View Full Version : Digital Photography - Tips and Tricks.

duke dynamite
03-26-2008, 09:23 PM
Decided to start this in the off-topic boards.

I have a FujiFilm S700 7.1 MP camera.

Using automatic settings at Conseco Fieldhouse, I get grainy photos. It has a very high resolution, but I can't keep the photos from turning out a little grainy.

03-26-2008, 10:02 PM
Automatic settings don't help. Does the onboard flash go off when you are taking the shots?

I think you should shoot in aperture priority mode. I have the rebel XT and that is the only mode I shoot in.

When a photo is created, there are two sides to the equation. The aperture (or f-stop) setting tells the camera how much light to let in, and the shutter speed is the other half, telling the shutter how long to stay open based on how much light is getting let in for exposure. The wild card in this equation is the ISO speed. On film cameras, the ISO is set by the speed of film you would purchase. On digital cameras, this is just a number setting. The higher the ISO setting, the less light needed to take a balanced photo. This equates to a higher aperture setting (less light let in and greater depth of field) but still allowing for a fast shutter speed (good stop action).

The problem with a low aperture setting is that your depth of field is narrow. The lower the aperture, the thinner your focal plane is. Basically, whatever subject your camera focuses on, everything that is at that same distance away from you will be in focus. Everything that is closer or farther away will be out of focus and get farther out of focus as that distance grows. If you want to be able to capture a player who is 50 feet from you in focus, but you want the rest of the players or the bench that is 80 feet from you, you will have to have a thick depth of field. This means you need a higher aperture, which means a slower shutter speed (because the higher aperture setting is letting in less light, so the shutter has to stay open longer to let in enough light to properly expose the frame) and a higher ISO (which will allow the photo to balance with less light). I personally think I get better sports photos when the focal plane is thin, which means my subject is in clear focus and everything else is intentionally blurred.

I know, it's confusing.

The problem with higher ISO settings is that at 800 or above, the photos can get a little grainy. The way to counteract this is to keep the aperture setting low (more light let in) and keep the shutter speed high.

One other thing to consider is the white balance setting. This can make a HUGE difference in the quality of your photos, mostly relating to coloration or tinting of your photos. If you leave the WB setting on auto, prepare for yellowy photos. You need to be able to set it manually for the environment in which you are shooting. If you can set it manually, you should have settings such as daylight, shade, tungsten, fluorescent, or custom. I think if you set your camera to one of the manual modes, you will be able to set the white balance.

Just to give you an example of how I shoot:

In Conseco, the lighting is tungsten. If I set the white balance to auto, the photos are too yellowy and I have to color correct them in post-processing, like in PhotoShop. I immediately set the WB to tungsten and just forget about it.

Then, knowing that the action will be fast, I set the ISO to 1600. This is the highest setting I can go to, and I choose to use that setting to get good stop action with as little light as possible.

I then set the camera to aperture priority. I have a 75-300mm zoom lens. I set the lens to auto-focus. As I zoom in and go from 75mm up to 300mm, the lowest possible aperture setting goes up. At 75mm, the lowest aperture I can have is 4.0. At 300mm, the lowest I can have is 5.6. In aperture priority and auto-focus, the aperture automatically stays as low as it can based on what I have the lens zoomed to. Thus, I don't have to worry about setting the aperture manually because it will always be as low as it can be, letting in the most light possible and allowing the best stop action I can get. Even at the lowest aperture setting (4.0), my depth of field is acceptable.

Since it is in aperture priority mode, once the aperture is set when I focus to make a frame, the camera automatically sets the shutter speed to balance the frame.

It is very rare for me to change any of the settings I just described. I shoot in Av mode (A on your camera), in ISO 1600, WB set to tungsten, and the shutter speed takes care of itself. As I zoom in tighter, the aperture automatically goes up, and that means that the shutter speed automatically goes down to let in enough light. If I shoot from the balcony or the club level, I try not to zoom too much. 75mm is a decent view and it keeps the settings where I want them for good photos.

Since the camera is 8.2 megapixel, even if I capture a frame of half the court, I can crop the frame to the action around the basket in PhotoShop and not lose much resolution. If I had just zoomed in to the action in the lane, my settings would change to compensate and I wouldn't get as good of stop action as I like. Most of the close-ups that I post are due to me cropping a larger captured frame rather than zooming in when I capture.

I hope all that blabbering helps.....I tend to get a little long-winded when I start talking photography....

