The Optical Stabilization (OS, VR, IS, VC, etc.) feature found on many lenses and some camera models helps to reduce the camera shake in many of our images. However, it can also cause problems if left engaged when the camera is used on a tripod (see the samples below).
Take some photos on a tripod with the Optical Stabilization turned on and off and compare them to see if the negative effect is present when left on my accident. This can differ certainly between different brands of lenses and maybe even models. Also, if your lens has more than one OS Mode, pull up the instruction manual online and take the opportunity to learn exactly which mode should be used in what situation. Finally, make yourself a label that says, “Turn Off OS” and place it on the back of your tripod head to remind you so you don’t forget.
Today’s Photo Minute is going to be a weekend edition that
we are calling, “Shoot and Share”. I suggest two challenges for us to
shoot this weekend including a subject in motion (using the shutter speed to
either freeze the motion or to blur it) as well as another subject deciding how
much depth of field is desired (using the aperture to get more or less depth of
field in the photo).
Then, please share your best motion and depth of field
examples on our Facebook
page for others to see and learn from.
Lighting makes or breaks many images. One of the favorite phrases I heard last year at a photography conference that I have been working on doing recently is, “See the light, shoot the light”. While we often try to avoid high contrast lighting, sometimes, it can be our friend. I was sitting on the back deck in the evening and noticed that a small insect was flying around in the direct sun but with the shadow of my house behind it, the bug really stood out. I had been fighting with the carpenter bees that were starting to find my deck to be an appetizing meal and decided to get my camera ready to possibly catch one of the bees up against the dramatically dark background. I did some test shots and realized that beyond capturing the bee in the air (which I had practiced for two hours a couple years ago and learned more about my autofocus system during that time than ever before), there were two techniques it was going to take to have a chance to get this image:
I had to make sure I was far enough back from where I hoped to shoot the bee so that I was beyond the minimum focusing distance of my lens. Given I was using the 150-600mm, that was about 10 feet away. If I was closer than that, my lens would not be able to focus.
Because the bee would be illuminated by the sun but up against a relatively dark background, I would also have to do quite a bit of minus exposure compensation because otherwise, my light meter would overexpose the subject. With some test shots of the deck railings (in the bright sun with the dark background similar to where the bee would be), I was able to determine that -3.00 exposure comp. was about correct.
After getting all my camera settings ready including AF-C focus with a group focus area mode, I waited. Every couple minutes, a big bee would come flying over the deck and tend to hover above the deck railing, Then he would drop down between the wooden slats up against the dark background I was going for. Of course, focusing quickly and through the slats was a challenge but with some practice, I was able to capture 3 images that had the bee in sharp focus, etc. The above one was my favorite.
I have placed some sample images here of what the lighting looked like when the sun went behind a cloud (low contrast and would not have worked well), when the sun was directly on the area and how little view I had between the slats.
Find a subject that is in one type of light (likely brighter) and that has a dark background behind it. Be sure to do some test shots in order to get the exposure compensation on your camera set correctly and not overexpose the subject. Then have fun creating some really dynamic images. Be sure to share your favorites on our Facebook page. Below is another image of a tree branch where I was able to apply the same principle.
While most of the time, we are concerned about having a shutter speed that will reduce our shake of holding the camera, sometimes it is fun to actually introduce blur into our images for a special effect. Today’s Photo Minute teaches a neat technique where the camera is moved during a slower shutter speed in order to create a blurred or almost “Monet” effect. This is especially useful for situations that are not as bright (overcast, early morning, late evening) when you might not have enough shutter speed to hand-hold the camera but trying something with a slower shutter speed (1/8-1/2) might be ideal.
Find a subject that lends itself to blurring but also will still be recognizable to the viewer. This is where a section of trees, etc. make a great choice. Also, I personally like the tonal values to be about the same in the frame so I zoom into a subject to take out any bright sky, etc. A lower light situation and even a polarizing filter (to cut out even more light) will help to ensure that the picture is not overexposed given the lower shutter speed you will be using and the highest aperture most lenses are limited too.
Put the camera in S or TV mode which is Shutter Priority. This will allow you to determine the exact shutter speed you desire to try. I would start around 1/8 of a second and maybe even work up and down from there. Also make sure to place your ISO at the lowest value such as 100. Frame up your image and while you depress the shutter button, gently move the camera straight downward. You will see the result and then can determine how fast to move as well as which shutter speed you like the best. No two photos with this technique look the same so the possibilities and the amount of practice you can get out of this could be endless. Below are some other examples of this exercise.
On Today’s Photo Minute segment, Brian Osborne describes the correct way to hold your camera in order to be steady and get the sharpest images possible. This is a great thing to practice bringing your camera from the resting position up to your face and making sure all three connection points between the camera and you are correct.