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I'm currently working to create photo refs with my Canon T3 Digital SLR.
My personal interest is, mostly, in nature photography, first, and general refs for my cartooning interests, second.
I'm looking to create an ongoing thread where those striving to produce refs for art can discuss their personal knowledge and experience with photography.
As a potential topic starter, I'm considering purchasing Canon's 70mm/200mm (non-IS) zoom which is considered to be a pretty dang good lens for the money beyond the issue "kit lens" that comes with the camera.
What is YOUR knowledge? What are YOUR experiences with photography?
After years of battling it out with reference photos, I have concluded that I am wholly incapable of working from them. :-)
On the other hand, I like taking photos, if only with my simple point-and-shoot model, and do not mind at all sharing them with those who want to use them, absolutely free of charge and no strings attached. Thus if you want any, I'll be happy to post them.
My sketchbook thread:
Yeah a 200mm lense is a good lense. If you really love telephoto lenses though, you should think about getting a teleconverter. Those things will turn your 200mm into 400mm. The only real problem with those though are that your aperature is doubled too, so you need good light.
I have a 70-300 lens with "macro" setting (apparently not true macro, according to camera geeks). It's what I use most for nature photography- it's fantastic for insects and other small animals, because you can stand several feet away while photographing them.
I'm not a great photographer by any means, and my camera is ancient for a DSLR (only 6 megapixels), but hopefully these shots will indicate the value of a long lens.
My sketchbook thread:
Hey blogmatix: thanks for the offer! But, what I looking to do is engage people who have made the jump to digital SLRs and what it is they are doing to both make ref photos and work from them.
My own point-and-shoot—an ancient 3.2 megapixel Nikon Cool-Pix, is a damn good camera. But, my Canon T3 offers much more CONTROL and the ability to stick whatever long lens on it that I can afford.
Hey art-of-tennis: you’re reading my mind. Only thing I know at this point—it’s better to stick with less powerful teleconverters for better resolution. But, a 1.4X with a 200mm lense would put me in the “closer to 300mm” range that appears to be the standard for good nature photography—with 400mm being even better. Problem, though, is that a good 400mm prime is, probably, worth more than the car I’m currently driving—thus my concentration upon: “crop factors,” and tame, habituated or zoo animals that are easy to get close to with a 200mm and a converter.
Hey Notophthalmus: Those are some pretty nice pictures. What DSLR and lens makes and models are you using? I was contemplating getting a Canon lower end 70-300mm, but most of the stuff on the web I have been reading indicates that the Canon 70-200mm “L series” lens is a better implement for the money and the ability to enlarge images, afterwards, makes up for the 200 vs. 300mm difference re quality.
Hey Xeon: I think we may have same or similar cameras based on one of your SB postings. Are doing anything re getting bigger/better lenses?
Last edited by Kamber Parrk; April 13th, 2012 at 11:40 PM.
Hey Kamber! I used to have a Canon EOS-500D a year ago, but I sold it since it was only for my photography module and I've no use for it anymore.
I have a Nikon D80 and I use an 18-135 lens for shooting landscape pictures. I used to use a 70-300 lens with it but found I want things farther away and let me do the cropping and correcting distortion at home in PS. I am thinking of going over to a canon T3i for the 18 megapixels which would give me an almost double the image size.
Just got a cannon T2i... very pleased with it. Incredible resolution and no jpeg artifacts in sight even when zoomed way in to the pixel level. Probably good enough to shoot art prints with. Excellent sensitivity to value and color. (Even more miraculous when compared with the Powershot, off the rack POS I was using.)
Some philosophical thoughts on reference:
Photos are a dime a dozen. Photos record facts. The world is awash in facts at the moment. We are starved for honest integration of facts.... the gestalts, the paradigms, the world-views that only a comprehending and humane imagination can provide. (As opposed to partisan integrations provided by our corrupt media, marketing, political and religious industries.) Truth is the way we integrate information into a conception while still retaining the integrity of the information.
Art deals with truth. Our sense of truth is personal, based on our conceptions of life, as filtered through our experience and our capacity to visualize. We synthesize truth in our imaginations. There is no human truth that we can prove outside our own minds in a scientific way. Truth is valuable just because it is a uniquely human understanding, about our shared consciousness of the vagaries of human life. And because we are unique, the way we share truth is uniquely personal as well.
Your sketches from your imagination, the images you previsualize in your mind's eye... those are the foundations of your artwork, your personal views about life unfiltered even by your own linguistic conditioning. These images must come from your subconscious. You can't go hunting for them. You must let them come to you in reverie or day dreams when your verbal consciousness is napping or idle.
When using reference never let it interfere with your daydreams... do not let the facts you find behind a camera lure you into being a reporter if you plan on being an artist. Reference is there to provide some facts to ground the transcendent truth you are trying to express, the transcendent truth your imagination has synthesized into a vision and presented to your consciousness (for expression through art.)
A prerequisite for using reference to assist your imagination is; you must be able to visualize your art in your imagination. (To the greatest extent possible.)
Last edited by kev ferrara; April 14th, 2012 at 11:22 AM.
At least Icarus tried!
My Process: Dead Rider Graphic Novel (Dark Horse Comics) plus oil paintings, pencils and other goodies:
My "Smilechild" Music. Plus a medley of Commercial Music Cues and a Folksy Jingle!:
Kamber- I'm using a Sigma 70-300 with macro and ancient Canon EOS 300D, the first in the "digital rebel" line.
