Saturday’s inaugural session of ‘Conquering the Camera’ rolled out beautifully. With four keen participants armed with lots of questions we covered some serious ground. I sent out a survey prior to the session to guage their current knowledge. Across the board I could see the need for everyone to gain confidence in handling their camera in manual mode!! This means that for all the options you get on your digital SLR on the dial usually placed at the top of the left….you pick M so you are in control…a bit like getting into a car that only works on Manual setting, you know, one of those kinds with the stick shift. If you want to drive the car, you’re gonna have to learn how to manage the gears. Conquer the gears, and you’ll conquer your camera.
I flicked out a follow up text to my lovely group, partly to check they weren’t freaking out and secondly to check that I supplied the right coffee suitable to everyone’s taste…the coffee part I got right…and the seminar bit too, yay! Here are some comment grabs:
‘… Thank you so much for the lesson today – it was great – you explained a complex subject in ways that made sense to me as a beginner and yet also provided the more experienced members with lots of aha moments. I am very much looking forward to the next session……Thanks Beth! I thought it was great, interesting mix of subjects and people. Looking forward to The Assignment 🙂 … Thanks Beth, today was fantastic, I really enjoyed your guidance and prepared material. I think the group came up with some fantastic questions and I especially enjoyed the analysis of the various images after we had started to get a better grasp on the aperture/shutter speed/ISO relationship and the histogram…’
(yes, a histogram did come out, I know, it’s about as dry as a piece of toast left out on the bench for half a morning, but it has to be done).
In the coming days I will post up three assignments that will get you started. I encourage full manual mode on your camera so we’re not going to complicate things using aperture or shutting priority modes…just MANUAL!!! (Can you tell I like using manual mode on my camera? Won’t even touch auto focus, no way!)
OK, photographers, here is your first assignment:
Assignment #1 ISO
In a decently lit room or shady area outdoors, set your camera to ISO 200. Select your subject to take a picture of, focus, take a meter reading. In my case here I’m capturing a scintillating still life of some silverware sitting on the dining room table. The first reading at ISO 200 gives me an exposure of 1/30 at F2.8. Take the picture.
Then raise your ISO to 400, and take another reading. Leave your aperture alone and observe the change in the camera’s suggestion for shutter speed. You will notice that with just changing the ISO, that the camera is now twice as sensitive to light as it was, so it should now be telling you that at 1/30 at F2.8 (in my example) I will be overexposing the scene by one full stop. Everything works together in doubles and halves, so to compensate, I increase my shutter speed to 1/60 second. Observe that the picture looks exactly the same to the naked eye, if we zoomed right in we might find a change in the pixilation: The higher the ISO, the grainier the image will become. I’m using a pretty decent camera (well, a freakin’ good one actually) and ISO grain doesn’t begin to really show at all until I go over ISO 1600, so it’s hard for me to demonstrate digital noise on the lower ISO settings. Lower end cameras will start to show at ISO 800 or so.
Then raise your ISO to 800, and repeat the same steps. In my case the camera observed another full stop change in ISO (because I doubled it’s responsiveness to light by 1 full stop from ISO 400 to ISO 800), so I need to compensate once again with one full stop, so I made the shutter speed one stop faster, at 1/125 second. Once again, the picture looks the same but if we zoom in close, we should find a change in pixilation, or digital noise (in old romantic film days we called it grain).
So, grab your camera and play around with ISO. Keep your camera on manual, manual focus, manual changes in aperture and shutter speed. Get used to the physical mechanisms and what they mean for your image. Keep a set of three images for me to see how this worked out for you for our follow up session on Sunday 4th July.
If you’re having problems with this, then drop me a comment here for the benefit of everyone and I’ll reply to it here, happy to help.
If you would like to join up to the second part of our seminar series, then you are welcome to:
Email to reserve your spot: firstname.lastname@example.org
Pay over the phone by credit card: 0450 692 599
Download and print out this form, pay by credit card or EFT and send to: PO Box 4015 Kingston ACT 2604.
In Seminar 2 I will recap on this process of controlling your camera in manual mode in terms of ISO, aperture and shutter speed settings. We will look more closely at metering light in a variety of different lighting situations, as well as controlling it (ie, adding and subtracting light to get the image we want).
Stay tuned for Assignment 2!!