Monday, February 25, 2008


Well, it has been a while since I last wrote a post, but not a lot of people are following these anyway, so I don't have a lot of motivation to keep them going. Also I have been more involved with my forum these days too. Although ISO isn't something that I learned until later on, I think it is an important thing to consider. I have put it off thus far because I thought it wasn't too important until you had a good grasp of other things. Now I think I probably should have just covered it after talking about shutter speeds.

What is ISO? It stands for International Organization of Standards. Yes, I realize that would be IOS, but it isn't, so there. This is a group that makes up some standards for different things and they have come up with standards for "film speeds" in photography. People that have been around in the photography world for a long time, probably aren't even reading this because they already know, will also know this as ASA which is what it used to be called.

You have all probably seen this ISO number and not even realized what it meant. Remember when you had those old film cameras and you would buy film and there would be a number on the bottom right corner, something like 100 or 200 or maybe 400. The number would also have a strip of a different color from the box, maybe blue, or green. This was the ISO or film speed that you were seeing. The ISO doubles for each stop of light, so from 100 to 200 is a full stop of light; 1600 to 3200 is a full stop of light. This is important to keep in mind with shutter speeds and aperture values. The values for those settings we covered were also listed in full stops.

So we actually have three things now that determine the exposure in the camera. I promise, there isn't anything else hidden, these three things are all you need to determine the proper exposure.

So what are the different values in ISO doing for exposure? With the other two elements of exposure I mentioned they control two things each, and ISO is no different. ISO first, for exposure purposes, controls how sensitive the film is to light. Well, now it isn't film but your digital sensor. So if you film, sensor, is really really sensitive to light, then it doesn't take very much light to get the information it needs. So the more sensitive the sensor is you can think of it as your sensor getting more light. So this would be the same as slowing down your shutter speed or opening up your aperture. The second thing that comes with ISO is what is called noise in the digital world. Due to the sensor needing to be more sensitive, there is actually more of a charge on your sensor now, and it actually gets hotter too, this will cause some little disturbances in the image that looks like little pieces of grain, and it is called grain, or noise. So the more sensitive your film gets you can now have faster shutter speeds, but you are now going to start getting noisy pictures. So lets look at some values you may see, all cameras are different, but most will have at least 200-800.

50 Lowest sensitivity - less light(requires slower shutter speeds), also less noise
3200 Highest sensitivity - more light(can use faster shutter speeds), also more noise

So what do we want to use for our ISO settings? In the earlier exposure posts I said to leave it at the lowest setting you could. The reason for this is because you get less noise. I personally always try to keep my camera set to its lowest setting, 100, and only raise it when I have no other option because I don't want to deal with the noise. Sometimes you just need to raise it to get good pictures though. One good example is when you are inside. If you are in your house taking pictures of your kids, or at a sporting event, you don't usually get a lot of lighting. In most low light situations I just use a tripod so I can just use a longer shutter speed and can keep my ISO at 100, but in situations where you have to keep a high shutter speed, because you want to stop the motion, you can't keep your ISO at 100. Even sports photographers with their lenses that shoot at f/1.4 can't get quite enough light to stop a basketball player with a fast enough shutter speed indoors. So to keep their shutter speed where they want it the option is to raise your ISO. Another time you might want to raise your ISO is for artistic purposes. Janae likes to raise her ISO sometimes when she knows she wants to turn the picture into a B&W. The reason, is because in some cases, especially in some B&W shots, the noise actually adds a cool affect to the picture.

So a quick re-cap. Lower ISO means less noise, but it means you can't use faster shutter speeds, and higher ISO means you can use faster shutter speeds, but you are now getting more noise. We now have 3 things working together to get the correct exposure. As we saw in the other exposure posts, if you have a certain reading you can change any one of the 3 elements to get you more light, as long as you change one of the other 2 to get less light, and you will have the exact same exposure. So for example if the correct exposure is f/11 @ 1/4 ISO 100, you can change one setting to get the most important thing to you in the shot. If the most important thing is to freeze the motion, we can up our shutter speed by 6 full stops to get 1/250 so we can stop the action. Now to get the proper exposure we need to compensate by adding light, so lets lower our f-stop by 4 stops, our lens can open up to an f/2.8, now we still have 2 stops of light we need to gain. So we move our ISO to 400 to gain those two stops of light. We now have f/2.8 @ 1/250 ISO 400 which is the exact same exposure, but now we have a fast enough shutter speed to stop the motion, which was the most important thing for us in this shot, and we have a smaller dof and a higher ISO, which means a little more noise.


