Our Most DEPRESSING Photo Ever | Camera Menu Settings | Filming Static Subjects
Coming up on this episode of Photography Online: we take our most depressing photo ever we continue our Video Academy series and we reveal some useful camera menu options… Welcome to another episode of Photography Online. Before we kick off another commercial free show, here’s a quick photography question for you: What does the “f” number on the aperture scale refer to? A - Fraction. B - Factor. C - Full. Or D - Focal length. As usual, this just for fun and I'll be revealing the answer later on in the show. Okay, let’s get Photography Online ball rolling. When we head out with our camera, most of us will look for impressive and eye catching subjects, but sometimes the very opposite can offer just as much photographic potential. Get
ready to witness the most depressing photo we’ve ever featured on the show… Now usually on Photography Online we accompany most of our features with a musical background as this gives them atmosphere and pace. But today for the first time ever our subject deserves no musical accompaniment. I mean look at it. We’d need a solo violin to do this any justice. But personally, I think the soundtrack of passing traffic on a damp road is perfectly adequate, so enjoy that.
Now I first discovered this scene when I was driving in that direction at 70 miles an hour so I only had a couple of seconds to check it out. Now that was in the middle of the summer when the whole place looked a bit more cheery. We had leaves on the trees in the background and green grass everywhere. But I knew that
I wanted to photograph this in a much more dreary condition. So I wanted an overcast day in the middle of winter. Fortunately, this is Scotland, so I didn't have to wait too long. And bang on cue the snow starts. But let's not let this scene suck us dry of all our positivity.
Photographically, this has great potential because it tells such a strong story. It's a story of abandonment, of failure, of dereliction. All things I'm reminded of every time I look in the mirror. But my job as a photographer, indeed our job as photographers, is to tell a story with our images. Now more often than not we're looking for this story to be a positive one but there's no reason why the opposite can't be just as effective.
Just as our ECS cheat sheet explains, the first steps to taking a photo are to find a subject and to visualise the image. I've done both of these. Here's our subject and the visualisation is depression. The next step is to work out the best viewpoint, meaning the position of the camera. Before I can decide that I need to explore all the options so let's explore all the options. So I brought a few cameras with me today because I wasn't sure obviously what format I was going to shoot this in. But I think it's crying out to be shot on film so I've got the 617 panoramic camera with three lenses, I've got a couple of uh six by nine cameras with different lenses on them, because these lenses are non-changeable so you have to have a different camera if you want a different lens, and I've also got this bad boy: the Mamiya 6x7. So I can shoot 6x7, 6x9 and 6x17. But now I know where my viewpoint is, I think
panoramic format is gonna give me the best option. Because even if I don't like it I can still then crop it afterwards and get the best of both worlds. Whereas if I shoot too tight I can't add things onto either side. So I think this is going to be the camera of choice today. The film I've chosen to use is Kodak Portra 160, purely because it gives quite desaturated results which are going to be perfect for this scene. I'm using no filters as I don't want to change the scene or enhance it in any way and want to capture it as naturally as possible. The camera I'm using,
the Fuji GX617, only gives me four frames per roll of film so I can't be too trigger-happy here, I need to be economic with my shutter. Okay so the best viewpoint is from the central reservation and although it's perfectly safe for me to be there I want to minimise the risk. So I'm going to keep this camera here rather than take you over there as well. So you’ll have to excuse the the distant talking here and the fact that my back's to the camera but I'll get it done as quickly as I can. Focusing is quite tricky with this camera as it's basically down to guesswork. But for this scene here it's fairly easy to estimate that the building is about 15 metres from where I'm standing. So I need to cover
between 15 metres and infinity on my depth of field which is fairly easily done at f/16. So I’ve focused the camera and I've got a light meter reading of f/16 at half a second. So I'm just waiting for the traffic to be in the right position because now the headlights are on they'll make quite an interesting foreground. I just noticed there's some spray on the lens so I need to wipe that clean. If you want to talk about challenging conditions to work in, this is about as challenging as it gets. Okay so we've done four frames so far.
