Masters the basic: Capture the Magic



Shooting film in a digital age: While shooting film photography can be more difficult, it is not impossible to manipulate the camera and lens the same way that a digital image may be made. Changing the aperture and shutter speed works the same way, but checking to see if the adjustments will yield a correctly exposed image is more difficult. This portrait was created by shooting on an overcast day with 200 ISO film while using a 50mm lens. 

by Kelsey Carter

I think I have developed this false sense of adulthood that revolves around a cycle of working, eating and sleeping, so I find it imperative to step outside of the boundaries of this society and take time to enjoy the aspects of life I do not visit daily. I guess this is the root of my photography interest. The work is, at times, quiet, though not dull; photography is exciting and different each time, and it allows me to view and perceive the world through a different lens.

All throughout my childhood — and I am sure I was not the only one — I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. I never thought to say that I wanted to spend my time developing hobbies into an expertise, or even a career. I do not mean to imply that what we do in our free time should be turned into work, but I do think it is okay to work at an interest. Typically, when we are successful at something we get more joy out of it, so, finding success in things we do for fun may just be a good idea.

There are a few basic techniques every photographer should know when they begin shooting, but before techniques are tackled and skills are developed, the photographer must acquire basic level knowledge about the topic. A great place to start is with equipment. By knowing how the camera, lenses and all the specs work, a photographer can then manipulate them as needed in order to get the image desired. After the basics are mastered, new equipment such as different lenses, external flashes and filters may be used for special photo needs.

Explore possibilities: After mastering the fundamental properties of a camera body and lens, a new lens option may be explored. Here a kit lens was used to focus through a fisheye lens that simply attaches to the lens already on the camera. 

Things every photographer should know about their equipment:

Decide first if you want to shoot film or digital. Assuming that the majority of new photographers are shooting digital, I will focus on that. Once you’ve chosen which camera you will use, read the manual. I know, no one wants or really even needs to read a manual about anything digital, but it will prove useful.

Get to know the camera: what type of memory card does it take, what are its ISO capabilities, is it full-frame?

Then, figure out what ISO and full-frame means, along with words like RAW or megapixels — know what these terms have to do with your image production. All of these topics can be found in the manual that comes with the camera body.

The next, and probably most complex part of a camera is the lens. While the camera body contains the controls to adjust shutter speed, aperture and exposure compensation, it is actually the lens that changes. Manipulations to these settings are endless and can be made by setting the camera to a few different things.

Shutter speed priority, which allows the photographer to chose the shutter speed desired while letting the camera pick the aperture necessary for a correctly exposed image. Aperture priority mode allows you do exactly the opposite of shutter speed priority, while manual lets you chose both the shutter speed and aperture, giving the photographer ultimate control and room for creativity.

A brief explanation of shutter speed and aperture may allow you to shoot out of the auto or program mode sooner, and even jump straight to manual mode, which is the most fun in my opinion. Shutter speed is the amount of time the lens is letting light reach the light sensor. Shutter speeds range from around 30 seconds to 1/2500 of a second depending on the camera capabilities. By changing this number you can not only gain the right exposure by using slower shutter speeds in low light situations, but also capture moving objects while still showing detail by using a quicker speed.

Aperture is the amount of light that you are letting during the time the lens is open. Changing the f/stop of the lens creates effects such as depth-of-field and also allows for correct exposures. The lower the aperture, such as f/2.8, the more light may be let in and the higher the aperture – f/32 – the less light is making it in.

Flex your creative muscles: By opening up the lens’s aperture as wide as it will go depth-of-field is created, allowing the water drops on the surface to be focused on and the objects below to be out of focus. A creative image was created by playing with water’s reflective properties and a macro lens. 

The camera lens tends to control much of what the photographer can use to manipulate and create unique, artistic images. With that said, it is wise to focus the finances available for your hobby toward the lenses you would benefit from the most, rather than purchasing the most expensive camera body.

As previously stated, once the fundamentals have been mastered, the photographer may experiment with equipment that allows for more manipulation and fun, creative image production.

Having the correct knowledge about your camera will open up the possibilities for learning knew techniques in photography and mastering them, rather than shooting a good looking photo on accident, and not knowing how the magic happened.

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