I need some photo-help

Brambling (Fringilla montifringilla)
Brambling (Fringilla montifringilla)

Hello everyone!

Today I have some questions for you. If you could write me at least one/some answer/s, I would be more than glad.

1st. What format do you use mainly for your photographs? 16:9, 3:2, 4:3, 1:1?

2nd. About exposure. Under what circumstances do you use Evaluative, Center weighted Avg or Spot?

3rd. When I edit my photos, I usually use Crop( only if I need), Exposure, Lighting, Color Balance, Sharpen, Noise and resize.   But here comes my question: in which order? What’s first and what’s last?

4th and the last one.  Using ISO, f/stop, aperture it’s very interesting, but can you give me some tips for birds in flight?

Thank you very much!



9 thoughts on “I need some photo-help

  1. Happy to help based on what I do but by no means is that the final word – others will better insights and differing opinions.

    1. My sensor size provides photos on 3/2 aspect ratio. However, I love cropping and using all kinds of different shapes to the photo look good to me. “Do not constrain” is my favourite setting which is only problematic if you want to print in standard sizes.

    2. I tend to leave it on evaluative, however, I check after every photo to make sure the histogram is correct for the photo then adjust exposure compensation if needed. If lighting on the subject is dramatically different than the rest, I will use spot metering.

    3. I have read that colour balance should be first and sharpening last. The rest might just be personal preference.

    4. Birds in flight are a huge challenge. To give yourself the best chance for a reasonable photo it’s best to use your largest aperture to get a faster speed unless it’s a particularly bright day. It’s usually best to have at least 1/2000 shutter speed though some slow flying birds you can occasionally get away with less. 1/2500 is best if there is enough light. In order to get that speed it’s often necessary to increase the ISO. Through experimentation you will discover how high you can go before you are disappointed in the amount of noise.

    Let me know if that makes sense.

    1. Thank you very much for these answers.
      I will try to test more next week and after I will write my thoughts about what you have said.
      1. I noticed that many photographers are using 16:9 aspect ratio and I started to think that it’s not ok to use 3/2 or 4/3. But, as you said, I must take care with printing and for other purposes “Do not constrain”.

      2. I also tend to leave it on evaluative but I noticed, somehow, that photos on spot metering are more clear, with more details. But, once again, I must be careful to the subject and background.

      3. Almost all the time I start with the exposure, but now you gave me an idea, and I will do some tests starting the edit process with Colour balance.

      4.”the largest aperture and a faster speed” this is what I wanted to hear.

      After a few days, I will write more about my results.

      Once again, thank you very much.

  2. I often have to put my ISO up to 3000 or even 4000 to catch a flying bird in winter. It depends on the bird as a gliding gull is easier than a chaffinch and a chaffinch is easier than a blue tit. I couldn’t print the results but as I take pictures to put on a computer screen as a record, it doesn’t bother me too much.

    The same thing applies to picture sizes. If you are going to print and frame, a standard size is useful but if you are going to display digitally, the best size is the one that fits the subject.

    1. Thank you very much for your comment.

      So you’re using a very high ISO these days. I never tried more than 800 but it seems I must try this also. Yes, it’s interesting to try many things and keep only what fits us.

      Those blue tits are so fast!!! It’s a joy to watch them but so hard to take a photo of them!

  3. 1. I shoot at 3:2 as that’s more or less standard.

    2.For birds and wildlife, I use partial spot or spot metering, as I want the critter exposed correctly and let the background come out however it does. For macro and landscapes, I use evaluative or center weighted, but I try to look the scene over well before I shoot if I have the time, and will switch to what I think will work, and that only comes from practice.

    3. Can’t help you with this one, I limit my editing to cropping.

    4. I have a different approach to birds in flight. I set the ISO to 640, as that’s as high as I want it to go or photo quality suffers too much. I set the aperture to f/7.1 as that will give me the depth of field that I need. Then the camera sets the shutter speed to as fast as it can with the ISO and aperture set the way that I have them. It doesn’t always work perfectly, but I get my share of bird in flight photos that way.

