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UER Forum > Archived Rookie Forum > UE Photography Guide: Where to Start? (Viewed 463 times)
Trap 


Location: Dayton, Ohio
Gender: Male


Son, I am disappoint

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UE Photography Guide: Where to Start?
< on 11/15/2012 5:01 AM >
Posted on Forum: UER Forum
 
Hello, hello, hello! Welcome to UER and to the UE community as a whole! As you may already be aware (or will soon find out) urban exploration is pretty tightly linked with photography. Most users are photographers to some degree, and some (like myself) have actually used it as a launching point into a career in photography! So, I'd like to take some time to explain to up-and-coming photographers who are focused on urbex as subject matter what sort of equipment they should gear themselves towards. (So you guys don't have to learn what works and what doesn't the hard way, and so you can hopefully avoid buying the same POS gear over and over until you find what works the best for you). So lets get this show on the road, shall we?

Camera bodies:
Most explorers start off with a simple and cheap point and shoot camera. There's no shame in this, but you will not get many great pictures and your useability in dark locations will suffer. I know that personally I've missed out on properly shooting truly awesome locations because I started out with a Kodak Easyshare CD1013.

For example: back when I was just starting up I got the opportunity to explore the abandoned (and now completely sealed) Cincinnati subway tunnels. I have absolutely ZERO shots from the subway that I am happy with, much less proud of. None of them show off the location in its full grandeur.

As you can see in these three pictures (the best ones from my trip) I didn't get anything good, and in the two best ones you can only see beyond my flash because I had the most powerful spotlight I could get my hands on at the time (Notice the orange circle?) Compare those to these three pictures by uLiveAndYouBurn. Hopefully that shows the vast advantage of a DSLR over a PnS. But buying a new DSLR can be an expensive and daunting task. So where do you start?

Firstly, you'll want a small, light DSLR -- Something in the entry-level range is a good place to buy. The reasoning is two-fold: These are the cheapest DSLRs, and they're the smallest. This means you can more easily buy one, or replace it in case of theft/damage, and you are saving space/weight in your pack

My recommendation is the Canon Rebel series (I shoot Canon, so I'm most familiar with their lineup, so that's what I'm going to best be able to talk about. This is Canon's entry-level DSLR line and will have all the features you'll need (including HD video in a lot of cases) and can be had used for as little as $300 (or less if you look for them). The equivalent in Nikon is the DXXXX series (D3100, D5000, etc) (you can use Google to find the Sony/Pentax et al equivalents).

The Rebel series is the EOS XXXD line (300D 550D etc), the next line up is the XXD line, the next up the XDs and then the super-pros are the 1D series. If you want to move into the XXD series (60D, 70D etc) that's about as "pro" as you really want to go for UE because after this line the bodies start to get pretty big and heavy.

Tripods:
There is a lot of discussion out there about the best qualities to look for in a UE tripod, but the one thing we almost all agree upon is you should avoid getting the cheapest POS you can find, get a legit DSLR tripod (preferably with a ball head and legs that can fold all the way out and lay flat, check out the Manfrotto compact line. The ball head and extra foldy legs aren't necessary, but luxuries you will grow to want, so may as well get them now and have them when you need them instead of buying two (or more) tripods.

As far as build materials is concerned on tripods, I recommend aluminum. The most common materials from heaviest to lightest (and strongest to most fragile) are Steel, Aluminum, and Carbon Fiber. Carbon fiber isn't necessary; you'll save weight for sure but its more fragile than the metal alternatives, and MUCH more expensive. Steel is, in my opinion WAY too heavy, though some will argue that you might want the added weight and durability so you can use it as a club to defend yourself if it came down to that, and so that you can generally abuse the shit out of it and not worry about it breaking. But I say go for aluminum. Its a good combination of durability and strength, as well as affordability. In my experience its a good idea to shave size and weight off your pack wherever you can.

Lenses:
Get a WIDE ANGLE LENS. The kit lens that comes on your camera will probably do you just fine for a while, but you'll find that it's hard to get good shots of interior spaces with it (unless you want to become very good at making panoramas like I did). Invest in a wide angle prime. That is to say a lens that is 20mm or wider (Smaller number = wider / less zoomy). Prime lenses are lenses that cant zoom in, so you'll lose some flexibility, but you'll save some money and gain some quality BECAUSE they don't zoom. (They're easier to build and they're sharper since they have fewer moving parts).

