Coping with Special Situations

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A few subjects and shooting situations pose additional challenges not already covered in earlier sections. Here's a quick list of ideas for tackling a variety of common "tough-shot" photos:

✓ Shooting through glass: To capture subjects that are behind glass, try putting your lens flat against the glass. Then switch to manual focusing if possible; the glass barrier can give the autofocus mechanism fits. Disable your flash to avoid creating any unwanted reflections, too.

Some newer point-and-shoot cameras have a special "museum" or "aquarium" preset scene modes optimized for shooting through glass.

✓ Shooting out a car window: Set the camera to shutter-priority autoexposure or manual mode and dial in a fast shutter speed to compensate for the movement of the car; or, if your camera doesn't offer those modes, try Sports mode. Even so, however, you still may get a significant amount of blur, especially at night. But sometimes, as in Figure 7-21, that blur can create an interesting effect.

Serge Timacheff

Figure 7-21: Sometimes, a distorted, sbstract image can be interesting..

Serge Timacheff

Figure 7-21: Sometimes, a distorted, sbstract image can be interesting..

✓ Shooting in strong backlighting: When the light behind your subject is very strong and lighting the subject with flash isn't an option, you have a couple of choices: You can either expose the image with the subject in mind, in which case the background will be overexposed, or you can expose for the background, leaving the subject too dark. By taking the latter route and purposely underexposing the subject, you can create some nice silhouette effects. (In computerland, this is what we call "turning a bug into a feature.") Otherwise, if you turn on your flash so that it is forced to fire even with the bright backlighting, it will help illuminate your subject. Some point-and-shoot cameras also have a preset "backlighting" scene mode that will, in many cases, do all the work for you.

✓ Shooting fireworks: First off, use a tripod; fireworks require a long exposure, and trying to handhold your camera simply isn't going to work. If your camera has a zoom lens, zoom out to the shortest focal length. For dSLR and point-and-shoot cameras capable of manual operation, switch to manual focusing and set focus at infinity (the farthest focus point possible on your lens).

If available, use the Manual exposure setting. Choose a relatively high f-stop setting — say, f/16 or so — and start a shutter speed of 1 to 3

seconds. From there, it's simply a matter of experimenting with different shutter speeds.

No Manual exposure mode? Try shutter-priority autoexposure mode instead. Some point-and-shoot cameras now have a Fireworks scene mode, too, in which case you can let the camera take the reins. Be especially gentle when you press the shutter button — with a very slow shutter; you can easily create enough camera movement to blur the image.

If your camera offers a noise-reduction feature, you may want to enable it, too, because a long exposure also increases the chances of noise defects. (Keep the ISO setting low to further dampen noise.)

✓ Shooting reflective surfaces: If you have a dSLR or a point-and-shoot camera that accepts accessory lens filters, you can reduce daytime glare from reflective surfaces such as glass, water, and metal by using a circular polarizing filter, which ranges in price from about $30 to $200, depending on size and brand. A polarizing filter can also help out when you're shooting through glass.

But know that in order for the filter to work, the sun, your subject, and your camera lens must be precisely positioned. Your lens must be at a 90-degree angle from the sun, for example, and the light source must also reflect off the surface at a certain angle and direction. In addition, a polarizing filter also intensifies blue skies and water in some scenarios, which may or may not be to your liking. In other words, a polarizing filter isn't a surefire cure-all.

A more reliable option for shooting small reflective objects is to invest in a light cube or light tent. You place the reflective object inside the tent or cube and then position your lights around the outside. The cube or tent acts as a light diffuser, reducing reflections. For more on this type of product, see Chapter 5.

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Digital Camera and Digital Photography

Digital Camera and Digital Photography

Compared to film cameras, digital cameras are easy to use, fun and extremely versatile. Every day there’s more features being designed. Whether you have the cheapest model or a high end model, digital cameras can do an endless number of things. Let’s look at how to get the most out of your digital camera.

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