Monday, May 28, 2012

Lesson 7 - Light, Part 1


Three things that are needed to make a great photograph:

  1. Superb light
  2. An interesting subject
  3. Dynamic composition            


We will be talking about the first component, light, in the next two lessons.

Light is very important to photography, but so often is taken for granted. Without light, we wouldn’t be able to use our cameras. If we can learn how to use light to our advantage, we will have come a long way.
Understanding light is critical when creating amazing photography.

We will be talking about five kinds of light in this lesson:

1. Hard light. This light is the harsh sunlight we get during most of the day when the sun is overhead. It is hard to learn how to use this light well.

This light is boring!
The hard, harsh light of midday is the least flattering kind of light.




2. Side lighting. When the sun is low in the sky, we can use side lighting 
in our pictures if we place the sun at our left or right hand.

Side lighting showcases the many textures in the world around us.



Side lighting is MUCH more interesting than the harsh light at noon or the flat light we get if we shoot with the sun coming from behind us


3. Backlighting your subject is a wonderful way to use light.
Try including the sun in the photo or, try using a tree, cloud, person, or flower to cover the sun.


Since the camera is often fooled into making the picture too light and overexposed when bright sky or the sun is in the picture, remember to use exposure compensation!


Here's another example of backlighting.


4. An example of Diffused light would be the kind of light we get on a cloudy day. It’s a soft light that wraps around the subjects in our pictures. With this kind of light it’s much easier not to have harsh shadows and blown out highlights.
Diffused light is great for close-ups and pictures with no sky in them. The super saturated colors you are able to get in this light make flowers and fall leaves look great.



This is an example of the soft, diffused light on a cloudy day. It can be great for portraits. Make sure to set your white balance to Cloudy so people's skin tones look right!

5. Reflected light is a fun kind of light to search for.
Look for it in water, canyons, puddles, ice, and many other places. You’ll certainly be rewarded and get some cool photographs along the way!


So, there you have it - the 5 types of light! Why not look for each of these kinds of light during this next week? It'll be good practice and you'll gain a new appreciation for the beauty and variety of the ever-changing light around us. Just think! God designed it all! (and out of nothing at that!) Wasn't He creative? Random chance would never have a chance to create something so absolutely amazing as our world!

Enjoy the day!
Laura

"When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?"
Psalm 8:3-4


Thursday, May 3, 2012

What are ISO numbers? Lesson 6



A Definition:

The ISO number = how sensitive the camera is to light

“The lower the number the lower the sensitivity of the film 
and the finer the grain in the shots you’re taking.”  
- Darren Rowse

There are 3 basic variables that are part of the process of taking a picture. We talked about the first two variables in Lesson 4 and Lesson 5 – the camera’s aperture and shutter speed. The last variable we will talk about is the ISO.

Can you remember waaay back to the film days before basically everything went digital? (I wasn’t even taking pictures back then!) Anyway, when people bought their film, they had to choose what light sensitivity they wanted – what ISO number to choose. The higher the number, the more sensitive the film was to the light. People chose a higher speed film such as ISO 800 for use indoors and bought a lower speed film like ISO 200 to use outside.

Of course, nowadays most people have digital cameras and therefore don’t use film, but changing the ISO according to your circumstances is still important. There’s no reason not to! It’s so much easier than changing film!

Q: Why not just use ISO 800 (or another high ISO number) all the time? After all, it’s more sensitive to light!

A: The higher the ISO number, the grainier, “noisier” and lower the quality of the resulting image. The lower the ISO speed, the better the quality and the less grainy or noisy the picture is.

 



This is the view at 100% of part of a picture that was taken using a high ISO number. You can see the grain and noise, can't you?




Here is a view zoomed in at 100% of part of a picture taken at a low ISO number. The picture details are much cleaner and clearer in this shot.









Here is the total picture. The place where the 100% crop was taken from is circled in red.
The more you spend to buy a camera, the better it will perform at higher ISO numbers. (Point and shoot cameras are especially prone to noise and grain, even when the ISO number is only sort of high!)




The camera’s aperture, shutter speed, and ISO all word together. You can change any one of these and the exposure will change (the picture will turn out lighter or darker) if the camera is set to M (manual mode). For the other camera modes, the camera compensates for the changes you make to any of these settings.

Look at the three variables - aperture number, shutter speed, and ISO number - as if they are 3 crucial ingredients in a cake. If you change one of them the picture will turn out differently.


In the photo on the left, I used an aperture of f/3.5, and a shutter speed of 1/250 sec. at ISO 200.

In the photo on the right, I used an aperture number of f/3.5 and a shutter speed of 1/1500 sec. at ISO 800. By having the ISO number at 800 instead of 200, I could raise the shutter speed. (not that I needed to in this instance!)
Even though the settings are different, the picture can still turn out basically the same. The only difference is the lower quality of the one that was taken at ISO 800 (When an 8x10 print is made of each image, the difference in quality is much more apparent.)

 





For this picture, I changed the aperture number to f/19. This meant that the shutter speed or ISO number had to change also. Since I didn't want to raise the ISO number any higher than 800, I used a longer shutter speed - 1/45 second - to let in more light and compensate for aperture number I chose.








Do you see in these pictures that in order to get the same exposure (same brightness of the image) if I change the aperture, the shutter speed changes. If I change the shutter speed, the aperture changes too. If I change the ISO, either the shutter speed or the aperture (or both) have to change also.

Q: How do I know what camera mode to use and what settings to adjust?

A: This depends on what you want the final picture to look like. Let me explain.
  • If the background in the image needs to be out of focus, set the camera to Av (aperture priority mode) and set the aperture to a small aperture number for a small amount of the picture to be sharp. The camera will adjust the shutter speed for you.


  • If you are after the dreamy, soft feel of a slow shutter speed, set the camera to Tv (time value) and select a slow shutter speed. The camera will then adjust the aperture to get the correct exposure – not too bright and not too dark.


  • If you are in a dim environment and need the camera be more sensitive to the light, know that the picture quality will suffer somewhat when you boost the ISO number, but boosting the ISO number will enable you to take a picture that otherwise might have been impossible to capture.


A Review:

  1. If you used to use a film camera, bumping up the ISO is the equivalent of putting in a higher speed of film
  2. Low light – in situations where the light levels are very dim and you can’t use a lower shutter speed or bigger aperture to let in more light, boost your ISO
  3. A higher ISO number makes the camera more sensitive to light
  4. A high ISO number does degrade the image quality –  it makes the picture more noisy or grainy
  5. Don’t pick a higher ISO number than is needed.
  6. The lower the ISO, the better, but make sure not to get a blurry picture!


“Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me: 
and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I shew the salvation of God.”

Psalm 50:23