There are things I like talking about besides games. Though I haven't been able to come up with anything specific, anything that is on top of my head I will just write about. That may include some photography and other hobbies that I stick around to. So to keep it more organized there are links above this section with categories of my interests, so feel free to check them out. If you have any comments or feedbacks, just email me at Enjoy your stay!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Tips - Photography at a glance for beginners I

"Question!". Photo by Stefan Baudy

There will be two parts to this post, I want to separate them to make it easier for you to read, stay posted and  get ready to take some pictures!

Whether you're using a compact or a DSLR camera, and If you're just starting photography, these tips will help you learn the real basics to familiarize yourself with your device. I'm not a professional, I plan to use simple terminology and explain everything from my perspective.

It doesn't matter if you're already owning a camera or have just bought one, take time to read the manual, and start getting yourself familiar with the settings and potential it has to offer. There are no shortcuts, work your way from the bottom and eventually you'll get the full understanding of your camera. Having done so you might find some interesting customizations, contributing to more efficient and effective shots.

In my opinion these are the three functions in your camera that you must always take into consideration before taking your shot.

It just stands for International Standards Organization, a standardization of measuring the sensitivity to light. It is measured in numbers, each camera however, has a different ability in the range of ISO it has to offer. If you haven't already, especially in low light situations, set your ISO number to it's highest and take a photo, you'll realize theres a grainy effect which is also called "noise" in the shot. Unfortunately, there are no solutions into completely removing noise in those situations - however, some cameras offer "noise reduction" and computer softwares to do the same trick. Here are some shots to give you a better idea, taken with different ISO settings.

ISO 80
ISO 3200
ISO 12800

Notice the higher the ISO, the more grainy the picture will become. Well now you might be asking, why not just shoot with the lowest ISO setting all the time? Basically, you only have to worry about your ISO if you are doing handheld shots - because you're trying to compensate for camera shake. When you're in a situation where light is insufficient, the shutter speed increases as it is trying to take in more light. Thus your hands can not hold the device steady enough for it to take the shot, resulting in blurry images.

However, it is a different story if you are carrying a tripod around, or have found somewhere that will balance your camera during the picture is taken. Referring to the first picture above, I have found a ledge for my camera to sit still in order to take the shot - otherwise I would've been required to handhold my shot for four to five seconds. Try it out yourself, play around with your cameras ISO settings and see how the pictures differ, as it alters in results between models.

Rarely will you ever need to use extreme high ISO settings, most of the time you can get away with configurations under 3200 - I'm talking about really really dark places, and light is merely existent. Of course, it is always good to find a good object to balance your camera, even for example, is it use your friends head as a balancing top, it is sure worth it most of the time.

This function is used to control the depth of field in your picture. Depending on what type of image you are trying to create, it is important to know the configurations necessary for the shot. Here are two examples of pictures taken with different aperture settings.

Aperture f/2.0
Aperture f/8.0

Notice the picture on the left provides the tree branch with more distinction and isolation to our eyes. The blurry effect is also known as bokeh. The image on the right however, is sharper on the unwanted areas of the image, creating a distraction which makes us hard to focus on a particular point.

Basically, if you want to isolate an object, such as taking portrait shots, you'd want to use a large aperture (small f number). While you should use a small aperture (high f number) for images such as landscape photography to get the sharpness required for the entire area.

A large aperture also means the image sensors can take in more light during the shot is taken, resulting is a faster shutter speed, so it is useful to carefully control your configurations especially in low light situations. Otherwise if you're taking landscape photos at night, it is almost impossible to do so without a tripod, or anywhere that can balance your camera on without shaking.

This function determines the speed of which the camera captures the shot, it also deters the exposure of the picture. When taking pictures and you want to create a sense of motion for the viewer, blurring is always a nice effect in your image, such as waterfalls, sports photography and so on. Here are two examples.

Taken at 1/320th of a second
Taken at 1/10th of a second

The stream was moving at quite a speed, but notice the picture on the left is a lot more static and does not provide much movement to the picture, making it lifeless and still. Now if we move on to the other image on the right, I introduced a blurring effect towards the gushing river, and now the shot is more dynamic and provides the viewer with a sense of speed.

Those are some of the effects you can achieve with manual adjustments of your shutter speed. However, if light is insufficient, a tripod is always recommended as you will be shooting with a relatively slow shutter speed - if your camera has IS (Canon's Image Stability) or VR (Nikon's Vibration Reduction), you may get away with shutter speeds a few stops lower without any device or object for your cameras balance.

Experiment around with your camera and you may find some interesting objects to photograph, try to mix and match, change angles of your shots, you'd be surprised at the differences it makes from time to time!

Next up on Part II: Composition - what to pay attention to.

See you soon!

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