Engineers tortured since birth must dominate the design of photographic equipment. Their mission is to torment the rest of us with obscure concepts that begins with f stops. F stops, really? I say f that.
The world of photography is amazingly complex – which is why photographic equipment is so advanced – and expensive. But really, does it have to be so confusing for us mere mortals?
There is no lack of books on photography. I have read, and read, and read… and taken classes – jeez. Nothing sticks.
I know I shouldn’t be proud to hate fractions, square roots, and, well, numbers in general, but it is a skill, aptitude and interest that must be dormant in my personal DNA makeup. I know I must have mad skills in some other area of my life – I just haven’t figured out what they (or it) is yet.
Back in the day, you could actually go to a camera shop. The clerks would sit behind the glass counter and would size you up before lowering themselves to speak with you. You would want to think carefully about your first question for the clerk. You know they were evaluating whether you were worthy of their time.
Today, those shops have been replaced by the internet or places like Best Buy. Or I suppose pawn shops…
And how do you decide on the “right” camera? Good luck. My personal preference is for black cameras, but that is just because black goes with whatever I am wearing. How you doin’?
I primarily use a Canon 6D with an EF 24-105 mm IS USM lens. Don’t even begin to ask me what that means, but I can tell you it is a rocking camera and lens combination. Why you ask? Because it is particularly freaking forgiving! I can shoot pictures in low light and they come out like professional photos. I have a few other lenses and another camera, but this is my “go to” camera/lens combo.
You will enjoy the irony that I took these pictures of my camera with my iPhone. Perhaps the one lesson I have learned is save your pennies, because a good lens makes all the difference in the world.
And the Canon 6D body is awesome, as one of the few full-frame cameras out there (in the “reasonably” priced selection of cameras). Full frame means the picture is imaged onto a big ass chip, so reproducing, printing, and zooming in on the picture has amazing clarity.
Back to the camera. Fortunately (for me) there is an “automatic” setting, which essentially says, “Don’t be a fool – this camera is smarter than you and has MUCH better instincts for how to take a good photo”. But if you do decide to take more ownership of the technical settings, be prepared. There is no lack of information being provided to you as the photographer!
Let’s look at some of the basics of photography…
Aperture. Name the last time you used the word aperture in a sentence. It’s kind of like aperitif. I haven’t used the word aperitif in a sentence since I worked in the retail liquor business many moons ago. “Yes, it is over in the aperitif section, right next to the little paper umbrellas.”
Aperture, for those of you who even care, is an opening or hole, and when used in conjunction with photography, it is the measurement (amount) of light that is allowed in while a photo is being taken.
Per Wikipedia, “In optics, an aperture is a hole or an opening through which light travels. More specifically, the aperture and focal length of an optical system determine the cone angle of a bundle of rays that come to a focus in the image plane. The aperture determines how collimated the admitted rays are, which is of great importance for the appearance at the image plane.[
Whaaat? Shoot me. I just want to take a freaking photo! Just to make it clearer, an aperture like f/16 (a big number) provides a small hole, and a small number like f/2.8 (a small number) makes a big hole. OK, I get it now! Big is small, and small is big. No confusion there.
This should simplify it further: Reducing the aperture size at multiples of one over the square root of two lets half as much light into the camera, usually at a predefined scale of f/1, f/1.4, f/2, f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, f/8, f/11, f/16, f/22, and so on.
Shutter speed. But wait – there’s more! In addition to changing the hole of light, you can change the speed a shutter works when taking a photo. On my camera, speed is represented by a T. A “1000” (a big number) represents a short shutter speed, and a “1” (a small number) represents a long shutter speed. I won’t torture you with the Wikipedia definition.
Couldn’t you just have two dials, one showing a scale from dark to light, and another dial with a rabbit and a tortoise to represent speed? No. Too simple.
I have other settings on my camera as well. One that I like is “Creative Automatic”. I’m sorry, but isn’t that a contradiction in terms? Sorry, but it is one or the other. But that’s just me. I like things simple.
And all these settings are supposed to be set while you are watching a rare species of orange rhinoceros on the Serengeti or a world-record being set.
Maybe I should be using my iPhone to take pictures, but I do love my camera with all the knobs and buttons. It’s just – they don’t get used much, but they sure make me look like a pro.