The Basics Series for The Creative Pod The aperture is one of the three important aspects behind determining the exposure of an image, the other two being – Shutter Speed and ISO and together they form the Exposure Triangle. Before we get into the details of Aperture, it is first important to tackle two fundamental things about photography and lenses in general. 1. Photography is a play of light and shadow, in essence how much of a balance of light and dark areas you need in a photograph 2. How much of the area or field in front of you should be in focus I’ll explain the first point – With the aperture; you can control how much light is allowed to hit the sensor because that’s one of the things that an aperture does – its basically an opening in a lens that can be controlled to be wide or narrow so that the light passing through the lens is controlled very much like the knob of a water faucet controls the water flowing out. If the aperture is wide open, more light is allowed through and vice versa. The second point about the field of focus is little more interesting – is termed as the ‘Depth of Field’ or, how much of the area that forms part of your photo should be in focus. The lens is capable of keeping only part of the frame in focus as, by design; they’re built to be able to have portions of the frame in sharp focus and not all of it. That field of focus – can be imagined as thus – say you’re photographing a friend, its imperative that you will want to have her face in sharp focus but do you need that background also in sharp focus? What’s your subject here – your friend right, so the field where you focus for sharpness will be where ever she is while anything in front or behind her will be out of focus. Now how much of that field is going to be in focus is what Depth of field is all about. The other thing you need to understand about aperture is that they are denoted by an small letter ‘f’ against a number such a f1.8 or f11 or f22. The key thing is that – if the f-number is a bigger number like f22, the aperture opening will be smaller and if the the f-number is smaller like f2.8, the aperture opening will be wider. The f=number and the aperture opening has an inverse relationship. Do not forget that. Now lets deep dive into the bit about how it controls how much light hits the sensor. As we have talked about this earlier – The aperture is an opening in the lens which can be made to either be wide open or narrowed down. This is what controls the amount of light ultimately coming out of the lens towards the sensor. So going by what we just discussed earlier; if you set your aperture to something like f1.8; you are letting in a lot of light but if you set it to f10; the aperture has been closed down considerably and so less light is passing through. If you’re wondering how does this help you get a good photo of your friend; well think about it like this. If you are in a darker area, say indoors, you obviously have limited light as compared to being outdoors on a bright sunny day. In such a case; we now know that the aperture controls how much light gets through to the sensor so it makes perfect logical sense to then ensure that you set the aperture to its lowest f-number and remember, the smaller the f-number; the bigger the aperture opening. This way you are ensuring that you’re letting out as much light as the lens can allow to hit the sensor and expose the image. While we spoke of opening the aperture to its widest setting; we will now also be dealing with another consequence of opening the aperture wide open – the change in the depth of field or how much of the field before and after our subject will be in focus. Lets go back to the example of taking a photo of your friend and say you are focusing on her eyes. The depth of field for a f1.8 lens (ignoring the sensor size for simplicity) could be anywhere from the tip of her nose to her ear. While anything in front of her nose and behind her ear begins to lose focus and starts to get blurry. But lets say you have a lens that is just f4 at its widest, which is much less that f1.8 – The depth of field will be not as shallow since the opening is not as wide. In this case the field will be deeper and anything from say half a foot in front her nose and behind her ear will also be in focus, assuming you are still focusing on her eyes. The key point here is that a lens will not focus squarely on a single point alone and keep only that point in sharp focus but will have a bit of a range that it will keep in focus and that range is what is termed as ‘Depth of Field’. Now to sum up – a small f-number means wider aperture opening that allows more light to hit the sensor which also means a shallower depth of field or the area in front and behind the subject you are focusing on is much smaller whereas a bigger f-number means that a narrow aperture opening and also have a deeper depth of field. Here is an activity – Guided shot – 1. Switch on your camera and set it to Auto mode 2. Take a picture of a mug or a book, anything that is at least 10 cm tall 3. Ensure that when you take the picture; you are having the camera at the same level as the subject 4. You should be able to not only see the subject