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Portrait of a Young Man as The Artist
Oh man do I love good vacation. I could get accustomed to two day work weeks, Mondays and Fridays.

SO! I took some shots last night when my batteries were all juiced up. Can I tell you at how sleek the shutter action is, how I marvel at the sound of a taken shot, how amazing I feel looking through the viewfinder? It is like coming home. It feels right to hold it. It feels like I regained something with the few images I took last evening.

Can I tell you how many new settings I have to learn?!? Good god. I figured out how to change the WB and ISO without using the interactive menus. I have a vague notion how to change the aperture and shutter speeds, depending on program setting, without the menu. But lord, I can't get it in my skull exactly what they do. I mean, I've read about f-stop, aperture, shutter speeds etc and know what they do mechanically but these sites don't really suggest what this does to your images.

So... large f numbers mean a smaller opening which lets less light through to the exposure receptor. The smaller the opening the longer the depth of field, meaning objects appear in focus further away from the camera than at larger apertures. This doesn't really make much sense to me but I believe it has to do with how the light bends through the smaller aperture. I think what aperture comes down to practically is the smaller the aperture (larger f number) means a deeper image. Depending on how important the background is, I should decrease the aperture (increase the f number) accordingly. I think... ultimately there's more to it creatively but I'm just trying to get it straight in my head for the moment.

Now.. shutter speed is pretty easy on it's own. More exposure at slower speeds, less at faster. When motion is involved, faster shutter speeds will result in less blur in the picture. Also, faster speeds are better for images that will be blown up for similar reasons.

Now there is some linkage between shutter speeds and aperture that is still mud in my brain. Clearly, the amount of light getting to the exposure plate is important but understanding the effects of aperture plus shutter speed is probably less quantifiable and must be qualitative. Meaning, I'll understand better as I play with it. Were I to postulate, I think i should avoid longer shutter speeds and lower f numbers (larger aperture). This would result in washed out images - too much light getting in. Longer shutter speeds at higher f numbers would be better for macro shots, allowing more exposure (and increased detail capturing?) and greater clarity/depth of field for night shots. I think... maybe... So, in general a medium sized aperture and a faster shutter speed is more useful for regular shooting, with minor adjustments for lighting - less lighting means a slower shutter unless I don't want as much background clarity, in which case I open the aperture.

Ok, that makes logical sense.... If any of you could explain it better in an end-result fashion, I'm all eyes.

In other news news:
Interesting article on regenerative abilities of the brain, nabbed from porphyre.

PS: I have bday chocolates on my desk. mm. Candinas.
I also got a nifty gift certificate good at every State St shop and restaurant for refering suburbaknght to Epic.

Tags: , ,
Current Mood: cheerful cheerful

28 comments or Leave a comment
smed From: smed Date: July 7th, 2006 02:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
I am right where you are - learning.
While my camera doesn't have all the fancy options yours does, I do have a nice manual mode where I can mess with the fstop and shutter speed. It's resulted in some enjoyable shots and some real learning experiences. I completely missed some awesome shots last night because the fstop was too high. Curses!
So keep posting what you've learned. :) I will feed off your brain.
abmann From: abmann Date: July 7th, 2006 02:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
You could share your experiences with those settings too, you know. Give me something to consider.
smed From: smed Date: July 7th, 2006 02:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
I can certainly do that. On the condition that you will look, comment, and offer constructive critism, advice, etc.

Know of any good photo managing software? A good place to serve pictures? Some place that would just display all the settings for me?

What is ISO? WB? I shall google it. Which is officially a word now.

I keep dropping my cereal!
abmann From: abmann Date: July 7th, 2006 02:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wait, you'll only do something that could benfit others if I promise to comment? No, I'm not going to promise that. You should post that stuff because you want to post it.

I don't know any managing software, which I'm guessing is like something to organize your stuff. I know that iPhoto on every Mac is pretty good if you take the time to set up photobooks.

As for serving, do you mean something like flickr? I just use LJ's Scrapbook which has a pretty nice interface but isn't customiable. I know that alyska uses a free utility to display her photos which is pretty to use and fairly easy to set up. but you'll need webspace for it.

ISO is the digital equivalent to film sensitivity. The higher the number the easier it is to "expose" an image. however, the higher the ISO the more likely yo will see noise on the film. I usually shoot at the lowest ISO possible. Pictures are a bit darker but I like that and the brightness can be easly adjusted in post.

WB is white balance is color temperature in a picture. "Hotter" temperature, higher numbers, adjust the temperature towards the blue range. "Colder" towards red hues.
aetrix9 From: aetrix9 Date: July 7th, 2006 02:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
abmann From: abmann Date: July 7th, 2006 03:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah. Saw that. Want. Certainly will be part of the package I buy when I get a Macbook in the coming year.
ralinad From: ralinad Date: July 7th, 2006 03:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
Actually, I've heard awful things about aperture. Slow, cumbersome, etc. Find some reviews before you buy it.

