Saturday, December 12, 2015

BOKEH - Blur the Background

Aperture at 3.5, ISO 100, Shutter 250.
Here's the set up and the result:
Simple, but effective.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

From Sunshine to Halloween

Sometimes you are forced to shoot in broad daylight when you want a dark, forbidding shot.  You have to improvise.
Here are a few easy steps to create a faux spooky shot.

                                                                        1. The sign.
2. Alter the sign with local Spanish Moss.
3. Desaturate the color, and darken a bit.
4. Gausian Blur.
5. Blend with Multiply.

Done. Quick and easy.

All photos ©2015Kewphoto

Thursday, February 26, 2015

NO FREEBIES - A Photographers rant by Kewphoto

Every photographer hears it.  Mostly from friends and family.  Could you shoot my kids?  Will you shoot my event? Please come to my wedding - and bring your camera!

Now, we are not talking about cousin Freddie and his new IPhone.  Or Uncle Ted, who just bought an expensive camera and is confident he can use it to give you some pretty good snapshots.

We are talking about professional photographers.  Those of us who do it for a living.

Consider this:
*We have probably went to school of some sort, we read every magazine and book printed on photography, we take seminars and courses to keep up on our education.  All of which costs money.
*Not only did we pay for all our equipment (and in some cases, rented for that special need) including lights, backdrops, meters, lenses, reflectors, cases, the van, and quite a few cameras.
*All this gear needs insured. I, for one, will not take my main cameras out of the house unless I have a contract with a client.  Insurance companies won't pay if I was using it for fun.
*A normal shoots includes travel to the event (say, half hour), set up (hour) shooting (6 hours) clean up (half), return travel (half), then - editing (at least as long as the shoot). A full day taken away from us, a day which could have been spent earning a living and feeding our kids.

So - no, it is NOT a freebie - it costs us quite a bit of time and money.

Imagine your work.  Whatever you do.  Imagine me coming to you and asking if you would put in a full days work - just for me 'cause we are palls - with no pay.

Yeah, thought so.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Day 10: Shutter Speed Expanded

So. We now know what the aperture does. Set one way, tons of light and shallow Depth Of Field; the other less light and wider DOF.
Now the SHUTTER. Set with the S or TV dial, it is the duration of time that the shutter is open, letting available light into the sensor. Mainly, it controls movement. Here, I have a ceiling fan. The fan is set for it's slowest speed, so I set the shutter for 1/500 of a second.

 Very fast. It captured the blades in mid flight, but still gave a dark image, due to the fact that not a whole heck of light was allowed in Maybe I should have used a slower shutter...

After resetting my shutter to 1/3 of a second, you can see a lot of light came in, but it is overly bright and you can't see the blades at all.
So what can be done?
The S/TV setting allows you to set the shutter speed to whatever you want - within the cameras limitations - to capture movement or stillness.  Just like A/AV setting, YOU set the shutter speed and the camera sets an appropriate aperture base on available light.  But as you can see, the exposures look very different in this example.  Why? Because of the ISO setting.  That will be tomorrows post.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Day 9: Aperature - More

Long post the last few days, so we'll have a short one today. Large aperture shots are not only for portraits. A shallow depth of field can give you very striking images, like this one from the bridge over the Beaufort River I took last week. If I had used a smaller aperture, this railing would have been lost, making a rather dull shot. Thus:

Food for thought.
Homework for today: Have some food. And think.
Tomorrow - Shutter Speed.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Day 8: Aperature - Expanded

