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Ray Davis

DSLR 101 – White Balance

251693960_23f2711016 We’re continuing with our DSLR 101 this week and today we’re explaining white balance.

What?
White balance is responsible for keeping your photos the correct temperature. A low colour temperature creates more red, a higher colour temperature more blue. Digital cameras create the correct colour temperature by picking the part of the photo that it thinks should be white and filtering the light to make that area white.

Why?
If you want natural looking photos you need the correct white balance. In other words having the correct white balance prevents your photos from looking too cold (blue) or too warm (red). Although your camera will have an Automatic White Balance (AWB) setting digital cameras are not as good at detecting which part of the photo should be white as you are.

You can get a more accurate white balance by choosing a manual setting for the white balance or creating a custom white balance of your own.

How?
Most DSLRs will let you choose a white balance from within the menu. The choices are likely to include daylight, shade, cloudy/twilight, tungsten, fluorescent light, and flash. Using these setting is a good start and can improve your photos greatly, especially those taken in the more extremes light (such as fluorescent light or twilight).

To get the most accurate white balance you can set a custom white balance. You can buy a grey card from most photography stores to help you do this, or you can find a white object in your shot and use that instead. Fill the viewfinder with the grey card, or the white object, and shoot using manual focus. The exact method of setting this as the white balance varies from camera to camera, you may have to press the white balance button before you take the shot or after. Check the manual of your camera to find out how yours works.

Extra Tip
For most situations AWB or one of the manual settings will do just fine but it’s worth learning how to set the custom white balance, especially if you do a lot of shooting indoors.

Photo by:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/brunogirin/ / CC BY-SA 2.0

DSLR 101 – ISO

Time for lesson number two in our DSLR 101 series! Our topic today? You may have heard of it, it’s a little thing called ISO.

What?
ISO is traditionally a measure of film speed; basically how sensitive a roll of film is to light. Obviously if you’re using a DSLR you’re not using film but your camera still has ISO settings. Instead of film it’s a reference to how sensitive the camera’s image sensor is to light. ISO settings can vary greatly but most cameras have at least 100, 200, 400, 800, and 1600. The lower the number the less sensitive the sensor is to light.

Why?
Although lower ISOs are usually desirable (leave your camera on Auto settings and it’ll choose 100 or 200 most of the time) to give you clear, sharp photos there are times when a higher ISO can be useful.

Choosing a higher ISO allows you to use a higher shutter speed or smaller aperture. This is especially useful for shooting in low light, particularly shooting action in low light (for example indoor sports events or concerts). It also comes in handy in places like museums and art galleries where use of flash and/or tripods may be prohibited, or in any low light situation when you don’t have a tripod available!

Higher ISOs cause a grainy effect, which, while we often want the clearest photos possible, can sometimes be desirable to create a certain look in an image.

How?
You can choose your ISO setting in the menu of most DSLRs, check your manual if you can’t find the ISO option in yours.

Extra tip
Try taking the same shot at several different ISO settings so you can get a feel for what each different setting produces.

Learn from Big Shot

bigshot In keeping with the theme of learning, here’s an interesting program I hope expands in the future. Bigshot is currently only running workshops in the New York City area but it looks like they might reach other cities soon. The Bigshot workshops allow kids to build their own camera from a set of Bigshot click-together camera parts. The idea is to teach engineering and science concepts while building a working camera, which can then be used to teach photography.

The program is run by Columbia University and, although you can’t buy the Bigshot camera parts, you can visit their website to learn how the different parts of a point and shoot camera work.

DSLR 101 – Auto Exposure Bracketing

Do you own a DSLR but use it mostly as a very expensive point-and-shoot? Time to take off the training wheels! Join us for DSLR 101! Don’t worry we’ll take it slow, and the little green rectangle of the auto setting will always be there for you to run back to if you find yourself in over your head!

Welcome to class, first up; auto exposure bracketing.

What?
Auto exposure bracketing allows you to automatically take a series (usually three but sometimes up to seven) of photos, each at different exposures. Basically the camera takes one image at what it perceives to be the correct exposure, one underexposed, and one overexposed.

Why?
What your camera views as the correct exposure may not necessarily be the exposure that suits a particular image best. You may find that you like your photos slightly overexposed, or that for a particular shot the underexposed version appeals to you more.

Auto bracketing allows you to take the different exposure shots in one quick succession, meaning it’s almost as fast as just taking the correct exposure shot. Especially for beginner photographers this is a great way to get shots in different exposures, and learn which ones you like best in which situations.

Overexposure is not always a bad thing, it can make for some interesting effects.

How?
Most DSLRs will let you choose the brackets you want (usually anywhere from a third-stop (not much variation in exposure) to two stops (lots of variation)), and the number of images you want to take.  How you set auto exposure bracketing varies from camera to camera so you’ll need to check your camera’s manual (look for AEB), it’s often found as a menu setting but some cameras have a specific button for bracketing.

Extra tip
Auto exposure bracketing works differently, depending on if you have the camera in Aperture Priory Mode or Shutter Priority Mode. Basically the camera will change the setting that is not in priority to control the exposure (e.g. if you’re in shutter mode the aperture will be changed).  Therefore if you want to maintain a certain shutter speed or aperture make sure you put the camera in the priority mode for the setting you want to keep set.

That’s it in a nutshell, get out and play! If you like you can add the results to the Photodoto Flickr group here.

Homemade Photo Gifts

craft ninja Panicking over those perfect photo gifts you just can’t find/left too late to get delivered? Never fear Photodoto is here for you with some homemade photo gift suggestions.

Collage: Especially good for the college student in your life, perfect for dorm room walls, but great for Grandparents and everyone else too. Print a bunch of photos on a theme – photos of the grandkids, your daughter’s best friends, Aunt Mable’s most beloved dog – then figure out a way of arranging them together so they look awesome. You could glue them onto a sturdy backing (thick cardboard, styrofoam, or corkboard are some ideas), link them together using photo clips, or use photo corners to arrange them on a patterned background.

Poster: Head on over here and use the free motivator, magazine cover, or movie poster tools. Print and put in a frame. Simple.

Perpetual Calendar: This requires photos with numbers but you could cheat and photoshop numbers onto some of your favourite shots. Basically you need photos numbered 1 -31, photos with the days of the week on them, and some photos to pad out the calendar and make it a neat shape. Arrange them in the correct order and use photo clips to hold them together. Check out this video of a fantastic example of a perpetual calendar and a walk through of how it was made.

Slideshow: Take a whole bunch of really good photos and make them into a slideshow, if you like you can add music and all sorts of fancy special effects. Burn to a DVD, or if you’re feeling generous buy a digital photo frame and put it on there (granted that’s not so home-made but it adds a home-made touch to a bought gift)!

T-shirt: Print a favourite photo onto t-shirt transfers (these come in a different types for different t-shirt colours so be sure to get the correct type), follow the instructions to get the transfer onto the t-shirt (it usually involves an iron) and you’re done! If you’re making this for a child to give as a gift you can make it a bit more special by getting some fabric paint and allowing them to add their handprint or own unique artwork to the shirt (one of my favourite gifts was made this way, with a photo on the front and handprints on the back to make it look like they’d been left there by a child giving the wearer a hug)!

And as a special Christmas bonus here are three links to other home-made photo gift projects for you to try your hand at:

Photo Cube on Instructables

Snow Globe Christmas Ornaments on Photojojo

Photo Blocks with Wrap on Missie Krissie

Happy Hand Crafting!

Craft Ninja photo by sewitsforyou.

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