Blog recommendation: The Pixelated Image Blog, David duChemin
This issue of chalk talk will focus on what's in the picture. I had the pleasure of having lunch last week with my friend, Stacey Norling, who is also a professional photographer. Her stuff is terrific, if you get a chance check it out here or on FACEBOOK. As so often happens when we get together, our conversation turned to photography. She mentioned that she loves the book, "Within the Frame" by David duChemin. I love to read photography books so I immediately went home and ordered it (my library doesn't have it) but first I googled the author. I found his blog and had a bit of an epiphany when I read the line on his header, "Gear is good, vision is better". How perfect in its simplicity. If you have ever taken a good picture, I am sure that you have heard, "Wow you must have a really good camera". I know that I certainly have heard that once or twice. But while good gear does make your life easier, it is certainly not the whole story. What you see and how you see it are much more important than what you see, or shoot, it with. I have included a picture that my daughter took with a $100 point and shoot camera that I think perfectly illustrates this point. Sometimes you walk by an image and it strikes you as something worth taking a picture of and you are in the right place at the right time. And sometimes you need to move the camera a little bit to find the way to make the image look better.
Don't think of it as composition, one of those technical terms that people hate, think of it as taking the time to make your image in the lens look a little more special. By the way, flash would have completely ruined the mood and tone of this picture (she had turned it off when she entered the church because she did not want to be disrespectful). As always, I would love to hear from you about anything. Feel free to leave me a comment below or on FACEBOOK.
Blog recommendation: The Pixelated Image Blog, David duChemin
This week's chalk talk will focus on aperture. Aperture is the opening in the camera lens that lets in the light. It is represented by f numbers (on your lens if you have a DSLR or in the display of other digital cameras). You don't really need to know what the numbers are or why - it is based on some crazy division scheme that you can look up here if you like. All you really need to know is that they are called f-stops and the smaller the number, the bigger the opening. Controlling the aperture is like turning on a faucet: open it a little and in trickles the light, open it all the way and the light pours in. So if you are shooting in a low light situation, set your f/ number to as small a number as possible to let in more light but.....
Aperture is also the easiest way to control depth of field. For those of you unsure of what depth of field is, it's the distance between the nearest and farthest objects in a scene that appear sharp in an image. So you need to focus carefully if you are shooting with a wider aperture (remember, smaller number) because less of the picture will be in focus.
The reason that depth of field (DOF) is helpful is that it can also be a great composition tool. Now you may be thinking, why wouldn't I want the whole image to be sharp? Well, if you look closely at the picture to the right, you will notice that the face is sharp but the feet are not. This helps to draw your eye immediately to the face. I shot this picture at a f/1.8.
Usually if you are shooting a scene then you want the whole image to be in focus. In this picture, the umbrella in the back and the flowers in the front are both pretty much in focus. I shot this beach scene at f/4.5.
This ends this week's edition of chalk talk. If you have any questions that you would like answered, please feel free to leave them here or on my FACEBOOK page. Remember as Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert once said, "If there are no stupid questions, then what kind of questions do stupid people ask? Do they get smart just in time to ask questions?"
I am going to try a new (hopefully weekly) feature. Photography tips. Before we begin, I want to make it clear that I am not a professional, far from it. I am really more of a hardcore hobbyist. I certainly don't have the most expensive camera or lens but what I do have is a love of photography. Combine that with a love of reading and I have read just about every photography book there is out there. Why would I want to give tips? Well the success of your slide show depends on the quality of your pictures. Quite simply, great pictures = better slide show = happier you.
My number one tip: turn off your flash. Of course if it is a family picture at a dark restaurant and you simply must record the moment leave it on but if it is a picture where the flash will ruin the mood (a sunset, blowing out candles etc.) shut it off. The picture above is a perfect example. I took it from inside the house because I am a wimp when it comes to the cold. If the flash had fired, it would have resulted in glare from the window and also negated the night effect. I avoided this by putting the camera on the "A" (aperture) setting and using a wide open aperture (f/1.8). I also increased the ISO to 2000 and used a relatively slow shutter speed of 1/80 sec. Aperture, ISO and shutter speed all work together like the legs of a tripod - each needs to hold up their side or it will collapse (resulting in a bad picture). ISO is the speed of the picture, it used to be film speed -100, 200, 400 etc. With a digital camera, you can set this number yourself and the higher the number the faster the speed. Aperture determines how much light your lens lets in, the lower f number the more light. Shutter speed is how long the shutter stays open and it is fractions of a second - 1/30 is slow, 1/1000 is fast. I used aperture mode rather than manual because if I set the aperture then the camera will set the shutter speed. Gosh, this post is long, I will try to be brief in the future.
As a humorous aside, my daughter does not like having her picture taken at all so I got her to "cooperate" by asking her to throw snow at me. She is 13 so she liked that idea a lot.
This week's recommendation:
Book- "The Life Guide to Digital Photography" by Joe McNally. Very readable, great tips, not too technical.
If you have questions that you would like answered, please leave a comment here or on my FACEBOOK page.