Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Unit 205 Camera Settings

Why do we need and what are apertures, ISO and shutter speeds

Aperture and F Stops
This is an adjustable control that determines the width of the opening that admits light to the sensor. The wider the aperture, the more light that can reach the sensor, making it possible to take pictures in dimmer light. You can think of an aperture as the pupil of your eye. When it's bright outside, your pupils contract (and you squint), letting in less light. When it's dim, your pupils dilate.
A narrow aperture reduces the amount of light that can reach the sensor, letting you avoid overloading the imaging device in very bright light. These lens openings are used in tandem with shutter speed (the amount of time the sensor is exposed to the light) to control the exposure. Your digital camera needs a selection of lens apertures (f-stops) so that you can take pictures in a broad range of lighting conditions.
F-stops aren't absolute values; they're calculated by measuring the actual size of the lens opening as it relates to the focal length of the lens, using a complicated formula. The easiest way to visualize how f-stops work is to imagine them as the denominators of fractions. Just like 1/2 is larger than 1/4 or 1/8, f/2 is larger than f/4 or f/8. The relationship is such that as the amount of light reaching the sensor is doubled, the f-stop increases using an odd-looking series of numbers: f/2 is twice as large as f/2.8, which is twice as large as f/4, and so on through f/5.6, f/8, f/11, f/16, and f/22 (which is just about the smallest f-stop you'll encounter in the digital realm). Figure 1 shows a lens opening that's partially closed.
Lens opening, f-stop, aperture — they all refer to the doorway that light passes through to the sensor.
If you're taking photos in automatic mode, you don't need to know what f-stop you're using because the camera selects it for you automatically. Your digital camera probably displays the f-stop being used, however, either in the viewfinder or on an LCD panel and the information can be helpful. Just remember the following things:

As the f-stop gets larger (the number gets smaller), more light is admitted, the larger the f-stop (the smaller the number), the more light that is admitted (faster). An f/2 lens (small number, large f-stop) is a fast lens, whereas one with a maximum aperture of f/8 (larger number, smaller f-stop) is slow. If you need to take photos in dim light, you want to buy a camera with a fast lens.The smaller the f-stop (larger the number), the more of your image that is in sharp focus. As the f-stops get smaller (larger number), exposure time must be increased to let in the same amount of light. For example, if you take a photo at f/2 for one-half second, you need to double the exposure time to one full second if you stop down (reduce the aperture) to f/4.Typically, you'll find that among non-SLR digital cameras, the speed or maximum aperture of camera lenses is smaller than is common among 35mm film cameras, and the range of available apertures is more limited, too. For example, even an inexpensive  35mm film camera might have an f/1.9 lens (pretty fast), and serious photographers with 35mm SLRs probably own f/1.4 or faster normal and wide-angle lenses. Although zoom lenses usually have smaller maximum apertures, in the 35mm film world, f/2.8–f/3.5 are common numbers.  because the very short focal lengths of the lenses are more difficult to design with large lens openings. So don't be alarmed if your favourite digital camera has an f/4 or f/5.6 maximum aperture. You might even find that the lens is labelled f/4–f/5.6 because the effective widest opening can vary as a lens is zoomed in and out. A lens might have an f/4 opening when zoomed out to 38mm but only f/5.6 at its maximum telephoto setting of 152mm.
ISO is actually a common short name for the International Organisation for Standardization. The ISO setting on your camera is something that has carried over from film. Remember back in the ‘old days’ when you used to go and buy your rolls of film and you would buy film rated at 100, 200 or 400, maybe even 800 or 1600? Well that number refers to the film’s sensitivity to light. The higher the number, the more sensitive to light the film is. The ISO bit is from the standards for film sensitivity, and the number refers to it’s rating.
So what does sensitivity mean? Well a low sensitivity means that the film has to be exposed to light for a longer period of time than a film with a high sensitivity in order to properly expose the image. With a lower sensitivity you also get a better quality image too which is why you should always try and use the lowest sensitivity you can get away with.
You might remember buying film for a sunny holiday and the shop assistant would recommend using a film rated at 100 or 200. If, on the other hand, you were going to be taking pictures indoors, then you might be recommended a higher sensitivity like 400 or maybe 800. If you used ISO100 film and decided to take some pictures indoors, chances are you would need to use the flash, or your pictures would come out quite dark. This is because the film’s sensitivity is so low that the shutter would need to be open for a long time to let enough light in. Your camera may not have had the features to allow it to keep the shutter open for long enough, which is why you ended up with dark pictures. This was one of the problems with film. Once you’d loaded it into your camera, you were pretty much stuck with that film sensitivity for 24 or 36 shots. Bring on digital cameras and you can now change the ISO setting for each shot you take. That is one of the big advantages of digital photography.