Something to be aware of when you're shopping for lenses; unless you have a full frame (professional grade) camera you have what is called a "crop sensor" what that means in simple terms is that the sensor of your camera is smaller than the 35mm sensor that the lenses are (typically) designed to work with. Because the lens is designed to work with a larger sensor it is projecting enough light into your camera to cover the area of the larger sensor, but your sensor is only collecting the light in the middle of that coverage area. Effectively "cropping" or "zooming" into the image. So you will have to multiply your focal length by 1.6 to figure out what your ACTUAL focal length is. What this means in practical terms is that your 20mm lens is more like a 28mm, a 35mm is like a 50mm and a 50mm is like an 85mm (so it takes less wide of a picture than you would get on a FF camera) keep this in mind when lens shopping.

Accessories:
*Extra battery/charger you WILL leave the house, drive two hours to some epic abandonment and realize you didn't charge your battery at least once in your UE career. Get a backup and keep it charged.

*Wireless remote: This will allow you to take the long exposure shots that you'll need in the dimly lit abandonments you'll be in without motion blurring them.

*Camera bag: This is another one of those things that comes down to a great deal of personal preference. Many people recommend a back pack (anything from that thing you drug to school, to dedicated camera backpacks, to high-end camping/hiking backpacks) Others will recommend sling bags, messenger bags, or whatever you have stuffed in the back of the closet. I recommend the LowePro Top Loader AW (which can be found new on ebay for next to nothing). It's small, has a weather-proof bag (which is nice in drains and excessively dusty abandonments like cement factories) and you can configure the straps so the bag hangs on your butt. This positioning + a carabiner to clip it to your belt so it wont swing in front of you is the best set up I've come across for climbing without getting hung up on shit. You can also use some bungee straps to lash your tripod onto it, or attach a strap to your 'pod and wear it on your back.

Hopefully this will get you started in the right direction!
~~Trap


Posted by Send4Help:
ITS EIGHT FUCKING THIRTY!!
Harvestman 


Location: Somewhere in SORTA/TANK Territory!
Gender: Male


Everything about me has a poker face.

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Re: UE Photography Guide: Where to Start?
<Reply # 1 on 11/15/2012 4:04 PM >
Posted on Forum: UER Forum
 
Posted by Trap
None of them show off the location in its full grandeur.


It has grandeur?

Oh good, my slow clap processor made it into this thing.
Intrinsic 


Location: Collingwood
Gender: Male




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Re: UE Photography Guide: Where to Start?
<Reply # 2 on 11/15/2012 4:08 PM >
Posted on Forum: UER Forum
 
You know what I'd like a guide for, in easy-to-follow terms is what aperture to use. I struggle with this one so much, taking photos in different apertures because I don't know which one to use. So many decent photos at the time turn out to lack the 'crispness' that others using the same lens achieve.

I generally stick to 8.0 or 5.6 but not sure what measures one uses to determine proper aperture. It frustrates me to no end because I'm self conscious of what I post.
[last edit 11/15/2012 4:09 PM by Intrinsic - edited 1 times]

Trap 


Location: Dayton, Ohio
Gender: Male


Son, I am disappoint

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Re: UE Photography Guide: Where to Start?
<Reply # 3 on 11/15/2012 6:31 PM >
Posted on Forum: UER Forum
 
Posted by HarvestmanMan


It has grandeur?


Lots of grandeur!

Posted by Intrinsic
You know what I'd like a guide for, in easy-to-follow terms is what aperture to use. I struggle with this one so much, taking photos in different apertures because I don't know which one to use. So many decent photos at the time turn out to lack the 'crispness' that others using the same lens achieve.

I generally stick to 8.0 or 5.6 but not sure what measures one uses to determine proper aperture. It frustrates me to no end because I'm self conscious of what I post.


Your aperture controls two aspects of your final picture: Your depth of field and the amount of light that your lens allows in to your camera. for UE you probably dont want to use a very shallow DOF (Where the subject is in sharp focus but the background is blurry). Unless you're shooting a portrait you'll want to keep as much of your scene in focus as possible (typically). To get a shallow DOF (like above) You'll want a smaller f/stop. TO get a deep DOF you'll want a higher f/stop (Larger number). However the larger you make your DOF the less light you're letting in to the camera.

So long story short, you just need to balance your light requirements with your DOF, there's not a "perfect f/stop." (Although most lenses are sharpest around f/8)

...unless of course you WANT to isolate a subject from the background, I was thinking in terms of capturing entire rooms and such. Your aperture will probably change about as often as your shutter speed does. If theres one value you plan to set and forget make that ISO.
[last edit 11/15/2012 10:03 PM by Trap - edited 2 times]

Posted by Send4Help:
ITS EIGHT FUCKING THIRTY!!
UER Forum > Archived Rookie Forum > UE Photography Guide: Where to Start? (Viewed 463 times)



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