This is not an exit

Photo Friday: exposure, motion and depth-of-field

In Photography on April 13, 2012 at 7:30 am

Hey, remember when I said I’d be taking a greater interest in improving my photography skills? Yeah, not too much of that happened, huh? As I wrote in an earlier post, things got a bit, as the kids say, “cray” during winter term. Between writing for DualShockers, copy chief-ing for Flux, taking a full course load and delivery driving for Cheba Hut, I didn’t have much free time (I did spend 35-40 hours a week just laying down with my eyes closed. Kinda ridiculous, huh?)

I still missed taking pictures, though. In fact, I missed shooting so much that I enrolled in Dan Morrison’s photojournalism class. That was a good decision.

Not only have I learned my camera better in the two weeks I’ve spent in J365, but I’ve also been given the opportunity to go out and shoot. A lot. Because that’s what makes you better at something, right? Going out and doing something — while sticking to the rules — over and over is what will allow you to really get creative and eventually begin bending those rules. As I would tell my reporters at The Torch, it’s like learning how to paint by numbers and then coloring outside the lines.

Although I haven’t yet begun getting creative in terms of blurring the lines set forth by my instructors, I am learning some of the basics I missed by just buying a camera and shooting without a mentor or teacher. Well, that’s what’s happening now. And I figured the best way to go accomplish my original mission was to post my projects on the blog. So here’s assignment one:

White balance

I used to check the light meter on my camera whenever I set up a shot. Turns out I was doing it wrong. The sensor on a DSLR tries to level out the white balance in a given shot by setting whatever you’re focusing on so that it blends with 18-percent neutral gray. So if you’re shooting something white, it comes out gray. If you shoot something black, your camera wants it to be – surprise! — 18-percent neutral gray. In order to solve this problem, you get what’s called a “gray card,” which is just a piece of cardboard that’s 18-percent neutral gray on one side and a bunch of technical mumb0-jumbo on the other.

When you meter off the gray card, a white photo looks like the featured photo of my copy editor Julia up there. Everything’s in perfect contrast and you can make out the white on her super-awesome Mario shirt against the white board. When you meter off the shirt or white board, the camera tries to make it neutral gray, so you get this:

And that’s no good for anyone. It’s completely underexposed and although you can tell where the white shirt ends and the white board begins, it’s way too dark. We also had to do the same thing with a black subject on a black background, which I’ll leave in a gallery at the bottom of the post for you to peruse.

Motion blur

The second part of the assignment was to capture a moving subject at a high shutter speed and a high shutter speed to demonstrate motion blur. That shouldn’t require too much explanation so I’ll just give you photo one:


Annnd photo two:

Depth-of-field

The last section of the assignment was a lesson in depth-of-field. This basically covers what’s in focus and what isn’t in a shot. I simply took a photo of two near-identical items set side-by-side in my living room. In one photo, I shot with a large aperture and fast shutter speed so that everything is in focus.

In the other I shot with a small aperture and slow shutter speed so a small portion of the shot is in focus. I’m not sure on the science behind it all, but it’s on my to-do list, so don’t worry too much.

I have an assignment due every Sunday for the remainder of the term, so you can look forward to at least nine more Photo Friday posts. Bet you’re pretty excited about that, huh? I know I sure as hell am. Feel free to critique my work in the comments below; I’m definitely looking forward to hearing what my peers and professors have to say about it and I care just as much what my readers point out, as well.

Oh. I also bought my first lens. I can’t believe I was shooting with the kit lens for nearly two years before I picked up a piece of glass that let me shoot at a 1.8 aperture. Great Gatsby, it’s nice.

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