Category Archives: Photography Articles

Helpful full length article created to assist you in your exploration in the art of photography.

Building Your Photography Skills: The Exposure Triangle

There are three major concepts that you’ll need to develop or build upon; technical skills, artistic skills, and personality. Today, we’ll discuss the technical skills you’ll need as a photographer.

There isn’t very much to the technical skills needed of a photographer, it simply revolves around what settings you choose on your camera when you’re about to create a photograph or a series of photographs. That includes: being familiar with your layout of your camera and changing settings for the correct exposure, focusing a sharp photograph, getting the right color of the screen… etc. These are the things you need to understand in order to make your images sharp and properly exposed.

Understanding The Exposure Triangle

The exposure triangle is made up of three components, hence the name. These three components are; aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. Learning to control these three camera settings is vital to producing high quality photographs.

photography exposure triangle

Diagram from Photography Life

Aperture

The aperture is simply how big or small the opening of your lens is going to be. It works similar to the pupil of your own eyes. The aperture will open and close to adjust the amount of light you want or need to come through the lens and hitting the sensor when you’re taking your shot. If your scene is dark you’ll need to open the aperture up so more light comes through the lens. When your scene is bright you’ll need to make the aperture smaller in order to reduce the light pass through to the sensor of your camera.

The aperture controls two things; first the amount of light. The aperture also affects the DOF (depth of field) this is the amount of your photograph that is in sharp focus. We’ll discuss DOF in depth later in another posts.

 

Shutter Speed

Shutter speed is just like it sounds, it’s the speed that the shutter will remain open in order to let the image be recorded. Typically the shutter speed is measured in fractions of a second. For example, 1/200th,  1/100th or 1/8th  of a second and so on. However, there will be times when you may want to allow your shutter to be open for seconds or even minutes at a time…this is called long exposure. Extremely low light photography, shooting light trails, making object blur (motion photography), or capturing photos of the stars are just a few examples of where this might need a long exposure.

ISO

The third component of the exposure triangle is often the most frustrating to new photographers primarily because it’s easy to visualize like the other two components. With aperture, you can imagine an opening of the lens and with shutter speed, you can visualize it moving faster or slower. ISO on the other hand is a measure of sensitivity of your sensor is to the light.

When you increase the ISO setting on your camera what essentially you’re doing is you’re telling the sensor of your camera that it needs to be more sensitive to light. That means that for the same size opening (aperture), and the same amount of exposure time (shutter speed), you capture more light, and thus achieve a brighter image.

One of the down sides to a higher ISO is that with the higher sensitivity to light you also have a chance of generating what is called digital noise (unwanted grain or speckles of color) in your photographs. Camera manufacturers have greatly improved on this and many new cameras are capable of shooting at very high ISOs with minimal noise, however it is still worth mentioning.

It’s easy to talk about each of these three components of the exposure triangle individually, but when you’re out on location taking your photographs, it’s not good enough to only know or think about just one of them. The key is to learn how each one affects the other two and how to balance out all three at the same time in order to create the exact photograph you envisioned.

One thing that I found helpful while out shooting are these reference cards, they came in especially handy when I couldn’t get a WIFI signal in whatever location I was photographing.

There are also a few other key technical settings you’ll need to know and understand before heading out to go shooting. In the next article we will discuss White Balance and why it is so important.

Disclaimer:

This blog article contains affiliate links, meaning if you purchase something though these links I will receive a small commission for my recommendation from the store you made the purchase through. If you would like to learn about affiliate marketing and monetizing your own blog or website this is the training course I took.

How Your DSLR Camera Works(1)

How Your DSLR Camera Works

A digital camera may sound complicated but they are actually very simple mechanical devices which are comprised of a few parts. For a standard DSLRs, there is the camera body with a lens that attaches to it. Your camera body contains all the parts needed to capture and process a photograph right inside; the lens is a simple canister with the optional glass which you use to focus your photograph onto the sensor in the back of the camera body.

 

These two simple components, the body of the camera and the lens, work together like this:

Light comes through the opening in your lens and glass. When you are looking through the viewfinder you are seeing a reflection from a mirror and prism inside the camera body.  The mirror reflects that light up through a prism (similar to a periscope) at a 45 degree angle and through the viewfinder to your eye, so you can see the scene that you’re about to capture and record on to the camera sensor.

When you press down on the shutter release button to take your shot, the mirror will flip up out of the way and the lens adjusts to the chosen aperture. The shutter flaps in the back of the camera body then opens allowing the light to shine through to the camera’s sensor in the very back of the camera body which creates your photograph.


