Natural light issues

Discussion in 'Photography' started by riotgrl, May 25, 2008.

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  1. riotgrl

    riotgrl Member

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    I just got my first slr, a Nikon D40. :D It's great when it's on automatic, but my purpose in purchasing it is to take photos for my business-- I only want photos in the natural light that falls in my business room window. I also need to take photos up close- the heel, the toe, etc of my vintage shoes. I don't know how to do this! The photos keep coming out really light (I'm taking a picture of black shoes on a white backdrop), and when it's up close it won't focus. The lens is 18-55mm.

    So far I've tried putting it on M and P and adjusting the +/- lighting down by 1.0 and I don't know what else. I've tried lots of different things. It's like I need to use the no flash mode and the macro mode at once, so I go into manual mode, but I just can't get it to focus right and get the lighting down right.

    Any help is truly appreciated. (And I have read the manual, and I'm sure after a few days of playing around with it, I could figure it out, but I'm desperate to get back on track after my old camera broke. I've already been out of business for a week waiting to get this camera in the mail.:( )
     
  2. CalebSchmerge

    CalebSchmerge Super Moderator/Reviewer News/Review Writer

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    Well, there seem to be two somewhat separate issues here. The first is the exposure of the photo, the second the macro abilities of the lens (with an SLR the focusing and zoom issues are not a function of the camera).

    This mini article I wrote might serve to help a little toward understanding and correcting the exposure for the pictures. The main things I would stress is changing the metering mode to help make sure that you are metering for the shoe, instead of the background (it doesn't matter if the background is a bit blown out in these photos - you care about the shoe).

    As for the macro shots - the 18-55mm kit lens should be capable of getting close up to a shoe. First, that lens should be able to focus down to about 9" (if I remember correctly) at any zoom setting. That said, at 55mm, 9" from a subject, you can take a picture where a credit card sized object will fill the frame. For most shoes, that should cover. If you need to get better macro shots you can try either a macro filter (a small filter you screw onto the end of the lens to increase its macro abilities. A decent one should run around $50. Alternatively, you can buy a true macro lens. Macro lenses are more expensive, starting around $300 for Nikon, but will allow much better macro work. I have the Nikon 105mm Micro lens, which allows me to take a picture of a penny where the entire penny won't fit in the frame. This allows me to see details in the photo that aren't visible to the naked eye. I would play around with the 18-55mm more and look at some crops. Depending on what you are trying to shoot, you might surprise yourself with how things look when properly exposed.

    Also, if you post some sample shots, we can give more specific advice towards how you can make that shot better. Best of luck!
     
  3. riotgrl

    riotgrl Member

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    Thanks! Good article. I put that into use, and I'm getting more comfortable with aperture and speed I guess.
     
  4. CalebSchmerge

    CalebSchmerge Super Moderator/Reviewer News/Review Writer

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    I forgot to add that - if you are using only natural light, often times you are best off to shoot in Aperture Priority mode ("A" on the mode dial). That will allow you to set the largest aperture to get the most light. Additionally, watch the ISO, as it increases you will get more noise. I personally prefer to set my ISO manually, to make sure I get the lowest ISO I can use to produce good results.
     
  5. avisitor

    avisitor Well-Known Member

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    Throw your camera in spot metering in Aperture Priority mode. It should meter directly from the shoe (which, assuming is black is 9% reflective) not the background (assuming white is 36% reflective). That's your problem.

    Also, I highly recommend the Close Up Kit from Ritz/Kitz/Wolf Camera. It's 30 bucks and lets you change the amount of macro correction you need.
     
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