Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Black And White Photography

There are a lot of different types of photographes. Depending on what you are photographing, you may want to use a different form of photography. One aspect is black and white photography.
With the first photograph and up until color film was created, every photograph was in black and white. This basically means that the photograph has the two tone colors of black and white accompanied by several other shades of grey. Even after color film was introduced, black and white photography continued to dominate for decades. Nowadays, black and white photography is often used for a more dramatic or artistic affect. It has a lower cost and produces a more classic photograph look. There are four basic things that you need to remember when taking black and white photography:

Practice: Taking a good picture doesnt come naturally. Taking a good black and white picture is not easy either, seeing as to take a good photo all of the following aspects need to be present. Therefore, it takes a lot of practice and concentration that can only be obtained over time to take a good black and white photograph.Contrast:Being able to spot proper contrast between black and white and ignore the aspects of the color is not something that you pick up automatically. Recognizing that a certain object will make a good back and white photo is something that is crucial to getting the right photo.
Texture: Photographing a object or subject that has a high degree of texture can make a photograph a lot more interesting. It increases the amount of contrast creating a more dynamic eye catchig photo.Color: Never shoot in black and white. If you want to have a truly fascinating black and white photo, shoot in color and turn the photo into black and white manually after you capture it.
By using these listed tips and techniques, almost anyone can produce a truly beautiful black and white photograph.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

How To Work A Digital SLR Camera

In my last blog post, I recommended the top cameras with the lowest costs for photography. Once you have the camera, you need to learn how to use it. This blog post will be all about how you work your camera so that you can get the best results in your photos.

The main things you need to know about SLR cameras in order to take a perfect picture is shutter speed, aperture, depth of field and your ISO setting.

Shutter speed can be defined as how long the shutter is opened. Shutter speed is represented by fractions. The bigger the denominator, the shorter the amount of time that the shutter is open. For example, 1/1000 represents a thousandth of a second and is therefore faster than a shutter speed of 1/60.
Example of a photograph taken using a slow shutter speed.

The longer the shutter is open the more light reaches the sensor. A very slow shutter speed can produce a blur in pictures. To get a sharp, clear picture, the rule of thumb is that you use a shutter speed of 1/60 of a second or larger.
Example of photograph using a fast shutter speed
Aperture, also known as F-Stop, refers to the amount of light that you are letting in through your lens. It is defined as the diameter that the shutter opens to to let the light in. If it is open wide it lets in more light then if it was barely opened. The aperture works similar to the way that your eye functions in letting light in and out. Also, Aperture settings are represented as decimal numbers. The numbers is where it gets confusing. Smaller numbers represent a larger aperture and vis-versa, larger numbers represent a smaller aperture. For example, an aperture of f/2.8 is larger than one of f/11. There is a large range of f-stops on most cameras, but different lenses have different ranges of f-stops. A cheaper lens might only open to an f-stop of 4.0 while a more expensive lens could reach as high as 1.6. Aperture and shutter speed directly relate to each other because as you change one of them, you must also change the other to counterbalance the first change. For example, if you have to increase the shutter speed so that you can capture a fast moving object then you must decrease the aperture so that your picture can still come out looking right.
Additionally, aperture directly affects the next aspect of taking a good photo; depth of field. Depth of field is the range of which your photo is in focus. A large depth of field puts more objects in focus, a greater distance from the photographer. A shallow depth of field puts things in focus that are closer and more prominent in the picture. For pictures that include a wide range of objects that you want to be in focus, a large depth of field should be used, while for close-ups a shallow depth of field is appropriate. Depth of Field can be manipulated using Aperture. A large aperture such as 2.8 lets in more light and is therefore used to create photos with a large depth of field. Similarly, a small aperture such as 11 lets in less light and is used for shallow pictures.Example of depth of field. Top photo has a shallow DOF and the lower photo has a wide DOF.
Lastly is ISO, which stands for International Organization for Standardization, is the standard
for measuring light sensitivity and how that affects the picture. The higher the ISO the more sensitive the sensor is to light. ISO is usually represented as larger numbers, such as 100 or 300.This chart shows the relationship between f-stop, located on the left, and shutter speed, on the right, with depth of field represented by the blue arrows.

When you are trying to take a good photograph, you have to consider all of the above aspects in order to obtain that perfect image. Each one directly affects the other. As we discussed, aperture and shutter speed correspond to each other, as well as ISO and aperture and depth of field. Therefore, understanding how your cameras works and how the functionality uses the things discussed is crucial to being a photographer.

Happy shooting!

