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Old 01-29-2010, 01:34 AM
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Default A TCU Intro To Photography / Photo Info Thread

After some thought I came up with the idea to give beginners a place to get a basic understanding to photography especially when applying it to bmx. Here you will find out pretty much everything to get get you shooting pictures you are happy with.

Im gonna start with film because it’s a great way to start shooting, and you can get cameras that cost 600 dollars new for the cost of a good lunch. There are thousands of 35mm slr’s on ebay. Buy one with a standard 50mm lens and if you like it that’s all you will need. Even if you plan to go digital later on, you will benefit greatly from learning on film. Film is relatively cheap. Buy in bulk online and you can find a good deal, then take it to your local one hour photo places and get them back on a cd then put them on your computer. Film is also so much simpler, and your gonna be forced to think about your shots becuase you don’t wanna blow through film.

Digital

Picking a camera:

So here you are, you have a few hundred bucks saved up and you wanna explore your creative side. A good tip is to just sit on the money first and get everything figured out .Maybe carry around an older cheap camera next time you head out of the house with the idea to try your hardest to get the best pictures you can. This should give you a good idea if you want to be a photographer, or if you just wanna have a nice camera. Cameras are expensive so don’t waste your money if you don’t think your gonna wanna continue photography after the first few months. If you are just gonna shoot pictures everyonce in a while and would like to have a camera to capture those memories your will probably only need a point and shoot. If you take your time you can actually capture some really nice riding shots if your out doors and its well lit. This answer will only set you back around $100-300. From my experience I really like Canon P&S’s. They work very well and are easy to understand. They fit in your pocket and your gonna be more likely to take it wherever you go. Don’t dismiss this idea at first. A P&S can be a very useful tool and you might wish you went this path if you get a big camera and end up not taking it everywhere. Remember the best camera is the one you have with you. This means no matter how nice of a camera you have your not gonna have good pictures if you don’t have the camera with you. I own one of these and its what I bring with me when i don’t wanna shoot anything super serious and so I can worry about riding and having a good time.
The Next step up is a DSLR. Let me preface this by saying no matter what DSLR you choose the images will look the same under normal shooting conditions. When you pay more money you get a little better performace in low light situations. You also get some more buttons and features that don’t effect your images. I know pros who shoot on the cheapest Nikon available. The do have expensive lighting and lenses but money not spend on something that doesn’t effect images like the camera body means more money in their pocket.
You can sort DSLR’s into four main catagories, entry level, prosumer, semi-professional, professional.

Entry level:


They will run you from around $400-800. I don’t know all the models from other brands besides Nikon but ill talk about all the brands universally. Theses entry level cameras will become your best friend or worst nightmare if your not patient. If you buy one and you cant figure it out for shit because you don’t wanna have to do that, you just wanna press the button and get pictures that look like there from Ride your gonna be wishing you went the P&S route. Learning how to use this is a different story which I will discuss later. All these entry level cameras are pretty much the same. The biggest thing to keep in mind is the fact that Nikon entry level cameras (d40/60/40x/3000/5000) don’t have an autofocus moter, you need to get lenses with that built in (AF-S lenses). This was kind of a big deal back in 07 when only the more expensive lenses and a few cheaper lenses had this feature, but now most new Nikon lenses in every range feature this. Canon also has a lenses limitation the (from what I understand) lets you only mount the cheaper lenses to the cheaper cameras and not on the more expensive. All Nikon lenses from the 60s will mount every camera and will take pictures but there are some restrictions as far metering, ill get to that later. I don’t have anything to say about Olympus or sony lens compatibility wise. I have handeled some of the cheaper Olympus dslr's and I realy liked how compact they were.
I wouldn’t recommend anything either then Nikon or Canon unless you really don’t see your self expanding into a kit with a half a dozen lenses and multiple flashes as you wont have as big a selection.

Prosumer:


The next level up. You can go directly to here and skip an entry level camera if you have the money and know your gonna continue photography. Ranging from $800-1300ish they provide everything an entry level camera is plus more controls, better build, and some more features. I started off with a D40x and moved up to a D90. The 2 major reasons were, at the time there weren’t as many AF-s lenses available and I would actually save money by getting a more expensive body and saving money on lenses. The other big reason is more buttons. That sounds stupid but in terms of usability it helps to have dedicated dials and buttons for the normal functions. For example the d40 has one command dial. It controls shutter speed but also aperture via holding down another button and turning the dial. The D90 has 2 dials. Another example is the d90 has dedicated buttons for things like ISO while the d40 requires going into the menu. The D90 also has 2 screens, the lcd on the back for image review and an display on the top to view your current settings. I didn’t know how much this would help until I got the camera. Pretty sure this is how it works in the canon line aswell. Another thing to enjoy about prosumer camera is they have some small but helpful featured not found on cheaper cameras. There are more accessories available, for example the entry level Nikons don’t have any Nikon manufactured battery grips while they do make them for the d90. The d90 also has sensor cleaning. Like I stated earlier these things don’t make better pictures, it just makes it a little easier getting the pictures you want.

