Week 7 Exercise 2012 - Available Light is Very Predictable, Too

This week's exercise is super fun. It involves playing with eggs and a lamp. You'll need only one egg, unless of course you break it, in which case you'll need a replacement (or 5 or maybe just a nice styrofoam ball if you're clumsy) and one 40W or more lamp of any kind (halogen, energy saver fluorescent, tungsten.) I'd make you go through the process of moving the object further and further from the light but if you did Week 6's Exercise, you already know how it ends, so we'll just get to the good stuff.

Find your white balance and make sure it's set to AWB (auto.) Place your egg close enough to your light source to get an exposure you like. (Bonus points for creativity!) Without adjusting any other settings, use at least 3 other white balance presets. For your last exposure, I'd like you to challenge yourself and attempt to do a custom white balance. Please note the type of bulb (tungsten, fluorescent, etc.) you shot with when you post your images. Feel free to try with different type of light, too (another type of bulb or even natural window light!)

Week 6 Exercise 2012 - Window Light is Very Predictable

This is a super quick and easy exercise, but one that will help you to really grasp the ides of how window light works.

First you need an object (or subject - if you have a willing participant...) Throw your camera in M and start with an ISO of 200 and an aperture of f4.0. Put the object (or subject) right beside a north facing window. Meter for the light side and take your first shot. Move your object (or subject) about 2 feet away from the window, meter for the light side, and take your second shot. Repeat at 2 feet intervals until you've run out of space in your room. Repeat with a west or south facing window. If the day you shoot is overcast, you might want to try it again on a sunny day, and while you're at it, try out the Sunny 16 rule ;)

While shooting, take note of how the Law of Reciprocity affects your settings change as you move away from your window light. How far away do you get before your shutter speed drops below 1/60? Did you have to bump your ISO?

When you get your pictures on your computer, check out the quality of the light between your exposures - how hard or soft are the shadows? Are the shadows harder from the north or south window? Which side do you prefer? How far from the window is the "sweet spot" for you?

Send me a link when you're done!

Week 5 Exercise Time Trials

The "T" in FAST is for Time, which refers to the amount of Time your shutter remains open. This is commonly known as Shutter Speed (SS). There are some really fun things you can do with shutter speeds, which we will be playing with after next weekend's workshop, but for this week we'll keep it pretty simple and straightforward. And super fun. You get to play in the snow AND shoot moving objects this week - how fun is THAT?

Cameras in M, manual focus again, and you will need to use a tripod or surface area with your 2 second delay for some parts of this exercise. No need for daylight, though you may want to try this one both during the day with natural light and in the evening with available light just for fun, though I suggest that an evening indoors will illustrate results better.

Pick a nice spot indoors to place your camera so that you (or your husband or your children or your dogs) are able to walk in front of it. (Please, no throwing cats through the frame, though stuffed animals are fair game.) Put your camera to f11.0, ISO 200. Guesstimate what your shutter speed needs to be at to get a clear picture of whatever room you're shooting in - how close were you? Once you have an exposure you are satisfied with, use the 2-second delay and get someone to walk through the frame while it's shooting. You should have a rather ghostly-looking picture, no?

BONUS ... requires an accomplice... Pick your camera up (still set to f11.0, ISO200 but turn off the 2-second delay) and while your subject walks through the frame try following them with the camera in a nice smooth motion. (We'll be doing this technique called 'panning' in the workshops anyways, but if you're bored or just having fun, go for it!)

Week 4 Exercise 2012 DLS EMBRACE THE GRAIN

Now that we've covered the F(ocus) and A(perture), we're going to try our hand at playing with our ISO [S]ensitivity. This one is super simple, and you get to play with your 2-second delay timer, to boot! Yay! You do not need nice daylight for this exercise - you can set up next to any light source you like.

Set your camera on a counter surface, and make a mark so you know where to set your camera down for each shot. Next, pick a single object to photograph - might be an apple, a doll's face, a set of keys - whatever you like. Get fancy or keep it simple - the choice is yours - and focus your image so you know you are not inside your minimum focusing distance. Once you have your camera focused and your spot marked, you will need to pick your camera up and set it on the 2-second timer. (If your camera only has a 10-second timer, it's just going to take you a bit longer to do this exercise...) Next, set your aperture to f4.0 and your ISO to 3200.

From doing Week 3, this is a good opportunity for you to take an educated guess at what your shutter speed will need to be. When you have your shutter speed guesstimated, fire a test shot and see what your exposure looks like. If you think you got it, great - you can move on to doing a shot at ISO 1600, 800, 400, and then 200. If not, try again until you get an exposure you think you like. You will have to adjust your shutter speed each time to get an exposure you are happy with - listen to and take note of your shutter speed (good practice for next week.) Do you understand why I suggested using the 2-second timer?

Once you have completed a set of 5 images (one at each ISO) that you think have the same/similar exposure, using either your camera or your computer scroll in and examine the difference in the texture and/or clarity of the image. What do you see? Do you like or dislike the effect? Do you notice it more or less in the bokeh? If you're feeling particularly adventurous, you may consider shooting some at f8.0 and 11.0 or converting some to B&W - does that change how you feel about the texture? And if you're feeling curious you may consider making actual 4x6 prints at WalMart or someplace else inexpensive just to see what the printed images look like - it's $1 that's well worth spending. (Feel free to bring yours in to class to share!) Be sure and post your pics to your blog and send me the link so I can see them!!!

Happy shootin'!

Week 3 exercise 2012 DLS DEPTH OF FIELD

This is essentially the exact same exercise as the Focus exercise, only we're going to explore Depth of Field or "DOF" as it's commonly referred to. This is the "A" in FAST, being of course your "aperture" which in addition to adjusting the amount of light that comes into the camera the same as your pupil, will affect how DEEP your focus is. So, here's how this works.

Your challenge this week is to create images that demonstrate a variation on your Depth of Field. Once again I'm going to ask you to set your camera to M(anual) F(ocus), in M(anual) mode. Select 5 similar or same objects and set them in a row along a flat surface. Make sure you pick someplace that has good natural light. You may want to use the same objects as last week so you can compare and contrast, or you may want to explore your options and create a new scene. Again, as long as you've got good daylight, be as creative as you like.

Once you have your still life setup, set your ISO to 400, your aperture to 3.5, and adjust your shutter speed accordingly to get an exposure you like. Get as close to your still life as you can and position yourself so that you can see all the objects, either slightly above or to one side, and focus on the third (centre) object only. Take your first image, then adjust your aperture to f5.6 and take a second shot. It is going to be underexposed, so you will have no choice but to adjust either your ISO or your shutter speed in order to get a proper exposure. If you were on film I'd feel bad about letting you all figure it out on your own if you've forgotten, but since I know you're all digital... figure it out! ~smirk~

Keeping your focus on the middle object repeat this process at f8.0, f11.0, and f16.0. What do you notice about your ISO? What do you notice about your shutter speed? Is the relationship between aperture, ISO sensitivity, and shutter speed starting to make sense as it applies to the Law of Reciprocity? What do you notice about the foreground and the background of your images?

Upload the images to your blog and either post the link in the comments here or send it to me via email to h dot walls at shaw dot ca. If you are having problems, PLEASE do not hesitate to send me your questions. I am happy to walk you through the process so you aren't lost when we get to the next workshop!!!

Happy shooting,