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Photography: An Introduction For beginners


rhstanley3

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Hello fellow photoshop gurus. I was reading a request for a tutorial in the forum tutorials (where this is) asking about how to take quality photos. Me, having a particular love for photography decided to address photography right down to the knitty gritty (of course, I'm going to leave out most of the gritty). I personally feel that knowledge of photography is a definite must for any photoshoper. Note ahead of time that this tutorial will feature no actual photos taken by me, as I don't have a digital camera. Anyways, lets get the ball rolling, shall we?

First, before we get to the actual basics of photography, lets quickly discuss the different types of camera. (As a side note, at no point in this tutorial will I address video cameras or video features on cameras, as I feel that is more cinematography and doesn't have as much to do with photoshop as still photos do.) Anyways, there are a few different kinds of camera. The first type is perhaps the most common of all cameras, and that is a point-and-shoot camera, such as the one below.
y-Cyber-Shot-DSC-WX1-Compact-Point-and-Shoot-angle.jpg
This type of camera is small, portable and convenient for quick snapshots on a vacation or at a birthday party. The next type of camera is the DSLR, which means Digital Single-Lens Reflex Camera. These cameras are much more professional-looking than a point-and-shoot, and also take higher quality photos (that is, if you know what it is you're doing.) DSLR's have a digital screen and look like the camera below.
View attachment 1494sony-a800.jpg
The least common type of camera is the SLR camera, which is a Single Lens Reflex Camera. This camera uses film instead of digital technology. These cameras aren't the same as the kodak cameras you buy from albertsons for your 4rth grader's trip to the zoo, but rather were in the same boat as the DSLR is now until digital cameras came out. Newer versions of these cameras look similar to DSLR's but without the digital screen. In the picture below is a considerably older camera.
View attachment 1495vintage-canon-ae-1-program-slr-camera1.jpg
Now that we've established the different types of camera, I'm going to completely skip over the point-and-shoot camera altogether, and I'm going to cut straight to the DSLR's, as they give you more control than a point-and-shoot, as well as better quality photos. DSLR's and SLR's are very different from point-and-shoots in the sense that you can't just point and shoot, things won't work out very well for you if you do. When taking photos with a DSLR or an SLR, there are three settings that one must take into account whenever taking a photo. These are your ISO, your shutter speed, and your f-stop (or your aperture). In the next three paragraphs, I'm going to talk about each individually.

ISO
ISO (the meaning of the acronym has nil to do with this subject, besides knowing that it's an international standard in photography.) is a very important aspect in photography. ISO, to put it simply, is how sensitive the camera is to light. What's important to know about your ISO is that it is measured in hundreds, starting at 100 and doubling per stop. (i.e. 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200) *NOTE: A stop is each level of setting. Stops are used for all three types of setting* 100 is one stop, while 400 is two stops up from 100, and 200 is a stop below 400. Still following me? Higher quality cameras will have 1/3 of a stop for ISO (i.e. ISO400 1/3, ISO 400 2/3, ISO800). The lower the stop is (the closer it is to 0, the lowest you can use being 100) the longer it takes for the film to devhelop. The higher the ISO, the faster the film develops. knowing how to use ISO will help when shooting at night or shooting in very bright areas. One might question why one would every want a lower ISO when taking pictures if a higher ISO develops at a faster rate, when one can just increase shutter speed (which will be addressed in the next paragraph) to get the same effect. The main reason is because of the difference in quality between a picture with a higher ISO and a lower ISO. Although a lower ISO photo takes longer to develop, the photo will always be of higher quality than a high-ISO photo. The higher the photo's ISO, the grainier the photo will be. So you either sacrifice quality for speed of exposure, or you sacrifice speed of exposure for quality. Which to use depends on your situation and the object you're shooting. When shooting a picture of an orange that's sitting on a table, a lower ISO might be preferred, as you won't have to worry about the object moving. Higher ISO would be much better for a night-time shot or a dark shot. Lets continue onto the next setting, shall we?

