Photographing Winters Wonderland

Photographing Winter’s Wonderland   Grand daughter Emmy! As a child growing up, I always looked upon winters as a time of wonder: snow days off school, and family times during the holidays ; along with all the surprise and excitement the […]

Capture all the Shots, and Get Them Sharp! part1:

Capturing the Shots You’re After & Getting  them Sharp with AutoFocus All of us would like to get every shot we go after and it be Sharp as a tack, and we all start out having to learn how to […]

HDR: Cure to get Definition in the Shadows

                                    HDR                                        A Cure […]

Winter Photographing Opportunities

  javascript:var d=document,w=window,e=w.getSelection,k=d.getSelection,x=d.selection,s=(e?e():(k)?k():(x?x.createRange().text:0)),f=’http://snapshotphoto.net/wp-admin/press-this.php’,l=d.location,e=encodeURIComponent,u=f+’?u=’+e(l.href)+’&t=’+e(d.title)+’&s=’+e(s)+’&v=4′;a=function(){if(!w.open(u,’t’,’toolbar=0,resizable=1,scrollbars=1,status=1,width=720,height=570′))l.href=u;};if (/Firefox/.test(navigator.userAgent)) setTimeout(a, 0); else a();void(0)12-6-X3.jpg   The vast and endless array of subjects and photographic opportunities in the warm months keeps our shutters clicking away. Then how about the cold, doldrums of the winter months? During winter we […]

Bird Photography : My Past Experience’s

If you are a bird watcher, or a nature photographer that wants to focus on birds it helps to be very familiar with your camera, and the subjects you are trying to get lasting images of. Getting good pictures of […]

 

HDR: Cure to get Definition in the Shadows

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HDR an early attempt.
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                                    HDR

                                       A Cure to Get

                        Definition in The Shadows!


 

How many times have you found a location only to find that some important parts of the image are hidden in the shadows, and if you try to correct for the problem you wash out or over expose the lighter areas of the photograph? Well HDR is a solution to this problem, and it can come in handy for a lot of situations we may come across:                                                           Situations to Use HDR                               

(A)  During the times of the day when parts of the landscape or a scene are hidden in shadows, and you’d like to show more detail in those areas instead of them being blackened out or dull. This will give more detail, color, and focus to these areas. 

(B)  When shooting a building, and alley, or a tunnel; among other things, where you want to be able to see into the shadows, and/ or bring out detail in any darkened places. 

(C) Any time you want to add more depth, texture, and detail to all sorts of photographic situations whether there are Shadows or Not.

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HDR stands for High Dynamic Range, and the way you achieve this is to take multiple bracketed images; one shot with the correct exposure, and two to four more with at least one under exposed, and one over exposed, and this works best if these shots are 1 1/2 to 2 stops higher or lower than the correct exposure. Now that is if you are only bracketing one over and one under exposed. I like doing five shots each one being 1/2 stop to 2 1/2 stops over and under exposed, with varying stops in between to give more variation in the detail and the color.

Then after you select the images you are going to use and open them up in programs such as Lightroom and a plug-in for Photoshop called HDR Efex Pro, and after you do some pre-HDR-generating editing in a slider window you depress the generating button, and after several minutes the compiled image appears. Waa’la, you have yourself an HDR image! From there you can post edit in your favorite editing software, and your new masterpiece is finished. 

Last I heard Nik Efex Pro collection of filters is being given away free. There are a whole host of different filter presets and programs in the Nik collection download including Efex Color Pro 4, plus more, and you can manipulate each setting to your liking. Adobe Lightroom and HDR Efex Pro 4 are mainly the two HDR filter programs I have used. I find using them an interesting and valuable tool to extend the limits of my


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Abandoned Warehouse by RR. Tracks in Keyser, using HDR editing. One of the first.
Abandoned Warehouse by RR. Tracks in Keyser, using HDR editing. One of the first.
 photographic editing workflow, and helps to produce images other wise very time consuming to do using selection and adjustment tools in Photoshop and Lightroom to achieve similar results. I believe HDR          (High Dynamic Range) renders the photograph with extra detail, color and depth not possible with the longer editing workflow’s.