Now that we have a rough idea of what the Three Biggies do, and why we would want them to do it, let's look a little deeper into each.
Let's try an experiment.  Find something far away that has lettering on it.  Now try to read it.  If it is far away enough, and small enough, what did you do?  You squinted in order to see it well.  What you are doing is forcing your iris to close enough so everything in the distance is in focus.  Same as you would if you were shooting a landscape with your camera.
The Aperture of a camera is in the lens. Imagine it as your iris on your eye. If you are in a dark room, your iris opens up to giant size, to allow more light in and lets you see better at night. Go outside on a bright day and your iris will close down to a tiny pinpoint to limit light coming in. This is the same with a camera lens. It is measured by the f-stop, where the oddly named word "stop" is replaced by a number - a fraction of the entire diameter of the lens' iris. Since it is a fraction, as we learned in Mrs. Willis's fifth grade math class, the smaller the number, the bigger it is (1/2 is larger than 1/3).
Each lens has it's own range. For instance, the kit lens that ships with most Canon Rebels have a range of f-3.5 to f-5.6. That means the widest you can open the aperture on it is 3.5, at the cameras widest angle (more on that later). Zoom out from 18mm to 55mm (more on that later), and your maximum is now limited to 5.6. On the other end of the spectrum, the smallest aperture on that lens, regardless of zoom, is f-22. So the wider the angle on that lens, the more light it can let in.
A stronger zoom lens, for the same camera, would be the 55-250mm IS (more on that later), with an aperture range of f-4 to f5.6, meaning the largest aperture that lens can allow is one stop slower (more on that later) then the kit lens. You do give up light when you zoom.
So what is to be done? What if you want to devote your life to Portrait photography? What if you want the eyes of your subject in perfect focus, and have it drop off from there? Well, that is where a faster lens would come in handy. The f-stop (more on that later) range is called the SPEED of the lens. The lower the numbers, the faster the lens. So try a 50mm. f-1.8 lens. This lens is a little more expensive, but will give you a super-shallow depth of field (see Feb 1st post). It will also allow so much more light in that it can drastically alter your shutter speed, but that is for tomorrow.
Until then, homework is: Examine your lens. Lots of numbers and such. Must mean sumptin'.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Day 7: Summery - The Story So Far

In one week, we have an OK grasp on what the three amigos do the the camera and to each other,
So, Aperture, Shutter and ISO.
We know what they do. But when and why do we use them?


Portrait (Face is in focus, background isn't): Large Aperture (low f-number)
Landscape (Everything from foreground to background is in focus): Small Aperture (high f-number)
Running Athlete (To capture action): Fast Shutter (1/500th of a second to 1/4000th)
Starry Night (No lights, very dark): Long Shutter (1/50th of a second to 30 seconds)
For now we are leaving the ISO at 100.

The first two use the Aperture control to set your exposure. Set camera to A or AV, move the dial so the aperture value goes all the way up or down. The camera will look at available light, and where the ISO is set, and give you the Shutter speed you need for a correct exposure. The second two are controlled with the S or TV dial.
If, for instance, you want to shoot a beautiful landscape of your back yard. Set the Aperture to f-22, point the camera and hit the shutter half way. The camera will meter the light and determine what speed shutter it needs to give you that aperture. Remember, though, that the small aperture allows less light, so the camera may give you a shutter speed of 1/100th of a second. The sad news is, there is no way you can hand hold the camera that long without even a little blur. So, adjust your ISO to the next level. At 200, the shutter may move to 1/250 of a second. Better, but not great. 400? Hand-holdable*, but it now starts to get grainy.
All these factors are determined by the capabilities of your camera. VERY roughly speaking, the newer (and the more expensive) your DSLR, the better it will be at this.
There are other ways to overcome these obstacles, and but they will be covered a bit later. For now, we can live with a little graininess. That back yard will be there for future, better shots.
Homework? Hug your kids.

*My blog - my made up words!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Day 6: Tying It All Together

Okay - APERTURE controls two things: The amount of light that comes in and the amount of focus it gives us.
SHUTTER SPEED controls the time that amount of light comes in.
ISO controls the amount of light that is needed for a correct exposure.

So you have a decision to make.  What do you want to emphasize in your picture:

IF you are shooting a portrait, and you only want your subject to be in focus, pick a large aperture (f1.8).  This will give you a very fast shutter speed. (A/AV MODE)
If you are shooting a landscape and wish th show off the entire scene, use a smaller aperture (f22). This will give you a long shutter speed - so use a tripod. (A/AV MODE)
IF you are shooting a hummingbird and wish to capture it's wings, shoot with a fast shutter speed (1/1000 sec). This will open your aperture to let enough light in. (S/TV MODE)
IF you are shooting fireworks and want to capture the trails of light, use a long shutter speed (5 secs). This will close down your aperture to a tiny dot. Again, use a tripod. (S/TV MODE)


IF you wish to shoot a landscape you would close your aperture to allow a tiny bit of light in and give you that large depth of field, so everything will be in focus, the camera will say, "Well, he's letting a tiny bit of light in here, so I better give him a long shutter so the shot is not underexposed!".  But here's the problem: .  You might set your A/AV to f22, and the camera will set the shutter at 1 full second to compensate.  But what if you didn't bring your tripod?  You need a faster shutter in order to keep the shot sharp and not blurry.
This is when you will need to adjust the ISO. The higher that number the less light the sensor needs to get the exact same exposure,  So in this case, raise the ISO from 100 to 800.  Now the camera does not need as much light and will speed up the shutter to be hand-holdable.

