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  1. George

    Liz's photographs..

    Could you do me a wee favour? As ScottishBrochs.com is no longer, could you change the credit under my piccie in the reception to just credit local photographer me, with no mention of any website?
  2. George

    Liz's photographs..

    You're getting the hang of your new camera.
  3. I can remember them back in the 1970s, so not quite as long ago as one or two of these photos might suggest. I’m sorry, I have no idea who to credit for these photos. Quite a contrast. Things change. These photos were taken from the same place. The second photo was taken today.
  4. George

    George's Photos

    Brora beach.
  5. George

    Liz's photographs..

    You can feel the textures in that photo.
  6. George

    Liz's photographs..

    I think they kinda like you New ventures, fresh adventures, sounds excellent. My whole life is changing as well, with 3 or 4 new ventures, and it's exciting. I've sure loved seeing these swallow babes growing up. Thanks for the photos.
  7. George

    Liz's photographs..

    They look snug.
  8. George

    03 - Exposure

    Shutter Priority (TV Mode) A properly exposed photograph is achieved by balancing shutter speed, aperture and ISO. An underexposed photo is too dark, an overexposed photo is too bright, while a properly exposed photo is close to how your eye would perceive the image in real life. Most modern cameras are excellent at determining exposure settings for you automatically, so don't be afraid to leave your camera in full auto mode while getting to grips with things. The more you learn about camera settings, you more you will understand why your cameras does what it does in auto mode. The more you shoot, you more you learn. We will now look at Shutter Priority (TV Mode), Aperture Priority (AV Mode), and ISO in a little more depth. Shutter priority controls the shutter speed of your camera. Shutter speed is the time it takes for the camera's shutter to open and close when you click the button. The longer your shutter is open, the more light gets in. The shorter time your shutter is open, the less light gets in. This, of course, affects the exposure. Too little light and the photo will be dark and blocked up with shadows. Too much light, and the photo will be blown out. Another important consideration with shutter priority is that the longer the shutter is open, the more blur you will have in your photos because of camera movement. This is known as motion blur. If you are hand holding your camera and not using a tripod, it is therefore important to use a shutter speed that is fast enough to prevent your photos being blurry. If you use full auto or put the camera in P mode, which stands for Programmed mode, your camera will decide what the shutter speed should be. Cameras are so good these days at determining exposure that leaving your camera in either Auto or P mode while you learn should produce sufficient pleasing photos to keep you happy. In shutter priority, high numbers mean faster shutter speeds. 1/2000 for example = one/ two thousandth of a second. That’s very fast, and is good for freezing sports action. 1/4 = 1 quarter of a second, which is far too slow for hand held shots. What should the slowest shutter speed be then when hand holding a camera? Memorise this formula - 1.5 x focal length. This is the slowest speed you should consider for hand held photography, and it is the only formula I'm going to ask you to memorise. Focal length is the reach of your lens. If you are using a 50mm lens, your focal length is 50mm, therefore the slowest shutter speed to prevent motion blur should be 50 x 1.5 = 75, or 1/75 of a second. As there is no 1/75 of a second setting go up to the next setting which is 1/125. If you are using a 55-200mm zoom lens and you are zoomed all the way to 200mm, the slowest shutter speed should be 200 x 1.5 = 300, or 1/300. As 1/250 is slower, go up to the next setting which is 1/500th of a second. If you are zoomed right out at 55mm then 55 x 1.5 = 82.5, so again 1/125 would be the slowest recommended shutter speed. If you learn this formula, you will always have a handy way of determining the slowest shutter speed you can safely get away with. This will become especially important later when you start shooting in low light conditions. As motion blur can spoil your photos, learning how to hold your camera will help you to take better photos. If you take a photo while swinging your camera around, everything will be blurred because of the motion of the camera. With one hand, hold the camera steady with your finger on the shutter button. With your other hand, cradle the camera as shown in the first picture below and lock your fingers together. Finally, using your elbows as a makeshift tripod, lock them firmly into your side. Another excellent method is to find somewhere to rest your elbows to help you steady the camera. Of course, there will be times you will want to have slow shutter speeds, for example with night photography, or producing dreamy effects with running water, and we will get to that later. For now, just let this information sink in, memorise that formula, and keep an eye on your camera to see what shutter speeds it is selecting for each photo. Aperture Priority (AV Mode) Aperture priority also affects exposure, but in a totally different way to shutter speed. Where the shutter controls light by how long or how short a time the aperture is open, you can