 photographic editing workflow, and helps to produce images other wise very time consuming to do using selection and adjustment tools in Photoshop and Lightroom to achieve similar results. I believe HDR          (High Dynamic Range) renders the photograph with extra detail, color and depth not possible with the longer editing workflow’s.To be honest my first results may not exactly be the greatest examples of what is possible with HDR, so lookout for further articles here, and watch the photographic magazines, there are always articles that HDR is part of the subject line and will show some really good photographic examples of HDR’s benefits. 

There are many other photographic HDR producing programs for you to check out, such as HDR soft’s Photomatix Pro, which Cheyene Rouse of Ancients Lights Gallery fame used when discovering HDR for herself?. Plus, Photoshop CS 5 and Photoshop CC (Creative Cloud) have HDR built right in; along with Nik’s HDR Efex Pro, EverImaging: HDR Photo Pro, Unified Color Technologies, HDR Exposure as a stand along or a plug-in for Lightroom or Apple’s Aperture. That is a lot to choose from and any of these programs will give decent results. It really comes down to preference and money, I guess. For aspiring photographers we usually operate on a shoe-string budget, and a lot of fancy editing tools, and a computer with the speed and so much memory that we can operate booque programs are just not in the cards for us.

Now back in 2010, Rob Sheppard found he liked Nik HDR Efex Pro best as he stated in his article “Special Techniques for Landscape Photographers.” I believe back then there was a fee to access the plug-in. Now a days, with it being free, I find it the way to go for any newbie, or for people looking to save money. And who doesn’t want to save $Money.

Little Over Saturated. Not Natural Looking!
Little Over Saturated. Not Natural Looking!

When I first used HDR I only had Lightroom’s program to use and found it works well, and then I heard about Nik’s HDR Efex Pro. Being Free, I wanted to check out all the filters and programs they had in the download. Efex Pro’s HDR plug-in to Photoshop has some enhancing sliders to use to generate results some what different to other programs. My first attempt at using it I probably over did the enhancements and the image (Left) isn’t exactly natural looking. With practice it gives a photo all the detail, brilliance, and vibrant color you want; and you can still keep it looking natural, and Not looking over the top visually. I recommend going easy on the pre-generating edits and at least doing a little post editing to give the photograph all the corrections and flare that it deserves. I have played with the couple HDR generators I have at my disposal, and find it does give a tool I am using more often. Through the use of the software I have made some dramatic and extra interesting photographs from ones that other wise would have been just so-so. And you can to. I am referring to ones like the photograph at the beginning of this writing (article). The tree was hidden by shadow in anything I could capture without the sky being totally washed out. 

I like giving others, that have gone before me some more exposure through my writings, and give support and credit for my findings and the claims I make in my posts. This being a learn from your peers community I will be using examples of yours, with your permission of course, in some of the posts and materials found at AdvancedCompletePhotography.com “Community of Aspiring Photographers and Artists.” 

One of the professionals I give Kudo’s to is Cheyene Rouse. I like the project she has done assembling the Ancient Lights projects. When she found HDR she made the comment “With HDR, I knew I had found a process and a program that was not only friendly, but would transform these relics of the West and render them the way I saw  each one when I was photographing them”. She made the comment in the June 2011 OutDoor Photographer magazine article “Stoking the Fire” on page #58. The Ancient Lights project depicts the culture, and the items used back in the Old West, and not so new West, shining new light on them for future generations to experience if only in their minds and the images of Cheyene Rouse.  

a1-hdr-4articles-2 Pinto Valley a1-hdr-4articlesLightroom HDR that looks very close to how I saw the scene.