At the same time the camera is saving the photo to your SD Card. Once the shot is complete the mirror returns back to the original position and it’s ready to shoot again. This can all happen in less than a millisecond depending on what you have your setting on…the longer the exposure time the longer the shutter stays open to record the image.

Mirrorless cameras work a little differently, obvious from the name, they do not have a moving mirror system.

Instead, what you see when looking through the viewfinder is a live feed of exactly what the image sensor is processing. This allows you to see things like DOF (Depth Of Field), exposure, White Balance and more, before you even take the shot. When you press the shutter release button of a Mirrorless camera, the lens adjusts to the chosen aperture, the shutter opens and the photograph is saved to your memory card.

Now that you have a better understanding of how your camera captures an image for you. There are three major concepts that you’ll need to develop or build upon; technical skills, artistic skills, and personality. In the next article we’ll start developing your technical skills as a photographer.

Disclaimer:

This blog article contains affiliate links, meaning if you purchase something though these links I will receive a small commission for my recommendation from the store you make the purchase through. If you would like to learn about affiliate marketing and monetizing your own blog or website this is the training course I took.

 

Photography 101: Creative Photography Which Lens to Use

Published by: Creative Photography Courses on Dec 11, 2014

In this photography tutorial we join the staff of Creative Photography in selecting the correct lens for your photo shoots for the different genres of photography.

Large Apertures What Does It Do For Your Nature Photographs?

Mystical Tiger Lily is a tranquil close-up nature photograph of the stigmas of a fully opened Tiger Lily Bloom with a softened colorized effect applied. Title: Mystical Tiger Lily Photographer: Melissa Fague Genre: Nature Photography Item ID#: NAT-2152

Large Aperture, What does it do for your Nature Photographs?

Large apertures do several things for your photographs. The two main factors a large aperture effects is your depth of field and the amount of light that hits your camera sensor.  Think of depth of field as a grid that extends from the front of your camera past the point of visibly. Somewhere in that grid is your subject. When you have a large aperture, elements in front of your subject as well as elements behind the subject will appear less sharp; blurry. By reducing the depth of field (aperture), you can make your subject the most noticeable element in your scene (photograph) and keep your viewers eyes focused on it. Take these flower photographs as an example, it is the same flower photographed using two different aperture and shutter speed settings. The first is shot at an aperture setting of F/3 and the second is photographed at a F/8.

Tiger Lily 1:
Aperture Setting F/3 Shutter Speed 1/200
Nature photo Tiger Lily F3

Tiger Lily 2:
Aperture Setting F/8 Shutter Speed 1/8Nature photo Tiger Lily F16

Do you notice that your eyes follow the lines created by the leaves of the background more in photograph #2. This is because our brains naturally seek out details. The F/8 photograph has a lot more background details than the F/3 photograph which creates more distractions and reduces the focus of the subject dramatically.

 

ApertureChart

The second factor of a large aperture is the amount of light. With a large aperture your lens is open more, which allows more light into your cameras sensor. It is the equivalent to the pupils of your own eyes opening to allow more light to hit your retina, which allows you to see in low quality light. When you decrease your aperture to a smaller F/stop setting (number) it allows you to increase your shutter speed. This is extremely helpful when you are creating your nature photographs on a day the wind is blowing. Even a slight breeze could move elements of your subject; which would cause a blur with a slow shutter speed setting.

The best way to see and learn the effects of your aperture is to go out and shoot. Use the same subject and take shots of it at different settings. Start at the smallest F/stop and work your way up the highest F/stop setting your lens allows; adjust your shutter speed as you go to keep a balanced exposure. This will help you learn how aperture effects your depth of field. Then do the same exercise to see how it effects light but this time only adjust your aperture setting.

Share with me your thoughts and experiences about this topic, I would really like to see the results of your shoots. Simply create a post and pingback to this post.

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About the Author and Photographer:

MeMelissa Fague is an emerging nature and landscape photographer from Bear, Delaware USA. In just a few short years her work has been published over two dozen times and she has won multiple national and international awards for her beautiful photographs. Her most recent accomplishment is her first published photograph in an international publication with a worldwide distribution, “Landscape Photography Magazine”. Melissa is passionate about the art of photography and nature. Exploring areas and creating photographs is her form of stress relief and art therapy, but she also loves to share her visions so that others can enjoy. All of Melissa’s nature and landscape photographs are available for purchase, visit Pi Photography and Fine Art.

Join our VIP List for exclusive offers, notification for upcoming events and more. To read Melissa’s full story on how she became a nature and landscape photographer please visit: In the Beginning.

