#1973| Beginner Attempts at Underwater Photography

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Nikon family: The D750 and AW1.

Those of you who’ve been with me for awhile will be familiar with my first brush at holiday-proof photography via waterproof, shockproof, kidproof and ie. lifeproof camera the Nikon AW120. Remember the drama that was Krabi, Underwater? Fish in our faces… and all that jazz.

In August we did Montigo, Batam, a resort that’s gained a bit of a rep as an instagram resort, famous for its multiple infinity pools. I loaned yet another underwater camera from Nikon, the Nikon AW1 – an interchangeable lens camera that also does good underwater. It’s very similar to the J1-3 series in terms of physical appearance, and basically is an amped up, rugged version of the other semi-pro cameras. Inspired by Kimcamjones’s underwater photography series, we headed to one of the many Montigo pools, ready to try our hand at the same..

They’re no Kimcamjones shots, but I’m pretty pleased with the pictures! To create the visuals we did above, here are some things one should take note of:

1. Set your camera to burst mode.
This is so you can capture the entire sequence of the dive without missing a single moment. I was pretty happy to note that the camera has incredibly fast burst and focus capabilities.

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2. If you want the half-half effect, capturing both above and underwater, then you’ll have to play around with the lens until you get it half-submerged just right.
This is pure trial and error, there’s no particular technique to it.

3. Posturing and bubbles
Get whoever you’re shooting to swim down and diagonally towards you, and to keep breathing bubbles out the entire time because bubbles make any picture look better. Write that down, it’s a rule.

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Settings

We basically set it to Auto mode because when you’re shooting underwater movement, you dont have the luxury of changing your settings per shot, and also because we’re not experts at photography haha. I’m sure someone more well versed at photography could do it, but this worked best for me. Another thing that helped was the continual autofocus on the camera – that ensured all photos turned out sharp even with motion capture.

Another thing about waterproof cameras, of course, is that you can shoot near or in water bodies without being afraid of getting your camera ruined. The AW1 is also shock-proof, which means it handles knocks a lot better than most cameras, useful for people who dont want to have to worry excessively about scratches or damage from daily use.

Let it be said first that by the time these images were shot, I’d been shooting on my new baby the Nikon D750 for about a month. The D750 is a wonder to me, producing killer shot after killer shot, and it’s created a sort of standard in my head that other cameras try and fail to reach. It’s the same reason why I willingly lug it out day after day, when previously I was willing to occasionally settle for the random iPhone photo. Still, the D750 isn’t waterproof, so there was no standard for comparison there. The ability to take pictures underwater for any camera is a side feature, one that’s pretty cool and handy to have on holidays, but how often does one plunge into random bodies of water, photoshoot-ready anyway?

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Which is why I’m happy to say that the AW1 takes swell pictures even independent of its waterproof feature, despite that being the first thing one notices about the camera. I dont think it’s fair to compare a prosumer camera to a full frame DSLR, even though I personally cant help it since my main camera is the D750. But in all objectivity, I think the camera produces pretty high quality images – and has the potential for more, given that it supports all regular 1 NIKKOR lenses and gives you more options to play around with (wide angle, fish eyed, prime lenses, etcetera..). The photos are also GPS-pinned, which is how you know it’s the type of rugged camera people bring around the world with them.. and one would expect nothing less of a shock proof, waterproof camera that’s also equipped to do well in the cold.

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A couple of goofy shots in the Montigo private pools

I do think that with all its rugged-up features, some other things are traded off – for example, right now although the camera is compatible with all Nikkor 1 lenses, only 2 of the lenses are water and shock proof, which means that underwater you wont have the same option of wide angled or fisheyed pictures. A minor issue, really, but just something that cropped up over the course of use. The camera also doesn’t have as good control over the depth of field as what I’m used to – but, again, I’m used to shooting on a full-frame DSLR, so bear in mind that it’s not a fair comparison.

I guess the bottom line is that for DSLR folks, the camera’s ruggedness is cool but also a bit of a step down from DSLR pictures and controls. But for other people looking to purchase a camera that produces high quality images in many possible scenarios, then the AW1 might just be your thing.