This image of a pond and land in the valley across from it during  Sunrise, is an HDR I did just a few days ago, to practice getting my HDR looking more like what we’d see when being there in person. The way I achieved this was by going easy with the pre-generating editing sliders. It has a little extra green, but not unusually so. You can give your images this type of impact, too.

Try adapting High Dynamic Range (HDR) to the types of photography you think you’d benefit by applying it to. Bracket several images both at your meters correct exposure, and ones over exposed, and some under exposed, and then click on all three and hit the merge file, in Lightroom, and then HDR which will merge the images, and then an editing window will pop up and just do some minimum editing (or a lot) hit the generate HDR button, and there you’ll have it, an HDR image to be post edited in some of your normal ways. Give it a Try! 

Never be afraid to try new things! If we didn’t try new things we would have never learned to walk. One last repost of this article for the Christmas Holiday!

Merry Christmas EveryOne!  & A Happy New Year!

Hope this posts finds everyone’s heath good and strong and your spirits even stronger!

@TONY (Michael) Ballas ” title=”Scott Kelby on Lightroom: Plus an HDR section”>

tony.b@advancedcompletephotography.com

PS: I hope to do another one of these articles on HDR, and go through all the steps I had taken in generating some nice HDR photographs to show you each step. With pictures of screen shots and all.

Possibly to I may just create an E-Book of my editing technics to purchase. Let me know if this would be helpful to you?

Camera Give Away: Nikon D810 or Canon 5D S” title=”We are an affiliate, and do make commissions for your orders thru this banner. Look for Camera Bags, and any accessory at this link! “>

 

 
potomac-newcreek-color-edit_hdr2-copy

Bird Photography : My Past Experience’s

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If you are a bird watcher, or a nature photographer that wants to focus on birds it helps to be very familiar with your camera, and the subjects you are trying to get lasting images of. Getting good pictures of the avian species can be difficult.

There are a few extreme conditions that usually arise to get shoots of birds out in their natural habitat.Most birds in the natural world are very cautious of all other animals, other avian species, and naturally humans. I started by taking pictures of birds near bird feeders, or in places where they are more comfortable around humans to avoid some of the difficulties that we may encounter in the wild. Also, This is a start to learning about the types of food certain species eat, and their habits and behaviors. Artists, and photographers are more successful when they know about the subjects they are taking images of, and are involved in some way with that subject. Like being involved a bird watching club, helping at a local park, and knowing the subjects well enough to do a lecture series that includes your own photographs.

During my Digital Photography class at Anne Arundel Community College, in the historic and charming state of Maryland, I had started feeding birds on our second story deck at our home in Annapolis. I found it interesting seeing what different types of species might feed there, and the ways that the birds interacted. 

I also try to shoot in the manual modes to have more control over the out come of the photograph. The picture above was taken during that class while doing our lessons on depth of field. I used a Nikon D60 and a Tamara 28-300mm zoom : zoomed in at 200mm with camera settings of an ISO of 400, a shutter speed of 1/400th of a second, and an f-stop of 5.6 to capture the image of the Titmouse at the beginning of the article. The lower f-stop and a long focal length blur’s  out much of the back ground and foreground to make the subject stand out in the photograph. 

In many books and articles I have read about photography, and animal and bird photography specifically, they say that the best images that interest people and are candidates for publication are void of feeders, the seed or suit that attract the beautiful and interesting subjects that we are photographing. When taking the image of the titmouse I took this into account and kept taking shots of it until it moved away from feed I had spread on the railing of the deck. The more interesting the photographs the more attractive an article is to the reader.

Duck.JonasGreen.SM  This photo of a mallard at Jonas Green Park, across the Severn River from the Naval Academy, was taken during my class at AACC during our studies on perspective. I was actually lying on the beach, to get in a position that most people are not looking at ducks from.

Click Here if You would Like Tips from a professional.            http://snapshotphoto.net/2014/03/06/bird-photography-tips/

 

 

People are even more attracted and  interested in birds and animals taken in the wild, or natural settings. This brings up some other situations that need addressing, and with some help and foreknowledge from experts and seasoned nature photographers you (WE) can avoid some of the problems before they are encountered.

