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How do I take really cool pictures (settings)?

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Old 11-11-2009, 08:55 AM   #1
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How do I take really cool pictures (settings)?

I see some awesome pics on here and other sites. How do I change the settings to take pics like that with my camera? I have a Canon Powershit A610, I think. How do I take those crisp shots and change settings to get the really sharp colors as well? Is it possible or do I need a digital SLR?
**I know virtually nothing about camera settings, but I do understand the physical principles behind apertures and exposure times, etc. I need like an idiot-proof tutorial.
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Old 11-11-2009, 08:57 AM   #2
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I am not a camera expert by any means, but a digital slr is the way to go now. Not only is it a ton faster than a standard point and click, but the quailty is just awesome. Even if you leave it on the auto setting. I would love to learn how to use mine to its full potential...
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Old 11-11-2009, 11:39 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hendooman View Post
I am not a camera expert by any means, but a digital slr is the way to go now. Not only is it a ton faster than a standard point and click, but the quailty is just awesome. Even if you leave it on the auto setting. I would love to learn how to use mine to its full potential...
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Old 11-11-2009, 01:47 PM   #5
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I'm not looking to take professional photos. Is there any way to mess with the settings of my camera to get sharper images?
Examples:
http://www.tacomaworld.com/forum/2nd...tml#post573496
http://www.tacomaworld.com/forum/2nd...ml#post1098275
http://www.tacomaworld.com/forum/2nd...ml#post1097174
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Old 11-11-2009, 05:49 PM   #6
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You can find a good slr for a decent price used. I got a Nikon D-40 for less than 400.

Aperture
opens the eye of the camera to let more or less light it
BUT, it also effects how in-focus the background is
high F/stops#=less light, and the background is in focus
low F/stop#=more light, but only the object of focus is actually focused

Exposure
just what it sounds like, how long the shutter stays open

ISO
I'm not sure what the exact definition is, but basically it determines how "sensitive" the camera is to light, so a low ISO makes lights seem dimmer, and high ISO makes them very bright

Exposure Composition
basically works the same way as ISO in my experience, but the camera won't compensate for high or low values when you input them
i.e. when i change the iso on my camera it will change the aperture or shutter speed to make the picture look the same.....but when i change the exposure comp. they stay the same and the picture gets brighter/darker

This is basically how to get the lighting you want in your picture and make it look awesome.....I'm not sure if you can change these settings in a point and shoot camera. thats why it's best to go with an slr

but i'm sure if you get photoshop then you could get vividly colored pictures with a point and shoot.....not sure about the crispness, that depends on the megapixels of the camera.



so there is a write up by a newbie to photography, so hopefully it's accurate yet easy to understand
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Old 11-11-2009, 06:37 PM   #7
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i will check my camera to see if i can change these settings
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Old 11-11-2009, 06:39 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anti View Post
i will check my camera to see if i can change these settings
You aren't going to be able to do much without a DSLR. Nothing near that quality anyways...
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Old 11-13-2009, 03:06 AM   #9
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I must agree with others above. I use Photoshop to enhance contrast, richness of color and sharpness. It is cheating, but a DSLR and Photoshop is hard to beat.
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Old 11-13-2009, 04:34 AM   #10
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1. Take LOTS of pictures. I get one good one out of about a hundred.

2. Try using your flash during the day. It will eliminate some of the shadows in your pics and highlight areas that normal daylight won't give you.

...for starters.
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Old 11-14-2009, 02:49 PM   #11
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Mess with long exposures. You can achieve some interesting results with that. When you do, set the timer and rest the camera on something so you're not touching it at any point.

Open the photos up in photoshop and run it through the unsharp mask, raise the contrast a few points and bump saturation up if you need to.
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Old 11-14-2009, 08:53 PM   #12
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Point and hopes are basically useless... start out with a Nikon D40 or something. Your first link, what he did was use a secondary flash to fully light up his truck as well as a diffuser.
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Old 11-15-2009, 06:25 PM   #13
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i recently upgraded to a dslr and while i love my camera and love the quality of pics that i can get from it the best investment i made for an accessory was a polarizing filter. for $20 the filters help to brighten the color and cut out glare. i keep it on the camera 95% of the time. other filters allow you to play around and achieve various effects. and when all else fails turn to photoshop to treak things a bit. my bigger learning curve so far has been choosing the right lighting - early morning or late evening are best. the first pic you referenced was mainly lighting quality. dark/stormy sky=little or no sunlight, highlights on the side of the truck from a carefully placed spotlight, and filters guessing maybe a polarized filter and a diffusing filter.
if you dont want to spend tons of money on a dslr look at the mid range cameras - like sony's hx1 or h20. they have many of the features that you will find on dslrs but our more user friendly. the one down side is that you are stuck with one lens, whereas dslrs allow you to change out lens based on your needs/preferences.

and for the record i'm still learning what all of the buttons on my camera actually do...
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Old 11-29-2009, 09:56 PM   #14
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I took this shot with a 8 year old Kodak Point and Shoot with little editing besides the border.




