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1.5: Camera Function Exercises

  • Page ID
    231818
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    These exercises provide the opportunity to learn the important functions of a DSLR camera in manual mode. You will experiment with aperture, shutter speed, ISO, explore the importance of white balance and, upon completion, you should be comfortable with creating proper exposure for these manual settings.

    Time of Day Exercise\(\PageIndex{}\)

    How does the time of day affect your pictures? Does the same subject look different at different times of day?

    1. Choose one landscape to photograph.
    1. Photograph the same landscape at various times of day.
    1. Choose two pictures that show the most interesting contrast of times of day.
    Bracketing Exercise \(\PageIndex{}\)

    Bracketing: The intentional overexposure and underexposure of an image by a photographer to capture a wider range of information for your image. This technique can capture details in highlights or shadows that might be otherwise lost and can be especially helpful during the editing process when you have a scene with a great variance of tones, such as backlit subjects, sunsets, night scenes, or landscapes with dramatic clouds.

    To bracket, set your camera on a tripod so that you can frame the exact same picture multiple times with various exposures. The composition should remain the same; change only the exposure. Change either the aperture or the shutter speed, but do not change both simultaneously. When deciding which setting to change, consider the visual qualities of your image and the visual qualities associated with aperture and shutter speed.

    This is also a technique used to make high-dynamic range (HDR) photographs.

    Choose either aperture or shutter speed to focus on by considering the visual qualities of your image and the visual qualities associated with these settings. Tip: the most common form of bracketing is to take one photograph with the correct exposure and then take one photograph one stop (one exposure setting, either aperture or shutter speed) overexposed and another photograph one stop underexposed. You might even want to try taking two stop increments.

    Instructions

    • Photograph a backlit subject such as a person sitting next to a window or standing in front of a sunset. Try to bracket so the sunset or window is correctly exposed. Then, bracket so the person is correctly exposed.
    • Photograph an interior scene with a window in the frame. Try to bracket so you have the objects inside the interior correctly exposed and the object outside the window correctly exposed.
    • What other scenarios would be good for bracketing?
    Shutter Speed Exercise \(\PageIndex{}\)

    Shutter Speed and Motion: Shutter speed is the time measured in fractions of a second that the shutter is opened, which determines the length of time the light hits the image sensor. A slow shutter speed (longer than 1/60th of a second) blurs motion. A fast shutter speed (shorter than 1/60th of a second) freezes motion.

    A slow shutter speed (anything slower than 1/60th of a second) blurs motion.

    [Insert student image – freeze motion]

    A fast shutter speed (anything faster than 1/60th of a second) freezes motion.

    Instructions

    • Choose a moving subject.
    • Blur: Use a shutter speed slower than 1/60 to create blurred motion.
    • Freeze Motion: Use a fast shutter speed to freeze motion.
    Aperture Exercise \(\PageIndex{}\)

    Aperture: The opening that lets light through the lens to the image sensor and controls depth of field. It is also known as “f-stop.”

    Instructions

    • Set up one scene using multiple objects. Place the objects at different distances within the composition. Photograph the scene using each of the aperture settings on your camera, from f/1.8 to f/22. Notice how each image has a different depth of field.
    • Take a photograph with a shallow depth of field. The subject in the foreground is in focus but the background should be blurred and out of focus. Try a low number such as f/2.8.
    • Use the same aperture as above. This time take a photograph where the object in the foreground is out of focus, leaving the objects in the background in focus.
    • Make an image with a great depth of field. Be confident that everything in the frame is in focus. Try using a high number such as f/22.
    Focal Length Exercise \(\PageIndex{}\)

    Focal Length: Focal length is the distance from the subject to the lens plus the distance from the lens to the camera sensor. The focal length describes the optical capabilities of a photographic lens. It is represented in millimeters and is usually printed on the lens. Importantly, focal length will determine angle of view, which is how much of the scene will be captured. The longer the focal length, the narrower the angle of view and the higher the magnification. The shorter the focal length, the wider the angle of view and the lower the magnification.

