Nikon D7000, Smooth Water

There’s little that is quite as satisfying for the landscape shooter as capturing a smooth waterfall shot. Creating the smooth-flowing effect is as simple as adjusting your shutter speed to allow the water to be in motion while the shutter is open. The key is to have your camera on a stable platform (such as a tripod) so that you can use a shutter speed that’s long enough to work (Figure 7.14). To achieve a great effect, use a shutter speed that is at least 1/15 of a second or longer.

I sat my tripod right in the middle of this creek downstream from these small rapids. This allowed me to get the right point of view while using a slow shutter speed to show the movement in the water.
Figure 7.14 I sat my tripod right in the middle of this creek downstream from these small rapids. This allowed me to get the right point of view while using a slow shutter speed to show the movement in the water.

Setting up for a waterfall shot

  1. Attach the camera to your tripod, then compose and focus your shot.
  2. Make sure the ISO is set to 100 or 200.
  3. Using Aperture Priority mode, set your aperture to the smallest opening (such as f/22 or f/36).
  4. Press the shutter button halfway so the camera takes a meter reading.
  5. Check to see if the shutter speed is 1/15 or slower.
  6. Take a photo and then check the image on the LCD.

You can also use Shutter Priority mode for this effect by dialing in the desired shutter speed and having the camera set the aperture for you. I prefer to use Aperture Priority to ensure that I have the greatest depth of field possible.

If the water is blinking on the LCD, indicating a loss of detail in the highlights, then use the Exposure Compensation feature (as discussed earlier in this chapter) to bring details back into the water. You will need to have the Highlight Alert feature turned on to check for overexposure.

It is possible that you will not be able to have a shutter speed that is long enough to capture a smooth, silky effect, especially if you are shooting in bright daylight conditions. To overcome this obstacle, you need a filter for your lens—either a polarizing filter or a neutral density filter.

The polarizing filter redirects wavelengths of light to create more vibrant colors, reduce reflections, and darken blue skies, as well as lengthen exposure times by two stops due to the darkness of the filter. It is a handy filter for landscape work. The neutral density filter is typically just a dark piece of glass that serves to darken the scene by one, two, or three stops. This allows you to use slower shutter speeds during bright conditions. Think of it as sunglasses for your camera lens.

Nikon D7000, Taming Bright Skies with Exposure Compensation

Balancing exposure in scenes that have a wide contrast in tonal ranges can be extremely challenging. The one thing you should never do is overexpose your skies to the point of blowing out your highlights (unless, of course, that is the look you are going for). It’s one thing to have white clouds, but it’s a completely different, and bad, thing to have no detail at all in those clouds. This usually happens when the camera is trying to gain exposure in the darker areas of the image (Figure 7.8).

With this feature, you can force your camera to choose an exposure that ranges, in one-third-stop increments, from five stops over to five stops under the metered exposure (Figure 7.9).

The one way to tell if you have blown out your highlights is to turn on the Highlight Alert, or “blinkies,” feature on your camera. When you take a shot where the highlights are exposed beyond the point of having any detail, that area will blink in your LCD. It is up to you to determine if that particular area is important enough to regain detail by altering your exposure. If the answer is yes, then the easiest way to go about it is to use some exposure compensation.

The sand and the grass are well exposed but the sky is totally blown out. Whenever I’m shooting into a sunset this is a potential problem. I solve it by using exposure compensation to get the entire image exposed correctly.
Figure 7.8 The sand and the grass are well exposed but the sky is totally blown out. Whenever I’m shooting into a sunset this is a potential problem. I solve it by using exposure compensation to get the entire image exposed correctly.
I compensated my exposure by two stops (-2 on the Exposure Compensation adjustment) and was able to bring details back into the clouds, sky, and water. You will notice the image itself is darker as a result of this compensation.
Figure 7.9 I compensated my exposure by two stops (-2 on the Exposure Compensation adjustment) and was able to bring details back into the clouds, sky, and water. You will notice the image itself is darker as a result of this compensation.