Getting good pictures of birds are made difficult by extreme conditions in the outdoors, and the skidish nature of birds; although, there is always a learning curve with any new adventure we start, including venturing into the wilderness and bird photography. Here are some things to be aware of when venturing out.

Conditions and Knowledge to be Aware of shooting Birds

List:

  • shooting into the sky
  • knowing what they feed on
  • places they nest
  • fast movement of subjects
  • long range of flight
  • migration patterns
  • weather
  • patterns of flight

Photographing Winters Wonderland

The Mystical Tree, taken during an ice storm during this winter season 2016-17

Photographing Winter’s Wonderland

 

Grand daughter Emmy!

As a child growing up, I always looked upon winters as a time of wonder: snow days off school, and family times during the holidays ; along with all the surprise and excitement the winter weather and holidays can bring. All those mysteries still enchant this time of season, and I having aged and gone through many a winter I have had a renewed awe about this time of renewal for the nature around us. My new fascination during the winter has been started by my desire to take photographs, and in the colder months there are times and situations where we can find scenes that can only be found during this time of the year. Among other things, taking family photographs while all the family are together and available for portraits,

Jordan, our Grandson! 2016 Christmas

and candids of the festive happenings that surround this thankful time of year. You can’t replace the surprise and excitement of children during Christmas gift giving or the first flakes of snow that might fall; and how proud the men and woman are when they get that big whitetail buck or turkey around the Thanksgiving season.

I like taking pictures of Christmas trees, and their lights and ornaments that adorn them. During a family tree trimming night is a good opportunity to take great family photos too. The ornament photographs and family photos can be turned into Christmas cards, or invitations or given as gifts for family and friends. I was playing around  and taking some images of a red string of beads to come up with a real interesting looking photograph I turned into a Christmas card one year, along with some spring flowers in an early spring snow, and some berries adorned with snow. They really turned out well by using a photo publishing company, ==== to make them up using predesigned templates. Then I got a batch of each printed off, which I used to send to family and a couple friends. It feels really awesome to take a photograph we took and making it into something useful, besides just a picture in an album or to hang on the wall. 

Well now that I got off topic, you can see that winter gives photographs a different and more intriguing look than might be gotten other times of the year.  Snow and Ice just turns images into magical, inspiring and memorable photographs people will take notice of. Mainly the times I tend to go out looking to take new photographs during winter is when it has snowed, or we get some ice to cover both trees, and other subjects in glistening magic wonder. We have had a few of those awesome snow and ice days in Cumberland Maryland, USA so far this winter. When we had our first freezing rain event, so far, I kept my sights on whatever I could find to make some amazing photographs of. By looking around at home, I found some icicles hanging from the table on our porch, that I created the image to the right from. Everything was dripping with icicles and if  hadn’t thought  to look under the table, which is a metal mesh top table, I would have never found the bottom contained a whole mess of icicles growing like a maze of hanging glass. I just had to make a record of this unusual, and possibly rare sight, for posterity. God has blessed us with the amazing properties in nature so we get to see amazing sights that give us pleasure, and that we get to record for others to see and enjoy. That is the most important part for me, is sharing my images and photographs with others, such as you all.

Wiliam Neilf, a writer and photographic contributor for “Outdoor Photographer”, has it all too right when he says, “give yourself the assignment of producing a winter portfolio of new images, Get out to your favorite local woods, lake or stream where you can return often in various weather and light. Working locally will give you many more opportunities to be out there after a fresh snow or a hard freeze when ice is everywhere.”  Plus for me, it keeps me close to family and friends, and gives more time to write these pages to share with you and others. Keep this all in mind when you are couped-up during these winter month’s, and get out for a photo-shoot at your local parks, the woods, by streams, rivers and lakes, by the bay; and even while out walking around town, or going shopping. I stop many a time on the way to the local Walmart or even take some in there parking lot. The store is on a hills & on the other sides of valleys you see the hills rolling of into the horizon.

