Smiley Guy - I know what you are saying and this is exactly how I feel. Taking notes is a great idea. I am always taking pictures and take my camera with me everywhere I go. My camera bad has officially become my new purse - lol. It is just that I want to know more of why it all works and want to be able to know when I look at something I want to shoot, what settings the camera should be on to get the look I want. I have definitely been through alot of trial an error, but I think I will go get a little notebook to keep with my cam so I can take notes. Mental notes don't so much work for me - I will forget where I filed them or something - lol. THanks!
here's another little tip to help you convert all this 'theory' into real world, easier use. on any given day, just assign yourself a 'lesson'. on one day go out and just practice depth of field, for instance. take the same shot over and over at different f-stop settings and so on. on another, just work on composition. on another, just work on focus (one that is often missed, i'm afraid). take your notes and when done, go back to the 'classroom' and review all your images for that day. if you need more work after your review, just go back and do some more.
every time i bought a new piece of hardware, whether it was a new telephoto lens, or extension or macro or filter, i'd go out and put it through its paces. on some days i'd just use high speed film or just black and white. on others i'd just shoot interesting shading. and on others i'd just shoot certain types of images, flowers, landscapes and so on. i used to take pictures of the oddest things. i've got one old shot around here, using a macro lens, extension and reverse lens extension of a cigarette butt. quite odd looking close up
there is a lot more to cameras than most folks might imagine. you're doing the right thing by asking questions. putting those answers into practice is the 2nd stage. one can 'know' the theory but never produce a good shot. the trick is to know the camera and what makes a good shot and that comes with practice, practice, practice.
and the final tip is, on at least one of those days, do nothing but have fun even God rested on the 7th day (or so they tell me) and i'm guessing he spent it taking pictures of his work
When we're starting something new, we have trouble knowing what the questions are, let alone the answers. Having a structure to start from will help you as you go out and practice your photography. You will learn from your practice faster if you know what you are practicing. As Craig suggested, working on one thing at a time helps you learn to see the differences -- you can practice using different shutter speeds and see the difference between "freezing action" and letting the moving object blur; you can use different aperature settings and see the differences in depth-of-field. But first you need to get comfortable with some of the vocabulary -- you don't know what your questions are until you know the words are to ask the question.
Here is a link to another excellent resource for you, and an excerpt from it to get you started. The webpage also has a link to an excellent set of lessons in pdf format with some practice questions to help you structure your learning -- don't worry, the answers are in the back of the book. Learning to use your camera is like learning photoshop, PSP, or any other great tool -- it takes a lot of practice, but you enjoy even the beginning stages when you don't really understand what it does or how it works (using auto-levels in PShop, or Program mode on the camera, for example) . As you continue to learn more, you can control more of what the final result looks like, and if you continue it with passion, you can even leave the "rules" behind, and create what you want to see.
What is Exposure?
The Basic Elements of Exposure
Exposure, in photographic terms, is the process of capturing light with your camera to produce an image on film or a digital sensor. (Film and digital sensors will be referred to as film throughout this document unless specifically noted otherwise.) Your camera mechanically controls the incoming light and directs it to the film. The film is sensitive to the light and is exposed.
We can create a simple analogy of exposure in terms of filling a bucket with water. We can fill the bucket slowly with a small stream of water, or we can fill it quickly with a large stream. In either situation, it will take a combination of time and water flow to fill the bucket. The size of the bucket is also a consideration. A small bucket will fill more quickly than a large one.
Based on this brief analogy, we have three items to consider. We have water flow, the amount of time it takes to fill the bucket, and the size of the bucket. We can approach our Fill the Bucket project from several angles. We can choose to use a larger or smaller hose. We can choose to fill the bucket quickly or slowly. We can choose the size of the bucket we want to fill. Whichever approach or combination of approaches we choose, the result will be the same. We will put water in our bucket. We may fill it completely full, partially full, or let it overflow.
How do we relate this analogy to our camera?
Light is the water that flows through our hose.
Our camera's aperture is the hose. The camera's aperture is the device that controls the amount of light that is allowed into the lens. This aperture is adjustable. We can make it larger or smaller.
Our camera's shutter speed is the amount of time it takes to fill the bucket with water. The camera's shutter is the device that opens to allow the incoming light from the aperture to expose the film and create the image. The film's sensitivity or ISO number is the size of the bucket. Small buckets (more sensitive films) can be filled faster than large buckets (less sensitive films.)
The Four Elements
So, we have four elements of exposure: light, aperture, shutter speed, and film sensitivity. Each of these elements plays a distinct role in the process of creating a photograph. Each of these elements may be used in creative ways.
Light is probably the most important element of exposure. In many cases, good and bad photos are only differentiated by the available light in the scene. Learning the difference between good and bad light is part of the overall experience of learning about photography. Light creates shadows, highlights textures, accents colors, creates moods and emotions, and a vast array of other enhancing effects in a photo. By the same token, light can also create harsh contrasts, bright spots, dark spots, glare, and other issues that are sometimes associated with poor photographs. Finding the good light is a skill that comes with experience and a lot of trial and error.
Your camera's aperture controls the amount of light that is allowed into the lens. The aperture is an adjustable hole inside your lens that may be made larger or smaller to control the intensity of the available light. The aperture is also used to control depth of field. Depth of field will be discussed in detail as we explore exposure a little deeper.
The camera's shutter is the device that opens and closes for a specified amount of time to allow the light entering the lens to expose the film. The duration of the opening is determined by the amount of light entering the lens. The aperture and shutter work together to produce correct exposures.
Film Sensitivity (ISO)
Some films are more sensitive to light than others. The ISO rating of the film describes its sensitivity to light in numbers such as 25, 50, 100, 200, 400, and 800. 200 speed film is twice as sensitive to light as 100 speed and four times more sensitive than 50 speed film. 200 speed film will expose twice as fast as 100 and four times faster than 50. Different speeds of film are used for various reasons that we will discuss soon. These four elements of exposure work together to produce a photograph. Light enters the camera through the aperture inside the lens. The shutter opens and then the film is exposed. In our quest to understand exposure, we must learn how each of these elements interacts with each other. We also must learn how to control each element to produce our desired result.
Note from the Author
This document was created as an educational tool. If you find this document useful, please support it by giving me feedback on it. This document may be distributed freely in an unmodified form. I encourage you to share this with your friends.
Thank you very much CJ and Craig! I like the diea of playing with one thing at a time. That will certainly help me keep things straight on camera and in my head - lol.
CJ - Thanks so much for that link! I am downloading the PDF of the full version. Great stuff!
Re: Pro Photographers?
I didn't read the other repiles, but here is my favorite:
NoBS Photosuccess. That site has really changed my life.
Re: Pro Photographers?
It appears that podcasts are becoming a major way of sharing information, and some provide both video and sound. I'm starting a new thread with some links to these because I think they can be a major help to people visiting this board.
So, Bojin, thanks for your original tip and link, and thanks for pointing us in a direction that leads to even more fun and learning.
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