Ally, me, and Brooke
Garden of the Gods
December 6, 2008
Yesterday I went for a walk in the Garden of the Gods with my friend Brooke. She mentioned to me at our book club meeting last week that she is interested in taking an introductory photography class, so I suggested that we go take photos together. We took my doggie on a walk to the Siamese Twins rock formation, where I taught her some handy tricks regarding aperture and exposure.
Here are some of the tricks I showed her, and other photos from our walk:
Here are the before and after photos that I took to demonstrate concepts to Brooke. All photos are straight out of camera (not adjusted in photoshop).
Brooke was wearing a white shirt, which was perfect for demonstrating how the camera’s auto-exposure system works. I took this photo of her standing in direct sunlight, using the camera’s fully automatic settings:
As you can see, the automatic exposure made the photo too dark. The camera’s meter assumes that each photo isn’t supposed to be dark or light, instead it aims for an exposure right in the middle. Usually that technique works just fine, but Brooke’s shirt looks middle gray instead of white here. In this situation we need to brighten the photo’s exposure.
Here I used the camera’s P (automatic) setting again, but this time I manually adjusted the exposure to +1 stop. Most cameras let you do this, but you might have to look in your menu options to find it.
This is a great tip for snow photos! Have you ever noticed that snow photos often look dull and gray? That’s due to the camera’s adjustment to middle gray. You need to tell your camera that you intend for the photo to be really bright, by increasing the exposure manually.
It was convenient for our demonstration that Ally has black fur. I took this photo fully automatically. As you can see, the camera’s auto exposure lightened her fur to middle gray. It didn’t understand that I wanted this photo to be dark.
This time I manually changed the exposure to -1 stop. You can see now that her fur is black instead of gray.
DEPTH OF FIELD
Brooke was interested in learning about depth of field and how to control it. Depth of field is the portion of a photo that is in focus. For some photos, you want lots of depth of field — for example, a landscape with flowers in the foreground, a tree in the middle ground, and mountains in the background. For other photos, you want to draw attention to your subject with a narrow depth of field — for example, you may want to blur the background to emphasize a flower or a portrait.
Depth of field can be controlled by changing your camera’s aperture. If you set the aperture to open as wide as your lens can (say, f2.8), you will have a narrow depth of field with a blurred background. If you close your lens down to a small aperture (say, f22), you will have great depth of field with just about everything in focus.
I took this photo of a branch at an aperture of f32. Everything is in focus, which is not an asset to this photo. The eye doesn’t know what it’s supposed to look at.
I took the same photo with an aperture of f4. It’s still not an interesting photo, but at least it’s clear what you’re supposed to look at.
This is a good tip for flower photos. Try taking a close-up photo of a flower with two very different apertures, and see which one you prefer. I love to photograph flowers with a very blurred background.
OK, here are some pictures from our outing!