Thursday, April 22, 2010

Cloud Study | Playing with the camera

I have been receiving many emails lately about shooting in manual mode. How to do it, is there an easy way to learn... unfortunately I don't have one answer and the many answers I have don't make it easy. One gal prefaced her email by saying please don't tell me to read my camera manual. Well Missy - how do you expect to learn your camera if you don't know where a certain button is? OR how do you know how to read the screen if you don't know what camera is saying to you? There is nothing wrong or bad with an instructor telling you to read your camera manual, it doesn't make them a BAD instructor.

You just need to get out and play in manual mode. I suggest starting out with something that can't talk back or move, a vase is a good subject! I would also suggest not learning manual mode during a child's graduation.

One of my fellow photog friends inspired me with a series of photos he took of clouds. It reminded me that I needed to get my behind out of my office and just go out in my backyard. Here in the NW the clouds are endless this time of year and plenty of different kinds. As I was going through my photos in Lightroom I thought these would be good examples to show shutter speed and aperture. If you are like me I had to hear it over and over again until it finally clicked.

The photos were taken in my backyard looking to the west - sun is setting. There was no post production or cropping done.

Missy [that isn't her real name] this is where your camera manual comes in. You need to know where to read your shutter speed - where is the reading. Then how do you change it? up and down. Where is your aperture reading and how do you adjust that up and down? Where is your ISO and how do you adjust that?

NOW start playing...

First photo: 1/100 shutter speed, f/22 aperture, ISO 100, taken with my prime 85mm. My shutter speed is slow so I am letting light in, but my aperture hole is small - great if you want a defined silhouette of the foreground. But I didn't like the detail of house on the right hand side and I didn't feel the clouds were dramatic enough.

Second photo: 1/500 shutter speed, f/20 aperture, ISO 100, taken with my prime 85mm. This time I wanted less light and more of an outline of the clouds. Plus I wanted everything in the foreground to go black. So I increased my shutter speed - 500, but made the aperture larger because I needed some of the light to come through. Now the clouds look more dramatic.

Third photo: 1/500 shutter speed, f/22 aperture, ISO 100, taken with my prime 85mm. Just for experiment sake I left the shutter speed the same but took the aperture back to f/22 - meaning I had a smaller hole. I would have thought this would be have been entirely too dark everywhere because of the fast shutter speed and the smaller aperture. But because the clouds were moving and allowing the sun to peek out more if gave me enough light to almost emulate the above photo. The only problem being that the lightest area of this photo is blown out.

What's going through my mind now is I realize that I didn't do any adjustment to my ISO - how would that have changed the rest of the settings? Note to myself: next time play around with the ISO. This is all part of the process. This is why you always hear photographers say 'practice, practice, practice, time on the camera'

Get out and experiment - this is how I learned. With the age of digital you can do this easily and fast, study your data when you upload your photos to view them. While the above settings are no where near being correct its fun to just play around. You will start to recognize the relationship that shutter speed, aperture and ISO have.


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