Sunday, September 30, 2012

Basic Camera Use

Although having an expensive camera is always an asset in terms of image quality, it will not help in a big way in making interesting photographs. Having a camera with a large sensor and a lot of controls and a few lenses is something anyone at any level would enjoy, but it is much more important to know where to stand. Knowing where to stand looks easy at first. Just stand close enough so that the background doesn't overpower the main subject. But than there is the angle one stands at - how far to the left or right, how high or low above the subject. When this is added in the choices of where to stand become infinite, making it necessary to consider at least a few places to  stand before taking the picture.

If time allows the next thing to consider is the light. A sensor sees everything in much higher contrast than our eyes. This can result in shadows that are very flat and too black or highlights that are are very flat and have no texture. Shoot for the highlights with a digital camera and when shooting negative type film shoot for the shadows. Getting a good exposure is easiest on an overcast day. On a sunny day there are less contrast problems shooting early in the day or late in the day. Getting a proper exposure on clear day gets more difficult as it closer to midday.

When using a digital camera use as low an ISO as possible and shoot at maximum quality JPG or better yet RAW if the camera has this capability. Shooting this way creates images that can be used for any purpose where choosing any other option minimizes the possibility of making prints that are 13" x19" or larger. When using black and white film Kodak Tri-X and Ilford HP5 Plus are good choices for all around photography.

There are 3 basic ways to make a photograph - find it, construct it or put together in a darkroom or computer. Found photography is clearly the fastest option, but requires traveling. Putting it together in a darkroom or computer is the slowest option. Many people have combined all three - Ansel Adams, Jerry Uelsmann, and Andreas Gursky. People working mostly in the found category would be Henri Cartier Bresson, Lee Friedlander and William Eggleston.

 © 2012 Paul Light all rights reserved