Blog

Camera Photo Basics – First Step

Camera Photo Basics – First Step

Photographic Terminology (Nomenclature)

I get asked from time to time about understanding camera and photography nomenclature or terminology.  A lot of magazine or website articles assume that a person reading has a basic understanding of what’s what. 

Like with any subject, finding it too difficult to understand certain aspects, one can give up or consider themselves to ‘dumb’.  From that, a person may think that because they are unable to render the photography as they want, they are just not artistic or smart enough.

What I’m going to start with applies to a camera that allows one to adjust various settings.  The majority of these rules will not apply to your iPhone camera or some such.

I’ll try here to give you a few definitions at a time and show how these things interact, with some ideas and example on how to use, before going on to the next step.

Focus

First up, you have to focus on the point of interest in your picture. 

Camera Buttons: With the majority of cameras you will focus by pressing down the shutter button* half way, then, when focused the way you want, press the shutter* fully to trigger.

I find this a pain because if I lift my finger and put it back, it will refocus on a point I don't want.  There is something called ‘back-button’ focus on most cameras. 

It is usually right where your right hand thumb would be when your finger is on the shutter button.  Have a look in your manual or online for your camera model and see how you can adjust your settings to make this button do the focusing for you.  Once set it may take a little getting used to but it will generally make your life much easier.  Practice.

There will also be several settings as to how your camera will do the focusing when you are looking through the lens.  Pick one system and work that for a while, at least until you get used to how to deal with Aperture and Speed, etc.  One does not want too many unfamiliar moving parts when learning. 

I suggest using some sort of centre weighted focus point for starters.  Figure out how to set that up and just leave it.  While using the back focus button looking through the lens, you focus on the point you want and then take your thumb off the button and move your camera so you have the image framed the way you want.

For example.  A portrait.  You want to focus on the eyes but don’t want the face centred in the overall image.  Using back button focus, centre on the eyes and focus.  Release that button, move the camera a bit to one side or the other so the person’s face is maybe one third of the way from one side, then press the shutter* button. 

(*Shutter and shutter release button: When you press the shutter button is lifts a screen that now allows the light to strike the sensor or negative (in older cameras), creating the image.)  Look at it like this: Sun outside a window with the blind closed.  You open the blind and then close it really quickly.  Allows the light to come in the room for an instant.  The blind is the shutter in this case.  If you were looking at the room for that split second, you would record the image of the room.

Aperture,  Shutter Speed & ISO (International Organization for Standardization): Descriptions

These three things work together to allow the appropriate amount of light on to the sensor**.

Aperture: That’s how big the hole is that allows the light to hit the sensor.  This will usually be adjusted on the camera on a dial near the shutter button.  The bigger the hole the more light that enters.  There are a series of numbers, usually about f22 to f1.4.  There are lots in between and not all camera lenses have same range of openings.  More on that part a bit later.  It can be initially confusing because f22 is the smallest aperture (opening)!  And f1.8 (or again on your camera lens it might be f3.5 or something slightly different) is the largest or most wide open.  This is because they are calculated as fractions.  The really should read like this: f 1/22, f 1/16, f 1/8, etc.  Then you would more easily see that f22 is smaller in size that f8. 

These images aren't exact proportions but just to give you a visual idea of how these numbers work with the sizes:

f22: ⭕        f16          f8          f5.6⭕     f1.2

 

So, on a really bright sunny day, you might want use the f22 setting as it is a smaller size and allows less light in.  In the evening you might want to use a more open aperture like f4.

Shutter Speed
This is fairly straight forward.  The faster the shutter the less light.  If you want to freeze motion, you would need a fast shutter speed, likely over 1/1000 second.  If you want to show motion use a slow shutter speed. For example, you may have seen photos of a waterfall blurred from the moving water.  The speed setting on the shutter for this might have been as long as one or two seconds to get that blur.  With slower shutter speeds one might want to use a tripod to hold the camera perfectly steady.  It is almost impossible to hold your camera steady enough when you are shooting at one or two seconds.  You will almost always get a blur where you don’t want it. 

Most cameras these days will go from a setting or several seconds (slow) to as high as 1/8000th of a second. 

ISO: (International Organization for Standardization)  This is a sensitivity setting for the sensor** on your camera. 

Low sensitivity needs more light to register.

High sensitivity needs less light to register.

