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Green with envy over your beautiful photos

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Green with envy over your beautiful photos

Postby GH-Dave » Tue Oct 05, 2010 5:35 pm

To say that I am impressed by the quality of photos here would be a huge understatement. It makes me want to get out there and take better shots myself. But first, I believe I need to upgrade from my cheap point and shoot.

I need a new camera for my business and the standard these days is in the digital SLR camp. Because of financial limitations, I've narrowed my choice down to the Canon EOS Rebel T1i. It so happens that we've got a very old Canon 35mm SLR film camera with a selection of lenses, and I'm hoping that I can use those lenses on the new Canon.

Has anybody had experience with this Canon?

Also, for example, in the Backcountry Fall Colors thread, Schmalz posted a knock-your-socks-off beautiful photo of fall colors reflecting off of Parker Lake. Then I went to his photo-hosting site and found he regularly takes photos like that every bit as good. Then, I browsed this High Sierra Photography forum and found that many of the regulars take stunningly beautiful photos of their Sierra trips.

Questions:

Are you guys using hyper expensive high-end cameras to get these shots? Color enhancement filters? Photoshopping to bring out colors? Expensive lenses. How much tweaking of settings do you do to get those beautiful shots? Does one have to use a tripod?

I took a lot of photos during my recent solo trip, but am pretty much disappointed with the results. Walking alone and quietly, I saw more wildlife than I've ever seen before walking with partners. But in the shots of them they are like little specks in the background, and often blurry.

Will the 18-55mm lens that comes with the camera be adequate, or should I invest in a zoom lens if my older ones aren't compatible?

I'm wondering if those of you who post your photos here could each chime in with the equipment and techniques that you use to get your beautiful shots.

I realize there is a lot more to getting beautiful photos than just the equipment, but I've got to start somewhere. And I know I'm getting nowhere with my cheap, little point and shoot.

Thanks in advance for your contributions to my questions.

Dave



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Re: Green with envy over your beautiful photos

Postby John Dittli » Tue Oct 05, 2010 6:20 pm

Hi Dave

The Rebel is a nice entry level SLR (I have one for kick around). Older Canon lenses will work only if they are from the EOS era of film cameras (I don't know if there are adapters for the older lenses).

The 18-55 is very nice and sharp for close-up work, less desirable for landscapes. But it really depends on what you want to do with your work. If it is for screen viewing only, then that lens is fine. As far as cameras for monitor quality, check out lostcoyotes recent images from a point and shoot; plenty good enough and way lighter, easier etc.

I shoot with expensive cameras, expensive lenses and work in expensive software on expensive computers; is that all necessary? Only if you want to make some large prints (and look cool at the shoot with those big white lenses;).

In Walk the Sky there are images shot with the Rebel 18-55 next to images I shot on 4x5 film. I recon only a very few discerning eyes would notice the diference.

As far as color, I also would wager that most everything you see here (and other sites) with vibrant colors, have been post processed (i.e. Photoshop).

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Re: Green with envy over your beautiful photos

Postby lostcoyote » Tue Oct 05, 2010 7:35 pm

Hi Dave,

To add to what John has already said, I'd go to a bookstore and study some of the work that others have done in addition to the work shown here. Better yet, the new 2011 calanders are coming out. Buy or browse a few in the bookstores and study the work of popular folks like David Muench or Jack Dykinja just to namd a few of many many great photographers out there. They are well known for what is termed "near/far" compositions. You can go to other sites such as photo.net or flickr.com and explore around there. Absorb it in and discover just how many really good photographers are out there - mostly self taught.... which is what you can do to simply by working hard at it and paying really close attention to the compositions & asthetics you get back by looking at your pictures with a sense of detatchment.

I started out with a 35mm SLR in high school and by the time I had graduated from college, I was starting to use 4x5 large format (not rendered very well here in my recent uploads of b/w shots scanned using a POS scanner.) I remember that I used to carry 7 lenses with me on top of film holders, neutral density filters, etc... and I recorded my heaviest pack weight to be 105 pounds - ugggg. Well, I did a complete reversal a couple of years ago when I simply didn't want to carry all of this weight anymore. And so I bought a point and shoot. The pack weight is great but I miss the high level of detail a 4x5 provides along with doing near/far compositions that are critically focused from near to far as well - - - so I suppose I will break down sometime in the future and make a compromise (speaking for myself here) and get a good quality DSLR like John has talked about.... (John, what's your wide angle lens of choice for that 5d?) but I too, ahve not made that choice to do so just yet.

