17 June 2011

High Noon Photography Tips

Susan Brannon
17 June 2011

High Noon:  Hard Light
What do you do if you am somewhere when the light is the strongest and you really want to take some images?   Remember, photography is based on the amount of exposure of light that is absorbed to your film or sensor.  Taking images in the harsh sun can wash out your images, making the colors dull and drab. There are a few ways to get around this problem and still have nice results.
A way to work with light is to play with your ISO, shutter speed and aperture.  You can adjust the settings according to the situation.  As a rule of thumb, I like to start on f/16 for sunny bright days and then adjust from that point.  I also like my ISO as low as possible, because I do not like much grain in my images, the higher the ISO the more grain.  Normally, I start with my shutter speed at 30 and go from there.  This speed allows for movement to occur around me and can freeze the subject.  Also, if the shutter speed is set to low, too much light will get in and you can over expose your image washing it out even more than the natural sun would do. 

 Above are two images take a few minutes apart.  The one on the left was taken at f/16 at 50 shutter speed with ISO 125.  The one on the right was taken at f/16 at 80 shutter speed with the same ISO.  The one on the left is all washed out and bright.  On the right there is more contrast and brighter colors.

*Tip: Remember:
Shutter Speed: The lower the number the less light
Aperture: The higher the number the less light
ISO:  The higher the number the more sensitive the film or sensor is to light.

Other High Noon Photography Tips:

•    You can use a polarized or warming filter to help diffuse the light.  I use the polarized lens when I am near water or in the desert.  It softens the harshness of the light and really helps to bring out nice colors.  If you are doing street photography or photojournalism, a polarized lens is a must because you will not have time to tinker with your settings.
•    Go to the shade!  When the sun is the strongest, take images in the shade.  This will remove the harshness of the image and improve your contrast.
•    Use your Lens Hood.  If you cannot take images in the shade, put on your lens hood.  This will help with sunspots on your images.
•    Use a reflector when taking portraits, this will help remove the unattractive shadows under the eyes, nose and neck!
•    Play with shadows!  When the sun is at high noon, you will notice clear and crisp shadows.  Play with them, use them to enhance your images and be creative!

Above, I used shadow as part of the composition for the images.  You can take a simple weed growing along the wall and create a nice image from it.
Related lessons:

13 June 2011

Shutter Speed Basics

Susan Brannon
13 June 2011

The shutter is what controls how long the sensor is exposed, the longer the shutter is open the more light can be absorbed onto the sensor. The shutter speeds are controlled in seconds and fractions of seconds. There are numbers that represent the speed of the shutter, 1/1000 of a second is fast and 3 seconds is slow. Remember, the lower the number the less light will be let in.

You can see on your manual camera, or digital various settings of numbers that represent the shutter speed.

These are called full stops:

1/1000 s 1/500 s 1/250 s 1/125 s 1/60 s 1/30 s 1/15 s 1/8 s 1/4 s 1/2 s 1 s
A fast shutter speed (faster than 1/500th of a second) will allow you to freeze or stop motion while shooting movements.

The term “long exposure” normally refers to the amount of time the shutter stays open, for 1 second and over.  It is difficult to shot long exposures without a tripod because your camera will pick up the slightest movements.  It is difficult to shot a photo at anything from 1/60 and lower.  Sometimes a good trick is to lean against something like a wall, and hold you breath while making the shot.  You can also find something nearby to set your camera on for the shot.

I made some samples of a fixed f-stop with different shutter speeds in the daylight.
f/16 at 1/10 shutter speed
f/16 at 1/13 shutter speed

f/16 at 1/15 shutter speed
f/16 at 1/20 shutter speed

f/16 at 1/25 shutter speed
f/16 at 1/25 shutter speed
f/16 at 1/30 shutter speed

f/16 at 1/40 shutter speed
f/16 at 1/50 shutter speed
f/16 at 1/60 shutter speed
 With the samples, you can see the difference with how much light the shutter speed is absorbed to the sensor or film.  When there is too much light, the colors are all washed out as in shutter speeds 10/13/20 and 25. The images are too dark when there is not enough light as in shutter speeds 50/60.  The foliage in the background has lost its details and dimensions.

Action:  It is good to set your shutter speed at the fastest speed you can depending on your lighting.

Landscape:  You will want the slowest shutter speed possible with a higher f-stop to generate a good depth of field.

Night shots:  You will want the slowest shutter speed possible (good to use a tripod!) turn off the flash, and use the fastest film speed.

Related lessons:

Related lessons:
Aperture and f/16 Rule
Shutter Speed Basics

Depth of Field
Focused Bracketing or Photo Stacking