Author Archives: InCamera

Do you know what your DSL Shutter is Doing?

Here is some awesome high speed photography. Destin has a YouTube video channel called “Smarter Everyday”. He published this high speed video showing a DSLR camera shutter working. Watch this short video, then I’ll help you to improve your photography…

In the top left corner of the video there is a counter showing the time taken.

The mirror/shutter sequence is…

  • The mirror goes up. Look how much movement there is! Especially notice the mirror bouncing into its resting place above the shutter. This is causing a lot of vibration inside your camera.
  • The camera waits to calm the worst part of the vibration.
  • The shutter ‘first curtain’ opens, exposing the censor to light.
  • Then, the ‘second curtain’ falls, closing off the light. As the shutter closes, look at the shutter curtain and watch it vibrate!
  • Finally, the mirror comes down again. By now the shutter is closed. This last movement does not affect your shot.

The mirror causes a lot of movement in your camera. You can particularly see how much movement there is from vibration and distortion in the mirror mounting when it drops back into position. In this video that is really obvious. That same amount of movement occurs on the mirror up-lift, although the video does not show it quite so well. The uplift movement of the mirror causes vibration throughout your camera. This impacts on your shot milliseconds later as the shutter opens because the camera is still vibrating from the mirror uplift.

My point is that the movement of the shutter and the mirror creates a lot of vibration in the camera. Vibration that affects the sharpness of your picture.

The shutter has to move, you cannot do much about that. To minimise the vibration in your camera – prevent that mirror vibration!

In your DSLR camera manual you will see there is a function called ‘Mirror Lockup’. This allows you to lock the mirror up before the shot starts. Thus, when the shot is taken, all the mirror movement is eliminated. The mirror is up before, during and after the shutter opening sequence. ‘Mirror Lockup’ is one of the important techniques for improving sharpness.

The “Mirror Lockup” technique is particularly effective when you use a tripod. Vibration in your camera causes waves of vibration through your tripod. These vibrations often continue well into your shot. Eliminating them can sharpen your picture a lot.

There is a downside to the mirror lockup technique. While the mirror is locked up the viewfinder is blocked. So you will need to set up your shot before doing the mirror lockup.

This video helps you understand a main source of vibration affecting the sharpness of your shot. This vibration actually comes from within the camera. Learn from your manual how to do “Mirror Lockup” and eliminate this cause of lost sharpness.

Destin does some really fun videos. They cover basic, everyday science – it’s great fun. He has a terrific sense of humour. I subscribed to his channel last year and have enjoyed his work ever since. Subscribe to this YouTube channel and you get notification of new videos.

Damon Guy

Wait for the Critical Moment

Great light, you have to wait for it with some skys

Great light, you have to wait for it with some skys...

The light you use makes or breaks the shot. This tree, sad and lopped in its old age, is a case in point. Look at the sky. There are some great greys and tonal variations in the sky – as you can see. At ground level, there would not normally be much in the way of a great prospect for good light considering this sky.

In the background, behind me, I saw an advancing break in the clouds. I took a few lacklustre shots to try out the feel of my capture. This practice gave me the feel for what I was doing. The light was hopeless. I could see some wonderful watery yellow light coming through the early morning clouds in the approaching break. So I waited and waited.

Eventually I was rewarded with a few seconds of excellent bright yellowy light to illuminate my chosen subject. Literally, a few seconds. Then it was gone. The rest of the morning was a grey, dull day.

Look at the world around you before you take your shot. Practice and try out the idea you have, but create a vision in your mind of what you are trying to achieve. Then, wait for the moment. In this case it was a burst of light. Another time it may be the position of someone or something. Or it could easily be an element of light. Be prepared to put the time in to get the shot.

Have fun, but make sure it counts…

By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photographers.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.

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Do You Dump Your Best Photos?

An opportunist snap - a personal memory.

2002 - An opportunist snap - a personal memory. Not aesthetically pleasing. I would not dump it for the world! One day the memory will be important.

How good is your photographic judgement? Are you actually throwing away just the worst shots? Fine if you are. Otherwise, if you keep only the best shots and dump the rest you are probably throwing away some really good stuff!

