What is exposure?

Friday, July 24, 2009

These past two months, I've taught a handful of classes on understanding your camera.  When teaching how to understand a camera,  learning the basic photography concept is a must.  

What I've loved is meeting several women that start the class, leaving with a huge respect for their very nice camera and all that it's capable of.   Each one of these moms leaves the class as a "momtog"....mom/photographer.  Which honestly, is how several of today's big name photographers started out...simply as a parent wanting to better capture their children and/or life.

If you own a DSLR (digital single lens reflex) camera, then you most likely have heard ....
"That's a really nice camera.  It must take really nice pictures?"  I always chuckle when I hear that...um, yeah...it's aaaaaalll the camera.  Hearing that makes me think...  telling a chef, "Your food is really good.  You must have really nice pots and pans?"

The basic concept of photography is exposure and how it's created.  Without getting super technical, exposure is all about three concepts.  And how they interrelate.  I'm also leaving out how these concepts apply to metering.
1.    ISO
2.   Aperture
3.   Shutter Speed

While it's still hard for me to see myself as a photographer when I have a loooooong list of photographers I admire and I'm still unsure about me carrying that title as that would mean I'm in the same category as those "big dogs."  But I do decide my exposures and I don't shoot in auto mode.  My camera is my tool and I think for it.

One of the girls in a recent class asked about settings for my pictures as visual examples for her.  While I understand the importance of hearing these numbers as a visual teaching method, it's not always the best for learning settings. At least, not until how the exposure concepts relate and work together.  Learning photography is overwhelming and is not a concept that can be learned overnight...photography is a trial and error learning process.  The settings used for one picture are specific to the lighting available, direction of lighting and determining how to use exposure to convey the message captured for that picture.  And unless another picture is set up exactly how that picture was created, the settings most likely won't work.   It's after going through trial and error of slowing or speeding up shutter speed,  opening up or closing down an f-stop and increasing ISO...that settings will make sense.  But, I completely understand how helpful it is to see another photographer's settings as I often ask friends what their settings were. Why do I ask?  I'm curious how the lighting was used and how the settings related to create that exposure...I'm kinda a dork that way.   I've always been that student that craves the what's and why's of everything.  

So, after that seriously long write up...I was thinking since I've had several woman leave my classes ready to start learning how an exposure is created, I would start including my settings with picture....here and there that is.  Also know, if you're ever curious, email me or leave a question in the comments and I'll be sure to include it.  I am always more than happy to help.

Now before the pictures...for those that don't know about rule of thirds...it's basically a rule that directs a visual artist how to create an image that's appealing to the eye. 
(there is a definition, I'm just not feeling too motivated to write it out.... I know, the big L  A  Z   Y!)

BUT do remember, that not all images follow the rule of thirds as it's always fun to break rules and it can push an artist creatively.  I love shooting both ways...rule follower and rule breaker!

To understand rule of thirds...basically place the focus of your picture on one, or more, of the four crosshairs of this layout.
Here is an example of following the rule of thirds.  
The dog and the baby...landed on or near two of the four crosshairs.  Now if I really wanted to have my teacher hat on, I would have showed you a picture where the mother, baby and dog were perfectly centered in the frame and it would be seriously BORING to your eye, compared to this picture.
My sister...again rule of thirds.  I know, the focus points roughly fell on two of the four points.

Here is an example of Aperture...blurry background, depth of field.  It's what everyone wants in their pictures, at least that is the bulk of the questions I get.  How do I get the blurred background?   

I left the detail in the little girl's face, opposed to really blurring her out...her expression added to the showing off of her bling. 

ISO  400  F2.8  Shutter 1/320
lens 17-55 mm  f2.8

Shutter Speed
I'm not going to give too much explanation on this.  It's how fast the shutter closes.  
ISO 100  f1.4  SS1/3200
lens  85mm f1.4

Again, aperture.  
(indoor swiming pool)  
ISO  800   f2.0  SS 1/640
lens  85mm f1.4

ISO  (film speed)  
(shot indoors in low light)
ISO  1600  F 2.8  SS 1/2000
lens  17-55mm f2.8

I do little editing to my pictures.  When I edit, I edit to merely enhance my pictures. I don't get too fancy but have been known to occasionally.  

Here is a picture straight out of the camera (SOOC).

Here it is edited.  
(shot a little bit before sunset)
ISO  400  f2.8  SS1/500
17-55mm f2.8


(shot indoors)
ISO1250  f2.8  SS1/800
lens  17-55 mm f2.8

Okay, did this make sense to anyone?  Do you even care!?!  HA!  Let me know if it's clear as mud and I'm sure it doesn't help that I'm not going into much detail.  

All I can write is photography is a mouthful...it's A LOT!  I aged a TON these past three years as I've put in several long nights reading books, on the internet and having my camera glued to my hands.  Hence, the permanent dark circles under my eyes.  But I wouldn't regret it one bit, I love photography. Now I'm just learning how to balance it with my family priorities!  And I stress learning.

Tomorrow I have my next class. For now, I will be scheduling once class each month. If you're interested in class dates and the details on one....send me an email at tamiproffitt@yahoo.com.


Cheela said...

I can hardly wait for the class this afternoon, Tami. I am excited to start to take pictures with more than my point and shoot camera.

Love the pug in the picture!

Anonymous said...

You are amazing! Thanks for taking the time to explain photography - wish I could take a class.
( I live too far away )
The way you explain makes it very easy to understand... do I see a book in your future??

Phyllis said...

Yes, it makes sense! Thanks.
Great seeing you and the kids last weekend!

Anonymous said...

I'm glad your class went so well yesterday. I bet they totally know what you are talking about here :) I still LOVE that picture you captured with Cam looking like she is going to be diving right on to Cash. LYG, N