Okay, your assignment for this tutorial is simple. Take a picture of the same object at all your possible ISO settings. Lets compare the noise in the different ISO values for your camera.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Photography Challenge Forum

I started up a photography challenge forum. It should be a lot of fun. Hopefully enough people will join in to make it take off. There will be weekly challenges for you to take pictures and then others will vote on who they think took the best shot. Check it out - Photography Challenge.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Constructive Criticism

Okay, this is for everybody, but mostly for those that are finished with assignments and are waiting for the next thing because you don't really care about lenses. I have been giving you all feedback on your assignments as they come in, so now it is your turn. I realize that in the beginning people feel like they can't give feedback because they don't know enough. Or they know if they like, or don't like a shot, but they don't know why. Well, now you have some tools, you know how the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO, affect the picture. So when you see something that just doesn't keep the subject in focus and notice they are using an f/1.4 maybe they could stop it down (this is a common term) a bit to get more of the subject in focus. If you notice some blurry shots and see that they have a shutter speed of 1" (thats one second), then they probably didn't use a tripod and they need to speed up their shutter, either by lowering their f-stop or by raising their ISO. You also now know the basic composition rules to help you talk about what is good or bad in a shot.

I think one of the best ways I have learned what makes a good shot, at least in my opinion, is from leaving comments on other peoples' pictures. I am in a few forums where I have the opportunity to comment on pictures frequently and as you do you learn just as much as by shooting. You see things people do that you really like, or things that you want to always avoid. You see a shot that you didn't take, so you don't know what they were planning on doing, only what actually happened.

The next assignment is to go back and leave CC on as many of the previous assignments, by other people, that you have time for. Remember when giving criticism you should find things they did well and things they can improve on. If you always tell people what they did wrong they won't want to listen to you after a while. If you always just say, nice shot, they never learn what they are doing wrong. Plus it helps you to learn to be able to put down in words what is good and what is bad. I update links at the bottom of each post to the assignments I have received as I get them, so you should be able to see them all from there. Have fun.

Monday, January 7, 2008


Okay, I realize that some of you don't have SLR (Single Lens Reflex) cameras, and some of you that do don't have lenses to change out anyway, well who cares I'm going to talk about lenses anyway. Even with a point and shoot understanding your lens could help out with your photography. Also, I don't really know of an assignment to give for this one, so it can be some nice reading as your finishing up your composition assignment. This is also really long, just a lot of reading, so you may want to read it sections at a time. Especially since there is probably some confusing stuff in here.

Sensor Size

Okay before we can start talking about aspects of a lens we need to understand a little bit about our sensors. When the light comes into the lens and hits the medium to save the data on you get a different view based on how big that medium is. In most digital cameras, in all until you get high end models, your sensor is smaller than a frame on a roll of film. What does this mean, well just think of it as your camera cropping off the edges of what you would see in a film camera. Your camera should have documented somewhere how much this is, it is known as the crop factor. My camera has a crop factor of 1.5. This was confusing to me at first, but let me give you an example. If I put a 50mm lens on my digital camera and took a picture, then I wanted to take the same picture with a film camera, in order to see the same area I would have to use a 75mm lens, because the 50mm lens would have a bigger area, I would have to keep zooming in until 75mm to get the same area/crop that I had with the 50mm on my digital camera. I know this is hard to understand by reading it, so here is a fun place to play with what I am talking about. This website is a pretty good third party lens company, they make lenses and make them work with lots of different brands of camera. In order to help you choose the lens you need they have this tool. You can change the zoom to the desired spot, and you can choose digital or 35mm (film camera) to see what that lens would do on that type of camera. Check it out and play with it here until you get the hang of what I'm talking about.