Semi-professional:

These cameras are essentially the professional cameras in smaller cheaper bodies. This makes them good for people who need the usability of a pro camera but don’t need the durability because there not shooting sports in the rain or things like that. Price range here is around $1500-3000. Camera include the d200/300/700 from Nikon and the 5D/7D canon. Ive never done more then hold these cameras. They make sense for most people who need a fairly durably body and are usually used in studio settings (among everything else). Wouldn’t recommend getting one of these for a first camera, they are kinda unnecessary for a beginner. Don’t have much more to say about these. This category hasn’t taken a step in the recent years once they became the place to go if you wanted full frame (senor the size of 35mm film) but didn’t wanna spend a small fortune on a pro body. Full frame allows for better noise control and resolution, also allows wider lenses to be used.

Professional:


The best of the best. If your paycheck comes completely from your photography and any downtime is money lost this is what you are shooting. Unbreakable and everything is where it should be. Everything is faster then every other type of dslr. AF is crazy fast as is the FPS and metering system. You really cant describe it unless you have used one. They feel like tank in your hands. I have shot with the older d1h and canon 1d and they are both solid, but I don’t recommend cameras this old.

New or used?:

Ive bought my d40x and d90 new. Its nice knowing its gonna work perfectly and that you have a warrentee. I bought an old D1h used off ebay for around 300 2 years ago. A tough camera but cameras have improved a lot since back then. When you overexposed you would get strange hues and other stuff like that. The batteries were hue and only lasted around 300 shots tops. But now a days there are many good deals floating around if you want to get into photography for cheap. You can get a d50 for under 300 bucks. Another option is to get refurb from Nikon, another good option.

Nikon or Canon:

They are equals. They have slight differences but neither is better then the other, its personaly preference. I prefer Nikon due to better ergonomics, I would compare Nikon to Apple when it comes to usability. Canon has a wider current lenses selection and high quality lenses that aren’t to expensive. Nikon doesn’t have as big a selection of new lenses but you can use the same lenses your dad has in the basement from his Nikon film camera. I could go on all day about the pros and cons of each but if you wanna figure out what you want real quick go to an electronics store and hold them and see what feels better, problem solved.

Lens Basics:


Of course this comes down to what you wanna shoot. I highly recommend buying your camera without the kit lenses. While those lenses are a decent do everything lens a lot is lost in trying to make it do everything. Yes you can zoom around but this just makes you lazy and you lose some image quality. I recommend buying “prime lens” . This is a fixed focal length lens with a fast aperture, which means its good in low light and forces you to focus on good composition. The popular 35mm 1.8 af-s will focus on all Nikon cameras and is a great starter lens at 200 bucks. It will be a lot sharper and easier to carry then the 18-55mm kit lens. One prime lens is all you will need for the first year of learning. Although your gonna be really tempted to go off and buy a zoom and fisheye DON’T. These things will distract you from taking good pictures. Once you do have everything figure out and are ready for some more lenses heres some info

35mm-50mm is what is called the normal range. Its similar to how your eye sees, not zoomed in, not wide angle. This make for a very natural feeling picture.

18-28mm this range is the wide angle range. Best use is for landscape, architectural. Doesn’t have a real place in BMX or people photography.

10-20mm Super wide angle, very hard to use and get things to look normal. Not a very practical range unless all you to is shoot landscapes.

70-135mm mild telephoto. A little to much reach for bmx photography but great for candids, portraits and sports.

135-300mm Tele photo. Good for head shots and things like sports where you need maximum reach, like wildlife/birds.

Fisheye. Very specific uses and wont get used much, expensive but invaluable for some shots.

This is a very very very basic overview of lenses, for more info hit up the lens discussion thread. Since this thread is geared to beginners there is no real need for any of those lenses at first so its not important to know that stuff.