Shutter Speed
Shutter speed is how long your shutter stays open, which in essence is how long the shutter allows the 'film' (in quotations for a DSLR, take out quotations for an SLR) to expose. For example, lets say you want to take a picture of an African swallow migrating to England carrying a coconut, because it can't be a European swallow, as the average European swallow is 5oz. and the average coconut is 1lbs., and a 5oz. bird can't carry a 1lbs. coconut. The bird flies so fast, that a slow shutter speed won't be able to capture the sight in focus, but the bird and it's coconut would actually be blurry. However, with a faster shutter speed, you will be able to capture the swallow in clarity, able to see that it is in fact carrying a coconut. Shutter speed starts at the stop 1, then goes to 1/2 and then doubles up, just like ISO. However, it doesn't double up for all of the numbers, particularly 3 in a row, then it jumps to a different number (i.e. 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/15, 1/30, 1/60 etc.) The reason this happens is because it has been standardized on most cameras to have 1/3's of a stop for the different stops. (1/4 is 1/3 of a stop up from 1/2, and 1/8 is 2/3 of a stop up from 1/2, and 1/15 is one stop above 1/2.) Most camera models are different with the highest and lowest shutter speeds. Furthermore, these shutter speeds aren't just numbers made out of thin air. They are fractions of a second (1/2 is a half a second, and so on and so forth.) The lowest constant stop is 1, which leaves the shutter open for 1 second. When I say constant stop, I am referring to the custom shutter speed settings. There are two different settings, the first keeping the shutter open as long as you keep your finger on the shutter button (the button you press to actually take the picture). The last setting is called bulb, and it is similar to the last feature mentioned, but you don't need to hold the shutter button. When you press the shutter button once, the shutter remains open until the button is pressed a second time later. Using the method mentioned, you can create photos often referred to as light paintings, such as this photo.
photographing-light-trails.jpg
You can also use this method to blur movement, like in this picture.
115119,xcitefun-moving-sculpture-1.jpg
Now that we have established the basics of shutter speed, lets move on to Aperture.

Aperture
Aperture means "The diameter of such an opening, often expressed as an f-number." In photography, aperture is how wide or narrow the blades of the lens will open. Aperture is referred to as f-stop. The lower the f-stop, the wider the diameter that light enters through. A lower aperture number allows more light to enter the camera, while a higher aperture number allows less light to enter the lens. Aperture effects two things in a picture besides light allowed into a photo. Aperture effects the plane of focus, as well as Bokeh. Lets adress Bokeh first. Bokeh is a camera effect caused by light when it enters the camera lens. The light is stopped in a shape by the blades of the lens, which causes the effect bellow.
sun-rays.jpg
The effect is often seen in movies when the camera passes the sun. An interesting fact is that before a certain point, in movies, directors of cinematography did whatever they could to get rid of the bokeh. After a movie that I can't remember the name of used it effectively, it has been wanted and is sought after in both cinematography and photography. Currently, the new craze is to make your own bokeh that wouldn't be possible with a normal lens, such as a heart shaped bokeh like the one below.
custom_bokeh.jpg
This bokeh can be achieved easily without the use of photoshop, but I won't address how unless asked. Focus, unlike bokeh, is slightly more complicated. First of all, a smaller aperture number will make a narrower plane of focus than a larger aperture number.


Unfortunately I have run out of time, but part 2 will be up soon. Enjoy what there is!
*NOTE: I know the first three pictures aren't appearing. I'll correct this later.*
 

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rhstanley3

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Welcome to Part 2 of Photography: An Introduction For Beginners. In this extension to my first post, I'm going to expand on aperture and how it's used, as well as combining aperture, ISO, and shutterspeed to achieve quality pictures. Why don't we get started?

Aperture

Aperture number is different than the size of an aperture, and one must be careful when discussing aperture with someone else. When someone describes a large aperture, they are talking about a low aperture number.
View attachment 1553
Be careful, as this can cause mistakes when talking to people. It's probably best to only talk about aperture with aperture numbers. But more importantly to know, is how aperture affects a picture. How aperture works is there is a plane of focus. Anything within this plane is perfectly in focus. The farther away something is from this plane, the less in focus the object will be, becoming increasingly blurry with distance. In the picture below, the red plane is where things are perfectly in focus.
focal plane.jpg
This effect is often used to bring more focus to a specific part of an image than to any other part in the image by making that part of the image more crisp than the rest of the image. This falling out of focus is commonly referred to as depth of field. However, when using a larger aperture number, the depth of field in which things are in focus begins to expand. This is illustrated in the picture below.
large-depth-of-field.jpg
The yellow shows the falloff as it goes farther away from the red plane. the more yellow, the more in focus that part of the picture will be. That, my friends, is the basics of aperture.

