Nikon D7000, Contrasting and Complementing

We just saw that you can use color as a strong compositional tool. One of the most effective uses of color is to combine two complementary colors that make the eye move back and forth across the image (Figure 9.9). There is no exact combination that will work best, but consider using dark and light colors, or red and green or blue and yellow, to provide the strongest visual. Studying a color wheel or color theory can help you to strengthen your color images.

The contrasting colors complement each other and add balance to the scene. This photo was taken with two filters on the camera, and then processed as HDR to really increase the contrast. The blue sky and yellow grass are complementary because blue and yellow are across from one another on a color wheel.
Figure 9.9 The contrasting colors complement each other and add balance to the scene. This photo was taken with two filters on the camera, and then processed as HDR to really increase the contrast. The blue sky and yellow grass are complementary because blue and yellow are across from one another on a color wheel.

You can also introduce contrast through different geometric shapes that battle (in a good way) for the attention of the viewer. You can combine circles and triangles, ovals and rectangles, curvy and straight, hard and soft, dark and light, and so many more (Figure 9.10). You aren’t limited to just one contrasting element either. Combining more than one element of contrast will add even more interest. Look for these contrasting combinations whenever you are out shooting, and then use them to shake up your compositions.

 

This photo was taken in the Badlands of South Dakota on a June day. The angular lines of the red mountains play against the green, soft grass and the perfectly smooth blue sky to create contrast not only with color, but also with texture. A gradient filter was used to increase the saturation of the blue sky and help create the shadow below the mountain.
Figure 9.10 This photo was taken in the Badlands of South Dakota on a June day. The angular lines of the red mountains play against the green, soft grass and the perfectly smooth blue sky to create contrast not only with color, but also with texture. A gradient filter was used to increase the saturation of the blue sky and help create the shadow below the mountain.

 

 

Nikon D7000, Advanced Techniques to Explore

This section comes with a warning attached. All of the techniques and topics up to this point have been centered on your camera. The following two sections, covering panoramas and high dynamic range (HDR) images, require you to use image-processing software to complete the photograph. They are, however, important enough that you should know how to shoot for success should you choose to explore these two popular techniques.

Shooting panoramas

I’ve never been much for panoramas until I visited the Grand Teton National Park. The Tetons are probably one of my favorite mountain ranges and easily identifiable, but a single frame just doesn’t do them justice. Only a panorama can truly capture a mountain range, cityscape, or any extremely wide vista.

The multiple-image panorama

To shoot a true panorama, you need to use either a special panorama camera that shoots a very wide frame or the following method, which requires the combining of multiple frames.

The multiple-image pano, as photographers often call a panoramic, has gained in popularity in the past few years; this is principally due to advances in image-processing software. Many software options are available now that will take multiple images, align them, and then “stitch” them into a single panoramic image. The real key to shooting a multiple-image pano is to overlap your shots by about 30 percent from one frame to the next (Figures 7.19 and 7.20). It is possible to handhold the camera while capturing your images, but the best method for capturing great panoramic images is to use a tripod.

Now that you have your series of overlapping images, you can import them into your image-processing software to stitch them together and create a single panoramic image.

Here you see the makings of a panorama, with nine shots overlapping by about 30 percent from frame to frame.
Figure 7.19 Here you see the makings of a panorama, with nine shots overlapping by about 30 percent from frame to frame.
I used Adobe Photoshop to combine all of the exposures into one large panoramic image.
Figure 7.20 I used Adobe Photoshop to combine all of the exposures into one large panoramic image.

Sorting your shots for the multi-image panorama

If you shoot more than one series of shots for your panoramas, it can sometimes be difficult to know when one series of images ends and the other begins. Here is a quick tip for separating your images.

Set up your camera using the steps listed here. Now, before you take your first good exposure in the series, hold up one finger in front of the camera and take a shot. Move your hand away and begin taking your overlapping images. When you have taken your last shot, hold two fingers in front of the camera and take another shot.

Now, when you go to review your images, use the series of shots that falls between the frames with one and two fingers in them. Then just repeat the process for your next panorama series.

Shooting properly for a multiple-image panorama

  1. Mount your camera on your tripod and make sure it is level.
  2. In Aperture Priority mode, use a very small aperture for the greatest depth of field. Take a meter reading of a bright part of the scene, and make note of it.
  3. Now change your camera to Manual mode (M), and dial in the aperture and shutter speed that you obtained in the previous step.
  4. Set your lens to manual focus, and then focus it for the area of interest using the HFD method of finding a point one-third of the way into the scene. (If you use the autofocus, you risk getting different points of focus from image to image, which will make the image stitching more difficult for the software.)
  5. While carefully panning your camera, shoot your images to cover the entire area of the scene from one end to the other, leaving a 30 percent overlap from one frame to the next. The final step would involve using your favorite imaging software to take all of the photographs and combine them into a single panoramic image.

Shooting high dynamic range (HDR) images

High dynamic range (HDR) can create stunning images by using the full tonal range of an image. Depending upon your preference they can look quite real or very surreal. I have found people either love or hate HDR, but regardless of what side of the fence you are on it is a wonderful way to understand the effects of exposure on an image.

HDR is used quite often in landscape, cityscape, and, believe it or not, interior design images. Typically, when you photograph a scene that has a wide range of tones from shadows to highlights, you have to make a decision regarding which tonal values you are going to emphasize, and then adjust your exposure accordingly. This is because your camera has a limited dynamic range, at least as compared to the human eye. HDR photography allows you to capture multiple exposures for the highlights, shadows, and midtones, and then combine them into a single image using software (Figure 7.21).

A number of software applications allow you to combine the images and then perform a process called “tonemapping,” whereby the complete range of exposures is represented in a single image. I will not be covering the software applications, but I will explore the process of shooting a scene to help you render properly captured images for the HDR process. Note that using a tripod is absolutely necessary for this technique, since you need to have perfect alignment of the images when they are combined.

This tonemapped HDR image combines several exposures.
Figure 7.21 This tonemapped HDR image combines several exposures.

