Bridge Cameras – Are they worth it?

First what is  a bridge camera? It is in between a compact camera and a DSLR camera, bridge cameras usually have super zooms, the lens is fixed, which means you can´t change it and put another lens on, but with the focal lengths available then why would you want to do this.

One of the main limitations is the size of the sensor, the sensor size is different on compact cameras, bridge camera and DSLR´s, and full frame DSLR´s have the largest sensor, even between some camera makers the sensor size can change, but what does this actually mean. Well that is a whole other post.
Another of the limitations is the noise; again this is also an effect of the smaller sized sensor.
Difficult shooting in low light.

Positives for bridge cameras:
Price, they are considerably cheaper than a DSLR.
Weight: as they are smaller, and you don´t need to carry much more around with you than the actual camera then you are cutting down on weight.
Quality: this has improved immensely over the last few years and can come up with some quality photos. Most often include the option to shoot RAW which is also an advantage.
There is often the option to add on filters to the lens with the lens.

You will have full manual controls as well as the auto and program options and they should also include plenty of presets.
The macro is definitely a plus on bridge cameras, you don´t need a special lens or extension tubes or close up filters.

But in my honest opinion, they are worth it. As long as you are aware of these limitations then you will get some superb photos. A bridge camera isn’t for everyone, so consider your needs before buying.

Shutter Speed – Which to use and when

Shutter Speed
Shutter speed is a setting on your camera which controls the length of time the shutter is open, allowing light through the lens to the sensor inside your camera. Shutter speeds can go from very small fractions of a second, to several seconds long on most cameras.
If you allow the shutter to be open for too long then too much light will get to the sensor. When this happens you end up with pictures that are very pale and almost all white. This is known as being Over Exposed.
If you don´t leave the shutter open enough you would get an Under Exposed image. This is because not enough light got through to the cameras sensor. So in order to compensate against lower levels of light, you would need to keep the shutter open for longer.

Cameras have an inbuilt light meter to help with this. This is also tied in with aperture which we covered earlier. If you have a wide open aperture (small f number) then more light is allowed in, and if you use a small aperture (large f number) then less light is allowed in.
This may seem straight forward enough, but the longer the shutter is open, the more chance there is of ending up with a blurred image. The slightest of movements while the shutter is open will register as a blurred effect. Sometimes this can be the desired effect, but most of the time you want a sharp image. Using a tripod, sitting the camera on a solid object like a wall or the floor or holding the camera against a solid object like a big tree or wall can help reduce the chances of getting blurry images. You can also adjust the ISO to help get longer shutter speeds. This have been covered here.

Shutter Priority is another partly manual mode that most digital cameras will allow you to use. (aperture is the other) Shutter Priority is usually indicated as an S (Nikon) or Tv (canon) on the camera and it allows you to set the shutter speed while the camera will control the aperture setting.

6 secs, ISO 80, f4.5 manual mode. A night time shot of the coliseum in Rome with light trails of a bus. This time I was without a tripod so I placed the camera on a trash can for stability.

1/1000 s
1/500 s
1/250 s
1/125 s
1/60 s
1/30 s
1/15 s
1/8 s
1/4 s
1/2 s
1 s (some cameras, specially the DSLR´s will have faster and shorter shutter speeds.)
B (for bulb) keeps the shutter open as long as the shutter release is held.
Slow Shutter Speed Shutter speed is considered to be “long” or “slow” when it is slower than 1/60th of a second. (Remember, this is marked as 60 on your camera dial or display.) This numbers comes from the fact that most people can only hold a standard lens (between 35mm and 70mm) steady for 1/60th of a second or less. This is different from the commonly used term “long exposure” which usually refers to shutter speeds of over 1 second.

 0.25 secs, ( ¼) f36, manual mode.

Fast Shutter Speed Fast shutter speeds are generally considered to be those shutter speeds faster than 1/500th of a second. These shutter speeds are used to freeze, or stop, motion for a clear image when shooting fast subjects.

