Thank you for participating in The Fundamentals of Photography Workshop at the Energize Workspace on March 15th 2018. Here is additional content to help you better understand the basics of photography. If you have any questions feel free to contact me here.
The Technical Side of Photography
Modes – You only need to know how to use manual, aperture priority, and shutter priority. The other modes are useless once you understand exposure.
Metering – Your camera tries to make everything 18% grey. Different modes such as matrix, spot, and center weighted determine which part of the image your camera thinks needs to be 18% grey.
Exposure – Exposure controls the overall brightness of your images. Exposure is controlled by three settings: aperture, shutter speed, and ISO.
Aperture – Aperture deals with how wide the lens opens while taking a picture. Aperture is measured in F Stops. Small number f stops like 2.8 let in more light allowing you to take the picture faster and have a shallow depth of field. Wider apertures (smaller f numbers) are recommended when shooting in low light or when you want to throw the background of your image out of focus. Larger f stops like 16 let less light in making a longer exposure necessary but allowing more of the image to be in focus. Narrower aperture (larger f numbers) are recommended when you want the entire scene to be in focus for example when shooting landscapes.
Shutter Speed – Shutter speed controls how long the shutter is open. Quicker shutter speeds allow you to freeze motion and longer shutter speeds allow you to blur motion.
ISO – ISO controls how sensitive your camera’s sensor is to light. Lower ISOs like 100 will result in better image quality but will require slower shutter speeds or wider apertures. Higher ISOs like 1600 will result in more noise and lower image quality but allow you to take images faster.
Histograms – Histograms allow you to know the tonality of the pixels in your image. Spikes on the right hand side of the image indicate pixels closer to white. Spikes on the left hand side of the image indicate pixels closer to black. Spikes in the middle represent mid tones.
White Balance – White balance controls the colors in your image. White balance is measured in kelvin. Daylight is measured around 5000-5500 kelvin. Setting your kelvin to lower numbers will make your images cooler (or bluer) while setting your kelvin to higher numbers will make your image warmer (or oranger). People generally look better if they are slightly warmer than if they are cooler.
Camera Sensor Size – Micro Four Thirds, APSC, Full Frame, and Medium Format. The larger the camera sensor the higher the quality, but it makes the camera larger and more expensive. Sensor size is more important than megapixels.
Types of Cameras – Phones, Point and Shoots, Mirrorless, DSLR, Medium and Large Format. Determining the right camera equipment for you is largely based on what you will be shooting and knowing the limitations of various camera gear. If you have more questions about what type of camera is right for you feel free to contact me here.
Types of Lenses – Prime vs Zoom. Prime lenses have only one focal length where as zoom lenses allow you to use several focal lengths. Fast vs Slow. Fast lenses allow you to use wider apertures like 1.8 or 2.8 where as slower lenses only allow the use of narrower maximum apertures like 4 or 5.6. Wide Angle Lenses, Standard, and Telephoto. Lenses come in a variety of focal lengths. Wide angle lenses give you a wider field of view. Standard lenses give a field of view similar to what the eye sees. Telephoto lenses give a more compressed field of view allowing you to photograph subjects at a distance. Specialty lenses. Other specialty lenses exist as well such as fish eyes, macros, tilt shifts, lensbabies and super-zooms. The average person won’t need one of these specialty lenses.
Focus – Most contemporary lenses allow you to focus either automatically or manually. Different situations may require a different focusing method. I personally use back button focusing so that the button I use to focus is different from the button I use to take pictures. I also only use the center focus point on my camera because it is the most accurate. I recompose my images after I get proper focus. Keep your focus point on areas of the image which have contrast or texture. Your camera has a hard time focusing on things with little contrast or texture like white walls or blue skies.
Misc. Gear You Should Be Familiar With
Tripods are used to support your camera and allow you to use slow shutter speeds. They come in a wide variety of different designs, materials, and heads. This youtube video helps explain the plethora of different tripod options. I personally prefer carbon fiber without a center column with a ball head.
Grey Cards and Color Checkers can be very helpful to get proper colors and exposures. I personally recommend the Color Checker Passport from X Rite.
Flashes are an incredibly helpful tool for photographers. The Strobist is an amazing website for getting started using off camera flash. I personally use Yongnuo and Alienbee Flashes.
Every time the lens is taken off of an interchangeable lenses camera dust, gets on the cameras sensor. After enough times changing lenses this dust builds up and becomes noticeable. You can purchase devices to clean the dust off your sensor yourself or you can have it cleaned by professionals at a local camera store. More information can be found here.
Places to Buy Gear – Here is a complete list of the gear I use and links to purchase the various items from amazon. For items not available on amazon I would recommend B&H Photo or Adorama.
File Formats – Two file format options you have for taking images are RAW and JPEG. The RAW file format is recommended and allows more leniency while editing. JPEG files are smaller and will lose quality every time they are edited. RAW files doe require special software to edit them such as Adobe Lightroom or Capture One. Fro Knows Photo is a great resource for understanding the importance of shooting RAW.
Software and Workflow – When editing your photos it is important to use non destructive editing. The Photography Plan from Adobe Creative Cloud allows you to do this. This plan includes Lightroom and Photoshop. Most of my retouching and organization is done in Lightroom. Lightroom is also very user friendly. Your images should be backed up regularly. I use several external hard drives from Lacey with backups to store my images.
The Aesthetic Side of Photography
Visualization – You should know what you want your final image to look like before you take the image. I would recommend reading Ansel Adam‘s books to understand this technique better.
Composition – Composition deals with where you place the subjects within the frame. I would recommend studying the work of Arnold Newman to get a better understanding of composition.
Light, Color, and Gesture – The three things which make up a great photograph are light color and gesture. Light can be either hard (like at noon on a sunny day) or soft (like on an overcast day). Color can also make a photograph great. Contrasting colors (like orange and blue) or using a similar color pallet (like all earth tones) can create beautiful images. Gesture is the last thing which makes a great photograph and is also the hardest to define. Gesture in a photograph could be a person’s expression. It could be a repeating pattern in a landscape or the subtle hint of movement in a model’s hair flowing in the wind. Gesture makes images less static and truly look like a moment captured in time. To learn more about light, color, and gesture study the work of Jay Maisel.