Friday, February 20, 2009

OH, SNAP!: From a n00b to a n00b

If you're a professional photographer, or a professional amateur, even if you're a photography student, go and jack-off for a while.

I'm going to share some basics with n00bs, since I'm an eternal n00b myself.

Cameras have two things that you can control that make a large difference. Shutter speed and aperture.

Shutter speed is the amount of time in which your film, or the digital chip, is exposed to light. Aperture is the size of the opening in your lens to allow light through.

Usually, shutter speed of 1/XXX is 1/XXXth of a second. Often written as 1/200s or 1/200f or suchlike.

Aperture is like 2.8, 3.5, 4.5 or whatever the fuck. The smaller the number, the BIGGER the opening is.

This knowledge answers the quintessential n00b query of: How do I make the backgrounds blur?

Well, easiest is Photoshop. But you can get the same effect by keeping aperture numbers low (meaning bigger opening) and adjusting the shutter speeds accordingly.

On to white balance.

I have no fucking idea what white balance is, but it has a huge impact on your photos if you tweak that value.

Basically, I THINK white balance determines how white is white, and all other colours are affected. Use it wisely, or don't use it at all.

Now, flash sync. This is not something you can control. Your camera has its own flash-sync capabilities.

Meaning, if you take a picture at 1/800s, and the flash is on, make sure your camera can sync with its own flash unit at 1/800s. Otherwise, the camera can be too fast or too slow. And the flash may screw up the picture or not be there at all.

This is why I like the Nikon D70 which was popular a few years back. Because it has a high flash sync and is wonderful with an SB800 i-TTL flash unit. I tried it a few times, and it was good.

It even has a better flash sync than the D2X which is more expensive. Plus, the D70 uses CCD chips instead of CMOS, which makes processing faster, in theory. I don't really know, because I don't own any of these.

Now, on to ISO. ISO used to be called ASA. It is basically the size of the grain on the film. Higher numbers means bigger grains, or something like that. And the light absorption is higher. But it also makes your pictures grainy.

Ever notice that films have a number? 200? 400? Those are ISO numbers. Nowadays, with digital SLRs and digital cameras, you can simply change the numbers on your camera and have the chip simulate different ISOs.

With lower values, such as 50 or 100, you can get transluscent effect for stuff such as moving water. Because the 'grains' are smaller, with the right exposure, you can make flowing water look like satin sheets. Of course, it takes a lot of trial and error.

Composition - THE. MOST. IMPORTANT. THING. It doesn't matter what camera you have. Composition is everything. And composition can't really be taught. You can have all the theory in the world, but I have seen professional-amateurs screw up their pictures because of composition.

Having a D2X or whatever big camera they sell nowadays, and not being able to take a good picture because your composition sucks is like having a big dick, but with premature ejaculation. It's always better to get the ladies where they want to go, everytime.

As with all of these things, you need to go out and take some pics. And don't take any stick from anyone, including me. Only take advice from people whose pictures you like, CONSISTENTLY. There are a lot of people out there who want to be seen as knowledgable so you would respect them, because their lives are quite pathetic. I am not one of them, because I score on a regular basis. And I do not care what you think.

There are also people who are really good and kind-hearted and will help you out. I am also not one of them.

I am writing this for my sake, because I am afraid that I will forget. And some righteous motherfuckers out there will try to correct my mistakes in the hopes that by proving me wrong, they can feel better about their sorry pathetic lives. They won't, and still have their sorry, pathetic lives to live, but I'll get information.

And information, knowledge, is power.