Over the last few days, I have been learning how to use a digital camera in my course. So far, I have been taught a lot of things that I didn’t know before. One of the most important things being that photography is definitely not just the pointing and clicking of a smartphone camera that most of us have grown accustomed to, accentuated by the rise of applications such as Snapchat and Facebook.
ISO, Shutter Speed, and Aperture Size
There are three main factors, bar lenses, that contribute to how a picture comes out. ISO, which is the sensitivity of the light sensor that actually makes the picture of the world in front of it. Shutter Speed, which is the amount of time that passes between the shutter opening (to let light onto the aforementioned sensor) and closing. This can lead to very interesting visual effects, as I will outline below. Finally, Aperture Size controls the amount of light hitting the sensor, by increasing or decreasing the size of the hole through which light comes in.
Of course, the three options above are secondary to what a lens can do to a photograph, which is quite literally the eye of the camera. Four ones that I learned about that are quite widespread are the macro, telephoto, wide-angle, and fisheye lenses. The macro lens is used for very close pictures of an object, or to take a high definition photograph of a very small object. They tend to be very clear representations of the subject itself, but become very blurry as you move away from the point of focus. Next up is the telephoto lens. This is essentially a lens that prevents thousands of natural photographer deaths every year, due to the extreme amount of zoom they produce while still retaining incredible quality in the finished image. It’s used mostly to take pictures of things that the photographer can’t physically/safely approach, such as dangerous wild animals. Then there is the wide-angle lens. This is a very common lens that has a higher angle of view than a normal lens, hence producing a picture that takes in far more of the scene one wants to shoot. The last lens I learned about was the fisheye lens. It takes circular pictures with a high degree of distortion and a very wide angle. Its use is very limited, but it shines in cases where a realistic representation isn’t needed, but simply as much of a scene as possible.
Lenses need to be cleaned and maintained, and that’s where this category of accessories come in. These are often overlooked but are incredibly important in order to keep your high-end, several-hundred-euro-costing camera in working shape for a long time. First is the camera pen. It’s similar to a double-ended makeup brush, except with much softer tips that can be used to keep a lens fingerprint/dust/grease-free. The camera strap stops your, once again, very expensive piece of advanced technology from falling onto what’s probably the very hard ground underneath you. Camera bags are pretty basic, just being a bag that has a bit of extra padding. Finally, the lens cap. Countless movies in the olden days were ruined because somebody would forget to remove it while filming, but while that problem no longer exists due to most cameras having screens to show what’s being recorded, the lens cap is still necessary to cover the lens and protect its fragile exterior.
Types Of Photography
Finally, we’re delving into some less-technical concepts. We learned about four very popular styles of photography and one that is rapidly becoming mainstream. Light Painting is primarily a form of artistic expression where a person ”paints” using a bright light source such as a flashlight. This is achieved by setting the camera to have an extremely slow shutter speed, which causes the source to leave streaks, which can be organised into words or simple pictures. Long Exposure photography is a similar concept, except it uses the world to paint the lines instead of having a person do it. An example would be taking pictures of highways at dusk, where the cars leave behind very long, very colourful lines on the roads. Timelapse photography involves taking pictures every ~30 seconds for a prolonged amount of time, and then blending them together to create the illusion of motion. Stop Motion is when you take pictures of the an object/scene, but introduce little changes every time and then string the photos together to create the illusion of motion, once again. Finally, Drone photography involves taking pictures from a remote-controlled drone, very useful for high-speed sports that require shots from every conceivable angle.
Our Photography Session
To better retain this information, we applied these effects in practice. We experimented with exposure in order to get some visually interesting photographs in which I was the subject, while my friend worked the camera or applied light paint, as seen below:
Here, I attempt to recreate Leonardo Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man. I switched between two positions and held them for a few seconds each. While my arms are a bit more blurry than what we wanted, we still like the results.
A fellow student worked the camera while my friend stood behind me (you can clearly see the blur of his arm) and used light painting with his phone torch to give me two bunny ears.
Infinity Times Three
This was our favourite photograph, and you may have noticed it’s also the header image for this post. My friend drew an infinity symbol (quite legibly) behind me, while I stood in each of the three different positions for a few seconds.
There were a lot more photographs and scenarios involved, but only these three really made the cut. The rest were either blurry, had visually unappealing effects, or were simply just plain boring. I enjoyed the session a lot more than expected, and hopefully I’ll be able to apply this knowledge in real situations that come up in the future.