Exposure - Shutter Speed

Here’s a video that might help explain the role an shutter speed plays in not only getting the right exposure, but obtaining a sense of movement.

TOMORROW: Exposure - ISO.

Exposure - Aperture

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The Exposure Triangle shows three ways we can control light using camera controls which is aperture, shutter speed and ISO.

*Aperture - the amount of light going through a lens

*Shutter speed - how long the film or sensor is exposed

*ISO - how sensitive the film or sensor is to light

Here’s a video that might help explain the role an aperture plays in not only getting the right exposure, but obtaining a depth of field appropriate to the results you want.

TOMORROW: Exposure - Shutter speed.

RAW versus JPEG

I wanted to take a moment to talk about why you should always shoot in RAW as opposed to JPEG. JPEG stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group, the name of the committee that created the JPEG standard.

Whilst the true value of using RAW is in the post processing stage, the RAW setting needs to be applied before taking photographs. You’ll eventually save your images as JPEG files once you have post processed them but here I’m talking about photographing in JPEG – not saving in JPEG. Sounds confusing? We’ll visit saving in JPEG later but for now let’s look at taking photographs in RAW.

Most digital cameras allow photographers to select whether they want to photograph using JPEGs, JPEGS and RAW at the same time or RAW only. As each camera is different, you will need to read your camera manual on how to change to RAW setting. Click HERE to watch my video on how to adjust your camera for RAW and JPEG settings.

There are five important reasons to use RAW. Firstly, Levels of brightness. Levels of brightness are the number of steps from black to white in an image. The more you have, the smoother the transitions of tones. JPEG records 256 levels of brightness, and RAW records between 4,096 to 16,384 levels! The effect this has on your images is really big. Those additional steps of brightness let you make more adjustments to your image such as the exposure, blacks, shadows, contrast and brightness without a significant reduction of quality, because you have more levels to work with!

The second advantage is perfect white balance which we will go into later in greater detail. But for now let me explain that when you shoot in JPEG the white balance is applied to the image making it difficult to adjust. When using RAW the white balance is still recorded, but as you have much more data, it’s much easier to adjust.

The third advantage is Best quality. When you shoot in RAW you record all of the data from the sensor. This gives the highest quality files. And again we will explore the sensor a little later.

The difference when you shoot in JPEG format is that the camera does it’s own processing to convert the RAW information into a JPEG.

However, your camera is nowhere near as smart as you and it is not as powerful as your computer. When you shoot RAW, you’re able to do that processing yourself. You can make the decisions on how the image should look, and produce way better results.

The fourth advantage is better print quality. Because of the finer gradation of tones and colours you’ll get better prints from RAW files.

The final advantage and a very important one is RAW is Non-Destructive.

When you make adjustments to a RAW file, you’re not actually doing anything to the original data. What you’re doing is creating a set of instructions for how the JPEG or TIFF (another file format) version should be saved.

You never have to worry about ruining an image, accidentally saving over, or being unable to go back and undo the changes you made. You can always reset your adjustments, and start over again.

JPEG files lose quality every time you open them, make adjustments, and save again. It’s what is known as a “lossy” file format. So if you’re making edits to JPEGs you always have to be duplicating the image and saving out a new version if you don’t want to lose file quality.

This video will help explain RAW versus JPEG.

TOMORROW: Exposure - Aperture.

How images can be improved

Like all art, a great image is in the eye of the beholder. You may not always agree with the comments written. Some images you may like - others you may not. This doesn't make me right and you wrong. What I think and suggest is based on my understanding of photography and my personal bias. We are all individuals with unique preferences. So if you are happy with an image you have captured that's all that matters because it won't necessarily be to everybody's taste.

I have been taking photos since a child and I make mistakes and learn everyday. So many of my images will never see the light of day as they are that bad. Therefore, my images are not perfect and I wouldn’t want them to be. Imagine if we thought our images perfect - we could stop learning, experimenting and trying to do better - now that would be boring.

Let’s look at some images that I believe could benefit with improved techniques.

TOMORROW: RAW verses JPEG

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This image has a busy background and we are looking down onto the child. Getting down to his level and using a lower f stop would blur the distracting background. Moving around to find a less distracting background could be another option.

Copyright Pete Driscoll

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In this example the camera is at the same level as the child and the distracting background has a degree of blur so the child stands out.

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A higher viewpoint would show more of the uniqueness of the area. There seems to be a lack of colour in the houses due to the time of day and the area being in shadow. The left hand corner has a distracting part of a wall. The clouds have also blown out as they are over exposed.

Copyright Pete Driscoll

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This is a good example of even lighting from buildings to the sky. Taken from a higher viewpoint in full sun during breaks throughout the clouds.

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There are leading lines going to the building which is great but they are off centre to the camera so do not really "lead in".

Copyright Pete Driscoll

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The path creates a leading line that guides the eye to the furthest building on the right. The path is central and provides an air of mystery as we don't see where it leads too.

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This is very busy and I'm not sure what the centre of attention is.

See the next image for a comparison.

Copyright Pete Driscoll

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In this comparable image, the walls of the building are not leaning in which distorts perspective. The more a camera is pointed upwards at a building, the more the walls will point inwards. Whilst there are several buildings the composition creates a less cluttered image.

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The sun is burnt out - that is over exposed. I would rather see the building in a tradition complete front on shot as the slight angle is not correct in composition. See the next image for a comparison.

Copyright Pete Driscoll

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By shooting buildings at an angle rather than front on, less distortion occurs where the walls can angle inwards. An alternative to photographing a wall in shade against a bright sky, is to zoom in on the building to eliminate the sky.

Get it off AUTO

A little while back I decided to create some videos on using a camera manually - that is getting it off the “auto” setting. I recommend this for the following reasons:

·       Photography is an art and you are the artist – take control

·       Taking risks with your images – in the world of digital snap away

·       To gain a greater understanding of the craft – lighting, composition, lenses, etc.

So I decided to post a short video and/or images every day for 24 days for those that might want to take the plunge and start taking more control over the images they produce.

To set the scene, watch this short video. All of these images where taken using manual settings – some under poor lighting conditions, some in difficult situations and others that just would not be possible if it was left to the camera to make decisions for me.

TOMORROW: How images can be improved.