

I have some decent kit, and I take decent photos, but I want to know where to go to learn some serious photo skills. I was reading the manual for my flash last night and it seems there are more features to it than I even understand. For example? why does my flash had zoom capability? does it throw the light farther? Change the pattern of dispersion? That doesn't even begin to address composition, lighting etc...please help. BTW, I have scoured Adorama's site and read a few books for the basics...
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      09-17-2009, 10:06 AM   #2
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Me 2.

But after trying them out for a few months.. I find taking good composition, learning how to compose and emphasize the focus point of your photo, learning how to read the light, and color composition will 90% get you a good photo (assuming you have some decent equipment).

You use Canon?

I have Canon 580 EX2, and I have tried to use M mode by adjusting the light output, playing around the exposure/metering and it returned little success for me..

I use ETTL 95% of the time and adjust the ETTL setting in terms of power output and the distance of object I'm shooting.

Oh, I really believe that those who actually manually set flash settings are usually pros taking studio photos and not average amateur taking real life event photos...

I'm reading a couple books that I thought are excellent in terms of helping you understanding exposure, color composition, photo composition etc. I'll post the title tonight if you want.

I bought the book from Amazon brand new for only about $25 (retail at $45 or so). (good graphics illustration too)
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      09-17-2009, 11:11 AM   #3
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improve?

here's my advice:

do you have a zoom lens? don't use it.
get a 35mm prime or a 50mm prime and use only this.
this will help you improve your compositions and thought process.

only shoot in manual.

study the basics of art: balance, form, line, tension, emphasis, proportion, space (negative and positive), value/tone.


oh, and if you ever use a flash, don't use it attached on top of the camera (in its hotshoe) - find a way to trigger it off camera.
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      09-17-2009, 11:34 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by immiketoo View Post
why does my flash ha[ve] zoom capability? does it throw the light farther? Change the pattern of dispersion?
Yes to the 2nd question. The relative postion of the bulb and reflector in the flash head change and this changes the coverage angle to match the field of view of wider or longer lenses. The other posters are right, though, that there's lots more to flash photography than just getting the exposure right. Positioning of the flash, use of bounce flash, reflectors, diffusors and multiple flash heads are all tools that serious portraitists use to craft the lightscape in their image.

You can find out a lot about this on the web or in books, but lots of practice and experimentation on your own will probably help most of all.
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      09-17-2009, 11:51 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rodi View Post
improve?

here's my advice:

do you have a zoom lens? don't use it.
get a 35mm prime or a 50mm prime and use only this.
this will help you improve your compositions and thought process.

only shoot in manual.

study the basics of art: balance, form, line, tension, emphasis, proportion, space (negative and positive), value/tone.


oh, and if you ever use a flash, don't use it attached on top of the camera (in its hotshoe) - find a way to trigger it off camera.
Thank you all for your advice... I do use Canon, I do have a zoom lens that I plan on using for certain events, but I see your point about the prime. Can you explain more about the benefits of prime lenses, and do you have any suggestions about the basics of art, i.e. books etc? Should I take an art class or will a photography class help?

Why not use the zoom lens?

FYI I have a 50D with a 24-70 2.8 L and a 100-400 L lenses. I have the 580 EXII flash.
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      09-17-2009, 12:04 PM   #6
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Oh and I always use manual mode, unless after numerous attempts, I fail horribly and I need to get something half way decent....
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      09-17-2009, 12:51 PM   #7
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go out and take more photos. seriously that really helped me..
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      09-17-2009, 01:55 PM   #8
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I am doing that.... but knowledge + experience should pay off faster
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      09-17-2009, 05:35 PM   #9
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Do that too
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      09-17-2009, 05:37 PM   #10
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Also, if your seeing all the amazing pictures on the internet, remember that they are all processed. So if you want to improve the look of your images, don't skimp on learning post processing either (PS, CS4, LR, etc...)
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      09-17-2009, 06:00 PM   #11
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Quote:
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Also, if your seeing all the amazing pictures on the internet, remember that they are all processed. So if you want to improve the look of your images, don't skimp on learning post processing either (PS, CS4, LR, etc...)
+1 There are some things that Photoshop can do that your camera can't, especially if you're focusing on automotive photography. Here's an example.

Before
This is raw from the camera. It's an OK shot, but nothing great. Could it have been better straight out of the camera? Sure.






After
This is with just a few minutes of Photoshop work. Definitely better.

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      09-17-2009, 08:16 PM   #12
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Points well taken. Isn't that 800 bucks though?
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      09-17-2009, 08:33 PM   #13
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Which one? PS4? 50D? Either lens? The flash? How about the one for the tripod? Perhaps you could be more specific?
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      09-17-2009, 10:16 PM   #14
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hes talking about CS4.

It can get expensive but there are plenty of ways around that. I paid $399 for a FULL Design Premium CS4 suite (retail was $1799 I believe) with the student discount. Just find a student, pay them, have them buy it in their name, have them scan their ID, submit the stuff and you're set. I think PS4 ONLY is like $199.99 with the discount.
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      09-18-2009, 12:58 AM   #15
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I think a decent suggestion if you want to nitpick your photos, is to take a bunch of shots, import into lightroom, and pay attention to the alterations you are making. If you are adjusting white balance, contrast, etc, that tells you where your photo was lacking. It gives you a little direction in seeing what it is that you can try to improve when you go out and shoot.

If your shots are blurry, you need a faster shutter or more open aperture or both etc

learn where to focus your photos from your desired changes
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      09-18-2009, 09:17 AM   #16
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Thanks Vudoo, that is a great suggestion! I plan on heading out this weekend and taking a bunch of shots.
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