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Price of Art

In the general scheme of things, electronics are pretty expensive. If your really serious about photography, its a good idea to invest in a decent camera. Any photograph that you take will never be the best that it can be unless you have the right equipment (and now how to use it, which will be in next weeks blog post). Affording a decent camera is not exactly easy and finding good deals on cameras can be a hassle. For people who are serious about photography or want to improve their photograph skills just for fun, they will need a digital SLR camera. Basically, SLR stands for single lens reflex, but that's not important. They allow the photographer to change lenses on a digital, as well as adjust the settings of the camera manually depending on the photo. They take fast, crisp pictures are really optimal for good photographs. Canon, Nikon, and Panasonic are the top digital SLR camera manufacturers.
So, now that you know what kind of camera you need, the next step is finding a good deal on it. For your buying and viewing pleasure, here are five of the top digital SLR cameras with the cheapest or most affordable prices:

Canon Rebel XS-Price: $478.00
  • While this may seem expensive for a camera, this is one of the cheapest and most efficient cameras on the market right now. It has 10.1 megapixels, a large 2.5 inch LCD display, DIGIC III image processor, an EOS integrated cleaning system, and stores images on SD/SDHC memory cards. Well worth the price.

Nikon D40-Price: $409.00
  • This camera is a favorite among photographers. It is easy to use and very reliable. It has a slightly smaller mega pixel size then the Rebel, only 6.1, but has the same size LCD display screen, has fast start up and instant shutter response and is ideal for 14X19-inch prints.

Canon Powershot SX10IS-Price: $320.00
  • The Powershot combines the large mega pixel size, 10.0, with the 2.5 inch screen and an irresistible price. It has 20X optical zoom, a wide-angle lens and optimal image stabilizer. Easy to use, lightweight, and affordable, this camera is a good buy for photographers with the desire and a tight budget.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ28K-Price: $310.00
  • This was the first camera I received when I started getting serious about photography. Like the two canon cameras it has 10 mega pixels, as well as 18X wide angle zoom lens, a 2.7 inch LCD screen, HD video capture, full manual operations and advanced screen modes. This is a beginner camera for someone starting out or for a photographer that is just having fun.

Olympus SP-565UZ-Price: $290.00
  • Just because this is the cheapest camera, doesn't necessarily mean that it is the worst in quality. Like a few of the others, it has 10 mega pixels, image sensor, 20X optical image-stabilized zoom, high speed shooting, face detection and shadow adjustment technology. This camera proves that price does not define quality.
Buying a dependable camera is the first step in really becoming serious about photography as an art. Beside taking pictures that are above the average in quality, these cameras will show you a side and aspect of photography you never knew existed and might provide for you a new hobby.
Happy shooting!

*All prices and information about these cameras was found on Amazon.com. This is also the site that I recommend to buy the less expensive cameras.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Photography Classes At SJSU

Nowadays, it is always a good idea to have a few extra skills underneath your belt. Employers are often impressed by prospective employees that stick out among the crowd and that can claim to be able to do something that the other applicants cannot. Photography is a versatile and important skill; especially in the field of Journalism. Almost every field of Journalism involves some aspect of photography. If, in the future, an employer knows that you can take a decent photograph and understand the technicalities of photography, it could mean major brownie points for you! Also, taking a photography class in college can give you elective points, help take care of those extra units before graduation, or just give you something fun to do. As a result, I am posting a list of photography classes at San Jose State University:

Photo 40: Beginning Photography
  • 3 Units
  • Graded Activity
  • Basic principles of photographic practices including both technical and aesthetic issues.
Photo 112: Color Photography
  • 3 Units
  • Graded Activity
  • Theory, practice and aesthetic investigations of color photography: lighting, filters, chemical and digital processes.
Photo 115: Digital Photography
  • 3 units
  • Graded Activity
  • Advanced theory, practice and aesthetic investigations of digital imaging techniques. Emphasis upon avenues of expression not available through traditional photo processes. Course is repeatable once for credit.
Journalism 95: Beginning Digital News Photography
  • 3 units
  • Graded Activity
  • Basic introduction to news photography and photojournalism field. Includes camera use - composition, aperture, shutter speed, and lens selection- and processing for print or electronic media using PhotoShop. Emphasis on technical aspects of digital news photography and storytelling with photographs.
  • ATTENTION STUDENTS OF THE SCHOOL OF JOURNALISM AND MASS COMMUNICATIONS: This class can be used to meet the 3 unit requirement for an elective within the JMC school!
Photo 122: Product Photography
  • 3 units
  • Graded Activity
  • The technical and conceptual aspects of product photography with emphasis on design, lighting, visual impact and clarity of purpose. Course is repeatable once for credit.
  • This is a recommended photo class specific for Journalism/PR/Advertising etc. majors.
Photo 126: History of Photography
  • 3 units
  • Graded Activity
  • Technical developments and aesthetic trends in photography traced from its invention in the nineteenth century to the present day. Slide presentations, discussions, field trips.
Photo 121: Photographic Lighting Techniques
  • 3 units
  • Graded Activity
  • Concepts and principles of lighting using both daylight and incandescent light sources and the use of standard studio lighting equipment.

*Keep in mind, that for all of these classes, students are required to have a digital SLR camera that can be manually programmed. When I first took photo 40, I didn't know this and it was kinda surprising to be told I had to buy a $400 or more expensive camera! :)
**As a parting note, a lot of these classes have pre-reqs, so make sure to check you my SJSU or talk to the teacher before trying to add a class.