How do I know you are dumping good shots? We all develop. We all take a new perspective as our skill and knowledge increases. My experience has taught me that when I was starting out I made some bad decisions. I threw out some great shots – because I did not recognise they were great. My artistic vision and appreciation of good composition has improved a great deal over the years. Today, when I look back at old shots, I find many of them were better than I realised at the time. This was unexpected. I realise that I have thrown away a lot of great shots. What I kept from back then are more use than I realised. Today I frequently use many of my old shots. I sell them or use them for various purposes. I wish I had kept all but the real no-hopers (the exposure tests, lens cap-on shots, total blurs…).

People are always telling me they throw away a lot of the shots they take. So I did an exercise with a group one day. We spent three hours taking shots in an urban setting. Then we all picked our best shot. Once that was done I told everyone to pick the shots they would normally dump. What fun we had next! We spent an hour arguing about the merits of the dumpers. The group frequently disagreed with the image-maker about the ones they would delete. What each author found was that they were throwing away pictures that others liked. Not all of them – but a surprising number. One of the group members actually chose to throw away a great shot. Later the group voted it second best shot of the day. Out of the work from nine photographers the loss of that photograph would have been a great shame. Others were certainly worth keeping too.

Since I went digital I have stored hundreds of thousands of shots. At what cost? Very little. Mostly investment in external hard drives. As a result I have a reservoir of perfectly good photos that provide me with a great library for all sorts of things. Work, family, memories, for sale… whatever I want. Some things are pretty precious. My family shots – blurred and all – might one day provide me or my ancestors with wonderful memories of my life and the lives of my family. If I lost someone close – I would want to remember all about them. Blurred smiles? Memories transcend blur.

For a tiny investment in electronic space you are building a wonderful repository for the future. Don’t listen to those who would have you throw your heritage away.

Recommended Equipment…

Are You Looking For a New Camera Bag?

Camera bags

There is a style and design of camera bag to suit everyone

You spend a lot of money on your camera and equipment. So, you need to protect that investment. A good camera bag is an essential item. It provides housing, protection and security for your camera when shooting. It also helps organise other equipment you carry.

There’s a design of camera bag to suit everybody and every need. Before buying think carefully about why you need the bag. There are a lot of things to carry, many different types of equipment. Ultimately you need to make a choice - you cannot carry everything. So here are some questions to ask yourself when considering a camera bag…

  •  Purpose, why do you want it? [to go from a to b; to provide a choice of equipment; to enable a holiday; to ensure you have a flexible load of equipment; to supply a shoot with equipment]
  • Where you are going to use it? [aeroplane; car; boat; wet; dry; sandy/dusty; UK; overseas]
  • What weight can you carry? What weight do you want for this trip? How heavy is the bag?
  • Do you need to be able to put other equipment in the bag? Flash, light modifiers, lenses etc…
  • What other equipment do you need for a specific trip; what sizes and shapes are your equipment and camera?
  • How much time are you going to need it for [big investment – do you need to spend lots for a weekend away twice a year?]
  • What protection will the equipment need? [Hard case vs. robust case vs. soft padded case}
  • What protection do YOU need? [Big expensive camera bags are an advertisement for muggers]
  • What shape are you? You might need to try out a few bags before you buy. Not all bags are suitable for all body shapes.
Shoulder bags

Out and about with the bear minimum? Just carrying an extra lens, sandwiches, and a few bits and pieces? Perhaps the best bag for you is a shoulder bag. They are useful for easy access to your equipment. By simply swivelling the bag around you can take out what you need. Beware, with small bags you will not have much flexibility. So be sure to buy a bag that suits the size of camera that you have and the lens(es) you need. People often buy the wrong bag because they did not think about what they normally carry.

A good shoulder bag saves time and trouble – if you are organised. They are great for a day out, the occasional shot, or to keep a low profile so you are not seen with loads of expensive equipment.

Lowepro shoulder bags - many different designs and styles

Lowepro shoulder bags - many different designs and styles

To be comfortable get one with wide, padded straps. If planning to walk distances make sure that the bag has a padded back. There is nothing worse than a sore hip from a heavy camera banging against you all day. To have the ability to take the odd additional equipment check the bag has fittings to add extras.

Look at the ranges provided by Lowepro, Billingham, Kata and the ‘Messenger’ range from Manfrotto. The Tamrac ‘Digital SLR Bags’ range is pretty comprehensive too.

Backpack camera bags

For rugged activities a full back pack is useful. These are built to last and house a lot of equipment. Check for a range of compartments for different types of equipment. You should be able to change configuration so you can fit specific items in place. A flexible bag adapts to your needs for different types of trip. Backpacks should be robust, light, flexible and padded. Check for accessory clips/adaptors to change its use and add-on extra units. Make sure they have a waterproof cover to put over them (usually tucked away in a pocket underneath).