Focal Length

Focal length is the distance from your lens to the medium, in our cases a sensor. These can range anywhere from 10mm to 1600mm, some lenses can go even lower or higher than that. Usually there are three categories that all lenses are placed into. The first category, on the lowest end, are your wide angle lenses. We've all heard of wide angle lenses right? These are the ones that are so wide, in some cases, that the edges of the picture start curving. When this affect starts happening they are also referred to as fish-eye lenses, because that is kind of how a fish sees things. These wide angle lenses are anything that has a focal length lower than 50mm in a film camera, or on my camera anything lower than 33mm, because of that crop factor we understand so well now. Basically just take the film number and divide it by your crop factor, most crop factors are 1.6. The next area are your normal lenses. These focal lengths are what "they" (who are they?) say our normal eye sees. In film terms this is anything between 50mm and 55mm, so on my digital it is between 33mm and 37mm. The last category are telephoto lenses, this is anything larger than normal, so anything above a 55mm, or in my case a 37mm is considered a telephoto lens. These values based on some simple math using arcs and stuff, you remember geometry, right, give us the number of degrees, or angle of view, we can see all at once looking through the lens, lets go over some of these values now, I'll just touch on some of the more popular values.

Focal Length 35mm Degrees Digital Degrees
14mm 114 92
33mm 66 44
37mm 60 40
50mm 46 30
55mm 43 27
75mm 32 20
135mm 18 11

I think you get the picture. If you notice the digital 33 is similar to the 35mm 50, thats good because above I told you those are basically the same field of view, which is shown here in the fact that they see the same number of degrees. Another thing to notice here, if you want wide angle shots you have an advantage with film, because the 14mm value will let you see more. If you like to get up close and tight from far away, then digital has an advantage because the 135mm value is a tighter shot on the digital camera. Understanding these values can help you determine what focal lengths you need to do the kind of shots you like. Those of you that like shooting portraits, which I think are a lot of you, you want somewhere between a 50mm and 88mm focal length, this is an unwritten rule, that is normally considered a good length, because you can give the person a little space and get a pretty normal perspective, or even a more narrow perspective, which we like because it makes us look skinnier. If you took a shot of a person with a 10mm lens they would stretch really wide, and I'm sure they wouldn't be too happy about that.

Types of Lenses

There are three different types of lenses, fixed focal length, zoom lenses, and macro lenses.

Fixed focal length lenses are kind of what they sound like, they are fixed in focal length, so a fixed 50mm lens, can only shoot at 50mm. These are also known as "prime" lenses. An advantage to prime lenses is the manufacturer knows what focal length you are always using so they can optimize the glass (oh side note photographers often refer to lens as glass, hey I need to get some better glass, that is some nice glass) to get a sharper picture, and they can often get you a wider aperture because they don't have to worry about all the different focal lengths. Our fixed 50mm lens has a max aperture value, I say max meaning how wide it can go, of 1.4. The disadvantage is that you need lots of these to get a good range of focal lengths.

If it isn't fixed, its a zoom. A lot of people think a zoom is a lens that gets you really close, but as I said above those are called telephoto, zoom is any lens that adjusts the focal length. So a 10mm-17mm zoom is a wide angle lens, and a zoom at the same time. The disadvantage of a zoom is that they are usually heavier, they usually have a "sweet" spot, a place where the lens is best optimized for a sharp picture, and unless you shill out the big bucks your aperture value usually isn't as wide, and it changes based on what focal length you have set, more on this later.

The last type of lens is a macro. This is really a different topic, but I think we can talk about it here, because there are fixed, and zoom macros too. The difference with a macro lens though, is it can focus closer up, so you can get those shots of ladybugs that fill the entire frame. Every lens you have has a certain point that it won't focus anymore, once you get closer than that value, it is different for each lens, it won't ever be able to focus. Macros are just optimized to let you get a lot closer than a typical lens will let you, and it isn't an easy thing to do, so macro lenses are usually a lot more money than a lens with the same focal length and f-stop range.

Compositional Affects

As I just mentioned as you zoom in your aperture value changes on most zoom lenses. That seems a little odd, the f-stop value is just the size of the aperture right? Isn't the aperture still the same size as you zoom in and out? Well, f-stop isn't only based on the aperture size, it is actually based on the aperture size and the focal length. The f-stop is the focal length divided by the aperture diameter. My kit lens, the one that came with my camera, has a max f-stop of 3.5-5.6. Its focal length range is 18mm - 55mm. So at a focal length of 18mm with an f-stop of 3.5 my aperture is at 5mm. Setting the focal length to 55mm with an f-stop of 5.6 my aperture is at 10mm. I'm not sure why the aperture can get wider as the focal length gets longer, but it is usually just they cheaper way they can make the lens, thats just how it happens to work out because of how they made the lens. If the lens is a zoom and can always have an f-stop of 2.8, they have to work a little harder to get the aperture to adjust correctly to get at the right diameter at every focal length, so these are usually more expensive lenses.