Using Exposure Compensation to regain detail in highlights

  1. Activate the camera meter by lightly pressing the shutter release button.
  2. Using your index finger, press and hold the Exposure Compensation button to change the over-/underexposure setting by rotating the Command dial.
  3. Rotate the Command dial counterclockwise one click and take another picture (each click of the Command dial is a one-third-stop change).
  4. If the blinkies are gone, you are good to go. If not, keep subtracting from your exposure by one-third of a stop until you have a good exposure in the highlights.

Adjusting Exposure Compensation

Adjusting Exposure Compensation

  1. Press the Exposure Compensation button (which has a +/- symbol on it) on the top of the camera to adjust exposure by -5 to +5 stops.
  2. Hold the Exposure Compensation button while rotating the Command dial to the left to increase exposure and the right to decrease exposure. Each right click of the Command dial will continue to reduce the exposure in onethird- stop increments for up to five stops (although I rarely need to go past two stops).

It should be noted that any exposure compensation will remain in place even after turning the camera off and then on again. Don’t forget to reset it once you have successfully captured your image. Also, the Exposure Compensation feature only works in the Program, Shutter Priority, and Aperture Priority modes. Changing between these three modes will hold the compensation you set while switching from one to the other. When you change the Mode dial to one of the automatic scene modes the compensation will set itself to zero.

 

Canon PowerShot G12, Taming Bright Skies with Exposure Compensation

Balancing the exposure in scenes that have a wide contrast in tonal ranges can be extremely challenging. The one thing you should try not to do is overexpose your skies to the point of blowing out your highlights (unless, of course, that is the look you are going for). It’s one thing to have a clear sky, but it’s a completely different and bad thing to have nothing but white space. This usually happens when the camera is trying to gain exposure in the darker areas of the image (Figure 7.6).

The one way to tell if you have blown out your highlights is to check the camera’s Highlight Alert, or “blinkies,” feature (see the “How I Shoot” section in Chapter 4). When you take a shot where the highlights are exposed beyond the point of having any detail, that area will blink in your LCD display. It is up to you to determine if that particular area is important enough to regain detail by altering your exposure. If the answer is yes, then the easiest way to go about it is to use some exposure compensation.

With this feature, you can force your camera to choose an exposure that ranges, in 1/3-stop increments, from two stops over to two stops under the metered exposure (Figure 7.7).

The building’s exposure is fine, but the sky is blown out and the leaves in the foreground are pale.
Figure 7.6 The building’s exposure is fine, but the sky is blown out and the leaves in the foreground are pale.
A compensation of 1 stop of underexposure brought back the color of the sky and detail in the highlights.
Figure 7.7 A compensation of 1 stop of underexposure brought back the color of the sky and detail in the highlights.

Using Exposure Compensation to regain detail in highlights

  1. Turn the Exposure Compensation dial counterclockwise one notch to reduce the exposure by a 1/3-stop increment.
  2. Take a photo and review the result.
  3. If the blinkies are gone, you are good to go. If not, keep subtracting from your exposure by 1/3 of a stop until you have a good exposure in the highlights.

I generally keep my camera set to –1/3 stop for most of my landscape work unless I am working with a location that is very dark or low-key. That helps avoid blown-out highlights, and often increases the saturation slightly.

High-key and low-key images

When you hear someone refer to a subject as being high-key, it usually means that the entire image is composed of a very bright subject with very few shadow areas—think snow or beach. It makes sense, then, that a low-key subject has very few highlight areas and a predominance of shadow areas. Think of a cityscape at night as an example of a low-key photo.

Canon EOS 60D Making Water Look Silky

Creating silky-looking images of streams, waterfalls, and even waves adds a beautiful touch to any landscape photo (Figure 5.15). Applying this effect to your images is simple—it’s just a matter of using a very slow shutter speed to blur the water as it flows through your image. Of course, you’ll need to place your camera on a tripod, and it’s also a good idea to attach a cable release to prevent any potential camera shake when pressing the Shutter button. To achieve a great effect, use a shutter speed of at least 1/15 of a second or longer.