As far as my pictures posted here with the point & shoot, yeah, the pictures come out of the camera pretty plain looking. I can't do the near/far stuff I did with the 4x5 camera and so I have to make compromises while shooting a subject cuz I don't like out of focus stuff in my shots. I use photoshop and I have the tendency to over saturate the colors (i like the vibrancy knob in photoshop) and I also have to sharpen each image. Because I am not making prints and they are for display on a computer screen only, I don't really care if they are oversharpened or oversaturated..... but in contrast, for the 4x5 stuff I do make prints on for our house or friends, I like to have them look as perfect as I can get them to the point that I do not get tired of looking at the image on the wall after a year of hanging. (Maybe that's why I like b/w better than color.... I tend to get tired of color faster than a finely crafted b/w image)

Anyway, have at it :)
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Re: Green with envy over your beautiful photos

Postby maverick » Tue Oct 05, 2010 7:58 pm

It all depends on what you want to do with your photo's, and how serious you
want to get.
It can become a very expensive hobby/obsession, especially the lens prices that can
go up into the stratosphere.
If you want to show them on the web, and maybe do a few 4x6 or 6x8 prints for
the family, and friends, then a good point and shoot that can shoot raw will be
more than adequate.
The camera is only an instrument/conduit to what you personally envision, and
as such, you should work up to a more sophisticated/expensive tool, when/if needed!
Many folks fall into the thinking that buying the best/most expensive will make them
better only to later find out that this is just short sited thinking, and they
come to realize that there is a whole creative/artistic side of the process that no
expensive camera equipment can substitute.
If your set on wanting to buy a dslr, and mainly shoot landscape photography, than
maybe a used 5D 1, which is a full frame camera, and a used 24-105 mm lens would
make a good starter kit, and if, later you feel that you have out grown this camera
than buy a new one.
Which ever camera you do decide to purchase make sure you learn everything
about it, so you do not let the camera have all the control, but you control it.
Many folk think that a more expensive camera should make better pictures, and
do not control the creative process from start to finish.
On the development side, learning photoshop is important to learn so you can
produce the best quality prints, especially if someday you want to produce
gallery/show prints.
There are many very good web sites that can help like ronbigelow.com, and
others, in the development phase, they can also help in explaining techniques
and give you an understanding of why certain things happen the way they do
which in turn will give you an awareness of certain limitations before you
even push the shutter button, so you won't loose or mess up that one in a
million shot.
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Re: Green with envy over your beautiful photos

Postby John Dittli » Tue Oct 05, 2010 8:07 pm

lostcoyote wrote:(John, what's your wide angle lens of choice for that 5d?) b

Oh ya, that pesky wide angle limitation of the point and shoots. Probably 60-70% of my backcountry work is done with the 16-35 and I would guess over half of those are shot at or near 16mm.

Also, great advice about looking at the "masters" work in calendars and other sources.
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Re: Green with envy over your beautiful photos

Postby GH-Dave » Tue Oct 05, 2010 8:31 pm

Thank you John and the others for the detailed information in your replies.

To answer the question about what I want to do with my photos: For now, I just want to visit some of the most beautiful locations in the Sierra and come back with photos that people go "Ooooh," and "Ahhhh" over. :) Fact is, nobody went "Ooooh," or "Ahhhh" over any of the shots that I took during my recent trip. :(

So my basic question was, can I get beautiful shots with "entry level" equipment such as the Canon Rebel? John basically answered that with his beautiful production of "Walk the Sky," using, apparently, a Canon Rebel to take some of the shots.

I take it, also, that there are point and shoot digital cameras out there that can take good photos. But, like I said, I need this camera for my business, and point and shoot cameras have a "touristy" image, whereas the DSLRs look vastly more professional, more like the trusty Nikon 35mm SLR film cameras that until recently were the long-time industry standard.

Also, I need built-in video, and the Canon Rebel T1i comes with a highly regarded video feature.

Thanks again for all the information. I see I've got some homework to do. Hopefully, someday I'll be proud enough to post some of my trip shots. :)

Dave
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Re: Green with envy over your beautiful photos

Postby copeg » Wed Oct 06, 2010 7:15 am

Camera/equipment is only part of the equation. Composition, subject, lighting, etc...are important factors as well. An SLR has an advantage over a point and shoot in so far as it allows more options to play with these factors using things such as different lenses, longer exposures, 'raw' images, filters, etc...I'd recommend looking at or purchasing a Nature Photography book or two that delves into some of these concepts (my first book was a John Shaw book entitled 'Landscape Photography' - a bit aged but contains some good info and photography).