If what I said above was confusing, sorry, but what does this mean to you? Well it means that there is something else affecting your dof. Yes, you always thought that setting your f-stop was giving you total control over dof, well you're wrong, although it is a big part of it, it isn't the only thing affecting it. The way the f-stop is controlling it, is because it is changing the diameter of your aperture, but as I just described above, zooming in gets you a wider diameter too given the same f-stop. So again, the wider the aperture the shallower your dof. So a 50mm lens at 3.5 is a smaller aperture diameter than a 100mm lens is at 3.5. So the 50mm has a bigger dof, since the aperture is smaller. This means as you zoom you are also getting a smaller dof. There is actually a third thing that controls dof, the distance from you to the subject. If you are really close to things then the planes that your objects sit on are exaggerated more, your eye works like this too, if you are looking at a mountain really far away, there isn't much difference between the rocks and the trees, but if you are hiking tree to tree you can tell which one is further away, so the closer you are to your subject, the more shallow the dof. So a simple recap, if you want a really shallow dof, you want your maximum f-stop value (the smallest number because they are fractions), you want to be zoomed in as much as you can, and you want to get as close as you can. This will give you your most shallow dof.


Okay, lets talk about some things you can add to your lenses, for people with higher end point and shoots, like Julie, some of these will apply to you too.

We talked about macro lenses before, here are a couple of lower cost ways to try out macro photography, although they aren't as good as a nice macro lens, they do a pretty good job. The worst quality way to do macro photography is with magnifiers. These do just what you think they would, they magnify the image, making it look closer, kind of like a magnifying glass. The reason these aren't the best is because you now have more glass for the light to pass through, meaning you are probably losing quality, and less light goes through so you are losing some exposure too, but our cameras are smart enough to adjust for that. These can be bought at different values and you can stack as many as you would like to get more magnification. They screw into the end of your lens. Oh, anything that screws into your lens has to be the right size, and your camera should have the theta symbol and then the number, which is the diameter of your lens. My lenses are 49mm, 52mm, and 62mm. So when getting this stuff you need to know those values, that is the same value used to know what size lens cap you need if you ever lose yours. The next way to do macro photography is to get a reverse lens converter. One style of these you screw the converter onto your normal lens, usually a telephoto works the best, and then you screw another lens backwards onto the converter, this works like a magnifier as well. Again, you now have to worry about more glass. The last method, which is what I opted with, is a set of extension tubes. These go in between your lens and camera body and because they push your lens further away from the sensor you can get closer up and still focus. These are the best, next to macros, because you don't lose any quality as they are just hollow tubes. The biggest downside, you don't have much room for focusing, if you want to get further away, you have to start removing tubes, if you want to get closer you have to add tubes, but hey that is a small price to pay.

The next thing that you screw onto your lens are filters. Filters are what they sound like, they just filter the light, you can find a filter for just about anything you want. Some of the most common are UV filters, these block UV, but are mostly just used to protect your lens, because they don't really affect the shot much. Graduated filters, these are usually some color on top and by the time you get to the bottom they are clear. These are helpful for sunsets for example, if you have a red or orange graduated filter then the sky will get those darker sunset colors, while the bottom half of the shot will just be normal. ND(neutral density) filters are strictly just to filter out light, they are usually named based on how many stops of light they filter out. These are very helpful in getting those long shutter speeds for moving water in daylight. If our smallest aperture still makes our shutter speed a 125 that is too fast to get the flowing water, so we add a ND4 to take out 4 stops of light and now we are at a 4 shutter speed, which will give us that flow a lot better. The last type is one of my favorites called a polarizing filter. This takes out that polarizing affect you get when looking at water, where the light reflects off of it. If you have this filter, you can take away all the reflection and you can actually see right into the water. These actually work to take reflection off any non-metallic surface, like glass. They also have the added affect of making blues more blue, and greens more green.