Setting up for shooting an HDR image

  1. Set your ISO to 100–200 to ensure clean, noise-free images.
  2. Set your program mode to Aperture Priority. During the shooting process, you will be taking three shots of the same scene, creating an overexposed image, an underexposed image, and a normal exposure. Since the camera is going to be adjusting the exposure, you want it to make changes to the shutter speed, not the aperture, so that your depth of field is consistent.
  3. Set your camera file format to RAW. This is extremely important because the RAW format contains a much larger range of exposure values than a JPEG file, and the HDR software needs this information.
  4. Change your shooting mode to continuous. This will allow you to capture your exposures quickly. Even though you will be using a tripod, there is always a chance that something within your scene will be moving (like clouds or leaves). Shooting in the continuous mode minimizes any subject movement between frames.
  5. Adjust the Auto Bracketing (BKT) mode to shoot three exposures in two-stop increments. To do this, you will first need to press the BKT button while moving the Command dial to the right.
  6. Now use the Sub-command dial to adjust the bracketing to 2.0.
  7. Focus the camera using the manual focus method discussed earlier in the chapter, compose your shot, secure the tripod, and hold down the shutter button until the camera has fired three consecutive times. The result will be one normal exposure, as well as one under- and one overexposed image.

Setting up for shooting an HDR image

A software program such as Adobe Photoshop, Photomatix Pro, or my favorite, Nik Software’s HDR Efex Pro, can now process your exposure-bracketed images into a single HDR file. Remember to turn the BKT function back to Off when you are done or the camera will continue to shoot bracketed images.

Bracketing your exposures

In HDR, bracketing is the process of capturing a series of exposures at different stop intervals. You can bracket your exposures even if you aren’t going to be using HDR. Sometimes this is helpful when you have a tricky lighting situation and you want to ensure that you have just the right exposure to capture the look you’re after. In HDR, you bracket to the plus and minus side of a “normal” exposure, but you can also bracket all of your exposures to the over or under side of normal. It all depends on what you are after. If you aren’t sure whether you are getting enough shadow detail, you can bracket a little toward the overexposed side. The same is true for highlights. You can bracket in increments as small as a third of a stop. This means that you can capture several images with very subtle exposure variances and then decide later which one is best. If you want to bracket just to one side of a normal exposure, set your exposure compensation to +1 or –1, whichever way you need, and the use the bracketing feature to automatically bracket your exposures.

 

 

Canon 7D, Let’s Get Creative

To fi nish off this chapter, I’m going to give you a few more shooting tips, mostly fun ways you can play around with light to get some really neat results. Photography wouldn’t have as much appeal to me if it weren’t for all the exciting ways to use light, along with the different settings on my camera. These are just a few of the hundreds of ways you can experiment with your camera.

THE “SWIRLY FLASH”

It’s no secret that I don’t like to use the built-in fl ash. The light is harsh and fl at, and when you photograph people in a dark setting, such as indoors or at night, it’s too easy to get a background that is dark and underexposed.

So when I’m in a situation in which I have no choice but to use the fl ash on my camera, I like to change some of the settings to give my snapshots a different look. I drag the shutter, setting it much slower than normal, usually between 1/15 and 1/4 of a second, and spin the camera on axis with the subject while the shutter is open. This keeps the person mostly frozen and well-lit while creating an interesting blur of lights in the background (Figure 10.2).

By using a slow shutter speed with the built-in fl ash, you can create fun and unique photos of your friends.
FIGURE 10.2 By using a slow shutter speed with the built-in fl ash, you can create fun and unique photos of your friends.

I like to call this technique my “party trick” because when I’m in a room full of people, I’ll use this method to take a quick portrait, and often it’s something that they haven’t seen done before. This technique is not limited to DSLR cameras, and I frequently show people how to set up their point-and-shoot cameras to do it. I fi nd that it adds a unique look to an otherwise boring snapshot. One quick tip: This type of image usually works best when there are a lot of lights behind your subject, such as the lights from a Christmas tree.

CREATING THE “SWIRLY FLASH” EFFECT

  1. Set your camera to Tv mode and start with a shutter speed somewhere between 1/15 and 1/4 of a second.
  2. Press the built-in fl ash button on the front of your camera.
  3. Point the camera and center your subject in the frame. Start with the camera slightly tilted, and then press the Shutter button to take a photo and spin the camera so that the subject stays centered in the image.
  4. If your fl ash is too bright, press the Flash Exposure Compensation button on the top of the camera and use the Quick Control dial to move the exposure value (EV) to the left. Take another photo and preview your results.
  5. If the background is too dark or too bright, you’ll want to adjust your ISO setting. The higher the ISO number is, the more ambient light you’ll bring into the background.
  6. If you have too much or too little blur in the background, adjust the shutter speed (a slower shutter speed for more blur, and a faster shutter speed for less blur).
  7. Keep adjusting the settings until you fi nd that “sweet spot.” It will be different for each environment, and there’s no single right way to do it. Just have fun with it!

LIGHT PAINTING

Another fun technique that’s worth trying is light painting (Figure 10.3). For this, you’ll need a dark environment (nighttime is best), your camera on a tripod, and some semi-powerful fl ashlights or other light source. Shine your fl ashlight on your subject to light it, and in effect you’ll “paint” the light that will show up on your image.

But you don’t have to paint the light on something for it to show up—if it’s dark enough you can stand in front of the camera and move the light source to make shapes or spell something out. A fun item to use for this effect is a sparkler (a type of handheld fi rework that emits sparkles)—just set your camera up on a tripod outdoors at night and have someone run around the frame holding a sparkler, and you’ll create shapes and streaks that can look really cool. You could also use small fl ashlights or LED lights. In Figure 10.4 I used a small LED fl ashlight with a green gel over it to add a different color to the writing.

