Photography 101 – Part II

Discussion in 'The Chatterbox' started by Lyrt, Sep 12, 2008.

  1. Lyrt

    Lyrt Flash

    Part I is here.

    Now that you understand the fundamental principles of photography, let’s be concrete.

    Situation 1: Plenty of light available
    Don’t do anything, your P&S will do an amazing job. If many camera advertisements show amazing pictures with clear blue skies, white cumulus and profound seas, it’s because they are the easiest to achieve. Duh.

    Situation 2: Not much light available
    If there is not much light available, the camera will automatically increase the aperture (up to f/2.8 in most P&S cameras). If that is not enough, there will be two possibilities:
    1) It will lengthen the shutter speed.
    2) It will trigger the flash.
    The problem with the first option is it will probably require a tripod. If the shutter speed is 1 second, there are great chances that your hand will shake resulting in a blurry picture. However, if you have a tripod but the subject of your photograph is in motion (a car, a person, an animal, water, etc.), you’ll have a steady background but a blurry subject. For your SOTD pictures, I really suggest you invest in a mini-tripod. They can be found for $10 up to $40.

    Now let’s talk about flash. Since I’m a lazy guy, I’ll simply paste the lesson I posted many moons ago over at B&B.
    Look at the following picture, taken at f/3.2, 1/60 s with the flash oriented toward the mug. The flash calculated the necessary power to correctly expose the mug. However, two problems came up:

    * The scenery is underexposed, because the flash could not light up the background as it did the foreground (that’s logical). If it correctly exposed the background, it is the foreground that would have been overexposed, resulting in burnt-out highlights on the mug.
    * The flash created an unnatural shadow clearly visible with the handle of the mug.

    This typically is the kind of photo casual photographers do.


    Now look at the next photograph, which was also taken at f/3.2, 1/60 s. The only difference is the flash was oriented toward the ceiling. The light bumped on it and created a natural lighting. The problem is a point-and-shoot camera is not mounted with a flash with a rotating head.


    Now look at the last photo. The flash was orientated toward the mug, like in the first photo, but the shutter speed was set at 1/2 s (with aperture still at f/3.2). The captor had the time to record the surrounding light and correctly exposed the mug. It created a warm ambiance. The drawback with slow synchronisation is you need a tripod and a static subject, or else the result will be blurry.


    The morality of this lesson, if you have a P&S camera, is you’re screwed. I repeat, if you don’t have a tripod or if you have one but want to photograph a subject in motion, you’re screwed. You’ll either have to use the flash and get the horrible burnt-out highlights, the underexposed background and the unnatural shadows, or pump up the ISO sensitivity and get horrible noise.

    In Part III, I’ll talk about White Balance and metering modes.

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