The photography is an easy hobby to start, but it offers untold depth to those who choose to enjoy and know the light for it. Photography is known as art performed through process “painting with light”. I acknowledge at the time of writing this article I am not yet an expert photographer but like to share some fundamental truths which I came across while learning and published for others benefit.
Everybody got camera as far I know in various forms of gadgets and even I took many photos since from my first camera phone to today’s dslr camera. The difference is normally every one including me at those time took snapshots not photographed images or in simple words took images without imiganation just click! Click… with no brainer till i got understanding of photograph which is pre processing image before capturing it, that’s just a little extra knowledge is all it takes to separate the real enthusiast from the occasional snapper. So let’s focus on the fundamental aspects of photography i.e. settings and features of DSLR’s.
DSLR camera got certain buttons which may vary from camera to camera below are demonstrated from my Nikon D750.
- The shutter button which is also known as shutter release button acts as small liverage to close and open the camera’s shutter, where sensor is exposed to light and light hits sensor traveling through the lens.
- By pressing shutter button half-way will activate the metering and lock the object autofocus, an excellent tool to focus on certain objects.
- When pressed, the shutter of the camera is “released”, so that it opens to capture a picture, and then closes, allowing an exposure time as determined by the shutter speed setting.
- Other than camera shutter there is also an remote shutter trigger on which camera can be fired via hand triggers, where Bluetooth or USB connections can be used to trigger shutter.
- Then the self-timer shutter trigger mode mainly built into the camera which is activated within camera settings which we discus later.
Most of the semi dslr and beginners dslr got popup flash which is controlled by camera based on metering in respect to situation.
- Flash can be used when there is too much light,
- Pop-up flash is a small (and often close) light source so diffusing light may not be good option, but when there is more light, a diffuser will come in handy keeping harsh shadows at bay.
- Flash helps to know the range. A pop-up flash is more limited compared to a hot shoe flash to light subjects which are around two and twelve feet distance from the camera.
- Pop-up flash may bring good photo but be mindful that some may see shadow in portrate image background which is distance between subject and background us too less which can be corrected by increasing distance between subject and background.
- Don’t blame flash but understand it’s modes and be familiar with it as there are hard light and soft light to control. One need to understand techniques as Diffuse it, Bouncing it, Use manual flash mode, Adjusting the distance, Moving the flash. Try various methods to suit your needs.
- Flash compensation in your camera can be used to adjust the power of the flash from camera to situation requirements, the advantage of flash compensation can be used is to match the ambient light by cutting down compensation.
- Manual flash mode from camera setting adjusts the output (intensity) of the flash, and you don’t need a hot shoe flash to do it. In the custom settings menu, look for an option called flash control.
- So pop-up flash can be dial in more or less power with flash compensation. A lower power is often helpful in outside situation: which creates a fill light that subtly lifts shadows.
We shall discuss these matter in-depth in future articles.
- Zoom rings enable motorized zoom that allows you to change the focal length in real-time as you shoot.
- The zoom lenses have a barrel ring that lets you adjust the angle of view. Which is also designed to rest the palm of your hand underside of the zoom ring some use the fingers on the right and thumb on the left for an easily adjustable grip.
- The Exposure Compensation button is a sort of manual override for automatic exposure.
- Which is used to alter exposure from the value selected by the camera, making photographs brighter or darker.
- Dark backdrops may lead to overexposure and light backdrops often mean an underexposed subject.
The greatest strength of an SLR or DSLR is the interchangeable-lens system yo suit Dx and Fx format cameras. Lenses come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, but they all have two primary functions:
- They provide an angle of view,
- Control the amount of light that enters the camera through an adjustable aperture.
- Option is, choose manual focus and use the focus ring on the lens, or set autofocus instead.
There are two main auto focus settings:
- With Single-servo AF (AF-S), the focus stops after locking on once – useful for focusing then recomposing.
- With Continuous-servo AF (AF-C), the focus engages continuously – useful for tracking a moving subject.
- A grid of focus points is visible in the viewfinder.
- When engaged, auto focus will snap onto the selected grid point.
- Move the focus point over your subject for precise focusing.
- Can choose focus point in Live View mode too.
- The viewfinder is one of the biggest reasons for choosing an SLR: rather than a digital representation of the scene
- which is what you get with most cameras
- it lets you see exactly what the lens sees, through a system of mirrors and prisms.
- It also displays vital camera settings.
