Help wanted......

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by OllyB, Jan 9, 2006.

  1. OllyB

    OllyB Member

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    Sorry if this this is the wrong location for this thread but couldn't see anywhere more suitable.

    As a relative newcomer to film photography using a mid range SLR (Nikon F80) I am struggling to get past the automatic functions on the camera. My aim is to get to a point where I can put the camera in manual and fire away getting the same, or better, results than I do now. My problem is a lack of understanding on the basics and despite many late nights reading countless books I struggle to put theory into practice.

    Where is the best place to start ?? Does anyone know of any courses that may help or of anyone in my neck of the woods that will consider some personal tuition ??

    All help gratefully received.

    Olly
     
  2. NikoSperi

    NikoSperi Member

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    Can't help with your neck of the woods I'm afraid. But you should manage to get shooting in manual with some understanding of what is going on. It's a bit lot to describe here in one go, but one only really needs to understand how the camera controls light (aperture and shutter speed), how it measures light (the meter in camera or outside it) and what the film does with it (ISO, type etc).

    With the F80, don't try to jump from P to M. Take turns using the S and A modes where you control one of the two exposure controls, and let the camera deal with the other one. Say you start with A, set the aperture to a fixed f/5.6, and point the camera at various things and look what it does to the shutter speed. Do the same with S mode, and set say, 1/60th, and point around seeing what happens to aperture readings.

    Read up on how reflected light meters work (Google is your friend here).

    Basically, take it in small steps. Good luck... but seeing your signature, you won't need it.
     
  3. clogz

    clogz Subscriber

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    One of the (many) good features of the F80 is the depth-of-field (DOF) preview button. Make sure you use it.

    Good luck

    Hans
     
  4. firecracker

    firecracker Member

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    For learning the basic principle of film photography and the manual process of how to take photographs and make prints, Henry Horenstein's "Black & White Photography" is a good book to start. It shouldn't take up too much time to read. :smile:
     
  5. PeterDendrinos

    PeterDendrinos Member

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    Olly, the book mentioned above is a good one. I would be happy to work with you if you don't mind a bit of a boat ride :D

    This is the place to ask questions. everyone here will jump to help. feel free to PM me with any questions any time. or post publicly, we are all here for you.

    Pete
     
  6. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    APUG is indeed the right place, but I'm moving this to the 35mm forum :smile:
     
  7. celeborn

    celeborn Member

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    take notes

    I should practice this more myself. Keep a notebook and write down your exposure factors when shooting manually. It will shorten your learning curve dramatically.
     
  8. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    Understanding the principles isn't really complicated. Doing it right will take some practice. Here's my take on the general principles.

    Taking a photograph is like pouring a correct quantity of light on a sensitive material. You use your meter to figure out how much light you need to make a correct exposure, then you decide with what tool you want to control the volume of light impressing your film. Using a meter effectively means interpreting what it tells you, not following it blindly. You need to learn what part of the scene you should meter, and what correction you should apply to the reading it gives you.

    You can either use aperture or shutter speed, and they are calibrated on the same scale, casually referred to as the "stops." Because they use the same intervals, from any aperture/shutter speed pair your camera is in, if you close the lens and slow down the shutter, you will always have the same quantity of light. Your meter gives you for a given amount of light all the equivalent aperture/shutter speed. If you choose any of these, you will have the same volume of light reaching your film.

    Although aperture and shutter speed have the same effect on the amount of light, they do not have the same effect on how your picture will look like. A small aperture means lots of depth of field; a fast shutter speed means you can stop movement. Conversely, a slow shutter speed can create movement lines, and a wide aperture a shallow depth of field. To go either way is desirable in some situations, and not in others: it depends on what your subject is and what your vision is.

    There are various ways to apply corrections to your light meter reading in order to get a better exposure. You should generally aim your meter at the darkest portion of your photo where you want details (so not full black, just dark), and from the reading you have, expose one or two stop less (you need to test). Exposing one stop less is EITHER closing your lens OR setting your shutter at a higher speed. That is a crude, but effective way of interpreting your meter reading. Go read Ansel Adams's The Negative for the full shebang.

    Finally, because photography is like an assembly chain, bear in mind that the process needs to be controlled from the moment you take the picture until you have the printed photo in your hand. Usually, for one beginner's mistake, there's one obvious step at which to fix it. But to make better photographs, there are many, many parameters you can change.

    Hint: listen to the older photographers... That's what I do!
     
  9. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    The best place to start? Here, and now. Get out of all the books and DO!!

