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Occasional Contributor
Posts: 17
Registered: ‎10-01-2017

Where to start?

Have been a casual, perhaps hobbyist, shutterbug for a long time. Never put much effort into learning much of anything beyond full auto point and shoot. Been messing around with some of the manual settings...and having a lot more fun. Decided I wanted to buy editing software. Contacted Corel, was told that After Shot Pro 3 was compatible with my T7I...it wasn't.  Bought Lightroom. Just as in the past I feel very overwhelmed....biting off more than I can chew. 

Unlike the past I am not going to pack the camera away and forget about it. Looking for advice on educating myself. Right from the beginning...say a photography for dummies type of thing lol...

Ok...perhaps not THAT entry level. 

Any suggestions?

Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 3,635
Registered: ‎06-25-2014

Re: Where to start?


inkjunkie wrote:

Have been a casual, perhaps hobbyist, shutterbug for a long time. Never put much effort into learning much of anything beyond full auto point and shoot. Been messing around with some of the manual settings...and having a lot more fun. Decided I wanted to buy editing software. Contacted Corel, was told that After Shot Pro 3 was compatible with my T7I...it wasn't.  Bought Lightroom. Just as in the past I feel very overwhelmed....biting off more than I can chew. 

Unlike the past I am not going to pack the camera away and forget about it. Looking for advice on educating myself. Right from the beginning...say a photography for dummies type of thing lol...

Ok...perhaps not THAT entry level. 

Any suggestions?


Canon's editor, Digital PHoto Professional, came with your camera. It you've misplaced the CD, you can download it from their Web site. If you have a 64-bit processor, start with Version 4. You may be asked for your camera's serial number, so have it handy.

Bob
Boston, Massachusetts USA
Honored Contributor
Posts: 5,250
Registered: ‎08-13-2015

Re: Where to start?

Where to begin?  Always save your shots as RAW, which is the digital equivalent of a film negative.  Saving your shots as JPEG files would be equivalent to shooting with an old Polaroid Instantamatic, which would eject a print after every shot, and no film negative would be created..

 

Using Canon’s DPP is a pretty good introduction to digital post processing.  Lightroom can be overwhelming for some who are just starting out.

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"I don't rent software. I use Photoshop CS6, ACR 9.8 and Lightroom 6.8 ."
Reputable Contributor
Posts: 827
Registered: ‎02-06-2013

Re: Where to start?


inkjunkie wrote:

 

Unlike the past I am not going to pack the camera away and forget about it. Looking for advice on educating myself. Right from the beginning...say a photography for dummies type of thing lol...

Ok...perhaps not THAT entry level. 

Any suggestions?


Where to start?   Your question is quite encompassing...there are too many options out there. My 4 options are:

 

1. The best I think is paid lessons (online and/or college). Not all can afford it or willing to pay.

2. Just as good or even better is to join a photography club that also offers lessons for members at a nominal fee.

3. Youtube has lots of how to videos...while some are not so good, most materials, I find, are excellent.

4. Go to the library to check out photography books and start reading.  When I run into a book I really like, I'd buy one for myself from a store or from Amazon

 

I have done all 4 of the above so I recommend that you do the same.  Option # 2 is imho the best option but even that alone is not enough.  Learning is one thing but you have to be doing also...so for each lesson, you have to go out and take pictures.  I like option 2 and option 1 best because you will get feedbacks on your photos...some instructors are brutally honest and try to tear your work apart figuratively.  Check your pride at the door and learn...that's how you will improve.  I've seen a few thin-skinned students who got mad and quit - big loss on their part.  Method 3 and 4 lack a feedback mechanism and should be used as supplemental means only.

================================================
Diverhank's photos on Flickr
Occasional Contributor
Posts: 17
Registered: ‎10-01-2017

Re: Where to start?

Few years back, right around the time I was looking to move up from one of the first, if not the first Digital Rebel I was talking with someone on a car site I am friends with. We live about 2 hours from each other, we would occasionally meet for lunch. He had several 40D bodies. Ended up not buying one from him, but did buy a 40D. This "know it all" was trying to walk me thru the basics of manual shooting. His claim was that there was no reason to shoot in RAW format because editing is a pain in the butt and that "nobody can process a picture better than the camera." I mentioned that it was fairly common for me to shoot over/under exposed images....that editing, as I understood things, was a necessary evil when shooting in any of the manual modes. We had a very heated discussion...haven't spoke with him since. 

I have been messing around with Lightroom some...pretty sure I will be able to figure it out.

VIP
Posts: 8,025
Registered: ‎12-07-2012

Re: Where to start?

[ Edited ]

OK now the facts.

