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Author Topic: Roadgeeking and Serious Photography Stuff (ping agentsteel!)  (Read 11615 times)

Scott5114

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Roadgeeking and Serious Photography Stuff (ping agentsteel!)
« on: February 04, 2009, 03:09:50 AM »

I finally have a camera again (yay for birthdays!), and the new one is a bit of an upgrade from the old one, which I lost somewhere. I have the Canon Powershot A590 now. I'd like to make the most of it, and it has a bunch of different modes with names like Auto, Portrait, Landscape etc but I'd really like to learn to use the Manual mode, where it lets me set various things such as ISO, f-stop (I can assume that's what it is, it just says "F4.5" and lets me adjust the number), and something that says "1/400" (aperture?) as well as a bunch of white balance, flash levels, and other various things.

So I guess what I'm wanting is some sort of brief explanation of what ISO, f-stop, and the 1/400 thing, are and how to best set them for various roadgeeking circumstances. Also, is there any magic setting that will let me get some halfway decent photographs of signs on the road at night?
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WillWeaverRVA

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Re: Roadgeeking and Serious Photography Stuff (ping agentsteel!)
« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2009, 03:45:43 AM »

ISO is your camera's light sensitivity. At higher ISO, your camera's imager will be more sensitive to ambient light. This means it will be able to make the most of a low light situation and use fairly quick shutter speeds. However, higher ISO settings generally mean more noise (makes an image look grainy). You don't need high ISO in daylight or bright light.

I still don't understand aperture (f-stop) all that well, but I know it affects depth of field, and higher f-numbers generally means a longer shutter speed needed to take a photo.

1/400 is your shutter speed in seconds. It means the camera takes 1/400 of a second to capture an image. In low light, you generally need longer shutter speeds if you don't increase your ISO or decrease your aperture. In normal sunlight or good incandescent/fluorescent light, the camera will be able to take photos more quickly since the lens doesn't need to be open as long for enough light to get into the camera.

I hope that's simple enough, though agentsteel will need to explain aperture for you. :P
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Scott5114

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Re: Roadgeeking and Serious Photography Stuff (ping agentsteel!)
« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2009, 06:01:15 AM »

Okay, so if I were wanting to take night photos I'd want to bump the ISO up so that I could catch more of the reflectivity off the sign. I'll have to try it. I was playing around taking them at ISO 80 (the lowest on my camera) on the way home from work tonight and obviously it didn't do very well. :-P

It would seem the problem would be finding a setting that could handle the signs going by at 70 MPH while also being picking up enough light to be visible!
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usends

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Re: Roadgeeking and Serious Photography Stuff (ping agentsteel!)
« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2009, 09:16:09 AM »

One of the keys when taking shots out your windshield is to use a fast shutter speed.  If the shutter stays open too long, the motion of the car will cause a blurry photo.  For this reason, taking night shots out of a windshield are difficult (the low light means the shutter needs to stay open longer).  So a lower ISO setting might be a solution, although as another poster already pointed out, this will result in a grainier image.

By the way: while shutter speed refers to the duration of the opening, aperture refers to the diameter of the opening.  F2.8 opens very wide, and therefore requires less light (and can use a faster shutter speed).  However, focus is more important with wider apertures, because anything closer than the focal length, or farther away, will be blurry.  So use a more narrow aperture to capture more depth of field.
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Chris

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Re: Roadgeeking and Serious Photography Stuff (ping agentsteel!)
« Reply #4 on: February 04, 2009, 09:30:33 AM »

I leave my camera on the "auto" mode, since I cannot drive, shift gears and mess with the manual properties at the same time.  :-P

Michael

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Re: Roadgeeking and Serious Photography Stuff (ping agentsteel!)
« Reply #5 on: February 04, 2009, 09:46:57 AM »

The f-stop is how wide the shutter opens during an exposure.  Lower f-stops mean a wider shutter.  See here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F-number
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Re: Roadgeeking and Serious Photography Stuff (ping agentsteel!)
« Reply #6 on: February 04, 2009, 11:22:59 AM »

I use landscape mode during the day, and then auto mode in the low light(the time between day and night) situations. And fir night shots, I don't bother unless it is a highly reflective green sign, for which I use a flash and I believe auto mode.
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V'Ger

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Re: Roadgeeking and Serious Photography Stuff (ping agentsteel!)
« Reply #7 on: February 04, 2009, 07:34:56 PM »

*ahem*

I'm the one you want to ask for camera help.