Thank you for sending the AW1 over for my trip, Nikon SG! x

x
♥jem

#1971 | Jemma for Nikon: Beginner’s Guide to DSLR Photography with My Cat

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My typical working space: the bed. Haha!

I get a lot of questions on my photography workflow over on email and askfm when it was still running, and when better to talk about photography than when in collaboration with one of the world’s most trusted photography companies? I’ll be detailing my workflow in a two part series: today I’ll be talking about the actual photo taking process, and in a later post, I’ll describe my post processing steps that lead me to the final pictures you see on here or on instagram.

So! Let’s get started.

I’ve always been a DSLR sort of girl – you just can’t replicate the photo quality you get on a DSLR with something off a compact or point and shoot. Its true to a certain extent: it’s more the photographer than the equipment, but photos snapped on an iPhone and on a DSLR are still worlds apart in terms of quality. I wrote a guide on picking your first DSLR awhile back, but what good is having a DSLR if you dont know how to use it?

So today I’m going to be detailing the very basics of beginner DSLR photography for those of you who’ve just gotten your first entry level DSLR and want to know how to make the most of it. For those of you who’ve had your first DSLRs for awhile but are still shooting on Auto mode, hopefully this will help you move out from it 🙂 I won’t be covering Manual photography in this post because that’s one step up, and better for a later post!

I found it super hard to understand the different modes and functions when I just started using my DSLR despite extensive researching, so to make things easier/ more interesting, I’m going to demonstrate how to use the DSLR with my favourite subject: Athena!

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Shot on the Nikon D5500 with the 18-55 Kit Lens
P Mode, ISO 100

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Today’s Equipment

DSLR: We will be shooting on the Nikon D5500 today, which is what I have on hand. It’s a stellar entry level DSLR and I 100% recommend it to anyone looking to get started!

Lens: I love the 35mm, but to be fair, I’m going to be talking about and shooting exclusively on the 18-55, which is likely to be the kit lens that your entry level DSLR will come with. This is so you can see the type of pictures you’ll get when you purchase the very basic DSLR package, with no extra add ons and hidden costs!


So, the basic terms explained

The holy grail of DSLR photography are these three terms: Aperture, Shutter Speed, and ISO. They make up your Exposure Triangle. In very layman terms, this is what they mean and do:

Aperture: The size of the opening in the lens that allows light in. It also controls your depth of field/ background blur.

Shutter Speed: Refers to how fast your shutter clicks. It affects how sharp your pictures are.

ISO: Think of ISO as a flavour enhancer. Your ISO controls how your camera reacts to the light that your aperture lets in.

This was a very useful infographic for me when I was trying to understand the three terms, and I hope they help you too:

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IMG: Daniel Peters

Understanding the basic function and meaning of the Exposure Triangle is important because it affects how you go on to decide which mode to use when taking pictures. Understanding them intimately becomes crucial when you want to go on to Manual photography – but that’s a post for another day. For now, just keep in mind what they do.

Moving on, I’m going to detail which mode you should use and when:


The Different Modes

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The top controls of a Nikon D5500, which is what I’ve been shooting on lately

Have a look at the picture above. Today we’re going to talk about the basic modes you can shoot in, and when, so just focus on the dial ring that’s currently set to Auto. The idea is to move past shooting in Auto, and to know when to use what for optimal pictures, not including M – Manual!

The most important part of the dial ring that you’ll be most frequently acquainted is is the P S A M portion that’s boxed off. As you might have guessed, these stand for:

P – Program Mode
S – Shutter Priority
A – Aperture Priority
M – Manual

Let’s start with P – Program Mode.


Program Mode

Program Mode is the most basic and easiest to use. If you’re just moving out from Auto mode, you may want to start with this.

In P, all you have to do is adjust the ISO. The camera picks the Aperture and Shutter Speed for you based on what ISO you set it to. P mode is pretty safe, but it won’t give you the best pictures you can take for your camera – however, it’s a great mode to sharpen your skills and understanding of ISO on!

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Shot on P Mode: ISO 100 for strong daylight.

It’s a good picture, decent lighting and sharp details, but if I could tweak it a bit I would make the background more blurred.

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Shot on P Mode: ISO 1000 for indoor nighttime photography.

This is a relatively straightforward picture, so I’d just filter it for effect and brightness in post production or in a phone photo app.