Lightroom is better than DPP4.  You will end up with LR if you are serious about your shutterbug hobby anyway so why not just start there?

Contrary to your 'lunch friend', all the great photos you admire are post edited.  Got that, all of them.  Not absolutely mandatory but most of them were shot in Raw format, too.

 

Youtube is simply a crutch.  The best way is to learn face to face from somebody.  Not that it can't be done, it is faster and you get more out of it quicker.  Whether it is in a club or a community college, friend, etc, face to face is best.  Next is an on-line course.  My favorite is Ben Wilmore's course. Google him.   Well worth the price.

 

Next you need to forget the green square full auto mode exists.  Put a small piece of black tape over it !  If you require a more auto mode for some reason, use P mode.  It allows you lock down some critical settings.

 

Two setting choices that are your biggest friends are Tv and Av.  Learn them.

 

And, what lenses do you have.  You may need to evaluate that area too.  A Rebel T7i is a great camera and can take you far.

A lot of Canon stuff. Along with, a lot of other stuff.
Occasional Contributor
Posts: 17
Registered: ‎10-01-2017

Re: Where to start?

Face to face classes are tough for me, I am disabled, bipolar mixed severe with psychotic tendencies...least bit of stress and I black out and become violent.
Right now I only have the lens that came with the camera, EDS 18-135mm 1:3.5-5.6 IS STM. ONLY other ones were kit lenses from my other purchases. The 100-300 I have is done for...pictures are very hazy.. have 3 short lenses as well...they are packed away with the 40D in the garage.
I am planning on buying the 100-400 L lens here soon. Owner of the local drag strip has asked me to take pictures next year. Realize this lens is a bit much but being disabled my pockets aren't as deep as they once were. Is either going to be for 100-400 or the 28-300F/3.5-5.6L IS I AM, which based upon my very limited knowledge seems like it may be very close to being the only lens I need.
I will look into Ben Wilmore.
Any input on my lenses choice would be greatly appreciated. Will be shooting at the drag strip, visiting some botanical gardens and taking shots of my dogs, landscaping etc.
Thank you for your time...
Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 3,048
Registered: ‎06-11-2013

Re: Where to start?

[ Edited ]

A few good books are:

 

1)  Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson

2)  As an alternative to #1, some people prefer The Digital Photography Book, Part 1 (it's a series and I think it's now up to 5 books) by Scott Kelby.  

3)  The Photographer's Eye:  Composition & Design for Better Digital Photography by Michael Freeman

4)  Speedliter's Handbook by Syl Arena (this book is very good, but is specific to understanding the Canon ETTL system -- though it does have many good tips on effective use of flash photography... it is nuanced toward Canon's system.)

5)  Light Science & Magic: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting by Fil Hunter, Steven Bifer, and Paul Fuqua

 

#1 and #2 are very commonly recommended to new photographers as they teach the basics in plain language that doesn't require special expertise or previous experience to understand.  It isn't just collecting the right amount of light for the exposure... but how your camera collects it that will influence the result (will you have a tack-sharp subject with a blurred background?  Will you have relatively sharp focus of everything in the image?  Will you freeze action to a moment in time?  Will you deliberately blur action to imply motion in the shot?  Etc. and how to know which approach to take to get the creative results you want.

 

The Scott Kelby book (#2 on the list) is an alternative... some people prefer the way one author writes vs. the other.  But the Scott Kelby book is the first in a long series.

 

I always recommend #3 ... once you understand the basics (in #1 or #2).  This book doesn't tell you how to adjust camera settings... it teaches you how to recognize elements in the scene that make for good photography.  

 

#4 and #5 are both about use of flash.  Good lighting has a huge influence on your images.  These books teach you how to control the flash for much better light, get the flash off the camera so that you can not only control the highlights, but also the use of shadows.  Lighting probably wields more influence over the look of an image than the choice of lenses.

 

 

 

So back to post processing software...

 

Lightroom is the most popular software used (by far).  But what's probably stumping you is that you aren't sure what to do when you open Lightroom.  You probably want to watch some tutorial videos.  

 

Canon's Digital Photo Professional (DPP) comes with your camera (it's free to you) and it's designed to let you adjust your RAW images (you could adjust any image, but it's optimized to deal with Canon's RAW files).  But you do edit these files one at a time.

 

Lightroom is not just a RAW processing program... it's also a Digital Asset Manager (DAM) program.  If you do a lot of shooting and you aren't organized, you may have photos all over your hard drive and you might struggle to find them.  Lightroom starts with it's "Library" module which controls how it imports and stores the original files and allows you to sort them into "collections" (think of collections like a photo album for a theme or event, etc.)  For example, I professional wedding photographer probably has a "collection" for each wedding or each client.  I have some common locations that I like to go to shoot so I have  "collections" for those locations (each time I go to that same location I typically add the images to the same collection).  It also allows you to do keywording of your images to make it possible to search them quickly.  It lets you rank your images.  So you can do searches such as finding all the shots taken with a particular camera & lens that you ranked 5 stars and are portrait shots.  When you have tens of thousands of images... being able to do fast searches is really handy.