FIGURE 5.15 I used a neutral density filter to reduce the amount of light coming through the lens. This allowed for a longer exposure, which made the water in this stream look silky and fluid.
FIGURE 5.15 I used a neutral density filter to reduce the amount of light coming through the lens. This allowed for a longer exposure, which made the water in this stream look silky and fluid.

SETTING UP FOR A FLOWING WATER SHOT

  1. Attach the camera to your tripod, and then compose and focus your shot.
  2. Make sure the ISO is set to 100.
  3. Using Av mode, set your aperture to the smallest opening (such as f/22 or f/36).
  4. Press the Shutter button halfway so the camera takes a meter reading.
  5. Check to see if the shutter speed is 1/15 or slower.
  6. Take a photo and then check the image on the LCD Monitor.

When creating flowing water images, be sure to enable the Highlight Alert. Then check the water areas in the image on the LCD Monitor; if the water is blinking on the LCD, indicating that the scene is overexposed, you’ll need to adjust the exposure compensation to underexpose the scene slightly and bring back the shadow details in the water.

It’s possible that the light in the area in which you want to create this effect is too bright and won’t allow you to use a shutter speed that is slow enough to effectively blur the water. In this case, you can use a filter—either a polarizing filter or a neutral density filter—to help reduce the amount of light that is coming through the lens. The polarizing filter redirects wavelengths of light to create more vibrant colors, reduce reflections, and darken blue skies. It’s a handy filter for landscape work (Figures 5.16 and 5.17). The neutral density filter is typically just a dark piece of glass that serves to darken the scene by several stops. This allows you to use slower shutter speeds during bright conditions.

FIGURE 5.16 A polarizing filter helped to deepen the blue colors in this sky.
FIGURE 5.16 A polarizing filter helped to deepen the blue colors in this sky.
FIGURE 5.17 Polarizing filters are also helpful in reducing unwanted glare and enhancing color saturation in your images.
FIGURE 5.17 Polarizing filters are also helpful in reducing unwanted glare and enhancing color saturation in your images.

 

Canon 7D, Making Water Look Silky

Creating silky-looking images of streams, waterfalls, and even waves adds a beautiful touch to any landscape photo (Figure 5.15). Applying this effect to your images is simple—it’s just a matter of using a very slow shutter speed to blur the water as it fl ows through your image. Of course, you’ll need to place your camera on a tripod, and it’s also a good idea to attach a cable release to prevent any potential camera shake when pressing the Shutter button. To achieve a great effect, use a shutter speed of at least 1/15 of a second or longer.

FIGURE 5.15 I used a neutral density fi lter to reduce the amount of light coming through the lens. This allowed for a longer exposure, which made the water in this stream look silky and fl uid.
FIGURE 5.15 I used a neutral density fi lter to reduce the amount of light coming through the lens. This allowed for a longer exposure, which made the water in this stream look silky and fl uid.

SETTING UP FOR A FLOWING WATER SHOT

  1. Attach the camera to your tripod, and then compose and focus your shot.
  2. Make sure the ISO is set to 100.
  3. Using Av mode, set your aperture to the smallest opening (such as f/22 or f/36).
  4. Press the Shutter button halfway so the camera takes a meter reading.
  5. Check to see if the shutter speed is 1/15 or slower.
  6. Take a photo and then check the image on the LCD Monitor.

When creating fl owing water images, be sure to enable the Highlight Alert. Then check the water areas in the image on the LCD Monitor; if the water is blinking on the LCD, indicating that the scene is overexposed, you’ll need to adjust the exposure compensation to underexpose the scene slightly and bring back the shadow details in the water.

