It's the time of year when most of us get to see the sun rise and set. Which, whilst it has many of us moaning and groaning, it can be a good thing. Especially now you can go outside without the risk of any body parts freezing and falling off! It means you don't have to get up at a ridiculous hour to get that precious low, red tinged light bouncing of your subject. You can also get some unusual shots with the sun sitting in different parts of your image, making a new and experimental shot of even the most photographed landmarks a real possibility for us all. And of course, the beautiful reds and oranges of the dawn sky.
Whilst less effort is required to arrive at your location, some know how when you get there is essential. That's why I'm going to write a few little tips that you can quickly try, to improve your sunrise and sunset shots. I will be adding to this article every few days, so when you've tried one technique, come back and check for the next step.
One of the common problems encountered when trying to capture a sunset is that the colours don't come out as vividly on the camera as they are in reality, also the camera may try to retain some of the detail in your foreground when all you want is silhouettes. If the sky in the shot you are taking is looking washed out, then try this tip.
Photography Tip 1
First of all get out of Auto mode and change to Programmable Auto or Aperture Priority. Assuming you can find Programmable Auto, you just need to find the button on your camera which controls "Exposure Compensation", it normally has a symbol like +/- on or near it. Now adjust it so that it displays a minus value, -0.7 for example. Now take the same shot as you did before. Notice how dark the foreground has gone and the deeper colours in the sky?
Within the next week I will try to update this article with a few photographs as an example. In the meantime, keep on snapping.
Photography Tip 2
Just wanted to share this example of a crazy Depth of Field. This is a small Depth of Field, taken at about 30cm from the finger tip. It feels as though it's pointing at you!
f 1.8 1/50 sec ISO 500 35mm focal length
This was just messing around at the end of a party but may help you grasp the effect.
Photography Tip 3
Getting great results from less expensive equipment.
As many of our photography course customers are absolute beginners in photography, most have spent a limited amount of money on their photographic equipment, understandably. This is often most noticeable when it comes to the lenses people bring onto the course. Kit lenses and budget lenses are very good but they lack the ability to use a really low f number and can occasionally struggle to autfocus. Lenses with very low f number capability/wide aperture are called "Fast Lenses". They get this name because the wide aperture allows for the use of a "Fast" shutter speed without under exposing. As you would expect, these lenses are normally more expensive than a kit lens.
The other affect that the low f number has, as any body who has attended one of the No Fear Photography Courses will know, is that is gives a small depth of field. This produces the effect of the main subject being in focus and everything else being blurred, making our main subject "pop out" of the image or look super imposed. The faster the lens the easier this is to do.
Here are a couple of techniques that can help to produce this affect without spending thousands on your lens.
1. Use the panning technique to create backgroung blur through motion rather than depth of field. Using this technique allows you to produce the effects similar to those described above, but with a higher f number. And there is a hidden benefit, by using a slightly higher f number you give yourself and the autofocus on your camera a greater margin for error. By having a slightly larger depth of field you can get away with being less accurate with your focus. Something which can be very handy when you're shootong fast moving objects.
2. Of course, your subject is not always moving. What then? Another way you can draw attention to your main subject is by changing the way your camera exposes the shot this is normally done by either exposure compensation or by light metering. By selecting spot metering for example, you tell the camera to expose the main subject correctly whilst under/over exposing the rest of the image. By combining the low f number and spot metering you can still manage to give your photo's a proffesional look, without spending a fortune.
If you found this tip useful, please:
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I've just started using a new way to calculate DOF, click this link to find out more. DOF calculator.