Psychotime- Wheelbugs aren't aggressive to humans. They're predators and hunt other insects. They will bite if threatened, though, and their bite is very painful- much worse than a hornet sting, in my opinion. Nothing compared to the cottonmouth in my next-to-last photo, though- those suckers will cost you some flesh. They're not aggressive either, fortunately.
Anyway. . .
a call out to dpaint:
How 'bout "white balance" re landscape photos?
I know that "warm lights produce cool shadows."
How do you deal with this fact in your photo-reffing?
Does the photographer's compensation for white balance screw over the photo-reffing artist's search for truth?
In the old days of film, you could enlarge/blowup an image. With digital, I'm finding that the "blowup" is a given-- thus, the 55mm end of my kit lens is actually the "equivalent" of a short 85mm telephoto-- though, there is controversy on this characterization and purists would, likely, whack me over the head for sayin' so!
My wife uses a full-frame camera, and I grabbed a random shot that she actually took just yesterday. The metadata says it was at 400mm ISO200 and f6.3. The first is just the raw image, and the second shot I cropped myself.
The cropping on your wife's Owl Pic is consistent with the image quality on my (above) Robin pic.
Indeed, even though my TC3 is "entry level"-- I can still attach some impressive glass to it.
What a World we live in!
I keep telling myself that I'll add something to this thread, but I just never bothered.
Here's a few pics near the Savannah river, which is where most tourists go. I took these on my cheap little camera (Kodak C813) for SOMETHING a year or two ago, but I can't remember what.
Last edited by Psychotime; May 12th, 2012 at 02:09 AM.
I use a Pentax 2100. However, for me, I only use the photo-ref for composition of the objects. Since I do plein air paintings, I tend to use the colors that I see in my paintings, rather than the colors in the photo (This is the same with the values and the colors in the shadows).
A trick that I read was that you take several images of the scene (over-exposed, under-exposed and normal). That way you get what's in the shadows and the bright areas.
However, if possible, better to use the photos for ideas and learn to paint outside or from life.
I would highly suggest going through a few pages similar to this about lenses, the types, their effects, so on and so forth. Having an idea about teleconverters and possible vignetting, or the perspective distortion on a sub 35mm focal length, as well as f stops and proper shutter speed selection will save you some massive headaches and confusion.
Kamber, are you referring to a 50mm film lens being placed on a digital slr, resulting in a 75-85mm lens? That's due to the crop factor. The imaging area on film cameras are about 1.5 times the size of that on digital cameras. Because of that, digital cameras don't capture all of the incoming light, and can also end up having issues with perspective, blurring, and other stuff.
I would offer a few quick suggestions:
-If you want to capture what you see, 50mm. That's the closest to human field of vision without distortion and is the de facto street shot.
-Want to capture a wide scene of what you see? Wide angled shots down to 18mm or less. However, want to capture a wide scene of what you see without perspective distortion? Multiple 50mm shots that are later stitched together.
-Try and stay below 800 ISO to avoid extra image noise caused by photonic sensitivity.
-Aperture (f-stop) settings: 4 and below are great for portrait shots or creating depth of field on nearby objects. Moving to higher aperture numbers (or further distances), negates depth of field. You can definitely use the lower f stop numbers to capture entire scenes in low light without depth of field (by focusing way the hell out there), but they could have a certain glowing blurriness to them.
-Don't drop below 1/60 for shutter speed without a monopod or tripod. After that, you will have motion blur. The human body really can't hold a camera perfectly still for longer than that.
-Try to get as close to your subject as possible to avoid cropping your image. The more you crop, the more information you lose, the less of a print size you can make out of it without graininess.
Last edited by rishenko; May 12th, 2012 at 08:12 AM.
If you're considering an "L" lens, I highly recommend going for it. L glass is the reason I switched to Canon. HOWEVER, you won't really reap the benefits of good glass until you can take better pictures. That is another story and another pursuit all together ;-). Good luck and enjoy.
It took me like three hours to finish the shading on your upper lip. It's probably the best drawing I've ever done.
My sketchbook (it'll get good near the end)
dpaint: thanks for the reply-- it's insightful coming from you! (I vaguely remember a North Light book on watercolor that went into excruciating detail re this. BUT, your reply may well put this in more practical perspective!)
J@nit: I'm 90% committed to buying the Canon 70-200mm "L" lense. My skill level is marginal, having learned bare bones 35mm SLR film shootin' with my old Konica platform. It's really really marginal for real wildlife shooting. But, with my access to reasonably tame suburban wildlife and my membership to Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo, I think 200mm might actually open up a new world-- though, the $700 price tag gives me pause!
rishenko: darn good advice, overall! (I've been considering the 55mm "end" of my kit lens to be, more or less, commensurate with the 50mm human eyeball standard for much of the ref photos I been shootin' lately.)
Doug Hoppes: I'm thinkin' your counsel tracks what dpaint's sayin'! Thanks, seems like you're in good company!
Psychotime: Excellent! Thank ye fer the input.
Anyway. . .
Hope everyone can keep this thread going! Photoref IS vital for art of all shades. And, hope all of you in the know can keep adding to the the knowledge base of this thread that, hopefully, will become a resource far in extant of my idle musings. . .
Anyway. . .
I broke down and bought the lens.
Here's a bunny I shot at 200mm, hand-held, regular and cropped: