Saturday, July 18, 2015

Photography Experiment

I've been inspired, recently, to do something quite unheard-of: to actually learn what all the settings on my Canon Powershot are for.

I know, I know.

See, I have this lovely little $200 point-and-shoot digital camera, and for the most part, it's easy to set it on Auto and let it do its thing. I've taken some great shots with it, even. (And then I went and got lazy and started Instagramming everything after taking pics of it all with my iPhone...which has a decent little camera, but it's hardly a nice camera like the Canon.)

I'm still learning about aperture values and shutter speeds, but this morning, I decided the best trick was to take my camera out in the back yard and just mess around with it. Here's what I learned.

Aperture Value (AV)

This is how much light is let in and passes the lense. The larger the aperture, the more light. I was playing around in the AV mode on my camera this morning and took these shots:


If I have this right, I believe that the pictures of the roses are as clear as they are because I had a lower aperture value setting--it was quite bright out there.

Shutter Speed

Next, I put my camera in its Manual (M) mode, and took different pictures with different aperture settings and different shutter speeds. It was interesting to see how they affected the outcome of the photo. I have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about, so I'll just throw up some pictures and put what shutter speed and aperture value I was using. Remember, this is me learning how these things affect how my camera works, and what I can do to make pictures work for me in lower light settings, etc.

The first group--The Birds. I took these all within the space of a couple of minutes, so there was minimal change in lighting. I took them all from the same angle, for the most part (I'm not perfect).

Shutter Speed: 1/8
AV: F3.4

Verdict: Too washed-out

Shutter Speed: 1/15
AV: F3.4

Verdict: Still a little too light for my tastes.

Shutter Speed: 1/30
AV: F3.4

Verdict: Best of this bunch. Shows the true colors and the true lighting (I was
sitting under the patio cover).

Shutter Speed: 1/60
AV: F3.4

Verdict: Too dark--anything beyond this in shutter speed would have been way
too dark.

The next group: Inside the Watering Can. I wanted something that is supposed to be very dark inside, so I pulled out an old metal watering can. I took the first two with an AV of F3.4, and the second two with an AV of 8.0 (these are the two extremes on my camera).

Shutter Speed: 0"5
AV: F3.4

Verdict: Without using the flash, I got a very well-lit shot of the inside of the

Shutter Speed: 1/10
AV: F3.4

Verdict: This is a more accurate visual representation of what I could see
when looking in the can. 

Shutter Speed: 0"5 (same as first)
AV: F8.0

Verdict: Too blurry.

Shutter Speed: 1/10 (same as second)
AV: F8.0

Verdict: What are we even looking at?

The last group: The Globe Light. I wanted to get a feel for using these settings in extremely bright light, where the sun is bouncing off a glass ball, which is happily reflecting the sun, causing all kinds of issues for the casual photographer.

Shutter Speed: 1/125 
AV: F8.0

Verdict: This one is great. The ball is in focus, you can see that the sun is
shining on it, but it's not a horrible glare.

Shutter Speed: 1/80
AV: F8.0

Verdict: Okay, but getting into blurry and too glare-y territory.

Shutter Speed: 1/25
AV: F8.0

Verdict: Nope.

Shutter Speed: 1/1250
AV: F8.0

Verdict: It looks like night time. It was about 10:00 on a bright July morning
in Sunny California. 

Shutter Speed: 1/800
AV: F3.4

Verdict: Changing the AV seemed to make a difference in how the ball
looks--and in how the background looks (a bit more blurred). I'm thinking
I like this one better than the first.

For this shot, I used my Auto setting. It's okay, but I don't think it's as crisp
as the two above that I really like.

Again, I really have no clue what I'm talking about--yet. I want to continue reading more about shutter speed and AV...and maybe I ought to wait 'til after I pass the CPT exam, so that I'm not confusing concentric muscle actions with shutter speeds or anything like that. Still, it's a fun weekend project to keep me out of trouble, and I figure learning how to manipulate this stuff will help me take my photography hobby to a new level.

I've already taken some great pictures with my current camera--but a lot of that is Auto setting and dumb luck.

From April--it was so overcast, and this picture is nice
in spite of that. But imagine what I might have done
playing with shutter speed?

Huntington Beach, New Year's Day, 2014: I've always wished I could get
sharper images at sunset. This one is good. I'll have to play around with
getting a GREAT sunset shot.

Nighttime pictures have never been my strength. 

This is sheer dumb luck, focusing on something so low
to the ground and capturing the hazy quality that Lake
Tahoe had that day. 

I've always enjoyed capturing moments and places on film, so I suppose it's long past time to get better acquainted with my camera. I specifically bought one that was more expensive than my previous cameras because I wanted to up my game--and because my second Nikon in a row had that same stupid design flaw that meant the battery compartment was always breaking. Duct-taping a camera so it will work is not cool.

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