Project 1 How to set your exposure for light subjects


earning to set your Canon D-SLR to capture the best exposure for a subject or scene takes a lot of practice and experience. And things get more tricky if your subject is light or dark against a contrasting background, as your camera is likely to under- or overexpose to try and compensate for the

mixed lighting. So. should you leave it up to your camera. or take control and manually adjust your exposure? In this project we suggest a combination of both!

Experiment with AEB, taking sequences of three shots of your subject or scene to see which captures the best exposure.

STEP BY STEP Set your D-SLR's Auto Exposure Bracketing

Select Aperture Priority

Use your camera's AEB (Auto & Exposure Bracketing) setting in the Menu to take a sequence of three shots -standard ('correct') exposure, underexposed and overexposed. As you're using Av mode, the aperture will stay fixed for the three exposures; only the shutter speed will change for each shot. Start off with +/-1 stop and review your results (see Step 4).

Drive mode

Review your shots
. . Check each of the three shots on your camera's LCD, and press the lnfo/Disp. button to display the histograms to see which has the best exposure. You want to avoid data being cut off at either end of the graph, which indicates that highlights or shadows are 'clipped', with no detail in those areas. Aim for a 'full spread' of pixel data across the graph.


ln Av (Aperture Priority) mode you adjust the aperture, and your camera sets the shutter speed for a standard exposure. This way you can control the depth of field : set a wide aperture (such as f/4) for a shallow depth of field to blur backgrounds in portraits, or a narrow aperture (such as f/22) for a narrow depth of field and front-to-back sharpness in landscapes.

11!1 Set your D-SLR's Drive mode
. . to High-Speed Continuous; this way, the three exposures will be captured in quick succession when you press the shutter button rather than you having to press the shutter button three times, which could result in slightly different compositions, or exposures being affected by changing lighting conditions if you're not quick.

Project2 Sharper shots!


ost Canon-compatible lenses feature Image Stabilization (IS) -aka Vibration Compensation (VC) on Tamron lenses and Optical Stabilizer (OS) on Sigma lenses. For this simple project. take shots of everything and anything- but take two shots, one with IS and one without. The longer your focal length (eg over lOOm m or 200mm), the more camera shake will be noticeable, and the more you'll see the benefit of IS.

With your longesttelephoto lens, practice shooting with and without IS, and compare the results.

Project 3 Master aperture for macro shots!


nowing which aperture is best for the type of shot you're trying to capture

isn't always easy. As we've explained in Step 1 of Project #1, wide apertures (eg f/2.8) blur backgrounds and narrow apertures (eg f/22) ensure the whole scene is in focus; when you bring macro into the mix, however, these rules change slightly. In this special project we'll help you to master the best aperture/depth of field for your own close-up subjects.

Tripod down low
Fit a macro lens to your D-SLR, choose a flower to focus on and position your tripod low to the ground for a close-up shot. As well as keeping the camera steady for sharp images, a tripod enables you to keep the same composition for each of your sequence of shots taken at different apertures.

Shake-free shots


Set up your D-SLR with a macro lens on a tripod and, using Live View to compose and focus, take a sequence of four shots at different apertures and review your results to compare the depth of field .

To make doubly sure you get sharp shots, use the self-timer or a remote shutter release so you don't have to touch the camera to take the shot- the slightest movement at the start of the exposure can mean blurred shots. To combat wind, shelter your flower with a sheet of cardboard, or peg the stem to a stick.

Compose and focus
Use your Canon D-SLR's Live View mode to compose your shot, using the rule of thirds to position the focal point for best effect. To focus, press the '+' zoom (magnifying glass) button to zoom in xs or xlO view, then switch the lens from AF (Autofocus) to MF (Manual focus) and adjust the focusing ring until your chosen area is in focus. Press the '-' zoom button to zoom back out.

Best aperture?
. , Although it's good to use a shallow depth of field to focus attention on the subject, for macro shots wide apertures will capture too little in focus. Take a series of shots at different apertures, from the widest to narrowest available (eg f/2.8 to f/32), and compare the depth of field in each one. We think our shot taken at f/8 reveals the right amount of detail in the flower and the background . .....

Project 4 Photographing animals behind glass


othing's more annoying than taking what you think is a great shot of wildlife at your local zoo, only to find the protective glass is also highly reflective and has ruined your photo! In this project we'll show you how to use a polarising filter and Photoshop editing to get killer results.

