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Beginning Digital Photography



The basics of digital photography technology and what the beginner needs to know to expose and compose great pictures. Given as a workshop for Cornell's Campus Life in January 2010.

The basics of digital photography technology and what the beginner needs to know to expose and compose great pictures. Given as a workshop for Cornell's Campus Life in January 2010.



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Beginning Digital Photography Beginning Digital Photography Presentation Transcript

  • Beginning Digital Photography for Campus Life at Cornell Lynn Purdon Yenkey January 14, 2010 All photographs Copyright Lynn Purdon Yenkey
  • Intro & Overview
    • How much camera do I need?    (15 min) - camera options, megapixels, & storage media the casual photographer needs to make quality pictures
    • Upload pictures to the computer  (3 min) - camera cables vs. card readers
    • Edit pictures to crop, remove redeye, & more (15 min) - JPG compression (benefits and dangers) - demo of Picasa software for basic picture editing
    • Basic photography concepts (20 min) –composition, exposure, what to think about before you click
    • Q&A
    • Resources
  • Mega what?
    • Mega = million / pixel = light-capturing elements in a camera’s sensor
    • 2048×1536 sensor elements = 3,145,728 ~ 3.1 megapixels
    • Defines the primary resolution of photos
      • At the highest image quality setting
      • Use camera settings to lower resolution and save disk space
  • How many megapixels is enough?
    • What is the highest image quality you want to achieve? What do you want to do with your photos?
      • Web: use the lowest resolution: in camera or save a new version
      • Personal prints / home printer quality: average quality settings
      • Gift quality prints, cards, fine art: high quality
    • Cost: more resolution costs more, but less than it used to
      • Beware of too many megapixels packed into small sensors
    • Memory: shooting & storage
      • Get extra storage cards if you plan to shoot a lot
      • Faster cards mean faster shooting & downloading ( MB/s)
      • Archive ! External hard drives, DVDs, online storage companies
  • Storage Card Memory Examples http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/using/digitalphotography/expert/compactflash.mspx These numbers may vary by camera and assume using the highest quality image setting. How many images can you store on a memory card? How many will you shoot in an outing?
  • What size print can I make?
    • What is your starting resolution?
    • What is the output device?
      • Photo lab: 240-300 ppi
      • Home printer—varying resolution possibilities
  • Other features to consider
    • Get good optics—better lenses make better photos
      • Optical zoom is better than digital zoom
    • More controls mean more control
      • As your skills grow, you might prefer more control
    • Shutter lag: the best way to miss the moment
      • Compare and get the least you can find (measured in fractions of seconds)
      • Compensate by holding trigger half-way down to pre-focus and set exposure readings
    • Battery life. Carry extras!
  • Uploading Images
    • Camera software provided
    • Camera is just another drive
    • USB cable (drains camera battery)
    • Digital media drives
      • accommodate different card sizes
      • Upload faster than cables
  • File Compression & Color Format
    • JPEG: benefits and risks
      • Small, med, large in camera
      • “ Lossy” compression. Data is lost on each re-save.
      • Save a copy to edit & keep the original unchanged.
    • Color space:
      • sRBG for the Web—smallest color gamut. Some online printers now ask for sRGB.
      • Adobe RGB: bigger color gamut, use for prints
  • Picasa Demo
    • http://picasa.google.com
      • Organize images on your computer
      • Share images on web albums—public and private
      • Edit images
      • Order prints
      • Be creative: movies, collages,
      • Free!
  • Exposure’s Basic Ingredients
    • ISO controls sensor’s sensitivity to light
      • Higher #s for low light or fast action (ISO 400 & up)
      • Lower #s for bright daylight, blurring, finer quality
    • Aperture / f - stop
      • Controls volume of light reaching the sensor (like a faucet on high or low)
      • Controls depth of field—how much or little is in focus
    • Shutter speed
      • Controls how long light reaches the sensor
      • Controls appearance of movement—blurs or stops action
  • ISO
    • Controls sensor sensitivity to light
      • Next level up means twice as sensitive to light
      • High number = high light sensitivity
        • Enables faster shutter speeds or smaller apertures
        • Higher ISO adds noise (“graininess” in film)