For this photograph, I used a long exposure while my friend scribbled the haystacks with a laser pointer and I “painted” the ground with a powerful LED fl ashlight. I added small blue and green gels on the fl ashlight to add color to the image.
FIGURE 10.3 For this photograph, I used a long exposure while my friend scribbled the haystacks with a laser pointer and I “painted” the ground with a powerful LED fl ashlight. I added small blue and green gels on the fl ashlight to add color to the image.
I photographed this image with the help of my friend dav.d. That’s me writing with a small LED fl ashlight. The original photo was backwards, so I fl ipped the image horizontally using editing software.
FIGURE 10.4 I photographed this image with the help of my friend dav.d. That’s me writing with a small LED fl ashlight. The original photo was backwards, so I fl ipped the image horizontally using editing software.

SETTING UP YOUR CAMERA FOR LIGHT PAINTING

  1. Place your camera on a tripod in a dark environment, preferably nighttime or a darkened room.
  2. If your environment is extremely dark, set your camera to the Bulb shooting mode with a large aperture. If you have some ambient light in your scene, set your camera to Av mode and use an aperture that is large enough to capture the light from your light painting but small enough to give you a fairly slow shutter speed—several seconds is usually a good place to start.
  3. Using a cable release or one of the self-timer drive modes, press the Shutter button. If you are using Bulb mode, you’ll need a cable release in order to hold the shutter open for the duration of your light painting.
  4. With the shutter open, use a fl ashlight, a sparkler, or any other type of powerful light source to create your image. The creative possibilities are endless!

HIGH DYNAMIC RANGE (HDR)

how to use HDR for landscape photography. But HDR doesn’t need to be limited to landscapes. In fact, you can photograph almost anything that is not moving and achieve some great effects. Figure 10.5 is the interior of a library photographed just before noon. The light shining through the windows added contrast to the scene, but by creating an HDR image, I was able to retain a lot of detail in both the highlight and shadow areas of the image.

This is an HDR image of the interior of a building. Notice that you can still see details in the shaded and sun-fi lled areas of the scene.
FIGURE 10.5 This is an HDR image of the interior of a building. Notice that you can still see details in the shaded and sun-fi lled areas of the scene.

 

Canon 7D, Using the Custom Settings Modes (C1, C2, and C3)

The 7D has three different customizable camera user settings: C1, C2, and C3. These are useful if you frequently fi nd yourself shooting in the same environment with the same settings. They allow you to completely customize a shooting setting any way you like and then record those settings as a preset. One example of when you may want to use these settings is when shooting HDR. It doesn’t matter where I am, what lens I’m using, or what time of day it is; I always use the same starting point. I set the ISO to 100, shoot in Av mode, set the drive mode to High-speed continuous shooting, and make sure that Auto Exposure Bracket mode is turned on. I can record all of these settings in one of the custom settings, and they will be ready any time I want to photograph a series of images for HDR.

Another useful preset to create is one for using the Movie shooting mode. I like to have a good starting point for all of the movies I record, and I don’t want to make a silly mistake like forgetting to turn sound recording on, shooting at too high a shutter speed, or using the wrong movie-recording size. Setting up a preset and using a customized camera user setting will guarantee that I won’t make any of those mistakes. It also allows me to jump straight into movie shooting without having to think about my settings.

SETTING UP YOUR OWN CUSTOM SHOOTING MODES

SETTING UP YOUR OWN CUSTOM SHOOTING MODES

SETTING UP YOUR OWN CUSTOM SHOOTING MODES

  1. First make all of the adjustments to the camera that you want in your custom shooting mode. For example, you might set the camera to Av mode, ISO 100, Daylight white balance, and RAW+JPEG image quality.
  2. Press the Menu button and use the Main dial to get to the third setup tab.
  3. Use the Quick Control dial to highlight the Camera User Setting option (A), and then press Set. Select Register and press Set again.
  4. Choose which mode dial you would like to register, C1, C2, or C3 (B), and then press Set.
  5. Use the Quick Control dial to select OK (C), then press Set one last time.
  6. When you want to use a setting, just rotate the Mode dial to that custom setting (C1, C2, or C3) and begin shooting.

Canon PowerShot G12, Advanced Techniques to Explore

For most of this book, I’ve focused on how to take a great shot—one exposure, one image. But shooting digital opens other options that combine several shots into one better photo. The following two sections, covering panoramas and high dynamic range (HDR) images, require you to use image-processing software to complete the photograph. They are, however, important enough that you should know how to correctly shoot for success, should you choose to explore these two popular techniques.

Shooting panoramas

If you have ever visited the Grand Canyon, you know just how large and wide open it truly is—so much so that it’s difficult to capture its splendor in just one frame. The same can be said for a mountain range, or a cityscape, or any extremely wide vista. Two methods can help you capture the feeling of this type of scene.

The “fake” panorama

The first method is to shoot as wide as you can and then crop out the top and bottom portion of the frame. Panoramic images are generally two or three times wider than a normal image.

Creating a fake panorama

  1. To create the look of the panorama, zoom out to the camera’s widest focal length, 6.1mm.
  2. Using the guidelines discussed earlier, compose and focus your scene, and select the smallest aperture possible.
  3. Shoot your image. That’s all there is to it, from a photography standpoint.
  4. Open the image in your favorite image-processing software and crop the extraneous foreground and sky from the image, leaving you with a wide panorama of the scene.

Figure 7.16 isn’t a terrible photo, but the amount of sky at the top of the image detracts from the dramatic clouds below. This isn’t a problem, though, because it was shot for the purpose of creating a “fake” panorama. Now look at the same image, cropped for panoramic view (Figure 7.17). As you can see, it makes a huge difference and gives much higher visual impact by drawing your eyes across the length of the image.

This is an okay image, but the sky occupying the top half detracts from the clouds.
Figure 7.16 This is an okay image, but the sky occupying the top half detracts from the clouds.
Cropping adds more visual impact and makes for a more appealing image.
Figure 7.17 Cropping adds more visual impact and makes for a more appealing image.

