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Old 10-07-2010, 02:10 PM
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Simon Rees - Moderator
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Default Photography Lesson 1 Basic Exposure

Photography Tutorial 1

So you’ve bought a new camera but you’re not sure how to get the best results from it. This thread will attempt to take you from the basics through setting up your camera and taking the different type of shots that you will want to take. I’ll also give you loads of tips on how to get professional results with lots of tricks of the trade etc.

I'll start off with Basic Exposure because without an understanding of how your camera makes an image its pointless explaining anything else. I'll try and keep this as non technical as I can but it might get a little technical in parts because somethings are not easy to explain.

Lenses.

I'm often asked, which is the best lens? Well there is no simple answer to that one and it depends on what you want to photograph. The basic rule of thumb is that you want to use a lens which allows you to fill the frame with your subject at whatever distance you need to be standing.

Remember this, if your photographs aren't good enough you're not close enough! If you can't get closer then Crop! And I'll go into that in more detail later.

Exposure.

Fasten your seat belts because this is the fundamentals of photography and with a basic understanding on how it works, I guarantee it will improve your photography.

Most modern cameras will work it out for you, you simply point and shoot and let the camera do its thing. The problem with that is the camera doesn't know what it is you are photographing and what exposure to use to get best results so it relies on a happy medium.

There are 3 elements that must be set in order to get the correct exposure.

1. Shutter Speed
2. Aperture
3. ISO

Shutter speed is the speed at which the shutter opens and closes and is therefor the length of time that your film or digital sensor is actually exposed to light. It is measured primarily in hundredths of a second and doubles or halves with each stop (an increase or decrease in exposure settings is known as a stop) So 125 = 125/th of a second. 250 = 250/th of a second. 500 = 500/th of a second etc. usually up to 2000/th It is not recommended that you hand hold a camera if using shutter speeds of less than 60/th of a second because any camera shake will be visible in the picture.

Aperture is the diameter of the hole in the centre of the lens that allows the light in. it is measured in f numbers. The smallest hole or aperture is f/22 then f/16, f/11, f/8, f/5.6, f/4, f/2.8 and f/1.8 or f/1.4. If you look at these numbers you will see that they decrease or increase by half each time so they are Ż stop increments! You still with me?

So f/22 will let in exactly half the amount of light than f/11 will, and f/11 will allow half the light that f/5.6 will. You might need to read that once or twice until it clicks because it really is important.

The third part of the equation is ISO. ISO is a measurement of the sensitivity of the film or in digital cameras the sensitivity of the sensor. The higher the ISO the more sensitive the sensor, and again it goes up in 1 stop increments. So 100ISO, 200ISO, 400ISO, 800ISO, 1600ISO etc are true 1 stop increments but depending on your camera you may be able to go up in ╝ stops or Ż stops. A point worth noting is that the sensor in your camera is directly related to the cost and quality of your camera, people get a little hung up on megapixels. Put it this way a cheap camera with an 8 megapixel rating will not be as good as a top quality camera with a rating of 4 megapixels. Do you really think that the 12/megapixel camera on your phone is as good as a 12/megapixel Professional camera?

Anyway, to start off you need to set an ISO, now the lower you go the better the clarity of the image and contrast will be, and the higher you go the grainier and lower the contrast will be so start of at about 400ISO.

So we’ve set our camera at ISO400 and we want to photograph our bird flying past. So the rule of thumb is that to freeze movement so that the bird isn't blurred we need a higher shutter speed to freeze the action There are other techniques such as panning etc but I won't go into those at the moment. So we look through the camera and it is going to tell us the exposure, you will have to read your camera manual to find out how to set your camera to manual so that you can over ride the automatic settings. You want to be able to set the Aperture and shutter speed manually.

So assuming you have figured out how to set it to manual you now need to set the shutter speed to about 125th. Now the camera will probably tell you that the exposure is wrong and that you are going to have to adjust the aperture setting to get a correct exposure. Remember the correct exposure is always related to the amount of light available so lets assume it's a bright sunny day, you start to turn your aperture dial and you get to f8 and the camera tells you that it is now correct.

So the correct exposure at this time is

400ISO
125/th
f/8

Now if your still with me this next bit is where an understanding of how this all works is going to really help you get the best out of your camera.

So you take a photo and the bird is blurred!!

That tells you that the shutter speed is too slow so you need to increase it by 1 stop. However by increasing the shutter speed by 1 stop you have inadvertently cut down the amount of light hitting the sensor by half. So you have to compensate by opening the aperture 1 stop to allow the same amount of light in as before.