Amazon back pack for camera equipment.

Amazon back pack for camera equipment. Less expensive than some of the branded backpacks

Not all backpacks work with all body shapes. Look carefully and make sure you are comfortable. Curvy body plan? Make sure the waist belt will go all the way around. Some are cut a bit short! Waist belts are essential for distance walks. It pulls the pack to your back giving support. It is used to take the weight off your shoulders onto your hips. Comfortable fitting is essential.

Backpacks are great for lots of gear. Not so good for access. You have to take it off to get access. No good in the rush hour trains! Think carefully about using it.

Good backpack style camera bags are available from Lowepro (a big, and flexible range), Tamrac and some flexible units by Kata.

Sling bags

Lowepro slingshot 302AW

Lowepro slingshot 302AW - slings over one shoulder, slide around to the front to access your kit by lifting the side flap

These are great bags for day-to-day shoots. Like backpacks, but they sling over only one shoulder. You can swivle the bag around to the front for equipment when still wearing it. Everything is to hand while shooting. Compact, perhaps not very efficient for packing loads of gear, these bags score on access-on-the-move. The one shown here is made by Lowepro. They make two sizes. Loads of compartments, big capacity and some great accessories are available. Lowepro do clip-on extras able to affix to the bag too. That extends your capacity. A representative from Lowepro told me this is their best selling range. I live out of mine!

Hard Camera Cases

Solid cases are great for knocking about in vehicles, boats aeroplanes, in the field. They are heavy. So don't expect to walk far with them. The choice is wide. The original metallic cases are made of aluminium with stainless steel or moulded ABS corners. Filled with foam you cut your prefered shapes to put in equipment. Robust and lockable these are very strong for aeroplane and field expeditions. But not waterproof. Modern designs are stylish. Have a look at Pottertons Cases   External link - opens new tab/page, but there are a number of other manufacturers.

Pelican hard cases are for rugged protection of your equipment

Pelican hard cases are for rugged protection of your equipment

Modern designs are manufactured from moulded plastic. Expensive to buy, extremely robust, often waterproof - they are just what you need for really tough territory. They come in a range of sizes and designs with different inner designs. So see several types before you decide. For waterproof ones prices are higher. If you need the protection then spend the money. Do not skimp!

Robust is the name of the game. This amusing video shows a hard case put through its paces. It's designed for a specific camera, but you can find many other designs of this type. Check out the Pelican website   External link - opens new tab/page and be sure to look over the blog for upto the minute changes and uses.

Roller bags

These are more substantial in size. Roller bags are on wheels. You can carry more but have less weight on your back. While they tend to be robust they are really about carrying more equipment. Beware of bags that exceed hand-carry size on planes and ensure that it is robust enough for your needs. If necessary some of the smaller ones can be changed into a backpack. Inside the layouts are diverse. With this size bag make sure you have flexibility to re-configure, especially if you are carrying several cameras. Ensure they have hard sides and plenty of inner padding. Accessory clips and extras are critical for larger pieces like tripods on the outside. Make sure you are happy with the measurements.

Lowepro Pro Roller X200 Rolling Photo Case

Lowepro Pro Roller X200 Rolling Photo Case

Take a look Kata and Lowepro for a choice of rolling cases. Hard cases made of aluminium are ideal for airline travel or long-term storage/protection in a range of sizes from attaché case to large trunk-types. Pelican are the leading manufacturer. This make of bag/box is very popular when transporting camera equipment abroad, and for security purposes.

Check out this...

Finally, have a look at the Lowepro website. They show their full range and you can see many of their bags in use.

Lowepro Camera bags website   External link - opens new tab/page

Camera Clubs

Tuesday night is one of the nights I go to a camera club. Tonight I will be doing a short session on “Camera bags and carrying equipment”. An article on camera bags is to follow tomorrow.