I tend to use the adobe suite - mostly adobe bridge to manage photos, and I just keep them in directories by date on the drive, so you can open them up in any program you choose to try out. You'll skip importing them into iPhoto, which I find annoying.

To each his own, though.
abmann From: abmann Date: July 7th, 2006 03:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
I assume Aperture will be better by the time I buy a Macbook. I'm waiting for at least the second generation.

Currently, I have my own haphazard way of organizing my photos. I should probably design a better system.
ralinad From: ralinad Date: July 7th, 2006 03:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
Personally I put them in directores with a date and subject in the name, year first so they stay in order -

Example: 2006-06-14 party at blahblah

Those are then kept in directories until they reach about 4.5gb or so, then I start a new one. Each can be backed-up to a DVD then, and the numbers correspond. This has worked well for about 7 years now.

I back up each directory to 2 DVDs, I keep one set at home and one at work. I color-code those green, as in "safe"

The directories that I'm still putting photos into I color code red, as in "not safe". I try to keep a duplicate copy of each on an external HD, so if anything fails, if there is a fire, etc, I always have a backup. For cheap.

Your mileage my vary.
smed From: smed Date: July 7th, 2006 04:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
You are obviously very concerned with you picture safety. I can't say I blame you. Although I only back mine up on an external HD. Not DVD burner. Might be worth it though.... hmmm...

I must say though - great idea of adding the subject to the date. I already download into folders by shooting date, but going through and adding a subject, while time consuming, may be worth while.
Damn... it would be spectacular to have a program that would tag things similar to LJ.
I wonder if Picasa does that... I just started playing with it...
sorry, I'm rambling on your comment... I'll go get a tissue.
smed From: smed Date: July 7th, 2006 04:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
I didn't ask for a promise.
Fine, I'll do it.

I've been meaning too... once everything slows down... gah! will it ever?

Yeah, I just noticed a friend of mine has a gallery that fills in all the information - what type of camera, ISO, fstop, etc. I would much prefer having something that would say "here's all the techincal crap filled in, now you add your comments."
I'm lazy. Like YOU!

Thanks for the information.
lady_fox From: lady_fox Date: July 7th, 2006 02:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yay, Chocolate and gift certificates!!

abmann From: abmann Date: July 7th, 2006 02:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah... the gift certificate amounts to half the cost of the flash I want. :) And it looks like The Camera Co. will accept it.
I'm surprised and pleased.
lady_fox From: lady_fox Date: July 7th, 2006 02:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow. So, that means you're getting it next Saturday when my mom's in town, right? :)
abmann From: abmann Date: July 7th, 2006 03:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
lady_fox From: lady_fox Date: July 7th, 2006 03:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
*grin* That'd be cool.
abmann From: abmann Date: July 7th, 2006 03:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
Why? You want me to spend gross amounts of money in front of your mother? :)
lady_fox From: lady_fox Date: July 7th, 2006 03:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
Um... I want you to be able to take amazing pictures of our visit. :)
ralinad From: ralinad Date: July 7th, 2006 02:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ack. How to explain this quickly... there must be a site out there somewhere.

Just to start, here is a way I've explained these before, that seemed to work:

Lets say you want to take a picture in low light (disregarding depth-of-field) - you have three things that will allow your camera to work faster in that situation (without using a flash)

1 - Shutter speed. Leave it open longer, but things get blurrier. Either by your subject's movement or your own.
2 - Aperture - lower numbers=wider opening. This is one of the advantages of more expensive lenses, they tend to go to a lower number (many stock lenses stop at 3.5, there will be a big price jump to get a 2.8, for example. This will be the maximum opening at the widest zoom setting - they may let less light in when zoomed in.
3 - ISO setting. This mimics film speeds - higher numbers will need less light to work, at the expense of adding grain to your photos. There is software out there like noise ninja can help to remove some, but it will still be there.

These things are less of an issue in bright light, and they become more apparent in my mind in low light situations - so thats probably a good place to experiment and test out settings. Reading is no replacement for trying it.

Other random quick things to help you get started. I can explain further, but I'm trying to keep it simple for starters -

You always have choices. Thats the cool thing - you get to decide what you want. Aperture and shutter speed work in tandem to produce your image. Depending on what you're trying to accomplish, the aperture-priority and shutter-priority modes are excellent - you can choose what you want, and your camera will adjust the other setting to produce an acceptable exposure. That, and they're MUCH quicker to use than full-manual in those situations where you want to get a picture quickly. Like most of them.