Most cameras these days have the lowest sensitivity at 100.  Some go up to +50,000.  These settings were originally developed for film.  At a low sensitivity you would have lots of little dots of silver on a negative.  These particles would react to the light. If there was plenty of light you could use a film like this as each dot was very small but there would be enough light register on that small dot or particle.  A higher sensitivity film would have fewer and much larger dots.  The larger dot would be needed to catch or register the light. 

The first image here would be comparable to a low ISO (small dots) needing more light for each dot but giving a sharper image.  The second image with the larger dots would need less light as they are bigger and can catch more of the light quickly.

 

         

The problem with this would be that the resulting image would be very grainy.  You would be able to see the individual dots.  Sometimes this can be aesthetically pleasing.  But other times you might want the sharpness.  This all works the same way with the sensor on your digital camera as it did earlier with film.  The higher the sensitivity the grainier the image.  The lower the sensitivity the sharper the image. 

So, how do these three things work together to give you the image you want?

So each of these three settings can allow more or less light into the camera and onto the sensor to make the image.

So that we don’t have too many moving parts when trying to figure this out, let’s start with taking a photo outside on a reasonably bright day.    

For this set your ISO (sensitivity) at 100. 

Now, how do you decide what to set the Aperture and Speed?

Speed is fairly simple.  A fast shutter speed will slow or stop motion if there is any.  So, if you are taking a photo of, say, a landscape this setting should not matter as much. 

But your Aperture setting might matter and here is why…

There is a thing called Depth of Field.  Depth of Field means what is in focus in the image, between camera and infinity.  Referred to as a narrow or wide depth of field.

The more open and wider your Aperture, the narrower your depth of field. 

The smaller your Aperture, the wider the Depth of Field

For a narrow Depth of Field, you might use f1.4, f1.8, or even f3.5.  Remember these are bigger numbers as they are actually fractions 1/1.4 or 1/3.5 (fractions).

You might want to use this setting if you were taking a photo of a person outside and wanted the background blurred.  You would focus on the individual and have your Aperture set at f3.5. Gives you a narrow Depth of Field.  So the person would be in focus but everything in front of and behind him or her would be somewhat out of focus.  A narrow Depth of Field. 

If you wanted everything in focus, you might use a setting of f16 or f22.  That would make everything from a little way in front of the camera to infinity in sharp focus.

There is a setting on most cameras whereby you can use what is called Aperture Priority.  So, this allows you to set the Aperture the way you want and the Speed would automatically adjust to allow the appropriate amount of light to get a decently exposed image. 

You see that if you are shooting with a wide open Aperture, say f1.8, you are letting in a lot of light to your sensor.  To make up for this you would have to make the speed faster to allow less light. 

The reverse of this would be shooting with a small Aperture, say f16, allowing much less light to get everything really sharp.  You would then have to shoot at a slower speed allowing more light that way to compensate. 

So, you jockey these two things back and forth to get the type of image you want.  Artistically.

One can use automatic settings on the camera, or ‘Aperture priority’ or ‘Speed priority’ but I suggest going full manual.  This will force you to learn how these things work together. You will likely make mistakes.  Part of learning. 

So, alternately, if you are concerned with slowing or stopping motion, or if you want to actually show the motion of something, like a mountain stream, then set the speed that you want and adjust the Aperture to allow the right amount of light. 

There is another important term here:  That term is the word: Stop or F-Stop. 

‘Stop’ or F-Stop is the opening or closing of the Aperture one increment.  Or stepping the Speed up or down one increment. 

For example, if you want ‘X’ amount of light and your Aperture is f8 and your Speed is 1/250 of a second.  If you closed down your Aperture one ‘stop’ to f11 (less light), you would then need to reduce your Speed (increase light) one ‘stop’ to maintain the same exposure.

F-stops: f1.4, f2.8, f4, f5.6, f8, f16, f22

Shutter speeds: 1/1000second, 1/500s, 1/250s, 1/125s, 1/60s, 1/30s, 1/15s, 1/8s, 1/4s

So, f1.4 Aperture pair with 1/1000 second would allow the same amount of light as:
f2.8 with 1/500 second.  Here are two photos. 

The portrait on the left has a shallower depth of field.  You can see that the background is somewhat blurred.  The landscape photo on the right is in focus from close to the camera through the water to the sky.