Pros: It really helps you understand what ISO works for what situations, and is great for casual shooting.
Cons: You can’t adjust your aperture or shutter speed for this mode, so if you’re not happy with the sharpness or depth of field.. there’s nothing much you can do about it.


Aperture Priority


In Aperture Priority Mode, what you have to do is adjust the Aperture and ISO, and the camera will intelligently pick out the Shutter Speed for you. This is the mode that most photographers shoot in.

Your aperture is measured in something called f-stops. Two things you must know about aperture:

1. The bigger the number, the smaller the hole. Don’t ask me why, I know it’s confusing, but that’s just the way it is. (Recap: Aperture basically means the size of the hole letting the light in)
2. The smaller the number, the greater the depth of field or background blur.

Application:
– If you’re taking someone’s portrait, you’ll want a nice background blur: f1.8-2.8 is a nice number for this.
– If you’re taking scenery and you want everything in focus, you dont want any background blur. The higher the f-stop number the better: a good gauge is f8, and then working up from there depending on your judgement from the situation itself.

*On a kit lens, the lowest you’ll probably be able to go is about f3.5.

Here is a portrait of Athena:

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Aperture mode,
f3.5, ISO100


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Aperture mode, Indoor, Night
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As you can see, her face is in focus while everything else is blurred.

Aperture mode is great because you get to control the depth of field in your pictures, which is what gives your pictures dimension. Nikon cameras have a very handy guide for this: the information page shows you the size of the aperture in relation to the F-stop number. See:

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Look at how the aperture size image changes in relation to the F stop number!

This was super helpful in learning how the aperture affects the pictures, because if you’re a visual learner like me, it’s easy to form an association between the f-stop and the picture results really fast!

Shutter Priority

In Shutter Priority Mode, what you have to do is adjust the Shutter Speed and ISO, and the camera will intelligently pick out the Aperture for you. This is the mode that you use when you have a moving object, or possibly if you’re shooting at night. Basically, you use Shutter Priority when you want to control the sharpness of your picture.

In shutter priority, here’s what you need to know:

1. Pick up your DSLR and snap a shot. Hear that click? The speed of that click is your shutter speed.
2. The faster the shutter speed, the less blur you get.
3. The smaller the number, the faster the shutter speed. (i.e. 1/4000 is a fast shutter speed; 30” is a slow shutter speed)
4. The longer your shutter stays open, the more prone it is to blurring, but the more light it captures.

Application:
1/30 to 1/60 of a second is a good shutter speed for day to day use.
– If you’re trying to catch a moving object, you want a very fast shutter speed.
– If you’re trying to catch the concept of motion, like in a waterfall shot, you need a slow shutter speed and a tripod because any tiny shaking of the hand will cause your photo to be blur.

*therefore: to freeze the moving object, we use a fast shutter speed; and to create motion, we use a slow shutter speed.

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Taken on a full frame camera in Laos
That’s a bit unfair because it’s a full frame camera, but I just wanted to show you guys in what situation you’d want blurring – see how the water’s blur captures motion?


– If you’re trying to do starscape photography, you need basically the slowest shutter speed your camera will give you because you want to take in as much light as possible. However, this leads to a very high possibility of blurring, so you’re definitely going to need a proper tripod. You can read my Beginner’s Guide to Starscape Photography for a more in depth guide on how to capture stars 🙂

So, which mode is the best?

There’s no one answer or one magic mode to use for all situations, or cameras would only come with one button – Auto. Understanding the different uses and advantages of the different modes is really important when making a flash decision on which one to use when shooting in different situations. However, I personally think that starting with Program mode and then moving on to shooting mainly in Aperture Priority is the best way to get really familiar with your DSLR.

Shutter priority is also a great mode, but it tends to produce underexposed shots if you dont keep an eye on the Aperture value and the Exposure Value. In my head, I refer to it as S for Special Occasions Mode, for when you want to take long range exposure shots of stars, waterfalls, or if you want special light effects only achievable by holding your shutter open for a long period of time. I asked around my friends who are serious and hobbyist photographers, and no one really uses Shutter Priority from the day to day – to me, it really is more for special occasions like star/sports/waterfall photography. And besides, Aperture Priority mode works well for me 90% of the time! 🙂

Here’s what motion looks like on Aperture Priority mode:

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Taken on Aperture Priority,
f3.5, ISO100


Heh heh.

