{photography} ~ the best way to learn

In my last blog post (and yes, I know. I expected it to be much sooner than 10 days later), I mentioned that my professor was fantastic in the way he taught us how to use our cameras. Many of the assignments that he created required us to play around and use different settings to see how it would change the picture.

For example, in the photos to the right, he asked us to take one photo with the aperture stopped all the way down so that it was the smallest opening it could be (top image). Then he told us to open the aperture all the way up as wide as possible (bottom image).

Because this experiment changes how much light is allowed into the camera to make the image, some other settings needed to change. In the first example, when the hole is extremely tiny, it doesn’t let all that much light in. Therefore, in order to get a well exposed photo, you must extend the shutter speed. Now, I know that 1/8 of a second seems like an extremely short period of time. But it’s actually not when you’re talking about photography. The camera can move quite a bit during a tiny fraction of a time, so in this photo I was literally laying on the ground to look in the viewfinder because I set the camera on the ground.

Then, with the photo below, I changed the settings so the opening in the lens was as large as it could be. Since I did that, I therefore must also adjust the settings so that it won’t just be a completely white photo- when too much light gets in. In order to do this, you make the time that the lens is open extremely short- or 1/1600th of a second.

Next, I did this same experiment with our garden hose. We were actually supposed to do it with a fountain, but the day this was due I was stranded at home without a car and couldn’t get to a fountain, but the garden hose worked just fine.

Now, for the image on the left, I wanted the water to look blurred and smooth. In order to do this I needed to focus on having a long shutter speed, so that the camera would capture the photo over a longer period of time, in this case, it was 1/4 of a second. Since this was so long, I had to adjust the size of the aperture so that it wouldn’t let so much light in (f/20).

As a second example, I wanted to freeze the water in the image to the right, which meant I needed an extremely fast shutter speed to capture the motion for a split second, in this case, 1/1600sec. And, just as above, I had to adjust the aperture to make sure that I had the correct exposure (f/1.4)

Notice with these to photos, one of them allows the background to be in focus (when the aperture size is extremely small), while the other creates a beautiful hazy and blurry background (f/1.4) This is what photographers are meaning when they talk about depth of field. The image on the right is said to have “shallow depth of field.”

Now, let’s move back to the photo of the flowers. Notice that my goal for these photos was the focus. Because I was aiming for one image with a clearer background and one with a blurry background, my primary setting was the aperture. I set that to what was necessary for the desired image and then I balanced all the other settings with that selection.

In the images of the water from the hose, I was focused primarily on shutter speed because I wanted to freeze the action in one, while in the other I wanted to show its motion. So, I set the shutter speed and adjusted all the other settings to match that.

Well, that’s just a basic introduction, but it was certainly one of my favorite assignments because of the self-discovery focus on how we were to learn these concepts.




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