Fit a polariser
Fit a polarising filter to your lens to reduce reflection, and rotate the filter to adjust the strength of the effect. The filter will reduce the amount of light reaching your sensor, so increase your ISO if necessary to enable fast enough shutter speeds for sharp shots. Position your lens square on to the glass when composing your shots to further reduce reflections.

Colour correction

151 When you're using a polariser
_.. and shooting through glass, you may need to adjust the white balance of your images. Shoot Raw images (as always!) so that you can easily adjust the white balance post-shoot in Adobe Camera Raw. We cooled our shot by setting the Temperature slider to 4250, and added magenta by dragging the Tint slider to +30.

Boost the contrast 11!1 Although using a polarising filter
. . will help to boost the contrast of a scene, you can further enhance the contrast for a really dramatic image. In ACR we increased the Exposure value to brighten up our shot, then dragged Blacks up to 15 to darken the shadows, and increased Contrast to +50 to boost the overall contrast and bring out the detail in the lion's fur.

Head to your local zoo or wildlife park, screw on a polarising filter and follow Steps 1·3on the right.

Project 5 Hot and steamy shots!


f you've ever tried to take a quick shot in a butterfly or insect house, you'll know that it's frustrating work, as your lens is likely to steam up and produce hazy results. Rather than waiting for half an hour or more for your kit to adjust to the ambient temperature and the

condensation to disperse (while you get bored and sweaty!) in this project we'll show you how to rescue steamed-up shots .. .

See if you can capture a haze-free insect shot in a hot house without using Photoshop!

Reduce the haze


Lens: Canon EF 24-lOSmm f/4L IS USM Exposure: 1/60 sec at f/4; IS0400

Open your Raw image in Adobe Camera Raw, increase the Blacks and increase Contrast to between 40-50, depending on the amount of haze in your shot. Use Brightness to lighten your image if necessary, and boost Clarity to help lift the edge contrast further. Click Open Image.

Burn the butterfly!

S1l With your image open in the
~ main Photoshop workspace
(CS or Elements), select the Burn tool, and in the Options bar set Range to Midtones and Exposure to 20%. Choose a suitable brush size for the subject in your shot, and brush smoothly over the insect to darken any areas that appear too light. Sharpen and save the image.


anon D-SLRs generally produce accurate colours when set to auto white balance (AWB), but there are certain lighting conditions that will trick your camera into capturing an incorrect white balance (or colour temperature) - usually when you're shooting under artificial lighting, whether it's indoors, or outside at night. Here we'll show you how to take control of white balance.

Try the WB presets

Set a custom WB


Shoot in Raw, and adjust the white balance by playing with the White Balance presets, and the Temperature and Tint sliders, in Adobe Camera Raw.

First off, your camera has white balance presets designed to produce accurate colours in different lighting conditions, including White Fluorescent and Tungsten for taking pictures under artificial lighting. Try these, and see if the colours in your shots look accurate on the LCD. You want to avoid unnatural-looking colours with an excessively cool (blue) or warm (orange) cast or tint.

S1l For greater accuracy, you can

~ set a custom white balance. Take
a picture of something white (a sheet of paper will do) under the prevailing lighting, zooming in to fill the frame; don't use exposure compensation, as you want to capture a standard 'grey' exposure. In the Menu, go to Custom WB, select the 'white' image and press OK to save it, then select this Custom setting from the WB menu . ._

Project 7 Slower shutter speeds


n this project, we'll show you how to set up your Canon D-SLR to capture the popular 'mist' effect in scenes of rivers. sea shores and waterfalls. Having movement in your landscapes can help bring them to life, but if your shutter speed is too fast you'll freeze any movement; use a slow shutter speed and flowing water will be blurred, capturing that sense of motion. Try and shoot these scenes early or late in the day when light levels are lower, and so shutter speeds will naturally be slower to work in your favour.


