"technique"

Controlling the Camera’s Shutter Speed: Lesson 5

The shutter speed you select controls how long the camera’s shutter is open letting in light and making the picture.

Why should you learn how to control the shutter speed?
  1. Be able to set a shutter speed high enough not to get blurry pictures at low light levels
  2. Be able to create all kinds of pictures that show movement.

Camera Mode to use: Tv (time value) – controls the shutter speed


In your camera, the shutter speeds looks something like this: 1/60 (the shutter is open for one sixtieth of a second), or this: 1/200 (the shutter is open for one two hundredth of a second), etc.

Regularly, the goal when taking pictures is to freeze a moment in time forever. If the room is dark or the lights are dim, the camera will often set a slow shutter speed, motion will not be frozen, and you will be left with a blurry picture and only a mental picture of how cute baby Anna Marie or little Timmy looked.

There are two types of motion that have to be compensated for: your shaking hands and the movement of your subjects.

For shaking hands – and everybody’s hands shake at least a little! – If your camera has something called IS (Canon), VR (Nikon), or OS (Sigma), use it!

Image Stabilization (IS) or Vibration Reduction (VR) or whatever you want to call it (!) is very helpful in compensating for small jiggles on your part, but does nothing to fix the blur of your dog dashing towards you or any other movement in the scene apart from your movement. Bracing your hands or camera against something solid or using a tripod also helps reduce or eliminate blurriness from your hand movements.  Remember that what is needed to fix the blur of a dog running past you is a high shutter speed.



I’m sure you’ve all seen pictures of water – rushing through rocks, and in streams, rivers and waterfalls. When photographing water, you have a choice to make. Either pick a high shutter speed (1/2000 of a second) and capture each water droplet as it is sprayed into the air, freezing the moment, OR pick a slow shutter speed (1/2 to 2 seconds depending on how fast the water is flowing) and capture the silky smooth, painterly motion of the water.

For these fun shots, the girl or boy had to stand VERY still for several seconds and then duck out of the picture quickly at my signal for the rest of the exposure time (the camera was on a tripod). The effect turns out different every time! (If needed, the faces can be lit with a weak flash light from off to the side of the camera, but be careful not to hurt their eyes!) I took these pictures several years ago when I was first learning to control my shutter speed. :) 



In this photo, I wanted to take a picture of this tiny toy in a dramatic way. The problem: it was dark and it was evening. So, I picked up a flashlight and BAM! I had dramatic lighting. All I had to do was set the camera on a solid surface, set the 2 second delay timer, and keep the flashlight shining on the truck. The shutter speed was 1/8 second. One other important point: Remember to set the exposure compensation if you’re taking a picture of a dark scene and don’t want the blacks to end up as grays. Here, I set my exposure compensation to -1.

An Interesting Thought:

When taking a picture...
A small aperture number and a shorter shutter speed = A big aperture number and a longer shutter speed

Some general guidelines:

  1. Check your pictures for blur, especially indoors or at twilight. If they’re blurry, boost the shutter speed!
  2. If you have very steady hands, you’ll be able to handhold your camera at much slower shutter speeds than those whose hands aren't super steady. Experiment to find out how low you can go while still getting crystal clear pictures. Keep in mind that when you are excited or rushed, you may have to set the shutter speed higher.
  3. If you can, a minimum shutter speed of 1/500 of a second is a good shutter speed to start with for freezing action. Even 1/500 doesn’t stop all action! Sometimes I have to set a shutter speed of 1/2000 of a second or even 1/4000 of a second!
  4. It’s always best to err on the safe side and choose a higher shutter speed than you think is needed (if the lighting is bright enough for you to have that option!). Better safe than sorry!


Assignment:


Go out and test your knowledge! Don’t be afraid to try anything! (We learn by making mistakes -  sometimes I wish that wasn’t so true!)

So many creative possibilities open up once you’ve learned how to control the shutter speed. I can’t even begin to cover them here. See ya later!

Have a marvelous day!

~ Laura

"And the angel answered and said unto the women, 
Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. 
He is not here: for he is risen, as he said.”
Matthew 28:5-6a

I hope you all had a meaningful Resurrection Sunday!

Understanding Apertures: Lesson 4

First, set your camera mode to Av (Aperture Value) so that you can take control of the aperture rather than letting the camera make your creative decisions.

A Definition: 

Your camera lens' aperture = an adjustable opening in the camera that limits the amount of light passing through a lens

A large aperture number such as f/16 or f/22 = a large part of the scene in focus (a large depth of field)
A large aperture number lets in less light.

A small aperture number like f/2.8 or f/4 = a small part or small slice of the scene in focus (a small depth of field)
A small aperture number lets in more light. Pick a smaller aperture number when you are inside or when it is dark. By picking a small number, you will let in more light and be able to take better pictures in dim lighting conditions.
A small aperture number is a way to simplify or isolate your subject.