also adjust the size of the aperture which again affects the amount of light that hits the sensor. The larger the aperture, the more light is allowed into the camera, the smaller the aperture, the less light is allowed into the camera. As you control the size of the aperture, you control how much light hits the sensor. Balancing shutter speed and aperture together is how you control exposure. Depth of Field Just as changing the shutter speed will affect a photo by either freezing fast action or by introducing blur, so too changing the aperture will affect a photo but in a totally different way by changing the depth of field. This can all seem a little bewildering to begin with but don't worry, there is nothing difficult about it so track with me. In the photo of the seal pup below I wanted a shallow depth of field. In other words I wanted the foreground and the background to be out of focus and all the focus to be on the pup. To achieve it, I opened the aperture to the widest aperture of my telephoto lens when fully zoomed in at the long end. As you open up the aperture, the depth of field becomes shallower, meaning more of the foreground and background goes out of focus. In the next photo I wanted the background more in focus to give an idea of the pup's environment. To do that I used a wide angle lens and stopped down the aperture to make it smaller. As you open your aperture towards your lenses fastest settings, which usually varies between f4 and f2 or even faster depending on the quality of your glass, the depth of field becomes shallower. The shallower your depth of field the more of your background and foreground goes out of focus. As you stop down the aperture, the depth of field increases, meaning more of the foreground and background comes into focus. Bokeh Bokeh comes from the Japanese boke (pronounced boh-kay or boh-ka) which means blur or haze, and refers to the aesthetic properties of the soft out of focus areas in a photo. Good bokeh is very pleasing to the eye. It is used when you want to separate your subject from distracting backgrounds. Bokeh is desirable in portraiture, when you would use a shallow depth of field so the subject stands out. If you take a photo at f2.8, the depth of field will be much shallower than if you take the photo at f/8, when more of the foreground and background would be in focus. The beautiful bokeh behind this spider's web is sunlight sparkling on the surface of a river, and I made it so creamy by opening the aperture as wide as possible. As well as opening your aperture, there are other ways to achieve good bokeh. One thing you can do is find a position where the background is as far away as possible from your subject. If will be difficult to achieve good bokeh if the background is close to your subject. Another thing that affects bokeh is how close you are to your subject. The closer you move to your subject while keeping them in focus, the more the background will go out of focus. Telephoto lenses can be excellent tools in this regards for producing soft dreamy bokeh.The best lenses for achieving pleasing bokeh tend to be expensive glass with apertures of f/2.8 or faster, but don’t let that put you off learning how to get the best bokeh you can from your existing glass. Get the depth of field right along with good separation between subject and background, and you can achieve pleasing bokeh with any lenses. ISO and Noise ISO stands for International Standards Organization, the body that sets the sensitivity ratings for camera sensors. Before digital cameras, ISO was an indication of how sensitive a film was to light. In digital cameras it is an indication of how sensitive your camera's sensor is to light. As you increase the ISO, you increase the sensor's sensitivity to light. As the sensor becomes more sensitive to light it allows you to use faster shutter speeds and still get good exposures in low light. However, there is a trade off. It's a bit like turning up the volume on a hifi system, go too far and you get noise distortion. The higher you bump up the ISO, the more noise will be introduced to your image. Noise? Noise is nasty horrible ugly stuff and you should always avoid introducing noise into your images by shooting at low ISO settings. Only increase ISO if there is no other way to get enough light for a good exposure. When there isn't enough light to set a shutter speed that is sufficiently high to keep your photos sharp and crisp, and your camera's aperture is wide open, then you must turn up the ISO. The good news is that the very latest cameras have excellent sensors that can control noise well even at high ISO settings. Compare the two images below which are 100% crops taken from much larger images. The one on the right was taken at ISO 6400 and has lots of noise while the image on the left was taken at ISO 200 and has no noise. The image on the right however has better focus because the high ISO allowed me to use a faster shutter speed. The image on the left looks better, but as I was hand holding the camera and used a low ISO in low light, the shutter speed was too slow to take a crisply focused image. Using a tripod would have allowed me to take a photo that was both focused and had no noise. To conclude this section of the workshop then, it is by balancing shutter speed, aperture, and ISO that you produce properly exposed focused images. Credits - Lens apertures, Leonrw, Wikipedia. All other photos copyright George Maciver, all rights reserved.
  9. George