Wrapping Up

So, I hope that gave you some idea of the difference between the P, S, A modes, and when to use them. I wouldn’t say I’m the best or most professional photographer around, but I hope this helps aspiring hobbyist photographers get started!

Theory is only one thing – the best way to get good pictures is to really familiarise yourself with your camera and what you can do. Every single person will tell you this: photography is best learnt through hands-on experience 🙂

Alright, go on then – pick up your camera, head out, and experiment! All the best x

x
♥jem

#1947 | Jemma for Nikon: Picking your first DSLR

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With the D5500 in Japan

I’ve always been a bit of a, fine, lets say it: camwhore. My first camera was a dinky little pink thing that I bought when I was fifteen for four hundred dollars after starving for months to save up. It was a fujifilm compact which I lusted after for ages, passing by the camera shop display window everyday after school. I bought it without prior research, enchanted only by the deep pink shade of the thing, strong in my faith that all cameras are good cameras. It was wonderful and I must have taken a thousand photos of it within the first month alone. Unfortunately, it passed away two years later, which i discovered was apparently a common issue with all cameras of the same make after desperately googling for revival solutions on the internet. And that, kids, is the reason why you should always do your research on how durable your camera is before buying it instead of just choosing it for color.

When it came to my first DSLR, I was a little more discerning. I trawled forums like clubsnap and asked boyfriends of friends who owned DSLRs what they thought. Armed with the opinions of twenty pimply teenaged boys whom I trusted based solely on the fact that they could afford DSLRs, I went ahead and spent all of my first month’s pay post A levels on a second hand Canon 500D. A wonderful entry level DSLR of its time, but close to obsolete today. Me and my Canon, baby, we had good times. We travelled the world together. Great pictures were taken. Unfortunately, all cameras are subject to wear and tear and this baby was already second hand when I got it, making it really old and cranky. Right about the same time it started breaking down, I started working with Nikon Singapore and was fortunate enough to be able to try out a whole array of different cameras – and given the number of questions and emails I get regarding my camera information and recommednations (even though its right there in the sidebar you guys!), I thought it was about time I penned this post for all of you looking to purchase your first ever DSLR!

Disclaimer

Many of you who’ve been following me on twitter or instagram know how much I’ve fallen in love with the new Nikon D5500, which is a recent offering by Nikon in the entry level DSLR market. I’ve been recommending it left and right to friends and family because I genuinely love it, and it’s been the one behind all of my recent pictures, starting from myPhuket Trip in March. Still, this isn’t a post specifically to promote that particular model, but it is the most relevant entry level camera I have on hand so the post will somewhat be based on it. So, I’m going to try and list qualities I think one should look out for when purchasing a new DSLR, which have been useful to me and that can be applied across the market. 🙂

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Phuket’s Sunset on the D5500, AF-S NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G ED lens

DSLRs: Full frames or cropped frames?

I had to have this explained very explicitly to me because I didn’t get it at first. To me, a full frame just meant a more expensive, heavier, camera, which produces somewhat better pictures. That’s somewhat it, really, but the specifics are a little more intricate than that. I wouldn’t say I understand it to a T, given that I’m not a professional photographer myself, but i do have friends who are, so after many lengthy discussions with them here we go: something as simplified as possible:

Full frame cameras are pro cameras.
Full frame cameras are very heavy, but more serious, give you better depth of field, and generally perform better in low light and extreme conditions. They are much more expensive than entry level cameras – you’re looking upwards of $2.5k for the body alone, and the lenses tend to be pretty expensive on their own.

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Beautiful details captured on the Nikon D610, a full frame camera

Cropped frame cameras are entry level cameras.
Half framed cameras are lighter, snazzier, and come with slightly flashier functions in general (like in built filters, etc etc). They have a crop sensor, which means things appear closer than they do with the same lens on a full frame, as if the camera is permanently on zoom mode. They are also way, way cheaper. You’re talking about the lower half of a thousand dollars for a brand new one.