1/1250 sec ISO 200 f/9 These are two blue footed boobies fishing at sunset.


1/500 sec, ISO 500 f/5.3 This is a section of the monument to the miner in southern Ecuador.

Rule of Thumb

A good rule of thumb for knowing the slowest shutter speed you can use with a particular lens, without using a tripod, is to use the number of the lens size. For example, a 300 mm lens can be hand held at shutter speeds of 1/300th of a second and faster. Note that the minimum hand held speed should never be below 1/60th of a second without image stabilization assistance from your camera or lens.

Ice Skating
Jumps – 1/250
Open Spins – 1/350
Tight Spins – 1/500
Softball
Pitched Ball Parallel to Photographer – 1/1000 (1/500 for blur)
Pitched Ball Coming at Photographer – 1/500
Players Catching a Ball – 1/350
Running Players – 1/350 (depending on angle to camera)
Players Preparing to Throw a Ball – 1/350
Baseball
Pitched Ball Parallel to Photographer – 1/1000 (1/500 for blur)
Pitched Ball Coming at Photographer – 1/500
Players Catching a Ball – 1/350
Running Players – 1/500 (depending on angle to camera)
Players Preparing to Throw a Ball – 1/350
Football
Players Running Towards Photographer – 1/250
Players Running Parallel to Photographer – 1/500
Cheerleader Being Tossed – 1/250
Kids Running
Towards the Camera – 1/180
Parallel to the Camera – 1/250
People Jumping
Unassisted – 1/350
Trampoline or with Other Assist – 1/500
Golf
Golf Balls Parallel to Photographer – 1/3200
Golf Swing Parallel to Photographer – 1/2500
Water
Waves – 1/350
Splash from Thrown Object – 1/1500
Please remember these are just general guidelines and rules are meant to be broken.
Shutter speed is measured in seconds – or in most cases fractions of seconds. The bigger the denominator the faster the speed (ie 1/1000 is much faster than 1/30).
If you’re using a slow shutter speed (anything slower than 1/60) you will need to either use a tripod or some some type of image stabilization (more and more cameras are coming with this built in).
Motion is not always bad –There are times when motion is good. For example when you’re taking a photo of a waterfall and want to show how fast the water is flowing, or when you’re taking a shot of a racing car and want to give it a feeling of speed, or when you’re taking a shot of a star scape and want to show how the stars move over a longer period of time etc. In all of these instances choosing a longer shutter speed will be the way to go. However in all of these cases you need to use a tripod or you’ll run the risk of ruining the shots by adding camera movement (a different type of blur than motion blur).

 1.25 sec (1/4) f/45 ISO 100 I blurred this shot on purpose, the f/ stop is high to get a slow shutter speed in bright light conditions.

Focal Length and Shutter Speed – another thing to consider when choosing shutter speed is the focal length (the .mm of the zoom) of the lens you’re using. Longer focal lengths will accentuate the amount of camera shake you have and so you’ll need to choose a faster shutter speed (unless you have image stabilization in your lens or camera). The ‘rule’ of thumb to use with focal length in non image stabilized situations) is to choose a shutter speed with a denominator that is larger than the focal length of the lens. For example if you have a lens that is 50mm 1/60th is probably ok but if you have a 200mm lens you’ll probably want to shoot at around 1/250.
Remember that thinking about Shutter Speed in isolation from the other two elements of the Exposure Triangle (aperture and ISO) is not really a good idea. As you change shutter speed you’ll need to change one or both of the other elements to compensate for it.
For example if you speed up your shutter speed one stop (for example from 1/125th to 1/250th) you’re effectively letting half as much light into your camera. To compensate for this you’ll probably need to increase your aperture one stop (for example from f16 to f11). The other alternative would be to choose a faster ISO rating (you might want to move from ISO 100 to ISO 400 for example).

