The aperture is the iris of your camera. It controls both how much light gets in your camera and how sharp your photos are. Here is a quick tidbit review of how that works.
F-stop refers to the number you have your aperture set to. A high f-stop (Eg. f22) is a small hole, and a low f-stop (eg. f8) is a big hole. A small hole means that more will be in focus, and less light will get in, while a big hole means that only a small area will be in focus with more light.
Typically a low f-stop is used for portraits and taking photos of single subjects when you don’t care too much about the background, or want a focused image.
A high f-stop is used when you want to see more, like in landscape photography when you want to see more of the background, or even in portraits when the subject’s surroundings matter to the image.
But wait! We forgot the light! For every time you change the aperture, the light getting in is different, so make sure you have your other setting to compensate, and maybe a tripod to make sure you don’t shake when you choose to take a high f-stop photo of that mountain at 8pm.
Photos are literally made by light, so we should try to make sense of it.
Cameras capture light, not pictures. I like to consider several things about lighting when taking a photo. I’ll be referring to taking photos of a single subject, or object, as a focus.
Is there enough light?
The most important of these. You need light to capture light. Make sure there’s enough light. In most situations, there can’t be too much light.
Where the light is coming from
Lighting direction is very important. Think of it like when you hold a flashlight to someone’s face. Would you want to shine under their chin like a horror film, or from the side for some contrast.
Where it’s going
Where the light bounces off of should also be considered. When you have a main source of light, the extra light will always bounce off the background and back to the subject. You should think of how much of that light you need to fill in the shadows on your subject, and what the reflected light will look like on your subject (like not a neon yellow poster making them look weird)
What time of day is it? Is it sunny? Cloudy? Are you in the shadows? Indoors? What type of light bulbs are being used? Pay attention to how the color of the light affects your subject and your image. Typically a cloudy but bright day is the best time for outdoor photos, and fluorescent lights don’t look great in photos (kinda green)
A lot of times people get obsessed with equipment and getting the latest and greatest. Every artist knows this cycle of regret where they feel like getting an expensive kit would make them better. But it won’t. Here’s my experience with this.
I used to obsess over equipment. I would browse for new cameras constantly and droll over specs. I had a half-decent beginner DSLR ( that I barely knew how to use) and went crazy thinking that it was a bad camera (hint: it was me. I was bad). So I save all of my money in high school to splurge on a $700 kit for a new DSLR. What came from this was obsession. I thought I could take photos like a pro! Like those advertisements for new cameras: “Take photos like a pro with this new $2000 camera only pros can really use anyways”
I was initially so happy with my new camera and thought everything looked great, but once the honeymoon period ended, I started to search for more. I was hungry once again. I hunted and hunted and found a pro-ish (it was old) grade camera for cheap! NOW i can be a pro. Or so i thought.
I bought that camera and went crazy once again. But as expected, I still sucked, and now I was actually broke. So I couldn’t afford to buy a new camera.
I went on to explore the camera and found out that there were so many features that were useless to me. I honestly wish I stopped after the first big purchase because that semi-pro camera actually died after two years. I barely used it and it actually failed mechanically. So then I had to use my older kit once again. This is where I started to improve. Now with a camera that “wasn’t as good” I had restrictions and had to make the most of what I had. My photos became more focused and I started to pay so much more attention to what was in front of the lens and even around it.
Try using an old camera!
So many times when I go places where tourists would go, I notice people taking photos everywhere with phones, DSLRs, iPads, or anything else with a camera. So many people spend so much time trying to immortalize their experiences with photos that they don’t actually get to enjoy their surroundings! I had this problem too! I would take photos everywhere I went the whole time on hikes, at museums, at new places I visited, in hotel rooms. Why do we do this though and why is it bad?
Time and time again you’ll hear people talk about this topic and say “just enjoy the moment”. I wholeheartedly agree with this despite how trite it is to say. I used to take photos and never get to actually make memories when I thought I was making them by taking photos!! What I really got though was a bunch of rushed bad photos with vague memories attached to them.
In this post’s featured image, I climbed a mountain with some friends and brought a whole camera with me. I regret this now because I don’t remember much other than the bad photos that resulted haha.
In my experience, the saying “quality over quantity” applies greatly to this situation. If you feel so inclined to take photos on a trip, choose the right moments, and make it count. Take your time with that one shot at a memorable location and don’t take too many more! No matter how many photos you take, they’re only for memories so you’re only going to need the few to remember what happened, instead of remembering how you took a bunch of rushed crappy photos.