It’s possible that the light in the area in which you want to create this effect is too bright and won’t allow you to use a slow enough shutter speed to effectively blur the water. In this case, you can use a fi lter—either a polarizing fi lter or a neutral density fi lter—to help reduce the amount of light that is coming through the lens. The polarizing fi lter redirects wavelengths of light to create more vibrant colors, reduce refl ections, and darken blue skies. It’s a handy fi lter for landscape work (Figures 5.16 and 5.17). The neutral density fi lter is typically just a dark piece of glass that serves to darken the scene by several stops. This allows you to use slower shutter speeds during bright conditions.

FIGURE 5.16 A polarizing fi lter helped to deepen the blue colors in this sky.
FIGURE 5.16 A polarizing fi lter helped to deepen the blue colors in this sky.
FIGURE 5.17 Polarizing fi lters are also helpful in reducing unwanted glare and enhancing color saturation in your images.
FIGURE 5.17 Polarizing fi lters are also helpful in reducing unwanted glare and enhancing color saturation in your images.

Nikon D7000, How I Shoot: My Favorite Camera Settings

I’m generally a landscape and travel photographer, but like many of you, I enjoy photographing everything. There’s very little that doesn’t interest me. I have found throughout the years that I primarily use the Aperture Priority mode. Why? Often when I’m traveling and photographing streetscapes I don’t have time to worry about every single variable, and I’ve found focusing on aperture has given me the control I need for 75 percent of my photography. If I want an image to have a shallow depth of field, then I’ll use a large aperture such as f/2.8, or if I’m shooting a landscape and I need a greater depth of field I’ll use a smaller aperture such as f/16.

However, sometimes Aperture Priority just doesn’t work. Maybe the lighting is tricky or it’s close but not quite right. In those cases I’ll switch over to Manual mode. Almost all of my landscape photography that I’ve shot during the golden hours was done in Manual mode because the light changes very quickly.

Each photographer has a different way of doing things. No one approach is necessarily better than the other. In the end, it’s about creating your own system so that you’re consistent. When you’re consistent, you can measure results and then make changes accordingly.

When I first started out photographing in Aperture Priority, the biggest mistake I made was shooting with much too slow of a shutter speed. I would get blurry pictures and I would ask myself, “How did this happen? They looked super sharp
when I took them.” I would then look at the metadata (image information) and see that I shot the blurry image at 1/30 of a second, way too slow for hand-holding. So I learned my lesson and started shooting a little faster, and my results improved immensely.

Doing things consistently and measuring results is a great way to improve your photography. Don’t ignore the metadata; it’s very helpful in understanding why an image looks a certain way and learning how to change your setting the next time to make the image stronger.

While the other camera modes have their place, I think you will find that most professional photographers use the Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority modes for 90 percent of their shooting.

The other concern that I have when I am setting up my camera is just how low I can keep my ISO. This is always a priority for me because a low ISO will deliver the cleanest image. I raise the ISO only as a last resort because each increase in sensitivity is an opportunity for more digital noise to enter my image. To that end, I always have the
High ISO Noise Reduction feature turned on.

To make quick changes while I shoot, I often use the Exposure Compensation feature  so that I can make small over- and underexposure changes. This is different than changing the aperture or shutter; it is more like fooling the camera meter into thinking the scene is brighter or darker than it actually is. To get to this function quickly, I simply press the Exposure Compensation button, right next to the shutter button, then dial in the desired amount of compensation using the Command dial. If you can’t get the exact exposure you want with aperture and speed alone, make little adjustments to the exposure compensation.

One of the reasons some people change their exposure is to make corrections when there are “blinkies” in the rear LCD. Blinkies are the warning signal that part of the image has been overexposed to the point that there is no longer any detail in the highlights. When the Highlight Alert feature is turned on, the display will flash wherever the potential exists for overexposure. The black and white flashing will only appear in areas of your picture that are in danger of overexposure.

Setting up the Highlight Alert feature

Setting up the Highlight Alert feature

Setting up the Highlight Alert feature

  1. Press the Menu button, then use the Multi-selector to access the Playback menu (A).
  2. Once in the Playback menu, move the Multi-selector to the Display mode option and press OK (B).
  3. Move the Multi-selector down to select the Highlights option, then press OK to place a check mark next to the word Highlight (C).
  4. Now move back up to select Done, and press OK again to lock in your change.

