Have you ever complained why a set of good camera equipment doesn't do you justice? Want to go to local places to practice and take beautiful photos? Need to talk to someone about which camera equipment for your needs? How about joining a docent lead photo hike at Crystal Cove State Park? There is no fee for this photo hike, but the state park has a $15 entrance fee.

You can find below photo hikes on http://www.crystalcovestatepark.com/calendar.htm. Most outings are for beach sunset. At Pelican Pt you can take sailboat photos, at Los Trancos the historical cabins and tide pools, and at Reef Pt the cliffs. When tide goes out you can take long exposure photos to get that silky ocean feeling, when tide is coming in you can take the splash over the rocks. Also we may have flower photos in the spring, and tide pool photos in the summer. Below is the future 2 hours photo hike schedule. No need to sign up, just show up with your camera etc. -

When / Meet at

Sat 10/17, 5-7:30pm / Los Trancos
Sat 11/14, 3:30-6pm / Los Trancos
Sun 12/13, 3-5:30pm / Los Trancos

(All schedules are subject to approval by CCSP, check back for changes and cancellations)

You may bring either an SLR or a Point & Shoot camera. A tripod is a must for sunset. Please do read your manual about camera setup. I'll tell you which setup to enhance your image. You will benefit from a lot more if you can quickly thumb thru the manual on the setups to take better images.

During our sessions we will share various composition techniques such as: contrast, form/shape/texture, rule of 3rds, curves and lines, anchor subject, pattern, color, framing, leading to, panning, zooming, selective focus, high sky/low sky, check 4 sides, shooting low, stacking, light painting, and a few other tips to make images more interesting. Some of these techniques are applicable to point & shoot cameras too. Since the schedule is rotated each season, you can take the same photo each time and frame the 4 seasons side by side, or overlay them.

It is my hope that we share the beauty of Orange County with others and learn how to take better pictures. Each trip I'd like to collect photos from you and post on this web site. We will learn from each others from the trip.

I always bring the these equipment with me – camera, 2 lenses (24-70mm, 70-200mm), tripod, split neutral density filters to reduce the contrast of sunset, spare memory cards and batteries (in case I forget them in my camera or full/dead), tissue(for water or moisture on lens), lens brush, flash light, wearing sandles and shorts (may need to walk in the water)

Knowing how to adjust the setups of your camera can help you take much much better photos. Read your manual on the following camera setups, we will discuss and practice during the meeting -
1) Shooting Mode(P/Tv/Av/M) - To really take advantage of your camera, you need to shoot at least with P mode. I usually shoot with either Tv mode (if I have enough light), or Av mode (if I want depth of field). After sunset I often shoot with 30 seconds exposure for the effect (a tripod is a must). Adjust ISO accordingly to get optimal image quality.
2) ISO - The lower the ISO (e.g. 100), the cleaner the image. The higher the ISO (e.g. 3200), the noisier the image in the shadow area. Although you can brighten it up, it brings out the noise.
3) Exposure Control - Read the histogram and adjust your exposure control accordingly. If anything is flashing on your LCD, adjust it down. If the histogram is over one stop short, adjust it up. You can always darken the image with no quality loss, but brighten up an underexposed image will also exaggerate the noise. As long as nothing over-exposed and you have some in the brightest stop, the image should be good. Some prefer to go all the way to the right and adjust it down later.
4) Focusing Point - Try to use single focusing point (like at the mid point) of your image to get better depth of field. Using auto focusing point can't guarantee the camera will choose the right focusing point to give you what you want.
5) Style - Use landscape (or vivid) style for landscape usually gives you more saturated image, colors are much richer.
6) White Balance - A white paper under regular lightbulb is really yellowish, but the brain interprets it as white. Put on a grey/blue sunglasses under sun light and you'll have cooler view. White balance does the same to interpret what the real color looks like. You can also abuse this function, like using "shade" during sunset and you'll see better images than you can see with your own eyes.
7) Metering - Evaluative metering takes into account all pixels and average it out for proper metering. Partial metering takes only 8%, and spot metering takes only 2% around focuing point. I use Evaluative most of the time, partial metering for people, and spot metering for birds.
8) Raw vs Jpeg - When using raw, you can re-adjust contrast, brightness, style, white balance, tone and sharpness during post processing regardless what you use when you shoot. As far as Jpeg, what you shoot is what you get. Post processing adjustment is difficult.
9) One shot vs AI Servo - One shot stops focusing once it's reached, and will not fire if still in process. AI Servo makes focusing and shooting separately. For landscape we use one shot. AI Servo is for quick moving subject like sports or bird in flight.
10) Manual Focusing - Once you've setup your camera on your tripod, and has framed your composition, switch to manual focus to maintain your focus. Besides, manual focusing is faster than auto focusing. Be careful though, if your manual focus is not spot on, you may take bad shots altogether.
11) Aperture - F/2.8 gives you shallow depth of field, blurs out everything else, but fast speed to capture the water drops of wave splash on the rock. F/16 gives you much larger depth of field, but slower speed resulting streaking water motion, most likely you will need a tripod if not under bright sunlight.
12) Depth of Field button - Seeing from the viewfinder, the camera has a wide open aperture. It doesn't give you the best view of the depth of field. In the front of the camera, there is a button that will stop down to the actual aperture and you can see exactly what’s captured once you press the shutter button.

The best way is to adjust these without moving your eyes off the viewfinder. Other setups I use - Beep(on), Shooting w/o Card (off), Highlight Alert (enabled), AF Point Display (Enabled), Auto Rotate (on computer), Safty Shift (Enabled TV/AV), Focusing Lock, Magnification, and Delete Image.

Any questions? Feel free to contact me at AndreTorngOC@aol.com. I Look forward to meeting you at one of these photo hikes.