In part #1 on taking better photos on the water, I covered the point & shoot camera near the water. Many of the same tips also apply to the Single-Lens-Reflex Camera. I will cover them again so that you SLR users have a single blog to read.
The Digital SLR, when it is used right, will give you the best results when you are taking photos near water. Digital SLR prices start at around $550. Various lenses and other equipment may be needed to complete a nicely equipped package to meet your eventual needs. I have two Digital SLRs, and both were priced at about $800 and included two excellent lenses. I have friends who have lenses that cost $5,000 to $6,000. Of course, these lenses have the ability to capture fantastic shots; on the other hand, a stabilized 15-85mm lens can cost between $400 and $750. This lens can handle 80% of your shots near water, on land or from a boat. If I were allowed to have only on extra lens in my camera bag, it would be this one.
Here is a list of ideas on how to improve that water-related photography:
- Think about buying a circular polarizing filter which can be very helpful when shooting near the water. These filters reduce glare in and on the water, plus they help you produce stunning landscapes and make clouds stand out. I have a polarizing filter for each of my lenses. I do not use them everywhere because they are the kiss of death for great action shots. These filters reduce the exposure levels by 2.4 to 3 f-stops. This will cut your shutter spend if you leave your aperture setting unchanged.
- The first step you should take if you are going anywhere near the water with your DSLR, is to get a well-padded and totally water-proof camera bag. From experience, I know and mine actually floats. You should realize that the new DSLR is a computer. I don’t think you would take an unprotected laptop in a small boat and let it bounce its way down the bay.
- Another good addition to that camera bag would be a stabilized 15-85 mm. digital zoom lens. They can cost between $500 and $800. If I only had one lens available, this would be my choice.
- With the DSLR, you will need to learn a bit about the auto focus modes built into the camera. Of course, all cameras allow you to also use a manual focus setting if you desire. Most new Digital SLR’s have two auto focus modes, which are “single” or “continuous.” The easiest way to think about this is that the continuous setting should be used where action is in the shot. The single mode allows you to focus on a single point of interest, should it be a baby, boat or butterfly. You will need some practice to master when to use each mode. Before you ask, yes I do use manual mode once in a while.
- Like with point-and-shoot cameras, do not erase photos from your camera while you’re on the scene. I do not believe you can judge the quality of an exposure by looking at the tiny LCD camera screen. Download and then delete if you need to. This means you will need a couple more memory cards in that camera bag.
- The biggest problem when photographing on or near water is overexposure. This overexposure washes out detail and usually cannot be corrected. It is much better to underexpose intentionally, and if necessary, lighten the scene on your computer in whatever program you are using to correct photos.
- If you decide you must have a telephoto lens in that camera bag, don’t be talked into getting one that is beyond 250mm. Unless you are a very serious nature photographer, learn to wait until you can get closer to you subject.
- Remember, even on a bright and sunny day you might need to use a flash. When people and their faces are in a picture, sometimes their own body or maybe a hat shades their faces, and all detail is lost. A flash cannot really hurt in this situation.
- Action shots at dawn or sunset provide a large challenge to the new DSLR owner. The most useful advice I can give is to slightly overexpose the shot. This will preserve the action, and with any kind of luck, the color in the sunset or sunrise will also be great.
- Learn how to use the camera’s “pro modes.” On most cameras this is the “P” setting. It allows you to set the ISO and JPEG quality while the camera balances the shutter speed and aperture (f-stop) settings automatically. For action shoots you should use the “A” setting (aperture priority) which lets you set the aperture and film speed (ISO). The camera sets the shutter speed. When I shoot near water, I usually set the ISO at 400 and the aperture at about f-8. Nine out of 10 times the camera will set the shutter speed at 1//1000th of a second on a bright day. I use f-8 because it will keep the best finished product sharp and clear.
The key to any good photography is to get to know your equipment. That means the camera, lenses, tripods, filters and anything else that you might drag along on your trips to Presque Isle. So you will need to practice, and then practice some more. If 10% of your shots are great, you are better than most of us. Have a happy summer enjoying Presque Isle.
See you on the park!!
Categorised in: Photography
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