The full benefits of a full frame camera can really only be experienced when you’ve learnt to shoot on manual, which takes a lot of trial and error and experimentation. In general, this means that unless you’re pretty familiar with photography already, if you’re just getting started and you want to learn DSLR photography, your best bet is starting with a entry level, crop sensor camera 🙂

Things you should look out for when purchasing your first DSLR

1. Photo quality

Obviously. This is something that can be quite subjective, and it varies from camera model to camera model. Essentially, going through forums to get sample images from the camera models you’re considering should be quite safe, or reading reviews from tech websites (I do that a lot). Your photo quality also depends on things like ISO performance, camera sensor size, and the lens you use, which will be elaborated on later.

2. Wifi Offering

Given how advanced camera technology is now and how many cameras offer this feature, I really don’t see why you should get a camera that doesn’t have wifi unless it’s got very compelling other features. DSLR wifi is really a game changer. Previously, you had to get an eye-fi SD card which is about 80 bucks, to even wirelessly transfer pictures direct from camera to phone. Now that’s becoming obsolete because so many of the new cameras have wifi – the entry level DSLRs and prosumer cameras, especially.

The D5500 is the first DSLR I’ve had that has wifi, and it’s been a total dream. I used to have to plug in my SD card to the computer every night, and ever since getting the D5500, I haven’t done it more than ten times total.

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Transferring photos wirelessly from the D5500

3. Low Light Performance

Important because you’ll use your DSLR at night more than you realise.. once again, this is something that can be researched on for details specific to the camera model, but in general you want a camera that’s not too “noisy” at low light. The low light performance of a camera is affected by the generation of the sensor (newer camera = better sensors = less noisy pictures) and the pixel size (larger pixel size = better light capture). A lot of how your low light pictures turn out also depend on the lens you use, but that’s going to cost extra, so the best way to get nice low light pictures IMHO is to get a camera known to perform decently in low light, then master your shutter speed – because shutter speed is super important when you talk about pictures taken in less than ideal lighting conditions!

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the D5500 in the evening.

4. High ISO Performance

This is somewhat related to the previous point because a high ISO performance gives you better pictures in lower lighting too, but a camera that can perform well at a high ISO will also give you better/steadier pictures when shooting action/indoor/street light shots, or when shooting in places that dont allow flash photography.

5. Size, Weight, Grip

Even if you’re looking to purchase it online, I suggest that you dont ever buy a DSLR without first holding it in your hands once. Go down to a retailer that sells it and pick it up, turn it around in your hands – you need to be sure that the size is comfortable for your hands. Given that we’re looking at cropped frame DSLRs here, you probably won’t run into the problem of having a camera that’s too big for your hands (a legit problem I have faced before), but you might wanna try out holding a few different ones to get a feel of which camera you feel has the best balance between being sturdy and lightweight – coming from someone who’s had shoulder cramp from carrying a DSLR around too much, I must say, DSLR-weight is important!

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Shooting on the D5500

6. Live View / Tilting Screen

I find that these functions tend to work best together. Live View basically means having whatever you see in your viewfinder fed to your LCD screen, much like how most compact prosumers work. A tilting screen just means an LCD that can either be pulled out and flipped, or tilted to a degree so you can view your pictures from a less awkward angle if you’re trying to shoot over a crowd or something. I love the Live View function because it’s indispensable when you’re trying to take a flat lay shot – it’s just easier to position your picture when you dont have to be standing on a chair, peering into the viewfinder from above. Most cameras have a Live View function anyway, but I thought I’d throw this out there.


A note on lenses

Most entry level DSLRs come with the 18-55mm kit lens, which is a great lens for what it offers. It’s a normal zoom lens – the numbers mean the range at which you can shoot, 18 being the widest, 55 being the closest. A zoom lens, in the most basic of terms, means a lens that you can zoom in and out with by twisting the ring on the lens. Most of the pictures I took with the D5500 were taken on the kit lens even though I did have the 35mm on hand, because I felt like the pictures the kit lens offered were great enough not to have to switch out anyway 🙂

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The D5500 on the 18-55mm kit lens, capturing a sunset in Kyoto

In addition to this, most people want to get one other lens, and the most common one is the 50f1.8 prime lens. A prime lens is a lens that cannot zoom in and out, so it has a fixed focal length, but it gives you better image quality and sharpness. The 50f1.8, for example, has great bokeh/ background blurring, which is what many people love. It’s great for food and portrait photography!