Teleconverters are something that I wish I had to throw onto my telephoto zoom lens. These also go between your lens and body and change your focal length values of the lens. If you buy a 2x teleconverter and stick it on a 70mm-300mm lens, your lens is now a 140mm-600mm lens. These have the downside of more glass for the light to pass through, most people recommend not getting anything stronger than a 1.4x converter because they think any more and you lose too much quality.

The last extra, and most lenses come with these, are your lens hoods. Thes go onto the end of your lens and they block out any extra light that may hit your lens from outside of the view. This is commonly called sun flares, those little spots of light that just happen to get in pictures sometimes. If the lens hood is made right, you shouldn't get sun flares using your hood. Most photographers think you should always have your hood on, even in the dark, but I don't put them on too often because I am just too lazy to get them out, maybe I should work on that.


Sorry this was just a long boring post with no pictures. There is a lot to learn, so read it again in chunks until you understand it. If you don't have lenses or a camera that even has interchangeable lenses then this probably didn't help you much, but some of it should have. Again, this will just give you a nice break from assignments after that long composition assignment.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Composition Rules

Aside from exposure composition is probably the most important aspect in photography. If you can't create, yes you need to create a picture it just doesn't happen, something that will grab interest your pictures will always be of the point and shoot variety. When you start learning and using the rules of composition you will add interest to your shots, and when you understand the rules well enough you will know when to break them. Of course rules are made to be broken, but it should be for a specific reason, rather than just on accident.

Some of the rules we are going to talk about have been around long before photography, I'm not an art history buff, so I don't know when they came about. Artists have been utilizing these rules for a long time, and so it was only natural that photography follow these rules as well. If you have taken art classes, I haven't, you may find some of these very familiar, if not, no worries you can learn them now.

I actually found an online version of a Kodak video I watched in my photography class about these rules, and rather than trying to go take my own pictures to show as examples I will just leave a link at the end of each section to the corresponding section in that tutorial, because they already have some great examples. The table of contents, so to speak, of the tutorial can be found here, or you can find the link to the rules of compositions on the side of the blog under the helpful links section.


You've all heard the acronym K.I.S.S., right? Keep it simple stupid. Well this works well for photography as well. The more that is happening in your shot the harder it is for us to know what the subject is. So keeping a shot simple can greatly improve it. Usually the simplicity comes in the background of the shot. There are a couple of ways to keep things more simple, one is using the aperture that you're so good at now, right? If you use a shallow dof, throwing the background out of focus, it makes it easier to pick out the subject and makes the shot more simple. The other is to just use a simple background, don't put your subject in front of something that is really busy, but rather something simple, like a nice blue sky, or a single colored, not too bright, wall. Try to find ways to make the background more simple and our eyes will more easily pick out the subject and your pictures will start being more interesting. This is one of the simplest rules, but it is really powerful.


Rule of Thirds

The rule of thirds is sometimes also known as the golden rule, or golden ratio. The golden ratio side of it might be complicated, but the rule of thirds should be easy to understand. The golden ratio says that if you take a line and divide it into two, the ratio of the shortest segment to the longest segment should be the same as the ratio of the longest segment to the whole line.

The easy way to look at this in photography is to imagine that your frame is split up into nine equal portions, and you should be trying to place your main subject on the lines or intersections of the lines.

So in this picture we see the frame divided up by the lines, and the intersections are circled. You should try to get your subject, and other things as well divided into thirds. Notice the branches of the tree are on the top left circle, and the tree itself follows the left line. Also the background is split in thirds, the ground fills up the lower third leaving the sky to fill the upper two thirds. This picture is a perfect example of how to use the rule of thirds.

If you look around you will see this rule in a lot of places, watch TV for example, the eyes are usually placed in the top third of the frame. Nobody is sure why this makes things more interesting to us, but some speculate that the number 3 has some specific meaning to our brains and that is what makes this great.

Another thing to mention, this isn't a rule but I think this is the best section to put it in, is to be careful about leaving enough room in the frame for the action of the shot. So for example if you are taking a picture of somebody riding a bike, and you position them with the front of the bike right up against the edge of the picture this is usually thought of as bad. It is better to leave some room in front of the bike, so the action, or movement, has somewhere to go, so it doesn't make us feel like they are just riding off the frame. The same goes for eyes, if you take a picture of somebody that is looking off, so not straight at the camera, you usually want to leave some room for them to look. Usually thinking about the rule of thirds will help you in these situations, but keep them in mind.

