I struggled with this class.
I struggled to get out of bed. I struggled to get to the class. And once I was there I was so dazed I’m not sure how much I took in. I was so hungover that I couldn’t focus. Literally. And it was a mostly practical class that day so there was very little sitting down…
Week 3 was all about light – how to use it, how to make the most of it, how to create it. We went out into the practice area and the instructor stood in the doorway which led to the outdoor area. She told us to take a photo of her – it would be a silhouette because of the bright daylight behind her.
Ways to get around this are:
- use the Auto-Exposure (AE) lock on your camera (on a Canon camera, this is the button marked with an asterisk) – focus on something mid-grey that is close to you, press your shutter button halfway down to take a light reading, then press the AE lock button. A star will appear in the bottom left of the view finder but only for a short while so you need to take the picture quickly. It’s also a good idea to step closer to the subject so that the background isn’t completely white;
- use the metering button on the camera. There are four modes – matrix/evaluative metering (the camera is automatically set to this), centre-weighted average metering (the camera gives extra weight to the centre), partial metering (measures approximately 8% of the frame) and spot metering (measures about 2% of the frame);
- override the camera’s settings and deliberately under- or over-expose the image (exposure compensation). This is where the button with the +/- comes in. Once you press the button and turn the dial, the light meter moves to the right or the left, making the picture brighter or darker, respectively.
We also talked about auto-exposure bracketing, which I’m still trying to get my head round. This enables you to take three photos at different exposure values. Depending on the chosen settings, one will be under-exposed, one will be whatever the camera is set to, and the third will be over-exposed.
We talked about white balance. I had seen the WB button on the camera but had no idea what it meant or what it did. It removes unrealistic colour casts so that objects which appear white in person remain white in the photo. The WB needs to be matched to the kind of light you’re shooting in. These photos were all taken within a minute, using the different settings. The results are astonishing!
We also looked at histograms and how they can help assess your exposure. They’re bar graphs visible on the camera’s screen when viewing pictures in playback mode.
We were split into groups and told to take photos of our chosen object, using light from different angles, and using the different WB settings on our cameras. Again, such different results from changing a setting or two, and the direction of the light:
We had some fun at the end by playing around with the shutter speed and the torch. We set our shutter speed to 4 seconds. The instructor then switched all the lights off and shone her torch on the three object on the ledge. All three captured the light…
She then tried something else. She shone the torch on her face and moved around while our cameras were taking the picture (a shutter speed of 4 seconds again). The results were quite eerie!
It was an interesting class, but I just wish I’d been a bit more alert!