June 30, 2010

Photography - Lesson 1

In these photos we used this lens. It's a Nikon 50 mm f/1.4 lens. Regardless of which lens you use, these principles hold true. In fact, many point-and-shoot cameras can do similar effects as long as you have a "manual" mode.
Aspect 1 - f-Values
I'm not a professional photographer so anything I say is simply from my own experiments. Think of f-Values as the amount of things you want to be in focus. The lower the value (for example 1.4 as in our lens), the more it will focus on one object and blur objects before and after that object. The below picture is shot at f-1.4 (shutter speed 1/15 second) and is focused on silver berry-looking thing. Notice how everything behind it is blurred out.

In this picture, we move up to f-5 (shutter speed ¾ second). We are still focused on the berries but notice how you can start to make out the objects behind it.

In this picture, we move to f-16 (shutter speed 8 seconds). Notice how you can make out the chairs in the background AND how the counter in front of the berries is more detailed.

With F-values, you have to understand that when F-values are lower (1.4) the camera requires less light. The lens acts like your eye. If your eye was f-1.4, they would be VERY dilated, letting in lots of light. However, during high f-values (16), the camera requires much more light.

Aspect 2 - Shutter Speed

The below 3 pictures are all shot in f-4. In the first picture, we are focused on a candle holder. The shutter speed is balanced with the f-value to create a clear picture. (f-4, shutter speed 1/3 second)

In this picture, the shutter speed was open too long, allowing too much light to enter the camera. (f-4, shutter speed 3 seconds)

And in this picture, the shutter speed wasn't opened long enough, making the appear darker. (f-4, shutter speed 1/13 second)

As stated earlier, the higher your f-value, the longer your shutter must remain open. (Look at “Aspect 1” again and how f-values relate to shutter speed). The longer your shutter is open, the easier it becomes to have blurry pictures (without a tripod). So, when in lower light where a slower shutter speed is required, how do I keep my pictures from being blurry by trying to hold the camera still for 2, 3, or 8 seconds? For starters, try a tripod. If not, there is one more aspect we can discuss.

Aspect 3 - ISO
ISO is like the old time film speeds. Basically, the way I see it is that the lower the ISO (100), the more detailed a picture is but requires slower shutter speeds. It basically allows the camera to "capture" as much detail as possible. The below image is shot at an f-4, with a shutter speed of 1/2 second, and an ISO of 100. Notice how clear, detailed, and smooth it is.

This next image is shot at f-4 with a shutter speed of 1/25 second, and an ISO of 800. Notice how it’s maybe not quite as smooth and detailed. See how we actually had a faster shutter speed here than the previous picture with the same f-value?

This last image is shot at f-4 with a shutter speed of 1/100 second. This is a much faster shutter speed than both the previous pictures; however, notice it’s grainier and definitely not as smooth. Basically, Higher ISO = faster shutter speed = decreased chances of blurry pictures due to movement in darker rooms, but = less detail in the picture.

In most of our pictures, I use a low f-value (1.4, 2.8, 3, or 4). I then set the ISO normally to 100 (the lowest setting for the most detail). Then, our camera helps us know which shutter speed to pick based on those 2 setting. If the shutter speed is too slow to use by hand, I adjust the ISO up and the f-value up until the camera says it is all in balance and the shutter speed is fast enough that I can take a picture without it being blurry.

I hope this helps all you bloggy friends out there. Many of you have asked how I take my pictures…the best way is to get out there and practice! Feel free to ask me any questions and I'll do my best to answer! A great resource that I found was Ken Rockwell's site and more specifically his pages on "Taking Better Pictures".


K said...

Wow, I think you explained it very well but it's still way over my head! It's all new info to me. :) Does all that only apply to cameras like your's - with adjustable lens and the different lenses that you can switch out? I have a cheap Nikon something but I know there's probably a lot I can do with it that I don't know about...

Ashley said...

I am going to play with my camera while I am in AR next week and bored to death b/c I won't have a car and everyone will be at work! HA!! Thanks for the tutorial! GREAT JOB!

Sara said...

I really LOVED this tutorial!! It was explained very well, even for a newbie like me :) I forwarded it on to a friend who just got a new semi-professional camera. Maybe one day I will have one, too.

Jennifer said...

Great explanation! I don't know why this concept is so foreign to me but you made it make sense to me.
Thanks so much!

Tiffany Norris said...

I'm gonna have to bookmark this one! (For one day when we get a better camera.) :)

Lil' Woman said...

Ditto Tiffany, I need a better camera too.

Jessica said...

I also need a WAY better camera but when that day comes, I am definitely going to come back to your tutorial. This is awesome, thanks!! :)

Bonnie said...

Yeah, all I got from reading this was "blah, blah, blah". I don't understand momma. You'll have to show me someday. I'm an idiot & don't understand! Har. Okay, I love you & hope you are having a good day. LOVE YOU SIDDER!!!!!

Lil' Woman said...

Ditto Tiffany, I need a better camera too.

Jennifer said...

Great explanation! I don't know why this concept is so foreign to me but you made it make sense to me.
Thanks so much!