Tag Archives: Zoom

Autumn photography – 50 things to think about

Autumn Cherry Leaves

• Autumn Cherry Leaves •
As Fall is upon us. Think of new ways to pull in the eye of the viewer.
Autumn Cherry Leaves by Netkonnexion on Flickr

Autumn is a great time of year.

There is so much to see and photograph. Being out in the open air and lovely locations is part of the attraction. Here are some other important and photographic things to consider.

  • Don’t always go to the same spot. Find somewhere new every Autumn.
  • Fall colours depend on the species, which may not be shown on maps.
  • Check with park information centres to see if the colours are right.
  • Information centres are great at giving directions to the best locations.
  • Watch weather forecasts to see when the best light is likely to show up.
  • Check websites for the area near the location for useful information.

What makes Autumn particularly exciting is the lovely russet and golden colours. Making those come out is not always easy. Think about these points…

  • Even slight greyness in the sky can dampen the colours.
  • Bright colour can be lost against a bright sky, exaggerate colour contrast.
  • Shoot yellows against a darker background so they don’t get lost.
  • Golden colours are best with a red dusk. Aim for times in the Golden Hour.
  • Don’t use a pop-up flash. It will flatten the colour and depth.
  • Use off-camera flash from the side to make leaves translucent and bright.
  • Use side light as much as possible to emphasis shadows and define shapes.
  • Use any greens you can as a back-drop for golden colours.
  • Low sunlight peeping under clouds often brings out yellows.
  • Take pictures after rain – the wetness often revitalises colours.
  • Consider a filter on your camera to exaggerate natural colours.
  • Try shots with as many mixed colours as possible.
  • Try shots with lots of similar colours across the picture.

Every shoot demands its own approach. But here are some ideas to help the Autumn shots work for you…

  • A tripod is essential. A fuzzy shot of a great scene is horrible!
  • Most people forget the wide angle shots.
  • Remember that zoom lenses flatten perspective – consider prime lenses.
  • Consider using white boards and gold reflectors to help bring up colours.
  • You can’t make great images if you are cold/wet. Wear proper clothing.
  • Beware of changing lenses in damp air!
The shots

Found a great place to rejoice in colour and texture? Now you need to think about composition and ideas for your shots…

  • Check out our resources on composition.
  • Before going spend two hours looking at images by others (Google)  External link - opens new tab/page.
  • Work out a list of, say, 25 shots you would like to try out.
  • Concentrate your efforts on a few ideas.
  • Use your trip to try at least one type of shot new to you.
  • Practice your chosen shots before you go.
  • Remember to work the scene at the location.
  • Remember The fifteen second landscape appraisal.
  • Have a go at this old sailors trick to improve landscapes.
  • People often look up when in trees. Look down, there is plenty there.
  • Get really low.
  • Get really close.
  • Experiment with Depth of Field:.
  • Light leaves from behind. Translucent leaves are wonderful.
  • Consider backlighting to bring out shapes.
  • Hold up something interesting and photograph it with your hand.
  • Dogs look great in leaves! Capture your pet having fun!
  • Take a macro lens or macro tubes. Get really close.
  • Look for golden, yellows and reds in reflections… they look great!
Try going to manual (M) settings…

There is nothing more exciting. Get great images knowing they came out the way you intended. Avoid ‘auto’ shots programmed by a boffin at the camera factory.

Autumn and you…

Don’t be so intense that its not fun! Love your trip, enjoy the moment and if possible share it with a friend. Make some great images along the way.

Have a great Autumn.

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Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is managing editor of Photokonnexion.com with professional experience in photography, writing, image libraries, and computing. He is also an experienced, webmaster and a trained teacher. Damon runs regular training for digital photographers who are just starting out.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’
By Damon Guy :: Profile on Google+

Broaden your lens and focal length knowledge

Mixed lens types

Mixed lens types – What do they all do?

There is a range of lens types…

If you know about the lens types you have, that’s good. But talking and thinking about buying others takes a wider knowledge. Here are two videos to give some insights on lens types. There are some interesting facts too.

Think about your lens types

Before you buy lenses, think about what you want. If you are just learning photography this is important. It keeps you in touch with what’s possible with each of the lens types. Also, it helps you to know what you can do with the skills you have. With each video, try to relate your experience with the lens types they are talking about. Then you will be able to extend your skills with kit you own now.

Another point worth thinking about is what you want to photograph. Long lens types, for example, get you closer to objects in the distance. They make things large in the frame, even when it’s far away. But some subjects are more environmental. So you might benefit more from showing a distant subject in its wider environment. Landscapes are a classic example, but there are others. So, think about what other creative views you can achieve with each of the lens types too.