Buy a DSLR, you can get a cheap used Canon Rebel XTi for $300, or a Pentax *ist DS for $200. Use the AV mode (aperture priority) when doing landscapes and set your aperture to a higher value (around F/10-11). This way you will have a large DOF and a lot of the landscape will be in focus. The camera automatically sets your shutter speed when on AV mode.
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Scott5114

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Re: Roadgeeking and Serious Photography Stuff (ping agentsteel!)
« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2009, 05:46:57 AM »

Well, my Powershot has an AV mode, so I can still do that.  :nod:
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Freewayjim

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Re: Roadgeeking and Serious Photography Stuff (ping agentsteel!)
« Reply #9 on: February 05, 2009, 01:18:11 PM »

Okay, so if I were wanting to take night photos I'd want to bump the ISO up so that I could catch more of the reflectivity off the sign. I'll have to try it. I was playing around taking them at ISO 80 (the lowest on my camera) on the way home from work tonight and obviously it didn't do very well. :-P

It would seem the problem would be finding a setting that could handle the signs going by at 70 MPH while also being picking up enough light to be visible!

Don't even bother trying to take night shots from a car, it's pointless unless you have a thing for "blur".

If you want to do night photography with the camera you have, use the good advice others have given with regards to the settings and use a tripod, w/o a tripod your chances of getting a good picture at night are slim and none.
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Duke87

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Re: Roadgeeking and Serious Photography Stuff (ping agentsteel!)
« Reply #10 on: February 05, 2009, 09:45:31 PM »

I leave my camera on the "auto" mode, since I cannot drive, shift gears and mess with the manual properties at the same time. 

You're already pretty skilled for being able to drive and use a camera at the same time at all. I could never do that. X-( All my road pictures were/are taken from the passenger seat or, often, in the case of local streets, on foot.

Me? I just point and shoot. Zooming in/out and turning the flash on/off is about as fancy as I ever get with my camera. Doesn't always produce optimal pictures, obviously, but it works well enough for me.
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Truvelo

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Re: Roadgeeking and Serious Photography Stuff (ping agentsteel!)
« Reply #11 on: February 13, 2009, 01:32:38 PM »

Buy a DSLR, you can get a cheap used Canon Rebel XTi for $300, or a Pentax *ist DS for $200. Use the AV mode (aperture priority) when doing landscapes and set your aperture to a higher value (around F/10-11). This way you will have a large DOF and a lot of the landscape will be in focus. The camera automatically sets your shutter speed when on AV mode.

This is exactly what I've been doing for years. My first DSLR was a nikon D70. I now have a D300 with a 50mm f1.8 prime lens. This combination is super sharp. Today I took the following picture whilst doing around 60mph and look how sharp the writing is on the top signs. Aperture priority mode was set at f6.3, 1/500 shutter speed and ISO 200. I always use base ISO no matter what the lighting conditions. If it's slightly darker I increase the aperture a little to f5.6 or f5 if the shutter speed will be too slow but no way do I ever crank up the ISO to increase the shutter speed as at even ISO400 I can see some noise starting to appear. I find 1/320 is the slowest shutter speed to guarantee a blur free image. When the sun's bright I use f7.1 as this seems to give the best compromise between depth of field and shutter speed. The other thing I do to increase the chances of a sharp picture is to take several pictures at once so if one comes out blurred then hopefully one of the others should be better.

However I don't see any advantage in using apertures like f11. I find f7.1 or f8 is enough to keep everything in focus and anything smaller risks making the picture softer due to diffraction. The only time I use really small apertures is when doing night shots to get long lines of head and tail lights.

Click on picture to enlarge

« Last Edit: February 13, 2009, 01:41:49 PM by Truvelo »
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corco

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Re: Roadgeeking and Serious Photography Stuff (ping agentsteel!)
« Reply #12 on: February 13, 2009, 02:50:46 PM »

I also just got a Canon Powershot A590 to replace my old HP that sucked at picking up quality photos of the very small Wyoming signage.

I'm curious about lighting. Driving west late in the afternoon is difficult for photos, but is there any setting that can be done to eliminate graininess when taking photos towards the sun in the late afternoon?

