Yesterday Annie and I took a photography class with Chimpsy. We met at Chamblin Book Mine downtown and at first it appeared that we would be the only two students but after a few minutes another mom and son pair showed up. Israel, our instructor, was friendly, patient with our (*my*) questions and very informative (in a “for dummies” kind of way, not in a show-offy, see how much I know kind of way). He walked us through the intricacies of shutter speed, aperture, ISO, Exposure Compensation, and White Balance. Here are some things I learned:
- Use an inexpensive gooseneck lamp with a Sylvania natural spectrum light when shooting indoors to add light.
- Macro mode shoots real close up (flower setting on my camera)
- If skin tones are off indoors, set white balance.
- Set to the lowest ISO as possible to keep the picture from looking grainy.
- “Large” and “Superfine” pictures render the best quality pictures but also eat up your memory so if you are running out of memory, change it to Medium and/or Fine or Normal to get some more pictures out of your memory card.
- Shutter speed is for movement so if the pictures are blurry, change settings.
- Aperture (this is where f stops come in) is for focusing on things up close and letting background be blurry. (On my camera I cannot control the aperture; that’s what my settings do: changes the aperture.)
After an hour of talking through the technical stuff and helping us program our point-and-shoot cameras (set camera to take Large pictures in Superfine settings) he discussed Composition for a while using examples of pictures on his Ipad. Again, some things I learned:
- Rule of thirds. Don’t put everything in the middle of the picture. You want to draw attention to something in the picture. If you are photographing a sunset then de-emphasize the foreground bringing the horizon to the lower third of the picture, emphasizing the beautiful colors in the sky. Or if you are photographing a field of flowers and the sky is boring, bring the horizon to the top third eliminating the expanse of boring sky and focusing on the field. For portraits, focus on the eyes.
- Enhance 3D sense of buildings. Don’t shoot a building straight on but at an angle. This adds depth and shows that a building is a “cube” and not a flat surface.
- Frame your subject against other things. Shoot with something in the frame that is familiar to give a sense of scale (i.e. Castillo de San Marco with a palm tree in the picture so you see just how big the fort is). Or watch your angles (tilt camera, get down low) to emphasize how tall a building is or how long a dock is.
- When shooting pets and kids, get on their level. You see the world from their point of view.
- Simplify composition. Get rid of distracting background “noise”. Pay attention to what is in the background. You can do this by shifting your angle to get rid of people/stuff from the shot or change your aperture so that the background is blurred and you don’t “see” what’s there, like a closeup of a single flower. Simplify colors. One bright flower in a sea of green.
- Use leading lines to emphasize depth. Like a row of runners coming in to the finish line. The lines lead back giving you perspective and depth.
After an hour of teaching we went outside to put what we’d learned into practice. (We ran into the Halls and the Lebhars! Too funny!) The first activity we did was to photograph a building with dark windows and very light walls in order to play with our white balance. Here are my shots:
My camera in normal mode. Had I needed more lighting I could have upped the white balance. When I did, this is what I got:
The building got a little washed out and I lost details in the facade, as well as in the clouds. When I turned down the white balance…
the building again lost detail because this time it was too dark but the clouds look cool.
Then we went around the corner and tried to play with the shutter speed. My camera doesn’t allow me to do that. I tried several of my settings such as portrait and landscape hoping to get a blurry background or blurry wheels to convey a sense of movement. Unfortunately my camera is too smart and it wouldn’t do that. So my shots of moving cars look like cars parked in the middle of the road.
Annie snuck into this shot…
Nothing I did could get my camera to mess up. Oh well. No motion shots for me.
Then we got to play with our macro setting. I got real close up here… (see how the background is blurry? I wanted to do that!)
Here I tried a camera angle…
and played with my white balance again…
All in all, I learned a lot about the point and shoot camera I’ve had for years. I’ve always shot on the “Auto” setting. Now that I’ve learned a few things, I’m not afraid to try some new stuff! Hopefully this means better photos for my blog!