“If you get confused with the f-stop numbers, try to remember that the bigger the number, the bigger the amount of focus, and the smaller the number, the smaller the amount of focus.”
 – Mike Moats

Do you want everything sharp and filled with detail - from the foreground to the background? 
Pick a big aperture number like I did in the picture below.


Is the background of your picture "busy" or cluttered, meaning that it has lots of distracting elements?
Choose a small aperture number for a small depth of field (a small amount of the picture sharp) 
to focus attention on the subject.
This photo was made using a small aperture number.

Choose where people's eyes will go in the picture by using a small aperture number. 
What is the focus of the image?
Here I chose to focus on the hot sauce bottle and let the boy go out of focus. 

How to choose which aperture to use:


  • What are you trying to convey?
  • Does the background add to the picture or does it detract from the subject?

Assignment:


Find 3 different scenes or subjects. For each one, take a picture at your camera's smallest aperture number, biggest aperture number, and middle aperture number. Study the differences between the pictures in each set.
Not seeing much difference? Set the camera's smallest aperture number and focus on an object very close to your camera lens. Take a picture. Now, set the camera to the highest aperture number. Keep the camera in the same place and keep the focus on the same object. Take a second picture.


"Repeat shooting the same images at different apertures each time you go out. Little by little, you will become comfortable at the different f-stops and be able to recognize and take advantage of opportunities that are better suited to one style or the other.” – Alan L. Detrick



"Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High: And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me."
Psalm 50:14-15



Exposure Compensation, Flash Compensation and the Camera Manual - Lesson 3

In the last two lessons and the next four, we are working to construct a solid base of camera knowledge to build on in the lessons following this group of six. Then we can concentrate on maximizing our creativity. As always, we must learn the basics first to have the most fun (and the easiest journey!) later.

Lesson 3

Today we’ll cover 3 things: Exposure Compensation, Flash Exposure Compensation, and the camera manual. If you don’t think these subjects sound fascinating, keep reading anyway. The information in this lesson is another important building block on the road to success!


Exposure Compensation:

I use this setting all the time except in Manual mode. It is one of the most useful settings on my camera. Exposure Compensation is used to make a picture brighter or darker than the camera “thinks” it should be. 

Why do we need this setting? After all, the camera is smart, isn’t it? 
Here’s why: 
The camera tries to make everything a medium tone. (It’s called 18% gray, for those who like specifics.J) The camera doesn’t like bright white – it tries to make bright white things (like snow) a dirty gray.  

 The snow looks much better when Exposure Compensation is used!

 The camera doesn't like deep, dark things (like black kittens) either – it tries to make black things too light.

 Here again, using Exposure Compensation for this image saves the day.
Without a brain, the camera doesn’t know that the kitten is black, not gray and that snow, white walls, and white paper are white and not gray. This is why you have to step in and help the camera.

Exposure Compensation is usually designated by a button or a function with a plus and minus (+/-) symbol. Press the button or select the function and you should see something like this:
-2 . . 1 . . 0 . . 1 . . +2
l
Move the little line marker under the diagram to the left to make your picture turn out darker. Move the line over to the right to make your whites whiter. (Check the camera manual if you’re having trouble figuring out how to do this.)


Flash Exposure Compensation:

Flash Exposure Compensation has the same idea behind it as Exposure Compensation with the only difference being that Flash  Exposure Compensation relates to the flash output but Exposure Compensation relates to the exposure, no matter if the flash is used or not. 

By using Flash Exposure Compensation when you use the camera’s flash, you can control how bright the flash is (how much light it puts out). If you move the Flash Compensation mark over to the left to somewhere around -1, the flash photo won’t have the ugly, un-natural flash highlights that plague photographers. 

Each situation is different. Through practice, you will figure out how to set the Flash Compensation to best create the needed fill light in the picture and not end up with glaring or blown-out highlights on the subject and harsh, black shadows in the background as in the picture below.

The secret to beautiful flash photography is to balance the flash with the ambient light in the room.


Flash is very useful outside also! In some of the future lessons, I'll explain how to make many kinds of exciting photos using your camera flash outside and inside.


A review:

  • Flash often looks ugly if it isn't used properly.
  • Use Flash Exposure Compensation so flash doesn't overpower natural light
  • Look for a plus and minus symbol with a lightning strike beside it – this is where to control the flash.
  • Try starting at -1 for the Flash Exposure Compensation, but don’t be afraid to experiment to find the best setting for each circumstance.


The Camera Manual

Guess what! It’s high time you read and understood your camera manual.

How to do it:
  • One chapter a day – take it slowly, but get all the way through it. Yes, it’s boring! But it is worth it.
  • Review the manual once a year.
  • Make sure you know how to use everything on your camera. If you don’t know what it’s for, look it up in the manual!
  • If you’re stuck, I’ll explain anything you don’t understand!
  • Practice what you learn until the technical side of photography is second nature. This way you can concentrate on capturing the moments and translate your feelings into pictures.
  • I encourage you to set a goal of spending time each week with your camera. You will become a better photographer.

"In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, 
and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins."
1 John 4:9-10