Once the highlight warning is turned on, use it to check your images on the back of the LCD after taking a shot. If you see an area that is blinking, try setting exposure compensation to an underexposed setting like –1/3 or –2/3 stops and take another photo, checking the result on the screen. Don’t make yourself crazy trying to get rid of every single blinking area. It is easy enough to add some black back into your photo later using post-editing software, and you don’t want to underexpose the rest of the image because there is one blown-out highlight.

Sometimes, such as when shooting into the sun, the warning will blink no matter how much you adjust the exposure because there is just no detail in the highlight. On the contrary, if you’re shooting a white wedding dress and the entire dress is blinking, then you have no detail in the dress and the bride will not be happy. Use your best judgment to determine if the warning is alerting you to an area where you want to retain highlight detail. If you are not sure what the perfect exposure is and you have to get a good shot, try bracketing your exposure.

As you work your way through the coming chapters, you will see other tips and tricks to use in your daily photography, but the most important tip I can give is to take the time to understand the features of your camera so that you can leverage the technology in a knowledgeable way. This will pay off in better photographs.

Canon PowerShot G12, How I Shoot: A Closer Look at the Camera Settings I Use

Whether it’s isolating my subject with a large aperture or trying to maximize the overall sharpness of a sweeping landscape, I always keep an eye on my aperture setting. If I do have a need to control the action, I use Shutter Priority. If I’m trying to create a soft waterfall effect, I can depend on Tv to provide a long shutter speed. When trying to grab a shot of my toddler, I definitely need the fast shutter speeds that will freeze the action. While the other camera modes have their place, I think you will find yourself using the Av and Tv modes for 90 percent of your shooting.

The other concern I have when I’m setting up my camera is just how low I can keep my ISO. I raise the ISO only as a last resort because each increase in sensitivity is an opportunity for more digital noise to enter my image.

To make quick changes while I shoot, I often use the Exposure Compensation feature so that I can make small over- and underexposure changes. This is different than changing the aperture or shutter; it is more like fooling the camera meter into thinking the scene is brighter or darker than it actually is.

One of the reasons I change my exposure is to make corrections when I see the “blinkies” while looking at my images on the LCD, which indicate that part of my image has been overexposed to the point that I no longer have any detail in the
highlights. The only unfortunate thing about this feature is that it doesn’t work with the full-screen preview mode. You have to set your camera display to the Histogram display mode to see the Highlight Alert (Figure 4.11).

You can only see the Highlight Alert (“blinkies”) when in the Histogram display mode.
Figure 4.11 You can only see the Highlight Alert (“blinkies”) when in the Histogram display mode.

As you work your way through the coming chapters, you will see other tips and tricks I use in my daily photography, but the most important tip I can give is to understand the features of your camera so that you can leverage the technology in a knowledgeable way. This will result in better photographs.

 

Canon EOS 60D How I Shoot: A Closer Look at the Camera Settings I Use

I started my journey with photography before consumer digital cameras were affordable and available to the general public, so I had the advantage of learning how to photograph and develop film with a fully manual camera. When I finally upgraded to a camera with shooting modes, I had a solid understanding of how aperture and shutter speed worked together and knew how to create the look I wanted using certain settings. Because the majority of my work both then and now involves photographing people, I tend to want to control the depth of field in my images so that I have creative control over what parts are in focus and what areas are blurry. So, as you have probably guessed, the majority of my work is photographed using the Aperture Priority (Av) mode. Since I also do work in a studio or controlled-lighting environment, my second most frequently used mode is Manual (M).

Now, don’t get me wrong—I play around with the other modes depending on what I’m shooting, but I find that I prefer to have as much control as possible so that I’m creating images that fit my style of photography. If you handed me a camera that had only Av and M and no other modes, I would probably be able to photograph in any environment and capture the images that I wanted without any trouble.