As an example -  say, a dog on his leash wagging his tail. What do you want out of this? Well, maybe a fast shutter so the wagging tail is not a blur. A large aperture so the dog is in focus and not Old Man Johnsons' barn in the background. So set the aperture at f-1.8 (remember, the lower that number, the less in focus there is), but that will allow a ton of light to come in, allowing you to use a very fast shutter speed for the tail. Because it is daylight you don't need a ton of light so your ISO should be ok at 100 or 200.
But suppose there were a bunch of deer in the field. You still want a fast shutter to get their wagging tails, but you want everyone of them in focus. So you adjust your aperture to maybe a f-22, but that would severely limit the light coming in, forcing you to use a much longer shutter to get a correct exposure. But you still want a fast shutter because of that whole tail issue. That's when you raise the ISO to 400 or 800, so the camera does not need as much light, allowing you to use the settings you wish.
Mind wrenching, isn't it? I promise you this will all make sense after thirty or forty years of practice.
Tomorrow, a better recap.....

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Day 5 - ISO

Okay. APERTURE controls the amount of light coming in, and the amount of focus. SHUTTER SPEED controls the amount of time that light is let in. The third and final piece of the exposure puzzle (for our purposes, anyway) is the ISO*. ISO, or FILM SPEED, controls the amount of light the sensor needs to give you the proper exposure.
Here is a shot of my wives relatives. Keep in mind that all three photos in this post were shot with the same aperture and shutter. I wanted my aperture set at f-1.8, and my shutter set at 1/10th of a second. My ISO was then set at 100, meaning the camera needed a ton of light to get a good exposure. With only one lamp, at night, that just wasn't enough light, and here is the result:

So. Increase the ISO to 1600, make the sensor sensitive... and voila':

Now, with this you can decide to make a more moody image, like the first one, or what is considered a correct exposure, like the second. Or, if you want to get crazy, set your ISO to 3200, and take a look:

Now, a word of warning. You may be asking why you wouldn't just keep your ISO at 800, 1600 or 3200 all the time, so you don't need as much light, meaning a faster shutter to catch that hummingbirds wings. And well, you may ask. Just keep in mind, there is a drawback to higher ISOs. DIGITAL NOISE, or graininess. Anything above 400 could easily make an exposure so full of noise that it would be unacceptable.
So tomorrow, we will learn how to make all three of the puzzle pieces work together to get exactly what you want in your image. Until then, today's homework: Try a shrimp egg roll.

*ISO = International Standards Organization. You will never need to know this until well beyond your dying day.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Day 4: Shutter Speed - Part 1

The Fireplace. At night. Here we have two shots that give a pretty good idea of what the SHUTTER does. Yesterday, we shot in A or AV. Today, it is S or TV (Time Value, NOT television). As the name implies, this is the TIME in which light is allowed into the camera. In the first shot, I wanted to see the flames of the fire, so I set the shutter for a quick shutter speed. (1/250th of a second). As you can see, at this relatively fast speed it does not allow a ton of light in, so it is a bit dark. But that didn't matter much to me - yet. I wanted to see the flames. If I were to give it a longer shutter speed, say - one full second, you would be able to see more of the fire place, but the fast moving flames would blur, as shown:

Once again, as I chose my shutter speed, my camera chose the APERTURE and the ISO (tomorrows topic). So, yes I now control the speed of my shutter, but the camera now controls the amount of the scene which is in focus. Soon, we will take control of everything. Baby steps...
Today's homework: Have some Southern Brew Iced Tea.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Day 3: Aperture, Part 2

Yesterday, we took two shots of the same subject. The first was shot with a huge APERTURE, f-1.8 to be exact (Yeah, I'll explain later) and the second at f-16. The second showed the entire scene in focus, while the first showed only the subject in focus.
We did this by shooting in the A or AV setting on the camera. (Yeah, I'll explain later). Using that setting, you control exactly what you want the aperture to be - within the limits of the lens - (Yeah, I'll explain later). Earlier, we learned that the aperture is just one of three forces that affect the exposure of the camera. When you shoot in A or AV, and set your own aperture, the camera measures available light and adjusts the SHUTTER and ISO to maintain a good exposure.