**Sensor: that’s the little rectangular or square bit where you camera records the image.

Practice

Before you do anything else, practice this drill:

Headshots and Portraits starting at $150: Contact

Some information on lighting techniques

 

#aperture #shutterspeed #iso #photographybasics

Posted by admin in Blog, Photography Tips, 0 comments
Hannah – Old Hollywood Style

Hannah – Old Hollywood Style

Portraits with Hannah

These photos were taken New Years Day 1999.  Billy, another photographer and I had been shooting and processing our photos in a darkroom for some time and we were both at a party the night before.  Hannah was attending the event as well.  We approached her, asking if she would allow us to shoot her the next day at our studio.  We thought she had marvellous bone structure and would make for some great photos.

She showed up on time the next day on time and everything.  I told her what I needed as preparation, some simple makeup.  She told me that she’d never used make up!  Although she did have lot of bits and pieces of things that her friends kept giving her.  I’d had been studying some Kevin Aucoin books about the subject and although I’d never attempted it myself decided I would try some of the techniques out that I’d learned.  

Hannah had enough of these stashed away in her small purse allowing me to go to work. It was fairly minimal, some eye makeup and blush, but it worked well for what we were shooting. 

The portrait with the hands against the face is another tribute to the Hollywood photographers of the 1940s such as George Hurrell.

Old Negatives

The negatives have been in storage since that time and I scanned them in a couple of weeks ago.   Pretty messed up.  A lot of work in Lightroom fixing up the photos that you see here. 

Lighting and Film

I don’t remember but likely two lights and possibly a reflector.  I think Billy and I shot a roll of film each.  I would have shot these on an old Nikon FE camera with a marvellous Nikkor 105 mm lens.  Great lens for portraits.  Pretty sure the film was Ilford 400 ISO.

Some more Old Hollywood style photos

 

#oldhollywood #georgehurrell #nikonfe #portraits #blackandwhite

Posted by admin in Blog, Portraits, 0 comments
Owen’s Graduation Photos

Owen’s Graduation Photos

Geeky and "Ungeeky" Photos for Owen

‘My mom wants me to get graduation photos.”  Owen never got them done last Spring due to all the Covid kerfuffle.  He asked me Saturday evening and we were going to shoot Sunday. Owen plays football on the school team and I wanted a few shots with his gear so we waited till Monday evening.  He was actually supposed to turn his gear in that day but coach was kind enough to allow him to use for the graduation photos. 

This from mama:

“Thanks so much Martin! They are stunning!
Really appreciate you taking those beautiful images for me!
Cheers!
K.”

Geeky photos and Serious photos

We first off did the geeky shots with gown etc.  Nice posed shots with the gown and hat, photos for the fireplace mantle.  The one with the cardigan is actually pretty nice.  I’m hoping that even with these that the lighting keeps them from being too, too geeky.  Well, maybe not.

Then we got down to some more interesting stuff.  My first time doing anything like this at all so was a hoot.  I’ve done outdoor, more geeky shots but mostly ladies.  I really love shooting guys, men, boys, as I don’t have to soften the photos I can be a little more ‘extreme’ with the editing. 

Please contact me if you need photos of your family or teen graduation photos - anytime of the year!

Please, if you get this far reading, check out the portraits in the different sections of my website.  I’ll shoot anything but LOVE taking photos of people.

Portraits

#portraits #gradphotos #graduation #seniorsphotos #seniors 

Posted by admin in Blog, Portraits, 0 comments
Photographing Nudes

Photographing Nudes

Photographing the Nude

One the last few years I’ve come across a lot of superbly photographed nudes through Instagram, Pinterest, 500px and some other venues.  There are some really great photographers out there. 

Growing up and as I started creating with photography, if I wanted to find decent inspiration, I had to look in bookstores and magazines.  There were many, good and bad, but two fantastic artists come to mind that had wonderfully artistic eye

Robert Farber

and

Steve Hanks

Robert Farber was and still is amazing.  I have a book of his from 1991 (I purchased around that time) subtitled ’20 years of Farber Nudes’ or something like that.  So, he has been doing this for a while.  Real art, not just naked bodies.  Definitely someone to emulate.

Steve Hanks, who passed away in 2015, was a renowned watercolour artist. I poured over his early nudes and have in the past tried to emulate some of his work.  He painted a lot of other material besides nudes, all of it otherworldly. 

The majority, well, all of the women that I’ve photographed nude have been friends or acquaintances.  At great embarrassment to other friends and relatives, I used to ask just about everyone I met, the ladies, if they would be willing to pose for some nude art.  I got a lot of ‘no thank you’ but persevered. 

