Learn how we did it
This Page is going to be dedicated to talking you through our lighting and camera setups. I will go into as much details as possible so that those of you who are interested in how I light and shoot my images will be able to practice the same techniques.
I'm going to start of by assuming we are total beginners, so the first lesson of this photography class is going to be understanding how to shoot in full manual mode with our cameras, and why as photographers we would want to shoot in manual, plus some disadvantages that come with this.
So why exactly do we eve want to shoot in manual mode. Simply to achieve total control. In every other mode we can use on our cameras the machine is making at least one if not multiple decisions for you.
This is our golden triangle, understanding this will be the difference between taking the photos you have always wanted to and total frustration at your camera not doing what you want it to.
So lets explore these different functions and how they effect the camera. I will try and break this down in a simple terms as possible.
Think of aperture as the eye of the camera. The Aperture is how much light the lens is projecting onto the cameras sensor. Most kit lens that come with a camera will start at around f4. The lower the f number the more light that is let in through the lens. A fast lens would be considered around f2, prime lens are available in very fast apertures, f1.8, f1.4, f1.2 or there are even some exotic lens in the f0.95 range. Letting more light in is an obvious advantage in almost all scenarios other than very bright midday sunshine.
However the other main part of understanding aperture is the role it plays in depth of field (how much of the image is in focus. The basic principle to understand is that the lower the f number the less depth of field there will be.
If you focus on an eye ball at f1.2 the nose tip and ears of your subject will start to appear out of focus. Now this isn't a one bill fits all, but a lot of the time a shallow depth of field is pretty universally perceived as a good quality in a image. If you are looking for that blurry background look in your images a fast Lens is what you need. Depending on your camera system there are several budget options to get you into the race. Canon supply a very reasonable "nifft 50" a 50mm lens at f1.8 that will give you endless fun without re mortgaging
Shutter speed is really important to understand, but its also not as complex as you would imagine.
Some basic principles
The faster the shutter speed the less light is let in to the sensor
The faster the shutter speed the move you can freeze motion, conversely the slower the shutter speed the more motion you can introduce into an image through "motion blur" and this can be a positive or a negative. Motion blur can be really desirable, for instance if we want to show a dress of a dancer with some motion or a birds wings in flight, we can either freeze these things with a fast shutter or introduce the visualization of motion by decreasing the shutter speed
However it can easily become what appears to be camera shake if not controlled and used in the correct circumstances. Camera shake is where the entire image is blurry rather than just fast moving objects.
As a rule of thumb to avoid camera shake in your image you need to either keep the shutter speed above the focal length of the camera lens, so 1/50th of a second for a 50mm 1/20th of a second for a 20mm lens etc etc. The only exception to this is if you are using very long lens, once you get above 100mm or so for instance, if the lens or the camera body has no stabilization then is very likely you will need to increase the shutter speed further. My favorite lens is my canon 135mm f2, however it has no stabilization so for me to get camera shake free images I cannot drop my