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Todd Applebee PhoBlography

In this blog, I plan to help people become more adventurous in their pursuit of beautiful images by way of tutorial.

When I decided I wanted to start my own website I wrestled with the idea of having a reviews section where I would talk about gear I have used, but I don't buy/borrow enough new gear to warrant that.
A friend of mine told me, "put a blog on there, put your personal projects etc. on there and show people what you do outside of portraits and the rest."

Great Idea! Only thing is, everything I do right now is a personal project, even if I get paid for something, it is still a personal endeavour to create images I love.

I then went to a number of photography blogs, review sites and other photography-central pages and discovered one thing is fairly common with a lot of Pros, they spend almost as much time telling you what gear they shot with as they do telling you how to shoot.

This is where my blog steps in, I plan to show people how to create something special using just about anything.
Smart phones are a bit of a tricky bunch, because a lot of the image work is done by a third party app, and I can't possibly test every app on every platform.

This page will be home to tutorials that most people will be able to understand and use regardless of camera type, and I will explain what the fancy photo-nerd words I use are along the way.

See my contact page for my email information, feel free to send me any ideas you would like me to cover, I promise to at least explain why I can't do a project so that if your idea doesn't show up, you don't sit there wondering why.

Thank you for taking the time to read this entry and feel free to scroll down for my mini-tutorial on HDR/Long Exposure.


Tutorial 1 - HDR and Long Exposure - A Brief Guide

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This is an image of some small waterfalls in an area of the Hunter Region of New South Wales known as Barrington Tops National Park.

You may notice a few things about the image that might make you scratch your head, this is a little guide to capture this type of image using just about any camera from a point and shoot to a DSLR/SLR (sorry phone cameras may be trickier).
This image was a long-exposure, HDR image, to get the best results in camera, I always aim to take a clear shot that picks up as much detail as possible before setting it as my base for an HDR shot.

Disclaimer
This is not a definitive guide, results may vary dpending on lens, camera and scene, but this will help you to get started and move from here to capture your own HDR and Long Exposure images.

Given the lack of super-bright sunlight, the longer exposure was quite easy to accomplish, the more sunlight in any shot, the harder it is likely to be to do an exposure longer than about 1/20 of a second, without use of ND filters and other light adjusting devices.

First thing to do, is make sure you have a relatively sturdy tripod, you point and shoot users are lucky here, because a cheap gorilla pod or similar will suffice and won't be bulky and heavy to lug up and down rockfaces.

Once you have your shot framed to pick up all of the details you wish to capture, it is time to start playing with all those settings that seem a bit confusing to some camera users.

ISO
ISO is a term followed through from the days of film, it used to be how much light sensitivity there was in an exposure of film, now it just means how much light your sensor will be picking up from what is sent through the lens.
I find a lower ISO (200-350) tends to be low enough for your camera to pick up the image without that pesky noise (grainy specks) getting in.

Aperture (F-Stop)
Your Aperture defines how much light your lens lets through to the sensor and how much of the field of view can be in focus, you will want to set this to be a larger number (smaller opening) to let in less light over the course of the exposure, or you may end up with a washed out image with no real detail, I tend to use F/16-22 depending on the lens and lighting.

Focal length
This will be a bit trickier, as you may be limited by your lenses, after shooting all day with a friend who religiously uses a 50mm prime lens and another who only has a 40mm prime, the most frequent complaint I heard was that it was too hard to get enough in the shot without having to teeter on the edge of the cliff behind us.
I tend to use one of two lenses for outdoors shots, a 16-35mm and a 24-105mm, there are many variations of lengths depending on manufacturer, price and your format of camera.

Shutter speed
(how long light and colour are being captured for) Depending on your maximum available aperture and how much light is being spread across your subject, you might be limited in how long you can have your shutter open for.
In this shot I used a 10 second exposure as my base to pickup as much detail as possible, results may vary depending on your scene and subject.

HDR
Now comes the funny part of this mini-tutorial, because HDR is a fairly new concept in photography, not all cameras have this as a base setting, so you might need a 3rd party program to create this after you shoot.
If you happen to need to create your HDR manually, you will need to shoot your base image, and then one at a considerably longer exposure and one quite short, this is to pick up the objects that are getting next to no light on them and to pick up the ones with too much exposure to light.

Once you have got your exposures, it is time to edit or just sit down and wait for your camera to compile the image for you.


Tutorial 2 - Silhouettes - A Brief Guide

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This image is of a friend of mine standing in front of the sunset over Grahamstown Dam just inside of the Port Stephens Area

ISO
In this shot, it was just getting into that lovely part of sunset where the lower half of the sky is a soft orange hue.
I found that an ISO of about 250 allowed enough light onto the sensor to pickup the colours of the background without getting a whole lot of the detail (which I find makes a nicer silhouette).


Aperture (F-Stop)
Using a large Aperture (smaller number) I got a nice blur or Bokeh to the background giving a smooth blend of the colour with a crisp foreground.
If you go too small, you will prevent yourself picking up even an outline (unless there are very bright sources of light right behind the subject).


Focal length
This was shot using an 85mm Prime lens, but depending on your camera, you might find better results with a 35mm or even a 135mm, it all depends on how you want to make your silhouette present in front of the background.


Shutter speed
I shot this at 1/125 of a second, but depending on your light source, subject and ISO settings, you might need to go as low as 1/40 or as high as 1/1000.
Be warned, any slower than 1/40 will require a flat surface or a tripod to prevent image distortion due to hand-shake.


© Todd Applebee 2013
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