Tuesday, June 28, 2011

FIT to photograph

I only know a tiny bit about the technical aspect of taking a photograph, but I would like to share the little bit I do. I have taken a photography class, but learned more from just playing with my camera day to day and stalking my children to take their portraits. So  here are the very basics of shooting with a DSLR.

There are three really important technical parts to consider:

F (f stop)
T (Time/Shutter speed)

These three things have to be balanced to get that great photograph with the goal of allowing enough light to hit the sensor. You have to be FIT to photograph.

F stop or aperture (which I can never spell correctly on my own)  is a measure of how open the lens is. When the lens is at a low aperture, like say f/2.8, the lens is wide open. This allows lots of light to hit the sensor. It also makes the depth of field very shallow. The point of focus is very sharp, but the background is very blurred or out of focus. I love shooting at a low f stop.

I remember ISO the way I remember film when you used to buy it. If you were going to shoot outdoors you needed 200 speed film because there was going to be plenty of light outside. If you needed to shoot indoors you bought 800 speed because there wasn't so much light. That's how ISO is. If you are outdoors and there is so much light that you don't know what do with you shoot as low of an ISO you can go, because it makes the photo crystal clear, but if you are shooting at night and you crank up the ISO, but you have to sacrifice because there is going to be some noise in the photograph. My camera can shoot at about 800 with virtually no noise, but once you get above that you can start to notice. You can avoid this though by adjusting your f/stop so that enough light is hitting the lens or your shutter speed is slow enough that it gives plenty of time for plenty of light to hit the sensor.

Time or Shutter Speed is the aspect of your camera that tells you how long that little shade that closes over the lens stays shut. A shutter speed of 50 means that the shutter is closed over the lens for 1/50th of a second. This is where is usually stops movement. You can show motion in a photograph by slowing down shutter speed to somewhere like 25 or 1/25th of a second. To get that clear crisp moment stopped in time you would need a super fast shutter speed, like 500 or 1/500th of a second (and not always necessarily that fast).

The important key to all these three things is to find a balance to achieve the type of photograph you are looking for.

If you have one subject that you want clear in focus that's good, because you can open your lens wide open and get plenty of light that way, but if you have 10 subjects and you want them all to be in focus you need to use a larger f/stop where the lens isn't open so wide, and you need to make up for the less light hitting the sensor by either uping the ISO or slowing down the shutter speed. It's all about balance, just like life.

Cameras these days are crazy intelligent, sometimes  even more so than their users, like in my case sometimes. You can shoot in shutter priority and the camera will figure out the appropriate settings for your f/stop based on the lighting conditions picked up by the camera. And in aperture priority you choose what aperture you would like and the camera figures out the shutter speed for you. I personally would rather shoot manual because you can manipulate all of them just the way you like, I can be a control freak like that sometimes.

Shooting manual can seem overwhelming at first because who knows the lighting conditions and where to even begin, but I usually throw my camera into P mode (which I honestly don't even know what the P stands for, but it predicts what f/stop and shutter speed you need based on the lighting conditions but does not allow you to change them) make a mental note of what the camera is metering for the lighting conditions and go back to manual start with that P setting as a baseline and manipulate the f/stop and shutter speed until I achieve what I'm looking for.

So there you have it, the basic of the basics of shooting with a DSLR

1 comment:

  1. This is awesome. I've looked these things up too many times to count!


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