    02- Focus

    How Focusing works There is no such thing as a camera that will focus accurately every time you press the button. Even the most expensive cameras will miss focus. Understanding focus therefore will help you to take better photos. There are many focusing systems, but at this stage you only need to know about two - contrast detection which is found in cameras without mirrors, and phase detection which is found in DSLRs. Very simply, a camera with contrast detection will look for differences in contrast on a surface by hunting backwards and forwards to find them. In poor light or on surfaces with little contrast this means a camera may sometimes hunt backwards and forwards continuously and not lock focus, which can be extremely frustrating if you're trying to capture action, wildlife, or that special moment. Cameras with phase detection use mirrors to split an image into two and analyse the contrast along the edges. Once the camera has determined the best focus, it then snaps straight there. Both methods have their advantages and disadvanges. Phase detection cameras (DSLRs) are lightning quick but often miss focus, and they have problems either focusing just in front of or just behind where focus should be. Contrast detection cameras (mirrorless systems and compacts) may hunt around sometimes, but they are reliably accurate when they acquire a lock. Additionally, with advances in modern technology, contrast detection systems are now beginning to compete with phase detection systems for speed, and now they can even mix the two systems. Before much longer, mirrorless cameras will be just as quick as DSLRs. Chimping Now that we know that focus is not a perfect technology, it is important to check important photos are in focus when we take them by checking them on the rear screen. This is known as chimping. Here I am chimping with renowned street photog Chris Porsz in Paris. Thanks for the photo Melanie! Oh, and don't listen to those who frown at chimping, if they want to go home with out of focus images, that's up to them. The only safe way to ensure you have an important photo in focus is to chimp. The technology is there so use it. Cameras come with three focus modes, an auto single focus setting, an auto continuous tracking setting, and a manual focus setting. As most subjects don't move, the default camera auto single focus setting should be selected. This setting allows you to half press the shutter button to attain a focus lock before taking a picture. This method is without doubt the most widely used. You can even use this setting to lock focus on a subject and then recompose your shot before fully pressing the shutter button. The continuous focus or tracking focus setting is for moving subjects. Your camera will focus on a moving subject and track its movements to keep it in focus so you can continue to take photos. The last setting is manual focus, where you switch off auto and focus yourself. Most cameras have excellent technologies like focus peaking to help you. We will now look at these in more detail. Auto Single Focus This is typically what you will see through your viewfinder or on the rear display screen when using single focus. The white box is your focus area. The image is out of focus. When you half press the shutter button, the camera will then focus and the white box in the centre turns green. If for some reason the camera doesn't find focus, the white box on this camera turns red. Once the camera indicates that it has locked focus, press the shutter button fully and take your photo. If for some reason you take the pressure off the shutter button, the camera will lose its focus lock and you will have to do it again. If you don't want your subject in the centre, there are two things you can do. First, centre on your subject, half press the shutter button to get a focus lock, and then move the camera to recompose your photo. As long as you don't release the pressure on the shutter button the focus will remain locked. Once you're happy, press the shutter button. Had I simply focused and pressed the shutter button in this photo, the background would have been in focus rather than the lovely Tina. With practice, focus and recompose becomes second nature. The other technique is to move the focus box around. It's simple to do, but you may need to read the manual to find out how to do it with your camera. On mine I simply press a button on the back and then thumb the direction buttons until the focus box is where I want it. When your photo is composed, half press the shutter button again to acquire focus lock and then press the shutter button fully to take your picture. Once you're happy, remember to move the focus box back to the centre so you're ready for the next photo. Auto Continous Focus Often called tracking focus, this is a more difficult technique to master, particularly with wildlife. Auto tracking focus works differently from camera to camera but the principles are basically all the same. While your camera is continuously auto focusing it will attempt to track anything moving within the centre of the tracking sensors. The trick is to half press the shutter button on your moving subject to aquire focus and then while keeping the shutter button half pressed, track your subject in the viewfinder and the camera will keep it in focus. This isn't an easy skill to master and will only come with practice, so start with big slow moving things like cars until you are comfortable with it. Manual Focus There will be times you will not want your camera to do any focusing for you, particularly when you're using a tripod. How you switch from auto focus to manual focus varies from camera to camera. If you're unsure how to do it, a quick glance at your manual will sort it out for you. Switch off image stabilisation when using a tripod. When your camera is in manual focus, you will not be able to focus accurately simply by looking through the viewfinder and turning the focus ring on your lens because you will not be able to see any details. Therefore, cameras have manual focus aids built in. For example, you can zoom right in to 100% view to see details. Most cameras also offer focus peaking, which are highlights you see when your subject comes into sharp focus. When would you use manual focus? Taking landscapes on a tripod requires manual focusing to ensure the focus is where you want it. Another time you might want to use manual focus is in situations where you would use what is called zone focusing, where you preset the focus beforehand and then wait for a moving subject to reach the point in your frame where your focus has been set. Sports and street photographers use this method frequently. Credits - George with Chris Porsz, Melanie Barrett. All other photos copyright George Maciver, all rights reserved.
  10. George

