Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Using light!!

My sister in law, Sandy, brought up some great suggestions for photo topics I could cover so I thought I would do a post about those. I was talking to my husband and it is really interesting to get his opinion on things because I've been doing photography so long that it is just second nature for me so I think that everyone knows this stuff, he kindly explained that no you don't so I will share some of my tips and tricks with you.

Lighting can make the difference between a good photo and a great photo. There are two ways that your camera takes in light. One is in time that is your shutter speed. That is how fast your camera takes the picture. 
Second is in how much light it lets in, that is your aperature. Aperature is the hole in your lens that looks like little overlapping leaves, the smaller the number the bigger the hole. So when you are using your digital camera and it says 2.8 on the screen, that is the size of the aperature. 1/60 is the shutter speed so you are taking a photo at 1/60 of a second. 

Most people just leave their camera on automatic because they don't really know what else to do with it. Let me explain a couple of the settings and what they are used for.

Most cameras have aperature priority. Usually it is an AV on your camera where you can change settings. Aperature priority means that you can control the aperature and then the camera will adjust the shutter speed so you get a correctly exposed shot. Why this is cool is because aperature has to do with how much light your camera lets in, light is also your image. If you have your aperature at a larger number like an 11 it gives you a sharp photo, if your aperature is at a small number like a 2.8 it will only have part of the image in focus, because of how big an opening it is, it is letting in so much light that the image is loose and not completely in focus. 

What all this stuff means. 
If you want a photo of something and you want the background fuzzy, use a smaller number on your aperature. It works even better if you aren't in bright light, like a nice morning light, that is how I do all my flower macro photos so the background is completely fuzzed out.

More tips
Say it is the afternoon and you need to take a photo of something but you don't want that harsh light. First, put your object or person in the shade or in a shadow, next get a big piece of white paper or something shiny like a car window shade, recruit someone to hold the paper and bounce light onto the object or person you are photographing. This will brighten up your subject without burning them out and it will still give a good overall exposure because the person is in the shade.

Thinking in Black and White.
When I did my undergrad in photography we didn't use digital cameras, we used black and white film on SLR cameras. After you do this for a while you can almost see the world in black and white and it gives you an understanding of the value scale. The value scale is the complete range from white to black including all the grays in between. When you take a photo of something you need to pay attention to the lighting, where are your bright whites and where are your shadows and do you have a full range in between, if it is very contrasty than it won't be as enjoyable similarly if it is just the grays in between with no solid whites or blacks then it won't feel complete.

So here is your challenge for the next week. On your camera see if you can change it to black and white. My point and shoot has a little symbol that looks kind of like a bell with off, v, bw, C listed. I picked BW and now I can shoot in black and white. Take 50 photos in black and white and look at them closely, look for ones that have a full range from complete black to pure white and compare those to the gray ones then you will see how it can effect your photos. Try it out and then email me at artsylasvegan@yahoo.com with your favorite one so I can post some photos next week of your shots. Have fun shooting!!


  1. Thanks for the tips, I had always wondered about that. I thought it all had to do with your photoshop program.

  2. You're welcome Kathy! Sorry I didn't have photos to go along with the instructions, it was too late in the day and I was getting a bunch of other stuff done. I'll try to post some cool black and white photos, you should definitely try it with your camera.

  3. Thank you mindy! I will probably read that over and over while I mess with my camera. Those are great tips! You really explained it so that those of us who don't know as much can understand. You're do talented and smart! Oh, and love the flower headband!!!! Sooooo cute!

  4. :) Thanks Sandy, I'll address your other questions on next week's photo day.


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