It’s never been easier to take a photograph than these days.
Whether it’s with a super duper expensive camera or just your mobile phone with a built in camera. I believe the best camera you have is the one that’s with you.
Photography is art, but it’s art. An art that needs an understanding of the technology that makes it possible. So let’s take what type of camera it is out of this and just write a little about the basic elements of how a photograph is made.
First, the word photography.
It literally means ‘writing’ or drawing with light. So, how to we write with light? We need to enter a cameras world. In this world all the lights are turned off, it’s dark, there’s nothing. But we are about to introduce some light into this scene. In this dark room, there’s a blank sheet of paper. There’s nothing on this paper, but we want to put an image on it. If we are painting with light (instead of a paint) we need to put enough light (paint) for it to appear on the paper. So how do we do that?
Let’s break it down into its basic form. To get what is called the ‘exposure’ for an image to appear on the paper, it’s easy to think of it as 3 basic parts of a camera that let light in. They are called Aperture, Shutterspeed and ISO. They all work together in different ways to let light in. But what are they?
This basically is a word for how sensitive your cameras built in sensor is at receiving light. It can range anywhere from 100 to 1600 and even beyond with some cameras. The lower the number your camera is, the less sensitive to light. The higher the number your camera is, the most sensitive to light. As much as possible its usually best to try and keep the numbers as low as possible. If you use higher numbers your photographs can end up containing grain/noise. This is purely a matter of taste and it’s up to you what you want your image to be like. Good exposure is generally made when you keep the image as clean as possible using lower numbers.
So remember this dark room we talked about, in it a curtain opens up very quickly to allow light into you room. For a fraction of a second you get to see what’s on the other side of the curtains, before you close them again. If you think about this for a camera, the camera has its own moving curtains (the Shutter), it only needs a very short time (the speed) in order for an image to be made onto your cameras sensor (or where the image will be made on our paper) The longer you leave the shutter open the more light comes in. Here’s some examples of how you could use a shutterspeed. For low light or night time photography you might need to use a very slow shutterspeed like 1/15th or even slower which you would be better using a good tripod with, but to capture something fast like someone running you could have a shutterspeed as fast as 1/1000th which you could handhold without a tripod.
Possibly, the only one that takes a little bit more to understand. The Aperture is a moving part of the lens which has a hole that lets light in. It allows the opening of light into the camera through special glass in the lens. They are broken down into what is called F/Stops and they are given numbers to identify them, that can go anywhere from f1.4, f2, f2.8, f4 all the way up and up depending on the type of lens you own. Basically, its like how your eyes adjust to the light in a room. If the room is dark you will see your eyes pupils goes very large, if its very bright your pupil goes very small, the same with Aperture. It works just like your eye. The Aperture also controls how sharp the images is (another way to think of this is, is it blurry or is it sharp), this can depend also on how far or close to a subject you are. In photography we call this the ‘depth of field’. If the aperture is very small, the depth of field is large, but if the aperture is large the depth of field is small.
So, there it is, a basic overview of the magical world of Photography, which has at its heart a very ‘simple’ set up. These are the ingredients that go into making up a photo. How to take a good photograph, well that’s a different story…