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So far Bernie has created 28 blog entries.

Use diagonal lines for better photography composition

2017-05-29T16:22:16+00:00

Use diagonal lines to add impact to your photos, it’s easy to do and can be very effective. They can also help to draw the eye through a photo. It’s a simple compositional trick that can imply action, add depth to your photos by suggesting perspective, and add a dynamic look and feel. Lines exist everywhere, in the form of walls, fences, roads, buildings and telephone wires, sometimes it's just a matter of changing the camera angle or lowering or raising the camera height. Here's an image that many people would have taken from a frontal viewpoint:- On a beach, you can often use breaking waves or the surf to create diagonal lines, this can look especially cool if you get down and take the shot from a low angle, try to avoid dropping your camera into the sea ;-) [do action="tl-linktocurriculum1"] [/do] All of the lines in previous photos were real physical lines, but diagonal lines can also be implied for better photography composition, by positioning objects, changing camera angle or maybe even when posing people. Compare these two simple shots of some friends, in the second image their heads form an imaginary diagonal line and the pose looks better than in the first. Here's another couple of simple photos for comparison, which one looks better?

What is Shutter Speed?

2017-05-29T16:22:16+00:00

What is shutter speed Shutter speed is a common term used to discuss exposure time, the effective length of time a camera's shutter is open. You can think of the shutter in your camera as a bit like a window shutter, you open up the shutters to let light in through the window, and when you close the shutters, the light is cut off. When you open and then close the shutters, the room gets brighter for a brief period and then goes dark again. That’s pretty much what a camera does on your SLR or mirrorless camera. Play this 5 second video to see a slow shutter speed action That was a very slow shutter speed, which in the majority of cases would let in too much light. The faster the shutter speed, the less light gets in, so I’m going to switch to a typical fast shutter speed, say 250th of a second, I doubt that you’re even going to see it. Play this video to see a fast shutter speed action (blink & you'll miss it!) For most photos the shutter speed is a fraction of a second, generally speaking out in the bright sunlight it could be anywhere between 125th of a second and several thousandth of a second, depending on other camera settings like your aperture or ISO. In low light the shutter speed might be somewhere between 30th of a second and 125th of a second, and at night, taking a night scene or maybe fireworks, the shutter speed can be several seconds. Obviously at night, the shutter needs to be held open for longer to let more light [...]

Flash photography tips – my favourite basic settings

2017-05-29T16:22:16+00:00

Flash Photography TipsAlthough I much prefer to use natural lighting, sometimes there's no getting away from using flash indoors at family or friends get-togethers, parties, evenings out etc... If you have an external flashgun, you'll get far better results if you swivel the flash head to bounce the light off a wall or ceiling, but that's a subject of another tip (see ) Most people will just put their camera in one of the auto modes and hope for the best. Generally speaking you'll get a good exposure whatever exposure mode you use as the auto mode of the flash will help to keep the flash output just right. But the settings used in any of the auto modes can be improved upon, so regardless of whether you bounce or not, what are the best camera settings for flash photography? In this, the first of my flash photography tips, I'm going to assume you want to take a photo indoors when little or no daylight coming into the room, that's fairly typical for parties and get-togethers. [do action="TL-linktocurriculum2"] [/do] Avoiding the 'taken in a cave' look Quite often, these type of flash photos have a reasonable well exposed subject, but the backgrounds are typically quite dark, and that's because the camera sets the flash exposure to only light up your foreground subject. Here's a shot of my wife Jane, taken in a local pub the settings used are typical auto mode settings:- Auto mode, 1/60th sec, f4, ISO 100, pop-up flash fired Even if we use aperture or shutter speed priority, you wouldn't really get a better exposure than this because f4 and 1/60th are pretty good settings for this type of shot. [...]

Distorted portraits when using wide angle lenses

2017-05-29T16:22:16+00:00

Avoid distortion when taking portraits using wide angle lenses Generally speaking it's best to avoid using a wide angle lens or the wide end of the focal range, otherwise you could end up with distorted portraits. Assuming you're using a prosumer DSLR camera, it's best to stick to the 35mm -> 80mm range. The magnification of a 35mm lens closely replicates what we see looking through our own eyes.However, most portrait photographers prefer to use 50mm or 85mm lenses, this allows them to stand further from the subject and so slightly flatten the perspective. This is not to say wide angle lenses cannot be used for portraiture. The unique properties of wide angle lenses can be exploited to create eye-catching and dynamic portraits that stand out among more conventional ones. [do action="tl-linktonatlightdoc"] [/do] When using a wide angle lens up close, objects closer to the lens will appear relatively bigger than they actually are, so for example the nose will appear to be larger, while the ears and sometimes the eyes will appear smaller. These distortions mean wide angle lenses are inappropriate for most serious portrait studies. However, there are certain types of portraits that can use the distortion to great effect. My son Adam (he doesn't really have a huge head!) For instance, the caricature effect created by a wide angle lens can be quite humorous, and for this reason it is not uncommon to see wide angle portraits of comedians. If you are planning to take a wide angle portrait it is important to make the effect look as deliberate as possible, otherwise it will simply seem as if you have made a mistake. One way to [...]