By all means, keep asking questions. I'm not the absolute best source for information. There are PLENTY of competent photographers around here who also like to talk about how they get good shots. In fact, I would love to hear from some more people who know what's up to make sure I'm not mistaken in any of my statements, and to tell me what they do to solve common shooting problems! Any information is generally helpful...

Also, I got the info for your camera from a great site I've used for years: Steve's Digicams. Here is the link to your camera:


03-26-2008, 10:25 PM
My 2 cents worth from the pre-digital days...I shot for Army newspapers.

Set a shutter speed of at least 6o...1/60th of a second...to avoid blurring from camera movement. If you go to 30, you better be braced against movement. Elbows to your ribcage.

Set an ISO of 400, or 200 if you have plenty of light.

With those settings in place, go with as high an aperture setting, f stop, as will give you the green light to shoot. Your camera should have some sort of indicator that the settings are good for the available light.

An 800 or 1600 (yikes!) ISO setting will give you amazing low-light capabilty, but if graininess is your concern, you want more light, a lower ISO, lower shutter speed, or lower aperture, or some combination of those.

Tell me if that's wrong in this digital age, woode.

03-26-2008, 10:45 PM
Well, from my experience, Conseco's lighting conditions would destroy an ISO setting lower than 800. The only time I shoot below 800 is in direct sunlight outdoors. The lowest ISO I have ever shot with in Conseco is 800 and I got blurry shots when shooting game action or Pacemate routine action. If your subject were not moving at all, I could see going with lower ISO, even in Conseco. That just never happens with basketball action.

With the lens I shoot with, the lowest aperture setting I'm getting is 4.0, so that allows for plenty of depth of field. I don't see much problem in my photos of getting decent focus on my subject and anything within 10-20 feet of there.

Also, given the speed at which good action transpires, trying to change settings midgame is difficult at best. I used to try and experiment, but I got it down pretty good (at least I think so...do my photos represent that I do a decent job, or do you see quite a bit of room for improvement? Not being a dick, I'm actually asking!) so I stick with what seems to work for me. Without looking at the EXIF data that is embedded in the photos I take, I don't even pay attention to what the shutter speed is set at, because I don't ever set it manually!

If I see a play developing, like Chris Paul driving the lane, I push the fire button down halfway to lock the focus and then just rapid fire frames from there. I don't pay attention to actual numerical values as far as zoom goes, because I know that whatever the zoom is, my aperture will be as low as possible (letting in as much light as possible for the zoom, and also allowing the camera to set the correct shutter speed automatically) and I have the ISO set really high, so I seem to get good results.

I really feel that the way I have the camera set up is as close to automatic as I can get, allowing me to just concentrate on the game action and pick the sequences I want to capture. I zoom to a little larger than I need to capture, because that allows me to still get the shot I want if the action moves out of the center of my frame. As long as I get what I want in the frame, I can crop later to make it more presentable and interesting.

Again, the aperture is set as low as it can go automatically depending on how I've zoomed the lens. The lowest I can get lets in as much light as possible. The shutter speed is automatically set to balance the frame. The ISO is set high to allow for lower light conditions and better stop action for the speed of the play. The white balance keeps the colors as accurate as possible. Seems to work well for me. I use these same settings when shooting my kids playing, although sometimes I try to add more light to the environment and move the ISO down to 400 or 800.

I can honestly say that I've never shot a single frame with a conventional camera that was anything more than a point and shoot, so I wouldn't really know how to compare settings with digital as opposed to conventional film.

duke dynamite
03-27-2008, 01:06 AM
Nah, heywoode. Your photos are great. That's why I asked about the grainyness. My camera was marketed as "the budget camera on steriods", so I have all the ISO, shutter speed and aperature settings that an SLR camera comes with.

I really appreciate both of your inputs on this matter. Expect photos from Friday's game, and wish me luck on getting the settings right. I'm going to print both of those replies out and stick them in my pocket so I don't forget the numbers...

You guys are awesome.


03-27-2008, 09:04 AM
Glad to help, bro....

btw, I will be at Friday's game also. I got four tickets to that game before I got the tix for Tuesday's game...The friend who gave them to me stopped by to give me the tix for Friday and had the unexpected bonus of tix for Tuesday's game also. It was short notice (since the game he was giving me bonus tix for was a mere 6 hours from tipping off!) but he knew I am the go-to guy for using tickets...

