Basic Photography Tutorials

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Basic Photography Tutorials

Post by Wowiz™ on Fri Oct 15, 2010 4:43 pm

An Introduction to Photography

Photography is a broad subject that eventually boils down to a mixture of art and science. Now, before we disappear down the "Is photography an art?" road I said it was a mixture and although the process of taking and processing a photograph is down to physics and chemistry the driving force behind it is often to some degree artistic or at least creative.
So, where do we start? Most books, at least the ones I have read, start with some history or "What is photography?" or something down that line. This is all very well and may interest you a bit later but right now what you probably want to do is take pictures, sorry, photographs. If you study at college or university they prefer the term "image " and get upset when you tell them you are going out to " take some pictures ". So we are going to start , where everyone really starts book or no book, at the beginning.

How to take a picture.
Compose and expose.

Photography is full of rules and to get us started I have invented one of my own. You have to do two things when taking a photograph.

* Compose: This is the creative or artistic bit where you arrange all of the elements of your picture within the frame or viewfinder to produce what should hopefully be a pleasing composition.
* Expose: This is the scientific and mechanical bit where you expose your film to light through the lens of your camera and if you are lucky preserve the image for posterity.


In my infinite wisdom I have decided to call this The Compose and Expose Rule. To make life simple compose and expose rhyme so it is easy to remember. You compose first and expose second that is the rule. If this is going to give you problems I suggest you give up now and take up something less challenging.

In the following tutorials we will look at both parts in more detail. If you pay attention and I can make myself understood you will learn how to exert a great deal of control over how your photographs will turn out.
We will start with the "compose" part first as most of the decision making is for aesthetic reasons and is largely up to you and if you are using a fully automatic camera it is the only bit that will be any good to you.


Composition.

The modern camera is capable of many things. It can focus for you; work out exposure for you; select a suitable shutter speed or aperture along with a multitude of other functions. However useful you may find these functions the one thing a camera can't do is compose your picture for you. It has no idea what it is pointing at and it has no idea what you are trying to achieve so you are on your own.

Composition.
If you are using an 'auto-everything' camera like a 35mm compact or program SLR then your main area of control is going to be in the composition of your photographs. Sadly I can't tell you how to take a great picture as to some degree it comes down to your ability to 'see' a picture or the potential to create a picture. Having said that; there are a load of 'rules' and techniques you can use to improve the final look of your photographs. We will look at a few of the popular, effective and easy to implement techniques that you will be able to start using right away.

Quick Tip
Editing: Before you show anyone those hundreds of holiday photos or the 2 hour slide show, edit your work. Take out all the doubles, all the duds, the out of focus and generally crap. Only show people the good stuff and your standing as a photographer immediately increases. Pro's can shoot a load of rubbish like anyone else; they just don't show it to anybody.

There are 3 basic ways to arrange the elements within your composition.

* Physically move objects relative to each other. Only really works with still life photography.
* Tell people to move relative to each other or other objects. Only works with people who can hear you.
* Move ! Usually the most effective way to control your composition is to alter your viewpoint.

That last one is probably the easiest and yet most important. How often have you thought 'that would make a great picture' then put your camera to your eye and taken a photograph. Loads of times, you see people do it all the time. By all means do that but right after doing it take a wander about and see if you can improve on your original composition by changing your viewpoint. You may be surprised how much difference walking a few metres can make.

Fill the frame.
Sometimes your mind tends to exaggerate what you see through the viewfinder of your camera. You often perceive things a bit bigger than they actually are and you also tend not to notice 'slight' distractions. What you end up with is photographs with huge areas of wasted space around the edge and people with things growing out of their heads. Make sure your subject fills the frame. The best way to do this is to move a bit closer. Before you press that shutter release have a quick look round the edge of the frame and behind your subject. Make sure that you don't have acres of space full of nothing interesting and check for 'stuff' intruding into your masterpiece. In our wonderful 3 dimensional world that telegraph pole is away in the background; in your flat 2 dimensional photograph that same pole is sticking out of someone.



The Rule of Thirds.
Using the steps outlined previously will help to tighten up your composition. Now we will look at a few techniques you can employ to help improve your composition. If you are taking photographs for your own pleasure, as I assume you are, then you only have to come up with pictures that please you. You may be able to overlook the huge empty spaces or people with their heads cut off but no-one else will. That cute kid looks really cute it's just a pity that you need a magnifying glass to see him. Producing pictures that are pleasing to someone other than yourself will make your photography much more rewarding.
The Rule of Thirds.
One of the most popular 'rules' in photography is the Rule Of Thirds. It is also popular amongst artists. It works like this:
Imaginary lines are drawn dividing the image into thirds both horizontally and vertically. You place important elements of your composition where these lines intersect. I've even made a little diagram for you (fig 1).
As well as using the intersections you can arrange areas into bands occupying a third or place things along the imaginary lines. As you can see it is fairly simple to implement. Good places to put things; third of the way up, third of the way in from the left , you get the idea. Duff places to put things; right in the middle, right at the top, right at the bottom, away in the corner.
Using the Rule of Thirds helps produce nicely balanced easy on the eye pictures. Also, as you have to position things relative to the edges of the frame it helps get rid of ' tiny subject surrounded by vast empty space' syndrome.
One last thing about the Rule of Thirds for the time being. Once you have got the hang of the Rule of Thirds you will very quickly want to break it ! This is fine. As I said earlier these 'rules' are best used as guidelines and if you can create a better image by bending or ignoring rules then fire away.
The Rule of Thirds is fairly structured but there are a great many methods you can employ which rely on your ability to 'see' things and incorporate them into your composition. Next up we will look at some, but by no means all, of them.

