Terms – Exposure

I have written several posts that mention photos should be properly “exposed”. What does it mean to properly expose a photo? Good question. That is exactly the issue I intend to demystify.

“Back in the day” when every photographer used film to capture a scene for posterity the process included light rays piercing the film and chemical coating. When I refer to exposure, it is based on this process and how long the film is “exposed” to the light. If the film was left available to light it will be unintelligibly “bleached”.

So what this means in our digital world is we look at our digital exposures for areas that does not accurately represent the colors of our scene.

Proper exposure is not dependent on your field of photography. For example, a photo-journalist does not use a different measure for proper exposure than a commercial portrait photographer would. Each vocation specialty may prefer different exposures for their purposes, but there is one common key; they all want their subject in this range of proper “exposure”. We will discuss this more in-depth in our next post “Terms – Exposure 2”.

Exposure is effected by length of shutter speed, amount of added light (flash, strobe or constant) and lens aperture. All of these we have covered in earlier posts. For now, what are the keys that will help us discern a proper exposure?

Detail – How much detail is visible in the photograph? Detail represents the photographic subject and the surrounding scene.

Depth of Shadow – How dark are the shadows in the photograph? This will cause detail to be obscured.

Bright areas without detail – What areas in the photograph are saturated with more light than necessary? This will cause detail to not be visible.

As you look through pictures take some time to look at shadows and bright areas. Look for detail and consider other places the photographer could have stood for more or less light to expose the shot.

Snap shots

Snap shots are one of most rewarding and irritating events in photography. Allow me to explain.

Say I am on vacation and I take my camera along because anticipating you will see is impossible (even while planning your itinerary). Besides, who does not take a camera when planning to do so many fun things? I mean, that is a given. Even if it is the old Polaroid camera!

I carry my camera with me every where I go, so that means; hiking, flying, driving, activities (especially so), reading a book on the patio, camp fire, dinner meetings, museums, parks, monuments…I think you get the idea. In fact I carry my camera with me so often that in some department stores have asked me to keep my camera in my bag or leave the store. *Sheepish grin* (In addition I suggest never to make a scene in a store. It is not good for your business nor theirs and may even destroy possible future business relations.)

The main thing is to always have you camera so that you can capture that ever so rare moment!

Next: Learn to anticipate things. A parent is an expert at seeing possible dangers their children can walk into, mostly from experience. So, if you miss a snap shot because you lack this anticipatory experience, avoid condemning or punishing yourself! No one likes a “grumpy” photographer (parental or professional). Smile, laugh and enjoy the moment!

I think of snap shots as an art form all their own! Snap shots have no preparatory time, meaning you cannot clean up the living room before the moment passes, or that large field of uncut grass cannot be manicured. Take heart! You need not document the unkempt living room or the uncut field.

Friday, we will talk about some solutions in avoiding distracting backgrounds.

Camera Troubles – Part 2

I can be quickly angered with myself because I lack the understanding of how my own camera sees the same scene I do. Not only that, but if I did have the understanding of how my camera see the scene, I do not anticipate that I have the dexterity to change the camera settings in the time it takes to raise the camera to my Eye once I see a shot. Although, because I know why I am angered, I can learn what I do not know. So, let us get to it!

In Tuesday’s post “Camera Troubles” we talked about how our Eye receives light and the path it takes through our Eye to the Brain. Now I should tell you that your visionary organisms are so magnificently fashioned no camera can compare to its spectrum of strength, complexity and ability.

Cameras are doing some amazing and spectacular things today, but the camera which outputs the most fantastic images is only at a basic level able to capture 1 out of the 100 things the Human Eye sees. Amazingly, even giving it a 1 out of 100, is being generous.

The camera is fashioned after the organisms that give us the capabilities to see. By displaying the inspiration for the first camera prototype I will list and correlate the major devices of the digital camera to the human capability of vision.

Major camera devices:

  • Lens – The lens containing glass for focusing and diaphragm for measured light control.
  • Shutter – The shutter is a part of an SLR camera which covers the sensor and only opens for the purpose of taking a picture.
  • Sensor – The sensor receives the light which surrounds the scene.
  • Processor – The processor receives the information from the sensor and sets it in order for storage.
  • Storage – The storage is a memory card that can produce any or all of the images you have taken.

Cameras, film and digital, are wonderful devices we can use to remind us of those specials times and events. There are some limitations of camera technology as compared to our visual capabilities.

“So how do I learn the difference between what my camera sees and what I see?”

“What settings ought to be change, and what is the proper setting level?”

These and other questions will be answered in our first two posts of April. Please join us as we explore how to get the most out of your camera!

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!

“Beef-ing” it up.

As a photographer there are many moments when a prospective contractor is looking through my portfolio and I see each photo they inspect wishing that they would move on to  the photos which in my opinion are better. Yet they linger over the photos that I consider “the worst” of the lot and they still ask me to participate in their events as a photographer. Why is this the case?

I have found in many cases (not all cases, by any stretch of the imagination) that capturing only the intended object perfectly is not the desire of the event coordinator.

So what do they and other viewers see in my worst photos? That is a good question to ask when people comment on a photo. For instance, you can ask “What drew you to the photo”, or “Why do you like this photo the best out of the rest of them?” Of course it is always polite to ask them permission to ask these questions so as not to embarrass them or imply the wrong message by your question.

Let me use an example from personal experience to make the point a little bit more clear. 

The photo inserted on the left was a quick snap shot taken while I was on vacation. As I began to focus and was once again reminded of my camera’s perspective of the world I readjusted my imagination to fit what the camera could see.

By readjusting I was adding interest to the photo by allowing some “white space” and an un-harvested field to contrast the cut fields seen in the vehicle’s side view mirror. This is very important to remember, when photographing; keep a natural amount of interest in the photo (whether that means taking a different perspective to leave things out of the shot, or to bring things into the shot, being posed or candid).

This is not to say that all photos do not have some inherited interest, but some may need more or less interest than others. I hope you have fun playing with interest and it serves you well in your next photo opportunities!