Winter Wonder Land at Country Club Mall

Taking candids of people during winter can be made real interesting by the types of attire we wear, and the exciting things people do during winter;  skating, sliding, snow boarding, skiing, and making snow angels are some of the fun things I know of that I really would like to get some pictures of. They can really make for mind stimulating images that almost puts you in those peoples shoes, and make you wish you were doing that same thing by seeing the images, and even imagine the feelings you’d be getting while participating in those same activities.

I think the next assignment I am going to make for myself is to take pictures of how people deal with, handle, and utilize the winter weather events the rest of this winter. This being a time of renewal for nature, it is also a time of practically hibernation for some of us humans, but it can also be exciting and refreshing to get out in the cold, crisp air, and have some fun getting in the mix of. all the excitement during winter events.  When I was out taking pictures of Christmas lights, and this scene of the nativity at the Masonic church in Cumberland, where we live, it was a cold and windy evening. My sweetheart, Janet, and I went out together to have some quality time looking and taking pictures of the holiday season scenes. Part of the time I was taking my shots, she sat in the car to stay warm, and I can’t blame her. I get hurrying to grab what shots I can get when I go out and it is that cold, you can barely stand it.

Checkout the article,       , from last year for tips on dressing right, and preparing for outings of long winter exposure to get those eye catching and exhilarating photographs we all like looking at. If anyone is, or knows of someone selling winter clothing or photographic accessories that help with different seasons of photo opportunities, or ones to enhance the equipment we have and advertising for a percent of sales, we’d be willing to provide banners, links, and ads to promote good products. 

Contact me at: tonyb@advancedcompletephotography.com                                                     Or call: cell, 443-852-6550 ask for Tony, to discuss details and get the ball rolling to boost sales for us both, and make life easier for other readers. 

                                                                                             Continued Below: 

 

 

Continue: 

My real passion is shots depicting nature and all it’s splendor. One morning during our beautiful ice display God handed us, I was walking down a small hill and right there off of RT220 was this tree draped in ice, and looking like it was right out of a fairytale book, at least after my post editing work was finished. The scene just seems like it needs a troll hanging out under this unusual looking tree. That day different type scenes abounded just about everywhere I went. I was actually trying to find a clear un-obtsructed spot along the road to take a picture of the hillside with the ice glistening in the trees. 

Don’t you hate wires that seem to always be right in the framing of some great roadside shots??I can’t seem to shake those pesky ole wires. It’s like electric people situate them just to screw up photographers chances of finding a clear place through the trees or buildings, and wires, that line the town areas and the highways.

During my search that day, I not only found the fairytale tree, I came across evergreen trees lined up in a row, with ice on them that looked like snow, not 50ft back up the hill, and 25ft from the road, as I walked back up to where I parked the car. This photograph just reminds me of the Christmasy feeling and I had to take a picture of them. Another one of those Christmas card images I like using for making new cards for the season. I was able to master getting a well framed image right there from the edge of the road. Goes to show you, you don’t have to get off the beaten path to find really nice photographs in the outdoors. You just have to open your eyes and your mind to the beauty and wonder in God’s world that is all around us that we take for granted much of the time. 

While you look around you frame things in your mind. Look for scenes that look promising, and then look for small things or groups of things that merit showing your friends and family what you saw and discovered while basking in natures vastness. Even on the edge of the road, or the edge of a field or yard is minute wonders that can warrant getting images of. You can start with small things and then look at the big picture, or start with a landscape and work down to some smaller subjects: a single tree covered in snow, or a branch covered in snow or ice. They can all be used to create a photograph by framing the images in ways that draw the eye to part of the empty space in the frame, or to an interesting part of the scene that you want to draw the viewers eyes to. The skies the limit! No pun intended. 

Remember to dress warm, to take the time out in the weather more comfortable. When you feel somewhat warm your mind can concentrate more on taking those magnificent photographs that the time spent deserves. 