Flashes:

That flash that comes on your camera is pretty pointless. The straight on light is really ugly and isn’t directional. Only use is in when shooting faces in bright sun to use as fill flash for the shadows on the face. You really don’t need a flash for most outdoor bmx photography. Not having to worry about that makes you take better pictures. Even the best lit picture will look like shit if its shot from you standing up next to the guy shooting him straight on. I do recommend buying one on camera flash if you shoot indoors (not skateparks) a lot. The number one reason is so you can point it upwards at the ceiling and bounce it off. This creates a really nice soft natural light. You don’t need to worry about off camera lighting for a while, like with other things it will only keep you from taking good pictures. Recommendations are sb-600 for Nikon and 430ex (I think) for canon.

What it all means:


So you got your camera in your hands, you look at it, what the hell are all those buttons?

Aperture/f stop – Controls how “open” the lenses is to light. The smaller the number the brighter the image. Also the smaller the number the smaller the depth of field, that’s what makes that out of focus background look.

Shutter speed- how fast the shutter is, meausured in fractions of a second like 1/30 1/200 1/1000. The quicker the time the darker the image. Also if your shutter speed is to slow the image could be blurred from hand shake

ISO- The sensitivity of the sensor. 100 is usually the lowest and some cameras go up to and past 6400, but noise makes the image unsuable at these high iso’s.
White balance- Controls the overall color of the image to be adjusted to difference light sources. For example the light from flash is a lot “cooler” then light from a normal house lamp. If you don’t have this set right your shot could look like an ice factory or inside a volcano. Auto white balance works alright if your shooting with normal smooth light conditions like out in the sun or inside a house.

Focus type- The 3 main types of focusing methods. Single which you hold the shutter half way down, it locks focus, you press the buton and take the shot. Continuous in which you hold the shutter half way down and it focuses on what ever is in front of you but doesn’t lock and will keep focusing around until you press the shutter down, useful when shooting moving things. And of course manual focus where you do everything. Usually when shooting bmx I use auto focus to get the focus, then switch to manual focus so when I got to take the shot I cant mess up the focus by accident.

Metering:

There are 4 major ways to set how your camera takes the picture, program auto, aperture priority, shutter speed priority, and manual. Canon has different names but they do the same thing.

Program auto is pretty much the full auto mode (which you shouldn’t use) but more control. It automatically chooses the aperture and shutter speed. You pick the iso and WB and other little things. This is good for when you hand your camera to your friend to snap a picture of your or something.

Aperture priority you choose the aperture and the camera picks shutter speed. I use this the most for walk around shots. There’s no shame in this. It is accurate 95% of the time.
Shutter speed priority. Probably my least used setting. Only time I use this is when im doing pan shots and need a consistent slow shutter to blurr the path of motion, but id rather just use manual for this.

Manual mode you choose everything. This is the best when your shooting a fixed seen like someone doing some bmx trick. You can tweak it till its perfect, then when you take the real shot it will be just the way you want because the camera has no say.

What next?


This should cover most of the basics. I could also write a few more paragraphs on things not to do like start your own “business” the month after you get your camera, dot get any lenses that screw on the front of your lenses, and all those other things, but ill let the other guys add to that in the comments. Also if you have any questions about getting into photography post it here, don’t make a new thread. If you do ill delete it and direct you here.


Continued reading:


Rather than having 20 different sticky threads, this will include all helpful threads with technical info, how to's, walkthroughs, etc. It'll be updated constantly as new threads pop up. Feel free to add to any of these threads or drop me a line with a link to any threads that you found helpful and you think should be included here.

Flashes
SB-800 vs SB-600/Nikon CLS compatibility info
Lightstand questions



Shooting Help & Walk-Thru's
How to read a histogram
Putting Sequences Together
3 Light Video Walkthru

Post Processing


Lenses
http://www.naturfotograf.com/lens_surv.html#top1 - In depth Nikon lens review site
Kenrockwell.com - Another extensive Nikon based review site
Thread Discussing Nikon lens selection


Camera Bodies
D60/Sigma fisheye compatibility
Removing sensor dust
Discussion about the Canon 1D MKIV
Discussing the Canon 7D after it's release


Inspiration
Little inspirational thread about of photography in general
"Wait until gutstains gets here"

Pro Q&A's
Keith Romanowski
Chad Shackelford

"I'm new to photography, what camera should I get?"
"What's a good camcorder for $200?"
"What camera bag"


Good Links
Strobist.com Awesome place to learn about off camera lighting




Addition Comments:

Lacesoutalex:

really wish i knew this stuff 3 years ago, really good read though.

i would have also focused on places and websites to buy their stuff from. i mean its obvious that most people buy stuff from ebay, but i just recently found out about adorama and flash zebra. i wish that i would have bought my 30d brand new from B&H and got the warranty on it instead of buying from bumfuck egypt on ebay and not really having any coverage on it.

