Lets Talk Photography

Looking to learn more about the camera you are using.....well so am I so together we will take this journey together to explore the many ways you can use that expensive piece of equipment instead of using it like a "point and shoot" camera. Not that there's anything wrong with point and shoots, but don't spend the money for a DSLR camera and only use the "Auto" or "Program" settings. Life is about learning new things everyday so lets get out there and make beautiful pictures!

Follow me at: http://www.chuckadamsphotography.com/

Sunday, August 14, 2011

You Keep Shooting: Episode 101: Foreground Interest: Adorama Photography TV

One of the things I particularly like about Bryan Peterson (the guru on exposure) is his easy to understand explanation on how to get the most out of your camera and lighting. I find his method really easy to understand and follow. For those who like me find visual instructions easier to follow check out Bryan's stuff on You Tube.

You see it all the time – an arena filled with fans, the stars take to the stage and across all levels of the stadium, little pops of white light sparkle as people point their cameras toward the stage and shoot. Hundreds of people all end up with the same shot – a dimly lit stage in the distance and the perfectly exposed bald spot of the guy in the next row down. Not what you had in mind? To understand your digital camera's flash and what it is capable of, we need to talk about flash basics.

Brian Dawkins & wife Connie Dawkins

On-camera flash used with window light from the left side. So as not to become the main component of exposure, the on-camera flash was set to fire at -1 1/3 stops down from what the camera thought it should be. The reduced flash output provides some fill light to the face which would otherwise have gone to dark shadows had it only been lit from the window light.

Unless you are shooting with a true professional-level workhorse DSLR, your camera probably has a built-in flash. You may have even purchased an accessory hot-shoe mounted flash (or strobe, or speedlight – same thing). Camera manufacturers have made using flashes so automated that you'd think you wouldn't need to know anything about them – just turn them on and shoot. Well the problem is, even though there is a computer controlling the flash, somebody had to program the computer and like it or not, they cannot truly predict exactly what it is you are photographing nor can they predict how you want the photo to look. You have to wrestle some control away from the camera's brain and use your own to make some decisions. Relax, it's easy and if you invest some time experimenting you'll soon be able to achieve the look you want using flash.

Remember that the picture which the sensor on a digital camera delivers to your LCD or computer screen is composed of three key elements that determine the overall exposure (how light or dark the picture is):

1. How much light gets let in through the lens – Aperture

2. How long that light gets to hit the sensor – Shutter speed

3. How sensitive an ISO you have set

Using a flash during exposure adds a new element – a very short burst of light, usually effective only within close range, that lasts for somewhere 1/1000 sec to well under 1/30,000 sec. The flash can contribute some light to the overall exposure based on aperture and shutter speed, or it can provide ALL the light for an exposure if the aperture and shutter speed selected won't allow enough background light to hit and be registered by the sensor.

When do you need to use a flash?

There are no rules - a flash can be used anytime, and the more you understand how it relates to the exposure, the more creative and effective you can be with it.

You might use flash indoors or out when ambient light levels are low – the brief burst of light will help freeze subject movement and stop the blur from camera shake. You might use flash to illuminate the otherwise silhouetted subject of a portrait taken against the background of a radiant sunset. You might use flash at high noon on a sunny day to ease some of the dark and distracting shadows created under a person's nose, eyebrows and chin. And if you are close enough, say in the first row or two, you might use the short duration of flash to freeze your favorite musician as she windmills around the stage.

In any of these situations, simply popping up your built-in flash or popping on your accessory flash will likely give you fairly decent automated exposures. But to take your photos beyond an automated snapshot aesthetic you will need to do some experimenting.

Try This:

Get ready to waste some pixels playing around with some variables that you can set on your camera.

First make sure that you have not set your camera in ‘idiot-mode’ - the one where the camera decides when to pop up your flash by itself and restricts your ability to change settings. Start with P or A modes for best results.

You'll need to familiarize yourself with your camera and/or manual to be able understand the following:

1. Know how to dial in Exposure Compensation (+/- EV) to influence your camera to take a brighter or darker picture from what it thinks the picture should be.

2. Know how to dial in separate Flash Exposure Compensation (+/- EV) for the flash itself.

3. Know how to set your flash to fire in Slow-Sync mode.

Time to play...

Set your subject (human, statue, cooperative pet, flower...) within several feet of your camera – the further away from the camera the less effective the flash will be. (Remember the bald guy's head and the little dark speck of a performer on stage?)

Begin by taking a normal exposure without flash. Notice what you see and how the subject is exposed.