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Here is a picture of a sandwich on my old Canon 500D with a 50f1.8 prime lens.

Alright, so that’s about it from me. Some things to look out for when getting your first DSLR. Obviously the two kings of photography are Nikon and Canon, and in general, DSLRs from both camps are guaranteed a certain level of decency, but other brands like Sony and Olympus are also making their rounds, so do your research for the models you’ve shortlisted to see which one suits your needs best! Also, this goes without saying, but good equipment doesn’t make you a better photographer. It just gives you the tools you need to take better photos. Most of your end product is a result of months of experimentation and tinkering with your camera, so tinker away. x

x
♥jem

#1944| Wanderlust: The most beautiful place in the world, Milford Sound.

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Black coat: The Closet Lover

imagesMilford Sound, New Zealand.
All photos taken with the Nikon D610

Another overdue post from last December’s month long road trip across New Zealand. Milford Sound, the most gorgeous fiord of New Zealand’s South Island, the most beautiful place in the world, home to a zillion sandflies. Eighth wonder of the world.

Milford Sound was a mixed bag for me. One gets to Milford Sound by passing through Te Anau, a quiet town empty of ‘most everything but seagulls and scenery. Past Te Anau, you’re in no man’s land. Cellular reception is non existent and internet connection comes at twenty bucks for a hundred megabytes. Megabytes! I didn’t know anyone dealt in megabytes anymore.

Of course my computer chose that time to break down on me. My trusty silver macbook pro locked in at about 4 years old then, which was about time, but did that time really have to be in the mountains, in the middle of nowhere, disconnected from the rest of the world? The details of how it passed away are lengthy and I won’t go into them, but lets just say they involved a curious sister and an unauthorised third party iPhone wire, which is why the moral of the story is, never buy knockoffs, you guys!

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Yellow coat: Her Velvet Vase

That was the start of our month long drive across New Zealand, which meant that it left me looking at the following three weeks abroad without a working computer and with countless photos to edit and work to get done on the go. It was a dark, dark night, that night my macbook died.

The next morning at 6am, in the mountains that made a living off selling overpriced internet coupons in the absence of cellular reception, we purchased 50bucks worth of data and I youtubed my way through macbook-CPR, unscrewing the back with a tiny spectacle screwdriver and rewiring the motherboard trying to jump start it with shaking hands. The macbook came back from the dead with a splutter and I nearly cried with relief. I placed an order for a new one to arrive upon touchdown back in Singapore, and prayed daily for the resurrected macbook to last through the trip, which it thankfully did. That was, to me, Milford Sound. The most beautiful place where disaster struck.

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To be fair, Milford Sound was breathtaking. People all over the world flock to the pristine waters of Milford Sound, and clamber aboard a cruise ship that takes them around the mountains where they squeal at sunbathing seals and hold out for the possible dolphin sighting. And although no dolphins were sighted, it didn’t change the fact that the cruise was possibly the best one I would ever be on – coming face to face with how mighty God’s hand in Creation is while being painfully aware of your own human frailty. To thousand year old mountains we must be but a gasp of breath.

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Have you seen waters so blue?

Places like these making getting a full frame worth it. The Nikon D650 I brought along with me on the trip gave me gems like these – just look at that incredible waterfall catching the sunlight. Breathtaking even in JPEG. Makes the countless sandfly bites we got worth it even – so yes, Milford Sound, a definite jewel of New Zealand, but approach armed with sandfly repellant. You have been forewarned.

x
♥jem

#1927 | Jemma for Nikon: Beginner’s Guide to Fashion Photography

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Top: Eightslate | Skirt: Tuulla the label | Earrings: JL Heart Jewellery | Necklace: Tulla the label

Let me first start by saying that I am by no means a professional photographer, and neither do I consider myself a fashion blogger. It somehow transpires, however, that I do always get questions on my camera equipment and how I take my OOTDs, so I thought I’d just share some of my personal thoughts and tips on fashion photography for those of you who’ve been asking!