 

It's also a RAW workflow and image adjustment program.  

 

When you shoot an image using JPEG, the camera does a lot of processing on that image (in the camera) before it saves the image to the memory card.  A JPEG typically gets "white balance" applied (to deal with the color cast of the light); some de-noising probably occurs if you shot at high ISO; some sharpening probably occurs around edges; a color style is applied, etc.  

 

When you shoot using RAW, none of this happens (even though most images need some adjustment).  But JPEG is a "lossy" storage type which means subtle differences from pixel to pixel will be dropped to make the image compress better for storage.  If you then later try to adjust the image, you usually find that some detail was lost in the compression (and you can't recover it -- hence the name "lossy").  RAW images don't discard or adjust data - you get everything the sensor saw.

 

Programs like DPP and Lightroom let you apply all those things that JPEG would have applied automatically... but since RAW isn't "lossy", it is VASTLY better for post processing / adjustment.  You can recover far more detail in your images as you work on them.

 

 

 

 

So your question about "where to start" is answered by two things... (1) is probably some tutorials in how to use lightroom ... but the other thing to learn is (2) what are all the common adjustment types and why would you use them?

 

The answer to #2 is that once you take a photo, it will look a LOT better once you process it (take it through the post-processing workflow).   

 

Here's an example:

 

Before.JPGAfter.jpg

 

This is a before/after comparison... the 'before' is basically how it came out of the camera.  You can see it's a bit washed out, there's some clutter on the left side of the frame... I cropped it, I adjusted the "white balance" (it looks a bit cold with a slight 'blue' color cast based on the clouds), I checked and adjusted the 'white' and 'black' points in the image to improve contrast.  I adjusted the tone-curve for the image which further 'stretches' the contrast (instead of this image having an fairly flat gray-ish look... you can see the output is a bit more dramatic with both brighter and darker areas instead of mostly just middle-gray areas).  Some sharpening was applied (which you probably can't see in this tiny sizes but do show up in a full size image) and there's even a bit of vignette adjustment do darken the outer areas of the frame and bring attention toward the center.

 

Anyway... this is the general idea of what is meant by "post processing" ... you're taking your original data and tweaking it to get a result more to your liking.  If you try to do this with a JPEG image, you'll find lots of issues because JPEG scrapped lots of original data.  This is why most serious photographers shoot RAW.

 

Programs like Photoshop can do this (but Lightroom is faster at THIS type of editing) but Photoshop will let you go beyond reality... you can insert elements into a photo that weren't really there (e.g. add some people, remove something from the background, etc.)  Photoshop will let you apply effects (create blur where something wasn't really blurred, etc.)    Photoshop lets you do the sorts of things a graphic artist might do (beyond photography.)  

 

I do use Photoshop... but only very rarely ... probably more than 98% of what I do with photos can be handled with Lightroom.

 

 

One of the other cool things about Lightroom is that if you take a lot of images in the same lighting with the same camera, etc. then there are probably a lot of adjustments that should be made to the entire set of images.  In Lightroom you can "sync" your adjustments... adjust one image ... then select a range of images and tell it to "sync".  Lightroom will open a panel showing check-boxes for each adjustment type (e.g. "white balance" would be one checkbox).  You can decide which kinds of adjustments you want to sync and when you perform this, those edits will be applied to EVERY image in the range you selected... this really speeds things along when you are working with a lot of images.

 

 

Tim Campbell
5D III, 5D IV, 60Da
Occasional Contributor
Posts: 17
Registered: ‎10-01-2017

Re: Where to start?

Should have stated that I am trying to avoid buying several lenses, don't see the point of buying a less expensive zoom lenses only to move up to the better lenses when my skill improves...if that makes sense..,

Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 3,635
Registered: ‎06-25-2014

Re: Where to start?


inkjunkie wrote:

Should have stated that I am trying to avoid buying several lenses, don't see the point of buying a less expensive zoom lenses only to move up to the better lenses when my skill improves...if that makes sense..,


It does, but remember that lenses are being constantly improved, so there's a case to be made for not buying a particular lens until you're sure you need it. And as your skills improve, you'll be better able to assess what you need and more confident of your judgement. When we advise you, we're seeing your situation through our eyes and based on our own experiences. There will come a time when your judgement of your requirements is better than ours.

Bob
Boston, Massachusetts USA
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