- Live View is a digital display of the scene on the LCD, similar to viewfinder.
- Live View is handy when using a tripod as it gives you the breathing space to study a composition and ability to zoom into the subject with the zoom buttons to check your focusing is precise.
- The multi selector is the main control point for navigating menus, reviewing images and adjusting your focus point.
- DSLR’s have a lock switch to stop you making accidental changes while the camera is held to your eye.
Camera’s meter reads a scene to determine the correct amount of light for an exposure. Different metering modes read from different portions of the frame. For example, Matrix metering analyses the whole scene, while Spot reads from a single, narrow point.
This gives full control over aperture and shutter speed. Ideal for tricky lighting conditions where metering may falter.
Aperture Priority mode: You set the aperture, the camera chooses a shutter speed. Aperture priority is ideal for controlling the depth of field in a scene.
Shutter Priority mode: You choose a shutter speed, the camera sets the aperture. This mode is used for setting a very short or long exposure. Program mode: The camera sets the shutter speed and aperture, but you can shift the balance between them, and control other settings like ISO.
Daylight and artificial lights vary from warm yellow hues to cool blues. Our eyes adapt to the changes in colour, but cameras can’t. White balance settings ensure that an object that looks white to the eye is captured as white by the camera.
DSLR’s gives a choice of two file formats for your images: JPEG or Raw. JPEGs are more convenient, while Raw files require an extra step on the computer to process each image. If you want the best quality and greater tonal detail, Raw wins. Understanding exposure Control the three variables that make up an exposure.
This alters the size of the lens opening to allow more or less light through When we focus on a point in a scene, there will be an area in front and behind the point that also appears sharp. This is the depth of field. It can be expanded or contracted using the aperture, an adjustable opening in a lens that channels light through to the sensor. Aperture sizes are referred to as f-numbers, such as f/8. A wide aperture (eg f/2.8) lets in more light and produces a limited plane of focus (useful for blurring backgrounds or shooting in low light). A narrow aperture (eg f/16) restricts the light and records a greater expanse of sharpness.
This determines the length of time the sensor is exposed to light An exposure lasts for a certain length of time; that time is determined by the shutter speed. The shutter is a type of curtain that sits in front of the sensor and opens for the desired duration to allow light through. In combination with the aperture, the shutter speed lets you control the amount of light that enters the camera. Choosing a shutter speed is important when there is movement in the scene: you may want to use a fast shutter speed (like 1/1000 sec) to freeze the action, or a lower speed (1/4 sec, and usually a tripod) to deliberately blur the action and give a sense of motion. ISO This controls sensitivity to light A sensor is sensitive to the light that hits it. We can adjust the sensitivity (which is labelled ISO) to make the sensor require more or less light to capture a correctly exposed image. In lower light, increasing the ISO will mean that less light is required for a correct exposure. However, increased sensitivity comes at a price: visual ‘noise’, which degrades the image quality. At a lower sensitivity, like ISO100, the sensor requires more light but produces a higher-quality image with less noise. In general, wherever possible, use the lowest possible ISO for a given shot.
THE EXPOSURE TRIANGLE
Aperture, shutter speed and ISO work together in perfect harmony to produce the right amount of exposure, but the balance can be shifted to suit our needs… HOW IT WORKS Imagine that aperture, shutter speed, and ISO are three sides of a triangle. If we alter one element, then we have to compensate by adjusting at least one of the other two. For example, a wide aperture and a short shutter speed might produce the same exposure as a narrow aperture with a longer shutter speed, but the resulting images will be different. Widening the aperture allows more light through, so we compensate either with a short shutter speed to keep the capture of light brief, or a low ISO to make the sensor less sensitive to the light that hits it. The longer the shutter is open, the more light shines through. So to prevent overexposure, we compensate either by narrowing the aperture to reduce the input of light, or by lowering the ISO to make the sensor less sensitive to light. A narrow aperture restricts light and produces images with greater depth of field. Allowing less light in means you have to use slower shutter speeds, which require a tripod for sharp shots, or a higher ISO. Exposure according to the histogram The histogram function on a camera can tell us a lot about an image…
A PHOTO WITH LOW CONTRAST
The histogram displays dark pixels on the left, light ones to the right. With no pixels at either extreme of the tonal range here, the image lacks deep shadows or bright highlights and probably looks quite ‘flat’.
