What is a Focal Length

The light comes from the front element of your lens to the back element and then to the sensor. The distance between the digital sensor and the back element is called the a Focal Length. It is usually measured in mm. If this distance is small, you have a very wide field of view.

  • 14 mm - 28 mm : wide angle

  • 50 mm : standard

  • 100+ mm : telephoto (compressed or magnified field of view)

These numbers refer to crop factor 1 (35 mm film size sensor).

See this online calculator to determine the required lens focal length to take a picture in order to generate an image of a certain size on the film (or the CCD/C-MOS image).

Camille Seaman Tells About Natural Lighting

Camille Seaman tries to make people connected with the planet. It is not enough to have the viewer see what he or she has not seen before. It is important to make him or her feel an emotional connection. She never photographs when it is a bright blue sky. She is looking for a particular quality of light. Camille likes storming skies. Once she sees the natural light she feels appropriate, she is looking into the scene. Her advice is to see classical paintings that were made with natural light. When you are at home making a portrait of someone, turn off all the lights and see what light is coming from the window. She considers her cameras and equipment as just tools. Although she shoots film, she is shifting to digital more and more.

How to Wet Clean DSLR Sensor

You do not clean the sensor, you clean the filter that is attached to the sensor. But to keep it simple everybody refers it as a sensor.

Some people clean their camera sensor every day while others do it annually. It really depends on the environment you are using your camera in, how often you change your lens, etc. If you do not see dust spots on your images, do not clean it. However, if you have an important shooting ahead, make sure you do a sensor inspection beforehand and if necessary - clean it.

When actually doing the cleaning, do it in a clean, dust free room. You also do not want to be disturbed during the process and it will take 15-30 minutes. Usually a bathroom is the cleanest room in house. Choose your working space far from fans or air conditioning, better turn them off.

You can use a rocket blower, Eclipse liquid, sensor swabs and sensor inspection device.

You first use the blower. Swabs are the ones that actually touch the sensor. They come in 3 different sizes, depending on the size of your sensor. You will apply Eclipse solution on the swab.

First step is to put your camera into a cleaning mode, the menu depends on the make. The blower can remove big dust pieces well but for moisture dust cannot be removed with the blower.

Open the swab's package and apply three drops of Eclipse solution. See the video for instructions on how to use the swab. You must not reuse the swab.

Undestanding Camera Exposure

Like an eye the camera uses a lens to focus on an image recording area. Aperture is adjusted to control the quantity of light coming through. Underexposed or overexposed image will be mostly black or white. Our aim is to capture between these black and white extremes.

A shutter speed is the other way to control how long each exposure takes. Doubling the shutter speed is one unit in the measurement called F-stop.

Aperture and shutter speed must be combined correctly to capture just the right amount of light and record the full range tones. Too much light causes overexposure and too little - underexposure. Even if it happens to a small degree image details are lost and cannot be recovered.

You can also adjust the ISO setting. The slower the ISO the more details and richer tones it produces. Slow ISO speed gives less noise and grain.

How to Take Better Photos of Pets

The best pet photos are those that capture unique pet personality. However taking photos of pets is quite challenging because they are constantly moving, changing. They will not pose for you so you have to follow them and catch them in action.

  • Shoot a lot of photos so that you can delete bad ones and still have a good chance to get a good shot.

  • Try to show your pet's personality.

  • Use Action (or Sport) shooting mode in your camera which gives shorter shutter speed.

  • Anticipate where your subject is heading so you will be ready to shoot when he gets there.

  • Press your shutter release button half way to freeze the focus.

  • Get in close or let them get close to you.

  • Get down to the pet's level.

  • You may need to use some signal to attract their attention.

  • Try photographing the fur, tail or other beautiful parts of your pet. Go for details and make a really unique image.

  • Get a pet helper.

  • Get rid of glowing pet's eyes.

What is RAW and how is it different from JPEG?

You need to decide on your own if working in RAW is right for you. There is a number of advantages of working in RAW.

First of all RAW is not simply and equivalent of a digital negative as some used to say. In short, your camera does whole bunch of things just moments after you pressed the shutter release button. It automatically applies various filters to the image like: saturation, contrast, sharpening. It changes the white balance either trying to figure out what suits best (Auto white balance) or uses the one you specified. Then the camera compresses your image to a small file called Jpeg. The RAW file will be about 12 Mb if your camera's sensor  is 12 Megapixel but a Jpeg will be much smaller size, around 3-4 Mb.

If you want to keep all these changes but do not apply them and have more control later for editing on your computer, then consider RAW.

However, there are disadvantages too:

  • RAW takes much more room on your card;

  • You cannot print;

  • You cannot email;

  • You cannot upload;

  • It still has to be converted to Jpeg.

So you decide what you need more!