I will be with a couple of co-workers and one of my bosses, and we will be sitting in Section 113, Row 1, Seats 1-4. Those seats are just outside the Legends area, in the corner, on the side opposite the scorer's table. If I have myself oriented correctly with the outside world, I believe it is the SW corner of Conseco.

Feel free to come over and say hello if you have access to the Club level...If you are in the lower bowl, come to the section below me and yell at me until I look down!

Since you have a couple of days before the game, I would play around with some of the settings I'm talking about just shooting stuff in your environment. If you have kids, have them do something interesting and set your camera up like I or kester suggests, and see what you can get. Probably would be good to at least get used to changing settings and then changing them back to what you are comfortable with now, just so you aren't panicked or rushed trying to do it during the game.

Also, I used to find it very fun to get to the Fieldhouse right when the doors open so I could go right down to the court and get some shots of the players during shootaround. That is definitely the best time to try and get autographs also. I always carry a sharpie at games, and if I happen to get lucky enough to run into someone, I can have them sign my ticket, even if they don't have anything to write with.

Regardless of where your tickets are for the game, you can walk right down to the court. You can stay down there until about 30 minutes before tipoff. That is a great time to work on your camera settings and capture some frames....

duke dynamite
03-27-2008, 12:30 PM
Glad to help, bro....
...Also, I used to find it very fun to get to the Fieldhouse right when the doors open so I could go right down to the court and get some shots of the players during shootaround. That is definitely the best time to try and get autographs also. I always carry a sharpie at games, and if I happen to get lucky enough to run into someone, I can have them sign my ticket, even if they don't have anything to write with.

Regardless of where your tickets are for the game, you can walk right down to the court. You can stay down there until about 30 minutes before tipoff. That is a great time to work on your camera settings and capture some frames....
You make it sound like I never go there. LOL. How do you think I get all my autographs??? :laugh: I have season tickets, and they are in the balcony level. I do plan on getting there early enough to hang around the court (as always) so you are invited to hang around down there with us if you like.

Also, if you aren't doing anything after the game, if you are a STH, you can come with us to the Mike Dunleavy and Marquis Daniels Q&A session as well.

duke dynamite
03-27-2008, 12:34 PM
Everything on the wall except the Reggie and MSA stuff is autographed. And this isn't all of it...


03-27-2008, 01:53 PM
Ha! I didn't know who I was dealing with!

Sorry to have not known, and I love the room! I need to get me some Pacers curtains...Oh wait, my computer room (the only room in the house that I control the decor of) doesn't have any windows!


I will probably be there a little bit early, but I will be with coworkers and one of my bosses, so I won't have much time to socialize outside of my group. I'm not a STH, so I will have to respectfully decline the offer for the Q&A session. Hope you have fun!

duke dynamite
03-27-2008, 02:31 PM
Ha! I didn't know who I was dealing with!

Sorry to have not known, and I love the room! I need to get me some Pacers curtains...Oh wait, my computer room (the only room in the house that I control the decor of) doesn't have any windows!
Yeah, #1 Fan in Southern Indiana. Well, there could be more opportunities to meet up.

Anyway, my girlfriend's mom and I made those curtains, and I made the ECC throw pillow.

03-27-2008, 02:46 PM
I just got a new lens for my Nikon D40 DSLR on Monday.

I got the Nikkor 55-200mm with the Vibration Reduction. I have only taken a couple pictures with it so far, but I absolutely love it. It compensates so much for movement. I was sitting in the swing in the backyard of my house playing with all the settings and took a picture while swinging of my son running across the yard, and it came out perfect. No blur whatsoever.

I am an ametuer, just learning. I just got my camera last September, so I am still learning a lot. Heywoode I appreciate the above commentary very much . It helps me learn a lot about the use of my camera.

03-27-2008, 06:45 PM
Excellent, Gyron!

That sounds like a fantastic piece of equipment to shoot with. You should be very satisfied with the shots you get at games, or other shots of your kids in action. It looks like that lens has the same aperture range that my Canon 75-300mm lens has, f/4-f/5.6. Obviously the aperture can be stopped down to well over 5.6, but those are the smallest aperture settings at each end of the lens' focal range. It looks like a very nice lens! Very compact...That is great. I look forward to seeing some shots you make with it!

I (or someone) had started a "post your cool photos" thread in either the shout box or the sports & entertainment forum quite a while ago...It would be cool to dig that back up, or at least start a new one if someone has cool photos that they want to share.

I will go on record as saying I would love to see anyone's photos that they are proud of, at any time. If you make some cool photos, post 'em so we can all enjoy!