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Camera Equipment:

I nearly never shoot OOTDs on my phone unless I have absolutely no choice, because it just doesn’t give me the depth of field you need in a portrait or outfit shot. For all the pictures in this post, I’m using the Nikon Df, a camera that is photogenic as it is professional, on a AF-S Nikkor 35mm F1.8G lens.

When readers ask me what starter lens I recommend, I always name the 50f1.8, whether you’re on a Canon or Nikon camera system. Camera Basics: The mm number (50, in this case) stands for the focal length and affects how much stuff your camera can capture, and the f-stop number stands for aperture and affects your depth of field. The 50f1.8 is a cheap prime lens (about a hundred bucks), which gives you a beautiful depth of field and a surprisingly gorgeous bokeh for it’s price point. However, the 50mm is very much a zoom lens, which means that you’ll have to stand much further back to get a good amount of stuff in your picture. On a full frame camera like the Nikon Df, it’s a tight fit already, but on a crop sensor camera like most entry level DSLRs, it’s really more like 75mm than 50mm. So, if you can afford it, I’d recommend the 30mm lens as a great compromise. You get the same beautiful depth of field, but a better range, and you won’t have to stand as far back to get your whole body in the shot.

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Circumstances:

Unless you’re doing some sort of themed shoot, I highly suggest you shoot in the day. Lighting is key in photography. The best time to shoot outdoors is 8-10am, followed by 5-630pm (the fabled golden hour). Due to our own scheduling constraints, we shot these at about 2pm, keeping the ISO at a straight 100, and I personally felt like the light was a little harsher than I’d like, but I think they still turned out pretty well so hey, just imagine how they’d look during better hours!

Today’s Face:

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Nikon Df on a AF-S NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G ED lens
ISO 100 | Shutter Speed 1/250 | f/8.0

My model for the day is FOX TV presenter and my own old friend Yvette King. Yvette is obviously gorgeous and very easy to shoot, for which I’m grateful because then I can focus on getting the settings for the camera just right. So – a tip for those of you in front of the lens: be confident! I know it sounds a lot easier said than done, but this really is one of those cases where you fake it till you make it. Awkwardness is a quality that is somehow always captured in startling clarity on camera, and this is very much about knowing and being comfortable with who you are and what you look like.

So, enough chit chat, down to the photography itself!


Five Tips to get you started on Fashion Photography

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Style shot
Nikon Df on a AF-S NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G ED lens
ISO 100 | Shutter Speed 1/160 | f/6.3

Tip 1: Play with light.
Most times, people want even lighting on their face and clothes, which is safe, but can be a little flat sometimes. Dont be afraid to play with light and shadows – I love how the light here falls partially on Yvette’s face and gives the whole picture more dimension!

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Style shot
Nikon Df on a AF-S NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G ED lens
ISO 100 | Shutter Speed 1/160 | f/5.6

Tip 2: Play with Tones

Same angle, more even lighting, warmer tones.

This only applies if you have a camera with the capacity for in-camera color profile editing. The thing about the Nikon system is, you can adjust the color tones within the camera itself to save on post processing time within the Picture Controls menu – Standard, Neutral, Vivid, and even tweaking fine details such as saturation boosts within the camera itself can let you save a whole new “filter” to use with the camera. What I always try to do is get all my pictures as close to what I want my final product to look like on the camera itself, so post processing time is brought down to a minimum.

The advantages of being able to play with tones – you get to set a certain “mood” for your pictures, and this is generally helpful when you’re trying to create a portfolio or a sort of running coherence in your instagram feed. Ie. Garypeppergirl’s photos are all vivid while Mermaiden’s photos are all a little faded and dreamy. This is mostly to do with filters, but how easy it is to achieve these respective effects depends on how the picture was taken as well.

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Straight on, posed shot
Nikon Df on a AF-S NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G ED lens
ISO 100 | Shutter Speed 1/400 | f/10.0

Tip 3: Play with angles.

