I promised in the episode that I would cover some of the basics and let you see how simple setting changes can affect your photography. I'm not claiming to be great at this and I know that some people who are more down with Photography than I am might take exception to some of how I explain things here. That being said, I've only been at this for a few months and small tutorials like this have helped me. Hopefully it can do the same for you.
To start, let's look at the set up:Set Up
, on Flickr
What I have here is a light box and some cheap table top lights. You can make one of these very easily by using a cardboard box and some tissue paper. Check it out here: Light Tent Tutorial
By using a set up like this you are taking control over your photography and minimizing the difficulties that indoor shooting can present. The light set up you see here is enough to generate quality pictures and the material on the sides of the light box diffuse it enough to eliminate shadow effects. On occasion, I will add a second set of lights on the side, but very rarely is it necessary to use direct frontal lighting.F-Number/Stop
Let's mess with the F-Stop for our first group of pictures. Typically the F-Stop is going to control your focal length, or the point of focus. Think about when you see a picture that has one aspect of it in perfect focus while the background is blurred. This is the main mechanic of your F-Stop.
It's something you have to experiment with to figure out what you want in your particular shot. But for now, let's look at what happens when you increase the F-Stop number while holding the other components steady:
F-8, F-11, and F-14 Respectively
These pictures hold the ISO at 100 and the shutter speed at 0.5 seconds. Now, focal length isn't a real issue here because it's all in the box but what you can observe is that as the F-Stop increases, the more light or exposure time is needed to maintain the picture integrity.Shutter Speed
Shutter speed is easy. It's how long your lens is going to stay open for the shot. What you need to know is that if the camera is actually in your hands, the faster the shutter speed, the better. If you notice a halo or multiple image effect in what you're doing, it's probably because the shutter speed is too slow. The easy, easy, EASY fix is to use a tripod. You can have almost any shutter speed you like so long as the camera isn't moving.
0.25 Seconds, 0.50 Seconds, and 1 Second
Once again for these shots, the ISO is held at 100 and the F-Stop is set to 8.ISO
ISO is a way to measure the light sensitivity of the film. Since we don't use film anymore this is a measure of your camera's light sensitivity. The less light, the higher the ISO necessary to maintain image visibility. The trade off for a high ISO (which lets you take a picture in poor light conditions) is that your image quality goes down and it goes down quickly. Let's look:
ISO 100, ISO 400, and ISO 800 Respectively
Ultimately, taking decent indoor pictures is a balancing act with your ISO, F-Stop, and Shutter Speed. When one is changed, the other two have to be altered to compensate otherwise you start getting pictures that are too dark or too light.
When you start isolating aspects of your set up, you gain a huge degree of control. You want to take the highest quality pictures possible? Then your ISO needs to be as low as possible. You want to focus on one aspect of a picture and blur the background? Start with your F-Stop and then go from there.
Why bother? Why struggle with these manual settings when your camera has an auto setting that will allow you to just point and shoot?
This is why:Auto Setting Shot
, on Flickr
The Auto setting captured this image at an ISO 400, with a F-4, at 1/60 of a second. The camera also forced a flash that was not needed for this shot. When compared to the other images above you can see why.
Compare this to the base-line manual settings here:F8 I-100 S0.5
, on Flickr
Better pictures are just a few small steps away. You can visit my Flikr Photostream here: Counterpunch's Transformer Pictures