I'm thinking maybe we'll do one straight on now just to mix things up a little bit. Having got the shot at 45 degrees which includes the road, I decided to reposition myself so I was looking straight on to the building, just to give me a different perspective. Okay so I've waited for the ambient light levels to drop and that's made it a little bit more dreary than it already was. This also allowed all the traffic lights to pop more so that'll give the photo some life. This is pretty much what I've visualised: the derelict
cafe looking sorry for itself and also showing it in its environment of being next to a busy road where nothing for it stops anymore. Okay, just as a an alternative, I just noticed that as the lights have come on in the gas station over there or if you're from the UK, the Shell garage, is giving a nice kind of contrast. So we've got no life here, lots of life there and it's kind of like pessimism/optimism. So I'm just gonna do a different shot, also on the panoramic camera just from here. But it's good from here because I can talk you through what
I'm doing at the same time. So first things first, I've got my viewpoint sorted out and I've also got my composition sorted out. So next thing I'm going to do is focus. Now on this camera there's no focusing without taking the film out, which obviously I don't want to do. So I'm just going to guess. It’s not difficult. So everything is at least 30 metres away so that's infinity on this lens. So I just put the put the lens to infinity.
I'm going to take a light meter reading. So this is saying f/11 and a half at 8 seconds so I'm gonna have to put that on Bulb. So that's going to be 20 seconds once we've factored in reciprocity failure. Checking the front of the lens, making sure there's no water on it. Then it's just a case of pressing the button and counting in my head to 20 because I'm using the phone to film this on.
Although this is not my favourite shot from my visit, I still like it. I like the way the right hand side of the image looks brighter and more optimistic, with the break in the evening sky, the bright headlights of oncoming traffic and the lights of the fuel station glowing in the twilight. Yet the left hand side is cooler in tone, looking a little sorry for itself. I also like the high
traffic trails which go over the roof of the building. All done intentionally, of course. I also shot a few frames with the Mamiya RZ67 from straight on, concentrating just on the subject itself. Plus one from the same position as the panoramic shot but at a longer focal length to fill the frame with the subject.
My favourite shot is this one, which comes closest to the image I had visualised. Showing the subject in its gloomy surroundings, in the dreariest light imaginable. The patchy snow is perfect too, just adding to the misery factor. Hopefully this goes to prove that there's no such thing as bad light as what's bad for one scene will be perfect for another. The key is to match your subject to the light.
So hopefully that goes to show that you don’t need happy, vibrant, and attractive subjects to make good photos - which is just as well, otherwise I'd be inundated with requests! Before we continue, I thought I would let you know that our annual magazine is now available from our online shop. It features articles from the team as well as from a couple of our regular customers who have written about their personal photography journeys. It also has all the information about all the photo holidays we’ll be running over the next eighteen months, so if you want to get a copy, we only charge what they cost us to print and produce which is £2.50.
If you want the physical copy like this one, then you’ll need to pay for shipping, but there’s also a digital download version if you want to save on postage and get it immediately. As usual, there’s a link in the description below, or if you’re watching on a smart TV, head to our shop next time you are browsing online. Okay, at the beginning of this year, due to popular request, we started a 6 part feature about how to shoot video using the equipment we already have as photographers. Last time Harry looked at how to capture movement - a key part to a successful video. But what if you want to record a static subject and engage your audience? Here’s Harry to explain… Last month on our Video Academy series we explored moving subjects and learned how important movement is when it comes to video. However, what happens if we want to record a subject which has no movement at all? Unless we create movement of some kind it will be difficult, maybe even impossible, for the viewer to distinguish between a video clip and a still photo. So how do we create movement
in our scene when there is no obvious movement present? The answer is simple. We move the camera. Moving the camera is one of those things that actually looks far easier and simpler than it is in reality, at least if you want to get good results that is. The main problem you will have is to get steady camera movement, free of wobbles and bumps. This is where additional pieces of equipment can come in handy such as sliders and gimbal stabilisers.