    Reading and studying are useful, no doubt, but nothing can match the reinforcement of experience. Somewhere, everyone becomes saturated with information, and what is really needed is, more or less, reflex action. By DOING you will allow you "muscles to memorize" and It will come. It WILL.

    I think a valid parallel is that of bicycle riding. One can read about the proper way to ride until the brink of sanity is reached - but you will NEVER know how to ride a bicycle until you DO it -- "X" amount of times.
     
  10. Poptart

    Poptart Member

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    Buy a copy of David Vestal's The Craft of Photography, the best book on 35mm B&W ever written.
     
  11. Uncle Bill

    Uncle Bill Subscriber

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    Welcome to the forum.
    You are where I was 6 years ago. I started off with a Canon Rebel XS with one zoom lens 28-80 and later a sigma telephoto zoom. I largely taught myself and was not afraid to ask questions, you learn a lot online, also there are continuing education courses everywhere in Photography, I only wish my schedule was flexible enough to leverage them.
    Today is different, I use mostly old gear from the 1960's and 1970's and I love the totally mechanical as opposed to electronic process, along the way collected most of the SLR's that mattered from that time period. A dangerous addiction

    Bill

    Bill
     
  12. gnashings

    gnashings Inactive

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    Hi,

    I am a lot closer to being where you are now than most of the people here, hehehehe:smile: so maybe I can be helpful in relating to a beginner (which I consider myself to be not far from).
    One thing that I found to be a useful analogy expands on what mhv said (or rather draws a parallel): pouring light onto a light sensitive material is exactly what you are doing, but to understand it more easily, think of a proper exposure as glass full of water. In order to get the rigth exposure, you need the glass to be exactly full - not quite full, and you have dark, underexposed pictures (thin negs), spill some over, and you have overexposed, blown out pictures (dense, black negs). Now, you have two ways to control the amount of water (since God has the tap in hand:smile:): how long you let it run, and how big a hole you let it in through. So, picture a waterfall, and you have a cup in your hand that you have to fill just right. You have a cover over the top that lets you adjust the opening size (hey, thats apperture!), and you have the say over how long the cup can be "exposed" to the stream of water (the shutter!). As you can imagine, you can get the same amount of water in there by letting it run twice as long or by letting it run through a hole twice as big! Pretty simple, right? Now - your meter tells you how much water is running - is it a trickle (dusk, cloudy morning, etc) or a flood (sunny afternoon, snow, etc).
    Having said that, you have to grasp what it is the meter is telling you. Contrary to what most people think, a reflective meter (the kind in your camera - it measures light reflecting from, rather than falling on, the object of your attention) can't think for itself, and measures one thing: 18%, or as its often called middle gray (no idea what its in the middle of). The idea is, if you took a picture of that exact colour, it would look exactly that same gray in a final print if you did everything properly (albeit not necessarily very creatively:smile:). If for example, you took a picture of a patch of snow according to the reading, it would come out exactly gray on your picture. If you took a picture of something perfectly black, it too, would be gray. To sum it up - if you had a perfectly black wall, and a perfectly white wall, and you took a shot of both exactly as the meter tells you to they would both look... exactly the same in your photo. Most scenes have a variety of tones, so you get highlights, and shadows - so you get a pretty good picture most of the time. But, until you understand this principle, you will have some very dissappointing pictures.
    This final part is something that may be met with various responses. I am by NO means suggesting that what you need in order to learn is different equipment, but... I find that modern full-auto SLR's have so many features, and so much possible automation and endless combinations of auto this and manual that and so on and so forth... that I think you may find an old fashioned camera a better learning tool. They are dirt cheap, dead-nails reliable and never leave you guessing - if you screwed up, you screwed up - no guessing if perhaps special function x was turned on and you forgot to disable auto-whatchamacallit, or perhaps selected this option or that one... NO. You have at best a meter, a shutter speed wheel and an apperture ring. A lot easier to learn the relationship between those when its all that you can directly affect. And many of these cameras come with wonderful glass that will match your Nikon in every way, or at least for all practical purposes. I saw a Pentax and a Minolta like that right here on APUG for less than $50. And since they are on the bottom of their depreciation curve, hey - when you sell them, they will still be... yep - you guessed it, about $50 :smile: I just think they make learning easier by removing distractions, guesswork, and all extrenous features that you probably don't need yet and don't know how to properly utilize.
    Like I said - I count myself in the ranks of the (perhaps) advanced beginners, so my advice is what it is - but you are very welcome to PM me with any questions. If I don't know (very likely), I will probably be able to point you to someone who does.
    Best of luck, and like someone said - first and foremost - go out and shoot like mad!

    Peter.