Rule of Thirds


Lines including shapes have always been used in artistic works. I don't know why they are so effective, but our minds are just mathematically oriented, even if you don't think they are. We see patterns and shapes everywhere without even realizing it. Utilizing this will make your pictures better. One of the best things to use lines for is to lead the viewer to your subject. If there are lines going right to the subject it will help us understand your composition and we will be more interested. Some lines that really add interest are S-curves and C-curves. If you can get something in the shape of an s, hopefully one end is right in the corner of the frame, or a c this really adds interest, again I don't know why, but it does. Another really powerful line is the diagonal line, diagonal lines can really bring out the subject in the photo.

Shapes are also included in this discussion, shapes are important to find. The most common, is the triangle. Think about portraits that you have had taken, especially with three people, the photographer probably tried to create a triangle out of your heads. Geometric shapes in your pictures will just add to the overall composition.



The tutorial link that will be at the end of this section will talk more about shapes, which goes along more with lines in my opinion, but I see their place here as well. I'm going to talk more about what I see in terms of balance. One of the biggest things I look for in terms of balance is whether or not I could really make two pictures out of the one I just took. For example, if you have four people in the picture paired up in twos, there is a great example of this in the link, then you really could have just taken two pictures, one of each of the couples. If you really want the four together, you need to do something visually so it doesn't feel like two pictures. The other big thing I look for in balance is a way to lead your attention to the subject. So there is a picture in the link with the stone heads, they start out small and get bigger and bigger, until we are at the closest one to us, which is the main subject. Another thing to look for in balance is just to throw things off balance by grouping somethings together and then having another thing by itself, this will really throw the attention to the lone object.

Balance is still one of those areas I need to work on, so I don't recognize it as quickly as I should. The key is that usually symmetry isn't interesting, so making things asymmetrical will usually make your pictures better.



Although Janae thinks it is cool to have an actual frame in the picture to add interest, you don't need a literal frame to add the concept of framing to your shot. Framing will gives us some bounds and help us to more easily focus on the subject. Think about what a picture would look like on your wall without the frame and matting around it, I bet it wouldn't look as good, and if the background matched your wall it would be hard to tell where the picture actually ended.

When thinking about framing you don't necessarily need all four sides to be framed, even just one side will add interest. Framing is usually done with other objects, trees, bushes, a flag over head, a branch, a wall, anything that will frame your subject will do. I think this is a simple enough concept that I don't need to talk to much about it, just check out the example pictures in the link and you will quickly understand what I mean.



No I don't mean company mergers, I mean objects merging with your subject. These are almost always bad. These kind of pictures are always used for a good laugh, if you watch Headlines on Jay Leno you may see him with these types of pictures quite frequently, you know, the one with the guy posing for the camera and behind him on the wall is a moose head, but all you see is the antlers sticking out of the guy's head. Now do you know what I mean? Usually things in the background sticking out of your subject just look bad, or funny, like any rule this can be broken, but you better do it on purpose.

Mergers are also described in the link as being something cut out incorrectly. They have a picture of a big group and somebody on the left is cut halfway off, this is another type of merger you want to avoid. When taking pictures of people try not to cut them out, if you do need to cut parts of them out, don't cut out on joints, knees, wrists, elbows, necks, those are all bad places to cut.

The last merger is just your subject blending in with the background too much. A nice red shirt on a red background will just loose your subject in the background, we will just see a head then some legs, this isn't a good thing.

Most of the time mergers can be avoided simply by moving to the side, or up or down just a little bit. Again, keeping your shot simple will eliminate mergers as well. Another topic that goes along with mergers is just pay attention to what is in your picture, you need to see the whole composition not just the subject, like I said before you are creating the shot, it isn't just there. There are seven places you should always look before you take a picture, and this will really help with eliminating mergers. At first you may have to think about it, but before long your eyes will just always do it and you won't even know it, and it takes less than a second. Always look in the four corners, the foreground, the subject, and the background. Make sure only things you want in the picture are actually there.