Aperture - Smaller apertures (higher numbers) will result in longer depth-of-field. The problem is that your camera really needs to be steady, like on a tripod or the ground, to use the really small ones like f/22. The exposure time will have to be longer at a smaller aperture to let in the same amount of light. Personally, I like to play with a short depth of field, and thats one of the advantages of getting a dSLR. The little handheld point-and-shoots don't often have the ability to shorten it, but can have a long one easily if you want that.

Your camera will take its clearest pictures at mid-range apertures, like f/8.

Shutter speed - When you get to slower ones, the shake from your own hand will create blur below 1/30-1/40 or so. You can always brace it against a pole, your chest, the ground or whatever you can find to go lower. Be aware of your subject's movement as well, as that can create blur too.

Your flash is a wonderful thing if you learn to use it well - like in bright sunlight. Notice the shadows that show up on faces and under hats in the bright sun - it can help to fill those in without really changing any other settings.

Hopefully thats a few little tidbits to get you started. There is a great book called "understanding exposure" that is pretty good at explaining this with photo examples.
abmann From: abmann Date: July 7th, 2006 02:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
Awesome. Thanks.

Yeah, the shaky hand thiog is bad. I'm going to be playing with brcing tonight while i'm shooting. Should be interesting.

Also, why the hell do they invert the f numbers? Larger numbers should correspond to larger apertures, even if it's an arbitrary number assignment. i know that the jumps between numbers corresponds to an exaxct doudling of the light let in; I just think they could have made a more useful convention that did the same thing but corellated the numbers to epected "size."

Photos seem to be better at a low ISO. It isn't often that I used a higher ISO, especially in lower lights. Low lighting plus high ISO almost always shows grain in the photos. I'm glad I can change aperture adn shuttter speeds now. Much better. :)

I need to get a tripod soon.. And a better flash. The onboard flash is pretty crappy. Luckily, the gift certificate I will be getting sono covers half the cost of the better flash Nikon produices. Hooray!
ralinad From: ralinad Date: July 7th, 2006 03:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
I honestly don't know where the aperture numbers come from - thats something I should look up.

Photos are clearer at low ISO, yes. Bear in mind you have the option to go up though, especially in very low-light situations where you don't want to use a flash. Also, test out how much grain it really puts in. Mine, I can go up to about ISO 400 without it adding that much. A lot more is there at 800 and 1600, but noise ninja will take care of a good amount of it. Just test it out so you know what your options are - and its going to do a lot better than your old camera at the higher ISO settings.

Good luck!

aetrix9 From: aetrix9 Date: July 7th, 2006 02:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
One of the things that I read about in a photo magazine a while ago is their way of testing out cameras. They setup a chalkboard (something rewritable and non-reflective) in three scenarios - indoors low-light, indoors bright-light, outdoors full-sun. Then they write the different camera settings on the chalkboard and take a picture. So you work through the aperatures (smallest, middle, max) then the different shutter speeds all the while taking the same identical picture.
lady_fox From: lady_fox Date: July 7th, 2006 02:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
That's cool.
abmann From: abmann Date: July 7th, 2006 03:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
Very clever.
aetrix9 From: aetrix9 Date: July 7th, 2006 03:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
Aaw... No "Clever Girl" icon? Man!
abmann From: abmann Date: July 7th, 2006 03:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
smed From: smed Date: July 7th, 2006 04:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
Excellent idea!

And when I think about it more... even more excellent idea. I'm glad you shared!
From: thegelf Date: July 8th, 2006 07:01 am (UTC) (Link)
My best advice is to look into photo classes at a school/community center. Find one that requires a fully manual SLR and claims to cover both technique and technical details.

F-Stop numbers increase because they are the ratio between depth of field and aperture size. Deep depth of field/small aperture = large number.
Something useful I remember from my high school class is closing your aperture one stop is equivalent light-wise to going to the next fastest shutter speed. You can use this to figure out exposure times in low light settings when you want to shoot with a smaller aperture but don't have enough light to meter with the smaller aperture.
Grain is part of photography. In some cases, I like the grainy look. I'm not sure what the technical reason for grain in digital photography is, but in film photography faster film has larger grains of silver in the emulsion (larger grains expose faster, making the film faster), meaning when developed the film is grainier. Developing the film warm and fast also causes grain, and you can reduce grain in film by developing cool and slow. Not that you needed to know that :-P.

A large aperture can be useful in composing photos. If there's nothing in the environment to bring focus to your focal point (converging lines, strong contrast, frame within a frame) you can set a faster shutter speed and larger aperture to blur the background so it distracts less from what you're focusing on.

Also you might want to play with the flash and motion and longer shutter speeds. You can get some really neat drag effects.
28 comments or Leave a comment