Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Lesson Three

The thing that goes click click. 
Thats right, it’s shutter week! And I hope you read up on aperture, because these two are best of friends. While the aperture controls how large the iris opens, your shutter is how fast it will stay open.
Lets really think about this
If we can take a photo at f8 and 1/60 of a second, we can also take the same photo at f4 at 1/250 of a second. Why is that you may be wondering... well, here is why. Remember how the aperture controls how open the iris will be, well the more light you let in at once, the less time you need it to be open. Now don’t worry if this doesn’t make sense right away... it didn’t for me at first, but then one day... it clicked. (hehe) 
I found this fabulous chart on flickr that should help understand this theory a bit more. 
A good rule of thumb
When you are photographing things on the go, without a tripod, it is a good rule to not let your shutter go bellow 1/60 sec. If you do happen to drop bellow that, then you may notice some blur in your image, but in general this is a nice number to stay above. 
So let’s practice this idea. (based on the chart above) 
My aperture is set to f22 and my shutter is clicking 1/2 sec. That is sure to get some blur if i am hand holding. How can i make an adjustment to eliminate some of that blur? That’s right! Shoot with an opening of f4 or wider. This will let in more light and allow our shutter to click faster. 
Now that we have a rule, lets break it! 
(Tripods, benches, walls, sidewalks, anything sturdy really is about to become your best friend for this next exercise) Have you ever seen a photo of lightning or a night shot with car light streaks? These photos were taken the same way. A long shutter. No someone didn’t get lucky and click the camera at the right time, they had a long shutter and the light only got exposed when it was there. Same ideas with the cars, the shutter stays open and it captures all the light from the cars, leaving a streak along the road. 
Here are a few examples of my own work using this technique: 

Left to Right - Top to Bottom (bottle in a bathtub, lit with a match, camera laying in the dry tub) (15 ball going into the corner pocket, camera resting on the opposite edge of table) (lightning on the highway, i was not driving) (Houston Downtown Aquarium ferris wheel from the highway, again not driving) (Across the street from The Paris in Las Vegas, tripod) (Pacific Park, Santa Monica, if i remember correctly, this was very carefully handheld)

Now for your challenge. 
Long exposure. If you can find some good support, try to leave your shutter open for a few seconds. Go into a dark room, turn on some lights every now and then. Take it out on the street. Take it in the middle of the day! Well, maybe the last one wont give you the best results, unless it's really cloudy and you shoot at f32 and 100 ISO, oops! I have said to much, Stay tuned next week... 

Can't wait to see your images! 

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Lesson Two

All about your Aperture

Short story: the iris of your camera lens that controls how much light you let into a shot.  

Long story: first of all, lets get this part straight. the larger the number, the smaller the opening and the smaller the number, the larger the opening. 

If you were able to look at your aperture while it was clicking a photo, it would look a little something like this:  

You may hear people calling a lens fast. This means that the aperture will go nice and low, letting more light in, and clicking the shutter faster. Shooting at f16 or f22 may be easiest in lots of light situations (daylight or flash) it can also lead to some super special low light shots with awesome light streaks. But that will be in our lesson next week. What's a macro with you? Ever wondered why you (hopefully) move your point and shoot settings to the flower when you want to take photos of flowers? Well, that's the macro mode and it helps point and shoots to go down to their lowest aperture. If you are using a DSLR and macro photography really interests you, one day you need to splurge for that macro lens (it's worth every bit!). Some lenses have a macro setting but I'm talking about a fixed macro lens. I am a nikon user and my favorite macro is the 60mm 2.8. Since it's a fixed lens this means I need to be the one to move since my lens can't. I have been loving this lens more and more and use it for everything. Product, food, fine art, even portraits. Just because it can go down to f2.8 doesn't mean it can't go up to f32. Here are some examples of my favorite photographs taken with my macro lens.
So go ahead slide that aperture down. Get arty one day or just control how much of the frame you have in focus. It's great to make those special moments really stand out on your scrap page (or even off your wall). There are a few ways to do this and depending on how savvy you are with your camera will determine which option will work best for you.  

As for your challenge this week? You guessed it. I want the tiniest sliver in focus. That means you will need to get your aperture as low as it will go. Upload your photos anywhere you like (flickr, the polkadotplum gallery (under the challenge category), photobucket, etc.) just be sure to link up your photos here so we can leave you some love!  