Texture in Photography

We often want to create images with high impact and having texture in your images creates high impact, texture in photography also adds to our skills and composition and therefore makes us better photographers.
There are different types of texture photography. When photographing texture the light is an important part, think about utilizing side lighting to maximize the texture.
Details. With this type the detail of the texture is the main point. You could use macros shot, you need strong contrast to enhance the details.

Drama. You may find that the texture adds to the photo but not the most important part.

Contrast comes in two forms: tonal contrast and color contrast. Either one works well for texture photography.
Contrast within Texture (different types of texture).

and contrast with the background.

When using curves, it is very important to be aware that curves add emotional content to an image by affecting the mood of the image. Vertical lines can communicate moods of: stability, peace, or power. Horizontal lines tend to communicate a feeling of permanence or lack of change. Diagonal lines are best at making an image more dynamic or communicating a sense of action.

Play with angles and depth of field
A straight picture of a texture might be boring, so try to play with the angles. Open up the aperture of the lens to its maximum value, which will make the depth of field very shallow, shoot at an angle and see how you like it. Play with the depth of field by simply increasing the aperture value to a higher number.

Look for uniformity and/or straight lines. Repetition of patterns is what creates a uniform texture. Those patterns can be everything from curves to straight lines. While working with curves, circles and other shapes, try to locate the ones that look somewhat similar or the same.


Look for shapes and reflections. In some cases, you might find a pattern that resembles something – whether it is an everyday object or a living being. If you notice such resemblances anywhere. Still water or a mirror can also create stunning results with reflections.

Experiment more in post-processing
Don’t be afraid to straighten up and crop your photographs, if needed. In some cases, flipping your image vertically or horizontally might yield great results, so definitely experiment with that as well. Textures are not people or landscapes, so go ahead and add some more colours and saturation to make them look more colourful, vibrant and vivid. Eliminate imperfections by using the spot removal and clone tools and sharpen up the image. In texture photography, you can do everything from swapping colours to adding patterns and fake reflections.
I love texture in photography, but I find that a normally take macro/close ups of it, maybe I could have a go and try a different style of photographing texture, get out of my comfort zone?

 

White Balance in Digital Photography

White balance is unique to digital cameras, this was not an issue on film cameras. It is the process of getting rid of the ´weird´ colour cast that we often see after taking the photo. Proper camera white balance has to take into account the ?colour temperature? of a light source, which refers to the relative warmth or coolness of white light. Our eyes are very good at judging what is white under different light sources, but digital cameras often have great difficulty with auto white balance (AWB) — and can create unsightly blue, orange, or even green color casts. Understanding digital white balance can help you avoid these color casts, thereby improving your photos under a wider range of lighting conditions.
– Auto – (AWB) this is where the camera makes a best guess on a shot by shot basis. You‘ll find it works in many situations but it‘s worth venturing out of it for trickier lighting. If you are shooting in RAW you can use this setting all the time and adjust in you favourite editing software. The downside is the time you take in doing so.
– Tungsten- this mode is usually symbolized with a little bulb and is for shooting indoors, especially under tungsten (incandescent) lighting (such as bulb lighting). It generally cools down the colors in photos.
– Fluorescent- this compensates for the ?cool‘ light of fluorescent light and will warm up your shots.
– Direct Sunlight/Daylight- Great for direct sunlight..
– Cloudy- this setting generally warms things up a touch more than ?daylight‘ mode. Used in cloudy situations. I personally like this setting and use it more for outdoor shooting even with sunny days. I t can also be used for shade.
– Flash- the flash of a camera can be quite a cool light so in Flash WB mode you‘ll find it warms up your shots a touch.
– Shade – Use shade white balance in shady area‘s or sunset shots. It will help give a warmer color to your shots.
-Custom. With this setting you must take a picture of something of neutral color, ( a white card of grey car) in the light situation you are currently in. Use the menu setting on your camera (read the manual) you can calibrate the camera to use this setting. Personally I prefer this setting for indoors when you have more control over the light, as when you use it outside the light changes very frequently and therefore the settings need to be changed in camera.