This is a pretty obvious tip, but I think I should put it in anyway because most people don’t consciously think about it. When taking someone’s photo / having your photo taken, it’s not just about how the subject is posing, it’s also about the angles the photographer is playing up for different effects. In the above, you see a straight on shot – which suffices for this case, because the main point of the picture is the dress picking up the pink in the bougainvillaea and the two complimenting each other. On the other hand, see below:

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Lower Angled Posed Shot
Nikon Df on a AF-S NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G ED lens
ISO 100 | Shutter Speed 1/500 | f/11.0

I had to basically hide behind a potted plant and lie on the floor for this shot. Why: I wanted to get the fronds of the plant in the picture as a sort of frame, and also to add a bit of colour into the picture. I personally like greens in my pictures because I think they can be edited very nicely, but it’s really up to personal taste. Additional bonus: Yvette looks taller and more svelte than she already is.

It’s really down to personal taste for matters like these, but I feel like the less objects you have in the picture, the less geographically pinned it is. In the picture above, Yvette could be anywhere – we joked about the picture being called My Mediterranean holiday.

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Outfit shot and detail shot
Nikon Df on a AF-S NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G ED lens
ISO 100 | Shutter Speed 1/135 | f/5.6

yvette

Fun / Candid shots
Nikon Df on a AF-S NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G ED lens
ISO 100 | Shutter Speed 1/160 | f/6.3

This look is something a little more day-to-day and casual, a loose top with sequinned shorts and espadrilles. Because the color palette of her outfit is so earthy, we shot this straight on against wooden floors, white walls, and off-white doors. These photos are also taken from a slightly lower-than-eye-level angle.

General rule: Photos taken from a lower angle will make you look taller but it might be slightly unflattering on your facial features, while photos taken from a higher angle will make you look stouter but slimmer.

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Lower, Slanted Angled Posed Shot
Nikon Df on a AF-S NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G ED lens
ISO 100 | Shutter Speed 1/400 | f/10.0

Since we’re on the topic on angles – Tip 4: Play with Perspectives.

This picture makes Yvette look like she’s prancing around in a field of orange flowers, but the truth is, it’s just one tiny flower bush right in front of the concrete railing! To get this picture, I crouched behind this tiny flower bush and angled the camera so that the flowers filled up all of the lower half of the screen. Then I took the pictures from a slightly slanted angle (right to left) so we had more distance to play with – we couldn’t move the bush, and we couldnt move the concrete she’s sitting on, so we moved ourselves. She scooted a little further along the concrete, and I moved to slant myself accordingly. The result: we had more ‘distance’ in between Yvette and the flower bush, which worked better for the picture – otherwise, she’d have been so close that we would only have been able to get very little of the dress, or very little of the flowers.

The bottom line is, learn to manipulate the camera perspectives and you’ll have a lot more to work with than just a bush that’s way too near the concrete to get any usable pictures.

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Tip 5 – Be Symmetrical

When starting out with photography, one rule that most photographers swear by is the Rule of Thirds. It’s a photography basic, and draws from the Golden Ratio – you can read more about it here, with a helpful grid gif to assist you in visualising the concept in action. When I started out, this was what I always fell back on – mentally dividing your image into three, then framing your perspective accordingly. It was a failsafe – it delivered interesting, solid photos each time.

But photography is nothing if not an avenue of expression for your personal style, and as you go along, you can play with your pictures and take photographs of people just slinking around the corner of the frame or place them slightly off-center for a quirky, individualistic vibe. Your photographs are a reflection of your perspective, and you’ll find that you start to prefer one style over others and develop yourself as a photographer as you go along.

Personally, I prefer photos that are symmetrical and centered, something I’m sure comes off pretty strongly in my instagram feed and the pictures above. But that’s just me. Once you’re comfortable behind and in front of the lens, feel free to play around – remember, you should enjoy what you do. If you find yourself stressing out over all the rules you have to follow, take a step back, relax, and approach it again, keeping in mind that this is just to get you started and should serve only as a general guide!

Well, that’s it for today: five personal tips from me to you that I feel worked best for me. If you have any tips, feel free to share, otherwise, I hope this helped those of you who’ve been asking/ who always wanted to try but never got up the guts to pick up the camera! Photography is really one of those things where practice makes perfect, so while I’m far from perfect, at least you really feel this rewarding sense of continual improvement as you see your pictures get better and better. Go out, experiment, and all the best to you guys! x

x
♥jem

*This post is written as part of a series of travel photography articles for Nikon Singapore and originally appeared on Nikon.com. Hop over to Nikon Singapore for more!