For now, I just wanted to say a little about the benefits of joining a camera club. Photography is both a solitary pursuit and a social one. You can spend hours on your own peering through a camera viewer on a shoot. Then you want to show your photos off to everyone in sight. While most peoples eyes glaze over, your fellow members at a camera club will more interested. So here are some reasons to get joined up…

  • Meet other like minded people.
  • Learn from others with more experience.
  • Share your experiences and discuss them.
  • See other peoples pictures.
  • Show off your pictures to other members.
  • Go on shoots and trips together.
  • Share costs and equipment with friends.
  • Meet more experienced people and experts and professionals.
  • Get access to lectures, information and help.
  • Spend time practicing skills with help on hand.
  • Meet new friends.
  • See a wide range of equipment in action.
  • Try out new types of photography.
  • Learn how to take a photograph!
  • Enter competitions – tune up your skills.
  • Go to events.
  • Enjoy photography shows.

I could go on. There are certainly plenty of other things you can gain. I am sure you get the point. A club is there for its members. Usually, for a very small amount of money for membership, you get to exercise your passion for photography in an warm and friendly environment where everyone is there to help each other. Why not look around and see if there is a club near you?

Meet other photographers and share!

By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photographers.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.

Can you write? Of course you can!
Write for Photokonnexion...

We would love to have your articles or tips posted on our site.
Find out more…
Write for Photokonnexion.

Fantastic Colour Work

A Swedish artist, Sanna Dullaway, works with some old pictures and colourises them. She does restoration work and on occasion colourises old photographs of well known people. What superb work! Here is are links to some of her work and sites where she shows colourised photographs.

Link via   External link - opens new tab/page

Here is Sanna Dullaways’ flickr album for colourised photographs from black and white…
Colourised black and white photos   External link - opens new tab/page

And, here is her album for restored photographs…
Restoration photographs by Sanna Dallaway   External link - opens new tab/page

See Sanna Dullaway on ‘deviantArt’…
“MyGrapefruit” on Deviant Art   External link - opens new tab/page

Triptych – a Three Part Image

The presentation of your pictures can be done in an uncountable number of ways. The Triptych is a common and interesting method that can be a lot of fun to shoot and to mount…

Definition: Triptych

Definition: Triptych | Glossary entry


Three moments in a ducks life

Three moments in a ducks life

Defining a Triptych

A triptych (pronounced Trip’tik), when applied to photography, is a group of three pictures. It could be three photographs mounted in a frame, closely associated pictures displayed near each other or three pictures in one image.

The subject of a triptych is an important defining characteristic. The pictures should have a common theme. This could be a story, similar compositional elements, colours, similar subject matter – anything that draws the pictures together as a group.

The image shown above is a triptych of pictures in one image. The origin of the term applied to three paintings on hinged wooden panels. They could fold into each other making a flat carrying pack. Originally the triptych was used for religious paintings. However, in modern times the format has been used in a wide variety of different situations and presentations.

Competition photographers often make an effort to ensure that the pictures are not only related but have a definite order. In the triptych above the duck is shaking its tail in the first image, then the other two show succeeding stages of the drying-out process. An order may be applied to a triptych in other ways too. For example the first picture may be a portrait of someone facing to thier left. In the second portrait the same person faces the camera. And, in the third they face to their right. The order shows all aspects of the subjects face, but the inward-facing heads on each side also create a compositional frame by implying a boxed-in middle shot. It is common for photographers to use compositional elements in this way to create an overall effect across a triptych.

Creating a Triptych

If you simply hang three photographs with a common theme on the same wall, you have a triptych. However, mounting them in a frame creates a well defined ‘holding’. Presenting them as a single image is often what is required for competition photography or for framing the image to put on a website. Here is how you can create your first triptych in your favourite image editor…

  1. Assemble your story or grouping of three images.
  2. Crop the three images to the same scale, size and shape.
  3. Create a new blank canvas wider than the three images.
  4. Allow for a border between them and all around if you want.
  5. Colour the blank canvas to the colour you want the borders.
  6. Paste the three pictures onto the new canvas.
  7. Arrange as appropriate leaving equal borders as necessary.
  8. Crop the final image to suit your border or to tidy the shape/size.
  9. Save the new canvas with an appropriate file name.

It is not essential that the pictures are the same scale, size and shape. However, it helps to do it that way until you understand the process and get a feel for the format. When you have done a few you can try all sorts of creative ways to lay them out. Have a look at these links and see if there are some triptych layouts that catch your eye!

Triptych Group on Flickr
A search on Flickr for the term “triptych…
Diptych & Triptych Gallery

Triptychs are compelling once you get into them. You can spend hours arranging your shots in different ways. Have fun!
See also:
Composite image or picture
Google search: photomozaic  External link - opens new tab/page
Google search: photomontage  External link - opens new tab/page


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