Photography Basics [☾ ~ #2]

January 08, 2012

As part of my goal of becoming a good astrophotographer, I am learning the foundations of photography. Before, whenever I took pictures of astronomical events, I really did not take anything into consideration. I just instinctively took the photos and saw which of them looked good or not. Now, I am learning the science behind creating good photos in general and later on applying them in astrophotography.

My photography book. ^^

Thanks to a very good friend of mine for this book. Currently this is my source of knowledge and I am learning a lot!

Here's a rundown of what I have learned so far:

  • Images are saved in binary in the SD cards. I know any data are stored this way in a computer because this is the language that a computer understands. It just didn't dawn to me to include images in its scope. xD
  • The camera's viewfinder has its use. I always thought that this part of the camera is useless because it already has the LCD that shows the preview of the image to be taken. It becomes useful in certain situations like taking a picture on a very sunny day. It's so bright that you can't see the LCD anymore. The viewfinder then becomes the alternative way in framing the scene that you want to photograph. However some cameras' viewfinders are not aligned to its lens, meaning the image that you see in the viewfinder is not exactly the one that is captured by the lens. The image may be shifted a little to the right as seen in the viewfinder compared to the actual image taken. Well some camera models have fixed this error by using mirrors in the viewfinder.
  • The megapixel resolution of a camera doesn't really matter. Most camera models today offer three to five megapixels at least. If you are taking photography for leisure and as a hobby, having a camera with 10-14 megapixels will do. Getting something above these won't really make a difference in the quality for the pictures. You will only need a higher resolution if you are planning to make a big tarpaulin for your images. Having a high-resolution image prevents the photo from becoming pixellated when it is enlarged too much.
An example of a pixellated image. This does not look like Sooyoung anymore. WAAAAH!
  • There are several types of lenses -- standard, wideangle, telephoto, and zoom. Wideangle is nice to use for landscapes and buildings. Telephoto on the other hand is best to use on portrait, sports and wildlife.
  •  There are different flash modes -- auto, auto with red eye reduction, flash off, flash on, and slow sync. This may depend on the settings available in the camera. In the red eye reduction mode, a burst of flash first is produced and then there's another flash where the photo is actually taken. The first flash is to make the subject's pupil smaller so that the red eye effect will be reduced. Flash on is appropriate to use when the subject is behind the sun because the flash will fill out the unnecessary shadows on the image. In slow sync mode, movement trails will be produced in the image.
  • The rule of thirds. A friend of mine have taught this to me years ago. I just remembered it again when I read the book. He's an architect by the way so he really does have the authority and knowledge to teach those kind of things. 

Applying the rule of thirds... I know I'm overdoing it. :P

Several chapters of the book covers the aesthetics of photography like choosing the composition (geometry, natural frames, viewpoint, shape and orientation, perspective, color), focusing modes, field techniques, exposure modes and a whole lot more.

As of now, all I have is a point-and-shoot digital camera. It has several limitations especially in tweaking the settings because most them are automatic. There are options already available in selecting the settings depending on the scenery to be captured. For learning the basics of photography, having this kind of camera will suffice. Later on, it would be good to go up one level and have a DSLR this time because you can manipulate all the settings there.

My next step is to learn the science behind apertures, shutter speeds, and exposure modes. As of now these terms are making my nose bleed. T^T

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