Photographic Concepts

Most photography fans are not aware that in order to take the photographs they have always dreamed of, it is essential to first learn certain theoretical concepts.

It is important to know and above all to understand each of these concepts, and for that, nothing better than doing some practical exercises. Seeing the results is much easier to assimilate and then apply them. Do you want to know what they are?

Learn about depth of field

The first thing we can practice is depth of field. This is a concept that at first is somewhat difficult to understand, however, in reality the idea is very simple. To do this, the easiest thing is to have several objects separated from each other and position the camera pointing at them.

The idea is to see how, once we have focused on one of the objects, the depth of field varies as we open or close the aperture. The proposed exercise is to leave the camera still, focus on an object, set the aperture to the largest aperture and take the picture. Then, we will simply close the aperture, for example to f/8, and then as close as possible (the largest f number your lens will allow) which is usually f/22.

The shutter speed varies the final result

Another exercise we can do is to see what happens when we vary the shutter speed. There are situations in which we will not see any variation, since there is no element of the photograph that is moving.

If the opposite happens, then the differences will be substantial. For this exercise it is recommended to set the camera to T or Tv (Priority to Speed) mode.

To perform this exercise we will leave the camera still, if possible on a tripod and look for a moving element. A good example could be water. We can use a tap, or if we are in the street a fountain (with water).

The first photo will be taken at a very fast speed, for example, 1/1000s. At this speed we will freeze the water that is moving, being able to see perfectly the water drops. Then we’ll reduce the speed to 1/100s. Here the speed is slower, so we will start to see how the water appears to be somewhat moved.

Finally, we’ll change the speed to 1/10s or even 1s. This is when we will start to see how we do not identify any drop of water and the well-known silk effect appears. You can make more tests by modifying the speed as you like. In this case, the shutter speed depends on the speed with which our subject moves. The faster he moves, the more speed we will need to freeze him.

Know your camera’s ISO limits

The ISO is unknown to many people, and the most feared parameter by others. It is necessary to know that the ISO is a standard and that the higher the ISO setting, the more noise (dots) will appear in our picture, but it is also necessary to know that we should not be afraid of raising the ISO, which is what it is for.

What we have to find out is what the limit of our camera is before the noise is so big that the photo becomes unusable. So we can do an exercise as simple as shooting several pictures and raising the ISO in each of them. To be able to make comparisons later I recommend using a tripod.

Most cameras have a native ISO of 100, which means that it is the lowest ISO in which we get the highest quality (some allow to go down to ISO 50 but it is not completely real). Some CSC cameras have a native ISO of 200. Each one will try its corresponding native ISO and go up to 400, 800, 1600, etc…Nowadays cameras support very well high ISOs, so it is not surprising that we can shoot at ISO 6400 without problems.

To see the differences we will have to zoom in 100% and compare one with the other. When you see that the picture has so much noise that it is difficult to remove by software then you will have found the maximum ISO at which you should shoot when you want to get a picture with enough quality.

How White Balance affects color

Another concept that is difficult to understand at first but with examples is quickly understood. The first thing to know is that light has color (for simplicity). Depending on the color of the light we will see the objects illuminated by it, of one color or another.

For example, a white ball at midday illuminated by the Sun will make us see a white ball, because the light at that time has a color temperature of about 5500 degrees kelvin (which is the measure used to measure this temperature). This color temperature is, let’s say, neutral, that is, we see colors as they are, without interfering with them. If we put this same ball in a room where there is an orange light, we will see the ball in orange, when in fact it is white.

This is where the white balance appears. The white balance is precisely to try to get control over the color of the light, so that we can get the real color or the opposite. In the example, if we set the WB (white balance) automatically, the camera will try to counteract the orange tone so that the ball comes out white.

Most cameras have different modes depending on the occasion. For example, cloudy will counteract the blue tone of a cloudy day, so the photo will come out grey. If we use a certain mode in a different situation we will get different results.

In the exercise you can take and make the same picture as you change the white balance. The easiest way to see the results is by photographing a white object. You can try different white balances, such as daylight, tungsten, or cloudy.

Please note that the result cannot be changed later on the computer if you are shooting in JPEG. If we set the camera to RAW, we can change the color temperature during processing without losing quality.

With these exercises you will be able to understand some concepts that can be blurred and not very clear. You can make different tests in different places to compare later.