Okay now its time for your assignment. For this topic I want you to take a picture showing a good and a bad example of each of the first five rules, everything up to mergers. Then I want one picture of a bad example of a merger, it is hard to show a good example of a merger, any picture without one is a good one, so we will just look for a bad one for that last rule. That is eleven pictures, but you're up to it, right? Besides how else will you learn without practicing? Again email me with the pictures or a link to where you posted them so I can link them here for others to see. Oh, and if you're reading this without having done the other assignments, espeically the one with the five shots of the same subject, then go back and do them, no skipping now.

Travis' Composition Assignment
Kevin's Composition Assignment
Stacy's Composition Assignment

Saturday, December 15, 2007


Okay, lets talk a little bit about point of view, or perspective. Although I haven't seen much participation yet, I am going to move forward anyway because some of you may have lost interest, or been a little confused by the exposure stuff. While I don't think you should continue until you understand it well, I will move on anyway, so if you decide to you can move on as well. You can always go back and keep reviewing the exposure stuff until it starts to sink in, but I promise the best way to start learning exposure is from trying, so please submit some pictures for the last assignment so I can help you out, and you can get more practice. Remember those don't have to be professional shots, they just need to show that you are understanding what the aperture and shutter are doing for you.

I will make the next post about some rules/guidelines that have been around since before photography, but before I get into that lets just see some shots from you. This is mostly just an assignment with little instruction from me. I want to see what you come up with, the perspective, or pov, on the shot can mean a great shot or a poor shot. Most people see a scene and just snap the shot and think it is good enough. Usually the better shot is the one you have to walk around and find. If you are hiking and come upon a waterfall, how many people do you think have taken that same picture? Probably a lot, so a better shot is probably, not always, somewhere else, from a different angle, or position. So you need to start getting in the habit of looking for a different shot than anybody else has taken. Try to find the one that will capture the most interest.

Okay, the assignment here is to go find a subject, I don't care what it is, and take five different pictures of it. Well, I want you to take a lot more than five, twenty, or even fifty if you want, but I want you to post what you think the five most interesting ones are. So take shots from all sides of the subject, take one from far away, really close up, looking down, looking up, or even just a small part of the subject, get creative. This will get you to start thinking about where the best shot really is. Hey this is the digital era, you can't hurt yourself by taking a lot of pictures, its not like you have to go pay to develop film, so be trigger happy and see what you come up with. I will try and get this assignment done soon so you can see what I have done with it.

Here are my shots, right now at temple square they have some nativities from around the world, so I took a bunch of shots of this particular one. I think I probably took around twenty. Here are the five I like the best. Which one is better? I don't know it depends on what you like, but I'll tell you my favorite definitely wasn't the first shot I took, or the "walk up" shot. I'll also put my exposure values so you can keep getting used to what they are and what they do. I took these all in aperture priority mode and most of them were at an f/11. The one at f/8 I went lower to get a more shallow dof, usually you won't see that shallow of a dof, but I was using a longer lens, we will have to talk about how lenses affect dof later. Also, like I suggested in exposure, I left my ISO at its lowest setting. Since the lighting was pretty much the same, you'll notice all the settings are pretty much the same.

f/11 1/60 ISO 200

f/11 1/60 ISO 200

f/11 1/60 ISO 200

f/11 1/60 ISO 200

f/8 1/45 ISO 200


Janae's 5 shots
Kev's 5 (or 9) shots
Stacy's 5 err 11 shots

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Practicing Exposure

So you know your f-stops and shutter speeds like the back of your hand now, right? If not you may want to read over the first tutorial again. This is going to give you a chance to practice what you have learned so far. I'm sorry to spend so much time on this, but exposure is fundamental, and very key to getting a great shot. I went to Temple Square tonight and while I was there I took some pictures to demonstrate the difference between the opposite ends of both shutter speed and aperture. Oh, for these purposes I didn't touch my ISO, I just left it at 200 for all the shots. Since I had a tripod I didn't care that my exposures took seconds, because I knew the camera wasn't going to shake, so no reason to raise my ISO to get faster shutter speeds while losing quality.

Shutter Speed

We all remember what shutter speed affects right? Exactly, the amount of light and motion. So here are some shots of the base of the waterfall coming off the Conference Center. The thing we are watching here is the motion of the water.