*Check out our link to find winter clothes and accessories, if you are in need of them*                                                        **Also, we are an affiliate for most of the ads that you might see associated with with our site. Affiliates are compensated when you either click-on, or happen to buy something from these ads. You are in no way obligated to do so, but we appreciate it if you are in the market for anything we advertise.*

***We’d like to announce an affiliate relationship we now have with http://smugmug.com , which is a safe way to store, and even sell your images from a website you can create without knowing code. They have a great feature that if someone tries to right-click your images to copy them and they get a total white blank space. Cool huh. 

Stay warm and keep on shooting!   @Tony B. (writer, photographer)  

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Capture all the Shots, and Get Them Sharp! part1:

Capturing the Shots You’re After & Getting 

them Sharp

with AutoFocus


Getting those sharp shots really make a Difference.

Getting those sharp shots really make a Difference.

All of us would like to get every shot we go after and it be Sharp as a tack, and we all start out having to learn how to use the focusing modes on our camera (s) to even capture some of the better opportunities we get for an awesome photograph. Really where it starts is knowing how the autofocus works and its many settings on digital SLR’s, and in this writing we are going to attempt to get you more familiar with some of these many options you have using your cameras autofocus. Now we can’t give you specific options or steps it takes to get the settings you want, but once you know what they do you can go to your owners manual to learn a lot more about what is available on your camera. You will have to do some investigation on your own and I promise it will payoff with a little practice thrown in. 

So knowing what the different autofocus modes are on your camera and how to use them more affectively will help you make the choices you need for any subject or situation you encounter. I can tell you I only use a couple modes when I shoot, since I mainly take pictures of landscapes, nature, and candid shots of family; so I usually use a single point setting, and focus in on the area of the foreground, the part of a flower, or the eye or nose of an animal, or person which are the spots I want to be fully in focus. One setting, which some cameras have, and I would probably never use, is a focus setting where while shooting a single shot, all the focus points are activated at the same time. This is a problem for me because it will focus on the closest object detected by one of these focus points. Now one mode I do like and use is the continuous Auto focus (AF) mode where by you can take photos of moving objects or subjects way more easily. Here is how it works, you select a certain area in your view finder where you first gain focus of say a moving animal, or the person trying to steal second base, and when the camera gains focus in that area then it will switch to an area where the subject has moved to by following the person’s movements. Pretty good way of capturing the slide when that person hits the dirt while the ball is being thrown to get them out. 

Then there is a number of different settings to help capture those quick action moments; that can be so allusive to a photographer who doesn’t  know what settings to use for certain situations or forgot to reset our camera’s. One other one is a setting where a group of AF points can be set in the center, or different areas in the focus screen instead of all the points on some cameras. This can be used when you want to limit the focus area, and want more than a single point of focus. And the setting I use most is where you can activate a single focusing point in the area you want like the eye of an animal, or the foreground of a scene. Now, some cameras have different types of AF systems than others, with the more expensive ones usually having the quickest and more accurate systems. 

A rare quick moment when our grandchild gets cuddly with His Maw.

A rare quick moment when our grandchild gets cuddly with His Maw.

   Just so you can determine the type AF sensor system you would like to have on your next camera purchase depends on how quick of focus you want. To decide that you have to determine what types of photography you will be doing the most, and how critical it is for you to get that moment when the baby kisses the new puppy, or get a picture of son or daughter sprinting to crossing the finish line in the next 100 yard dash during their school track meet.   

Phase Detection is faster than Contrast-based AF systems, and we can go into detail about this topic somewhere down the road on exactly how they work. It is something a bit harder to grasp and explain; and for your knowledge the Contrast-based system isn’t as suited for moving subjects. This means if you plan on doing things like sporting events, and catch candids of animals and people you might want to put out the extra money for a camera with phase-detection system. There are also different types of auto focus sensors. 