        • ISO 400 typical for sports outside
        • ISO 1600 typical for low light
      • Low number = low sensitivity
        • Enables long shutter speeds or wider apertures
        • Use to intentionally blur or defocus background (DoF)
        • ISO 100 or 200 for bright daylight with slow-moving subjects or stills
  • Aperture
    • How much light enters the lens opening
    • Moving up or down one f -stop halves or doubles the lens opening (and the amount of light entering lens) f /2.8, f /4, f /5.6, f /8, f /11, f /16, etc.
    • Inverse of shutter speed—large aperture (smaller number) usually needs faster shutter speed
    • “ Aperture Priority” – Av or A mode
  • Aperture and Depth of Field
    • DoF is a defining characteristic of photography
    • Low f - stop = more light, less DoF High f - stop = less light, more DoF
      • f /2.8 ~ “wide open”: smaller DoF (less is in focus)
      • f /16: larger DoF: 2 ft to infinity in focus
    • Focus to create interest
      • get close and zoom or use macro
  • Using Depth of Field
    • Small apertures ( f # ) shorten the area of focus, create blurred backgrounds ( “Shallow depth of field”)
    • Centers attention on what is sharp.
  • Shutter Speed and Movement
    • Shutter speeds double (approx.) with each setting. 1 sec, ¼, ½, 1/8, 1/15, 1/30, 1/60, 1/125, 1/250, 1/500, 1/1000
    • Inverse of aperture— faster shutter speed needs wider aperture (smaller f number)
    • Do you want to show movement or stop action?
    • Low light needs longer time
    • “ Shutter Priority” – Tv mode
      • Shutter speed- based exposure
  • f /16 Rule
    • Bright daylight
    • Set shutter speed equal to ISO
      • ISO 200, then shutter is 1/200 – 1/250 sec
    • Aperture = f /16
    • Shift aperture + shutter up or down (inversely) to get the desired setting. For ex: 1/1000 sec @ f /8
  • Shutter Speed and Movement
    • Increase ISO to improve stop action or shoot in low light
    • Chances of blur increase with low shutter speeds
    • Pre-focus where you want to stop the action
    • Experiment with showing movement or stopping it
  • Composition: Rule of Thirds
    • A rule in visual arts to create balanced, interesting images
    • Divide the image into thirds vertically and horizontally.
    • Place the point of interest at one of the red intersections.
    • Place horizon lines at thirds, not in the middle.
    • Break the rule sometimes.
  • Rule of Thirds Careful composition improves even casual snapshots.
  • Lens Choices / Focal Length
    • How much do you want to show?
    • Wide angles
      • Appearance of a larger depth of field so more is in focus
      • Widest angles can distort corners
    • Normal
      • Similar view to what the human eye sees
    • Zoom/Telephoto
      • Compresses the subject and background
      • Appearance of shorter depth of field
      • Hand shake is also magnified, so you tend to require faster shutter speeds (& higher ISO)
  • Wide vs. Telephoto Can you see the giraffes?
  • Wide Angles Wide angles can distort what is closest to the lens Corner distortion, but overall effect OK
  • Change Your Point of View How do you really see the scene? What do you want the picture to make the viewer feel ?
  • Get Closer to Your Subjects
  • Be a lifelong photography student.
    • Think about what you want to come away with.
    • Get to know your camera.
    • Experiment—digital images are free, so experiment & learn from mistakes.
    • Give self-assignments: capture blur, mood in low light, fast action, different DoF… try something new!
    • Get close to your subjects. Move around!
    • Have fun!
  • Resources
    • Get Prints Online
    • www.mpix.com
    • www.kodakgallery.com or Kodak Kiosk in stores
    • www.picasa.google.com
    • www.walmart.com
    • http://photos.live.com
    • www.flickr.com
    • www.shutterfly.com
    • www.snapfish.com
    • Camera Review Sites
    • http://reviews.cnet.com/digital-camera-reviews
    • http://www.bestinclass.com/digital-cameras
    • http://www.dcresource.com/
    • http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/compare.asp
    • Exposure
    • http://digital-photography-school.com/blog/learning-exposure-in-digital-photography/
    • Megapixels
    • www.digicamguides.com/learn/megapixels.html – a good description of how mega you need to get
    • http://www.digicamguides.com/print/ppi-print-size.html – megapixels and printing
    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_camera#Image_resolution – a good description and table of different sensors and their resolutions
    • http://www.digicamguides.com/learn/digital-camera-terms.html – general digital & photo terms
    • Shutter Lag
    • These specs change, so please read latest manufacturer information.
    • www.cameras.co.uk/html/shutter-lag-comparisons.cfm
    • www.nytimes.com/2007/05/10/technology/10basics.html?_r=2&oref=slogin