50 Essential Photography Tips _ Reviews _ CNET UK

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9/12/12

50 essential photography tips | Reviews | CNET UK

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50 essential photography tipsBy Nik Rawlinson on 16 November 2011, 6:04pm Alert me62 Tw eet Like 208

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Whether photography is a hobby or a profession, you'll get a whole lot more out of it if you understand how it works. With a firm grasp of aperture, shutter speed, sensitivity and focal length, the ratio of truly great to merely mediocre shots you download at the end of an expedition is all but guaranteed to climb. Here we present CNET UK's 50 essential shooters' tips. Don't uncap your lens without them.reviews.cnet.co.uk/cameras-and-camcorders/50-essential-photography-tips-50006080/ 2/40

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50 essential photography tips | Reviews | CNET UK

Aperture1. Understand aperture The most fundamental element any photographer should understand is aperture. The aperture is the physical opening within your lens that allows light through to the sensor (or film in an older camera). The wider the aperture opening, the more light can pass through, and vice versa. The size of the opening, which is regulated by a series of fins encroaching from the edge of the lens barrel, is measured in so-called f-stops, written f/2.8, f/5.9 and so on, with smaller numbers denoting wider apertures. If you find this inverse relationship tricky to remember, imagine instead that it relates not to the size of the hole but the amount of each fin encroaching into the opening. A narrow opening is regulated by a large amount of each fin encroaching into the barrel, and so has a high fstop number, such as f/16, f/18 and so on. A wide opening is characterised by a small number, such as f/3.2, with only a small amount of each fin obscuring the light.

Picture the size of the fins, visible here inside this lens, when trying to understand the concept of f-stops. 2. Aperture measurements Lenses almost always have their maximum aperture setting engraved or stamped on one end of the barrel. On a zoom lens you'll see two measurements, often stated as f/3.5-f/5.9 or similar. Rather than being opposite ends of a single scale these describe the maximum aperture at the wide angle and telephoto (maximum zoom) lens positions respectively. Always buy a lens with the smallest number you canreviews.cnet.co.uk/cameras-and-camcorders/50-essential-photography-tips-50006080/ 3/40

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50 essential photography tips | Reviews | CNET UK

afford in each position. 3. Avoid using aperture to compensate for poor lighting Changing the aperture has a dramatic effect on the amount of light coming into the camera, as we have already said. You'll notice this is the case when shooting landscapes with a narrower aperture (higher numbered f-stop) as your camera will often want to take a longer exposure -- so much so that you may have to use a tripod to avoid motion blur. You should avoid using the aperture scale to compensate for unfavourable lighting, however, as it also changes the amount of the image that remains in focus, as we'll explain below.

The image on the left was taken with a wide aperture and so has a shallow depth of field; the image on the right was taken with a narrow aperture and so has a long depth of field. 4. Use a wide aperture for portraits Anyone with a cat knows that when they're hunting or playing their irises contract to enlarge the size of their pupils. This has the same effect as widening the aperture in a camera lens: it makes the subject they are focusing on very sharp while causing everything behind and in front of it to blur. We call this a shallow depth of field. This is perfect for portrait photography, as it draws forward your model within the scene, making them the central focus while the background falls away. Choose f/1.8 or similar wherever possible.

reviews.cnet.co.uk/cameras-and-camcorders/50-essential-photography-tips-50006080/

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50 essential photography tips | Reviews | CNET UK

This image of a chicken was taken with a wide aperture to keep the subject in focus while blurring the background. 5. Use a narrow aperture for landscapes For landscapes, on the other hand, you want to have everything from close-at-hand foliage to a distant mountain in focus. This is achieved by selecting a narrow aperture. If possible stray towards f/22, or whatever the tightest setting your camera allows.

reviews.cnet.co.uk/cameras-and-camcorders/50-essential-photography-tips-50006080/

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50 essential photography tips | Reviews | CNET UK