Get set for blurry waters

Stable camera


You'll need your camera to be rock-steady, as you'll be taking long exposures - much too long to shoot handheld without camera shake becoming an issue. Attach the camera to a sturdy tripod, and use the built-in Self-Timer or a remote control/cable release to fire the exposure without you having to touch the camera.

m Select the lowest available ISO to
~ further slow the shutter speed:
for most EOS cameras this is IS0100, but on pro cameras like the SD M k Ill you can choose ISOSO. Turn off Auto ISO if necessary and manually set the ISO. Milky waters tend to turn white, so shoot in Raw so you can recover slightly overexposed areas in ACR.

Raw and ISO

Av for shutter speeds
~ If you use Tv (Shutter Priority)

How to use Live View
. , it's easiest to use Live View when shooting landscapes using a tripod. Frame your shot, adjusting the tripod and zooming in or out for a clean composition. Next zoom in to xs or x10 view, and manually focus to ensure your scene is sharp; you can also use the digital spirit level to keep your framing level. Now you're all set to capture wonderful misty water!

~ mode, you'll have to set the
shutter speed to the slowest possible without the aperture figure flashing on the LCD. it's easier to set the narrowest aperture on your lens in Av (Aperture Priority) mode; you then know that the resulting shutter speed is the slowest you can obtain. Try f/22 or f/32; this also ensures front-to-back sharpness.

Follows Steps 1-4 here, but try shooting at your widest and narrowest apertures/faster and slowest shutter speeds and compare the movement/blur.

Project 8 Combine Raw exposures


hotographing landscapes can be frustrating, as it's often impossible to take a single exposure that will capture colour and detail in a bright sky, as well as all the detail in the darker landscape itself. In this brilliantly simple project we'll show you an easy solution to this common problem; and the great thing is, you don't need expensive camera filters. as you can do it with just one Raw file! We'll show you two alternative methods: one using the Graduated Filter tool in Adobe Camera Raw in Photoshop CS4 and newer. and the other in Photoshop Elements. which involves processing one Raw image twice. then combining the two versions using a layer mask.

Dig out some of your old landscape Raw files and try our Photoshop (either CS or Elements) technique.

Project 9 Pre-focus for pro results!



Darken the skies!

or this nice and quick project we'll show you how to master manual focus to capture shots of fast-moving wildlife. This project is ideal for photographing animals and birds when you know which branches or rocks or feeding spots they'll be sitting on. With your longest telephoto lens. and with a wide aperture and suitably fast shutter speed (eg f/5.6 at 1/500 sec), zoom in on the spot where you expect your subject to appear. Frame the shot so the background behind your subject will help it stand out. Now use autofocus to focus on a branch or other feature in the target area. then switch the lens to manual focus to lock the focus; don't touch your lens barrel to avoid zooming in or out or nudging the focusing ring. Wait for your subject to appear, and then fire the shutter; as you've pre-focused you don't have to wait for the AF to lock on. so you can bag more shots to maximise your chances of capturing a winning image! ..,..

Photoshop CS Darken the sky
Your landscape start shot needs to be exposed so there are no blown highlights in the sky; the land will look dark, but we'll fix that! Open the Raw image in ACR, and select the Graduated Filter tool from the tool bar. To enhance the sky, set Exposure to around -1.00, Brightness to around -20 and Saturation to around +15. Hold down Shift, and click and drag to draw a straight line from the top of image to the horizon/treeline to create the gradient.

Elements Double Raw
Open your Raw image in ACR, set Exposure to around +1.20 to lighten the land and click Open Image. Re-open the Raw image, and set Exposure to around -1 to darken the sky. Click Open Image again (you may need to save the first edit with a new name first). You'll now have two images open in Elements. Target the sky image, press Ctri+A to Select All, and Ctri+C to Copy. Click the land image and press Ctri+V to Paste the sky image in as a new layer.

Photoshop CS Brighten the land
~ Click New, and to lighten the landscape set

Elements Combine the images
~ Add a mask to the top layer. Select the Gradient


the Exposure slider to around +1.00, and Brightness and Saturation to around +15. Draw a new gradient from the bottom of the image up to start of the sky. The great thing about this technique is that you can adjust the settings for either gradient, to make either the sky or the landscape darker or lighter. Click Open Image when you're done!


tool, and set the foreground colour to black. Click the gradient swatch in the Options bar and choose the Foreground to Transparent option, then click the Linear Gradient button. Hold Shift, and click-and-drag to draw a line from the bottom of the image to start of the sky; the black area on the mask reveals the correctly exposed sky on the lower layer.