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Photographing Fireworks this Independence Day Weekend

Firework dissplay reflecting off of the glass of a buildings windows; photograph by Landscape and Nature photographer Melissa FagueThe 4th of July weekend has arrived and its time to celebrate and watch the firework displays. That also means cool pics! Everyone can create them, all you need are fireworks, a camera, and a little bit of planning and preparation.

The Place

Find out where your local firework displays are going to happen and arrive early to scope out the area. There is going to be a lot of people, children and possibly pets moving around or seated near you; so you want to make sure that the other spectators and your gear will be safe during the event. I personally pick a location where I can create broad landscape views, close-ups (with my telephoto lens)  and offers the potential for foreground elements like spectators; so I usually go to the back of the crowd. Secondly, pick a spot upwind from the firework display launch site, once the show begins there will be a lot of smoke in the scene. If you set up downwind from the firework display you’ll be battling smoke of the scene and soot on your lens the whole time.  Fireworks 2, landscape photograph of building and firework bursts captured by landscape and nature photographer Melissa FgaueThe Gear

Capturing fireworks can be accomplished by almost every camera, the trick is to have the camera as steady as possible. Shooting fireworks is hard to do hand held, so I recommend a tripod or a solid stationary prop. I also recommend using a cable release or remote trigger, the less you touch the camera the better your photographs will be. Hand held shooting is possible but your ISO setting will need to be high as well as your shutter speed; you’ll be running the risk of noise in your image.

Image Variety

Capturing fireworks is cool but honestly, there is just so many firework bursts against a black sky that can be seen before it becomes boring in photography. So when I am out photographing fireworks displays I like to have a little variety of views with my images. Scouting locations early offers versatility to your photos for a nice photo series of the events at different perspectives.  This past year I went the Riverfront in Wilmington Delaware, it is a really tight location in the city with a large crowd and buildings. So I chose to incorporate the buildings and the people into my photographs; doing this also helps show scale, size of the firework bursts, for the viewers of the photographs.

Close-up of Firework bursts, captured by landscape and nature photographer Melissa FagueAnticipate

When you are shooting the firework display early your settings will be easy to control and will more than likely remain the same through most of the show. But be mindful of the brightness of the fireworks, the colors will burn differently, especially blue colored fireworks. White and green colored fireworks will be the brightest and require less exposure time; blues may require you to exposure a little longer than any other color because it is the darkest hue. If you look at the image above you’ll see a variety of colors; you’ll see that the blue doesn’t appear nearly as bright as all the other colors. As the mortars climb through the air you should be able to judge which color it will be in order to calculate your exposure time for the burst.

Manual Focus and Vibration Controls

Autofocus is great except when you are shooting moving subjects at night. When you are photographing moving subjects at night the autofocus tends to get confused on the focal point of the scene; this increases your risk of blurry photographs. Its recommended to turn your autofocus off and set your focus to infinity.

Vibration control is not needed if you are shooting with your camera on a tripod or steady surface. I recommend turning the setting off; if it is left on you may get a slight blur from the function’s motor in the lens.

Finally, have fun and enjoy the event for yourself.

Quick Tip Rundown For Photographing Fireworks

  • Pick a location early
  • Be Upwind or to the side of the launch site so the smoke and soot doesn’t disrupt you or your shots
  • Use a tripod or stable surface
  • Use a cable release or wireless remote to trigger the shutter.
  • Turn on Long Exposure Noise Reduction (check your manual).
  • Shoot the highest quality file you can, NEF (RAW) is ideal.
  • Set the camera to a low ISO, such as 100 or 200.
  • Turn off the autofocus, manually focus your lens at infinity.
  • A good starting point for aperture is f/11.
  • Set the camera to Bulb (B), this will allow you to keep the shutter open as long as you want. Play around with the duration that shutter is open but exposing for the entire fireworks burst is usually best.
  • Have fun!

Moon over Pagoda with Fireworks by landscape and nature photographer Melissa Fague

Share with me! I would really like to see your results from your firework displays this year. To share your experiences, pingback to this article by copying and pasting this link to your post:  FIREWORKS 2016

Thanks for reading and I hope you have a safe and happy holiday weekend!

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About the Author and Photographer:

MeMelissa Fague is an emerging nature and landscape photographer from Bear, Delaware USA. In just a few short years her work has been published over two dozen times and she has won multiple national and international awards for her beautiful photographs. Melissa is passionate about the art of photography and nature. Exploring areas and creating photographs is her form of stress relief and art therapy, but she also loves to share her visions so that others can enjoy. All of Melissa’s nature and landscape photographs are available for purchase, visit Pi Photography and Fine Art.

Join our VIP List for exclusive offer, notification for upcoming events and more. To read Melissa’s full story on how she became a nature and landscape photographer please visit: In the Beginning.