Many of the latest digital cameras have IBIS, in-body image stabilisation, which can help with achieving smoother camera movement. But to get Hollywood looking results it's likely you're going to need some extra gear. Now this can add a lot of expense, faff and weight to your setup and before long you'll be needing a sherpa. If you've seen our previous two Video Academy features, I've highlighted just how good phones can be for shooting video. Most phones have great stabilisation which makes it easy to get smooth camera movement and great images without the need for that ton of extra gear. For instance,
the latest iPhones come with Dolby Vision HDR which is already widely used in professional filmmaking and now the technology is built right into the phone. Capturing content in Dolby Vision via an iPhone will allow you to get the most from the camera's dynamic range and colour capability. Thanks to the dynamic metadata Dolby Vision captured content will play back consistently on any Dolby Vision enabled device. This ensures consistent top quality whether you're viewing your
footage on a laptop, a mobile phone, a tv or a tablet. The footage you record is accurately represented. You can instantly upload any Dolby Vision captured content to your Vimeo channel where viewers can see it in all of its glory. Your footage will look like it's come straight out of a Hollywood film production studio. It's almost like having Steven Spielberg right in your pocket. Wth its deep blacks, sparkling highlights and rich yet lifelike colours, Dolby Vision will transform your footage and take it to a whole new level. Add in the phone's stabilisation to smooth out all camera movement and the result is incredibly eye-catching, guaranteeing to hold the viewers attention. Let's move on to the do's and don'ts of moving
the camera. Whether you're using a digital camera or a mobile phone, keep movement simple. Don't be too ambitious. Avoid moving in all planes at the same time. Subtle movement is often more effective. Less is definitely more so don't overdo things. However, if doing subtle movement, make sure you have something close to the camera otherwise it may not be obvious that any movement is taking place. Think of movement as having four planes. We've got left to right, up and down, forwards and backwards and pan.
Last time we discussed zooming digitally by shooting at a higher resolution than your output video. For example, by shooting in 4K even though my output is only 1080HD, this allows me to zoom in digitally. If we combine a digital zoom with a camera movement we can get some funky but attractive effects.
This shot you're seeing now has the camera moving from left to right during recording but we've also added a digital zoom at the same time. This gives the impression the camera is moving in two different planes simultaneously. If we move the camera forwards and backwards, your foreground subject will get bigger and smaller in frame but the background will largely remain the same size. If you then add a digital zoom to counter the camera movement so that the foreground subject, i.e me, stays the same size in frame, you can start to have some real fun with the perspective.
Using camera movements opens up a whole new chapter of creative options to us. We can reveal scenes by starting the clip with the view being obscured from the camera to later be revealed. One thing you'll probably want to avoid is camera movement in the tilt plane. Try to keep your video camera level at all times. This is where a gimbal can really help, regardless of whether you're using a digital camera or a phone. A lightweight, cheap gimbal cradle will suffice for a phone but you'll need something a bit more substantial to stabilise a heavier camera. Like most things in photography and videography, planning always makes things easier. Planning
your movements and even rehearsing them beforehand will let you get them as good as you possibly can. By combining static camera shots of moving subjects with moving camera shots or static subjects you can start to create some really effective looking results. If you're using an iPhone, letting Dolby Vision take care of all the technical stuff lets you focus on the more creative side of things, of which movement is an important tool.
Give it a go and see how you get on. Next time on our Video Academy series, I'll be looking at low light videography. This could be something of a challenge especially when you appreciate that we're limited to a minimum of a 30th of a second with our video work. There are, however, solutions and answers to all of the problems, so join me for that.
