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Beginer in need of help

Discussion in 'Colour or Not' started by craig5br, Oct 5, 2010.

  1. craig5br

    craig5br New Member

    Hello all,

    This is my first post so please be gentle with me :)

    The company I work for recently employed me as there graphic designer but asked me to take on all the photographic requirements (I never said I know 'how to take good photos' its just something they required me to do) so in the mean time they have recently bought me a nikon d5000 and yesterday I went out to take a few photos of a couple of buildings they have had built over the summer and as it was such a nice day yesterday I thought I would seize the opportunity to get some nice photos of these buildings. This is where I hit my first problem the photos of the exterior are very over exposed - what settings would you recommend for outside shots with clear blue skies?

    Sorry if this is not posted in the right section

    Many thanks in advance for your help.
  2. spinno

    spinno Well-Known Member

    the phrase how long is a piece of string springs immediately to mind...There is no set answer but there is a need to ask a question which is very basic ...which setting did you use to take the picture. If you can provide that then someone may be able to help.
    As an aside there is an old established rule of photography called the "sunny 16s"...basically depending at what ISO speed or Film speed (if using film) you are using you can roughly estimate an exposure...usually it's very accurate. For example on a bright sunny day at ISO 100, if you manually set the shutter speed to 1/100 of a second your aperture (f stop number) would be 16. However I suggest you google this to see what better qualified people than myself say..
    Welcome to the forum by the way :D
  3. LargeFormat

    LargeFormat Well-Known Member

    Hi Craig and welcome to the forum. (David beat me to it as the wife asked me to put up the washing line half way through typing)

    The easiest way to get started is to set the camera to auto. You'll be able to view the pictures on the LCD to see if you have them reasonably exposed. Have you read the instruction manual? This will explain the more "advanced" exposure methods such as aperture priority, bracketing and so on.

    Has your company provided you with a computer and software to work with? Photographing buildings often involves some tinkering with converging verticles.

    It sounds a bit fierce chucking you in at the deep end.
  4. surf_digby

    surf_digby Well-Known Member

    Have you got any examples you can show us, so that we can refer to something specific that you're familiar with?

    There's not just the camera settings to take into account though. The position from which you shoot in relation to where the sun is makes a big difference.

    If possible, have it so that the sun is behind your shoulder. This means maximum light hitting the building, leaving the sky nice and blue.
    Sometimes knocking the exposure compensation (the +/- button) to -0.3 or -0.7 will help.
    If the sun is to the side of you, you'll get the sunlight glaring off the building. Investing in a circular polariser filter (CPL) will help to reduce this, as well as deepening the colour of the sky.

    Another trick that can work is setting the white balance to cloudy, even on a sunny day. This is purely down to taste, but I like vivid colours, and this makes the sky a deep rich blue, and red brick practically glow.
  5. willie45

    willie45 Well-Known Member

    I reckon, if you're uncertain re exposure, experiment. Cover your back and bracket like mad. In other words, set your camera to auto and then over and underexpose by a lot in a few steps. So if your camera says 1/250 at f8, do that but then do some pictures at 1/250 at f 2.8, f 4 and f11 and f16 and see how they look

    This is a good scattergun approach and if you're not sure about exposure should at least give you something close to correct to work on when you get them on the computer.

    If you want to look further, a great first book is "Understanding Exposure" by Bryan Peterson, which you can buy from Amazon at a reasonable price. It really is a very good starting point and highly recommended

  6. Wheelu

    Wheelu Well-Known Member

    It is a very well written book clearly explaining exposure assuming no previous knowledge. However I am sure that it was first written in the days of film photography, and while it has been tweaked a bit, it does not really address the new digital reality.

    In practice if you set your camera to Auto, or better still to Aperture Priority, when you will have some control over what's happening, it will get it right most of the time. The trick is to take a good look at the histogram after each shot, and then modify the exposure if it looks to be under or over exposed.

    It also helps if you shoot in RAW mode, because you can then compensate for exposure error during processing - provided that the error was not too great! The worst thing to do is to grossly overexpose, as then information is irretrievably lost - you just get a blank white patch on the image.
  7. Brian

    Brian Venerable Elder

    Craig, set the camera to default/auto everything with the image quality set to record large Jpegs. If your camera has an 'intelligent' shooting mode use it', if nor use 'Auto' and stop worrying. Modern cameras are very capable of producing technically great photos with little input from the user despite what many 'serious' photographers will tell you.

    At least this way you will get record photographs for your employers. Reading technical books, mastering Photo editing software, joining camera clubs can wait, possibly your employers can't.

    You might find it surprising that there are some photographers who really have been around the block who work in the manner I describe.

    And take plenty of shots, memory is cheap.
  8. Roy5051

    Roy5051 Well-Known Member

    Good advice; I find that when I think I know better than the camera, I am invariably WRONG!

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