Digital Photography Boot Camp
A one day workshop taught by Bob Cook
Saturday, January 27, 9 am to 4 pm
The attendees must bring their camera and send Bob the make and model before the workshop so that the teaching will be exact for the specific cameras.
These issues and more will be addressed:
- The utility of Point and Shoot” vs Single Lens Reflex vs Mirrorless cameras
- Why you should never set the camera to “auto” or use a flash
- How and why to set image quality and the difference between raw and jpeg images
- How and why to adjust aperture, shutter speed and ISO sensitivity
- When to use continuous vs one shot shooting
- How to judge your photo from the LCD review screen and then how to produce a better shot of the same scene
- How to correct for bad exposure
- How to produce first rate images of your paintings and more.
- Plus all questions are dealt with
Read the preview pages for more details; investigate Bob at www.bobcookart.com
To register for this workshop, fill out and return the registration form.
More information about this workshop
Boot Camp for digital photography, one day workshop
Don’t let the camera be smarter than you are. It’s bad enough the way the computer treats you. Bob will demystify digital photography with particular emphasis on the needs of the artist/painter to use their camera.
Each attendee will email their camera brand and model to Bob in advance of the workshop so that he will be able to direct the learning not just towards general digital photography but towards everyone’s specific camera. Here’s the workshop outline:
Two camera types: “point and shoot” vs “single lens reflex”. What are the differences? Which is best to have?
Set up: battery charging, selection of memory card, place camera in “P” mode
Never use the “auto” mode or any of the “special” scenes or the flash. See how that simplifies things? Cameras have way more settings than should be used but it helps keep employment up in Japan.
Select “quality” mode: RAW vs Jpeg, fine vs standard, Large file vs smaller. Easy choice here: always shoot highest quality image with largest file. How hard is that?
Our photographic goal: A properly exposed image. Not too dark, not too light. Goldilocks.
Dance of the exposure settings: Aperture, Shutter Speed, ISO sensitivity. This is the main adjustment issue in reaching the goal (that proper exposure) and, well, it does include some math but it’s only multiplying and dividing by two so not so bad. It does take a little while to “get” these three settings. Oh, hey, why not just leave the thing in “auto”? Bob will explain why.
Aperture: is just an iris behind the lens which opens and closes to varying amounts letting in more or less light. The reason why you want to control this setting (none of that “auto” stuff) is that when the aperture is open wide, letting in the maximum of light, the depth of focus is the most shallow in terms of items a certain distance from the camera being in focus. When the aperture is the most closed, letting in the least amount of light, depth of focus is at its maximum so much more of the scene is in focus. Sometimes a shallow depth of focus (aperture wide open) creates a more artistically attractive result with cool blur surrounding the center of interest.
Shutter speed: is just how long the shutter will be open expressed in fractions of a second. The longer the shutter is open, the more light comes in. Remind you of the aperture deal? A short (fast) shutter speed stops motion and a slow shutter speed risks a blurred picture if the subject is moving or the camera is being jiggled. But, like with aperture, at times a blurred picture is what you want. ISO sensitivity is a number starting at usually 100 and then getting larger. The larger the ISO sensitivity, the more the camera can make a good exposure with less light. To give an example, let’s say you’re getting a good exposure at 1/50th of a second shutter speed with ISO set at 100. If you set the ISO at 200, doubling it, you can get the same exposure by changing the shutter speed by the same factor of two to 1/100 of a second. Bob knows what you’re thinking: why not leave the ISO setting really high so you never have to worry about a too slow shutter speed or not being able to close the aperture to get a broad depth of field. It’s another trade off. The higher ISO goes, the more electronic noise creates a blotchy or grainy pattern in the image. Phooey. A side point is that the more you pay for your camera, the better it can support high ISO settings without noise problems. As Jimmy Carter said, back in the day, “life is not fair”. Deng Xiaoping said, “it’s glorious to be rich” (at least when it comes to getting a good camera).
