Today I’m starting a new series on the blog, Photography Basics. In this series I will go through the basics of photography, especially meant for those of you, who are just beginning. If you are an advanced or expert photographer, you will probably find this boring :) But if you are just a beginner, this might be exactly what you need. I will try to explain things as simple as I know, to make them easier. So lets start.

Part 1 – Exposure

Photography is about light. When you are capturing a photo, you let light hit the sensor (or film) in you camera. So the most important thing that you have to set up on your camera, is the amount of light it lets in when you take a photo. You can of course let the camera do it all for you, but then you loose control over the look of your photo.

The amount of light that gets onto the sensor, is determined by three parameters. Those are:

  • aperture – how big is the opening through which the light gets into the camera
  • shutter speed – how long is the opening that let’s the light in, open
  • ISO – how sensitive the sensor (film) is to the light.

There three parameters determine if you get a properly exposed photo, and few more things about the photo (which we will take a look shortly). Knowing how to set them up and when to use what values, is probably the most important thing you need to know when trying to take a photo.

Exposure triangle

Aperture, Shutter speed and ISO are usually shown forming a triangle. The reason for this is, that they are all connected. When one of them is changed, one or both from the other have to be compensated, to keep a proper exposure.

For instance, if you change the aperture, making the opening smaller, you either have to use longer time, or bigger sensor sensitivity (ISO), or both, to compensate. If you choose smaller sensitivity (ISO), you have to have a bigger opening, longer time or both, to get a proper exposure. And so on.

Aperture

Aperture, determines how big is the opening in the lens, that lets in the light. A very important thing here to remember is, that bigger apertures (bigger opening) are noted with small numbers (starts at 1 and goes up from there) and small apertures are noted with higher numbers. So if you change the aperture for instance from f2.8 to f16, that means you made it smaller. There main effects of different apertures are:

  • the bigger the aperture, the shorter shutter time and lower ISO you need to get a proper exposure
  • the bigger the aperture, the less DOF (depth of field – the distance between the closes object in focus to the furthers object in focus) you get, and most of the photo will be out of focus (object in focus are shown as sharp on the final photo, out of focus are blurry)
  • the smaller the aperture, the more of a star effect you will get on light points.This is an effect, where light points are captured as small stars, with rays going from them in all directions (see example to the right)
  • aperture also influences sharpness, with each lens having a sweet spot, an aperture where it is sharpest. The difference here is not that huge, and in the most of the time you can just ignore this.

So when you are choosing the aperture, you have to think about, what you want to archive and what you require. You choose a bigger aperture, when you are shooting from hand, so making the exposure time shorter, or when you want to have a shallow DOF, for instance in portraits. You choose a smaller aperture, when you want a longer exposure time, or when you want a big DOF to have everything in focus.

Here are two examples for you, one with shallow DOF (big aperture used) and one with huge DOF (small aperture used)

Photography basics
Photography basics

Shutter speed

Shutter speed determines, how long the lens opening is open and allows light to hit the sensor. Most cameras allow this to be set from 1/8000 of a second, up to 30s (the times may wary between cameras). There is a way to go over 30s, but that will be covered in camera modes. The main effects of different shutter speeds are:

  • shorter shutter speed freezes motion. The longer the shutter speed is, the more blurred the moving objects are, until the completely disappear by very long shutter speeds.
  • faster shutter speeds are much better for handheld photography, as the shorter the required time is, the better chance of being able to hold the camera without moving it.

When choosing your shutter speed, usually you want to go for the shortest that you can. The exception is if you are trying to get a specific long exposure effect. In that case, the time you need varies. For instance getting a bit of softness info flowing water, you need few second, for making flowing water look almost like ice, you need 30s or more.

Here are another two examples. In one the short shutter speed froze the cars in place, in the other the long shutter speed blurred them out, and only light trails remained.

Photography basics
Photography basics

ISO

The last parameter is the sensitivity of the sensor (film). ISO starts at 100 (with few professional cameras being able to go lower) and goes up from there up to 100 thousands. This is more of a complimentary parameter, as normally, one changes it only when really needed. Mostly the goal is to just keep it at low as possible (at the camera default setting). The main effects of ISO are:

  • the bigger the ISO, the shorter time and smaller aperture you can use, to archive a proper exposure
  • the bigger the ISO, the more noise you will get in your photos. So having a lower ISO will result in much cleaner photos.

So the main reasons for using a higher ISO is, to get a shorter shutter speed. Either you are shooting in a dark place handheld, or you are trying to capture something that changes really fast. Going with a higher ISO is usually the last step in setting up a proper exposure, as except for artistic reasons, one prefers a cleaner photo result.