Now on our second February show I asked the question - what does ISO stand for? A vast majority of you thought it was International Standards Organisation, but there is actually no such thing. There is the International Organisation for Standardization, but that would be IOS, not ISO. The correct answer is that ISO is actually an abbreviation for Isos which is Greek for equal - as clearly stated on their own website. None of the other multiple choice answers we provided were correct, though many of you have been adamantly contesting this. However, hopefully that’s cleared it up and next time you hear someone refer to it as Eye Ess Oh, you can correct them and explain it is actual Eye-so, or if we’re being super accurate, Eee-so. I'll be revealing
the answer to today’s question soon but before that, it’s time to polish your camera skills… Back in the good old days, cameras used to look a lot like this. They were simple things with only a few controls on them. So I've got focus, I've got exposure time and I've got aperture. And that's pretty much it. There's no menus or functions and many of these cameras didn't even take batteries. But then this came along, the digital camera, and suddenly taking photos became a lot more complicated. …will be the serial number coming after the file number of the final single exposure used to create the merged multiple exposure image… One thing we know many people struggle with is the setup of their cameras, so we thought we would show you a few of our suggestions as to what settings you might want to customise to your liking. Before we go any further, we just want to make it very clear that
these are only our individual preferences. We're not telling you what is the best way for everyone. If you already have your preferred way of doing things, then keep doing it your way. But for others, some of the following advice may be useful. Now I'm always explaining to people that fluency with your camera as well as your other equipment is really important. If your mind is preoccupied with operating your camera, then you're not thinking creatively or paying attention to your surroundings. This can mean that you're likely to miss shots and any
brief moments of that perfect light. So setting up your camera to work as effectively as it can is a basic but really important stage. We're going to be using our own cameras for this bit so don't give us any abuse for using Canon again. Most, if not all, of these options will be available on your cameras but they may be called something different and be in a different place, so that part is down to you. Okay, so let's start with the basic layout of most menu systems. These are usually broken down into chapters and pages to make it easier to find things. If you've got
a modern camera, then you might find it has touchscreen which makes navigating the menu a little easier. This, of course, is assuming you're not wearing gloves or it isn't raining. One of the first things you are likely to find is Image Quality. This is where you set the kind of file which the camera will write to the card. You can set this to various sizes of JPEGs or RAW. JPEG means the photo is edited by the camera before being saved to the card whereas RAW is unedited. The advantage of shooting in RAW is that it simplifies the capture stage,
as we don't need to worry about things like white balance and other picture settings, as none of these are baked into the RAW file itself and they can easily be adjusted afterwards. Another advantage is that a RAW file will give us more information to work with when editing, meaning we can pull more detail out of dark shadow areas or bright highlight areas which simply don't exist in a JPEG file. The advantage to JPEG is that your photos will look far better straight out of camera, as they've already been edited for you. So if you don't like editing or you need your images immediately after capture, then this cuts out the editing process. You can still edit
a JPEG externally but you'll have nowhere near as much control as you would do with a RAW file. Whatever your preference is make sure this is set to how you want it and remember to check this if you ever do a factory reset because it will probably default back to shooting JPEG only. I always have this enabled as I like to have an audible confirmation that the camera has focused. With this turned off, you could be taking photos where the camera hasn't locked onto anything and you may not notice until it's too late. Obviously, if you're shooting a wedding reception or a sensitive wildlife subject then you might want to turn this off and be as quiet as possible.
If you are shooting in RAW, then leave the white balance set to Auto and you will never need to worry about it again. If you shoot in JPEG, then you'll need to be constantly setting this, as you need this to be calibrated to the current lighting conditions before you take the shots. Another thing you can ignore if you're shooting in RAW are the picture settings. These will have no influence on the files being saved to the card but they will still affect the review of the photos you see on the camera's screen. If shooting in JPEG, then you need to set this up for each individual scene which is a pretty tedious task. For this reason, shooting in RAW makes the capture stage so much easier.
