First Impressions of the Sony a6300

Author: Megan P Galope

I recently acquired a Sony a6300 mirrorless camera. I was interested in this camera due to its small size and weight, as I thought it would be a good camera to take with me while hiking or backpacking when extra weight makes a big difference. I generally shoot Canon, and I found the dials, buttons, and menus on the Sony relatively intuitive. I did notice that some of the buttons are rather sensitive, which can be a pain when trying to change settings and it doesn’t behave quite right. The button sensitivity became even more clear when I ended up with over 500 images from a weekend trip because I had accidentally turned on the white balance bracketing, which resulted in three images for every photo taken.

As for the quality of the images, I am pleased with the results. This is a 24.2 MP camera, which is sufficient for my needs. My images turned out sharp with good color:

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Even the images in low light turned out nicely (this image was taken with ISO 1600):

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Right now, the only lens I have is the 16-50mm kit lens. It was still able to handle macro images well:

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The best thing about this camera is the fact that with its small size and weight, I’m more likely to have it with me when the photographic moment arises.

Megan Galope is a Trip Leader with Arizona Highways Photo Workshops
Twitter: @megangalope

Long Exposure Experimentation

My Favorite Mistake   |    Author: Christina Heinle

While in Vienna, I practiced long exposure photography at night.  Capturing the streaking tail lights of cars with the historic buildings in the background was quite fun and overall I was pleased with the results.  I started at the Opera House, moved to Parliament and ended up at the Rathaus (city hall).  An event was being setup at the Rathaus and the fences along with little buildings detracted from the glory of the building.  Unenthusiastic about the scene, I still took pictures.  When the bus pulled into my frame and stopped at a light, I called it a night.  Non-scenic subject, buses ruining my picture and discouragement gave me the reason to pack up and head back to the hotel.

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Later when I reviewed my pictures, my favorite photograph turned out to be the picture where the stopped bus created havoc on my picture.  Surprisingly, the long exposure of 15 seconds was long enough to capture the beauty of the Rathaus along with the inside of the bus because it was sitting motionless at the light.  The hand straps seen towards the top of picture and the “Ein stigen bitte Knopf drucken” button are my favorite aspects of the photograph.  If the bus had not stopped at the light and “ruined” my picture, I wouldn’t have captured such a unique photograph.

Christina Heinle is a Trip Leader with Arizona Highways Photo Workshops

Instagram: christinaheinlephotography

Always be ready and carry two camera bodies

Author Rick Jacobi

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There are a lot of times when I go shooting that I will carry  two cameras.   Typically one is with a wide angle lens and the other a telephoto.  Last fall I was fortunate to go to Western Mongolia  for the “Golden Eagle Festival”.   Each year this festival brings together nomadic Kazakhs  and their Golden Eagles for two days of competition.

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In setting up my photographic plan I knew  I could not get all the photos I wanted with just one camera body and one lens.   So I decide to carry my Sony A7Rll with a 70-300mm lens for telephoto shots and a second camera with a smaller fixed 28mm lens for close-ups.l1030635-edit-edit-edit-edit

If your second camera body and lens is smaller than your first, there is no strain on your body.   So going into this shoot the  only thing I was  missing was a  focal length between 28-70 mm.  I knew that this wouldn’t be a  not problem as I could plan my shots accordingly.   I would simply need to get closer to my subject with my 28 mm._dsc9395-edit-edit

If  I had only brought one camera I certainly would not have gotten all the shots that I wanted. Next time you go out to photograph an event or do street photography think about carrying a second camera on the other shoulder.
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Rick Jacobi is a trip leader for Arizona Highways Photo Workshops.

 

Zoo Photography – Shooting Through Fences

Author: Amy Horn

Capturing images of zoo animals should be easy. After all, they are waiting for us to take their photo in their enclosures. But the trick to capturing great zoo photos is to capture a photo that doesn’t look like it was taken in a zoo. To get these strong shots, you don’t want to see fences or food bowls and you want to capture expressions of the animals, otherwise your images will look like snapshots. So, here are five tips to improve your zoo animal images. To keep this simple, I have focused these five tips on enclosures with fences:

Tips for photographing wildlife in fenced enclosures:

1. Long lens
2. Wide open aperture
3. Background
4. Shadows
5. Patience

 

1. Long lens – Use a long lens to blur out the fence in the foreground. Focal lengths from 200-400mm are great lenses to use in zoos. It isn’t as simple as just using the long lens though, you also need to position your lens as close to the fence as possible. So, lean in, zoom and shoot. As you setup your shot, you will want to pay attention to light hitting the fence. If there is light on the fence you are shooting through, that light may become a reflection in your frame. Try to shoot through an area of the fence that is in shade.