You should experiment with your camera, too see what highest ISO you can use, what is the biggest amount of noise you are willing to accept in your photos. Also note, a high ISO can result in the loss of detail, as the noise becomes more dominant than small detail.

Here are two examples for ISO. First one was taken handhold inside a church, where I had to use a high ISO of 1600. The second one is taken from a tripod, so I could use an ISO of 100 without problems.

Photography basics
Photography basics

So this covers the basics of exposure, and in the next parts we will take a look at camera modes and when to choose which mode, RAW vs JPEG, white balance, focusing and much more :).

There are many video tutorials available on the Internet, but it hard to say which are worth it. So today, I will show you some of them I liked the most. Be warned, these are not free tutorials and they are mostly not meant for beginners. Also they are all about landscape photography, HDR and luminosity masking, as those are the areas that also interest me. I would like to mention here also my series Master exposure blending, but probably those of you who visit the blog regularly, already heard about that one :)

Photographing the World by Elia Locardi

There are actually two parts to this, “Photographing The World: Landscape Photography and Post-Processing” and “Photographing the World: Cityscape, Astrophotography, and Advanced Post-Processing“. Both are massive, with 12 and 15 hours of content respectively. Both created by a great photographer Elia Locardy, with the help of Fstoppers.

They are not the cheapest, but you get what you pay for. Lots of content, lots of great informations, and photos from some of the most wonderful locations.

Video tutorials by Sean Bagshaw

Wonderful resources for landscape photographers, with detailed explanations of luminance blending and usage of TK actions panel. Sean offeres tutorials for advanced photographers, but also ones if are only a beginner. They can all be found on his web-page www.outdoorexposurephoto.com.

Video tutorials by Jimmy McIntire

Jimmy like to show many different blending methods in his videos, and he even has his own Photoshop extensions to help. He has separate videos for Luminance masking and HDR, so you can choose what interests you. All can be found on his web-page www.shutterevolve.com

Video tutorials by Trey Ratcliff

Trey provides many different video tutorials, mostly for photographers that are beginners or intermediate in their skill. The videos are focused on HDR, and you can also find specific video tutorials for the newest HDR software Aurora HDR. You can find all the tutorials in the Stuckincustoms stoere here store.stuckincustoms.com

The Ultimate Landscape Photography Course by Jay & Varina Patel

Another huge tutorials series, with videos covering everything from the gear, through the shooting up to post-processing. The series focuses on Landscape and nature photography only. Both Jay and Varina are great teacher, so you will learn a lot from them. The turorials can be found here visualwilderness.com/product/ulpc

Video tutorials by Julien Grondin

Also known as Beboy, Julien creates stunning cityscape and landscape photos. The only problem here is, all his videos are in French. So if you don’t understand, they are hard to follow if you don’t have a very good knowledge of Photoshop. Still, if you do understand French, you should check them out, as they are a great source of information. All can be found under www.beboyphoto.com

Video tutorials by Chip Phillips

Another mostly landscape photography focused series of videos. The topics covered go from luminosity selection, through orton effect to sharpening. There is even a from start to finish video available. They can be found on www.chipphillipsphotography.com.

And there are of course many more, but I think this is enough for this article :). They are all great sources of information, and should be considered if you want to improve you photography skills.

One should always include copyright info in all published photos, so today I will show you how to apply it easily in Lightroom, and also direcly by the import. There is an even simpler method, by settings it right in the camera settings, but since not all cameras support this (for instance the Sony a7r does not have this option, the a7r II does), you sometime have to do it later on.

But still if you have this setting in your camera, you should definitively use it. Just search for Copyright info in your menu. But back to Lightroom.

First you need to create a new preset with the copyright info. To do this in the Library module, search for Metadata on the right. Under it, you will see a drop down menu with the name Preset. Click the arrow to open it and choose Edit Presets.

A new popup will open. Here scroll down to the categories IPTC Copyright and IPTC Creator. Here fill in all the info you want to have included in your photos. There has to be a check mark next to the lines you want to include (btw. there are ways to write the copyright symbol, but I always find the simplest way just to search for “copyright symbol” in any search engine, and then copy it from the first results :)).

Once this is done, click on the arrow to drop down the menu next to Preset and choose Save Current Settings as New preset. A new popup will show, where you can enter a name for this preset. Then just click Create and Done to close both popups.

How to apply copyright info in Lightroom
How to apply copyright info in Lightroom

Now the preset is created, you can star using it. You can either select in under the Metadata preset in the Library module, and then sync it across other images with Sync Metadata. Or the other option, is to just choose it as the Metadata preset right at the import dialog of Lightroom.

If you do this, all your photos will always include the needed copyright info.