i know you didnt get to in depth with lens and flashes but the best starter flash for canon is the 430exii. you can get cheap wireless system off of ebay for $40 that i tend to see many kids using on all different boards. keeping in mind that if you get the 580exii later on, it will run a system between your flashes as master and slave meaning that both flashes will fire at the same time.

as far as the best basic lens to get for canon is the 50mm 1.8 look for the deals on ebay where you can get an extra tripod and lens hood for the extra $25. and face it, you cant just have one lens so any zoom lens with IS (which means image stabilization, pretty much meaning its going to get rid of any shake from pressing the shutter button and your hand) is best. preferably the 18-55


something else to take note on is the the build of the body of the lower level dslr's. it kills me to see that they have all the amazing gadgets and trinkets in the t1i but it has a plastic body. things happen, especially shooting bmx and i would hate to see anything happen to a plastic body that you spent so much money on.

last thing to note is that just because the companys name isnt canon, nikon or sony doesnt mean its a cheap/shitty company. some of the best affordable priced lens's youll find will be by tokina, tamron and sigma. just make sure you do your research two times over like looking at reviews from more than just one person (50 yr old online elitest dont always have the young broke photographer in mind when reviewing lens and will say that perfect lens for an amature is crap which is totally stupid) look through different boards and ect.

AND DONT BUY SCREW FISHEYE ATTATCHMENTS, youll hate yourself years on down when you look back and see how shitty it really made your pictures look. just take a second and step back to see where the best spot to shoot the subject from


if you are having problems understanding apreture and shutter speed.

think of your eye.

if you want to focus on something far away, you have to make your pupil smaller(f/22) and or squint to see it and focus on it.

if you look at a pencil 6 inches away from your face, your eyes open up more(f/2.8). notice how when you do that, the backround goes blurry. this is how portrait backrounds are made blurry.

if the foreground is considerably farther from the backround, it goes blurry.

one more way to understand this is, if you have an canon DSLR(not sure about other brands), there is a DOF (depth of field) button below the release button for your lens. press it while looking into the lens and notice how it is smaller for f/2.8 and wider for f/22



and for a shutter speed.
the shutter is the same thing as your eyelid in the whole eye metaphor. it also controls how much light comes in as well as sharpness (in lack of better words).


this picture had to be shot around 1/125 - 1/160, and i know this because there are no ghost images of him moving and the backround is bright

as opposed to this where the backround is darker.



when you see pictures that blurred subject trails and/or light it means that the shutter was set at a slower speed.


for instance, i probably shot this at 6-10 secs with and apreture at about 10.


slower shutter speeds is also how you smooth out faces on portraits, you can tell by looking at the water that it is smoother than if i would have taken this at 1/30th


i hope this helps.
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Old 01-29-2010, 01:42 AM
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a good read Dude. thanks.
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Old 01-29-2010, 01:47 AM
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a good read Dude. thanks.
Thanks, its not perfect but i hope it gets most of the main questions answered. Ive wanted to do this for a while becuase i was so sick of having to type up parts of this for beginners when id rather just have a thread like this to direct them too. This should also cut down on so many new threads asking questions that have been asked before
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Old 01-29-2010, 01:48 AM
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about time someone did this. good job, really.
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Old 01-29-2010, 02:17 AM
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good read, i actually learnt something.
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Old 01-29-2010, 02:29 AM
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this is really well put together!
i wish i could have found something like this 2 years ago haha
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Old 01-29-2010, 02:43 AM
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Good job, I'm sure your information will be well appreciated.
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Old 01-29-2010, 03:07 AM
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thanks for this man, this and what you explained to me the other day helped me out a tonnnn.
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Old 01-29-2010, 06:48 AM
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Thanks for the feedback guys. I feel it was just something that had to be done, its not perfect but it should answer alot of those major questions alot of people have that are sort of hard to find the answer to.
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Old 01-29-2010, 02:28 PM
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you put in work, respect
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Old 01-29-2010, 02:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dylan g View Post
I tried reading that but gave up within like 2 sentences. Then I realized that I didnt know why I was reading it because I already have a camera
You dont have to read the whole thing for it to make sense, skip through.
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Old 01-29-2010, 04:33 PM
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this is beautiful, if only I read this 4 months ago haha
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Old 01-29-2010, 04:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Charles Darwin. View Post
this is beautiful, if only I read this 4 months ago haha
Thanks man. One of the major things i was thinking about when typing it up was what would have helped me the most when i was starting out.
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Old 01-29-2010, 05:17 PM
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very well written
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Old 01-29-2010, 10:52 PM
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Funny how i basically always almost fail english class but once i have to write about something im actually interested in...it comes out perfectly clear haha
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Old 01-31-2010, 01:11 AM
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really wish i knew this stuff 3 years ago, really good read though.