but also quite a bit of the background 5. Once you take the picture; make a note of the following: a. Aperture b. Shutter speed and c. ISO Manual Mode shot – 1. Set the camera to ‘M’ or Manual mode now 2. Set the shutter speed and ISO to what you noted down from the picture you just took from the Auto mode 3. Dial in an f-number different from what the Auto mode setting was and take a picture 4. Now dial in a different f-number and take another picture 5. Repeat step 4 will you exhaust all the f-numbers you can take a shot on 6. Ensure to not change the shutter speed and ISO at all as you repeat step 4 to maintain consistency and isolate the effect of the aperture Download the images on to your computer and you will notice that the relation of the f-number with the amount of light and the depth of field is quite evident. It can be a little tricky though as the images get darker so does the background get slightly less blurry so its good to repeat this under different lighting conditions. Check out the image at the end of this blog for how i did this same activity. When I was trying to get my head around the exposure triangle I decided to understand the aperture first since I loved the out of focus background in several portrait photographs and that blurry background was something I really wanted to achieve. After watching several videos and reading many blogs I knew that this is what I should be chasing first. In the next episode we will cover another point of the exposure triangle so stay tuned for more and please let me know about your feedback or any clarifications; I’d love to address them.
The Canon 7D Mark2 is THE camera if you’re into Wildlife or Fast action photography BUT it’s a great camera for Portraits and live event photography too! I have upgraded from a Canon 600D and was sure that I needed a camera that had a fast shutter speed and pro-level features NOT because it was cool BUT because it was what my style of photography demanded. Fortunately, Canon drops this little beast; Lo and Behold! This camera had everything that a Canon 1DX or a Canon 5D Mark 3 had; save for the full-frame sensor. Winning Features:- Shutter speed – 10 fps is the party animal of this offering. It's fast enough to ensure that you don’t miss the action as its happening! ISO – With a Native ISO going from 100 to 16000 you can be sure that even low light photography can be tackled with ease. I must add that even for a crop sensor; this one handles the low light shots pretty well. You can get usable shots even at ISO as high as 6400. Dual Card slots – The camera has a slot of an SD and a CF card. For me, this makes sense since both have their pluses and you get to go with both at the same time. All-metal Body – The camera has a full metal body making for a very durable and sturdy build quality but at the same time makes the camera little heavy but then you get to loose out on the flip screen. GPS – You can embed the GPS and also the compass direction data in your images to know where you were located and what direction you faced to take a picture. This might not be the most used feature but come to think of it when you need this information; you can be sure it’s there. Dual Digic 6 Processors – The camera comes equipped with 2 processors just to ensure that speed is never a factor in your creative endeavors. Optical View Finder – This might be something that maybe too much to look in the view finder for some people. The way I see it; I can see everything I need to know without having to look away. Weather sealing – I haven’t yet tried my camera out in bad weather but if I do get a chance (along with a weather-sealed lens of course!) I won’t have problems shooting since this has far-far better sealing than the 1DX! New AF System and so many cross type AF points – I saved the best for the last! The camera’s AF system is way too good and responsive with several modes to choose from making sure you won’t miss the shot for sure. Adding to this is the fact that there are 65 cross type AF points that cover pretty much the entire frame. Try shooting something moving fast and erratic with this baby and you’re sure to catch it! So what’s bad about this? Thus far I have the ONLY bad thing I have found in this camera is that the battery back-up is really bad. It can go really low if used with flash or live view after 300 to 500 shots requiring you to either buy a grip or another battery. So all said and done; who is this camera for really? I’d dare say that this is a truly Pro level camera for all reasons and purposes notwithstanding the sensor size. This has all the features and speed of the 5D Mark3 and the 1DX cameras right from the AF system to noise performance. In fact, the AF points on the camera are more than the flagships and with very good performance. So in a nut shell; this camera is great for anyone who considers him/herself as a serious enthusiast or even a professional. The APS-C sensor gives an extra reach most ideal for sports and wildlife photographers. This is further supported by a great AF system and fast shutter speed. With best wishes! #shishirrattanart Bangalore, India Follow me on social media - Follow the hashtag #shishirrattanart for more!