I like to do this every year, and 2016 will not be different. As time changes, my ideas change, so does this blog. So today is the time for this years update. If you look around, you will already notice what changed, but here is a little rundown:

  1. New home page – the whole organization of the home page has changed. Now it no longer shows just the latest posts, but it features a random selection of posts on top (or some that I want to point your attention to if needed), the recent updates, most viewed and most commented posts, direct links to top photography pages, and a selection from guides, reviews and process posts. If you still prefer the old way, just click on the BLOG in the main menu, to see just a list of the updates.
  2. New categories – guides, reviews, process posts and tops spots are now handled as categories of posts. Like this I can create and overview easily, and they are updated automatically. So no longer you will see just a text list, but nice picture grid of whats available.
  3. No more site color – the new site is only black&white, with red links. There are no other colors used. Now, I leave all the colors just for pictures
  4. Faster load time – now the site should load faster as before, as the high quality images are available only directly in the post they are included in. All other images, show in previews, overviews, lists, menu and similar, are highly compressed versions, downsized for the particular use
  5. Related posts – each post now shows related posts under it, based on categories

And there are many many more small tweaks. My main reason for the changes was, that since the blog already has 2000+ posts, with many guides, review and other articles, everything that is not on the front page gets lost in time. So my goal is to provide a better gate, through which also these can be discovered, and shown to you, the visitors. I really hope that this will work :)

But a little side note. While changing the theme, I also started some needed cleanup tasks (for instance, some posts still used the old blog address, which caused slowdowns and similar), and those are still in progress. So it can happen, that if you access some of the older posts, that there can be images missing, or the formating could be a bit off. I’m working on correcting any problems like those, but it will take a little time, due to the huge amount of posts. I’m also still tweaking few small things, as it’s hard to find all issues without having the theme on the live site. So there will also be few small changes here and there over time. Please have a little patience with me :)

Regrettably, the new theme uses a different post view counting method, so all posts will show 0 right now, so don’t be surprised.

I hope you all will like the update, and we will have a great year 2016 together :)

Together with the Everyday messenger bag (you can read my impression of that one here), I also got the LENSkit from Peak Design. The LENSkit is also a part of the Capture lens pack from Peak Design. The LENSkit is an attachment for the Capture clip, that allows for two lenses to be mounted on the outside of you backpack or on your belt. You can even use it to connect a strap to the lens, and just hang it form your shoulder.

The idea is interesting. It can happen often, that you need to put a lens down, while you are changing for another lens.

LENSkit
LENSkit

 
In the box you will find the LENSkit itself, two covers, two anchors that can be attached in three different points and a carrying bag.


 
The LENSkit looks like if you took two camera lens attachments, and put them back to back. Like this you can attach a lens from either side, exactly the same way you would attach it to your camera. Then the whole LENSkit can be attached to a Capture camera clip (it can rotate in that attachment) or via the provided anchors to different camera straps that Peak design makes.

If you don’t need one of the camera lens attachments, you can cover it with provided covers, so no dirt gets in there. The size of the LENSkit is almost exactly as the size of the Canon 50mm 1.8, as you can see on one of the photos here. It also looks nice with Canon L lenses, due to the red accent color :)

LENSkit
LENSkit

From playing around with it, I would probably never attach it to the bag. I just know I would hit it into the first door-frame I would pass through (happened to me few times with an attached tripod to the bag :)). But the other use, having it hanging from the belt or from the shoulder looks much interesting to me. Especially if I would, for instance, been covering an event, and had two lenses I needed to switch between often (lets say a 24-70 and a 50mm lens).

The LENSkit seems to be more suited for smaller lenses, or one bigger, if you hang it from your shoulder. I would not put two bigger lenses on it, as it would loose balance and would not be comfortable to carry. Also one small and one big work quite well.

I think that the main use here, is if you want to carry one replacement lens. That means, you would have a lens in the bottom position, and a cover in the top. When you would like to replace the lens on your camera, you would remove the cover, put the lens from the camera there, remove the second lens, put it on the camera, rotate the LENSkit and then put the cover back. Thats the main use I would see for the LENSkit.

LENSkit
LENSkit

I don’t think I would use it when shooting from a tripod. In that situation, I’m not in a hurry, and I don’t hold the camera, so replacing the lens from the bag is easy. On the other had, as I mentioned before, if I was moving around, covering an event, having a second lens on the shoulder could prove very useful, without having to carry the whole bag.

I’m looking forward to trying it out in the future, and if you want to know more about the LENSkit, you can check out Peak Design website (btw. you can use the code HDRSHOOTER for a 10% discount of all Peak Design products :)).

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