This shot was taken at a shutter speed of 20. Remember your shutter speeds are usually really fractions of a second, so this is really 1/20 of a second. Not the fastest thing in the world, but hey it was dark outside what do you expect? Notice how this stopped the motion of the water because of the somewhat fast shutter speed. You can even see some of the splashing in this picture.

Now in contrast this shot was taken with a shutter speed of 6". Remember the "(double quotes) means seconds. This exposure was much longer than the first one. Notice how the water looks much more smooth and silky. This is usually the kind of look photographers like to get out of water, it gives you the feeling that the water is still moving.

Somethings to note, first, if you didn't remember this from the first lesson, these shots were exposed with the same amount of light. I took them one after the other. So the lighting conditions were pretty much exactly the same. Remember, the other thing the shutter speed controls other than motion is light. I left the shutter open a lot longer in the second shot, meaning a lot more light was hitting my sensor, this means something had to stop the light from coming in to get the same exposure, right? Well my aperture changed from a 1.4 in the first one, wide open for the lens I was using, to 16 in the second, almost all the way closed for that lens. So by adding more light with the shutter, I took away the same amount of light by closing the aperture. Second, I took these shots in time priority mode, meaning I just had to worry about setting my shutter speed and the camera picked the appropriate aperture for me to get the correct exposure.


You probably already know what I'm going to ask, what does your aperture affect? Well just from reading the last part you should know that it affects the amount of light getting in, and of course the second thing is dof. Here are a couple of shots through the branch of a tree at the temple. So lets see how the dof changes between the two shots.

First lets take a wide open aperture, of course the more open you are the lower the number? What, how does that work? Oh yeah, the aperture values are fractions too, why do they have to confuse us like that? This was taken at f2. The shutter speed was 20, just so you can see how it will have to change in the next picture to keep the correct exposure. Now the wider open we are the more shallow the dof, again with this backwards stuff, can't they just make it easier? So I focused on the tree in this shot and you can see how the temple is out of focus.

Now the same shot, this time I focused on the temple and changed my aperture to f11. For those of you watching for the shutter speed here it is, 1". Again we lost light by closing our aperture so we needed to get that light back by leaving our shutter open longer. If the wind would have been blowing you would have seen some blurry trails from the tree moving during that 1 second exposure. In this shot even though I focused on the temple the tree still looks to be in focus.

Practice Time

Okay now that you have read this, and seen some examples, and of course you understand it 100%, lets get some practice in. I was kidding about the 100%, but that is what the practice is for. I promise these things will get easier as you do them more. I was confused about which way thing went for a long time, but after doing it over and over again, it is just second nature now, and the same will happen for you. What I want you to do is take 4 pictures and send them to me. You can either email them to me or post them yourself and give me the link to them. I will either just look at them and email you back with comments I have, or I would prefer if you would let others see your shots too. I can either put them directly here or link to where you have them posted. That way we can all learn from each other. Don't worry about how interesting the shots look in this, they just need to show that we understand exposure. So you need to take 2 pictures to show motion, one with stopped motion and one with the motion still going. Then 2 pictures to show dof, one with a shallow dof, and one with a large dof.

One suggestion about the dof, make sure things are kind of far apart from each other, this way they will definitely be on different planes and it will be easier to tell what you did. When I was first learning exposure I played with things in my house, so don't be afraid to do this. I had an object and took a picture making sure there was something against a far wall in the background when playing with the aperture. For the shutter speed I just took pictures of my ceiling fan. Remember these don't need to be professional pictures, they just need to show you understand exposure, and more importantly to give you practice.

Of course if you have any questions, or need some help setting up your shots don't hesitate to ask. Leaving a comment is probably the best way, so others can see your question and my answer as well, because, like you hear in school all the time, if you have the question somebody else probably does too. Have fun playing.

Your Assignments

Here are some links to what other people, besides me have done, I will update it as I am told of where people posted their assignments. Remember, if you don't have anywhere to post it, you can email it to me and I will post it for you. If you post them somewhere that I can leave a comment about what you did I will do that too, so you can get some feedback. Thanks to Janae for starting us off.

Janae Aperture Priority
Stacy's 2nd Attempt
Ashley Aperture Priority
Ashely Shutter Priority