Now set your flash to fire and shoot another picture with the same composition. How has the light on your subject changed?

Begin playing with the Flash Compensation control. Take shots with the flash successively dialed down in -1/3 EV steps. Don't change anything else, but do examine how decreasing the flash's output changes the nature and intensity of the light on your subject. Now take shots with the flash cranked up toward +1 EV – what does that do?

Next, convince your subject to hang around a little more... Reset your flash compensation to 0 and begin dialing down (-EV) the camera's exposure. What starts happening to the background? Dial it down some more – sunsets take on a deeper glow, background lighting becomes darker and ethereal, daytime skies take on a new character. Now begin a series of shots where you dial UP (+EV) the exposure – notice what starts to happen.

Finally start making combinations of up/down EV for the exposure combined with up/down EV adjustments for the flash.

Setting the camera's flash to Slow-Sync mode encourages the camera to leave the shutter open a little longer during a flash exposure. The flash illuminates the performers while the slower shutter speed allows the ambient light from the tent ceiling to create a dynamic background.

TIP: If you are shooting in one of your camera's automatic modes and the background stays consistently dark no matter where you set your EV compensation, you may need to engage slow-sync mode. Without Slow-Sync set, your camera is probably restricting you to a minimum shutter speed of 1/60 second, which may not be long enough in darker situations to adequately expose the background. Slow-Sync allows the camera to select longer shutter speeds – at the risk of blurred backgrounds - which, depending on your desired outcome, can be a very desirable effect.

Carl Howell's band @ Eagle Theater
TIP: If you are shooting in one of your camera's automatic modes and the background stays consistently dark no matter where you set your EV compensation, you may need to engage slow-sync mode. Without Slow-Sync set, your camera is probably restricting you to a minimum shutter speed of 1/60 second, which may not be long enough in darker situations to adequately expose the background. Slow-Sync allows the camera to select longer shutter speeds – at the risk of blurred backgrounds - which, depending on your desired outcome, can be a very desirable effect.
In the yard

If you really play with your camera's settings you can get some dynamic effects. Although the sky was not nearly this dark in reality, dialing in -3 EV for the general exposure made the background go rich and dark. Cranking the flash up to +1 at the same time allowed the grasses near the camera to be illuminated in strong contrast to the background

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Next lession:

Rule of thirds

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This photograph of a sunset taken in the Thousand Islands region demonstrates the principles of the rule of thirds
The rule of thirds is a compositional rule of thumb in visual arts such as painting, photography and design.[1] The rule states that an image should be imagined as divided into nine equal parts by two equally-spaced horizontal lines and two equally-spaced vertical lines, and that important compositional elements should be placed along these lines or their intersections.[2] Proponents of the technique claim that aligning a subject with these points creates more tension, energy and interest in the composition than simply centering the subject would.[citation needed]
The photograph to the right demonstrates the application of the rule of thirds. The horizon sits at the horizontal line dividing the lower third of the photo from the upper two-thirds. The tree sits at the intersection of two lines, sometimes called a power point or a crash point[citation needed]. Points of interest in the photo don't have to actually touch one of these lines to take advantage of the rule of thirds.[citation needed] For example, the brightest part of the sky near the horizon where the sun recently set does not fall directly on one of the lines, but does fall near the intersection of two of the lines, close enough to take advantage of the rule.



The rule of thirds is applied by aligning a subject with the guide lines and their intersection points, placing the horizon on the top or bottom line, or allowing linear features in the image to flow from section to section. The main reason for observing the rule of thirds is to discourage placement of the subject at the center, or prevent a horizon from appearing to divide the picture in half.[3]
When photographing or filming people, it is common to line the body up with a vertical line, and having the person's eyes in line with a horizontal one. If filming a moving subject, the same pattern is often followed, with the majority of the extra room being in front of the person (the way they are moving).[4]

A picture cropped without and with the rule of thirds


Excerpt from John Thomas Smith's illustrated book, published in 1797, defining a compositional "rule of thirds"
The rule of thirds was first written down[5] by John Thomas Smith in 1797. In his book Remarks on Rural Scenery, Smith quotes a 1783 work by Sir Joshua Reynolds, in which Reynolds discusses, in unquantified terms, the balance of dark and light in a painting.[6] Smith then continues with an expansion on the idea, naming it the "Rule of thirds":
Two distinct, equal lights, should never appear in the same picture : One should be principal, and the rest sub-ordinate, both in dimension and degree : Unequal parts and gradations lead the attention easily from part to part, while parts of equal appearance hold it awkwardly suspended, as if unable to determine which of those parts is to be considered as the subordinate. "And to give the utmost force and solidity to your work, some part of the picture should be as light, and some as dark as possible : These two extremes are then to be harmonized and reconciled to each other." (Reynolds's Annot. on Du Fresnoy.)

