Know Your Nikon
Have you thought about how you are going to accomplish your self portrait?
What equipment will you be using? Will you need studio lighting to accomplish your vision? Will you need to set your camera up on a timer? Use a tripod?
Do you know, roughly, what settings you will need to use on your camera to make your vision come true?
Start setting up an area where you will be shooting your photograph and test the waters. Is what you are doing helping you get to your final image? If not, how are you going to adjust your settings, in camera and out of camera, to get to your final image?
It's best to think of these things ahead of time, that way when the time comes to shoot your image, you are completely prepared and stress-free.
You know the subject. You've seen the inspirational photos. But how do you execute your own? Let's take a look at the inspirational photos again a little more in-depth, photography speaking.
Now just to be clear: I am only hypothesizing how these photographs were created based on the details in the image.
Now, take a look at the photograph. There's a giant window on the left, correct? It's obviously very bright, which means that our aperture has to be large enough in number (small enough opening) to allow for such dark blacks on the wall.
We've determined our ISO was set low, which means not a lot of light has come in due to that, as the higher the ISO, the more light is let in, hence you shoot with a low ISO when you are outdoors on a sunny day.
We've determined that the shutter speed was set low. This counteracts the ISO, as the low shutter speed allowed for a lot of light to enter the camera. The slower your shutter speed, the longer your camera is left open, because the shutter opens and closes at a slower speed.
So what about the aperture? Based on the range of focus, which goes to about the halfway point in depth, I would say the aperture was about f/11. If you look closely at the black portions of the wall, the edges start to get a bit blurry about halfway down. Some of you may want to say the aperture was greater, but keep the amount of light in mind. The aperture has to be high enough to allow some details in the window on the far end, and to allow the blacks to be so dark, but low enough that the majority of the window is still brilliant.
Makes sense? Great. If it doesn't, feel free to comment and I can go into more detail for you. Let's look at the next one.
Since we know that the ISO is set high, letting in a lot of light, and the shutter speed is set low, also letting in a lot of light, then that must mean that the aperture is set high to let in a low amount of light. Remember, aperture is the tricky one because it plays on opposites.
The aperture for this image, based on the clarity of the thicker lines, and the fact that the buildings outside the tunnel are still visible and not completely blurred, is most likely f/22 or higher, which would also make sense, considering how much we have to counteract all of the light we've let into the camera with our shutter speed and ISO.
Based on the image, the shutter speed would have to be slower than 1/2 of a second. Note: the fractions you see when we are talking about shutter speed are the fraction of a second. So if you shoot at 1/32, your shutter speed is clicking at 1/32 of a second.
I believe you're getting the point. It's very important to know the relationships between ISO, aperture, and shutter speed to get the perfect shot. When looking at inspirational images, don't just admire them for their aesthetic qualities, but also for the technical work that went into creating the photograph.
As you get better with your camera and start playing around with settings, you'll be able to dissect images yourself.
How does one get crisp images, with details so refined, you have to wonder how much editing went into the image?
It's not the editing dearies, it's the camera settings. You can always try to up the clarity in editing, but truly, the clarity comes from the settings used to capture the image. You can't change a blurry image to a clear one in Photoshop.
We've discussed how aperture affects focal distance and lighting. We've talked about how ISO affects lighting and the grain/noise in your image. So what affects clarity? Shutter speed.
You've seen this cheat sheet before, now look at it again:
With culinary photography you have two options with shutter speed.
First option: Raise shutter speed to 1/125 or higher (I recommend 1/250 or higher). This will result in clearer images, as it counteracts the photographers shake as they hold the camera. If you think you have steady hands, try taking a photograph through a telephoto lens on a low shutter speed. With your shutter speed increased, this means that you're going to have to change the aperture and the ISO to make up for it.
When you increase your shutter speed, you are shortening the amount of time that light can enter your camera, which means you are going to have to allow light in by another means. You can either open up your aperture or increase your ISO. Remember, the more open your aperture is, the shorter your focal range is, and the higher your ISO is, the more noise you're going to have in your image, so this has its disadvantages, depending on what your end goal with your image is.
Second option: Lower your shutter speed to 1/60 or lower. To make this a successful photograph, you are going to have to attach your camera to a tripod. The tripod takes away the photographer's shake, and ensures stability so that the only thing affecting clarity is the movements of the subject, and the last time I checked, food doesn't move on its own.
With your shutter speed decreased to low numbers, you now have free realm to leave your ISO low, and your aperture more closed to increase your field of focus.
Try both methods of using shutter speed out and determine what works best for you.
February 18: #KnowYourNikon
In January, we covered getting to know focal distance. In our first February challenge, we learned how to utilize aperture.
For February's second challenge, we are going to learn about ISO! We talked a bit about it in our #FeeltheNoise posts, but now we are going to go more in depth!
First off, I'm sure you want to know what "ISO" means. It is a short-hand version of "International Standards Organization", which regulates sensitivity ratings for your sensors in your camera. What you have your ISO set at directly effects your camera's sensitivity to light. The lower your ISO, the less sensitive your camera is to light, and the higher your ISO, the more sensitive it is. It's this higher sensitivity that causes the "noise" or "grain" in your photograph, so if you notice you have a lot of grain in your images, it's time to bring that ISO down, unless you purposefully are including the grain.
So, you've learned aperture, and now we are learning ISO. This means that you now are going to know 2/3 factors that determine your camera's exposure, which means you are almost ready to practice and master playing with settings on your camera for the perfect shot.
Aperture and ISO have a set relationship when it comes to setting your camera up for a photo. If your ISO is set at 100, and your aperture is set at 18 (which means a small opening, remember), you may not get a great exposure (It would have to be really bright to get a good exposure). Now, if for whatever reason you want your aperture to stay at 18, you may have to adjust your ISO to a higher setting to allow more light into your camera to give you a better exposure.
Now, let's say you were shooting a night image the previous day, and you go out the next morning and take a photo and your screen is completely white after taking the image. Chances are, your ISO is set too high. Typically, on a sunny day, you will only set your ISO to 100 or 200.
Another thing I want to point out is, don't rely on Photoshop to save your image. If you have too much noise to begin with, there is no really saving your image. Sure, you can keep smoothing over your image until there's no noise, but then your image is going to lack detail and substance.
Go out there and practice playing with your ISO and aperture settings!
February 3: #KnowYourNikon
Photographer, visual artist, and customer service extraordinaire.