This image of a Moroccan campfire is taken with a narrow aperture to maximise the depth of field. 6. 'f/8 and be there' Static models and immobile landscapes are easy to shoot as you can predict with a great deal of certainty which aperture setting you need to get the best out of either. Reportage and street photography, weddings, Christenings and so on are less predictable as your subjects will be moving in relation to the frame. In these circumstances, adopt the pro photographer's adage, "f/8 and be there". Set your aperture to f/8 for a practical, manageable balance of fairly fast shutter speeds and broad depths of field, allowing you to spend more time thinking about composition within the frame than you do about optical algebra. When shooting indoors without a flash, and depending on the lighting conditions, you may need to increase your camera's sensitivity setting at this aperture, but be careful not to push it so high that you introduce grain into your images, unless you are chasing that specific effect.

Filters and lenses7. What does the symbol on my lens mean? After the focal and aperture ranges, the other measurement you'll see on most dSLR lenses is preceded by and describes the diameter of the screw mount on the front of lens barrel. Check this number each time you head out to buy a filter or hood as you can't guarantee that it will be the same for each lens in your collection, even if they are all designed to be used on the same camera.

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50 essential photography tips | Reviews | CNET UK

Check the diameter of your lens when heading out to buy a new filter. 8. If you only buy one filter... ...make it a circular polariser. This is the perfect beginner's filter, and one that will have the biggest effect on your day to day photography, giving holiday skies a vibrant blue tone and accentuating the contrast between the sky and passing clouds to afford your images greater texture. Although you can add blue to your images in Photoshop or a similar post-production editing tool, the effect is never as believable when done that way as it is when shot using a lens.

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50 essential photography tips | Reviews | CNET UK

Invest in an inexpensive circular polariser to improve the blue of skies in your images. 9. Don't confine it to skies Polarising filters also cut through glare and reflection. Use it to shoot through windows and water.

We used a polarising filter when shooting this frame to cut through reflections on the surface of the water.reviews.cnet.co.uk/cameras-and-camcorders/50-essential-photography-tips-50006080/ 8/40

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50 essential photography tips | Reviews | CNET UK

10. Look for lenses where the zoom control doesn't change the filter orientation Rotating a circular polarising filter changes the strength of the polarising effect, making skies deeper or lighter, and changing the amount of reflection they cancel out. If you plan on using such a filter then wherever possible buy lenses where turning the zoom control doesn't simultaneously rotate the end of the lens, and with it the filter, as this will change the effect. If you have no choice, set your zoom first and adjust the effect afterwards, being careful not to throw the lens out of focus in the process. 11. Don't forget about white balance When using a filter set your the white balance on your camera to the appropriate conditions, rather than auto, to stop the camera compensating for the filter in front of the lens.

Make sure you set your white balance manually when using a filter. 12. Don't rush out to buy a skylight filter Putting a clear filter on the front of your lens to protect its surface sounds like a great idea. After all, your lens was an expensive investment. The end of your lens is stronger than you might think, however, and easy to clean if you don't let the dirt build up. Dispensing with a skylight filter will not only save you money, but also avoid the chance of introducing light problems due to increased reflections or the slight reduction in the level of illumination reaching the sensor. 13. Cheat's macro mode (add-on filters) Dedicated macro lenses are expensive, but you can quickly and easily improve your existing lens' macro credentials by using screw-on magnifiers. They're not a perfect solution as they decrease the level of light coming into the lens, but for occasional work they are very effective, easily sourced and cheap. We bought ours, below, first-hand from eBay, where you should expect to bid around 15 for a set of four screw-on filters.reviews.cnet.co.uk/cameras-and-camcorders/50-essential-photography-tips-50006080/ 9/40

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50 essential photography tips | Reviews | CNET UK

If you can't afford a dedicated macro mode, you can achieve the same result using an inexpensive set of add-on magnifiers. 14. Avoid stacking up too many filters It'