The multiple-image panorama

The reason the previous method is sometimes referred to as a “fake” panorama is because it is made with a standard-size frame and then cropped down to a narrow perspective. To shoot a true panorama, you need to combine several frames. Although the camera can’t stitch the photos together, it does contain a Stitch Assist mode that aids in lining up the images to be merged together later.

The multiple-image pano has grown in popularity in the past few years; this is principally due to advances in image-processing software. Many software options are available now that will take multiple images, align them, and then “stitch” them into a single panoramic image (Figures 7.18 and 7.19). The real key to shooting a multipleimage pano is to overlap your shots by about 30 percent from one frame to the next. I’ll cover the Stitch Assist mode, but I’ve also included instructions for doing the job manually. Also, it’s possible to handhold the camera while capturing your images, but you’ll get much better results if you use a tripod.

Using the Stitch Assist Mode

  1. Mount your camera on your tripod and make sure it is level.
  2. Choose a focal length for your lens that is somewhere in the middle of the zoom range (a wide angle can distort the edges, making it harder to stitch together).
  3. Turn the Mode dial to SCN and then turn the Control dial until you’ve selected the Stitch Assist scene. (There are actually two Stitch Assist scenes: One helps you shoot left to right, the other helps you shoot right to left.)
  4. Take the first photo.
  5. Carefully pan the camera, using the portion of the previous shot as a guide to align the next shot (see below). When the two images overlap, capture another photo.
  6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 until you’ve captured the entire panorama. Then switch to another mode to exit Stitch Assist.
the Stitch Assist Mode
the Stitch Assist Mode

Shooting properly for a multiple-image panorama

  1. Mount your camera on a tripod and make sure it is level.
  2. Choose a focal length for the lens.
  3. In Av mode, use a very small aperture for the greatest depth of field. Take a meter reading of a bright part of the scene, and make note of it.
  4. Now change your camera to Manual mode (M), and dial in the aperture and shutter speed that you obtained in the previous step.
  5. Switch to manual focus, and then focus your lens for the area of interest. (If you use autofocus, you risk getting different points of focus from image to image, which makes the stitching more difficult for the software.) Or, use the autofocus and remember to set the lens to MF before shooting your images.
  6. While carefully panning your camera, shoot your images to cover the entire area of the scene from one end to the other, leaving a 30 percent overlap from one frame to the next.
Here you see the makings of a panorama, with four shots overlapping by about 30 percent from frame to frame.
Figure 7.18 Here you see the makings of a panorama, with four shots overlapping by about 30 percent from frame to frame.
I used Adobe Photoshop Elements to combine the exposures into one large panoramic image. I also cropped and adjusted the color of the final image.
Figure 7.19 I used Adobe Photoshop Elements to combine the exposures into one large panoramic image. I also cropped and adjusted the color of the final image.

Now that you have your series of overlapping images, you can import them into your image-processing software to stitch them together and create a single image.

Shooting high dynamic range (HDR) images

One of the more recent trends in digital photography is the use of high dynamic range (HDR) to capture the full range of tonal values in your final image. Typically, when you photograph a scene that has a wide range of tones from shadows to highlights, you have to make a decision regarding which tonal values you are going to emphasize, and then adjust your exposure accordingly. This is because your camera has a limited dynamic range, at least as compared to the human eye. HDR photography allows you to capture multiple exposures for the highlights, shadows, and midtones, and then combine them into a single image (Figures 7.20–7.23).

There are two ways to get an HDR image with the G12. Switch to the SCN mode and choose the HDR option. Be sure to stabilize the camera on a tripod or other solid surface and press the shutter button to take the shot. The camera shoots and combines multiple exposures into one HDR shot with a complete range of exposures using a process called “tonemapping.”

For more control over the HDR photo’s appearance, capture multiple shots at different exposures and use third-party software to process them. I will not be covering the software applications, but I will explore the process of shooting a scene to help you render properly captured images for the HDR process. Note that using a tripod is absolutely necessary for this technique, since you need to have perfect alignment of each image when they are combined.

Sorting your shots for the multi-image panorama

If you shoot more than one series of shots for your panoramas, it can sometimes be difficult to know when one series of images ends and the other begins. Here is a quick tip for separating your images.

Set up your camera using the steps listed here. Now, before you take your first good exposure in the series, hold up one finger in front of the camera and take a shot. Now move your hand away and begin taking your overlapping images. When you have taken your last shot, hold two fingers in front of the camera and take another shot

Now, when you go to review your images, use the series of shots that falls between the frames with one and two fingers in them. Then just repeat the process for your next panorama series.

Underexposing one stop renders more detail in the highlight areas of the sky.
Figure 7.20 Underexposing one stop renders more detail in the highlight areas of the sky.
This is the normal exposure as dictated by the camera meter.
Figure 7.21 This is the normal exposure as dictated by the camera meter.
Overexposing by two stops ensures that the darker areas are exposed to get detail in the shadows.
Figure 7.22 Overexposing by two stops ensures that the darker areas are exposed to get detail in the shadows.
This is the final HDR image that was rendered from the three other exposures.
Figure 7.23 This is the final HDR image that was rendered from the three other exposures.

Setting up for shooting an HDR image

  1. Set your ISO to 80 to ensure clean, noise-free images.
  2. Set your program mode to Av. During the shooting process, you will be taking three shots of the same scene, creating an overexposed image, an underexposed image, and a normal exposure. Since the camera is going to be adjusting the exposure, you want it to make changes to the shutter speed, not the aperture, so that your depth of field is consistent.
  3. Set your camera file format to RAW. This is extremely important because the RAW format contains a much larger range of exposure values than a JPEG file, and the HDR software will need this information.
  4. Adjust the auto exposure bracket (AEB) mode to shoot three exposures in twostop increments. To do this, press the Function/Set button and highlight the Bracket setting (third from the top). Next, use the Control dial or press the Right button to select the AEB option (A).
  5. Press the Display button to access the exposure control setting.
  6. Turn the Control dial to the right until the AEB indicators move all the way out to –2 and +2 (B). Press the Set button to lock in your changes.
  7. Focus the camera using the manual focus method discussed earlier, compose your shot, secure the tripod, and press the shutter button once; the camera fires all three shots automatically.
shooting an HDR image
shooting an HDR image

A software program such as Adobe Photoshop or Photomatix Pro can now process your exposure-bracketed images into a single HDR file.

