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DSLR Guide News - Creepy Crawly Cameras
November 01, 2009
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Digital SLR Q & AThis month's Q&A explains a new feature that is emerging on digital SLR cameras and might become a lot more common in 2010.
Unfortunately, the new features is a bit tricky to understand, and that's why I thought it might be a good idea of have a quick tutorial on it now.
The question is: "What is HDR Photography?"
First, let's tackle the acronym. HDR stands for High Dynamic Range, and it addresses a limitation of all SLRs (both film and digital).
In a scene with strong contrast (bright sun and deep shade) your eyes can make out details in both the bright areas and the shadows at the same time. Your DSLR camera cannot.
Instead, the camera will need to go one of two different ways: render detail in the bright spots (highlights) and make the shadows pure black OR render detail in the shadows and make the highlights pure white.
This inability to capture detail across the entire high-contrast scene is something called limited dynamic range.
Several years ago, someone figured out that you could do something in the digital medium that wasn't possible with film: you could capture - at a minimum - 3 separate exposures with your camera: one dark, one bright and one right in the middle.
By layering these three photos together using software, you could create an image that preserved detail in both highlights and shadows. High Dynamic Range (HDR) Photography was born.
It didn't seem like it would take the manufacturers too long to realize that what could be done with software could also be done inside the camera at the moment of exposure...and it didn't.
Several new cameras of 2009 - including the Pentax K-7 and the Sony DSLR-A550 - have built-in HDR modes. While the technology is still in its infancy, I expect to see an HDR feature on many new cameras released in 2010.
What's NewI've been updating a lot of the content on the site this month to make sure that the information on the site is current for the upcoming holiday season.
Here are some of the pages that have been recently updated:
Quick Tip - Selecting Autofocus PointsIf you've got a relatively current digital SLR camera, then chances are you're using an autofocus system with anywhere from 5 to 10 individual focusing points.
Multi-point autofocus systems have become increasingly sophisticated over the years, but they are not foolproof.
Autofocus systems rely on contrast to determine what they should focus on. When you're photographing a scene with little to no contrast (a wall painted entirely white) the autofocus is going to have a very tough time locking focus.
A similar thing happens in very dim available light - anyone who has tried taking pictures outdoors at night with their digital SLR will attest to the fact that autofocus is hit or miss.
One trick that I often use when my camera's autofocus is not zeroing in on the right subject is to manually select the focus point.
This works especially well when you're dealing with subjects that aren't right in the center of the viewfinder - just manually select the focus point that is directly over your subject and see if the camera will autofocus correctly.
If this doesn't work, then manually select only the center focus point.
The center focus point of a multi-point autofocus is often the most sensitive and therefore the most accurate. It's also the best one to use when photographing subjects moving straight toward the camera, since the camera only has to determine focus for a single spot, rather than a slew of different spots.
And yes, there's one last fail-safe solution for locking focus if you can't get the autofocus to behave: switch over to manual mode and focus yourself.
Picture StoriesA recent article on Outside Magazine Online caught my attention.
They asked 16 separate professional photographers to talk about their most difficult photos - ones where the photographer had to go to exceptional lengths to capture the shot.
What was most interesting to me is how each image I looked at changed because of the description.
This is not to say that the photos aren't interesting to look at on their own. But their impact - and your feelings about each one - can be altered dramatically once you understand the story behind them.
With this in mind, I thought that it would be fun this month to provide some context for the image below.
I am an arachnophobe. For years I have been utterly terrified of these tiny eight-legged critters.
A couple of years ago, our backyard became home to several arachnids that are native to the area called white cross spiders (due to the white cross pattern on their backs).
Each year, they build elaborate webs in different parts of our yard. So far - thankfully - I have not run into one of their webs face-first.
Last year, I started taking closeup pictures of them. Despite the chills that would run down my spine, I did my best to hold the camera steady and to get as close as I could to capture their activities.
Over time, an interesting thing happened.
The more I took pictures of them, the more fascinated I became with their appearance. Details that I could not see with my naked eyes - like all the tiny little "hairs" on their legs - became evident when I blew up the images on my computer monitor.
Once I'd taken several dozen shots of them, they became a lot less scary - even fascinating in their own special way.
Today, my arachnophobia is considerably less than what it once was. Rather than running for the vacuum cleaner, I now capture the ones I find inside and carry them outdoors to live in the garden. After all, they're not going to find anything edible inside the house...and plus, they're much more photogenic in natural light.
Other Photography Sites
Great Photo Blogs
Recommended Digital SLR Retailers(These are the three online stores that I use to purchase all of my digital SLR photography gear)
In ConclusionThe holidays are almost upon us and there are TONS of new digital SLR cameras to choose from - either for yourself or for a loved one.
Next month, I'll run down some of the options that are available to you and which ones to consider based on budget and features.
If you already happen to have a camera (or know someone who does) and want to keep your spending down, I'll also provide list of some nice-to-have accessories for all digital SLR enthusiasts.
Until then, happy picture taking!
--Chris Roberts, Your Digital SLR Guide
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