Anyhow, understanding the changing relationship of these three factors is at the heart of controlling your camera for artistic results. If it’s new to you, it takes a bit of getting used to it but a lot of time will be spent during the workshop with demonstrations by Bob and by you all. Once you get it, it’s smooth sailing like riding the proverbial bicycle.
With the foregoing being a little complex, let’s knock off an easy one: Your camera will have a “white balance” setting which offers “auto” and then different types of lighting for the scene such as “daylight”, “fluorescent”, “incandescent”, “cloudy”, etc. So now, you’re supposed to figure what type of light is on the scene and then find this setting and change it? By that time, the bear has run off. Just leave this one in “auto white balance” forever. 98% of the time, the camera will make a good exposure in auto white balance and for when it doesn’t, the “temperature” of the scene will be a little cold or warm and this can be fixed in software. So leave it in “auto white balance”. Easy Peasy.
So, we can view white balance as an adjustment you don’t adjust. Pretty cool. Another is “stabilization”. This is a great feature which nearly all digital cameras have these days as it’s gotten quite inexpensive to implement. The idea is that humans cannot hold a camera perfectly still so if the shutter speed is fast, like 1/100th second or faster, the picture comes out fine but if you’re using a slow shutter speed like 1/15th second, the camera will move a bit in your hands and the picture will be blurred. “Stabilization” employs sensors that detect the slight movement and then move the lens or sensor in the opposite direction to produce a sharp image. Amazing, no? First we get the Kardashian sisters and now this! But you’ll usually see a switch by which you can turn off stabilization. Why ever would you do that? It turns out that if the camera is on a rock steady tripod, it does slightly better with stabilization turned off. Except I can’t see the difference because there’s no such thing as a photographer who has not forgotten to turn off stabilization when the camera’s on a tripod and then if he does remember, he forgets to turn it back on and screws up his next hand held picture. So just leave stabilization on all the time. Easy Peasy.
Let’s make a quick summary. The camera is set to “P” mode, high quality image, auto white balance, no flash, stabilization on. Take a picture. Should look good. The image flashes in the review screen for a couple of seconds. You bring it back by pressing the button with the “play” triangle in it.
The image you see must be studied. Too dark? Too light? You can zoom in to check the focus. There is also data associated with the image. A button will cycle what you see in the LCD review screen from full image to images with data. The data tells you what aperture and shutter speed were employed by the camera to make the exposure as well as the ISO sensitivity number. There’s also a graph called a histogram. The appearance of the image buttressed by the data on the screen tells you if you’ve got an optimum image or if you need to make adjustments and re-shoot. This is the wonderful feature of all digital cameras and you’ve got to take advantage of it. Bob will show how. And he will show how to take better control of the shot by selecting the aperture, shutter speed and ISO sensitivity that you want and to dial in exposure compensation which corrects a too dark or too light image before you take the first shot or the second (improved) shot. And Bob will show the “half pressed” shutter button procedure so that you can see some of the data prior to making the image.
What else? Well there’s continuous shooting. Recall the news clip you see on TV where the gracefully smiling celebrity person is surrounded by a scrum of photographers and you hear incessant clicking noises like a mad battalion of crickets. Each photographer is firing his camera in continuous mode which can produce shots at rates like 10 per second. It’s lucky they don’t have to pay for film. On your camera, it’s a mode. It can be useful to blast away at a kid or dog playing so you get that one great pose and expression.
Is there more? Sure, but this is boot camp, not grad school. You will have learned a lot and by working with your camera you’ll be able to put it to use and build on it. And there are lots more books, videos and workshops that can be accessed.
But here’s one very practical use that painters can employ to create digital images of their paintings.
Bob will show:
- How to light the painting if the medium is flat or raised (impasto strokes)
- Framing the image
- Basic editing and preparing the image for printing or emailing.
- Sources for different types of prints: paper, canvas or aluminum.