Back to Basics – Depth Of Field

depth_of_fieldAfter discussing exposure in great detail, I would like to turn to a different kind of control – Depth Of Field (A.K.A. DOF). OK. Don’t jump – you are right. Depth Of Field is not a real control, but more of a result of how you used the aperture control.

In simple words Depth of field is the term you use to describe what is inside the focused area of your image and what is left outside of the focused area (and will stay home alone, and eat dry bread and drink stale water. Sorry Jewish mom syndrome…)

As I said before the control that has the most impact on depth of field is aperture. Bigger apertures tend to provide shallower depth of field. That means that if you open a wide aperture (say f/1.8) you will have a narrow location in your image which is focused. If you set your aperture to a small value, say f/22, you will have a huge focused area. The other two controls you can employ to control depth of field are Zoom focal length and camera to object distance. [Read more...]

Studio lighting – Homemade Softbox Ring For SB or Flash Speedlight

DIY flahs ringTim from Chicago was using translucent umbrellas to get diffusion out of his flash speedlights. This was his home grown studio. When he switched to softboxes, the cost of the flash adjustment ring drove him to… Build a cheap flash ring on his own (this studio lighting DIY is not for the faint of heart – it uses a vise and a sledge). When not building stuff Timothy Witkowski also shoot sports. Here is the deal:

I use my Nikon CLS sb800-sb600 in almost every venue that I shoot. I recently switched from translucent umbrellas to using them with a softbox. I bought a generic 36” softbox with a universal ring that I paid I think $25 for. I found a morris ring at b&h for about $60 + shipping which was nothing more then a standard ring and a l bracket. So I went to the garage to make my own. [Read more...]

Back To Basics – Exposure Demostrated

sunny day 16After talking so much about exposure and the controls you can use to, em.. well… control it, I thought I’d bring up some info that can help bring all the control info together.

As a solid base for demonstration, I chose to display and discuss a bit about a rule know as the “Sunny Day 16” rule. I guess that this rule is known to film photographers, and is of little use nowadays when all the cameras have built in light meters. But we can explore this rule and learn something about exposure from it.

The rule is simple: on a sunny day, set your aperture to f/16 and set your shutter speed to be as close to the ISO setting as possible. (There! All the three exposure controls in one coherent sentence. Pat on the back!). This is where this rule got its name – Sunny day 16. Image by Stefan Mendelsohn. [Read more...]

Painting With Light

painting with lightPainting with light is a fun technique that gives great results. It is called painting with light because this is what you are actually doing while taking the shot – painting with light.

You don’t need much to experiment with this kind of shot, just make sure you have the following items:

1. A camera capable of long exposures – film cameras will work OK, but if you really want to get the most out of the shooting session, use a digital camera. You will be able to see the results in “real time” and make corrections as you go.

2. A nice tripod. Since you will be doing some long exposures you want to make sure your camera sits still. If you don’t have a tripod you can make one in a few minutes (see this article or this one).

3. A flash light – and by flash light I do not mean flash as in a speedlight, but the flash light or what our British will call a torch.

4. A dark location. This one is tricky. If you are going to shot at home – a dark room will be OK. If you are going to shoot outside – make sure that you are not doing this under a street light, or where a car can come by and “paint its headlight” all over your shot. [Read more...]

Back to Basics – ISO and exposure wrap up

isoIn the previous few articles, I have discussed some basic aspects of photography. The first subject to get a close look was exposure, and I have discussed two of the three components that control it: shutter speed and aperture. In this article, I will bring in the missing piece – ISO (or film sensitivity). After that I will conclude the exposure subject.

We have learned that the sensor (or film) can get the same exposure if we prolong the duration the shutter is open, but use smaller aperture (or shorten the duration that the shutter is open, while using a bigger aperture). If we want to be absolutely honest (which, at least for now, we do), we have to include the third part of the equation: film sensitivity (AKA ISO).

In short – ISO sets the impact that light will have on the sensor. High ISO will make our exposure brighter, while low ISO will make our exposure darker.

So how can we use ISO to produce better photographs? [Read more...]

DIY – Homemade Speedlite “Snoot”

homemade_snootThis guest post was written by Leann Wrightsman, a photo DIY-er extraordinaire. This snoot making article has one of the best effort to result ratio. You usually use a snoot when you want only a small part of a scenario lighten, while keeping the rest of the scenario light free see the picture at the end of this article.

In this article Leann Wrightsman will show you how to make a “Snoot” for your speedlight flash with easy to find items you may even have around the house! [Read more...]

Back to Basics – Shutter Speed

shutter speedIn the previous article, I talked about exposure, and how it affects the final image. I mentioned that there are three controls the one can use to change the outcome of the clicking the shutter button: ISO, Aperture and Shutter speed. This article will focus on Shutter Speed. As I said, Shutter Speed is one of the three exposure controls. Luckily for this article, it is the easiest to understand. It simply controls the amount of time the shutter is left open for light to come in and hit the sensor.

I am saying sensor, but the old experienced folks may remember a time when the light was actually hitting film. Both the sensor and film collect light. The longer the shutter is open, they see more light – so the longer the shutter is left open the brighter your image will be. But shutter speed also affects other aspect of your image. Let’s try and have a look, but first let’s set the groundwork so we better understand each other. (Shutter image by brighterworlds) [Read more...]

Back to Basics – Exposure

Back to basics - ExposureThis is the first article of the Back to Basics series which tells allabout the basics of photography, and it deals with Exposure. Do you know that click sound that cameras make? It originates from a “flip” of a mirror that allow light to fall on the camera’s sensor (or for the old skool photographer – to fall on the film).

The effect of light falling on a sensor is called Exposure. That is because the sensor is exposed to light. (OK, great, so exposure happens when something is exposed. Big deal! no wait there’s more…) When the sensor is exposed, it gathers the light and depending on how much light is gathered it creates an image.

Exposure is relative and is comparable by something called stops. (or F stops). The main trick for understanding exposure is that “opening” or “closing” a stop, doubles or halfs the amount of light that falls on the sensor. Lets have a closer look. [Read more...]

Very Cool Optical Slave Unit

optical flash slave
This guest post was made by Rolf Randby, the same person who wrote the Hot Shoe Adapter article. In fact, This slave trigger was the “trigger” (pan intended) for building the hot shoe adapter in the first place.

There are some Gazillion optical slaves out there. We even one optical slave unit published on this site. So what is so special about this circuitry? Rolf used a PIC (Programmable Interrupt Controller) to give this unit some very nice features: 1. No setup 2. It will work with a red eye setting in your camera. Yep, those annoying red-eye pre-flashes will not trigger the flash, it will “magically know” when the main slash if fired and activate the unit. 3. It will work with all point and shoot cameras.

Those three nice features accomplished with PIC hex code written by Evan Dudzik, from a algorithm by Rolf, make this unit an optimal optical slave unit for P&S cameras. It is the reason I call it the “Very Cool Optical Slave Unit”. Rolf, for some reason, insists on the boring name “STF 1″. I’ll stick with my name – “Very Cool Optical Slave Unit” or VeCOSU :). [Read more...]