Also, anyone feel free to continue this discussion or ask questions...I love talking photography!

duke dynamite
03-27-2008, 06:47 PM

03-27-2008, 09:03 PM
I will work on that. I need to download my pictures anyways. I have a couple hundred on my camera right now I need to dump.

03-27-2008, 10:05 PM
I hope you organize your photos as you transfer them each time. I have a friend who takes photos and batch names them different names each time, sometimes forgets to delete them off the card and then takes more photos and then copies all the photos off the card again, double copying ones he has already removed....

Then he moves them to folders that he just names whatever his mood is that day without thought to any kind of orderly naming convention....

It is hilarious to watch him try to find photos of something.

The person I'm talking about is Chris Kramer's dad, so he has an a$$load of photos from Purdue games dating back to 2006...

He gave them all to me and I couldn't take it. I created a folder for each year and then created folders inside those that were named that day's date and the name of Purdue's opponent. I even add the opponents ranking, if they were ranked when Purdue played them...cleaned all that stuff up...deleted all the duplicates too.

I did all that in MY folder, not his...So then I showed him how much easier it is to find stuff and how much better it looks, and how much easier it is to not double copy, and how much space it saves when I deleted the two, sometimes THREE instances of photos he had on his PC. Of course, he can't remember how to do it, so now is wanting me to organize his folder for him...I'm just gonna delete his disorganized crap and re-copy my organized one back to his PC.

My point in all that rambling is that if you organize from the beginning, it is great. Photos are easy to find, and the structure looks great after you accumulate three or four years worth of data. At first I thought I was just anal-retentive. Then I talked to my photog mentor, the pro who travels with Purdue football and basketball, and shoots freelance for SI (he just shot his first COVER for the NCAA preview issue...the shot of that kid from Xavier is his! www.andrewhancock.com (http://www.andrewhancock.com)) and he organizes pretty similarly to what I do. It must be the thing to do!

Also, I use a program called ACDSee to view and organize photos. I do everything with that program except for cropping and color correcting. For that I use PhotoShop CS3.

When I shoot a Pacer game, for instance....I create subfolders in the game folder. I sort out the Pacemate shots into a PM folder. I usually scan the crowd for hotties and freak show candidates...for that I have an 'other' folder. Then I create a folder called POST. I also create a POST folder inside the Pacemates folder. Once I have them in the right place, I go through the game photos looking for the best ones, the ones I'm going to post here at PD. I copy them into the POST folder, and do the same in the Pacemates folder. Once I have the collection of photos for posting, I open PhotoShop and edit the copies that are in the POST folders, leaving the originals intact. Once I have them all edited, I create a folder inside the POST folders and name that 'resized'. I then use ACDSee to batch resize the photos to 60 percent of the original image size, and compress them to 40 percent of the filesize. This turns the original photos that are 4-6mb each into 300-400kb each.

After I have the copied, edited, resized photos done, I upload them to my photobucket account (organized in folders with the same naming convention of my archive!) and then they are ready for posting here at PD, or I just send the link to the photobucket folder to friends who don't frequent PD. At photobucket, they can view them one at a time by clicking on thumbnails or they can watch a slideshow.

When I started doing this, it was a bit tedious to establish the workflow. Now that I have it down, it is actually pretty efficient. I feel like it is the best way I could do it.

03-27-2008, 10:09 PM
Heywoode et al.,

I have a Canon Powershot S2IS. Have had it for a couple of seasons now, but have only recently starting playing with the manual controls so I can do continuous shooting of action sequences.

Does anyone have a Canon, and would the settings for shooting at Conseco be similar to those already mentioned?

Any guidance is appreciated. I will be at the game on Friday but am in Sec. 18, so I will have to point-and-shoot on my own once the action starts!

Joey D.

03-27-2008, 11:13 PM
Hey Joe, long time, no chat! Nice to hear from you...Bear in mind where I said I will be seated and get a shot of me and my three friends, if you could! That goes for anyone else reading this...I would love to have a few shots of myself and my friends at the game.

Now, to your camera. As you probably know, I have a Canon. It is the Rebel XT. I would think the settings I describe wouldn't just be exclusive to Canon cameras, as photography is pretty much consistent regardless of equipment. If you want to know more about your camera, check out the review of it at Steve's Digicams...The link to your camera is HERE (http://www.steves-digicams.com/2005_reviews/s2is.html).