As for specifics, my opinion differs from John's with regards to the 18-55 - in my opinion it is a poor lens for landscapes: many of the images I have using that lens are relatively soft with poor contrast. Given two conflicting opinions, your mileage may vary. When it comes to additional equipment, tripod, remote release, polarizer, are additional pieces of equipment you should consider. Also consider the rebel has a 'cropped sensor' (eg 18mm is actually almost 29mm), limiting wide angles relative to full frame sensors such as the 5D. You can compensate by purchasing yet more equipment (such as a 10-22mm lens). Its a great advantage however if you shoot with longer lenses however (eg 400mm turns into a 640mm).
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Re: Green with envy over your beautiful photos

Postby lostcoyote » Wed Oct 06, 2010 7:33 am

copeg wrote:with regards to the 18-55 - in my opinion it is a poor lens for landscapes: many of the images I have using that lens are relatively soft with poor contrast.


okay, and so i am left wondering which wide angle lens you guys prefer?
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Re: Green with envy over your beautiful photos

Postby maverick » Wed Oct 06, 2010 9:52 am

Canon 17-40 mm f4 is to me a decent lens that preforms well, and I do not
need f2.8(16-35) for landscape photography, plus its much more expensive
and since I will be stopping down somewhere between f9-f11, which will be
using the center part of the lens anyways, there will be no major difference
between the lenses, and definitely not several hundred $$ worth.
The new 24 mm TS 2, and 17 mm TS 2 looks like a very interesting lenses, and
if you like prime lenses, with a lot a positive feedback and photo's, but is quite
expensive at around $2000.
A cheaper lens than these is the Sigma 12-24 mm which is slower, and has quality
control issues, but if you can snag a good copy, and can control some of the issues
that come with it than it can be quite a creative lens on the long end of things.
The other lens is the Nikon 14-24 lens which is raved about, but you have to get an
adapter, no filters can be used, and you lose auto focus capabilities, and is pretty
expensive though not as much as the TS lenses.
And for non full frame cameras the Canon 10-20 mm is a good lens, and the new Sigma
8-16 mm lens looks interesting, but I have not used this one.
Dpreview, Fred Miranda, Luminous Landscape for example can give you a lot of feed back
with reviews by the sites, and members.
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Re: Green with envy over your beautiful photos

Postby John Dittli » Wed Oct 06, 2010 1:19 pm

I agree, the 18-55, as I said, leaves a bit to be desired for landscapes. But again, my copy has produce fine results for the printed page (with post production tweeks).

For full frame Canon cameras the 17-40, I think is the way to go. In most tests it is as sharp as the 16-35 with equivalent contrast, costs less and I think weighs less. If I didn't already have the 2.8 I would definitely get the 3.5.

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Re: Green with envy over your beautiful photos

Postby copeg » Wed Oct 06, 2010 9:07 pm

17-40L seems to be the gold standard, and it a high quality lens. Since I prefer to use a cropped sensor camera body, I also use the 10-22mm, which has its issues (mainly color fringing and distortion) but also has good sharpness and contrast.
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Re: Green with envy over your beautiful photos

Postby fishmonger » Thu Oct 07, 2010 8:51 am

John Dittli wrote:
I shoot with expensive cameras, expensive lenses and work in expensive software on expensive computers; is that all necessary? Only if you want to make some large prints (and look cool at the shoot with those big white lenses;)


:D been there, done that
Image

I got rid of all that white stuff 9 years ago, and now carry black Nikon plastic lenses around. In fact, I just did a backyard comparison of some highly rated vintage glass with recent consumer zooms (see 50mm details here) and I had to rethink what I believed about what makes good optics. It's definitely not a factor of weight and size any longer.

When a lens that was allgedly the sharpest 50mm Nikon made in the 20th century gets blown away by their current entry level zoom, then at least in terms of sharpness, there's no reason to carry the cool metal lenses into the backcountry any longer. Maybe there's a difference with full frame sensors, but I doubt that sharpness will improve on a large sensor.

Obviously, the latest pro glass is going to be better than what I used 10 years ago, but the gap has come down significantly. A lot of prosumer lenses are just not as durable, but optically just as good as the high-end stuff. Lens speed, something pro lenses always had over the lower cost competition, has also lost a lot of its benefits due to VR and faster low noise ISO on new bodies. Viewfinder brightness and a few other things may still sway a lot of folks to buy lenses you can also use for self defense, but I'm done carrying 40 pound camera bags.

For Nikon DX, the 18-55mm Nikon VR lens is awesome for what it costs, how light it is, and how well it works in low light due to the VR stabilization. Add to it a Tokina 11-16mm or Sigma 8-16mm (wider, not as well built), and you have pretty awesome wide angle coverage. My 14mm Canon on a full frame body wasn't as wide as that Sigma is, nor did it have any less distortion (but it did cost $2500)
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