2012, February 18

Thanks to all the fun and enthusiasm at this Saturday’s Meetup.com “SF DSLR & Photography Learning Group” as we had a great time!  I think everyone is feeling more confident with their cameras and they’re not afraid to ask questions.  We’ve met twice before today in a six-person classroom setting, but today was a meet & greet for the whole gang.  We’ll be planning some more in the future and giving them a theme (flowers, portrait shoot, etc…)

I just wanted to briefly touch on some of the things we went over in our class today and show a few photos from the Meetup (capitalized as it’s a meetup through Meetup.com).

Above is Stan using his Sony NEX-3 to shoot the ceiling of the dome at the Palace of Fine Arts.  I believe Stan is using his 18-55mm lens, though he also has a 16mm f/2.8.  Keep in mind that since this is a micro 4/3 camera, his 16mm f/2.8 is similar to a 24mm lens on most digital SLRs and a 32mm full-frame or film camera equivalent.

Here, Mario is showing George some iPhone apps for good photos.  Mario is interested in buying an interchangeable lens camera of some sort, but right now just checking out the group.  He’s taking some cool photos with his iPhone though!

Annie, like Mario, is unsure which camera to purchase.  After seeing these photos taken with a 50mm prime lens, I think I know that she’ll get this lens for sure!!  These photos were completely impromptu with no preparation or good use of lighting / posing etc… and even just as snapshots she could tell the difference between the other lenses that we being used.  For a great comparison of 50mm lenses, and a nice article in general about primes, read THIS ARTICLE of the Canon 50mm f/1.4 USM.  I actually shot with the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX here today, which is also a great lens.  I recommend that anyone who owns a DSLR camera should have a 50mm prime lens in their bag!  At $130 retail (for the f/1.8 Canon or Nikon lens) it’s a steal.  Most people that take my advice about this find they take at least as many photos with the 50mm prime as their standard kit lens!

Here we were all talking about depth-of-field, and how sometimes it’s not always useful.  Here, I’m in focus on the left of the frame, while Soo-Jung is out of focus, and she’s only about a foot and a half closer to the camera.  At that distance, this 50mm shot at f/1.6 renders her how of focus (in fact if you look carefully, even my coffee cup isn’t as sharp as my face!).  This is food for thought as it’s not always best to shoot at such thin depths-of-field.

Here are two more photos from the Meetup.  On the left, this couple is posing for a photo while the background is out of focus.  This was achieved using a long lens and a wide aperture (200mm @ f/4 to be exact).  In the photo on the right, Soo-Jung takes a break from shooting for a brief moment.

While walking down Crissy Field, we saw a beautiful subject!  This gorgeous canine!  She stood out from the crowd as there was a Bulldog Meetup on the beach at the same time!  Haha!  Note the detail in this image.  It was shot with a Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS USM at f/3.5 on my Canon EOS 7D.

Here we have Stan posing for us to illustrate the differences between focal lengths.  I shot photos at 200mm, 135mm (shown here), 105mm, and 70mm.  Soo-Jung shot two photos framed the same as the above, one at 55mm and one at 18mm.  By scrolling through these and comparing, we can easily see how a longer focal length A) gives a much more flattering perspective, and B) provides more background blur.  Thanks Stan for being an expert mannequin while we shot!

What happened here?!  Was the photo cut off by accident????   No, actually it was on purpose.  I was demonstrating the differences between AI Servo and One-Shot AF (auto-focus).  The first shot in AI Servo showed that if I focus on him and reframe the photo, the focus changes to the trees.  In the shot above, I set the focus to One-Shot and focused on his face, then reframed the image, and shot the photo.  With One-Shot, he’s still in focus.  We did the same example with me running toward the camera.  Jessica?  Matt?  Soo-Jung?  Do you have photos of this??  I’d be scared to see them!

George.  He’s got a style… a… flare if you will, that is fun!  Thanks for the good conversations George!

Okay, and now we tried the jump-shot to test Continuous Shooting mode (aka Burst Mode).  As you can see… I wasn’t ready!  We had to do it a few more times for everyone to get some good jump shots.  Below is a four-shot burst with my 7D during another attempt.  You can see the largest one is the winner!

Thanks everyone for all the fun photos and good conversation.  I hope you took something away with you today that you can use to improve your photography, and give you more enjoyment shooting.  Looking forward to the next Meetup!


GEAR USED:  Canon 7D, EF 16-35mm f/2.8 L II USM, EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS USM, Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX, Canon Speedlite 580EXII.  Edited in Lightroom 3.