Introduction to Camera Lenses PT1

Mike Browne  External link - opens new tab/page

Introduction to Camera Lenses Part 2

Mike Browne  External link - opens new tab/page

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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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Lenses and designations? Confused? An easy guide

• Lenses •

• Lenses •
Buying lenses optimised for your sensor is confusing.

Lenses are a big investment…

It is difficult to know which lens is optimised for your digital image sensor. There seems to be so many different designations. Here is a guide to which lens designation you want.

Explaining the differences

Brands like Canon and Nikon have their own lenses range. Third party manufacturers, like Sigma, Tokina and Tamron etc. manufacture lenses for brands like Nikon, Canon and others. if buying lenses the third party manufacturers have lenses which are equivalent to the Camera brand manufacturer or possibly better. Look around at online reviews to see what standard of lenses and prices are available.

Make sure you buy lenses fitted with the correct lens mount for your camera. Older models of cameras may have the correct mount but some of the more recent lenses might not be suitable to work with the camera. So check the mount and camera are compatible before buying.

Why are lens mounts specific to brands? It’s mainly historical – the development paths of the manufacturers differ. However, they also want their customers to stay loyal to the brand. This unfortunate situation means you have to reinvest in a new range of lenses if you change your camera body. Hmmm! Expensive.

There are two types of camera sensor. There are cropped sensors – which is a small size. These are more often referred to as APS-C format.

The other sensor format is full frame sensor. These are the size equivalent of the old film SLR frames on a roll of film.

Full frame digital sensors are less common than cropped sensors. The cropped sensors are easier and cheaper to manufacture. However, in recent years we are seeing an increase in full frame releases of new cameras. The higher resolution (more pixels) and potentially bigger print sizes are attractive to consumers. As full frame format gets cheaper they are likely to become more common.

The full frame sensor size is the same size as a 35 mm (36mm ×24mm) film frame in old SLR cameras. Because of the historical significance of the 35mm format modern DSLRs are based on the same standard. Lenses are normally designed to fit either the full frame format or the cropped format.

Lenses designed for the full frame sensor have an image circle that covers the whole 35mm sensor. These lenses tend to be more expensive because they need a wide circle of light thorough them to cover the sensor. They have bigger glass elements as a result.

Full-frame sized lenses are able to fit a camera with the same mount and a cropped sensor. The image circle from the lens remains constant. The smaller sensor size (APS-C) is therefore only able to process the light from the centre of the circle – the rest of the light spills over the side of the sensor. The resultant photograph is like a zoomed-in crop of the image that would have otherwise been taken with a full frame sensor.

This image-cropping effect of smaller sensors is known as the “crop factor”. It represents the ratio of the size of the full-frame 35 mm sensor to the size of the smaller format. The apparent zooming effect also gives rise to an alternative name – the “focal-length multiplier”.

The ratio of full-frame to crop tends to lie in the range 1.3–2.0 for most cropped sensor DSLRs. You might say that a 100 mm lens on a camera with a 1.5 crop factor creates an apparent zoom multiplying the focal length by 1.5. A 100mm lens would then appear to produce the same picture as a 150mm lens. This is not a true magnification since the focal length of the lens is the same on both cameras. Instead the cropped sensor is likely to produce a lower quality result than than the full frame sensor while revealing a closer result.

You can use lenses designed for full frame sensors on cropped sensors. It does not work the other way. A lens designed for a cropped sensor creates an image circle smaller than the full-frame sensor. It would create a circular image with very strong vignetting around the sides. Manufacturers recommend not using lenses designed for cropped sensors on full frame cameras.


To ensure that buyers purchase the correct lenses for full frame or cropped sensor manufacturers designate them with specific marques. Here is the breakdown of the most common designations…

 Manufacturer  Full frame
(and APS-C)
    Canon           EF pEF-S
    Nikon          FX DX
    Sigma          DG DC
    Tokina          FX DX
    Sony     Various‑incl.
3rd party mounts
    Tamron          Di Di-II
    Samsung   Not available‑2013 NX
    Pentax Check manufacturer
  Konica‑Minolta Check manufacturer
Other related sources…

Lens manufacturers (Wikipedia) External link - opens new tab/page
Photography equipment manufacturers (cameras, lenses etc) (Wikipedia)  External link - opens new tab/page

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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!
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Getting started with a new lens

Got a new lens? Or perhaps you want to buy one?

• Got a new lens? •
Or, perhaps you are thinking of buying one? External link - opens new tab/page
How do you start using it?

Getting a new lens?

The most important items that photographers own are lenses. It is best to approach a new lens with a method in mind. That way you will get more out of the lens. In this article we are going to look at learning about your new lens.