Bracketing your exposures

In HDR, bracketing is the process of capturing a series of exposures at different stop intervals. You can bracket your exposures even if you aren’t going to be using HDR. Sometimes this is helpful when you have a tricky lighting situation and you want to ensure that you have just the right exposure to capture the look you’re after. You can bracket in increments as small as a third of a stop. This means that you can capture several images with very subtle exposure variances and then decide later which one is best.

Canon EOS 60D Advanced Techniques to Explore

The following two sections, covering panoramas and high dynamic range (HDR) images, require you to use image-processing software to complete the photograph. However, if you want to shoot for success, it’s important that you know how to use these two popular techniques.

SHOOTING PANORAMAS

Sometimes you’ll be in a location that is simply too big to cover within the typical camera frame. In such cases, you might consider photographing a panorama. You could always take a photo and crop off the top and bottom, making a “fake” panorama, but the purpose of a panorama image is to photograph an extended view of a scene, with minimal distortion, that can’t typically be created with one shot.

If you want to make a true panorama, you either need a special camera that can move on its own to seamlessly photograph a scene, or you can use the following method to achieve similar results (Figures 5.20 and 5.21). You’ll photograph a series of side-by-side images and stitch them together using editing software to produce one elongated panoramic shot.

FIGURE 5.20 This is the making of a panorama, with eight different shots overlapping about 30 percent of the frame.
FIGURE 5.20 This is the making of a panorama, with eight different shots overlapping about 30 percent of the frame.
FIGURE 5.21 I used Adobe Photoshop to combine all of the exposures into one large panoramic image.
FIGURE 5.21 I used Adobe Photoshop to combine all of the exposures into one large panoramic image.

I won’t get into details on how to edit the photographs, but if you have the proper  software, such as Adobe Photoshop, the best thing you can do is learn how to photographs the images in a way that will make stitching them together a piece of cake.

SHOOTING FOR A MULTIPLE-IMAGE PANORAMA

  1. Mount your camera on your tripod vertically and make sure it is level. (Shooting vertically will give your panorama more height and therefore more image detail.)
  2. Choose a focal length for your lens that is between 35mm and 50mm.
  3. In Av mode, use a very small aperture for the greatest depth of field. Take a meter reading of a bright part of the scene, and make note of it.
  4. Now change your camera to Manual mode (M), and dial in the aperture and shutter speed that you obtained in the previous step.
  5. Set your lens to manual focus, and then set your focus by finding a point onethird of the way into the scene. (If you use autofocus, you risk getting different points of focus from image to image, which will make the image stitching more difficult for the software.)
  6. While carefully panning your camera, shoot your images to cover the entire area of the scene from one end to the other, leaving a 30-percent overlap from one frame to the next.

QUICK TIP: SORTING YOUR PANORAMIC IMAGES

Pulling panorama images into your editing software can sometimes be confusing, because you’re not sure where one series of images ends and another begins. Here’s a quick tip for sorting your images.

When you’re all set up and ready to start shooting your panorama, hold up one finger in front of the lens and take a quick shot. Then start your panorama shots. After you’ve photographed the last image, hold up two fingers in front of the lens and take another photo. This will help you find where each series begins and ends and should make it easier to sort and edit your panoramas.

SHOOTING HIGH DYNAMIC RANGE (HDR) IMAGES

A fun and popular way to create images is through a technique called high dynamic range (HDR). When you create an image that has a wide range of tones (shadows and highlights), such as a landscape image with a very bright sky, you need to decide what areas you want to emphasize and adjust your exposure to match. We can often find an exposure that is a balance between overexposing the sky and underexposing the ground. HDR photography allows you to photograph several different exposures of the same scene, capturing the shadows, midtones, and highlights, and then combine them to create a single image in editing software (Figures 5.22, 5.23, and 5.24). For photographers who want to do some serious HDR shooting, I recommend using Adobe Photoshop or HDRsoft’s Photomatix Pro. I’m not going to get into the details of how to edit your image, but I will walk you through the steps to set up your camera and create the photographs for HDR.

FIGURE 5.22 I created this HDR image using the same method as in Figure 5.24, but notice how, in HDR, recovering detail in the shadows and highlights is not limited only to color photographs. The images in this scene were more important to me than the colors, so I converted the shot to black and white, and the HDR processing brought out details in the well-lit and shaded areas.
FIGURE 5.22 I created this HDR image using the same method as in Figure 5.24, but notice how, in HDR, recovering detail in the shadows and highlights is not limited only to color photographs. The images in this scene were more important to me than the colors, so I converted the shot to black and white, and the HDR processing brought out details in the well-lit and shaded areas.
FIGURE 5.23 To create an HDR image, I shot three consecutive photos at different exposures using AEB (Auto Exposure Bracket) mode.
FIGURE 5.23 To create an HDR image, I shot three consecutive photos at different exposures using AEB (Auto Exposure Bracket) mode.
FIGURE 5.24 Using Photomatix Pro, I merged the three exposures in the previous image to create the final HDR photo.
FIGURE 5.24 Using Photomatix Pro, I merged the three exposures in the previous image to create the final HDR photo.

Note that it’s absolutely necessary to use a tripod when using this technique, because all the images must be aligned perfectly to combine them during the editing process.

The first step is to set your camera to automatically bracket your exposures. You will want one image that is underexposed, one that is overexposed, and one that is right in the middle. The 60D allows you to set this up so that it automatically photographs a series of three shots with each of those exposures.