What I love about Canon cameras is the ability to change the exposure compensation quickly when I’m using the Av mode. This can make shooting in Av or Tv mode very similar to using the Manual mode, because you regain control over your exposure. The internal light meter does an amazing job, but I find that when I’m in a tricky lighting situation, the Quick Control dial can work wonders to help bring the exposure back to where it should be.

The last thing that I always have enabled on my camera is the Highlight Alert. This tells me when my images are overexposed
or whether I have lost detail in an area of a properly exposed image. The ability to quickly adjust the exposure using the Quick Control dial makes it easy to capture as much detail in my images as possible.

As you work your way through the coming chapters, you will see other tips and tricks I use in my daily photography, but the most important tip I can give you is to understand the features of your camera so that you can leverage the technology in a knowledgeable way—and produce better photographs.

Canon 7D How I Shoot: A Closer Look at the Camera Settings I Use

I started my journey with photography before consumer digital cameras were affordable and available to the general public, so I had the advantage of learning how to photograph and develop fi lm with a fully manual camera. When I fi nally upgraded to a camera with shooting modes, I had a solid understanding of how aperture and shutter speed worked together and knew how to create the look I wanted using
certain settings. Because the majority of my work both then and now involves photographing people, I tend to want to control the depth of fi eld in my images so that I have creative control over what parts are in focus and what areas are blurry. So, as you have probably guessed, the majority of my work is photographed using the Aperture Priority (Av) mode. Since I also do work in a studio or controlled-lighting environment, my second most frequently used mode is Manual (M).

Now don’t get me wrong—I play around with the other modes depending on what I’m shooting, but I fi nd that I prefer to have as much control as possible so that I’m creating images that fi t my style of photography. If you handed me a camera that had only Av and M and no other modes, I would probably be able to photograph in any environment and capture the images that I wanted without hesitation.

What I love about Canon cameras is the ability to change the exposure compensation quickly when I am using the Av mode. This can make shooting in Av or Tv mode very similar to using the Manual mode because you regain control over your exposure. The internal light meter does an amazing job, but I fi nd that when I’m in a tricky lighting situation the Quick Control dial can work wonders to help bring the exposure back to where it should be.

The last thing that I always have enabled on my camera is the Highlight Alert. This tells me when my images are overexposed or whether I have lost detail in an area of a properly exposed image. The ability to quickly adjust the exposure using the Quick Control dial makes it easy to capture as much detail in my images as possible.

 

Canon EOS 60D Enable Highlight Alert

The LCD on the back of the camera provides wonderful feedback on image exposure and color quality, but if your screen happens to be set too bright or too dark, then the image you are seeing may be deceptive. When you take a photograph, you usually want to keep detail in the highlight areas and not “blow out” anything. In other words, you don’t want certain areas of your image to be completely white. For example, if you use your flash while photographing a person and the image is overexposed, the light could flood his or her face. One way to prevent this loss of detail is by enabling Highlight Alert.

ENABLING THE HIGHLIGHT ALERT SETTING

Canon EOS 60D Enable Highlight Alert

  1. Wake the camera (if necessary) by lightly pressing the Shutter button.
  2. Press the Menu button and use the Multi-Controller to select the center menu tab (second playback tab).
  3. Select Highlight Alert, and then press the Set button (A).
  4. Use the Quick Control dial to select Enable, and then press the Set button (B).
  5. Press the Menu button to leave the menus and continue shooting.

Now that you have enabled Highlight Alert, you will see a difference in your images while you review them. If you photograph something that is pure white (255, 255, 255 on the RGB color model), then that part of the image will blink on the LCD when you review your shot. At first you might find this a bit annoying, but trust me, it’s extremely useful. This feedback will help you properly expose your images. It’s very difficult to pull in detail from the areas that blink, so if it’s blinking somewhere you don’t want it to (someone’s face, for example), you should probably dial down your exposure a bit.