Truvelo

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Re: Roadgeeking and Serious Photography Stuff (ping agentsteel!)
« Reply #13 on: February 13, 2009, 03:07:45 PM »

If the pictures are grainy it's most likely the ISO is set too high. If your camera has a manual ISO setting then use it and set it to its lowest. Auto ISO lets the camera choose the ISO but this always means a higher ISO is selected in anything other than perfect lighting conditions.

As for taking pictures towards the sun I don't do it. Signs just become a black rectangle and even photoshopping the picture to correct the brightness and contrast rarely produces great results. If possible drive along the same road again the following morning so the sun is behind you. However if the sun is strong and it's directly behind you it can cause signs to overexpose and make them too bright. I find the best angle for the sun is to the side so it's just lighting the face of the sign, that way it makes button copy stand out.

Another good time to take pictures is when the sun is hazy. This means there's enough light for good exposure and shutter speeds and it also means the angle of the sun is less critical. The picture above was taken when the sun was partially behind clouds.
« Last Edit: February 13, 2009, 03:09:49 PM by Truvelo »
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V'Ger

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Re: Roadgeeking and Serious Photography Stuff (ping agentsteel!)
« Reply #14 on: February 13, 2009, 04:05:46 PM »

Truvelo, just spot meter on the signs and they'll expose correctly.
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corco

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Re: Roadgeeking and Serious Photography Stuff (ping agentsteel!)
« Reply #15 on: February 14, 2009, 04:22:24 PM »

I must say I am thrilled with the new Powershot A590. I took it out today and photos are of higher quality then I have ever had before and lighting conditions weren't even particularly great

« Last Edit: February 14, 2009, 04:30:34 PM by corco »
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Freewayjim

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Re: Roadgeeking and Serious Photography Stuff (ping agentsteel!)
« Reply #16 on: February 20, 2009, 02:03:28 PM »

I also just got a Canon Powershot A590 to replace my old HP that sucked at picking up quality photos of the very small Wyoming signage.

I'm curious about lighting. Driving west late in the afternoon is difficult for photos, but is there any setting that can be done to eliminate graininess when taking photos towards the sun in the late afternoon?



Settings won't help at all, but if you put a flat black blanket across your dash it will help some.
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Freewayjim

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Re: Roadgeeking and Serious Photography Stuff (ping agentsteel!)
« Reply #17 on: February 20, 2009, 05:14:34 PM »

One thing I've noticed, though, with putting a blanket across the dashboard is that, while it reduces glare off of the dashboard, it also tends to highlight any pockmarks or nicks you have in your windshield.



If it does it's not that bad, at least not that I've noticed. I think it's a benefit to have one rather than not, even in good lighting.
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Alex

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Re: Roadgeeking and Serious Photography Stuff (ping agentsteel!)
« Reply #18 on: February 20, 2009, 07:25:13 PM »

If you use a black shirt, cloth, etc. its best to have it as smooth as possible. Folds and seams tend to reflect light, which in turn appears on the windshield. The more the cloth fades, the less it absorbs light too. I bring my black shirt in when not using it on roadtrips to prolong it. I still tend to go through one per year though.

Freewayjim

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Re: Roadgeeking and Serious Photography Stuff (ping agentsteel!)
« Reply #19 on: February 20, 2009, 09:36:36 PM »

If you use a black shirt, cloth, etc. its best to have it as smooth as possible. Folds and seams tend to reflect light, which in turn appears on the windshield. The more the cloth fades, the less it absorbs light too. I bring my black shirt in when not using it on roadtrips to prolong it. I still tend to go through one per year though.

It's important that there is no pattern and the texture is a smooth as posible, no terry cloth!
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Chris

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Re: Roadgeeking and Serious Photography Stuff (ping agentsteel!)
« Reply #20 on: February 21, 2009, 06:41:07 AM »

I'm gonna use the backside of my roadgeek T-shirt  :)

Scott5114

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Re: Roadgeeking and Serious Photography Stuff (ping agentsteel!)
« Reply #21 on: February 22, 2009, 03:45:15 AM »

I have a huge piece of black felt I got at Hancock Fabrics that I keep in my car. In the corners of the dash I have four of those little velcro sticky things. When I roadgeek, I take the felt out and attach it to the velcro. Works pretty good, unless I stretch the felt out so it wrinkles.

The only problem is that in Oklahoma it gets up to 100 degrees F during the summer...and the inside of the car ends up getting hot enough to melt the adhesive off the back of the velcro! :o
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