1+1+1=3

Combining all three of these can be instrumental to how well your pictures come out, with many combinations. For example, you can take a picture with a pretty low ISO such as 400, and a medium-fast shutterspeed, but a really low aperture number, such as 2, will give you an incredibly small depth of field to focus on, and a considerable amount of light will be let into the camera to expose the photo, making up for the longer development time of a low ISO. This is only one option, some experience or thinking about how each setting effects a picture can make a big difference in the quality of your pictures, making a noticable difference in your pictures.

The Rule of Thirds
Just getting the hang of which settings to use where might make the overall quality of the photo good, but it won't effect its asthetically pleasing look. There is a small little rule that all photographers should follow, that actually makes a big difference in your photography. This small little rule with a big impact is used everywhere from small time photographers to professional photographers to directors of cinematography in Hollywood. This is known as the rule of thirds.
The rule of thirds is a rule that dictates how all photographers should set up their photos. To explain it in a sentence, it says that you should NEVER place your subject of the picture exactly center frame. Never. There are some rare cases in which you do want something centered, but maybe we'll get into that later. It's abiding by this rule that will truly separate quality photography from point-and-shoot photography. To actually understand this rule, it is best to show what it is I'm talking about. The easiest way to describe it is to separate the camera into nine parts, 3 vertical lines and 3 horizontal lines, like in the image below.
Rule of Thirds.jpg
When taking a photo, you want the focal point to be outside of that center square, like in this photo. the most red red is the point of focus, and as it gets dimmer out, the depth of field does as well (in a 3-demensional space within the photo. that's kinda hard for me to create accurately in photoshop without a lot of work)
Focal point.jpg
This rule can be seen everywhere. Take this snapshot from the matrix. In this scene neo is dodging bullets, and if you notice, neo isn't exactly center frame, but is a bit off.
ROT ex.jpg

Part 3 will be out soon :)
 

rhstanley3

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wow, photography looks like difficult for me :D
Lol, not really. If you learn the basics of using the camera, along with the basics of photo setup, it can lead to much better phototaking with some practice. I personally recomend DSLR's to people, even though they range around 500/600-(much higher) they will give you a lot more control than another camera would. Talk to others about it to get differing opinions on the matter, as everone has a different viewpoint.
 

wertwww

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wow, thanks for post. It was helpful. I mean, literally, I know nothing about photography although I'm interested in. Anyway, Thanks!
 

rhstanley3

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wow, thanks for post. It was helpful. I mean, literally, I know nothing about photography although I'm interested in. Anyway, Thanks!
Thanks. I keep meaning to get to the last part of this thread to complete it, but I never get around to it :/ Some time, maybe. The last part when I ever get around to it will discuss the principles of camera lenses themselves, because types and length and diameter all make huge differences in the quality of your photos. Hopefully I'll get to it soon :)
 

Carrie56

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This is very helpful for me as I am in the market to buy my first DSLR camera soon I am trying to read up everything I can find on them so I can make an informed decision. Any suggestions on what type (brand etc) to buy would be useful for me. Also it doesn't necessarily need to be brand new. I would take a gently used one too.
 

rhstanley3

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Your welcome. Sorry for the very late reply, you're probably not looking for a camera anymore. I can't recommend any brand, because I have a biased opinion on what brands are good and which ones are not, although I do think that different brands have different advantages. Cannons for the most part have a lot more flexibility with lenses, Nikons are generally smaller and more compact, and the new Sony NEX series is very thin, looking like a point-and-shoot that is actually a DSLR camera with interchangeable lenses. There's quite a few major brands out there, but if you want something that will be cheap and a very good camera if you learn how to use it, the NEX N series will be moving on to a new series, either R or F I believe, so the cameras in the N series will drop in price considerably. If you do plan on picking up an NEX, I suggest the 5N. The price might be around $300-$400 for a kit. Look up reviews and videos on youtube to get a wider range of opinons.
 

Kulibali

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Hey buddy you forgot to mention that in the arsenal of the photographer must be necessarily gimbal or glidecam stabilizer. It will be difficult to take good photos without it, especially when you are a beginner photographer. For me it was a real way out as I almost always get blurry or fuzzy photos not to mention the video. All that changed when I got Glidecam XR Pro. This is my first glidecam. Now I think to buy gimbal for GoPro and Drone.
 

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