Thursday, November 6, 2008

weekend update and some camera education

Ah, well, it's only Thursday, but it's the weekend for most of us at USM.

I've been getting assigned tons of projects but still hope to keep up doing shoots. I'm trying to get out with my camera at least once a week.

I had a conversation with someone a few weeks ago who didn't think digital photography was an art... they thought that the camera just did everything for you. I think their only experience with digital photography had been with point and shoot cameras that DO do everything for you though, so I want to explain the differences between my camera and point and shoot cameras for those who are still uninformed.

My camera is the Nikon D40, a DSLR (Digital Single Reflex Camera). It's in the category of a "prosumer" camera. That means that it's a step above a point and shot (I'll call it a P&S from now on), but not a professional camera. There's one (maybe two) more levels above the D40 before you hit professional level cameras that cost thousands and thousands of dollars (check out my dream camera, the D3, which starts at a mere $5,000).


"mischief"
model: Katie

My camera has a number of preset modes, some that are common among point and shoots and a few that are more specific: Night, Macro, Sports, Children, Landscape, Portrait, No Flash, and Auto. But it also has four others - M, A, S, and P. Without getting into too many details they stand for Manual, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, and Program. For the sake of your brain I won't get into the specifics of what they all do, but I shoot in manual.

Shooting manual gives you the greatest control over what the camera does and how it takes photos. In a P&S camera you set the mode and that's it... the camera has preset things it does to best handle the situation. In my camera, I have control of the sensitivity to light, the amount of light let in, and how fast the shutter moves, just to name the three biggest factors. There is an almost endless possibility of combination's I could have with all these different settings! It also requires a lot of thought - if I'm shooting a concert I need to let as much light in as possible because of the darkness of the venue. I turn the camera's sensitivity to light up, and open the aperture to let in as much light as possible. In low light situations you also generally need to use a slower shutter speed, but for a concert you have to find the balance between slow enough to let enough light in but fast enough to catch the action. Too fast and you'll end up with a black photo. Two slow and it will be all blurs.

"little black dress"
model: Katie

In every day situations (like the photo shown above), you have to find the balance between letting enough light in to see the shadows - like on her face- but not "blowing out" (over exposing) the areas that have the most light - her arms. It becomes a juggling act between light sensitivity, amount of light, and shutter speed.

So when comparing digital to film, the mechanics are essentially the same... there are key differences in that you use a menu for a digital camera and things are computerized, however it requires just as much knowledge for GOOD digital photography as it does film.
Artistically there is no difference. There are some things you can achieve with film, such as a nice looking grain, that are very hard to duplicate with digital. However with concept, planning, and execution, there is no difference between what I do as an artist and what someone with a film camera does. It's just different mediums.

I also want to point out that it's not the camera, but the person behind it that makes the photo. I have seen photographers with cameras that are hundreds (sometimes thousands) more expensive than mine that produce uninteresting, bland, bad quality shots. I have also seen people with my same model camera produce photos that I can only dream of.

Too long blog post? No one cares about how cameras work as long as they keep seeing pretty pictures? :P

I'm out!

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Digital Camera said...
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