The Basics

Discussion in 'Photography Forum' started by Wack, Jun 14, 2007.

  1. Wack

    Wack Elite Refuge Member

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    Several new folks have posted the last few days...so thought we could start a thread about the very general basics of photography. Exposure, composition (rule of thirds, etc), SLR terminology.....

    These are the three major components that combined, determine 'exposure':

    ISO: What is it?

    You camera sensors sensitivity to light is measured by a
    set of standards by the International Standards
    Organization (ISO).
    In general ISO with a higher sensitivity (larger number) have
    more noise and do not register detail as well as
    photos taken with lower sensitivity (lower number).

    The numbera are usually in a series such as:

    25, 50, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200

    Pretty straight forward!
    Moving to the right, each number is twice the preceding number, and represents twice the sensitivity to light as the preceding
    number.
    There may be some intermediate steps (such as
    64 or 125) on your dial.

    This leaves only two things to adjust to achieve the
    correct exposure while making a photograph; shutter
    speed and aperture (f-stops).
    Shutter speed and aperture are very important to the creative
    photographic process.

    Shutter Speed:

    Shutter speed indicates how long the camera shutter
    remains open to let light onto the film. The number
    series for shutter speed is:

    15, 8, 4, 2, 1, 2, 4, 8, 15, 30, 60, 125, 250, 500,
    1000, 2000, 4000, 8000

    This looks more complicated, but it's actually
    straightforward. These numbers are whole seconds or
    fractions of seconds. They aren't expressed on your
    shutter speed dial as fractions to save space, so they
    should read as below:

    15, 8, 4, 2, 1, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/15, 1/30, 1/60,
    1/125, 1/250, 1/500, 1/1000, 1/2000, 1/4000, 1/8000

    Again, each number moving to the right is half the
    value of the preceding number, and represents half as
    much light as the preceding number.

    There is an general rule many photographers use regarding shutter speeds:

    Your shutter speed should be equal to, or faster than the reciprocal of
    the focal length of your lens.

    For example, if you are using a 200 mm lens, your
    shutter speed should meet or exceed 1/200 second (I.E. 1/250 or
    faster).
    If not, you need to think about using a monopod, tripod, or learn very good hand-holding technique. This usually improves as you become more experienced....but you'll generally get much better results by stablilzing the camera with the tripod, monopod, sandbagging, etc.

    If your subject is moving, double this shutter speed. If you
    are moving (such as in a boat or plane) triple the
    speed.

    To be safe, weld your camera to the tripod, and buy a remote shutter realease if you are big into landscape photos, are want improve your photos in general. :yes
    Just as important, using a tripod makes you slow down and
    allows you to examine your composition more carefully.


    Aperture (f-stops):

    Aperture refers to the size of the opening inside the
    lens that the light must go through to reach the sensor.
    Aperture is measured in f/stops as indicated in the
    series below:

    1, 1.4, 2, 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16, 22, 32, 45

    This looks tougher, but the solution is the same as
    for the shutter speeds. These are actually fractions.
    They should read as follows:

    1/1, 1/1.4, 1/2, 1/2.8, 1/4, 1/5.6, 1/8, 1/11, 1/16,
    1/22, 1/32, 1/45

    The larger the number...the less light that is allowed to enter the camera. Aperture also effects 'depth of field'. But for simplicity....thats another discussion.

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  2. Wack

    Wack Elite Refuge Member

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    Composition:

    To me this is how you SEE a scene...and how you choose to FRAME the scene in the cameras viewfinder to record the desired results you invision.

    It is an important decision you must make...what you choose to include as you look at the scene...and just as importantly...what you choose to leave out.

    This is a very unique and personal aspect of photography, one that can determine style, or preferences from one photographer to the next.

    The simple act of choosing a composition greaty seperates photographers, and can make them unique and excellent...down to mediocre.
    With a bit of experience...learning exposure will usually come...but composition must be 'seen'...and it is a huge part of the 'art' of photography.

    It requires a vision and an evaluation of the scene that tends to seperate the great ones from the good ones.

    There are some generally accepted rules:

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  3. dabbler1also

    dabbler1also Senior Refuge Member

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    MO
    So, can you help me out with a problem I am having Wack.

    I am pressing the button on the front of my camera and holding it in, but the flash light still isn't coming on. The camera is only about 6 months old, but I just took it out of the aluminum wrapper yesterday.

    Can I get the battery part of the camera open without letting light into the part that holds the film?

    I appreciate your help very much and have seen some of your work before. You take some fine photos. You should consider doing it full time.
     
  4. Wack

    Wack Elite Refuge Member

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    Composition general rules continued:

    Simplicity - The first and perhaps the most important guideline is simplicity.