The Rule of Thirds

2017-05-29T16:22:16+00:00

The rule of thirds is a well known fundamental photographic principle of good composition, and it's one of the first things that budding photographers learn in classes, and rightly so. However, it's only a guide, and ignoring the rule doesn't mean your photos will be dull or unbalanced. Apparently studies have shown that when we view an image, our eyes do not immediately look at the centre of that image. instead we first look around the sides of the image. This means using the rule of thirds works with this more natural way of viewing an image. If you were to draw two imaginary lines at third intervals horizontally across an image, and then 2 more vertically, where they intersect is quite often the ideal position for placing your subject or an important part of the composition. Compare the above photo with the one below, and you can immediately see that the first one looks better. Ok, I admit, that was cheating a bit because I chopped off the lovely looking sky there. [do action="tl-linktonatlightdoc"] [/do] Even in an average looking snapshot, the difference can be quite significant, compare these two shots of a bandstand in a local park, and you'll see what I mean. Bandstand in centre Bandstand on a third Even in a simple shot like this you can see that the first photo is more balanced (and looks almost interesting!). Here's another example:- You can see the rule of thirds being used all of the time in movies and TV dramas, next time you watch a film or drama, make a mental note of where the main subject is placed, especially closeups of people, their eyes [...]

The Exposure Triangle – Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO

2017-05-29T16:22:16+00:00

The exposure triangle explains how the individual aspects of exposure, i.e aperture, shutter speed and ISO, affect the final exposure of the photo. It's a useful way of describing the relationship between the three aspects of exposure. Each side of the triangle represents one of the three variables, aperture, shutter speed and ISO. Adjusting just one of these will will change the appearance of the photo based on your settings. It's important to understand that unless you are in the Manual Exposure Mode, changing any of the three settings will not make the image darker or lighter. That's because in any of the semi auto modes (such as A/AV, S/TV, or P), the camera will automatically compensate by changing one of the other settings. [do action="TL-linktocurriculum1"] [/do] Aperture The aperture, which is part of the lens not the camera, controls the quantity of light entering your camera. Just like the pupil of the eye, the larger the aperture, the more light is let in. The aperture is set using what is known as F numbers, i.e f2.8, f4, f5.6, f8 and so on, and the smaller the number, the larger the aperture (only a small elite of quantum physicists know why this numbering system is so perverse!!). These numbers are sometimes referred to as a 'stop', and each stop allows in twice as much light as the previous one, so or example f4 lets in twice as much light as f5.6 Shutter speed The shutter speed, measured in fractions of a second, controls the duration of the exposure. Just like window shutters, the longer the shutter is held open, the more light is let in. The shutter speed [...]

Aperture vs Shutter Priority Mode – Which should you use?

2017-05-29T16:22:16+00:00

As well as the fully automatic green Auto mode, all DSLR's have several other very useful exposure modes. Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority Modes are two of the most popular semi-automatic modes. But what many people don't realise is that generally speaking, these two modes will give you exactly same exposures. For example, take a look at these settings which show equivalent settings (assume that the current light level is giving a reading of aperture f4, shutter speed 1/250th of a sec):- Every one of the above settings will give you the same exposure, for example, compare f5.6 at 1/125th of a second with f11 at 1/30th of second. f11 is 2 stops smaller than f5.6 (so less light is let in), and so to compensate for that, the camera chooses 1/30th of a second, which is 2 stops slower than 1/125th (shutter is held open longer). Also, the only difference between aperture priority and shutter speed priority, and the clue is in the name, is which setting you have direct control over, either the aperture or the shutter speed. [do action="TL-linktocurriculum1"] [/do] Aperture or Shutter speed priority So that leaves a burning question. If it makes no difference to the exposure, why then choose aperture priority over shutter speed priority or vice versa? Well, it all comes down to the creativity element of photography. As well as controlling exposure, the aperture is used to control depth of field, that is, how much of the image is in focus from front to back, and the shutter speed is used to control motion, so whether you want to freeze the action or show movement. With that in mind, for landscapes you would generally use [...]

Exposure compensation explained

2017-05-29T16:22:17+00:00

Sometime, even the most sophisticated DSLRs can make a complete mess of the your exposure, with the result that your subjects will be too light or too dark. Think about some landscape photos you may have seen where the sky looks great but foreground objects are too dark, snow photos where the snow looks grey, or people playing on a beach in bright sunshine, but it looks like they were playing at tea time because the images were dark. This happens because camera metering systems attempt to average out the exposure to give a mid grey tone, (not grey in colour!), this usually works well because many images have both bright and dark areas in the scene. When the tones of these areas are averaged out, they quite often end up as mid-grey, but when a scene has very prominent bright or very prominent dark areas, this averaging out method can cause under or over exposure. The lovely bride Aimee above, has beautiful light skin, but because the wall and her dress are quite dark toned (and her face and arms are quite small in the frame), her skin would have been over-exposed if I hadn't used -1.3ev exposure compensation. In these two short video clips you'll see how the auto metering system of the video camera is fooled when zoomed in. Watch what happens to black velvet Watch what happens to a white wall In both cases, the image changed to a mid grey, obviously you wouldn't normally fill the frame with all black or all white, but it does show how the exposure can be fooled by the tone of the subject. In fact the light didn't [...]

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