A PREDOMINANTLY DARK (LOW-KEY) IMAGE
A large peak to the left of the graph indicates lots of dark tones. If the graph intersects the left edge before returning to zero, it means there’s an undesirable loss of detail in the shadows.
A PREDOMINANTLY LIGHT (HIGH-KEY) IMAGE A graph weighted to the right indicates an image dominated by bright tones. If the peak touches the right edge, it means the highlights are ‘clipped’ to pure white, resulting in overexposure. Composition Arranging a scene’s elements into a harmonious composition is easy when you know how… THE RULE OF THIRDS Divide a scene into three and place subject(s) on the lines This is a classic technique that works well when the scene has a single, easily definable subject. Place the subject on one of the third lines in the image. Visually, this is more interesting than plonking it in the middle of the frame. For landscapes, place the horizon line on a third. Like all ‘rules’ of composition, don’t be afraid to break it if it leads to a more interesting image. FRAMES Look for natural frames within the frame Look for ways to surround the subject with natural frames. This helps to draw the eye in. The most obvious example is a door or window, but if we look around we’ll find there are lots of other things we can use, such as the branches of a tree or even the shape of a cloud. And the frame doesn’t necessarily need to be between us and the subject: it can be behind it.
Look for lines that point towards your subject Straight or bendy, you’ll find lines everywhere: roads, rivers, fences, walls, trees, skies… The viewer’s eye will naturally be drawn along the lines, so position the subject so the lines lead towards it. With portraits this is easy, as we can ask a person to move to create the perfect composition. With landscapes, though, you need to reposition yourself – possibly by miles!
Landscapes can benefit from details at the front This visual device is often used by landscape photographers. Framing a scene to include details in the foreground helps add interest and leads the eye towards the more distant details. Mossy river banks, clusters of flowers and textured rocks all work well. It’s a useful technique, but be wary of overuse – an arbitrary boulder in every landscape gets a bit boring. Essential gear Here’s what any fledgling photographer needs…
Aside from being more powerful than your camera’s pop-up flash, a flashgun can be swivelled to bounce off walls or ceilings, or fired off-camera to light your subject from any direction.
Lens-mounted filters offer a variety of effects. A polarizing filter intensifies colours and contrast; a neutral-density (ND) filter cuts out light; and an ‘ND grad’ (graduated) balances landscapes by darkening skies. 03 TRIPOD A robust tripod is one of the first pieces of kit any new photographer should buy. Being able to keep the camera still opens the door to slower shutter speeds, for a multitude of photographic effects.
As well as its sensor and features, the size and weight can make a big difference over years of ownership.
Warm, waterproof clothing is a must if you want to go on long photo shoots outside. 06 BACKPACK A good camera bag will last for years. Some prefer shoulder bags, others like backpacks. Think about how many lenses you want to carry and if there’s a fastener for your tripod.
One of the biggest advantages to owning a digital SLR is the interchangeable lens system, so gradually build up your collection of extra lenses. A quality lens is just as important as the camera body.
Memory cards are cheap, so grab yourself a couple of spare 16GB (or bigger) cards to ensure you’re never caught short of memory. If you plan on doing lots of High-speed Continuous shooting, look for cards with a write speed of at least 30MBps. Focal lengths and viewpoints Your choice of lens and angle of view affect your composition WIDE ANGLE Shorter lenses fit more of the scene in the frame The angle of view of a lens is determined by its focal length. Wide-angle lenses have a focal length of 24mm or below and let you fit more of a scene into the frame. They’re useful for shooting landscapes or architecture. But wide-angle lenses also exaggerate perspective and create distortion, which can be unflattering if you’re shooting people close-up.
Longer lenses get you closer to distant subjects A telephoto lens (anything above a focal length of 85mm) gives a tight angle of view. This enables you to zoom in to distant details or focus attention on a small portion of a scene. Backgrounds are also blurred when using a telephoto, because of the longer focal length. Longer lenses are generally more flattering for portraits as they tend to ‘flatten’ perspective. In landscape shots, they can isolate subjects.
ZOOM LENS OR PRIME?
Lenses can be divided into zooms and primes. Zooms offer a range of focal lengths, such as 18-55mm or 70-200mm. Primes offer a single or ‘fixed’ focal length, such as 50mm or 85mm (a favourite of portrait photographers). What primes lack in versatility, they typically make up for with greater sharpness and wider apertures. Very wide apertures make it possible to shoot in low light and give minimal depth of field, leading to beautiful background blur.