Now for how to get a wide open aperture shot  

Flower power.
If you are using a point and shoot (as stated earlier), switch over to the flower to turn on your macro mode. This will help to make your depth of field more shallow and really make those special parts of your photo pop.

A for aperture priority.  
A little easier but depending on how you are metering you may not get the best possible photo. Again if you set you aperture as low as it will go then all you have to do is click. The shutter will figure it self out automatically.  

M for manual.
This will probably be the best option (as it normally is). Take your aperture as low as it will go then balance out the exposure. Good luck everyone! I can't wait to see the photos.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A chance to win Focus - the kit

Lori and I decided if becoming a more active photographer is not enough incentive, then we hope this will be: 

The first person to complete 15 items off the list and
The first person to complete all 30 items off the list

will win Focus - the kit for free! 

Lori and I collaborated with Cara from Sweet Tomato Designs to make this kit (that is used for our blog background, as well as the ad, and list pictures) You can pick it up today over at the Polka Dot Plum or tomorrow it will be released in Lori's store at Scrap Matters

So get to snapping, pointing, shooting, clicking, capturing, but above all... have fun! 

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Lesson One

Going off the Grid
Well, not the grid grid, but the program grid. That is right. Lesson one, I’m going to throw you in the pool, but i’ll give you some floaties. 
I don’t care if you shoot Nikon, Cannon, or .... whatever. You have probably been shooting in program mode long enough and we are going to explore a little setting i like to call M. 
M for Manual, M for me! 
When you put your camera in M mode (don’t worry, it is not going to blow up!) this will allow you to completely control your settings. What f stop you are shooting at, how fast your shutter is clicking, your ISO, and flash. There may be a few others, but these are going to be our main focus for right now. For the next few weeks, I will teach you a little bit about each of those settings so you will have a better control over your camera but for week one we are going to start off easy. 
But I don’t carry a light meeter with me. 
That’s ok, I don’t either (please don’t tell my teachers that!)  Our camera has a built in meeter. Now, this is the inside of a Nikon viewfinder, but if you are using a different camera it should look similar. 
(Image taken from 
This little circled part is going to become your new best friend. If the lines are heavy on the right, then your image is underexposed (dark) and if the lines are heavy to the right of 0 then your image is overexposed (light). You will want to either adjust your aperture or shutter to bring the lines as close to 0 as you can. 0 is going to be your happy place and hopefully a perfect exposure. 
(It may take a while for your lines to move, depending on how far over they are. If your image is underexposed, try either making your aperture bigger (smaller number) or making your shutter last longer (bigger number). If you image is overexposed, well, try the opposite) 
As for your mini-challenge this week? Simply shoot a photo in Manual mode. Practice balancing out your exposure. Even if it is just one shot. And then you take the rest on a program mode. Good luck, and be sure to link a photo in the comments. 

April Challenge List

Here is your inspiration list for the Month of April. Shoot one or shoot them all, we only ask that you share your photos with us so we can all ooooh and ahhh together. 

April 7 - May 4

1 Everyday
2 Distance
3 Couple
4 Beverage
5 In my mailbox
6 Lined up
7 Fresh
8 Spring
9 Budding
10 Yellow
11 Bright
12 Routine
13 Cup
14 Under
15 Triple
16 Soft
17 Pretty
18 Round
19 Rustic
20 Cotton
21 Maternal
22 Outside my Window
23 The color of your eyes
24 Longing
25 Ring
26 Linked
27 Expectant
28 Sprung
29 Mine
30 Paper

and don’t forget to check back for weekly challenges and tutorials

please note, the original post had spring twice, number 28 has now been replaced with sprung

Weekly Focus

Introducing a new challenge at PolkaDotPlum a monthly photography FOCUS challenge designed to encourage visual interpretation, individuality, and FUN when taking photos each month your hosts TalktoHeather and PageFrocks will post a list of 30 words for you to provide a visual picture for.

Weekly Focus

Do one or do all take one a day or take 30 in a day use your point and shoot or use your DSLR this is meant to be fun and get you thinking we promise that you'll capture something amazing before the month is over if you play along! If you feel yourself getting stuck just check back often as your hosts will share tutorials with mini challenges along the way.

So print your list and take some pictures, then come back here and post them so that we can all ooohhh and ahhh together over what we've captured!