The Guildford Institute DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY FOR BEGINNERS Thursday 27th September 2012 10 am - 4pm Tutor: Mike SleighPhotographer at Polypodphoto & AssociatePhotographer at Surrey Heritage Photography
A one day course aimed at those who have a basic digital cameraand wish to know how to use it and capture good photographs.
“Now anyone can be a Photographer...” The advent of digital photography and reasonablypriced digital cameras giving good quality images has seen a major take up by people who may not in the past have used a camera on a regular basis mainly due to the cost of film and processing. The ability to see and review what has just been taken has made photography a lot easier without incurring any cost - just reshoot or delete as necessary.
Digital Camera OverviewDigital cameras: types of digital camera available, their plus points and their limitations; other considerations and how to achieve good results.
Any digital camera, even the most basic, can capture an image suitable for use on the internet. It’s not the resolution/file size that is a problem but the limitation of what the camera can do – fine under good lightingconditions but not so good if taking photos indoors, under adverse lighting or where the subject is moving.The better the camera the more opportunities there are of getting an excellent image but it usually also requires the person taking the photo to have a ‘good eye’ - technical aspects of the image OK but poor visual awareness (some people just can’t see things in a creative way!).
A lot of the benefits of digital photography reply on post capture computer processing using Photoshop or similar software, unlike film whereonce the shutter button is pressed further options are limited and usually involve time consuming darkroom work.Digitally processing and enhancing an image does take time and requires an understanding of thesoftware but in many cases the original ex camera image can be used without enhancement but itmay still be necessary to adjust the resolution/file size for its required end use.
Types of Camera available: Camera Phones Compact Camera and Advanced Compact CamerasSmall, light, easy to carry around. Usually fully automatic with some control over the image settings. Bridge and Compact System Cameras (CSC) Between point & shoot cameras and Single Lens Reflex (SLR). Smaller and lighter than SLR’s yet offering comparable power, image quality and creative control. Interchangeable lenses on CSC . Single Lens Reflex (SLR) Complete control over image capture.Able to see through the lens for precise framing and composition. Interchangeable lenses
Camera Uses: Camera phones: Probably only good enough for web use and on screen viewing, are limited when it comes to producing good quality prints. Compact cameras:Use for ‘snaps’ and basic photography under good lighting conditions and where the subject is not moving quickly. Image/file size suitable for the web and for prints up to 7x5”. Camera limitations – unable to see precisely whatyou are taking due to LCD screen on back of camera, littlecreative control, focusing/exposure time lag, small file size on low end cameras.
Camera Uses: Compact System Cameras:Use for ‘snaps’ and more creative situations where a small physical size camera is more convenient. Good for web and quality prints up to A4 size. Limitations – limited range of lens available. Single Lens Reflex cameras: To achieve the best possible images, with full creative control in all situations. Limitations – Overall size and weight. .
Picture TakingQuestions to ask yourself before starting: What do I want to use the images for? – A record of a subject/thing/place or a creative image? How is the image going to be used? –for a website, social media posting, print?
Things to consider before taking the photo: *Does the photo/subject require good lighting? If not right can it bephotographed at another time when the light is right? Or is it a subject that will change with time (such as a flower) or a place that can’t berevisited and therefore has to be shot even if conditions are not perfect – a record shot. *Could the use of flash help? Flash can be useful but has drawbacks and should only be used with consideration – flash can make some subjects look artificial but fill-in flash can help on a sunny day.*Is the subject moving? If so how fast? Can it be captured with the type of camera being used? There is usually a delay before the picture is taken with compact cameras, but not a problem with CSC and SLR’s if set up for moving subjects.
*Can the camera be focused on the part of the photo that needs to be in focus? Does it matter? Knowing what is in focus with a compact camera can be difficult, not such a problem with CSC & SLR’s (but difficult in bright light viewing the image with an LCD screen on the back of the camera).*If a ‘creative’ photo is required can it be taken with a compact camera knowing its limitations? *Is there a possible problem with camera shake leading to a blurred photo? some cameras do offer an ‘anti-shake’ option which can be set in the menu.A blurred result is more likely when using the telephoto end of a zoom lens, especially if the subject is also moving. Optical stabilization is offered on some better cameras either within the body or in the lens.
Picture CompositionGood subject composition and framing can turn anordinary picture into a great photograph. Use youreye to look at the subject within a frame, place the subject(s) within the frame to create a good composition. If it does not look right from the position that you are in move your position or move the angle of the camera relative to thesubject. Moving subjects are more difficult and canbe a challenge – both for the photographer and for the camera if it’s not possible to set up manually.
Some technical factorsAn overview without getting too technical
Depth of FieldThe amount (depth) of the photograph that is in focus.Depth of field is governed by the size of the hole in the lens aperture – basic compact cameras don’t usuallyallow the user to alter the ‘stop’ setting but higher end cameras do (smaller number = larger hole, highernumber = smaller hole) the smaller the hole the greater the depth of field. DoF can be used creatively to deliberately put the background out of focus (larger aperture). The amount of the view that is in focus canalso be dictated by the focal length of the lens used on SLR cameras.
Focal Length of LensesOn cameras with interchangeable lenses a range of focal lengths are available, from wide angle to telephoto. On compact and advanced compactcameras ‘Zoom’ takes the place of interchangeablelenses. Basic compacts usually have a limited zoom range whereas some of the higher end cameras will have a wide zoom range equivalent to an SLRusing 2 or 3 interchangeable lenses. Many cameras and lenses will have a ‘Macro’ setting allowing close-up photos to be taken.
Shutter SpeedAgain on basic compact cameras this usually is set by the camera automatically but being able tochange the shutter speed according to the subject is very useful - a faster shutter speed allows the capture of moving subjects. FocusingAutomatic on all compact/advanced compact/CSCcameras , auto on SLR cameras or can be focused manually for more creative control.
Camera Settings ISO – the ‘speed’ (sensitivity) setting – use higher ISOfor low light situations. White Balance – usually auto on basic cameras but on higher end can be set to suit the lighting conditions. Flash on/flash off – most cameras will allow the auto flash to be turned off if required. Image Recording Quality – Higher end cameras allow a range of image quality settings from Small/Normalthrough to Large/Fine, the larger the file size the better the quality of the image.
Automatic Shooting Other than basic compacts most cameras will give the option of automatic shooting by selecting pictograms/symbols for the type of target subject, such as Portrait, Landscape, Sports, Night etc. Higher end cameras will allow the selection of ‘modes’ to suit the situation and to be creative.These settings include the ability to set the aperture and shutter speed independently.
Other things to consider:ISO (old ASA rating with film) is the sensitivity settingand is usually automatic on compacts but can altered on CSC & SLR cameras giving more opportunities toshoot under poor lighting conditions, when shooting moving subjects or for more creative photography – change ISO to suit situation.Can the photo be improved by using a different lens or accessories such as filters? (on CSC & SLR’s).
No matter how good the camera is or how many accessories there are, capturing a ‘good’ photo depends on the photographers ability to see andinterpret what is being viewed before pressing the shutter button. No matter how good the kit some people just can’t take good photos! The resulting image can be technically correct but may be poor from a creative viewpoint or just bebadly composed /out of focus. Post capture image processing can rescue some photos but getting it right at the point of taking the photo is a better course of action.
Checklist• Record or creative photograph ?• Is the lighting OK? Is the subject moving?• Is there a copyright issue?• Model Release Form required?• Does taking photos require a permit?• When going out to take specific photos always plan in advance - check access restrictions.• Always take spare batteries and SD/CF cards.