The simplest Rule in Photography - The Rule of Thirds
Photography is an art form. That being said; it's all about learning the rules to the point that you know how to bend or break them and thus, create art! The Rule of Thirds is no different. It’s the simplest rule you can apply and the beauty of it is that its not something that needs to be a special feature of your camera or smartphone. So long as you have an image capturing device; you can apply this rule and it will always work wonders. Before I go ahead and explain what the rule is all about; I’d like to mention another important thing which is true to all things artistic - Just like there are rules and ways to bend them; there are a couple of important things that you must always keep in mind - Your individual style and a vision for your art. A word on Composition – Composition is essentially the ‘Look’ of the scene in your photograph. Like many nifty phone camera shooters, we see photos that look very generic at best. There is nothing that will make you look at a photo for more than a few seconds. This can be for many reasons - Too many things in the photo; bad light; underexposed image; photo looks as if there is nothing much to look in it etc. The Rule of Thirds is a rule for composing an image. Simply put – All of us can sing a song like as if we’re strangling cat; but few know how to actually sing and those are the ones we listen to! The Rule – The grid on the left is what constitutes the rule. Its essentially dividing the scene or; let's say your camera's screen, into a third of its length and height. Now comes the interesting part – As per the rule; your subject or interesting elements of the photo must be placed either on the intersecting points or close to it OR they can also be placed within some sections of the grid as well. You could use the grid to create a sense of symmetry or space. Essentially this grid helps you to draw a viewer’s attention to your subject. That’s it! That’s all there is to it. Practical Application – A walk in the park A walk in the park can be a good opportunity to take some nice photos. Typically this is what most of us will end up taking a photo of because how often will you find a stone head on a rock, right? But this is what makes an average photo Average; the subject is on your face; and you look at it for a few seconds without so much of a second thought and that’s it. Forgotten and tossed away somewhere in your storage. This doesn’t show what made it interesting and its too plain looking – There is no story in it! So how do we tell a story? By Composing the photo using the Rule of Thirds! Here the image has been composed Rule of Thirds Grid over-lay using the Rule of Thirds In the above examples; you will note the following: I have gone back a little to allow a little more of the scene around the head The subject here is on the top left intersecting point with space on the right allowing for some of the background to be visible that gives some context to the overall photograph Close up Here I have photographed the headlamp assembly of my motorcycle and applied the Rule of Thirds in the following manner: When doing a close-up shot; the key is to focus on and keep the area of interest around or on the intersecting point/s. In this case; it’s the tiger light bulb at the top left intersecting point. This draws the eyes of the observer to the light first and then the rest of the parts of the assembly Creating symmetry Here I have shot some earthen pots left for drying. This shot was composed using the Rule of Thirds such that the diagonal of the trey on which the pots were placed cuts across diagonally thus creating a symmetrical composition balancing out the clutter of the pots and the plainness of the earth below them. Spacing out to emphasize the subject Here is my bike again and this time I wanted to emphasize the logo. As I see it, the logo is something that exemplifies the bike and the brand’s character of being simple and classic yet an edgy piece of machinery! Now how do you tell a story like that? Just the logo wouldn’t show all that now would it? Well, I’d had to get some of the bike into the frame too but not so much that people notice the bike And the logo. I only wanted a hint of the body of the bike while clearly focused on the logo. Here is where I used the two sections of the grid between the left intersecting points and blurred out the rest of the bike. This way; I have enough space for the observer to infer that he/she is looking at a bike but before that it’s the logo that meets the eye in all its glory! I hope this blog made sense to you and gave you an insight as to how a simple rule can make a big difference between an average photo and photo worth a thousand words! With best wishes! #shishirrattanart Bangalore, India Follow me on social media - Follow the hashtag #shishirrattanart for more!