    1. Thank you very much for your comment!

      1. Until now I used only 4:3 and 16:9. I must try this 3:2, too.

      2. Yes, indeed, I noticed that for landscapes evaluative it’s nice, but this does not apply for wildlife. You confirm what I have seen but I wasn’t sure.

      3. So you just crop your photos and nothing more? I’m afraid my camera doesn’t capture the scene/landscape/wildlife as it really is. And that’s why I try to edit my photos. I admit, sometimes I might exaggerate a bit too much.

      4. Yes, I noticed that a high ISO number might affect the quality of photos. I will try what you wrote and I will reply.

      1. Well, there’s no one setting that works for every situation, even if you limit yourself as far as subject matter. I use evaluative more than any other mode, but that doesn’t always work, like a waterfall with bright white foamy water and black rocks. So, it pays to learn all the modes that your camera offers, and when to use which one. The more photos I shoot, the more adjustments that I make, which is one reason that I don’t have to edit my photos. But, I’m strange that way. 😉

  4. Hi, Cornel. I just read your post, so I come late to the conversation. But I’d like to respond.

    1. I grew up with 3:2, since that is the format of a 35mm frame and that was mostly what I shot. But I’m not rigid about cropping. I like to think that if a photograph is unique, then it deserves whatever crop best represents it. Still, I think that going with one format disciplines the mind and focuses your attention on compostion as you shoot, so I always shoot in 3.2 format, then crop as necessary. I like the wider, 16×9 look though, and have thought about switching to that.

    2. Grew up with a camera that had no meter, so had to use the old brain. I finally got a camera with a spot meter – revolutionary! I learned real quickly that I could use it in creative ways to control exposure and get the result I wanted. It was just a tool, and a pretty dumb one and easy to trick, but you could always count on one thing – whatever you “spotted” would turn out 18% on the grey scale. Knowing that, you could always meter on the region that needs to be in your mid-tones and your results would be pretty good. These days you have evolutionary metering systems that think much better, but they are rather resistant to letting you override them. Hence the advent of the EV control. If your evaluative system gives you poor results, then use your EV control to fine tune it to your subject.

    3. I don’t know about this one. I have always suspected that the order makes a difference, but in practice, I can’t see any, so I don’t really worry much about that. My routine is like yours, though – I start with cropping, then exposure and color balance. Sharpening, vignetting are last on my list.

    4. I’m with quietsolopursuits on this one. I would stop down a bit to increase depth of field so you have a better chance of getting your focus right, then let the camera choose the correct shutter speed. If it isn’t fast enough, then I would increase my ISO until my shutter speed is sufficient. Equipment is the real caveat here. Some cameras now produce extremely high quality, even at high ISO’s – all depends on the camera. If you have one of those, you can afford to increase it. Also, some cameras have more focus points and more decisive focusing, a real plus for birds on the move. Are you still shooting with the SX160? If you are, you already know that there quality is visibly affected above 200 ISO, you’d just have to test the higher ISO’s to see if they are adequate for you. And if you are still with the SX, then you know how zooming in forces your into a smaller aperture anyway.

    Wish I had seen your post earlier. I can’t seem to keep up with your URL’s. I was still watching the cornelapostel one, then just saw the link to this one and tried it. Nice layout!

  5. It’s never too late. I appreciate your comment. I am using Canon SX 160 IS.

    Since I read Lyle’s comment about 3:2, I started to use this ratio and it’s fine. I really like it. But, as he said, it’s not a problem to switch between different ratios.

    I never had a 35 mm camera, only a few weeks ago I asked my brother to give me his camera on film for a period to try a bit.

    I keep trying to improve my process of taking photos. Every time I take photos I discover new things. Unfortunately, we didn’t have too much snow, we had snow only for less than three weeks… And the weather was cold, cloudy and many times windy.
    Since January I have been working inside so I didn’t had enough time to take photos but I wait the longer sunny days and perhaps I will have some more free time.

    That blog waits to be updated, I try to post there only my best photos. I will read again all the comments above. They help me a lot.

    Thank you very much for this comment.

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