Auto Focus Sensors and Settings

Auto focusing systems also have different ways it senses what to focus on, and where in the frame of the view finder(s). Some sensors capture distances along either horizontal, vertical lines, or diagonally. Then too, there are multiple sensors linked to focus in on a particular area of the view finder and subseqntally the area on the subject, or object it is set to focus on, or is the closest to the camera. So, if you are focusing in on an animal such as a deer, bears, or possibly a LION, you can set the area over the eye of the animal and that is where the photo will be in focus and the sharpest. As  you are looking away from that area in the image things can get more and more out of focus the farther you look from it, providing the f -stop is set at a low value, which opens up the shutter more. This lets more light in, and is also used to draw more attention to a certain part of the picture, and it makes that spot stand out more. Some times it is called giving the photo more POP. Like a bubble popping. The picture really catches peoples eye in other words.   More↓

AF Modes

There are at least two auto focus modes you need to know about. There’s a single-point mode for stationary subjects, and a continuous mode for moving subjects. In single shot mode the camera focuses in at the spot on the viewfinder it is set to when you depress the shutter button halfway, and then locks in on that area and distance until you take your finger off the shutter button. Some settings on Nikon and Canon camera’s will lock in to a stationary subject and if it moves the camera switches to a continuous mode to follow the subject. While this is well and good, it doesn’t switch back to a stationary mode if the subject becomes still again. Another thing to watch is, some continuous focusing modes are prone to go in and out of focus with a stationary subject, especially if it moves slightly; and in these situations using a single-point setting works better. Oh, and do I hate when it does things like that. My Nikon D3200 is like that, and you have to go into the settings through the programing found in the live-view or settings screen. Hopefully one day I can step-up to a full frame camera with all kinds of on-bored camera body buttons. I do believe most of the higher=end cameras have a button for switching out AF modes quickly.     

  Another issue with AF focus that makes a difference in getting a precise moment of an elusive eagle flying by, or the expression on your child or grandchild’s face when  the family dog is licking them in the face, is whether a camera has Focus-priority or Release-Priority. With focus priority the shutter button is locked until the camera thinks the subject is in focus. The delay between when the camera achieves focus and the shutter button being released can cause you to miss important moments you’d love to have captured and couldn’t. I seem to have this problem a lot when taking pictures on real  cloudy days and in low light too. The shutter button locked up on me a bunch of times trying to get a picture of a cardinal (bird type) in the snow on a cloudy day, and for some reason the shutter button would lock up or the lens and camera kept focusing in and out trying to achieve focus every time I lifted my finger from trying to release the button back to halfway to try depressing it again. Got frustrating! 

 None the less I ended up getting some shots of the bright red bird contrasting the bright white snow. Goes to show how much I wish I could afford some more expensive equipment. A camera and some longer focule length lenses, since the shots I will get of subjects the small and somewhat a little distance away have to be cropped a lot to really see ‘em well, and then the picture is too grainy. Don’t know what some of these terms are? We will touch on them else where, like the beginning photographer short e-Book I hope on getting written up soon to help the new comers, and people with an intermediate level of knowledge might find some interesting tidd-bits thrown in too, that they never heard of. 

On to release-priority! The shutter can be tripped at any time with release-priority auto focusing, giving you more of a chance to catch those important moments by anticipating movements and gestures from an animated subject and activating the shutter button at that precise moment. Bingo! You’ve gotten a memorable moment captured for posterity and a living room end table, not to mention the family digital and (or) a hard-copy photo album. 

Auto Focus Area, and Lens Factors

There are plenty of other contributing factors such as the AF area you want the picture to be focused on. You’ll probably want to focus in on a single point, say the eyes of your dog or cat when trying to make a portrait of them, or capture them playing with their favorite ball or ball of string. For sports you may want to use the center focus point or area, and have the continuous tracking AF mode on to capture all the action. With some cameras you can even activate groups of AF points so when something is in that section or area of the viewfinder you want in focus the camera will adjust the focus to the closest thing in that area, causing it to be the sharpest thing in the photograph. Also, it may take an average of everything in the area within the plane of focus and cause the focus to be sharp within that area.  

