Learning Your Equipment – Part 3

Learning your equipment sounds really easy until getting out into the field and realize, “I never thought about how to evaluate the amount of light put out by my light source!” Now this opens up a new area for questions and learning. “How sensitive is my camera to light?” “How does my camera’s sensitivity measure against its shutter speed?” “How does my camera’s sensitivity to light change with each aperture stop?”

Some answers can be “too simple” or rather purely informational without direction as to the application of the information. So in this post I hope to bring you two options explaining their application to the best of my ability.

Option 1: Light meter. Handheld light meters get more expensive the fancier features they contain. There is an excellent article by B&H Photo on learning about handheld light meters and information to help you choose the appropriate light meter for you. Most digital cameras are equipped with light meters (if you will remember the light meter I referred to in my first post on “Learning Your Equipment”). However, there is one key difference between a handheld light meter and a light meter in your camera.

The difference in light meters held in your hand or in your camera is this, the meter’s location. Now what will help you most? A light meter showing you the amount of light surrounding your subject or the amount of light around your camera? Answer: You want to know the amount of light around your subject. That makes it a little difficult to measure the light around your subject with your camera when it is more efficient to have it set-up on your tripod.

Option 2: Requires a lot of experience and a trained eye and mind. Using your own vision to estimate the light around your subject is cheapest and builds your skill. I am still tweaking my own skill, so I am not much practical help at this time. Some practical pointers to come in Fridays post.

Location, Location, Location!

We photographers are able to express ourselves in ways that not many people do. This is not a bad thing, but rather means that we complete a part of communication by still images which otherwise would be non-existent or at the very least different.

Since we find pleasure in communicating through imagery, we desire to learn, grow and become better communicators through our images. Here is something to consider as we learn and grow.

Texture:

I chose my locations mostly by the textures they contain. Personally, I find that too many textures or a texture out of place can throw off the focus of a picture. Thus, when I choose a location (let’s say a train station, since it has a great many textures) I want the person looking at the photo to feel the refreshing cool breeze as they wait on the platform and the rumble of the train as it comes and goes.

Now that I know what I can work on (texture) and how to capture it’s story in a still image, I can begin bring texture into my work as an added element on other photo shoots!

Stay tuned for Friday’s post on using texture as an added photo element.

Spread-sheet and wHaT?

This is a post to iron out some specifics in the process of cataloging imagined shots.I apologize but I can not write here the steps to using your personal version of office software. Please find a specialist in that department to help you.

It can be a little difficult to prioritize by location so here is a tip on accomplishing this goal. Leave a column to the left of your “location” column and assign each location a letter. Please note that this will limit you to 26 locations, but here is the downfall of using numbers to assign priority for each location: spread-sheet protocol typically organizes first by the beginning number until there are no more of that number and then move onto the next in sequence.

For example:

  • 1
  • 10
  • 11
  • 12
  • 13
  • 2
  • 20
  • 21
  • 22
  • 3
  • 30
  • 31
  • 32

In my experience 26 locations will be sufficient as this list is meant to be constantly revised and amended. Also remember that multiple shots at the same location can be cataloged with the same letter! So you will not be limited to 26 shots, but 26 locations.

This process is very simple for me. If it is not for you, please organize the spread-sheet in a way that works best for you. If it is not simple and effective for you, it is not worth using. As everything else, I am only share with you what I have done, to give you hope; possible ideas of how you can make these things your own and make your fun more inspiring! Enjoy!

Lists of shots

This post will not be as in-depth as others but if you take it seriously, can leave you with a very large load of homework. *Grin*

It has been my experience that I have all of these great shots in my head that I can either set-up or capture in theory. (In other words all of the elements I see in my imagination have been seen together at one time, at the same time.) However, when I find myself in a place that I have imagined a shot, I can not remember the elements I previously envisioned! Perhaps you also have experienced that disappointment and  horror of not being able to provide the photos I had in mind for my customer, now feeling like I will have to sell the shots I currently have twice as hard to make up for my lost enthusiasm. (This photo was taken in October of 2011. This is one of the times when I saw the shot, remembering it was something I had imagined without requiring me to add extra elements before immortalizing the scene.)

Here is how I am changing that costly error.

I have begun making a list of shots to compose by category, location, priority or time of day. (A time-saving tip is to input all of this information into a spread-sheet and then when I am ready to print a hard copy of my list I can prioritize them in the order that I will be shooting.)

I do not know about the rest of you, but I think about the next better shot all the time. My imagination especially runs wild after a shoot and I have just taken some exceptional shots. After I come down from the high of “a job well done”, I catalog the position and settings of the equipment set-up asking “What made the difference?” and every other question “9 ways from Sunday” about how it can be made better.