So why do you only get choices like 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600 and maybe 3200 when it’s digital, surely you could set 154 or 958 if you wanted it? It’s only electrical currents and circuits after all, not a piece of film. Well, in theory you could choose any setting you wanted, but imagine how tricky that would be. There are three settings which combine to give you the exposure, these are Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO. Each one can be changed individually to allow you to set then to what you think will give you the perfect exposure, or you can let the camera set them for you to what it thinks is the perfect exposure for the conditions it can detect. Already with three different options, each having several settings themselves, the combinations are numerous, so keeping ISO to set values, which people will understand makes it a little less confusing.

Now, I mentioned quality too, and that better quality images are achieved with a lower ISO number. If, again, you go back to film days you may remember the sort of grainy effect some images had. Well this grain effect is what is introduced with a higher sensitivity film. Digital has it’s own grain effect with higher sensitivity and is known as Noise. Digital noise can be seen a sort of speckley effect in areas of similar colour, like skies or dark shadow areas. It is a subject of much discussion and the camera is often judged on the amount of noise it produces at these higher sensitivities. This is why you should always try and keep your ISO set to the lowest number, and use aperture and shutter speed to get the right exposure. If you can’t do that with aperture or shutter speed, move up to the next ISO setting and try again.
Why is a high ISO setting needed? Well for indoor work, where flash isn’t allowed and the light levels are fairly low. Or you can use it deliberately to get the grainy gritty feel to the image.

Shutter Speed
Shutter speed is a setting on your camera which controls the length of time the shutter is open, allowing light through the lens to the sensor inside your camera. Shutter speeds can go from very small fractions of a second, to several seconds long on most cameras. So why would you want to change it?
On a very bright day when there is a lot of light, if you allow the shutter to be open for too long then too much light will get to the sensor. When this happens you end up with pictures that are over exposed.
Let’s say, for a simplified example, that to get a perfectly exposed image on a bright sunny day, ignoring all the other camera settings, that you need the shutter to open for half a second. This half a second allows just the right amount of light through to the sensor to get a well exposed imaged.
Now, as the day goes by and you get to the evening, there isn’t as much light about. So if you took a picture and your shutter speed was still set at half a second you would end up with an under exposed image. This is because not enough light got through to the cameras sensor in that half a second. So in order to compensate against lower levels of light, you would need to keep the shutter open for longer.
This may seem straight forward enough, but the longer the shutter is open, the more chance there is of ending up with a blurred image. The slightest of movements while the shutter is open will register as a blurred effect. Sometimes this can be the desired effect, but most of the time you want a sharp image. Using a tripod, sitting the camera on a solid object like a wall or the floor or holding the camera against a solid object like a big tree or wall can help reduce the chances of getting blurry images.
Most digital cameras will have a fully automatic setting where it decides what settings are best, so all you have to worry about is pointing the camera in the right direction and pressing the button. This may be the mode you use all the time, but it’s well worth experimenting with these settings yourself to see what effect they have. Once you start to understand these settings and what they can do to your image you will open up a whole new range of photographic opportunities and much more creative and pleasing photos.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Unit 205 Accessories

In this blog entry i will be discussing the selection and reasons for choice of my equipment and materials, their function and operational knowledge, with consideration of alternatives.