So the new exposure will look like this

400ISO
250/th
f/4

However you could have increased the ISO instead and set the camera up like this

800ISO
250/th
f/8

I’m not going to go into any more detail at this point because its vital that you understand how the 3 elements need to work together to create the correct exposure and how manipulating in this instance just the shutter speed will effect the others.

Later I will try and teach you how to and when to manipulate the other elements to get better results. But for now get your cameras off auto or at least read your handbook and find out how to over ride the auto settings.

Please feel free to ask any questions but keep them to what I have posted about in this post please


A quick point that I missed on lenses. You will see on any lens an f number or 2 if it's a zoom. Something like f/4 – f/5.6. This relates to the maximum aperture you can use with that lens. So if the light is quiet poor you will be restricted to an exposure that has to make use of the f/4 setting, as the lens is incapable of allowing more light in. In this example an f/2.8 lens will let in double that of an f/5.6 lens, so therefor giving 1 extra full stop of light. All Pro lenses are either f/2.8 or lower but you will pay a huge premium for these.
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Last edited by Harris; 14-09-2010 at 01:25 PM.
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Old 10-07-2010, 02:19 PM
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Default Re: Photography Lesson 1 Basic Exposure

Well Done for taking the time to write that out Si, excellent tutorial for the beginner

Rob
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Old 10-07-2010, 02:21 PM
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Simon Rees - Moderator
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Default Re: Photography Lesson 1 Basic Exposure

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Originally Posted by Robam View Post
Well Done for taking the time to write that out Si, excellent tutorial for the beginner

Rob
Cheers Rob the proof will be if anyone with no previous understanding of exposure, actually understands it!
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Old 10-07-2010, 02:24 PM
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Default Re: Photography Lesson 1 Basic Exposure

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Originally Posted by Harris View Post
Cheers Rob the proof will be if anyone with no previous understanding of exposure, actually understands it!

LOL !!!! can't wait until you get onto fill flash, cos that still baffles me at times !!!!
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Old 10-07-2010, 02:26 PM
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Harris Harris is offline
Simon Rees - Moderator
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Default Re: Photography Lesson 1 Basic Exposure

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robam View Post
LOL !!!! can't wait until you get onto fill flash, cos that still baffles me at times !!!!
Thats easy Rob, you just need to understand Reciprocity failure.
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Old 10-07-2010, 02:27 PM
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Default Re: Photography Lesson 1 Basic Exposure

Thanks si im going to read it properly later when i can consentrate
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Old 10-07-2010, 02:28 PM
MarshallDirect MarshallDirect is offline
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Default Re: Photography Lesson 1 Basic Exposure

Nice stuff Simon i've just replied to the other thread and just seen this, could have saved myself five mins. The pic below is iso800 F5.6 and 2000/th sec

Young red grouse taken the other day whilst doing the summer count.
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Old 10-07-2010, 02:47 PM
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Default Re: Photography Lesson 1 Basic Exposure

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Originally Posted by MarshallDirect View Post
Nice stuff Simon i've just replied to the other thread and just seen this, could have saved myself five mins. The pic below is iso800 F5.6 and 2000/th sec

Young red grouse taken the other day whilst doing the summer count.
Nice one Steve, if you don't mind I'm going to use your shot and settings as an example to expand slightly on what I posted above.

So in the example here Steve's settings where ISO800 f5.6 and 2000/th sec.

He needed the 2000th to freeze the Grouse in the air to get a sharp image without any blur at all. Steve knew that as he was hoping to photograph a Grouse bursting from cover that he would need the highest shutter speed pre set on the camera, he probably found that he couldn't open his lens aperture any more because the maximum lens aperture was f5.6 so he couldn't set it at f2.8 to get the 2000th he wanted. So he had to manipulate the ISO. So with f5.6 (the maximum aperture) Steve set the Shutter speed to 2000th and then slowly increased the ISO 1 stop at a time until the camera indicated to him that he had a correct exposure under the light conditions on the hill. This is an example of how an understanding of exposure was able to allow Steve to set the camera up prior to the Grouse bursting cover and him taking a great shot.
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Old 10-07-2010, 03:01 PM
MarshallDirect MarshallDirect is offline
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Default Re: Photography Lesson 1 Basic Exposure

Thanks Simon, here's a nother shot that didn't work as i hadn't changed some settings after using the camera to film (canon 7d) The first grouse is soft due to my focus or lack of it however the grouse behind would have been sharp but the shot was only 250/th sec. I was also using a 300mm lens which also needs a faster shutter speed as the more you zoom in the more your personal camera shake is magnified.
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Old 10-07-2010, 03:14 PM
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Default Re: Photography Lesson 1 Basic Exposure

loving this.... please keep it up.... I have just bought a faster lens for my canon 400D.... a fixed 50mm f/1.8 ..... and Im loving it.... it really helps in lower light.... Paul
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