My December Challenge: A Picture Speaks a Thousand Words or so They Say – by René Blanc
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. But what they don’t tell you is the 100 steps that you have to take to get to that picture. My challenge for December was to learn more about my camera and to try to take some better pictures with the knowledge that I have gained. So welcome to my journey to my “lessons” in photography.
I normally just used to turn my camera to the green automatic mode and shoot all my pictures that way. Then the one doctor I worked for asked to see my camera one day and when he saw that I was shooting in the automatic mode just laughed and joked with me saying that it is illegal to shoot with the green mode in South Africa. He took my camera and changed quite a few settings then handed it back to me in the Manual mode.
My first attempt at Manual mode
Now 90% of the settings he changed I don’t know and honestly don’t understand so I decided to learn some more about my camera and the way that it functioned. During the lessons that I had the teacher threw around terms like “light meter”, “aperture”, “focal point” and “shutter speed”. I initially stared at him with a blank expression on my face and just told him that I once saw a picture of a flower close up and loved it so much that I would like to recreate it and create similar pictures. He then explained to me that it is called “macro photography” and that soon everything that he is talking about will start to make sense.
He started off with the light meter and exposure of the photograph. Teaching us to make sure that the light meter must be on 0 to have the correct exposure (amount of light hitting the subject) to make sure that our subject is perfectly exposed.
Then he taught us about aperture. He explained that the aperture and the F-stop are working against each other. The higher the F-Stop the more of the background is visible and the lower the F-Stop the more of the background is out of focus (blur) having your “subject” stand out from their environment.
My attempt at Aperature:
With the F-stop he explained to us about “focal point” that is basically as the name says the point at which the camera focus. That is mostly a person’s face but in my case, it would be the centre of the flower. To add a curveball, he showed us that the average camera can have one or multiple focal points that gets used depending on your settings. Mine he showed me can reach over 90 points!!!
My attempt at focal point:
The last thing that he explained to us was the shutter speed. That determines the amount of light that reaches the lens from the subject. The longer the lens stays open the more light will come in. That corresponds to the light meter in the beginning. For high light areas where there is a lot of external light, you should set your shutter speed extremely fast like in a thousandth of a second to ensure that there is not too much light coming in to make your picture “overexposed”. On the other end if you are shooting in a dark area you need to crank up the shutter speed to about 1, 250th of a second. You can also create light trails like for example a car’s lights creating a line from one side to the other by leaving the lens open for a couple of seconds.
Using all of these settings and terms that I was taught I went out and took some closeup pictures of flowers and selected 5 that I think was the best, but at the end of the day I rather decided to shoot using the “illegal” green setting and let the camera do all the calculations and decisions for me. It makes my life easier and I personally think my pictures look a lot better that way!
Some more of the pictures I took: