Veni, Vidi, Cepi – I CAME, I SAW, I CAPTURED!

Photography is all about Light, Timing, and Composition. Every photographer must decide what type of opportunity they are facing, be it freezing action or taking landscape shots, portraits with shallow depth of field, etc. There is something called “Exposure Triangle” resulting in a correct exposure, which is a combination of Aperture, Shutter speed, and ISO.

Aperture indicates the diameter of the hole in the lens that lets the light through. We talk about f-stop in photography when we talk about it. It is the volume of light that enters the camera. The main f-stops are f/1.0, f/1.4, f/2, f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, f/8, f/11, f/16. f/22, and f/32.  From each stop, the volume of light gets cut in half. For instance, f/1.4 gets double the light than f/2. The smaller f is on a lens, the faster the lens since you need less time in seconds to shoot the same picture. It is also pricier. Fast lenses can create the most creamy Bokeh’s which is the term we use for the visual quality of the out-of-focus areas, as seen in the image below at f/4

Shutter speed goes from 60 seconds to 1/8000 sec. depending on the model of the camera. It is easy to remember them because it starts with 1 sec. and cut in half to ½ sec, ¼ sec, and so on but for the ease of it, it was changed to 1/15, 1/30, 1/60, 1/125, 1/250, 1/500, 1/1000, 1/2000, 1/4000, and 1/8000 sec. Some cameras have what we call a Bulb mode, which allows having the shutter be open for as long as we want, which is used a lot in Astrophotography. 

Freezing action at 1/8000 sec at f/2.8 aperture to get that shallow depth of field to bring more attention to the subject. This was our “Indie“. She passed away last year. The next image is taken with a longer exposure of 2.5 sec at f/16 to with deep depth of field to get all the details in the picture

ISO refers to the sensitivity of the camera sensor which can be changed. Increasing ISO can help you capture images in darker environments, but it comes with a caveat. It will increase the “noise” of your picture which is the term we use for grainy pictures. Most cameras have an ISO setting that starts at 100. The number gets doubled then to 200, 400, 800, 1600 and so on. You can imagine it like this; you are building a home with 100 workers, if you increase the number of workers to 200, you can build faster in half the time. Let’s say you take a picture at 100 ISO and 1/250 sec. You can increase the ISO to 200 and take the same picture at 1/125 sec.  Now if you have too many workers building your home like 1600 of them, you will have a home faster built but may not be “quality work” and in the photographic term “noisy”.  The lowest ISO always gives the best quality, which is used frequently by landscape photographers who are also married to their Tripods as well. 🙂

The first image is taken at “Blue Hour” which is 20 min after the sun has set which can last for another 30 min at ISO 1600 but you notice the noise in the picture because I had to use high ISO. It was handheld and I was in the middle of the lake far from the shore. That is an island on the lake. The second image is taken from the same lake on a tripod with ISO 100 which shows even moon details.

This brings me to the gear section which most photographers should have. TRIPOD is so important and keeps the camera steady and free of vibration, so absolutely Zero movements. Tripod Head and a Shutter Cable Release is also a Must if one wants to get that sharp image with low ISO (better quality) without moving the camera. Tip: Always put one leg of the tripod in front of your lensbfor better sturdier support of your lens. More on gear later!

Composition is everything in photography, which is framing your subject and we will dive into more details on my next blog.

Author: Kouros Farro

I am a family physician, educator, and photographer who loves landscape photography.

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