    Common DSLR Lens Focal Lengths

    • Fisheye lens: 7mm–16mm
      • Very wide angle that produces a circular image with bent and distorted edges.
      • Useful for capturing wide landscape views, such as cityscapes or a horizon line if you want the images to appear rounded
    • Wide-angle lens: 10mm–42mm
      • Allows you to capture an expansive view of a scene or landscape, or to take a large group photo.
      • Can result in image distortions, i.e., bowing of the horizon or the sides of buildings.
    • Standard lens: fixed focal lengths of 50mm, 85mm, and 100mm
      • Useful for portraits or still life photography and for live event photography with moving subjects.
      • 50mm is standard for DSLRs and will result in the least amount of distortion for images.
    • Telephoto lens: 100mm–800mm
      • Can capture subjects from hundreds of feet away.
      • Has a narrow field of view and a shallow depth of field.
      • These lenses compress the space of a photograph, making objects appear closer to each other than they actually are.

    Instructions

    Zoom In

    1. Set your lens to the widest-angle focal length available.
    2. Frame your subject and take a picture.
    3. Next, zoom in to the next focal length listed on your camera lens.
    4. Frame the same subject the same way and take a picture.
    5. Continue until you have taken a picture of the subject at all the available focal lengths.

    Zoom Out

    1. Set your lens to the longest focal length available.
    2. Frame the subject and take a picture.
    3. Next, zoom out to the next focal length listed on your camera lens.
    4. Frame the same subject the same way and take a picture.
    5. Continue until you have taken a picture of the subject at each available focal length.

    Get Closer

    1. Choose a subject at least 10 feet away for a photograph.
    2. Compose the image and take a picture.
    3. Next, take one large step closer, recompose, and take a picture. Do not use the zoom lens; physically move your body closer to the subject.
    4. Continue the process until your lens will no longer focus on the subject because you are too close.

    Give Me Some Space

    1. Choose a subject for a photograph.
    2. Compose the image and take a picture.
    3. Next, take one large step back, recompose, and take a picture. Do not use the zoom lens; again, physically move your body farther away from the subject.
    4. Continue the process until you can no longer move farther away.
    Vantage Point Exercise \(\PageIndex{}\)

    Vantage Point: The place from where you take a photograph, or the photographer’s perspective. The vantage point is an integral part of taking a photograph and can affect the angles, composition, and narrative of the image. Although we think of photographs as being an accurate depiction of the world, changing the vantage point can change not only our perception of the world, but also the meaning intended.

    Instructions

    New Perspective

    Take a photograph where the new perspective is an integral part of the picture. For example:

    1. Kneel. Or stand on your tippy toes. Take a picture from a new high or low angle.
    2. Stand still in a place through which you normally move quickly and take a photograph.

    Same Photograph, Different Perspective

    1. Photograph the same object from multiple perspectives.
    2. Notice how the background shifts as you move around the subject.
    3. How can a new perspective change the meaning of your picture?

    Bird’s-Eye View

    1. Take a picture of something from a bird’s-eye view.
    2. How does this unusual vantage point change your understanding of the image?

    Shift the Scale

    1. Use depth of field and vantage point to shift the size and scale relationship of two objects.
    2. Use an aperture with a deep depth of field of f/16 or higher.
    3. Frame your subjects and create a composition where size relationships are distorted through the vantage point.

    World’s Largest [insert any common, everyday object]

    1. Get low.
    2. Use a worm’s-eye view to create an exaggerated sense of size and scale.
    3. Your picture should make this common, everyday object seem grand, huge, even momentous in importance compared to the surrounding landscape.

    This page titled 1.5: Camera Function Exercises is shared under a CC BY 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Jessica Labatte and Larissa Garcia (Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Illinois (CARLI)) .

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