This series of tutorials, which is constantly expanding, is provided as an introduction to photographic techniques. It may not turn you into a brilliant photographer but hopefully it will help improve your photography by teaching you a bit about some of the theory behind photography.

Some of the tutorials will be useful no matter what type of camera you are using , however, the tutorials are geared towards 35mm/APS SLR cameras with the ability to be operated manually, at least to some degree. By manual operation I mean that you will have to physically focus the camera, set the aperture and set the shutter speed. All three would be good though as a mimimum you should have control of either the aperture or the shutter speed. i.e. Aperture Priority or Shutter Priority.

If you have the manual for your camera now would be a good time to read through it. Pay attention as to use of the light meter and the shutter and aperture controls. You don't really need to know about the multitude of 'program' or 'auto' modes your camera may be equipped with.

I am not making any great claims about these tutorials but I would like them to be useful and not to dull so I am keen to hear from you if you are using them. I am also quite happy to answer questions if I haven't covered what you are interested in yet, or if you don't know what I am talking about !

I can be contacted by e-mail, there is a link at the bottom of every page, or you can leave a message using the Human Click sevice on some of the pages, you might even get me if I am online. Don't forget to sign up for the free newsletter if you would like to be kept informed about new tutorials etc.



The Camera.
Essentially a camera is just a light tight box with a small hole in it. In fact is relatively simple to build a camera using a cardboard box, some black tape and some tinfoil or a small piece of aluminiun from a drinks can. Unfortunately, pinhole cameras-that is what they are called- are not particularly sophisticated and your mates won't be to happy when you ask them to keep perfectly still for 20 minutes while you capture that party atmosphere with the box your shoes came in.

The sort of camera we are going to look at is the more 'modern' 35mm SLR (Single lens reflex). By 'modern' anything built in the last twenty years will fit the bill, including APS which really is modern but isn't actually 35mm but the idea is the same.
Click for a diagram.
All modern SLRs share some basic features:

* A body
* A lens which is interchangeable. That means you can take it off and put on a different one.
* An adjustable aperture which is inside the lens.
* An adjustable shutter which is inside the body
* A built in TTL lightmeter.(Probably !).Measures light coming Through The Lens

They also share similar controls.

* The aperture ring. This is a narrow rotating ring on the barrel of the lens. It is generally located close to the body of the camera.
* The focusing ring. This will be a wider ring located near the front of the lens.
* The shutter control. This is usually a small dial on the top of the camera next to the winder lever. If your camera is an electronic model with a load of 'modes' then the shutter may be altered by using a thumbwheel or presssing a button. Whichever it is the actual control will be located on the top right area of your camera.
* The shutter release. Again this will be top right, either on the front of the top-plate or near the top on the front. Light pressure on the shutter release usually activates the built in TTL meter.
* Film speed dial. On the top plate usually to the left. Newer electronic cameras set the film speed from the DX code on the film cassette itself. You may be allowed to over ride this or maybe you won't.

These are the controls that you will have to get to grips with to get the most from your camera. Additionally there may be other knobs and buttons on your camera which could prove useful.

* Depth of field preview control. Not very common but very useful. On the front near the lens.
* Self timer. Has its uses.
* Exposure lock . Has its uses as well.
* Multiple exposure switch. Probably near the wind on lever, if you have one. Allows you to make multiple exposures on to one frame.
* Exposure compensation dial. Allows you to over ride automatic exposure settings. Probably easier and quicker to switch to manual if you can.
* Mirror lock up. You would be so lucky !
* On/Off switch. Move to On to make your camera work . Move to Off to make it stop. Leave it on and you will have to buy a lot of batteries.




The SLR Camera.


This illustration shows a fairly standard traditional SLR camera with manual controls. The make and model are not important as most cameras of this design will have similar controls in similar places.





  1. Film winder.
  2. Shutter Speed Dial.
  3. Flash Hotshoe.
  4. Focusing ring.
  5. Film Rewind Crank.
  6. Film Speed Dial.
  7. Flash Synch Socket.
  8. Lens.
  9. Depth of Field Preview.
  10. Self Timer/Exposure Lock.
  11. Aperture Ring.
  12. Shutter Release.
Some Olympus cameras have the shutter control on the lens.




If you have a new camera which is devoid of knobs and dials and only has little buttons and LCD screens you will have to figure out for yourself what is what. The best way is to read the hand book and 'footer' with the camera. If you don't have a hand book you will probably be able to get one here: Oldtimer Cameras Ltd.
Not just for old cameras !

Source: link


to be continued.... lol!
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Wowiz™
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