i would have also focused on places and websites to buy their stuff from. i mean its obvious that most people buy stuff from ebay, but i just recently found out about adorama and flash zebra. i wish that i would have bought my 30d brand new from B&H and got the warranty on it instead of buying from bumfuck egypt on ebay and not really having any coverage on it.

i know you didnt get to in depth with lens and flashes but the best starter flash for canon is the 430exii. you can get cheap wireless system off of ebay for $40 that i tend to see many kids using on all different boards. keeping in mind that if you get the 580exii later on, it will run a system between your flashes as master and slave meaning that both flashes will fire at the same time.

as far as the best basic lens to get for canon is the 50mm 1.8 look for the deals on ebay where you can get an extra tripod and lens hood for the extra $25. and face it, you cant just have one lens so any zoom lens with IS (which means image stabilization, pretty much meaning its going to get rid of any shake from pressing the shutter button and your hand) is best. preferably the 18-55


something else to take note on is the the build of the body of the lower level dslr's. it kills me to see that they have all the amazing gadgets and trinkets in the t1i but it has a plastic body. things happen, especially shooting bmx and i would hate to see anything happen to a plastic body that you spent so much money on.

last thing to note is that just because the companys name isnt canon, nikon or sony doesnt mean its a cheap/shitty company. some of the best affordable priced lens's youll find will be by tokina, tamron and sigma. just make sure you do your research two times over like looking at reviews from more than just one person (50 yr old online elitest dont always have the young broke photographer in mind when reviewing lens and will say that perfect lens for an amature is crap which is totally stupid) look through different boards and ect.

AND DONT BUY SCREW FISHEYE ATTATCHMENTS, youll hate yourself years on down when you look back and see how shitty it really made your pictures look. just take a second and step back to see where the best spot to shoot the subject from.
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Originally Posted by domminic59 View Post
holy man, this is really in business and very serious..!!

Last edited by lacesoutalex; 02-02-2010 at 01:03 AM.
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Old 02-01-2010, 10:49 PM
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I added what you said alex and ill add anything else that anyone posts that would help
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Old 02-03-2010, 05:41 PM
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Thanks a lot man, this gave me a few pointers. Especially the aperture and shutter speed stuff. I was struggling a little bit trying to find it all out on my own outside in the cold. I appreciate it
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Old 02-03-2010, 06:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Four Seasons View Post
Thanks a lot man, this gave me a few pointers. Especially the aperture and shutter speed stuff. I was struggling a little bit trying to find it all out on my own outside in the cold. I appreciate it

if you are having problems understanding apreture and shutter speed.

think of your eye.

if you want to focus on something far away, you have to make your pupil smaller(f/22) and or squint to see it and focus on it.

if you look at a pencil 6 inches away from your face, your eyes open up more(f/2.8). notice how when you do that, the backround goes blurry. this is how portrait backrounds are made blurry.

if the foreground is considerably farther from the backround, it goes blurry.

one more way to understand this is, if you have an canon DSLR(not sure about other brands), there is a DOF (depth of field) button below the release button for your lens. press it while looking into the lens and notice how it is smaller for f/2.8 and wider for f/22



and for a shutter speed.
the shutter is the same thing as your eyelid in the whole eye metaphor. it also controls how much light comes in as well as sharpness (in lack of better words).


this picture had to be shot around 1/125 - 1/160, and i know this because there are no ghost images of him moving and the backround is bright

as opposed to this where the backround is darker.



when you see pictures that blurred subject trails and/or light it means that the shutter was set at a slower speed.


for instance, i probably shot this at 6-10 secs with and apreture at about 10.


slower shutter speeds is also how you smooth out faces on portraits, you can tell by looking at the water that it is smoother than if i would have taken this at 1/30th


i hope this helps.

EDIT: Photo credit to Tom Verrochi and Jimmy O'Donnell
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Quote:
Originally Posted by domminic59 View Post
holy man, this is really in business and very serious..!!

Last edited by lacesoutalex; 02-04-2010 at 12:24 AM.
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Old 02-03-2010, 11:26 PM
Dude
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Good stuff alex, just might wanna make sure you show photo cred to tommy verochi
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