Exploring Photography

Capturing light and images is an art.  The ability to understand and manipulate the camera to take quality pictures takes practice. Today’s digital technology can do a great job for an aspiring photographer. To be great, there must be an understanding of camera mechanics, and the resulting effects the interactions between them has on capturing images.

Many cameras have settings for sports, landscapes, portraits, and even food photography. Select the subject, turn the dial, and click for fantastic pictures. However, a photojournalist or professional photographer must master the understanding of light, motion, and three main functions of the camera, which are the ISO, aperture, and shutter speed.

ISO (International Standards Organization) measures the camera’s sensitivity to light. The higher the ISO value, the more light sensitive the camera becomes. ISOs below 400 require a lot of light. For general photography ISOs from 400-800 are common. ISOs of 1600 and greater are useful for low light and fast action photography.

The aperture is an adjustable opening that allows light to pass through the camera’s lens. Along with the shutter, it is responsible for controlling the amount of light reaching the camera’s CCD (light sensor).  It is a circular opening in a diaphragm usually located between the glass of a lens. A large aperture opening will admit more light than a small aperture opening.

Aperture size is specified by f-stops. The f-stops are shown as numbers on the lens barrel. The larger the f-number the smaller the aperture opening. f/1.4 or f/2 let in a lot of light, and allow for faster shutter speeds.

Depth of field is also influenced by f-stops. Depth of field increases as the f-stop value on the camera increases. So, the smaller the opening of the camera diaphragm (or iris) the greater the focal length of the lens.

One of the most important elements in a digital camera is the shutter, which controls the amount of time that your cameras CCD is exposed to light. The speed of a shutter is measured in fractions of a second, but even minute changes in exposure can make a significant difference to a photograph.

All cameras need light to operate. The shutter works by allowing light to enter the camera for the specified amount of time. The speed of the shutter is able to limit the amount of light going into your camera. In a brightly lit outdoor scene, the shutter is only open for a very short period. In contrast, when photographing a poorly lit object, the shutter would be open longer. This can sometimes create a blurred image.

Sports and fast action must be photographed with a very high shutter speed to freeze the action.  A wide aperture would allow plenty of light through the lens, and a high ISO of 1600 or greater would also be beneficial to capture motion or athletics.

With the variables of ISO, aperture, and shutter speed, and the many setting each one has, it takes time, practice, and experience to reach the professional level as a photographer or photojournalist. The good thing is that photography can also be a very enjoyable skill to learn and practice throughout a lifetime.

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