Photography Basics 3 Part Series - Part 2 - Taking Action

Make sure you've read Part 1 before you move into taking action!

If you haven’t read Part 1, do that first because it’s no fun trying to do this stuff when you have no idea where the relevant cameral controls are. In Part 1 we went through the camera settings and how to use them…now its time to put it into action.

Heading Out

It’s all about confidence and making the actions second nature - like driving ;-))  So start on aperture priority mode and find the aperture dial or button, move the dial/button and look through the viewfinder and notice how the shutter speed changes as you adjust the aperture.  It’s the same with shutter speed priority.  Also notice how as you move the camera around the scene, the settings change depending on what the centre of the camera is pointing to and the percentage of brightness or darkness over the whole scene.

Now on to the ISO.  Choose an aperture setting, keep the camera pointed on one spot, and adjust the ISO - notice how the shutter speed changes, just as the aperture does when set to shutter speed priority. So you can see that correct exposure is a gentle balancing act between the 3 settings.

About blurry photos…motion blur can be intentional, it creates a sense of movement…but generally it will be particular part of the scene that is blurred in contrast with the rest of the photo which will remain tack sharp.  Unintentional blur can ruin the whole photo, and camera shake due to slow shutter speeds is a no no.

Intentional out of focus blur is an art and it is why you want to be able to control your depth of field with the aperture… you know the set blurry background in a great portrait shot…but accidental out of focus (subject) blur is also a no no!

So experiment with different shutter speeds with fast moving subjects - even something as simple as water running from a tap if you’re stuck for something to test with. If you get your shutter speed down to 1/30th sec or less, inspect the image for camera shake - in other words - blur all over.  For a great effect photograph something fast moving in low light with the camera on a tripod…try to get the shutter speed down to at least a 1 second exposure…and see the wonderful blur you can create.

Then start taking a few shots of a single subject in good light at close range and change the aperture on each shot…notice the level of blur in the background as you use smaller number f/stops.

 

 

Thinking Outside the Square

Once you have a bit of confidence in the fact that you can take photos successfully off auto, its time to start looking at composition.  The rule of thirds is the fastest way to get on track here s a starting point.  Many cameras do have a grid overlay in the viewfinder, or an option to switch it on.

Here’s quick tip: Simply place the subject or most important element over the most appropriate ‘cross’ and you will safely have a pleasant composition which is pleasing to the eye.

Keep in mind there are many more important elements and principles of design but there’s just way too much to go into here. I highly recommend  learning about good composition by looking at lots of great photos. Google is a great place to start!

 

What to Avoid

One big issue with photography is that the camera will record everything in the scene - not just what you noticed - so things in the background that look like they are sticking out of people’s heads and general busy backgrounds and cluttered foregrounds are the first things to look at.

Its funny how they stick out and scream at you when looking at the photo on the computer but we never noticed them when taking the photo in the first place.  Taking an extra moment to look at everything else in the frame other than the subject matter is all it takes….then just moving the camera slightly to the left or right, up or down, can prevent a photo flop or editing nightmare.

 

Big tip: Start to notice everything in the scene - not just the subject matter. (I go into this in a BIG WAY in the Photography with EASE course)

 

High contrast is another issue that is hard to avoid.  Your camera can only record so much detail in the high and low ends of the spectrum of light.  So many of the details in dark shadows and bright light areas will disappear in the photo even though you can see them with your eye.

I always say that bright sunlight is NOT a photographers friend!  Our eyes can focus on various parts of a scene one part at a time, adjusting our eyes to the varying levels of light and dark as we scan the area, the camera can’t do this, it has to choose one level to measure per photo.

There are a few things you can do here - either:

  • Realise you can’t get the shot you want
  • Choose to shoot in RAW format and pull the details back in editing.
  • Merge a range of images taken at different exposures (HDR).
  • Take a few shots at different exposures and hope one will be worth editing.

 

Thats enough to think about for now…I hope you grab your camera and go out and have some fun with this before you head over to Part 3…and let me know how you went in the comments below…ask me anything!

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