    01- The Basics

    Different Types of Camera Camera Phone This is without doubt the easiest and most convenient way to take photos. If all you will ever want to do is take photos to share on Facebook and with your friends with the minimum of fuss and effort, this is what you need. The latest models take cracking photos and there are many apps to help you. Compact Camera Compact cameras can take professional quality photos and are small enough to fit in your pocket or handbag. If you want to take control of your photography, but don't want the hassles of changing lenses, a compact camera might be what you're looking for. Be careful though, as cheap compacts are not as good as some of the latest camera phones. Mirrorless camera Mirrorless interchangeable lens camera systems seem to be the future. They are light and easy to carry around, far less expensive than good DSLRs, and the latest models are used by professionals. If you are interested in learning about photography and want to progress beyond pointing and shooting, a mirrorless camera system would be an excellent choice. DSLR A DSLR is also a camera system which requires additional lenses, but the good ones are bulky, heavy and expensive. A professional DSLR with a few good quality lenses can set you back more than a new car. Carrying one around all day with 2 or 3 lenses requires a backpack and strong arms, and you would probably require an expensive tripod as well. Professional photographers often have two DSLRs in their kit. Bridge Camera Bridge cameras only have one lens, often with a huge 30x to 50x zoom range or more. If you're looking for one camera that does it all and don't mind lugging around the extra bulk, this might make a good choice, especially as a travel camera. Be warned though, huge zoom ranges in a single lens come with compromises in image quality. For fun, internet and home use they are just fine. How a Camera Works The fundamental principles of photography are relatively straight forward. Light enters through a lens and hits a sensor which records all the detail in the light, as well as detail in shadows and colours. The diagram below shows how light travels through a DSLR. It first hits a mirror, then travels through a prism until it is reflected back out through the viewfinder to your eye. When you take a photo, the mirror flips up and the light travels directly to the sensor where the image is recorded. Mirrorless cameras don't have mirrors, which is one reason why they are much smaller, lighter and cheaper to manufacture than DSLRs. Cameras require batteries to power them and memory cards on which to save and store your photos. Most batteries are removeable and rechargeable. The most common memory cards are compact flash cards, which are used in some DSLRs, and SD (secure digital) cards, which are found in compacts, mirrorless, DSLR and bridge cameras. Sensor Sizes - Full frame or Cropped? Sensor sizes can be confusing. Micro four thirds, 1" sensors, cropped, full frame, medium format, what's the difference? Image quality is not dependent solely on sensor size. The idea that full frame is better than a cropped sensor is mostly nonsense. Image quality is more down to the lenses you use than your sensor. If an APS-C camera has quality lenses that can be used wide open and produce stunning bokeh, that is superior to a full frame camera that has to be stopped down 2 or 3 times because the image quality of the lens is rubbish wide open. Generally speaking, most landscape photographers I know prefer full frame cameras for the higher resolution, while most wildlife photographers I know prefer cropped cameras because of the extra reach. There is no such thing as a camera that is good at everything. Micro four thirds cameras can produce excellent landscape photos, take superb wildlife and action photos, and they can be excellent for street and events. The best way to begin is to buy a good cheap camera with manual as well as automatic controls and learn how to use it properly. When a camera begins to hold you back because it can't do what you want it to, that's the time to upgrade. By that time you will also have a fair idea of where you want to go with photography and will be less likely to waste money on expensive gear not suited to your needs. The following illustration is for comparison only, it is not to scale. General House Keeping As with anything in life, photography requires a few simple housekeeping tasks so your camera will always be ready. For example, your batteries will need to be charged and your camera card will have to be formatted and ready to use. A good habit to develop is to transfer photos from your camera to your computer as soon as you get home, and then charge your battery. Once your photos are safely on your computer and your battery is charged, put the card and battery back in the camera. I do this as a matter of course and my gear is always ready to go. You will make life much easier for yourself if you put together a filing system for your photos. It doesn't have to be elaborate, and you don't need a fancy software filing system either. All you need to get started is a main folder called My Photos or something, then another level of folders within for holidays, birthdays, events, landscapes, club