The photos I’m showing here, I’m adding a couple of edits, three of each using Lightroom and Photoshop. 

I was never interested in just shooting a naked body, I was as much interested in what shadows could hide and make mysterious as to what was in the light. 

I know many photographers have very exact ideas of what they want as a product when shooting nudes.  Not so much me.  I often will take an idea from a painting or another artist to start.  But from there I will bend the light and form into different patterns.  A lot of what I shoot doesn’t always work.  But as they say, Babe Ruth swung out more than anyone else.  And that is likely why he got more home runs than anyone. 

Working with Models

The most important thing I have found working with models is being respectful.  Make sure they are comfortable with whatever you are asking them to do.  Tell them what you are doing and why, with lights etc.  Even if it is ‘Let’s try this…”. 

Reassure and validate your model. Be calm.  Be as confident as you can.  Serve your model tea, water or wine.  (But only a little of the last.)  Have a cloak for them to wear and place for them to change. 

And try and make it fun.

More Tasteful Nudes

 

#tastefulnudes #fineartnudes #nudes #artisticnudes

Posted by admin in Blog, Boudoir-Nudes, 0 comments
1956 Packard Hardtop

1956 Packard Hardtop

1956 Packard

This is Chris with his 1956 Packard.  We were able to get some nice photos in spite of the rain. This was a luxury automobile in its time.  With a push-button transmission and torsion bar suspension, it was smooooth!  And nothing like a V8 engine when you have cheap gas.  Gas was $.23 (23 cents!!!) a gallon (a GALLON) in 1956.  I think when I started buying gas it was about $.35.  And we complained even then.   Pretty sure 1956 was the last year Packard built cars.  Or anything for that matter.

The camera

Photos were taken with a Nikon Z6 and 50mm 1.8 S series lens.  Great combination.  Fast, sharp focus for these old eyes.  I do have an adaptor and tried an old manual wide angle lens - that did not work out well at all.  I've used the adaptor with a Tamron 70-300 Zoom quite successfully.  But the autofocus works in that combination.  

Working with the time we had.  It started snowing about three minutes after we completed the photo shoot.  I used my 50mm 1.8 and took a few shots with the adapter with an old 28mm manual lens.  Great lens but my eyes are not what they were.  There is a new Nikon 28mm (Autofocus) that I really need.  Will be getting that as soon as is available.  Tamron has excellent lenses as well and are developing some for the mirrorless cameras.  But not sure I can wait, although they are great.  I have a Tamron 70-300mm  zoom that I use.  I've had it for years and is one of my favourite lenses.  I love it. I've used it with the adapter for the Nikon Z6 and works wonderfully.

the model

Chris was great.  Pretty sure he'd not done anything like this before.  Comfortable and took direction, what there was of it, very well. He is selling this car and getting another in the Spring, so we will likely shoot again.

For more portraits see my Portrait Section

#packardcar #1956packard #vintagecar #classiccar #moneypit #model #malemodel #blackandwhiteportraits

Posted by admin in Blog, 1 comment
George Hurrell Inspired Photography

George Hurrell Inspired Photography

George Hurrell Hollywood Style Photos

George Hurrell worked for MGM in the 1930s and 40s and photographed pretty much every star of that time. 

Joan Crawford and Humphrey Bogart & Marlene Dietrich, Veronica Lake, Robert Taylor, Douglas Fairbanks, Greta Garbo, James Cagney, Hedy Lamar, Johnny Weissmuller (Tarzan), amongst dozens of others. 

HIs photographic style has inspired hundreds if not thousands of photographers since then.

Editing a George Hurrell Negative

People often complain about the fact that software editing is over used.  Unaware that the negatives of that day and age were worked on for hours before the photos were printed.  Hurrell shot with 8x10 film plate cameras.  Even sometimes used an 11x14.  These negatives are huge by comparison to the negatives used through the 90s - up until the advent of the digital camera.  Along with the large lenses used they would let a huge amount of light in. 

So, with the large negative, it was easy to see blemishes.  Back in the day the studios would have a team working with the negatives for hours to get the results in print that were desired.  I remember some of the books I used to peruse.  There were before and after photos of, I think it was Marlene Dietrich.  One, printed before the negative was cleaned up - you could see what her skin was really like. And the next print was done after the ‘editing’ of the negative.  Quite a difference.