2. Wide open aperture
– Using a long lens is only half of the formula for shooting through fences. The second half of the formula is to use a wide open aperture. Setting your aperture at f/2.8 or f/4 for example, will blur the fence in the foreground. If the animal is touching the fence, you won’t be able to blur out the fence, so start shooting when the animal is several feet away from the fence. Combine this with the long lens and your fences will be unnoticeable.

f/5.6, 1/2000, 400mm, but baboon is too close to fence.

f/5.6, 1/2000, 400mm, but baboon is too close to fence.

f/5.6, 1/2000, 400mm, now baboon is several feet away from the fence

f/5.6, 1/2000, 400mm, now baboon is several feet away from the fence

3. Background – Now that you have the technical aspects of a strong zoo photo, it is time to finesse the details of the shot and that starts with the background of the image. Can you see fences in your frame? How about food bowls? Are there sticks or trees creating unnatural attachments in your frame? Move yourself around the enclosure to omit these items from the background or foreground. Shooting from a higher angle can minimize the amount of background in the photo and shooting from a low angle will accentuate the animal and minimize the foreground. Using both of these techniques will create an image focused strictly on the animal and omit other distractions.

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4. Shadows – Every enclosure is unique and shadows in the enclosure can be your best friend or your worst enemy. If the shadow is positioned behind the animal, your image will pop due to the juxtaposition of contrast. However, if the animal is sitting in shadows cast from fences or other distracting elements, the image doesn’t work because the viewer can see the fence shadows and these shadows are not natural.

f/5.6, 1/1250, 400 mm but shadows from fence do not complement photo

f/5.6, 1/1250, 400 mm but shadows from fence do not complement photo

5. Patience – This last tip is patience. Patience is what brings the image together. Whether you can be patient enough to sit for hours or minutes is up to you. If the animal is sleeping, come back later and often they will have moved to a better location in the habitat. If a docent from the zoo is nearby, ask them when these animals are most active (feeding times always wake animals). If the animal is awake, be patient and wait for an expression. Capturing images of sleeping animals is nice, but not as interesting as images exhibiting behaviors.

f/5.6, 1/500 sec, 300mm and patience for behaviors.

f/5.6, 1/500 sec, 300mm and patience for behaviors.

Patience.... This image was number 18 of 20.

Patience…. This image was number 18 of 20.

That’s it. Five simple tips to improve your zoo photography! If you want personal attention you can always join me on my zoo workshops at the Wildlife World Zoo, February 25 or at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum on March 11. Happy Shooting!

 

Amy Horn is a Lecturer of photography at Northern Arizona University and an instructor for Arizona Highways Photo Workshops.

Instagram: amyhornphotographer

Facebook: Amy Horn, Horndesigns Photography

 

Using Live View for Composition

Author: Amy Novotny

Live View is a great tool featured on many new digital cameras and serves many purposes. It can help with focus, with shooting scenes in which the camera is higher or lower than the photographer, and with composition.

With landscapes and macro shots, Live View allows for greater control in manually focusing and creating sharper images. With auto-focus, the camera attempts to focus on a spot but might not be able to narrow down the focus to the specific object desired, especially if the scene contains a lot of different elements or objects.  This can lead to the focus being on a nearby object even if that object is not the desired focus point.  After switching to Live View, the photographer can then zoom in on the specific object that needs to be in focus and manually focus from there.

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This can be used in macro photography as well when images are focus-stacked and the focus needs to be adjusted in slight amounts over multiple images and then be combined into one image that is fully in focus.

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Live View can also help with shooting images in which the photographer cannot have his or her eye at the viewfinder. This can be beneficial if the photographer wants to photograph a scene that requires the camera to be much higher or lower than the photographer has access to. For instance, in the scene below, the Great Horned Owl was perched high in the canyon walls of the slot canyon, Canyon X. It was impossible to move further away from the bird due to being in a narrow slot canyon. Furthermore, having the camera on a tripod on the ground would not allow for the owl to be in the frame, so the camera was raised above the photographer’s head and Live View turned on. The shot was framed and composed in this manner and allowed for a clear image of this bird.

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This tool can be useful in composing images that have a lot of detail in the scene. In the two scenes below, it can be difficult to find a way to isolate aspects of the canyon walls or balance the multitude of sunflowers in the scene. In both cases, Live View was turned on and the camera was swiveled on a tripod until the desired composition was seen. Various angles were attempted and slight adjustments were made to account for all the various shapes in nature. The resulting images were achieved through this method and possibly would not have been seen without Live View.

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This is a great tool to experiment with and can even help capture sharper images that requires less post-processing or cropping.

Amy Novotny is a Volunteer Trip Leader with Arizona Highways Photo Workshops.

Twitter: @amynovotnyaz
Instagram: anovotn