Is it art or is it just the act of capturing a moment in time, in its actuality?
Whichever school of thought you belong to, it’s undeniable that photography has become a massive part of our lives today, and the choice of subject is largely irrelevant. We all take pictures. Lots and lots of them.
For me it’s equally technical and artistic.
To master it you need a generous dose of both.
If you are looking to cultivate your aesthetic vision take a look at this post to find the inspiration and guidance to take it to the next level.
To understand the technical part and improve your photography skills we’ve put together a series of tips, tricks and handy guidelines to help you jump start your visual journey.
The best part of owning a DSLR camera is how professionally badass you look while holding it. The second best is the variety of shooting modes that you get. You can start with auto until you understand the full potentials of your camera and gradually turn to manual which allows you to have a complete control over the settings, hence create some true magic.
Let’s understand the shooting modes first:
BASIC SHOOTING MODES
This is where the camera selects all the settings. Auto mode is mainly for beginners to take easy photos, as the camera’s software fully controls all the aspects to manage the light. It’s easy but it deprives you of the freedom to utilize your camera to its fullest potential so you will quickly grow out of it and move on to the other options.
Program mode: (P)
That is the shooting mode that's halfway between automatic and manual. Here, the camera automatically sets the shutter speed & the aperture & you can adjust the ISO & the white balance. So, you get to control a few settings and the camera will adjust the rest according to that.
Aperture mode (AV)
This is a great mode to master if you want to control the background blur. You set the aperture (f) and also the ISO. The camera will then set a shutter speed for you so that the picture is properly exposed.
This is where you have the full control of your camera settings. It’s less scary than it sounds and as soon as you get a good grasp of the elements that control the exposure (aperture, shutter speed and ISO) and will give you a great boost of “photographer’s confidence”. It’s a thing, don’t google it.
Let’s take a look at the concept of exposure and the ways to control it in order to shoot perfectly exposed images.
It’s basically the amount of light that reaches your camera and it determines how dark or light the image will be. You can control that with the aperture, the shutter speed and the ISO settings on your camera.
Those three are inter-dependent and changing any one of them will change the exposure.
Brightness and depth of field.
Aperture controls the area over which the light enters your camera. In plain words it is the hole within your lens, through which light travels into the camera body. As aperture changes in size, it alters the overall amount of light that reaches your camera sensor – and therefore the brightness of your image. The other essential element that is determined by the aperture is the depth of field: The amount of background blur in a photograph.
Rule of thumbs:
A large aperture results in a large amount of background blur.
A small aperture results in a small amount of background blur.
Aperture is expressed as an f-stop. And this is where is gets a bit tricky as that number represents a fracture therefore small numbers are large apertures and large numbers are small apertures. For example, f/2.8 is larger than f/4 and much larger than f/11.
Visualizing it will help a lot so take a look at this and fear not, you’ve got this.
A large aperture (f/1.4) will give you a large amount of background blur and a bright image, while a small aperture (f/8) will capture sharp details in both the foreground and background, and will give you a darker image. You will then have to adjust the shutter speed to compensate.
Freeze action and Motion Blur.
This is the length of time the camera shutter is open to expose light into the camera sensor. A fast shutter speed means that the shutter is only open for a short period of time; a slow shutter speed means the shutter is open for longer.
So in plain terms: A slow shutter speed will give you lots of light and a blurry image (motion blur) while a fast shutter speed will freeze action and will not allow as much light in.
Shutter speeds are measured in seconds, or fractions of a second. The higher the bottom number, the faster your shutter speed.
Light and Quality.
It measures the sensitivity of the image sensor; the lower the number the less sensitive your camera is to light. The higher the ISO number the brighter the photo will be, but this should be your last resort, as it translates to grainy images of low quality. When you can’t alter the aperture and shutter speed (because of low light situations for instance) a higher ISO allows you to shoot at faster shutter speeds, smaller apertures, or in darker conditions.
When it comes to photography the first lesson is the most technical and the hardest one to comprehend. So take your time to understand the essentials, play with your camera, experiment with those three elements and don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t always work out.
On the next four parts of Fashion Potluck’s Photography Series we will cover all the fun stuff such as composition, portraits, landscapes and still life photography. Ready to shoot?