So, below, I'm channeling my George Hurrell.  These photos were taken in the 1990s of a friend.  One light set up. The black and white photos were shot with Ilford film, likely 400 ISO.  And the colour, I have no idea.  I recently scanned a bunch but failed to note the type of colour film before throwing it out.  My only regret is that I didn't take more photos at the time with her.  Maybe at some point I'll get to do more photos with her.  I hope you enjoy:

Lighting Techniques

Hurrell's and some other well known Hollywood photographers used some interesting lighting techniques.  Often one can discern from the photo what direction lights are coming from and how many lights, etc.  Much more difficult with many of these as you have other variables.  One, being the cameras used, and the other being the extensive editing on the negatives. My advice to someone trying to emulate this type of glamour portrait, is to practice.  Try different lighting set ups until you get one or three that that you really like, that communicates in a way you desire.   

For something different have a look at our David Bowie inspired photoshoot.

You read more about George Hurrell and see much of his work here!

#georgehurrell #hollywood #starlet #portraitphotography #portraiture

Posted by admin in Blog, 0 comments
Natural Portraits

Natural Portraits

Natural Portraits

The last few weekends, I’ve been taking photos of the actors in costume and make-up at Haunt Manor Niagara Falls.  One more weekend to go, starting this evening.  Great fun.  As I already had the lighting set up, i managed to get a few natural looking portraits of actors before make up and costume.  The line up is long and as taking photos of people in the studio is my happy place...

The whole routine is quite a test for me.  Very little time per person.  I've set up the lights ahead of time of course.  But when the actors come in I have a minute or two maximum with them to get a decent shot.  I started with outside shots when Haunt began a few weeks ago.  Some dynamite  outside sets with creepy lights and amazing backdrops. Had to move indoors as the days got shorter.  Just wasn’t enough light out there.  So, a quick intro, a couple of poses and out you go.  

Posted a few on the blog and lots from the inside studio set up from the last two weekends.  Fortunately I was able to set up some spooky panels as background. 

NO monsters here - just some simple portraits.

A Four Light Setup 

  1. Six foot reflector - 51” Para Deep Umbrella behind the camera
  2. 3’ Octa - camera left - feathered.
  3. 4’ strip light camera right.  Slightly behind the subject.
  4. Small snoot pointed at background

For years I shot with one light and reflectors.  Lots of good material but I do love the flexibility that having four lights gives me.  So much fun.

#portraits #studiolighting #studioportraits #portraiture #blackandwhite #headshots

Posted by admin in Blog, Portraits, 0 comments
Haunt Manor Niagara Falls – Halloween

Haunt Manor Niagara Falls – Halloween

Frightened Yet??

Haunt Manor Niagara Falls

If you are anywhere near Niagara Falls, Canada in the last part of September through to the end of October, be sure to visit Haunt Manor.  Located at Campark Resorts on Lundy’s Lane, just on the edge of the city.  You can’t miss the big red barn!  Inside is full of scary stuff.  And in saying, if you are near Niagara Falls, I mean a couple of hours drive is completely worth it, if that’s what it takes. 

There are three pages of more of my photos on this website of the actors in make up and costumes.

Haunt Pages

Haunt OneHaunt Two  | Haunt Three

#hauntmanor #hauntmanorniagarafalls #hauntedattraction #hauntedhouse #portraits #dramaticportraits #costumes #cosplay #halloween #halloweencostumes

Posted by admin in Blog, Haunt Manor, 0 comments

Antonio and the Hat

Antonio and I met and became friends when I was at my son's wedding recently.  I immediately wanted to photograph him when we met.  Later when he was wearing the hat, well, that clinched it.  Here are three from the shoot.  That overcast northern California weather at the time was perfect for outdoor shooting. 

Some more recent portraits here

Here is a link To purchase a straw Trilby

#thehat #portrait #portraiture #headshots #portraits #strawhat #fedora #bilby

Posted by admin in Blog, 0 comments
Nicole and Spencer

Nicole and Spencer

Wedding

A few weeks ago my wife and I travelled to California to attend my son's wedding.  It was quite an event.  He edits films in Hollywood and the speeches and songs and everything really, evidenced a quite creative crowd.  I was not THE photographer but couldn't help having my camera along with me.  I got a few decent shots of the reception. The day after, with some great locations along the California coast we got some really exceptional photos.  Everyone involved was so creative.  I was looking for some, well, not normal emotions.  We all had fun.  

More Wedding Photography

#wedding #weddingphotos #bride #groom #californiacoast

Posted by admin in Blog, 0 comments