THE CROP FACTOR [APS-C]
Digital SLRs have either a full-frame sensor – so called because it matches the size of 35mm film – or an APS-C format sensor, which is slightly smaller (36 x 24mm vs 23.6 x 15.7mm). APS-C-based SLRs are also known as crop-sensor cameras. This is because the APS-C sensor only captures the centre portion of the frame seen by the lens, just as if the full-frame image had been cropped afterwards. Nikon APS-C sensors effectively zoom to 1.5x when compared to a full-frame sensor.
Nikon’s range of full-frame camera bodies and lenses are called FX, and the crop-sensor range is DX. FX lenses can be used on DX bodies, and while DX lenses can also be used on FX bodies, the image will be cropped to the DX format to prevent vignetting.
SENSORS AND DEPTH OF FIELD
As well as the angle of view, sensor size also has a bearing on depth of field. The larger the sensor size, the less depth of field because you typically use longer focal lengths. This is why cameras with small sensors, such as smartphones, find it harder to produce a shallow depth of field, and perform poorly in low light. And it’s also why large-format 5x4 cameras need apertures that stop down to f/64 for front-to-back sharpness.
Focal length numbers can be confusing, especially when you factor in the sensor size. Place a 50mm lens on a full-frame camera and the angle of view will be a traditional 50mm view – a spread of around 40 degrees. But put the same 50mm lens on a DSLR with an APS-C sized sensor and the angle of view will tighten to around 26 degrees, comparable to a 75mm focal length on a full-frame body. Choosing a sensor size Should you look for a full-frame or an APS-C sensor in your next camera? When you buy a new SLR, the big question is: full-frame or APS-C sensor? Pros mainly favour full-frame: they have better low-light performance; generally have a higher dynamic range; and give an accurate rendition of traditional focal lengths – so a 50mm lens acts just as it would with an old film camera. However, full-frame cameras are more expensive. APS-C sensors are more suited to beginners. APS-C cameras can be used with lenses designed for either sensor size. Your digital workflow The key steps, from pressing the shutter to printing the photo
SHOOT IN RAW
To get the best out of your camera, and to give yourself more of a safety net for exposure, set your camera to shoot in Raw format, or Raw and JPEG at the same time.
DOWNLOAD TO YOUR COMPUTER
Get yourself a memory card reader for convenience when downloading cards. Some software, such as Lightroom, can be set up to detect cards and begin downloading for you.
Computer hard disk drives are delicate and can fail at any time, so always store a backup of your images on an external hard drive. It’s a small extra outlay of time and money in exchange for peace of mind – and one day it might save your photos.
OPEN LIGHTROOM/ADOBE CAMERA RAW
You’ll need Raw processing software to enhance your images – Lightroom or Photoshop are ideal, or alternatively use the bundled Raw software that came with your camera.
SORT THE SET
A few minutes spent organizing, rating and keywording your images at the very start of the editing workflow will make it easier to find the set later. Over time you could take thousands of images, so stay organized right from the start.
ADJUST THE EXPOSURE
Choose an image to work on from the set, then take it into your photo editor. Begin by tweaking the exposure to lighten or darken the image.
FIX WHITE BALANCE
Adjust white balance settings to correct any colour casts. One of the big advantages to shooting in Raw is that you can change the white balance after the fact with no loss in image quality.
BOOST CONTRAST AND CLARITY
Raw files typically look a little flat at first, as manufacturers assume you will enhance them manually. A boost in contrast or increased clarity will often make for a punchier image.
BLACK & WHITE OR COLOUR?
Experiment with a black-and-white conversion if you think the image may benefit from removing the colour. If you choose colour, adjust the saturation and vibrance to boost weak hues.
If necessary, consider using lens correction tools to fix problems such as barrel distortion in wide-angle scenes or chromatic aberration – coloured fringes along high-contrast edges.
Raw processing is by nature non-destructive, as the original image is always preserved. So to apply any changes made, save it in a different common image format like JPEG or TIFF.
BOOKS, PRINTS & SOCIAL MEDIA
Too many images end up languishing on hard drives after you’ve gone through them. Take pride in your artwork and show it off by making prints or photo books, and by sharing your favourites on social media or websites.
- ANDY MCLAUGHLIN
- MICHAEL THE MAVEN
- GLEN (PHOTOGRAPHY INSTITUTION OF SYDNEY)