SETTING UP AUTO EXPOSURE BRACKET (AEB) MODE FOR HDR

SETTING UP AUTO EXPOSURE BRACKET (AEB) MODE FOR HDR

  1. Press the Menu button and use the Main dial to get to the second shooting tab, and then use the Quick Control dial to highlight the Expo. Comp./AEB item (A). Press the Set button.
  2. Scroll the Main dial to the right until the exposures are set to two stops between each shot (-2, 0, +2) (B). Then
    press the Set button. (Note that this setting will remain in place until you change it or turn off your camera. To set it back to normal, just scroll the Main dial to the left until only the center line is highlighted in red.)
  3. Next, press the DRIVE button on the top of your camera. Use the Quick Control dial to select High-speed continuous shooting mode. (This will allow you to photograph your three bracketed images very quickly. This is important because some things in your image may be moving, such as clouds or leaves.)

Now that Auto Exposure Bracket mode is set up, let’s go through the steps to create photographs for an HDR image.

SETTING UP FOR SHOOTING AN HDR IMAGE

  1. Mount your camera on your tripod, and then set your ISO to 100 to ensure clean, noise-free images.
  2. Set your program mode to Av. During the shooting process, you will be taking three shots of the same scene, creating an overexposed image, an underexposed image, and a normal exposure. Since the camera is going to be adjusting the exposure, you want it to make changes to the shutter speed, not the aperture, so that your depth of field is consistent.
  3. Set your camera file format to RAW. This is extremely important because the RAW format contains a much larger range of exposure values than a JPEG file, and the HDR software needs all of this information.
  4. Focus the camera manually using the hyperfocal focusing method discussed earlier in the chapter, compose your shot, secure the tripod, and hold down the Shutter button until the camera has fired three consecutive times.
  5. Download the images to your computer, and create the HDR image using specialized editing software.

BRACKETING YOUR EXPOSURES

In HDR, bracketing is the process of capturing a series of exposures at different stop intervals. You can bracket your exposures even if you aren’t going to be using HDR. Sometimes this is helpful when you have a tricky lighting situation and you want to ensure that you have just the right exposure to capture the look you’re after. In HDR, you bracket to the plus and minus side of a “normal” exposure, but you can also bracket all of your exposures to the over or under side of normal. It all depends on what you are trying to do. If you aren’t sure whether you are getting enough shadow detail, you can bracket a little toward the overexposed side. If you aren’t sure you’re getting enough detail in your highlights, bracket a little toward the underexposed side. You can bracket in increments as small as a third of a stop. This means that you can capture several images with very subtle exposure variances and then decide later which one is best.

 

Canon 7D, Advanced Techniques to Explore

The following two sections, covering panoramas and high dynamic range (HDR) images, require you to use image-processing software to complete the photograph. However, if you want to shoot for success, it’s important that you know how to use these two popular techniques.

SHOOTING PANORAMAS

Sometimes you’ll be in a location that is simply too big to cover within the typical camera frame. In these cases, you might consider photographing a panorama. You could always take a photo and crop off the top and bottom, making a “fake” panorama, but the purpose of a panorama image is to photograph an extended view of a scene, with minimal distortion, that can’t typically be created with one shot.

If you want to make a true panorama, you either need a special camera that can move on its own to seamlessly photograph a scene, or you can use the following method to achieve similar results (Figures 5.20 and 5.21). You’ll photograph a series of side-by-side images and stitch them together using editing software to produce one elongated panoramic shot.

 

FIGURE 5.20 This is the making of a panorama, with eight different shots overlapping about 30 percent of the frame.
FIGURE 5.20 This is the making of a panorama, with eight different shots overlapping about 30 percent of the frame.
FIGURE 5.21 I used Adobe Photoshop to combine all of the exposures into one large panoramic image.
FIGURE 5.21 I used Adobe Photoshop to combine all of the exposures into one large panoramic image.

I won’t get into details on how to edit the photographs, but if you have the proper software, such as Adobe Photoshop, the best thing you can do is learn how to photograph the images in a way that will make stitching them together a piece of cake.

SHOOTING FOR A MULTIPLE-IMAGE PANORAMA

  1. Mount your camera on your tripod vertically and make sure it is level. (Shooting vertically will give your panorama more height and therefore more image detail.)
  2. Choose a focal length for your lens that is between 35mm and 50mm.
  3. In Av mode, use a very small aperture for the greatest depth of fi eld. Take a meter reading of a bright part of the scene, and make note of it.
  4. Now change your camera to Manual mode (M), and dial in the aperture and shutter speed that you obtained in the previous step.
  5. Set your lens to manual focus, and then set your focus by fi nding a point onethird of the way into the scene. (If you use autofocus, you risk getting different points of focus from image to image, which will make the image stitching more diffi cult for the software.)
  6. While carefully panning your camera, shoot your images to cover the entire area of the scene from one end to the other, leaving a 30 percent overlap from one frame to the next.

SORTING YOUR PANORAMIC IMAGES

Pulling panorama images into your editing software can sometimes be confusing because you’re not sure where one series of images ends and another begins. Here’s a quick tip for sorting your images.

When you’re all set up and ready to start shooting your panorama, hold up one finger in front of the lens and take a quick shot. Then start your panorama shots. After you’ve photographed the last image, hold up two fingers in front of the lens and take another photo. This will help you find where each series begins and ends and should make it easier to sort and edit your panoramas.

SHOOTING HIGH DYNAMIC RANGE (HDR) IMAGES

A fun and popular way to create images is through a technique called high dynamic range (HDR). When you create an image that has a wide range of tones (shadows and highlights), such as a landscape image with a very bright sky, you need to decide what areas you want to emphasize and adjust your exposure to match. We can often fi nd an exposure that is a balance between overexposing the sky and underexposing the ground. HDR photography allows you to photograph several different exposures of the same scene, capturing the shadows, midtones, and highlights, and then combine them to create a single image in editing software (Figures 5.22, 5.23, and 5.24). For photographers who want to do some serious HDR shooting, I recommend using Adobe Photoshop or HDRsoft’s Photomatix Pro. I’m not going to get into the details of how to edit your image, but I will walk you through the steps to set up your camera and create the photographs for HDR.

