On-Line Digital Photography Course
One of the wonders of
modern technology is the fact that we can snap snap snap and it
costs us nothing more than the effort of pressing the shutter
... and the time taken to
transfer the photos, and the anguish of deciding which one of
ten variations on a theme is the best, and the ridiculous amount
of disc space taken up by never-looked-at but never-erased
photos, and the interminable slide shows friends have to sit
through because you couldn't bring yourself to 'prune'.
Almost makes you pine for
the good old days when every click cost, doesn't it?!
let's look at three seemingly similar shots, and decide which
one to keep and which one to 'heap' (into the trash can)!
First of all, decide
yourselves which picture you prefer: Witch 1,
Witch 2 or Witch 3. Now read on...
At first glance, these
three pics all seem to be reasonably well exposed. But if
you look closely there are differences.
1 and 2 are slightly lighter than pic 3. This is because I
had bumped up the exposure by a stop or so beforehand and
forgot about it for the first two shots! It happens all the
time - watch out for that! You do this by pressing the
excellent exposure compensation (+/-) button and changing it
to +1 or whatever you want. If you don't have this button
it's probably in a menu somewhere.
After shot 2 I realised
that they were a bit light, so put it back to normal and
shot again, the result being that shot three is slightly
darker. Let's look at the result of the camera's choice of
exposure (shot 3) as opposed to the first two shots
(compensation of +1).
Although the colours in
shot 3 look slightly richer (because they are darker they
seem more saturated), look what's happened to the detail in
the darker parts of the dress.
We've lost a lot of the
folds of the dress across the breasts, in the strap and in
the arm, which are important details, both for the photo
itself, and to do justice to the original artist.
Curiously, the detail
in the green leaves seems to actually be better in pic 3!
But don't be fooled. This is due to another inherent
problem: sharpness/blur linked to point of focus (see next
section) and not underexposure.
A very interesting thing has happened here. Look back at the
last two pics from the exposure section and at the two pics
At first I thought, oh,
there was a bit of camera shake on pic 3. But when I looked
more closely, it wasn't camera shake that caused the woman
and the writing to be blurred in pic 3. It was the point of
Of course I looked
first at the woman and the writing and came to that
conclusion. But now look at the leaves from pics 2 and 3:
What's happened is that
in pic 3 I got the point of focus wrong and the leaves were
(relatively) sharp and the woman fuzzy.
And which is more
important to have in focus: a beautifully detailed painting,
including sharp text, and a wall full of writing ('I love
you' in over 100 languages!), or a bunch of swaying leaves?
That's right: the wall!
The problem with
focusing could have been helped if I'd chosen spot focusing
to make my task easier, but that's another lesson.
So, after all that
technical stuff, let's get back to more emotional issues, and
also ask the question: What about Witch 1?!
On the face of it pic 1
seems to be pretty similar to pic 2. In fact the exposure is the
same, but in pic one again I messed up the point of focus - it's
the leaves that are sharp - oops! But there is one far more
striking and vital difference: the composition.
Although in all three
shots the woman is beautifully frames by the leaves (don't you
think ? ;-) in the first pic, the angle of the important
horizontal line is much sharper, nearing 45˚, whereas it is
gentler in shots 2 and 3, closer to 30˚.
When a picture includes
human elements, it's important to bear in mind what is
physically and logically possible. It's less probable that the
woman in pic 1 could be nonchalantly leaning against a table
whilst standing on a 45˚ slope than in the other two pics.
Also, the line in pic 1
slams violently down from the top to the bottom of the
shot, making me think of a precipitous mountain slope and
introducing a tension to the shot which doesn't match well with
the lady's languorous demeanour. In shots 2 and 3 the line goes
from side to side, much more calming and appropriate, adding to
the sultriness of the image.
Finally, in pic 1, the
lady's neck must be killing her, and the lines of her left arm
and from her waist to right breast are totally vertical, which
is not nearly as visually pleasing as the sexy angles in pics 2
and 3, where she's seductively gazing over her left shoulder, as
opposed to using it as a support as in pic 1!
(Almost forgot, the
woman's slightly smaller in pic 1, yet another reason to throw
winner is... Wall Witch 2!
Then comment on this
lesson in the
Photo Blog with a link to your best result - we all want to see
- Discover the wonders of the
'+/-' button (or menu option) of your camera. Almost all
models have it nowadays! Take shots at the camera's
chosen exposure, and then change it to +1 and -1 and
take more shots. You'll be surprised what a difference
it can make, and often the camera does NOT get it right!
- Discover the 'spot' focus
setting and have fun with it. Especially useful as here,
when the subject (the woman) is surrounded by other
stuff on another focusing plane (the leaves). Sneak
shots of subjects through tiny frames such as keyholes
or your fingers, focusing on the subject, not the frame
- Take some shots of the same
subject at a series of different angles, and see which
one complements it best
- exposure -
the camera averages out exposures to a mid-level or
brightness. For creative purposes, this can be a
complete disaster! Never trust the camera to produce the
results you are looking for and become best of buddies
with the wonderful '+/-' button or option. It's a
- sharpness - Be very
careful with the point of focus. You camera is probably
using a kind of matrix to judge what should be sharp. If
you have it set to the 'green' position (idiot-proof
setting!) or even the 'P' option, the odds are most
things will be in focus anyway, which is ok but not very
- composition - steep
slopes can be dangerous! Angles are fantastic creative
elements, but make sure they complement the subject and
don't become so dominating or simply weird that they
detract from the overall image. Women don't normally sit
comfortably on tables at more than a 45˚
angle, even those painted on walls, and your brain will
tell you so!
~ Comment on this lesson in the Photo Blog
lesson belongs to the following sections...
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