We had a great first meeting last night at Studio R, with 20 enthusiastic mamas aboard! It was wonderful to be in a room with such a great group of women with so much in common- many who had received amazing cameras as gifts but haven’t ventured past the automatic setting, and many who take hundreds (even thousands) of pictures but have yet to photoshop or print any. With our guest speaker, Nancy Treder, a local photographer who used to be an army photojournalist, we began getting oriented to our cameras. I’m going to try and summarize some of her key pieces of advice here, but please feel free to add on in the comments if I missed anything or if you learned anything one on one with Nancy that you want to share with the group.
Nancy talked about the importance of simplifying composition by isolating your subject. Examples would be placing your child on a simple background like a sheet or a blanket. Put your child in a situation where they feel comfortable, and be creative- take shots of their hands, feet, eyes. She emphasized the importance of printing out your photo assignments regularly and taking notes on your settings so that you can really see how your pictures are turning out.
We explored the cameras in Aperture Priority Mode (seen as Av on your settings) and talked about adjusting depth of field (F) and White Balance (WB on your settings). Under aperture priority mode, you select an aperture and the camera chooses an appropriate shutter speed. The main purpose of using aperture-priority mode is to control the depth of field. The aperture value is “F” followed by a number. The bigger the number next to the F, the smaller the lens opening. [Try this in your mirror- look at your pupils when your eyes are very close to the mirror, and then back up and see what happens, as you back up your pupils get smaller- as you zoom in, your pupils gets bigger.] So the lower F stop numbers (i.e. big pupils) are for portraits and the higher numbers are for groups. If you are really wanting to geek out on a technical explanation of the settings I found one online here.
Here were some guidelines she gave when your camera is in Av mode:
-Portraits: use the lowest F stop you have on the camera. (some lenses go as low as 1.4)
-More than 4 people: F8-F11
-Family photo: F11
Case example: a kid on a swing
-You want to photograph the child coming toward you
-Set the F stop to 5.6
-prefocus on a fixed mark in the foreground (eg the front leg of the swing set) and then when your child arrives at that mark then POOF! take your photo.
We also played with white balance (WB). White balance helps the camera to adjust for the temperature of the light in the room, so that what the camera sees is closer to what your eye is seeing. It was fun to see the difference by shooting images of the same wall with different WB settings.
For the above image I pressed the WB button and scrolled to the “lightbulb” setting.
For this one all the settings were the same but I changed the WB to “shade”. Again if you want to geek out, here is a cool link for a more in depth explanation for white balance.
Finally we also covered a definition of ISO- which is the speed of the film. Lower ISOs make for less grainy pics, so you are always striving for the lowest ISO possible. For indoor light, ISO should be at 640 or 800, outdoors you can be at 200. If you are shooting at night, experiment with the higher ISO settings to let more light into your picture without using a flash.
Our next meeting will be July 20th- be sure to subscribe to the blog updates for the latest information! Was great to get everyone together!