If you're taking some long exposures, let's say one minute in duration, then if you have long exposure noise reduction turned on, you will have to wait an additional minute after each exposure has finished before you can use the camera again. This can be tedious and frustrating as you can guarantee that the best conditions will present themselves during the 60 seconds when your camera is out of action. In our experience this function does very little anyway and you can usually apply the same adjustments in post, so our advice is to turn this off. A menu function which we see many people not know they have control over is Auto Rotate. Basically, you want to set the camera so that if you take a shot in portrait orientation, it rotates the photo on the card so that it appears the right way up when looking at it on a computer. But you don't want it to rotate the photo in the camera, otherwise you'll be twisting your neck looking at it when you are using a tripod. Also a portrait shot which isn't rotated
only occupies half of the screen, so enable this for the computer but not for the camera. This is probably the most commonly badly set function I see on other people's cameras. All cameras have a screen brightness control. Now this has no bearing on the exposure itself, it just makes the screen brighter and easier to see. You'll probably find there's an auto setting but this will constantly adjust the brightness according to the ambient lighting conditions. So
it will make the screen brighter if you're outside on a bright day and it will make it darker if you're shooting at night. My advice is to not use the auto setting as you can never calibrate your eyes to the ever-changing brightness of the screen and it becomes difficult to get a feel as to how your images will look. I have mine set to one step down from maximum brightness and I keep it there regardless of what lighting scenario I'm working in. There are loads more menu options, some of which will be relevant to you and many which won’t. You might find that you have a custom menu
function where you can store all of the ones you change the most, as this saves time going through all of the chapters and pages, trying to find them all at the time. Just add the most useful ones to your custom menu and they will all be in the same page. You may also find that you can customise all the buttons to perform many different tasks. The options on the latest cameras are almost endless but the important thing is that you set your camera up so it's intuitive for you to use. This way when you pick it up you can be fluent in its operation and you can then concentrate on being creative and capturing the moment. One of the largest and most comprehensive chapters in the
menu system is the autofocus chapter. Personally, I very rarely adjust this as it's really only useful to wildlife and sports photography where you're using long lenses and following fast moving subjects. However, Harry will be taking us through the most useful AF menu options in our next show so if you found this useful then be sure to check out that in a couple of weeks. So hopefully that was useful to you. Don’t forget that all the camera skills we’ve covered since the launch of Photography Online are included in these two volumes which act as the perfect manuals to help you develop your photography. Available in both hard copy like this and also as a digital
download, they are priced at just £12.50 each and are available from our online shop which can be found at this address. We’ve also included a link to make it easier if you’re watching on a computer or a handheld device - just check out the video description and you’ll find a whole host of useful links there. Okay, before I go, I need to tell you the answer to the question I asked at the beginning of the show: What does the “f” number on the aperture scale refer to? A - Fraction. B - Factor. C - Full. Or D - Focal length. The correct answer is D - Focal Length. Aperture values are simply their diameter as a fraction of the focal length. So f/4 means 1/4 and f/8 means 1/8th of the focal length. So f/4 on a 100mm lens will measure 25mm
in diameter. Pretty easy. Well done if you got that right. Sadly that’s it for another show, but fear not, I'll be back next month with a couple more action packed shows - one of which I'll be bringing you from somewhere rather unusual and very interesting - hmm, the mind boggles. Make sure you join me for that. Until then, take good care, but most of all - take good photos. Now most of the time we're looking for that story to be positive but there's no reason why a big snowflake can't go in my eye… planning makes things so much easier and planning your movements and even… reversing? …which is why shooting in RAW makes the capture sage, stage Marcus, stage, stage… hopefully though that's cleared it up and next time… *Ruth’s very own language…* …which is why shooting in RAW makes the capture sage, stage, capture stage, stay, aah, ankle! If you're shooting in RAW then leave the white balance set to Auto and you will never ever… never ever ever… never ever ever have to worry about it again! …you may also find that you can customise all the buttons and *!@!#... Ow... *girly grunts of pain*