To enable crystal clear shake free shots, it is always best to use some method of steadying your camera, there are a few ways of doing this, hand holding whilst leaning against something and holding your breathe, resting your camera on something, using a fast shutter speed, a monopod.... the best way is the tripod....  have two tripods a Silk travel tripod and a Manfrotto heavy duty tripod.

My Silk tripod is really useful when  am traveling light it is a compact tripod of only 655mm (just over 1/2 a meter) whilst being able to extend to a full height of 1,550 mm and a low weight of 2.6 kg or a bag of sugar, a three way head and I have a ball head as well which I can change with an Allen Key. the flip side of light weight is it not being as robust and solid and steady as a bigger model , in saying that this tripod does a very good job the section on the legs do not flex with rubber feet with a spike in the centre which can be screwed out. the center column can be reversed and separated to enable the multi adjustable legs to flatten out for low level shooting.
My other tripod a  055XPROB with the famous Manfrotto-patented horizontal centre column feature, this is even easier to use than the previous models. You do this by extending the column to its highest vertical position, it can be swung round to horizontal without removing the head or disassembling the column itself, so switching between framing and positioning setups is more convenient than ever. The leg has an angle release mechanism and quick action leg locks which allows the legs to fully flatten out.
As with all higher specification tripods they do not come with any heads, so I purchased an  808RC4, this is a 3-way head to fit on the tripod legs. There are two balance springs in the vertical tilt (forward/backward) and horizontal tilt (left/right) movements. These springs enable you to more comfortably handle heavier camera loads (such as very long lenses) with minimal effort. Both springs can be turned off in case normal head operation is required. The head is comprised of aluminium and designed in a manner to support up to 8kg yet lightweight and small enough to pack in any camera kit. The standard quick release system is used to accommodate larger camera platforms which incorporates dual axis bubble levels to achieve level shots.

I will be using the heavier, steadier more robust Manfrotto tripod to shoot my images obviously because it will ensure total reliability and dependability of use.

Lighting Stands 
I use Interfit Lighting stands which came with my lights, they are well build with air damping so they don't suddenly drop down when the clamps are released. I have used various other type of stands and they are all basically of the same design of three legs which fold out from a centre column which is segmented parts which enable the top section to be raised and lowered.

 These are the soft boxes I currently use with my light, basically they do what it says on the tin they are boxes that soften the light. inside these boxes there are are two diffusion layers of translucent cloth which scatter the light, softening it
A flash though umbrella , similar to the one I used on the car shoot this works differently to a soft box, whilst still diffusing the light it creates more contrast and shadows at the light is more direct, there are a few other options with umbrellas such as reflector or bounce umbrellas, these types have a white (soft) or silver (hard) lining which reflect the light from the strobe.

This is what they call a beauty dish, this gives a similar effect to a ringflash, a shaddowless fill light, you can see in some fashion shots a circular light reflected in the models eyes this is from a beauty dish, there are adaptors which you can fit to these dishes to modify the light such a diffusion panels and honeycomb grids which channel the light.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Unit 310 Twenty Images Preview

Here are my final selected images in a preview format:



All of these images I have selected and adjusted to epitomize the opulence of the prestige cars and the fashion style, I also slightly over saturated the images and underexpose the background, again to boost the theme of rich colours and settings.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Unit 310 Final layout and proofs

I have decided to use Bob Books to supply my calendars, the main reason for this is because of the flexibility of their software giving me the option to fine tune images and the frame and position within the layout.

I have decided to have three images to one page one main image with two additional back images that compliment the main image. the main image on the first 10 pages are of my selected car images and the last two page have my fashion / editorial / lifestyle images as the main image, all the other additional images are made up of my selected fashion images.

I will also be producing one page from this set and will be printing them via the college printer to enable me to fully complete the criteria of calibration etc of local printers.