FIGURE 5.22 I created this HDR image using the same method as in Figure 5.24, but notice how in HDR, recovering detail in the shadows and highlights is not limited only to color photographs. The images in this scene were more important to me than the colors, so I converted the shot to black and white, and the HDR processing brought out details in the well-lit and shaded areas.
FIGURE 5.22 I created this HDR image using the same method as in Figure 5.24, but notice how in HDR, recovering detail in the shadows and highlights is not limited only to color photographs. The images in this scene were more important to me than the colors, so I converted the shot to black and white, and the HDR processing brought out details in the well-lit and shaded areas.
FIGURE 5.23 To create an HDR image, I shot three consecutive photos at different exposures using AEB (Auto Exposure Bracket) mode.
FIGURE 5.23 To create an HDR image, I shot three consecutive photos at different exposures using AEB (Auto Exposure Bracket) mode.
FIGURE 5.24 Using Photomatix Pro, I merged the three exposures in the previous image to create the fi nal HDR photo.
FIGURE 5.24 Using Photomatix Pro, I merged the three exposures in the previous image to create the fi nal HDR photo.

Note that it’s absolutely necessary to use a tripod when using this technique because all the images must be aligned perfectly to combine them during the editing process.

The fi rst step is to set your camera to automatically bracket your exposures. You will want one image that is underexposed, one that is overexposed, and one that is right in the middle. The 7D allows you to set this up so that it automatically photographs a series of three shots with each of those exposures.

SETTING UP AUTO EXPOSURE BRACKET (AEB) MODE FOR HDR

SETTING UP AUTO EXPOSURE BRACKET (AEB) MODE FOR HDR

  1. Press the Menu button and use the Main dial to get to the second shooting tab, and then use the Quick Control dial to highlight the Expo. Comp./AEB item (A). Press the Set button.
  2. Scroll the Main dial to the right until the exposures are set to two stops between each shot (-2, 0, +2) (B). Then
    press the Set button. (Note that this setting will remain in place until you change it or turn off your camera. To set it back to normal, just scroll the Main dial to the left until only the center line is highlighted in red.)
  3. Press the Menu button and then press the AF-DRIVE button on the top of your camera. Use the Quick Control dial to select High-speed continuous shooting mode. (This will allow you to photograph your three bracketed images very quickly. This is important because some things in your image may be moving, such as clouds or leaves.)

Now that Auto Exposure Bracket mode is set up, let’s go through the steps to create photographs for an HDR image.

SETTING UP FOR SHOOTING AN HDR IMAGE

Mount your camera on your tripod and then set your ISO to 100 to ensure clean, noise-free images.

  1. Set your program mode to Av. During the shooting process, you will be taking three shots of the same scene, creating an overexposed image, an underexposed image, and a normal exposure. Since the camera is going to be adjusting the exposure, you want it to make changes to the shutter speed, not the aperture, so that your depth of fi eld is consistent.
  2. Set your camera fi le format to RAW. This is extremely important because the RAW format contains a much larger range of exposure values than a JPEG fi le, and the HDR software needs all of this information.
  3. Focus the camera manually using the focus method discussed earlier in the chapter, compose your shot, secure the tripod, and hold down the Shutter button until the camera has fi red three consecutive times.
  4. Download the images to your computer and create the HDR image using specialized editing software.

BRACKETING YOUR EXPOSURES

In HDR, bracketing is the process of capturing a series of exposures at different stop intervals. You can bracket your exposures even if you aren’t going to be using HDR. Sometimes this is helpful when you have a tricky lighting situation and you want to ensure that you have just the right exposure to capture the look you’re after. In HDR, you bracket to the plus and minus side of a “normal” exposure, but you can also bracket all of your exposures to the over or under side of normal. It all depends on what you are trying to do. If you aren’t sure whether you are getting enough shadow detail, you can bracket a little toward the overexposed side. If you aren’t sure you’re getting enough detail in your highlights, bracket a little toward the underexposed side. You can bracket in increments as small as a third of a stop. This means that you can capture several images with very subtle exposure variances and then decide later which one is best.

 

Canon PowerShot G12 Scene Modes

One problem with Auto mode is that it has no idea what type of subject you are photographing and therefore attempts to make a best-guess
reading of each situation. Many Scene modes are optimized for many of the shooting scenarios you’re likely to encounter, and some apply in-camera effects that would be difficult or time-consuming to replicate on a computer later.

Even if you’re planning to shoot most often using the camera’s advanced modes, the Scene modes can be a helpful training tool. Shoot a few shots using the Sports preset, for example, and note the shutter speed, aperture, and ISO settings that the camera chose. Then, fine-tune your own settings using the Scene values as a baseline.

Using the Scene Modes

  1. Set the Mode dial to the SCN setting.
  2. Press the Function/Set button. The Scene modes are selected at the top of the menu.
  3. Rotate the Control dial until your chosen scene icon appears.
  4. Press the Function/Set button to choose the scene.

Portrait

Shooting portraits is a perfect example of a common scene (Figure 3.2). This mode emphasizes skin tones and makes them a little softer to improve the skin’s look, avoiding the harsh, greenish cast that can occur under some types of lighting.

Portrait mode is a great choice for shots like this one. Positioning the subject to the side of the frame makes the shot stand out among portrait photos. [Photo: jvlphoto.com]
Figure 3.2 Portrait mode is a great choice for shots like this one. Positioning the subject to the side of the frame makes the shot stand out among portrait photos. [Photo: jvlphoto.com
Landscape

As you might have guessed, the Landscape scene has been optimized for shooting landscape images. The camera does its best to boost the greens and blues in the image (Figure 3.3). This makes sense, since the typical landscape would be outdoors where grass, trees, and skies should look more colorful. This mode also increases the sharpness that is applied during processing and utilizes the lowest ISO settings possible in order to keep digital noise to a minimum.