I took this with my Canon EOS DSLR and a lot of editing in photoshop.

DSLR isn't necessarily the way to go. You can get pretty decent shots with a point and shoot and some have some functions the SLR's have.

If you cant afford a SLR, then invest in an editing program like Elements or Lightroom for under $100. It's not cheating and is affordable.

Honestly, equipment is only a fraction of a good picture. The person behind the camera makes or breaks it.

If and when you get a hold of a SLR, come back to us and we'll give you all you need to get started.
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Old 11-29-2009, 10:10 PM   #15
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One of the best / easiest tips I can offer, is pay attention to the time of day you take your photos. Try taking shots around sunset / sunrise.

You can get good shots from your Canon Powershot.
Look at shots you like, try to figure our how they were lit, what time of day they were taken - and what else it is about the photo that you like.

It's not so much the settings by themselves, and there is no "foolproof tutorial" - you need to pay attention to the lighting, time of day etc.

and... take LOTS of photos.
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Old 11-29-2009, 10:23 PM   #16
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I agree with Kraaaazymike that you don't necessarily need a DSLR.
I bought a Powershot G9 even though I could have gotten a low-end DSLR cheaper, because I wanted a camera that I could take on biking / hiking trips. I had a DSLR, and it stayed home a lot because it was just too big. The G9 takes great photos (a little noisy in low light) and slips in to a pack or pocket. (The current model is the G11, and supposedly fixes the low light issue somewhat.)

Ask yourself:
Is my primary activity shooting photos?
Yes = get a DSLR.
By that, I mean would you go somewhere just to get a photo? Spend all day waiting for the light to be right?

-or-

Is my primary activity hiking / 4-wheeling / shooting / etc - and a camera is just along to get some pics of the action?
Yes = get a good quality compact camera.

Although a DSLR is technically superior, the best camera is the one you'll actually use. If it's in a bag at home, in a closet, then it's not a good camera!
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Old 11-30-2009, 06:27 PM   #17
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Without seeing pictures that you want to improve it's hard to say what needs fixing. Some pointers.

1) A stable shooting platform is an absolute MUST with a point and shoot. Something like one of the little beanbags with a tripod screw mount is worth its weight in gold.

2) After finding a stable shooting platform, find out how to manually set your ISO. Set it as low as you can.

3) If your camera has Aperture Priority mode (you set the aperture; camera sets shutter speed) use it, and set it to 2 or 3 adjustments above the lowest number. e.g. minimum is 2.8, two adjustments up would be 5.6 Due to certain physical properties of every lens, the middle of the range is almost always the "sweet spot" of sharpness.

4) Self timer is your friend. Set the camera on the beanbag, set the aperture priority to 5.6 (or whatever), set the lowest ISO possible and then set the self timer so that the camera triggers itself without having to touch it. This will see to it that no matter what the camera shake is minimized.

That's a pretty good starting point for static subjects.

The first link of the silver truck with overcast skies has some pretty complex lighting going on. It appears to be off camera flash or something, maybe even studio lights. That's a combo of some serious gear (I'm guessing) and a good eye behind the camera. The black and white of the dog is doable with a point and shoot with the right lighting conditions. It just all depends on the light.
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Old 11-30-2009, 06:48 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xodeuce View Post
Without seeing pictures that you want to improve it's hard to say what needs fixing.
Good point.
Show us some pics, we can have a crit!

(constructive comments only...)
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Old 11-30-2009, 06:59 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xodeuce View Post
Without seeing pictures that you want to improve it's hard to say what needs fixing. Some pointers.

1) A stable shooting platform is an absolute MUST with a point and shoot. Something like one of the little beanbags with a tripod screw mount is worth its weight in gold.

2) After finding a stable shooting platform, find out how to manually set your ISO. Set it as low as you can.

3) If your camera has Aperture Priority mode (you set the aperture; camera sets shutter speed) use it, and set it to 2 or 3 adjustments above the lowest number. e.g. minimum is 2.8, two adjustments up would be 5.6 Due to certain physical properties of every lens, the middle of the range is almost always the "sweet spot" of sharpness.

4) Self timer is your friend. Set the camera on the beanbag, set the aperture priority to 5.6 (or whatever), set the lowest ISO possible and then set the self timer so that the camera triggers itself without having to touch it. This will see to it that no matter what the camera shake is minimized.

That's a pretty good starting point for static subjects.

The first link of the silver truck with overcast skies has some pretty complex lighting going on. It appears to be off camera flash or something, maybe even studio lights. That's a combo of some serious gear (I'm guessing) and a good eye behind the camera. The black and white of the dog is doable with a point and shoot with the right lighting conditions. It just all depends on the light.
i will try some of these. obviously its dark right now, but i may go do some shooting tomorrow and try out the settings.
thanks and rep!
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Old 11-30-2009, 07:19 PM   #20
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Man, try it when it's dark. They can turn out really cool as long as the camera is sitting still and the ISO is low. You'll get funky colors and stuff. :P
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