Try this technique out by photographing birds in your back garden or local park.


Bracketed exposures


First of all you'll need to take a bracketed sequence of shots, using your camera's AEB (Auto Exposure Bracketing) feature. Select Av mode, set the aperture to around f/11, and set the AEB to take three exposures: 'standard ', -2 stops and +2 stops. Use a tripod for maximum sharpness, and also so that your HDR software can align the images easier. Shoot Raw for the best results.


igh dynamic range effects are hugely popular, and creating an 'arty' HDR image is easy. These images can look like paintings, as they display intricate detail across the tonal range, from the brightest highlights to the dark shadows, for an 'unreal' look you can't capture in a single photo. In this project we'll show you how to create an HDR image by taking three (or more) exposures to capture a scene's tonal range, and combining them. You can buy dedicated HDR software (get a free trial of Photomatix Pro from, but here we've used the Merge To HDR Pro option in Photoshop CS4 and above. There's also Photomerge Exposure in Elements. but this is better for photorealistic effects than the 'arty' look. Choose a scene with detail in both the highlights and shadows- architecture works well - and ideally with some cloud detail in the sky.

Three shots become one
In Photoshop CS, go to File > Automate> Merge to HDR Pro, select your bracketed exposure and click OK to merge the shots. In the Merge to HDR dialog you can select a preset effect- we chose Surrealist High Contrast- and then fine -tune the effect using sliders; in addition to regular tonal adjustments you can use the Edge Glow, Radius and Strength sliders to control the HDR effect.

Final tweaks
Click OK, and wait for a minute or so for Photoshop to process the HDR image; this will appear in the main Photoshop workspace, named Untilted_HDR image. HORs can look a bit 'flat' at this stage, so to boost the contrast we created a subtle S-curve in Curves (use Levels in Elements after using Photomerge Exposure or Photomatix Pro.) Sharpen the image to finish .

Create an artistic HDR imageofyourown with photos of a local landmark.

Project 11 Quick clean up!



t can be really aggravating to find out that the great shot you thought you had actually has a few conspicuous distractions spoiling it. But cleaning up your images is easy- you simply need to become proficient with Photoshop's Clone Stamp and Spot Healing Brush tools. The key is to zoom in to 100%, use a small brush and be clever about which areas you sample to clone out the

distractions. We find it's good to use a combination of the Spot Healing tool to remove small blemishes, then tidy up trickier areas with the Clone Stamp tool. Make selections over larger unwanted objects, so you can clone them out without also cloning out detail that you want to keep.

Practicecleaningupyourown images with the above Photoshop tools.

Project 12 Low-light evening shots without a tripod!


he latest EOS cameras offer excellent high ISO performance. Increasing your sensor's sensitivity enables you to achieve fast enough shutter speeds to shoot hand held in very low light conditions- and even at night! Better still, even at these high ISO settings, you can capture detailed, colourful images with very little noise pollution. So, for this project, we're encouraging you to really push your camera's ISO capabilities!

Get out with your EOS D-SLR early evening and shoot your local city lights at night, trying out your highest ISO settings.

The latest Canon D-SLRs, such as the 50 Mk Ill, produce great results even at high ISOs - these shots were taken at 15012800

Set your ISO high
First you need to set your camera's sensitivity. Press the ISO button on top of the camera and choose the maximum setting, such as IS03200 or IS06400. You can expand the ISO further- eg to H1 (12800) on the 70, or H1 (51200) or H2 (102400) on the 50 Mk Ill- but we'd suggest you stick to the maximum unexpanded ISO setting for the optimum combination of sensitivity and quality.

Noise reduction

Exposure settings

151 Your camera will be working hard to try & and keep the noise levels down, but when
you're shooting at your highest ISO settings you'll need to give it a helping hand. In the Menu, set the High ISO Speed NR (Noise Reduction) option to High. Take some shots with and without this setting enabled, then zoom into the images at 100% to compare noise in the shadow areas.

11!1 If you're shooting a night scene with a llil wide-angle lens, you only need an aperture of
around f/5.6 to capture enough depth of field for the scene to be sharp enough from front to back. And your shutter speed (with a little help from the Image Stabilisation) only needs to be fast enough for your focal length: 1/50 sec at 55mm for instance, will be fine for night shots without a tripod. •

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