Here are my finished proofs:

This is a screen shot of the software in action that I used to produce the layouts.
On the left hand side of the window is where all the selection windows are located with the option to personalize your layout in every way possible and if your are still not happy you can freely rearrange the layout further (as I did) by clicking on each picture and adjusting as you wish.

The first thing you need to do when first opening the software is to got to the first selection area on the left hand selection area (as right) and select what size of product you require, in this case I decided on A3 because this was the optimum size for viewing the final product, and Mr Steve our lecturer wanted the images as big as possible. Because my product was a calendar I had to decide what month the calendar would start (I could have been making an academic calendar which would have started in August) and of course what year I wanted (you can select a few years in front if you are planning ahead). the price is also displayed just so you know exactly how much you are paying. you will have the option to request your quantities when you go to the order basket.

There is a window on the left hand side with three tabs at the top of the winndow, these are to tiggle between the design sections of the lay out options

Tab one is for the selection of the images to be used, I will be discussing this section later on in this blog.

Tab two is for the design background layout selection, again this will be discussed later.

Tab three is for the layout of the product you are wanting to use. there are many option to look at for the layout, you can select from 1 image on you page up to 5 images automatically, if you really want to got to town you can also add further image boxes at your discretion. there are even option to place your calendar section anywhere. Of course these options are not fixed and if your want can move them around as you want.

Tab one is where you firstly locate your images you want to use either an online source through to your PC hard drive or even an external drive. 
You will notice that the some of the images have a green tick on them this is to indicate that you have already used this image in your layout, this helps you in not duplicating any images in you products (unless you want to of course)

The last option on tab two is to select your background layouts, everything from clip art to full solid colours or even wallpapers

As well a all these design options, you have the further possibilities of customising still further by using the masks to overlay frames or blend them with the backgrounds.

Throughout the process you have the option to view you finished product by using this toolbar and clicking the two opposing diagonal arrows, this then take it to a new full screen (this is the screen I used to screen grab my proofs which can be sent to the client)

Further editing can be done at any time by selecting any image and using the tool bar to select your editing tool, there is again every option from simple cropping and to brightness and contrast to colour adjustments (which by the way you can select to be an automatic option, which I choose not do do as I want full control). Other options that you can use are border and drop shadow selection, flipping of images in every way possible. you can add text in multiple font sizes and variations (as per my title page text)

Prior to ordering I made a final check of the selected imaages making sure everything is as it should be no blemishes or missing feet or just plain baddly composed or not level. Once this all done you add to the basket and pay for it, wait one week for it to be delivered.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Unit 310 Photo Editing Process

Starting Image adjusted for contrast only, I wanted the lens flare as I felt this was an important style requirement of the image which had a similar effect to the image from one of my influences, Unfortunately in the background there was a tree which is spoiling / intruding into the image, I couldn't move the car or the tree so the only option was to remove it in Photoshop, I would normally try and get the image right in camera, but sometimes there is no other way.

The final image 
After editing in Photoshop and about 12 layers each with a role to play from the simple cloning of the tree out to replicating the flare over the cloned areas, and finally importing another image section for the rear view mirror image.

Unit 310 Calendar Styles

 I'm at the to point were I have finalized my images and am now looking to import them into a calendar profile, I now have to decide which styles I like and want to use  and which images will go where.

I have a couple of options, the purist way would be to produce my own template in photoshop then send this to a printer (see Previous blog entry).... or the easy way would be to use an online printers template and just put my images into the one I like, I think this will be the way I will go, It's easier and probably quicker too.

There is a multitude of web based online printer companies out there such as Blurb or Bobs Books, right the way through to Tesco's, the two companies that I may be using is DS Colour Labs and Bob Book, both of these suppliers I have been using these for my photos and I am happy with their quality and turnaround of the products.

Here is the Bob Books online system:

With endless possibilities of layout options which you can amend to suit your wishes

DS Colour Labs has a similar system but has not the flexibility of design of Bob books, you cannot move image boxes around or resize the frames. but still a good option as it is quick and easy to produce quality images.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Joe Cornish

Whet to the Joe Cornish lecture held by Burton College last Wedneday evening,  It was a very enjoyable lecture  where he talked about his life as a photographer from his early beginnings to present. He talked about his influences, his passion and his reason for why he is a landscape photographer.