    Look for ways to give the center of interest in your pictures the most visual attention.
    One way is to select uncomplicated backgrounds that will not steal attention from your subjects. ALWAYS BE AWARE OF THE BACKGROUND. This sounds very simple...but you will be suprised how many of your photos are ruined because you failed to pay attention to this simple rule.

    Rule of thirds - For the most part....never center your main subject.
    You can use the rule of thirds as a guide in the off-center placement of your subjects. Here's how it works.

    Before you snap the picture, imagine your picture area divided into thirds both horizontally and vertically. The intersections of these imaginary lines suggest four options for placing the center of interest for good composition. Put the interesting things on the lines - but even better, at the intersections of the yellow lines

    Here is an illustration of what these imaginary lines would look like. (You can actually buy grids that attach to your camera to help you frame):

    [​IMG]


    Below is an example how to properly frame a landscape picture...and how it should be divided into thirds. (Almost every amatuer photographer will leave too much sky at the top of the image...or not enough).

    It should look like this:

    1) The horizon is 1/3
    2) The center is 1/3
    3) The foreground is 1/3

    The exception to this rule would be a spectacular sky/clouds/sunrise/sunset. (In other words...the sky really makes the picture). In that case you would want the sky to dominate, and become 2/3's of the photo.

    However in this example, along with most landscape photos...the mountains are the focus:



    [​IMG]

    And finally...if the landscape is kinda boring and does'nt really have a focal point....you need to add something it the foreground to make in more interesting.

    BUT you need to place it in the right place. Once again use the rule of thirds.

    In this example the old shack was placed in the lower left THIRD:

    [​IMG]

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  5. Detoff

    Detoff Elite Refuge Member

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    I hearby nominate this for "sticky" status! Great post Wack.
     
  6. squatty420

    squatty420 Elite Refuge Member

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    Yea I was thinking the same thing. Thanks for taking the time to post that Wack! Good Stuff! It always helps to read and re-read that information.:tu
     
  7. Wack

    Wack Elite Refuge Member

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    Composition continued:

    FILL THE FRAME:


    Sometimes the background just won't work, or there are elements you really don't desire in the photograph. This is time to fill the frame...

    Simply put...you must get closer to the subject, or tightly crop the photo to eliminate unwanted clutter and undesirable content.

    This is'nt the greatest example...but one I could find quickly.

    In this first photo I did'nt care for the background...the cameraman is jacking around and not really adding to the photo...and you really can't see what the angler is doing:

    [​IMG]


    The very next day I had the same guy doing basically the same thing. I did'nt use the photo from the day before in the Photo Gallery, and remembered why I did'nt like it. So I simply zoomed in and came up with this one, which I thought was a bit more interesting....

    [​IMG]
     
  8. Wack

    Wack Elite Refuge Member

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    Composition - 'Go Wide'

    Of course this is the polar opposite of 'fill-the-frame'. Everybody wants bigger and longer glass...more and more zoom. We want that one really tight shot...the feather detail...that in-your-face shot.
    But wide shots can be just as impressive when you show the quarry in it's natural habitat... doing what it does as a unique creature.

    So...if you don't have several thousand dollars to invest in the long, sharp glass...does that mean that you can't be a photographer?!? Come on...there are opportunities out there for you with the equipment you have now.

    In this first photo....sure I would love to have a super-tight shot of the two drake widgeons on the right side of the image. But then I would have missed the bluewings, greenwings, gadwall, etc...in the photo. AND I would have missed the purple paint on the trees in the background: (I was on the right side of the paint if you'll notice).

    [​IMG]


    And in this second example...don't know about you'll...but I would'nt trade a super-tight shot of any single mallard in this photo...for the one I did manage to get with the wider lens:

    [​IMG]

    And finally...hey...this is where this whistling duck lives. This is his habitat...and tells a story about his favored environment. I don't need a tight shot to make it work: (And note the rule-of-thirds in the position of the duck).

    [​IMG]
     
  9. Wack

    Wack Elite Refuge Member

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    Composition continued -

    'Perspective'
    (Or at least thats what I call it).

    If you're going to take the time to plunge the shutter at a subject...then do it several....SEVERAL times. And try to take the photo from different perspectives.

    One of the easiest ways is to take it from a higher or lower vantage point. Matter of fact...make it a point to ALWAYS take the photo of the same scene from a different perspective.

    This first one is pretty ho-hum. Guy fishing...take'em all the time. It's what I do. BUT...that golf course is providing one unbelievable background!

    [​IMG]

    Now I'm sitting there in the boat...no fish being caught, so thats out. But I have to get more out of this. I'm looking around...looking around, and then it becomes so simple...
    There's an elevated tee-box that will get me high enough to gain a completely different 'perspective' of this scene. Head to the bank...run through the woods...set up.....shoot from a much higher vantage point and get this:

    [​IMG]
     
  10. mikei

    mikei Elite Refuge Member

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    Nicely done Wack! Thanks for the tips...
     

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