Okay now I know you are wondering what the third secret to digital photography is….
I think I’ll wait till next week to tell you….just kidding! I’ll tell you now.
It’s technical ability. Is that all? You say. Well my friend, learning what things mean what on the camera feels like it can take a lifetime, so here are some simple ways to help you learn to refine your digital photography skills. Once you have the artistic side of digital photography covered, you can then fine tune the artist in you and work that camera.
Just before I explain the digital camera in more details, firstly I want to say this about digital photography; you need to learn the technical aspects of the digital camera so that you can become the master and controller, not the other way around. When you first start out in digital photography it feels like you are at the whim of the digital camera and it controls your digital photography. Once you start learning what does what on the camera, you’ll find that you become the master and controller.
Lets look at the common terms in digital photography and simplify them into plain English. (God knows you will be forever looking at the camera manual thinking “what the heck does that mean?” So read this instead…)
Hey the only thing I knew when I started digital photography 6 years ago was what a lens cap was so if you don’t know the basic stuff please don’t feel bad. That’s why I am here; to help you.
Firstly to be good at digital photography you must first understand how the camera works. Your digital camera is a brilliant device and is very much like the human eye. There is an “eye lid” and a “pupil”. The eye lid blinks open and shut- this is how the shutter speed works. The pupil- how far the lens opens to let light in is the aperture. The flash works as a torch light. It is a direct source of light to provide more light where the camera needs it. You can use this anytime of day or night.
So with that basic analogy we can define some meanings. Don’t get too stressed about trying to remember these things, just remember the basics of how the camera works to begin with, then eventually these things will become more and more attainable to you.
Exposure: This means, basically, the total amount of light falling onto the sensor in your digital camera. The way this is “measured” is by calling the level a “value.” Or in shorter terms for digital photography its called an “E/V”. The more E/V registered on your digital camera the more light is getting in. Think of it as a higher E/V means a higher concentration of light going in the camera.
On my Sony brick…sorry I mean my old Sony Cyber shot, if I take a sunset shot and need to have more light in the picture then I’ll increase the E/V to +2.0. If it is a sunny day, like a bright summers day and I want to stop the picture from being overexposed and reduce the amount of light coming in to the digital camera, I’ll reduce the E/V to -0.3 for example.
These numbers simply pertain to my camera, so don’t worry too much about them, but just understand the principle. The lesser the E/V number the less light. In effect you are making the pupil smaller so less light comes in and vice versa.
Aperture: The aperture means the actual size of the opening of the lens. It’s a lot like exposure but relates to size more than anything. Think of this as the opening itself and controls how much light gets into the cameras sensor.
Shutter speed: This is the eyelid, if you like. It’s the speed in which the eye lid blinks open and shut. A fast “blink” means you can freeze time and capture fast action shots such as a person running without blur, or cars racing without blur. So really it is the measurement of how long the shutter is open when the digital photo is taken.
You will see sometimes 1/125th or 125 for example. This means that the shutter is open for 125th of a second. The higher the amount of time, the longer the shutter stays open. So in digital photography picture-taking terms if you want a blurry effect then leave the shutter open for a second to ten seconds and see the difference in effect. The quicker the shutter is open, the more you will capture, such as race cars or peoples fast action suspended in time without blur.
Lag: I just know this as “pain in the butt”. It’s the time delay between when you press the shutter button and when the camera actually takes the photo. It’s been the problem with digital photography until recent years when the dlsr cameras have almost reduced this altogether. The higher priced cameras have very little lag.
Flash Fill: This is a saviour for day photos where there is over exposed and underexposed areas in a digital photo- in the same photo. Imagine a bright sunny day and you take a photo of someone on the beach with the sun behind them. The digital camera will actually “see” the bright sky and keep that in focus and reduce the light on the persons face. To combat this you can use the flash to compensate for the camera “forgetting” about the persons face. Its the best thing since sliced bread. This is how you get shots of people blowing out birthday candles and are able to see their faces clearly.
Rule of Thirds: When I first started digital photography I thought; “Gee I mustn’t take that picture unless I abide by this principle.” Well that didn’t last long. Now I don’t even think about it. But this principle in photography should be called a guideline, not a rule. However when you are just starting digital photography its great to learn- it really helps you.
This website describes it better than I can. (www.digitalpostproduction.com/Htm/Features/DigitalVideoGlossary.htm)
“This rule takes our rectangular shape and divides it into thirds. The key elements or objects in a composition should fall on one of these thirds lines. The one point on our photograph where the viewers’ eye comes to rest should fall on one of these lines where both a horizontal and a vertical line come to rest.”
Okay so that is about it for now. Just focus on those things in your digital photography and the rest will come with time and lots of practice. The best way to become good at digital photography is to let your heart take over, just relax and clear your mind and allow the artist within you to surface and then things will fall into place.
My best to you,