Joe spoke about his camera equipment and said that you don't have to have the kit to take good pictures! I disagree with him to some extent, my reasons are if the kit didn't mater then he wouldn't be lugging a rucksack full of equipment up a mountain he would have a point and shoot in his top pocket,  In my opinion I think he is partly right, you don't need kit to take a picture with good location, composition and lighting, however to take quality pictures you need the right kit to get resolution, tonal range, depth of field, sharpness on the image and colour rendition.

I think what came out of the lecture most was the time and dedication that is required to get the images he gets, he spends days or even weeks at one location just to get one shot with the right lighting and weather conditions. Here is a link to his Light and Land work which just says it all

It 's basically what 'Mr Steve' our lecturer said  which was confirmed by Joe, to get a good image you need the following key things
  • you need to know your equipment inside out, what it can and cannot do
  • you need the equipment to be able to do the job
  • you need to have commitment and passion 
  • you need to have the eye to see and compose images
  • you need to be in the right place
and the most important one in my opinion is 
  • Take pictures, when ever you can, practice, practice practice practice..... if you do this one thing everything else will fall into place.
Finally I think one of the things that came out of this lecture is the fact of time, if you go to a location and expect to get the same images quality as Joe they you will always be disappointed, or extraordinarily lucky, because this is his profession, he does this every day he is practiced in his craft (where as we play at it) and he does this every day, even on his 50th birthday.


Saturday, 20 November 2010

Unit 310 Produce your own calendar in Photoshop

Originally I was going to have a workflow process which included using my monitor at home which I have calibrated to the output of the online colour profile of DS Colourlabs and I was getting them to print off my calendar, unfortunately after talking to Mr Steve our lecturer, he is of the opinion that part of this units requirement is for me to physically print my images on a printer next to the computer, rather than what is basically a remote printer at DS Colourlabs! .... so I'm going to produce my own calendar in photoshop and use A4 sized luster photo paper. Following on from my previous conversation with my lecturer and aaan email conversation with City and Guilds (or not) we can to the conclusion that I may be able to produce a local image on the college printer to show that I am able to produce colour calibrated prints, then for my finished product I will go the Bob Books as this is a cheaper and more durable option. 

The following process is for example purposes and I will not be using this process again because of the costs and the ascetics as the image does not present itself as well when the calendar is over the image.

Make Your Own 2010 Calendar in Photoshop

I just got a calendar file (.psd) from my friend, and I already used it to create unique calendars. So I would like to share how to create your own 2010 calendars by using this calendar file. Not only for your own 2010 calendar, but you can also create nice and unique 2010 calendar for your friends, family, etc. Moreover, you can create the calendar for selling as well. Anyway, before I go over into details, I would like to show before/after images as shown below.

1. Download zip file CLICK HERE. Unzip this file “” to get “2010.psd”.
2. Then, open “2010.psd” with Adobe Photoshop.
3. Let’s look at the layer pallet and you will see each layer containing date of each month in 2010.
4. I will demonstrate you how to use this file (so easy) to create the calendar of January 2010. Let’s open a photo.
5. Duplicate layer by right click and select duplicate layer.
6. Select the destination file which you would like the layer to be on and the click OK.
7. After clicking OK, you will see at the layer named “January” in the layer pallet over the background layer.
8. You may see that layer named “January” is so small because my photo is very large. I am not worried about this problem because my layer “January” is text which I can expand as big as I want.
9. Use free transform command (Edit>Free Transform) to expand size of text until you are satisfied with overall size. What’s more, you can add effect into the text such as dropping shadow, blending layer, etc.
10. Add some additional text if you like.
11. You will get nice and unique 2010 calendar which is ready to print and /or send to someone for this New Year.
12. You can try another style like this as well.