From just glancing through the specs on your camera, there is good and bad. The good is that you can definitely shoot in full manual, aperture priority (what I shoot in 99% of the time), shutter priority, etc...It is also good that you can do photo stitching for good panorama shots, and that you can shoot movies at decent quality.

The bad news is that the highest ISO you can shoot in looks like 400. I would max that out, shoot in aperture priority and that will give you the fastest shutter speed you can get based on how far you zoom in. Try to shoot most shots without zooming and crop later with software. That will leave your aperture at the setting to let the most light in.

It also looks like your auto focus settings can be messing you up. If you let the camera decide where to focus based on what it sees, it can choose the wrong thing to focus on, or it can take too long to decide and mess up your shot. Try to set it so that you pick which dot in the viewfinder is going to be the focal point. I do that and I have it always set to focus on the middle dot. I always know where my "crosshair" is, so to speak, and I always know what dot to line up on what I want to focus on. Creative photos don't always have the subject in the center of the frame, but even if you do what I do, you can crop the photo however you want and move that subject around using the 'rule of thirds' for the most creative and best looking finished frame. I will let you look up the rule of thirds...It is pretty simple...

Establishing that your camera will focus on what you want it to every time will help, and the settings I describe should help as much as possible for the equipment you have. If you can use a multiframe burst mode (not the sports setting, that will also mess with your aperture, ISO, and shutter speed) I would do that as well and just take a buttload of frames...

Hope that helps!

The Toxic Avenger
03-28-2008, 12:36 AM
Alright Photogs. Someone was going to ask it eventually and my guess is that Heywoode already has a post ready and waiting on this one BUT...

For a Semi-Beginner what would be the best Digital Camera?
Here are some of my personal perferences, in order of personal Importance:

1. COST!!!!! Probably won't even be able to get anything for a while but when I do it would probably be in TOTAL (The Complete Package here) under $500-$600 :shrug: I just can't justify spending anymore than that even if it IS for nice zoom lens, bags, mem cards, photoshop programs... what have you. So if you can throw in everything or maybe recommend a used store... or if you are looking to sell.... ;)

2. Nice "Semi-Professional" looking Pics - not Andrew Hancock Professional (btw that man can shoot H.) but not drunk chick on HotorNot either. I realize that you get what you pay for so don't think I'm being unrealistic I'm just looking for the best value based on what I can afford.

3. Simplicity - Ability to adjust some controls Manually but not have so many controls that I get lost or confused about settings.

4. Multi-Functionality - I'd rather not be carrying around a 5lb camera, 4inch lens, and tripod if I just want some quick pics of friends and Family... I know, I know, I can't afford those things anyway but you get the idea.

And Least of All, But STILL important...
5. Availability - Whether it be BestBuy, Circuit City, Fry's or whathaveyou I'd rather pay a little more for a accessable product than get stiffed on Ebay, or an online store or So and So's Brother's Uncle. And something with a warranty or at least readily available replacement parts would be nice.

Any other thoughts/Tips for someone who knows the bare basics of photography from a barely amateur 35mm point of view please let me know.

Thanks again Folks.

duke dynamite
03-28-2008, 03:06 AM
I got a nice almost-SLR camera. It is a FujiFilm S700. It is a very affordable camera. It is a 7.0 MP, perfect for nothing too "professional". Honestly, I do not like purchasing electronics from Wal-Mart, but I got a sweet deal on it plus a warranty. After all that I still paid less than what I would have online or at BestBuy/Circuit City.

The controls on it look very intimidating. Luckily for you it has an "auto" setting that I myself find handy in situations that I can't find the time to adjust manually. (i.e. Pacers' games. The main reason why I started this thread...)

Other than some of the photos coming out grainy - that is just a lighting issue that again, this thread was started for...

This is a very light camera that you could hook a standard tripod up to for portraits. It uses SD or or xD media cards, and comes with a USB transfer cable and software if your PC does not have a card reader.

You can get it just about everywhere, I do recommend Wal-Mart because their warranty actually covers abuse, and normal wear-and-tear.

All the benchmarks are overly impressive when it comes to overall performance for a budget camera. The CD actually comes with some tips and pointers for beginners, so you aren't completely lost.

Check out the specs here:

When it first came out, it cost me around $250 including the three-year warranty. It is cheaper now since this particular model is a year old.

This is what it looks like:


duke dynamite
03-29-2008, 01:23 AM
Only had a couple of photos come out well tonight. Gotta tweak it a little more.

I kind of quit trying to take photos and got into the game a little more.