outings, wildlife or whatever else you think you need. You can even have sub folders for different years. Whatever works for you is a good system, just have a system so you can find your photos when you need them. Gear is expensive, so look after it. Instead of having your camera, batteries, memory cards, and all your cables knocking around in drawers, get yourself a proper bag to keep it all together. A good bag is a small price to pay to keep your gear safe. It doesn't have to be new either, there are plenty of excellent second hand camera bags around. There is nothing worse than not being able to find a cable or a spare battery when you need it. Keep your lens cover on when your camera is not in use, use the lens hood to protect your glass, and only use a proper lens cloth. RAW vs Jpg The heading is perhaps a little misleading in that there is no competition between RAWs and Jpgs. If you shoot a perfect picture as a jpg, what do you need a RAW file for? You don’t. In fact, many professionals shoot in both RAW and jpg, and if the jpg is good, they bin the RAW because it isn’t needed. There are many different types of image files but we only need to familiarise ourselves with three at this stage - RAWs, jpgs, and Tiffs. A RAW is the file your camera records when you take a photo, while a jpg is a processed and compressed version of that RAW file. Jpgs are much smaller in size than RAWs and take up far less room on your computer or memory card. As jpgs are compressed images, they are lossy, which means they lose quality the more you work with them and repeatedly save over them. A Tiff file is an excellent file type for saving photos you want to keep. They are non lossy so they don't lose quality no matter how much you work on them. The only disadvantage to Tiff files is that they are huge compared to jpgs. How I work is to save my RAW files as Tiffs to work on them, and then make a copy of the finished Tiff file as a jpg. If I ever need to work on the photo again, I work on the Tiff and make a fresh jpg when I'm done. I never work on jpgs and this ensures my photos retain their image quality. If you shoot in jpg, that's fine, save them as Tiffs and you will be able to work on them as much as you like without degrading the image quality. If you shoot RAW you will have to process the image and turn it into a jpg before you can use it. If you’re only interested in sharing your photos with family and friends, forget about RAWs as you don’t need them. Learn more about some of the features on your camera instead to improve the quality of your jpgs. Additionally, most modern digital cameras have effects you can apply to your jpgs in camera, everything from black and white treatments to special effects to high dynamic range photos (HDR). The dynamic ranges of some cameras are now so good that there is enough information in the highlights and shadows of RAW files for your camera to produce well exposed images without the need for you to process RAWs separately. If your camera doesn’t have the capability to record images as RAWs, is your camera inferior? No, it isn’t. Shoot away in jpg and have fun. Remember, professional photographers make their living by the quality of their images, so they need expensive equipment and expensive software to ensure top quality at high resolutions. If they reduce their images to a size for sharing on the Internet, most likely they will be of much the same quality as yours. It is only when you are selling extremely high resolution photographs with lots of detail to discerning customers that you need to be particular with such high quality. If you’re not selling pictures for a living, and your camera doesn’t shoot in RAW, don’t worry about it, you’re not missing anything except a lot of post processing work. I often shoot jpgs when I'm out having fun. You're now ready to start taking photos. You may not feel you're ready yet, but just insert a battery, slot in the memory card and format it by following the instructions that came with your gear, put the camera in auto and go and take some photos. Modern cameras are so good that full auto mode will allow anyone to take decent enough images. As you progress through this workshop your knowledge and understanding of photography and your camera will grow and you will be better placed to do much more, but for now just go out, take some photos and have some fun. Credits - Camera phone, Petar Milošević, Wikipedia. Fuji X100s, Rev8600, Wikipedia. DSLR, Rama, Wikipedia. Bridge camera, Mohylek, Wikipedia. DSLR cutaway, Hanabi123, Wikipedia. Memory cards, Evan-Amos, Wikipedia. All other photos copyright George Maciver, all rights reserved.
  11. George


    People, churchy people that is, religious people, seem to like worshipping crosses, as if that pleases God or something. Here is an excerpt from my book, Walking by the Spirit, chapter 62, Symptoms of Religion. If you haven't read my book yet, get your head out of the world and read it.
  12. George

    Liz's photographs..

    Doesn't take you long to get your head around things. That's one amazing photo.
  13. George

    Liz's photographs..

    That's much better, but they could still be smaller. About 1200 pixels wide is about right, at 72dpi. I'll show you next time you visit.