This week we are starting with some simple terminology that will greatly affect how you go about taking any photo. It doesn’t mater what kind of camera you have the same principles apply.
Shutter speed – the length of time the shutter is open for. The longer it is open the more light is let in which is preferable in poor light conditions, however this will increase the chance of blur in the photo.
Aperture – is the size of the hole in the lens that lets light into the camera. Aperture affects the depth of field of a photograph. A small hole will concentrate the rays of light hitting the sensor/film and so more of the photo will be in focus creating a large depth of field.
Focal Length – measurement that determines the magnification and field of view of a lens. This will be in millimeters on SLR cameras and zoom on compact digital. 3X zoom is equivalent to 35 – 105mm. Focal length over 100mm is considered telephoto.
Depth of field – the distance in front of and behind the subject that appears to be in focus.
How do these affect the end result and how can this be translated to new digital and compact cameras?
Shutter speed and aperture go hand in hand. When you change one you will inevitably have to change another. Although many compact digital cameras do not allow you to change the shutter speed or aperture understanding these simple principles of photography will help you to take better photos.
Low light conditions:
‘night mode’ on digital cameras will do three things to your photo.
1. Slow shutter speed (this is often why the pictured is blurred).
2. Increase ISO (making the picture appear grainier, ISO is the measurement of sensitivity of the film or sensor).
3. Decrease aperture (thus increasing the hole that lets light through the lens) which will decrease the depth of field so that less of the picture is in focus.
This is why when using ‘night mode’ you must try and keep your camera as still as possible (preferably rest it on something or use a tripod) and take pictures of static objects. The photo below was taken in a cave with night mode settings. Patches of the photo are blurred and out of focus.
‘portrait mode’ will use a low aperture decreasing the depth of field causing less of the photo to be in focus. This is great for close up portraits as not every crease, spot and wrinkle will show up and the background will be blurred so as not to draw attention away from your subject. Here you can see that the only the lion monkeys eye is in focus, the background and foreground are both blurred due to the short depth of field.
The more you zoom the less of your photo will be in focus (decreased depth of field). This can make for some excellent close up photography, softening the picture as above. It can also flatten the image as seen below. The photo on the left was taken with a long focal length which brought the mountains in the background closer. By moving closer to the tree rock and zooming out the mountains appear far in the distance. The tree rock remains the same size in both pictures.
More tips coming soon!