Some other factors that may affect the ways the camera and lens work together to achieve auto-focus are the speed of the lens (the lowest f-stop you can set a particular lens to, to open the aperture-diaphragm* of the lens)(light emitting*), and the fine tuning, or better known as the calibration of a lens and camera system to each other. Check your camera’s manual for the fine-tuning or calibration feature, and if it has one, the steps you take  to have the combination perform the best together.

My Experience with Focus settings.

To be honest this is a subject I too am just beginning to learn. This changing focus areas is something I have always regularly done, but this continuous focus, single focus spot vs. an area focus is relatively new to me, but I have used them before. I mainly use a single point with a three burst shutter release setting, since most of my photographs are nature, and landscapes with a few animal photos, and the good ole family portraits and candids. I tend not to need fancy focusing, just a way to adjust where in the frame I want the major focus, or to hone in on a particular object or subject to emphasize it, and or a starting point for the most sharpness in a given area of the photograph. This being said, I have tried some of the focusing settings sort of willy-nilly  <Not knowing what I was doing> and didn’t have much success with it. All I have is a D3200 retail, off the shelf Nikon, and am trying to write off my inability to get things accomplished without having studied what to use, where and how until Now.  

mallard-landing-lg-newcreek-color-ed-edit-sharp-483 dansmt-lg-orig-edit-orig-2 ducks-flying-72-res-sharper-sz-72res-cafe-overice-edit-sharp-43 newcreek-mallard-final-smaller-0298 tit-mouse-annapolis-deck-6 tit-mouse-annapolis-deck tit-mouse-annapolis-deck-2 tit-mouse-annapolis-deck-3I did have some better successes after taking a quick read of my camera manual to know how to set up things like continuous-focusing. This duck was taken with that a continuous mode setting. I set myself on the side of a stream bank and kept watching up stream where the ducks were flying in from every so often. When I would see one I followed it from within the viewfinder, and as it got a fourth to a third of the way towards where I stood I set my single focus point on one of the ducks, if in a pair or a group, and tried following it in the continuous focus mode. It stayed in focus some of the way and some of the the time, but the D3200 is slow with keeping up with the fast flying birds. The only motor that changes the auto focus is in the lens, on these and other lower-priced cameras, and not in the camera body like more expensive models. I think I can honestly say that is part of what contributes to the slowness of the focusing in these type cameras. The camera has to talk to the lens to get it to operate its focusing motor which is further away from the circuitry and brains of the body, and they have never been synced together, that I know of. I am not sure that is even possible. 

There are all these things I am trying to learn how to do so I can pass them on to you, because I have only stumbled across somethings I’ve learned by trial and error, and reading articles  like this one either in magazines, both digital and paper copies, or through ebooks, and the real hold in ones hands type books. Which are really what I prefer. Now through all this trial and error I seem to come up with some pretty darn good photography, so don’t let your knowledge or lack there of keep you from shooting, you’re bound to get some good shots the more often you shoot and the more pictures you take. 

Take this information and go out and get as many unforgettable, and beautiful family action photos, capture those sporting events, flowers and animals, landscapes, and not to forget portrait photographs you can get, and share them with us the ways in which you used to focus on your subjects. One of the best ways to learn is by doing and practicing, although discussing and sharing our findings, mistakes, and SUCCESSES helps reinforce all that we learn. Not to mention the ways it helps others with their photography or any skill.  

Well I hope this gets out before the holiday season. So, have yourselves a Merry little Christmas and a Happy New Year!! Don’t forget to be about giving and not receiving. Spend some quality time with Family and friends. They are what make living in this world worthwhile. Go lite on the eggnog and the champain! Take lots of pictures and see you in the New Year! 

***Merry Christmas***

and 

 *Happy Holidays*

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