This type of scene just calls out for the Landscape mode. The vegetation and sky were given more saturation, and a medium aperture was used for greater depth of field. [Photo: Deak Wooten]
Figure 3.3 This type of scene just calls out for the Landscape mode. The vegetation and sky were given more saturation, and a medium aperture was used for greater depth of field. [Photo: Deak Wooten
Kids & Pets

It’s hard to get any more specific than this. Kids and pets have a habit of not always posing for the shot you want…or the shot you think you might get…if only they’d…just…stop…moving…for a moment. The Kids & Pets mode uses a fast shutter speed, wide aperture, and high ISO to freeze the action of these moving targets.

Sports

While this is called the Sports scene, you can use it for any moving subject that you are photographing. The mode is built on the principles of sports photography: continuous focusing and fast shutter speeds (Figure 3.4). To handle these requirements, the camera sets the drive mode to Continuous AF shooting and the ISO to Auto. Overall, these are sound settings that will capture most moving subjects well.

You can, however, run the risk of too much digital noise in your picture if the camera decides you need a very high ISO (such as 1600). Also, when using the Sports scene, you will need to frame your subject in the middle of the viewfinder so the center focus point is on them.

This is the type of shot that was made for Sports mode, where action-freezing shutter speeds and continuous focusing capture the moment. [Photo: Rick Lewis]
Figure 3.4 This is the type of shot that was made for Sports mode, where action-freezing shutter speeds and continuous focusing capture the moment. [Photo: Rick Lewis
Smart Shutter

Most of the Scene modes are easy to figure out from their names, but what’s so smart about Smart Shutter? It’s designed for getting good shots of people, especially when you’re shooting pictures of yourself in a group of people. Smart Shutter has three modes, accessible by pressing the Display button:

  • Smile: When you look at the camera and smile, a shot is taken—you don’t need to press the shutter release button at all.
  • Wink Self-Timer: As you frame your subjects, the G12 detects one person’s face. Press the shutter release button. The camera waits for that person to wink, then counts down a couple of seconds before taking the shot. (If it doesn’t detect a wink, the shot fires after 15 seconds.) You may need to wink with both eyes to trigger the shutter.
  • Face Self-Timer: Press the shutter release button and then look directly into the camera to start the self-timer countdown.

For each mode, you can set the camera to shoot up to 10 successive shots by pressing the up or down button.

Super Vivid, Poster Efect, Nostalg ic, and Fish-Eye

These four Scene modes replicate looks that you can achieve using post-processing software such as Adobe Photoshop Elements, iPhoto,
or other programs. The advantage to using them while shooting is that you don’t need to spend time applying the effects later. The disadvantage is that you’re stuck with the effect for the shot. Personally, I’d prefer to do the processing later in software using a “normal” shot where I have more control.

Color Accent & Color Swap

The Color Accent mode picks out one color in your scene and renders everything else black and white. Press the Display button and position the focus box on the color you want to preserve, and then press the left button to lock it in.

Color Swap works in a similar fashion, only in addition to setting a target color, you then point at a different color in your scene and press the Right button to set the replacement hue. Anything blue, for example, could appear red.

Again, however, I’d much rather do these adjustments in software later.

HDR

HDR, or High Dynamic Range, is a method of combining several shots at different exposures to bring out more detail than you could normally get with just one shot. For example, you could use HDR to shoot a scene where a person in the foreground might otherwise be put into silhouette by a bright sky in the background. HDR used to be possible only in software, but now the HDR Scene mode does the work in-camera.

For best results, mount the G12 on a tripod or other stationary surface, then press the shutter release button. The camera takes three shots and then combines them into one HDR image. It’s best to turn off the image stabilizer (IS) when using this mode; that sounds counterintuitive, but the camera could overcompensate and produce a blurry shot.

Miniature Efect

The Miniature Effect mode pulls off a neat trick: By selectively blurring areas of an image, the effect makes objects in the center look like miniature toys (Figure 3.5). Another term for this effect is tilt-shift, which is accomplished on DSLRs using expensive lenses with selective focus controls.

With the mode enabled, press the Display button to adjust how the focus is centered. Press Set to change the highlight rectangle from horizontal to vertical (or vice versa). Then, use the zoom control to make the area larger or smaller.

The Miniature Effect mode uses a tilt-shift effect to concentrate focus on one area, which makes otherwise normal scenes appear as if they’re miniatures. [Photo: Jeff Carlson]
Figure 3.5 The Miniature Effect mode uses a tilt-shift effect to concentrate focus on one area, which makes otherwise normal scenes appear as if they’re miniatures. [Photo: Jeff Carlson
 Beach and Snow

Shooting at the beach or in the snow, while representing opposite extremes of temperature, share a trait that’s problematic to digital cameras: The environments are often very bright from light reflecting off sand or snow, which can confuse a camera’s light meter. These modes compensate for the brightness.

Underwater

Fishy environments feature the opposite trait of the Beach and Snow modes. Often underlit and exhibiting blue-green color casts, underwater and aquarium shots can easily turn muddy. The Underwater mode reduces the blue-green coloring and enhance the other colors. (And for today’s obvious public service announcement, Canon wants you to know that it’s highly recommended that you put your G12 in a waterproof enclosure before submerging it.)

Foliage

I never paid as much attention to trees and flowers as I do now that I carry a camera everywhere. The Foliage scene boosts colors to make them more vivid, a welcome enhancement in the autumn or spring especially (Figure 3.6).

The Foliage scene brings out the color in flowers, leaves, and other natural subjects. [Photo: Jeff Carlson]
Figure 3.6 The Foliage scene brings out the color in flowers, leaves, and other natural subjects. [Photo: Jeff Carlson
Fireworks

With only a few opportunities each year to take photos of fireworks (unless you live at a Disney theme park), it seems odd that Canon would include a scene dedicated to the nighttime explosions. However, fireworks are tricky to photograph well. The Fireworks scene features long exposures and a narrow aperture to emphasize the bright colors against a dark sky (Figure 3.7).

Fireworks can be notoriously tricky to capture. [Photo: John Wayne Lucia III]
Figure 3.7 Fireworks can be notoriously tricky to capture. [Photo: John Wayne Lucia III