Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Why should you care about photographic basics?

You have a real camera and it takes memory cards and a zoom and allows you to take great pictures just by pressing the button. Great! You're now on the path toward learning how to make you camera work for you. Sure - you *can* take it off program mode and shift it into sports mode or landscape mode but do you know why they're there? Program mode gets it right most of the time, doesn't it? That's they key - most of the time. Sometimes, it screws up royally.

This is where a little understanding of photographic basics comes in. Thus, it's time for a potted lesson on photographic basics. Photography or taking a photograph is basically all about letting a known about of light to hit a piece of film or a digital sensor. The amount of light can be controlled by the aperture (the size of the variable-sized opening within the rear of the lens and by the speed of the shutter. 

The shutter speed has an interesting side-effect - the slower the speed, the more blur there is with moving objects. The higher the shutter speed, the less blur there is. Thus a high speed is needed for freezing sport and a slow speed for blurring motion. Those Victorian photographs of empty streets weren't because the streets were empty - they were because the exposure was so long that by the time the exposure had been completed all the people had long gone from the image.

The aperture has an interesting side-effect - the larger the aperture, the narrower the zone of sharpness in an image. Focus the camera on the subject and the larger the aperture, the less in front and behind the subject will be sharp. Conversely the narrower or smaller the aperture, the more there is that will be apparently in focus.

Generally, to get the right amount of light into an image, the apertures get wider while the shutter speeds get faster or conversely the apertures get smaller and the shutter speeds get slower.

Program mode usually picks something in the middle of the range of both in order to achieve maximum depth of sharpness with as little motion blur as possible.

Landscape mode usually goes for maximum sharpness while using a longer shutter speed.

By choosing the aperture and shutter speed yourself, you get the opportunity to choose your own effects - you can combine your own shutter speed and aperture, even varying the exposure from what the camera meter thinks is correct. Very often the camera meter is correct but that's not all the time. The most creative and stunning images are frequently taken when the photographer takes control and ignores what the camera meter says. The camera meter aims for the whole image to be a uniform mid-brightness often referred to as mid-gray.

You could just leave your camera on pre-programmed modes and get reasonably good images all your life. Don't you just want to break out of the mold and try something different though - be wild and try manual mode for a change.

No comments:

Post a Comment