Anyone Using the Nikon D3100 Camera?

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by JimLewis, Apr 21, 2012.

  1. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,872

    Thanks! Those are things I wouldn't have thought of.

    The photo shoot the other night went really well. Although I'm still such an amateur that I couldn't figure out how to adjust half of the settings you were talking about. But I'm going to sign up for a 1 hour one-on-one instruction class at my local camera dealer where you can have them teach you anything you want about your camera and photography. So during that time, I'll make sure the instructor shows me how to adjust all of those other settings that I couldn't find.

    But just by doing a few of the things you mentioned (changing to manual mode, using a remote button to take the photos, adjusting the ISO, turning off image stabilizer) made all the difference in the world! I never knew how to get my camera to take those slow shutter speed photos. In the past I always just took photos in the auto mode and it was always a quick snap and done. Now I am able to take photos where the shutter opens for a long period of time and I get the exposure I was always looking for! Love it!

    Unfortunately, that night I realized my camera battery was dead 30 minutes before the photo shoot. So I charged it on the way over in my car but that only gave me enough juice for about 15 minutes of use before it died again. (taking these longer exposure photos eats up a TON of battery, really quickly!) So then right when it was the perfect time at dusk, I had to run back to my truck and charge it again for 10 minutes. Then I was able to get another 10 minutes of photography in before it was too dark. But I only got about 25% of the shots I wanted to take, because of the damm dead battery. So I'll have to go back another night and take more. There were a lot that I never got a chance to take. But I did end up with a good 8-10 really nice photos, which is great for me! And the quality of the photos were way better than I've ever been able to do in the past. So I'm learning! Slowly.... but learning! Love it. :)
  2. Zohan

    Zohan LawnSite Member
    Messages: 136

    Picked up the d5100 kit with 18-55mm and 55-300mm lenses the other day. Man, this thing has a shitload of settings. Hoping to learn how to go through and change settings before tuesday, im going back to a project from last year to hopefully get some good shots...
  3. steveparrott

    steveparrott LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,276

    Congrats, you should get some great shots with this camera!

    A few pointers on the lenses.

    Be very careful changing lenses in the field - even a few specks of dust in the body of the camera or the inside end of the lens can deteriorate the images. Also, if the air is humid while changing the lens, you can have problems with condensation. Condensation is one of the biggest problems with nighttime shooting - combine high humidity with dropping temps of early evening and your lens will fog - it's bad enough to keep wiping away moisture on the outside of the lens, if you have humid air inside the camera then fogging on the inside end of the lens and on the collector itself is impossible to deal with. Never change lenses in high humidity conditions.

    Avoid extreme wide angles (~18 - 40) on architecture - vertical lines will diverge and distort the architecture. When shooting architecture, it's best to move as far away as possible.

    Keep in mind that the longer the focal length, the shorter the depth of field. This works to your advantage when you're trying to keep one item in focus (like a statue or flower) with an out-of-focus background. But it is a disadvantage if you want both the foreground and background in focus - for shots like that, keep you focal length in the normal (55) range. (For those reading this post with less expensive digital cameras, note that depth of field remains fairly constant throughout focal ranges).
  4. starry night

    starry night LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,232

    Kudos to you guys who are trying to take your own photos. But, for me,
    I have enough technical stuff to learn about lighting so I don't have time for the technical aspects of photography. I have an excellent young professional on call for my photo shoots. He has the equipment. He knows photoshop for some touch-up. I don't have the cost of a camera, etc. and I avoid the frustration of trying to get the correct photos although, granted, I don't get the satisfaction of doing it myself.
  5. Zohan

    Zohan LawnSite Member
    Messages: 136

    Thanks a ton Steve, that is really good to know stuff
  6. Lite4

    Lite4 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,183

    Steve, are you using a prime lense (55) for most of your photo shoots. I am going to pick up a D7000 this month and thought a prime lense would give me less apperation on the edges than a variable lense would such as the 18-105, which is not a terrible piece of glass in its own right, but may not be the best for our type of low light photography.
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  7. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,872

    Awesome camera. I believe that's the one that is the step up from mine. Wish I would have purchased that one. But the one I have is plenty nice.

    A few tips from what I've learned with these cameras for night lighting shooting. First, get a nice tripod. Second, get a remote shutter release for your camera (like this one from Vivitar on eBay. It will work with your camera). This is one cool option your camera has that mine doesn't - the ability to use a WIRELESS shutter release. Awesome option. Then place your camera in the right vantage point and put the camera to the "P" setting. That's like the 'custom program', from what I've been able to gather. It allows for a slower shutter and programmable ISO, etc. Then use the remote to snap your photos. Even if you do nothing more than these 3 things, you'll be able to take a lot nicer photos than you ever did before.

    I'm still learning the rest. But these are some tips I wish I would have known a year ago when I bought this camera. These three little things make all the difference in the world when taking night photos. To get even better night photos, follow Steve's advice above.
  8. rlitman

    rlitman LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,742

    If you don't have a remote shutter release, use the self-timer. That way, by the time the shutter releases, the vibrations from your finger pushing the button will have died down.
  9. Zohan

    Zohan LawnSite Member
    Messages: 136

    I already picked up the wireless shutter release....i have a tripod....all i have to do now is learn where the 4000 settings all are within the menus.
    I will be going there tomorrow night, if i get some decent shots i'll post them here for critique
    thanks guys
  10. steveparrott

    steveparrott LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,276

    Wireless shutter release is a great idea (wish I had one).

    Reason to have one:

    Some of the best shots I've taken are from higher elevations (I've used ladders, pickup trucks, even rooftops). After setting the camera, you might need time to get off the truck or climb down the ladder - sometimes the autotimer is too short.

    Also, while you're waiting for the autotimer, someone might walk into the frame - or maybe you're waiting for a gust of wind to subside - it's nice to choose the exact moment to release the shutter.

    It's also possible to extend your exposure time past the 30-sec. max, but that requires keeping your shaky finger on the shutter release - better if you just had a remote shutter.

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