A new friend

You are probably going to spend a lot of time with your new lens. It will become like a friend to you. Treat it well, and with respect, it will last a lifetime. Abuse it and you will lose it.

To get to know your new lens you need to make its acquaintance. Here are some suggestions as to how you should get to know it.

Read the manual: You would be surprised how many people pop the lens on and disappear over the horizon. Then they get into trouble and wonder what to do. My dad used to say “If all else fails, read the manual!”. Well, I prefer to do it the other way around. Read it first. Stop, think, and read. I find that a quick skim is usually enough. Lens manuals are usually pretty thin. Then, as I slip out the door to try my new lens I pop the manual in my bag so it’s on hand in case I need to solve a problem.

Make sure you find out where the various controls are located and what they do. It would be tragic to miss a good shot because you did not know which vibration compensation mode to select for example!

Shoot off about ten shots: You probably won’t achieve much, but it will make you feel better. I always feel better once I have used a new lens, then I can concentrate on learning it properly.

Minimum focusing distance: Get in close to a test subject. Take a shot. Take a step back and take another. Repeat this a few times until you are well into the normal operational zone for the lens. Do the same for a few other angles on your subject. Now go and download the pictures. How does the new lens cope with close ups? Does it do a good job or does it need a little separation from the subject before it comes into its own?

Testing its zoom ability: Zoom lenses make it too easy to shift up and down focal lengths at will. It’s great for getting the view you want. But it is terrible for understanding how the new lens performs at each focal length. Try setting the focal length in one place then leaving it fixed in position. Don’t shift up and down when taking shots. Walk back and forth so that you get a feel for the lens at one fixed focal length. After taking say, twenty shots, at one focal length, try a slightly longer one. Take another set of shots at that one, then move up the scale again. Try to build up a picture of how your lens behaves at each focal length. The pictures will enable you to see the photographic quality and lens effect at each point in the zoom range. This exercise shows you what sort of perspectives the new lens will give you.

Aperture effects: Change of aperture has a big impact on a picture. In particular the depth of field is affected. Get a feel for the Depth of Field expressed by the new lens. Start by taking a few pictures with the aperture open wide. Then, work through the different F-stops (f4, f5.8, f8, f11, f16 etc) taking pictures each time to get a feel for the different depths of field this will give you.

The depth of field is affected by three factors…

  1. Aperture.
  2. Distance-from-subject (or “focus distance”).
  3. Focal length.

You should test the impact of your aperture at a range of “Distance-from-subject” points. You should also do so at various focal lengths. Then you will have a good idea of the way that depth of field behaves with all aspects of the lens.

One other point on depth of field. Check your sensor size. A small sensor will give you sharpness right through the picture at larger aperture sizes than a large-sensor camera. Large format cameras will need much smaller aperture sizes to get the same right-through sharpness. If you are swapping your new lens between cameras this will have an impact. I use several of my lenses on a small format Canon and a full frame Canon. Be aware they will behave in a different way on each camera.

Testing the telephoto capability: If your lens has telephoto components then you should look to doing a few longer distance shots or landscapes. Repeat the telephoto shots at different apertures and focal lengths. You are looking for how the wide-angle shots compare to the long focal length shots when the field of view is narrow. When you examine these on the computer check for any distortions and check to see how the background comes out.

Auto-focus: It is difficult to test the auto-focus control without setting up instruments to calibrate it. Most of us don’t have those. So what I do is focus along things. For example, I put my test subject next to a wall so I have to look down the wall to shoot it. Try the auto-focus out on each of the focus points. If they focus accurately on the subject and are not confused or affected by the wall then what is the quality of the result in the final pictures. Do it first on one side then the other so all the focus points get a go at being next to the wall.

Another test for the auto-focus is to try and focus on something tiny like a bird at twilight. Auto-focus finds low contrast light situations difficult. So test them out. When will it hunt rather than focus? At what sort of light intensities will hunting begin? Also, try out any auto focus modes to ensure you know, for example, how your autofocus will behave when panning compared to a still subject.

Beyond the start tests

Getting to know your new lens takes more time than a few tests. Honest appraisal requires continuous use in lots of different situations. When I buy a new lens I shoot with it every day – sometimes for months. This really gives you the feel for what it can do. And, you will be learning to rely on it. Once you can rely on it, that will be when your best pictures will come – because you will be using it instinctively.

If you are looking for a new lens, here’s how to do it… Amazon’s lens finder External link - opens new tab/page. The lens finder is a great tool. Use the selection boxes to set up the sort of lens you need and it will return suggestions for you to choose from. It is a great way to refine the ideas you have to identify the perfect lens for your needs.

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...

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Find out more…
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