Analogous to this "Rule of thirds", (if I may be allowed so to call it) I have presumed to think that, in connecting or in breaking the various lines of a picture, it would likewise be a good rule to do it, in general, by a similar scheme of proportion; for example, in a design of landscape, to determine the sky at about two-thirds ; or else at about one-third, so that the material objects might occupy the other two : Again, two thirds of one element, (as of water) to one third of another element (as of land); and then both together to make but one third of the picture, of which the two other thirds should go for the sky and aerial perspectives. This rule would likewise apply in breaking a length of wall, or any other too great continuation of line that it may be found necessary to break by crossing or hiding it with some other object : In short, in applying this invention, generally speaking, or to any other case, whether of light, shade, form, or color, I have found the ratio of about two thirds to one third, or of one to two, a much better and more harmonizing proportion, than the precise formal half, the two-far-extending four-fifths—and, in short, than any other proportion whatever. I should think myself honored by the opinion of any gentleman on this point; but until I shall by better informed, shall conclude this general proportion of two and one to be the most picturesque medium in all cases of breaking or otherwise qualifying straight lines and masses and groups [sic], as Hogarth's line is agreed to be the most beautiful, (or, in other words, the most pictoresque) medium of curves.[7]
Writing in 1845, in his book Chromatics, George Field notes (perhaps erroneously) that Sir Joshua Reynolds gives the ratio 2:1 as a rule for the proportion of warm to cold colors in a painting, and attributes to Smith the expansion of that rule to all proportions in painting:
Sir Joshua has given it as a rule, that the proportion of warm to cold colour in a picture should be as two to one, although he has frequently deviated therefrom; and Smith, in his "Remarks on Rural Scenery," would extend a like rule to all the proportions of painting, begging for it the term of the "rule of thirds," according to which, a landscape, having one third of land, should have two thirds of water, and these together, forming about one-third of the picture, the remaining two-thirds to be for air and sky; and he applies the same rule to the crossing and breaking of lines and objects, &c. [8]
It is interesting to note that even at this early date, there is skepticism over the universality of such a rule, at least in regards to color, for Field continues:
This rule, however, does not supply a general law, but universalizes a particular, the invariable observance of which would produce a uniform and monotonous practice. But, however occasionally useful, it is neither accurate nor universal, the true mean of nature requiring compensation, which, in the case of warmth and coolness, is in about equal proportions, while, in regard to advancing and retiring colors, the true balance of effect is, approximately, three of the latter to one of the former; nevertheless, the proportions in both cases are to be governed by the predominance of light or shade, and the required effect of a picture, in which, and other species of antagonism, the scale of equivalents affords a guide.
It is also interesting to note that Smith's conception of the rule is meant to apply more generally than the version commonly explained today, as he recommends it not just for dividing the frame, but also for all division of straight lines, masses, or groups. On the other hand, he does not discuss the now-common idea that intersections of the third-lines of the frame are particularly strong or interesting for composition.

 See also


  1. ^ Sandra Meech (2007). Contemporary Quilts: Design, Surface and Stitch. Sterling Publishing. ISBN 0713489871.
  2. ^ Bryan F. Peterson (2003). Learning to see creatively. Amphoto Press. ISBN 0817441816.
  3. ^ Bert P. Krages (2005). The Art of Composition. Allworth Communications, Inc.. ISBN 1581154097.
  4. ^ leadroom
  5. ^ Caplin, Steve (2008). Art and Design in Photoshop. Focal Press. p. 35.
  6. ^ Reynolds, Sir Joshua (1783). Annotations on The art of painting of Charles Alphonse Du Fresnoy. Printed by A. Ward, and sold by J. Dodsley. p. 103.
  7. ^ Smith, John Thomas (1797). Remarks on rural scenery; with twenty etchings of cottages, from nature; and some observations and precepts relative to the pictoresque.. printed for, and sold by Nathaniel Smith ancient Print seller at Rembrandts-Head May's Buildings, St. Martin's Lane, and I. T. Smith, at No 40 Trith Street Soho. pp. 15–17.
  8. ^ Field, George (1845). Chromatics; or, The analogy, harmony, and philosophy of colours. David Bogue, Fleet Street.

 External links