The reason this is important is the OTHER function of the aperture. We learned that the aperture also controls HOW MUCH light comes in. So, using the above apertures, with the shutter set at 1/6th of a second, and the ISO at 100, (Yeah, I'll explain later), I took two shots of a candle. The first, shot at f-1.8 is shown here.

Not a lot of light if the shutter is only open at 1/6th of a second, and the sensitivity is set at 100. But what happens if I let a lot less light in? For one thing, both candles would be in focus, but...

Sure it's in focus, but we can't see it. The moral of the story is that as we control the amount of focus, the light let in changes dramatically. If we want just our subject in focus, we let a lot of light in, forcing us to have a very fast shutter speed. And if we want the entire scene to be in focus, we need a ton of light, and a much longer shutter speed. The danger of that is that you can not hand hold a camera for that long, causing a blurry shot.
But that is for tomorrow. 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Day 2: Aperture, Part 1

This is an image I today at the Beaufort cemetery. In the foreground is a headstone in sharp focus. Beyond that, you can see the other headstones starting just a few feet away. Only the nearest headstone is in focus. This works great for portrait photos, where you would want your subject in focus, and to slightly blur the busy background, thereby drawing attention to your subject. This is called a shallow DEPTH OF FIELD.
That is where the APERTURE (Canon Av, Nikon A) comes in. It is what controls the amount of light entering the camera, as was discussed yesterday. The benefit of this is you can control the depth of field of your photo. For the above shot, I set the aperture at its largest opening (in this case, f-1.8). For the next shot, I did just the opposite: Because the entire scene is in focus, your attention is not drawn to any particular part of the scene. You get to enjoy the entire vista. For this shot, my aperture was set at f-16. As you can see, the lower the f-__, the less that is in focus. This will be explained later...

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Day 1 - Basics

Okay - here we go. Day one will be the VERY basics. There are three concepts to grasp completely before being able to make your camera your slave. The first is APERTURE. That is the amount of light the camera lens lets in. The second, SHUTTER SPEED, is the amount of time that light is allowed into the camera. And the third is ISO, or FILM SPEED. This is the sensitivity of the sensor, or how much light it actually needs. All three of these can be adjusted up or down to achieve the desired effect. The trick is to know what effect it will have on the photo, and what effect adjusting one would have on the other two.
For the above shot, I wanted to focus on the railing, and not the entire bridge.. To do that, I needed to control my APERTURE. I made it very fast (f-1.8). The problem with that is that it let a ton of light in. so the shot would be very bright. So I had to adjust the SHUTTER SPEED to let less light in, and adjust the ISO to make it less sensitive so it needed a ton of light. Keep in mind there are plusses and minuses for each action you take.
For the best results, a thorough grasp of these three concepts is essential. Always be aware of where the three are set, and HOW to set them on your camera. Other things like composition, metering, color, shadows, etc. will come in time, but these three are essential.
Tomorrow I will start with APERTURE. That, to me, is the most important concept to grasp, and one of the toughest. So, until tomorrow, no homework for tonight.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Photography Tutorial starts tomorrow

Starting tomorrow, my series on how to photo-ize stuff, or, as my classes are called, "GET IT OUT OF AUTO". As the above photo illustrates, (the first and hopefully last pic that is not actually mine) anybody can push a button and get an image. You can certainly rely on the camera to try to give you what IT thinks you want. And it will. It will give you a snapshot.
But what if you want to capture your son running past you on the football field? Does the camera know you want that? Or will you just get a blur? Most cameras have a sports mode, but that is unreliable in so many ways, which will all be explained in the coming days.
What if you wanted to shoot a portrait of your son on the sidelines? How do you set your camera? Portrait mode? Now his buddies come over and want to be in the shot also. What now?
The idea is to take control of your camera, and let let the camera control what you get.
The first few days will be the basic theories, what the shutter - aperture - ISO combo can do for you.  Then I'll tackle each one a little more in-depth. Next, metering, composing, light control, lenses, flashes, accessories, on and on and on.
I hope you will enjoy, and more importantly, get something out of it. I hope to as well.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Coming Sunday.....

This is just one of many shots you will be able to impress your friends and influence neighbors with when you take my five year intensive study of all things photography. Although, I may reduce it to 28 days. Five years seems a touch too long. Starts February 1st. Wake the kids, phone the neighbors...
Make sure you Face Like KEWPHOTO.