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4 things you need to know about your camera

March 30, 2017

Dear readers,

 

As I told you in my last blog post, I want to teach you stuff about photograhy as well, and that's what I'm going to do right now. So grab your camera (and its manual) and press those buttons while you are reading this. The best way to learn is to do. Trust me, I'm a teacher.

 

#1: ISO

 The first thing you do before taking a picture is to look at the light. Are you shooting outside in the sun or late at night? if it's the latter, your camera needs to be more 'sensitive' to light. If it's not your picture will be dark.

The higher the number, the more sensitive your camera is. But you don't want to set it too high, because the grain increases with the ISO. This is a mistake every photographer will probably make. It hasn't happened to me yet, but when I was on a holiday with my family in the Dolomites, my dad took pictures of our tent in the dark. Of course, he needed a high ISO, but he forgot to change it back. The next day, we went on a tour in the mountains and we took wonderful pictures. When we got back, my dad discovered his mistake and the pictures had large grains.

 

If you don't want this to happen to you, check if your settings are the way you intend them to be before taking pictures. Make sure the ISO is as low as it can get.

 

#2: Exposure

Exposure, or shutter speed, is the time your shutter is open and allow light to enter the lens and your camera. The setting you need depends on your subject and the amount of light that is present.

 

If you want to change this in your settings, you should use mode M (manual) or S (shutter- priority). When you are using manual, you have to set the aperture yourself as well, something I will explain later. If you use the S mode, the camera does that for you.

 for this picture, I used a high sutter speed because I wanted the milk clouds to be sharp.

If you want to capture running water or a racing car and you want it to be sharp on you picture, you need a short exposure time. If you are shooting stars (see what I did there) or cars on a highway and you want the cars move on your picture, you need a long exposure.

 For the picture above, I used a low shutter speed because I wanted my camera to receive as much light as possible. It could even see more stars then I could with my human eyes.

For the picture below, I used a low shutter speed because I wanted the mills to move.

 

There is one very important thing you need when you want to try long exposure photography; a tripod. It is impossible to hold your camera still for 3 seconds or whatever your shutter speed may be. The cars or the mills may be moving in real life and on your picture, but you don't want the buildings to move.

 

#3: Aperture

I have mentioned Aperture before, you can change the settings in mode M or A (you guessed it, aperture- priority). Aperture is the number behind the f on your camera.

 

Aperture has to do with sharpness of the back- and foreground. You focus on you subject so it will be sharp in your picture. But do you want the background to be in focus as well? If you don't then you change the aperture to a low number. The lower the number, the less is in focus. If you use a high number, more stuff on your picture will be in focus.

 

What happenes when you change the aperture? you basically enlarge the iris of your lens, the 'eye'of your camera. Like the human eye, that also has an effect on the light that enters the camera. If the pupil is big, that means you are in love or there is not much light in the room or wherever you are. So the eye adjusts to the environment so you can see: a bigger hole means more light can enter.

The same goes for your camera. The bigger the aperture (or a small number. Yes, I know, very confusing. high number, small aperture, small number, large aperture.) the brighter the picture will be. It also works the other way around.

I used a large aperture (low number) because I didn't want the biscuits in the back or the tea leaves in the front to be in focus.

 for  the picture below, I used a small aperture (or high number) because I wanted the road, the clouds and the landscape in the distance to be in focus. Also, it was a very bright day.

 

Now that I have explained exposure and aperture, you probably wonder which mode you can use best. I'll tell you what I do. I use manual when I created a little studio with one or two flashes. I can take my time seaching for the right settings and mistakes are okay, because the subject won't move anyway.

 

When I shoot portraits, I use the A mode, because I just want the face of the model to be in focus. I don't really care what sutter speed is udes, so I let my camera to decide that.

 

When you are lightpainting at night, or taking pictures of the stars, or water and I want to capture that white haze, I use mode S.

 

Mode P stands for panic: you want to take a picture right now that is properly lit in the first try. This can happen when an animal is in your vision and it might go away the next second. Or this mode is for when you're feeling lazy and you don't want to think about aperture and such.

 

 

#4: RAW vs JPEG

We are in the digital era and that means you can choose what kind of file you create when photographing. If you like to leave the pictures as they are uploaded, a jpeg file is probably the best choice. It optimises the picture before it appears on your screen. Good enough to upload it to Facebook or instagram right away!

 

If you're a bit more serious about photography and you believe taking the picture on your camera is just half the work of creating your art, then you should shoot in RAW and use NEF files. If your camera can do this, you can change the settings in your menu.

 

With these NEF files, you saved more information in your file and that makes it possible to do more with the pictures during the post processing phase. the most common software are Photoshop and Lightroom. I use lightroom because it works easier in my opinion and I don't want to add sun flares or remove people from my pictures. I wait until they're out of my way (which sometimes takes longer than you want).

 

I chose to change the NEF files to DNG files, because it keeps the quality of the picture, but it is smaller. If you post- process your NEF files, the software creates another file. This is very annoying when you're browsing through your files and udes to be a source of irritation. A DNG file is just one file and stays a single file after processing.

Now you know the basics of photography! I advise you to practise with these settings so it gets into your system. I am very curious about your work and I'd love it if you'd share it with me! You can send your pictures to my Facebook page; Lieke Roodbol Photography. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me!

 

Happy Photographing!

 

xxx Lieke

 

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About Me

My name is Lieke Roodbol and I love photography. My goal is to inspire you and teach you about my passion with this blog!

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