Lecture 103:

Introduction to Photography  | “Terms, Strategies, & Compositional Techniques”

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Lecture Notes for Lecture 103: Introduction to Digital Photography

Introduction to Photography
Definition of Terms
Camera Body
  • Basically, a light-proof box that contains light-sensitive materials
  • In the case of digital cameras, this light-sensitive material is a sheet of photodiodes.
  • A circular opening in the lens that limits the quantity of light that can enter the body of a camera.
Depth of Field
  • The amount of the final image that is in focus.
  • The smaller the f-stop number, the smaller the depth of field
  • This results in a blurred background.
Shutter Speed
  • Shutter speed is a primary factor affecting the overall exposure of the captured image.
  • Shutter speed is the amount of time light is allowed to hit the light-sensitive material (in the case of a digital camera the sensor) and is measured in seconds.
  • A typical exposure is 1/125th of a second.
ISO (film speed)
  • Designed to mimic film speed in cameras, ISO in a digital camera controls the sensitivity of the camera's sensor to light falling on it.
  • A high ISO allows for shooting in lower light conditions or at faster shutter speeds but often can leave artifacts in the digital image produced.
White Balance
  • Applies only to digital cameras
  • An adjustment to the relative amounts of color in an image such that neutral colors (typically whites and grays) are accurate in the final image.
  • There are generally pre-sets on each camera for specific types of lighting (indoors, fluorescent, sunlight, etc.). These tend to work well.
  • You can always manually set the white balance with a white object to make sure it is accurate.
  • Deliberately taking a series of photographs (usually 3,5, or 7) with the middle being properly exposed and the bracketing photos being progressively under- and overexposed.
  • Used specifically for High Dynamic Range photography (which we will cover in a couple of weeks)
Aperture & Shutter Speed
  • 1/2 the shutter speed = 2x the aperture to get the same light entering the camera body.
  • Example: f/11 @ 1/60 sec. = f/8 @ 1/125 sec.
Exposure Compensation:
  • Allows a photographer to purposely underexpose or overexpose an image (in relation to the automatically determined settings)
    • (-2) Bright light with heavy shadows
    • (-1) For heavy side lighting or backlighting
    • (0) Even lighting throughout the picture (scene)
    • (+1) When the background is darker than the subject
    • (+2) Best for large, dark backgrounds.
Notes on Lighting
  • Noon is the most even light, shadows will be relatively small, colors tend to be most accurate.
  • Most photographers like early morning or early evening, where the light comes from the side and accentuates texture. Colors are not as accurate.
File Type .jpg (“Jay-Peg”)
  • “Joint Photographic Experts Group” = JPEG
  • Most common file type for digital photographs
  • Files are compressed to make files smaller at the cost of losing digital information. Once the image is compressed, resolution cannot be added to it.
  • Typically images are compressed 10 to 1 with a very little noticeable (visual) difference in the photograph.
File Type .tif (.tiff)
  • “Tagged Image File Format” = TIFF
  • Adaptable, can be a lossless or a lossy file format depending on the compression used.
  • Popular for high depth color images Unusual to come directly out of a digital camera
File Type raw
  • Often called “digital negatives” Extensions vary by the camera manufacturer
  • Stores complete information captured by the camera’s sensor with minimal processing.
  • Allows for greater flexibility in post-processing images. (you can recover exposure mistakes easily)
  • Requires special decoding software (Built into most photo software today)
  • 2-6 times larger than .jpg files
Your camera...
Common Camera Modes:
  • Movie/Video Mode: Capture of live video
  • Macro/Close Up: Shoot pictures very close to objects
  • Night Mode: To automatically adjust the exposure time for a dark scene. Need Tripod.
  • Portrait Mode: This sets the aperture as low as possible, blurring the background.
  • Landscape Mode: This sets the aperture as high as possible, keeping foreground and background in focus.
  • Sports Mode: Sets the shutter speed as high as possible, “freezing” action.
  • Stitch/Panorama Mode: Helps you to take a series of pictures that can be combined into one panorama.
  • Aperture Priority: Allows a photographer to specify the aperture, then adjusts other settings as necessary.
  • Shutter Priority: Allows a photographer to specify the shutter speed, then adjusts other settings.
  • Full Manual: Allows a photographer to specify ALL SETTINGS ON THE CAMERA.
Configuring “image options”
  • How big is your card? How many images are you planning to shoot? What will the final output be?
  • Now: Navigate your camera’s menu, locate the image size/type settings and choose what is appropriate based on what you plan to do with you final images...
What to carry...
  • Lens cleaner
  • Extra Batteries
  • Extra Memory Card
  • Tripod?
  • Extra lenses (if you have a changeable lens camera)
  • Other accessories (panorama head, lens filters)
  • Are you allowed to photograph the subject?
  • Look at the weather and plan accordingly
  • It will rain...
Basic Composition Techniques
Type “Telling a Story”
  • Often an image can tell a story through the “mood” of the photograph in conjunction with the subject material. (this is often done with light)
  • There may be elements of the photo that allows a viewer to “navigate” through the photo. Elements that draw the eye into the photo (and hopefully keep it there)
    • St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome, Italy
    • Schynige Platte, Swiss Alps, Switzerland
    • Andes Mountains, Peru
Type “Symmetry”
  • Strong symmetry dominates the photograph
  • On (or a few) elements deliberately break the symmetry and become the focal point
    • Brooklyn Bridge, New York
Type “Radial”
  • A Strong focal point at the center of a photograph, elements radiate outward from the focal point.
  • Can be a great photograph of a group of people (if they are positioned appropriately)
    • Ice Cave, Switzerland
    • Sea Ranch, Northern California
Type “Diagonal”
  • Strong diagonal element captures attention and directs the eye through the photograph
    • Sea Ranch, Northern California
Type “Overlapping Layers”
  • Many layers (usually architectural) build up the photograph and create depth allowing a viewer to “wander” through the photograph
    • Tambo Colorado, Peru
    • Tambo Colorado, Peru
Type “Rule of Thirds”
  • One of the simplest rules to follow (and get great images)
  • Divide the viewfinder into 9 rectangles (some cameras will do this for you!)
  • Position focal points of interest on the intersections of those lines to create a strong composition.
    • New York
    • Highland Lake, Maine
    • Newport Beach, Rhode Island
    • Angora Fire, Lake Tahoe, California
    • Tenovo Bay, Viti Levu, Fiji
    • Andes Mountains, Peru
    • Sea Ranch, Northern California
Type “Framing”
  • Use strong lines in the photograph to frame important objects or subjects... much like a “picture frame”
    • Pompeii, Italy
    • Coliseum, Rome, Italy
Type “Patterns & Repetition”
  • Use patterns to drive your composition, pay close attention to where the pattern breaks as that becomes the focal point of the image.
    • Shingled Roof
    • Thatched Roof

About the Author:

Grant Adams

Associate Professor of Architecture
Diablo Valley College

www.youtube.com/digitaltoolsforarch | @270Photos | www.lulu.com/spotlight/dtfa  |  www.vimeo.com/grantadams