basic photography: 1 of 15


Not much excitement last night, as you can imagine. You know the usual drill … the basics. We did a scavenger hunt to get to know each other, and I totally felt like I was 10 years old again. Here were the questions …

“Get the name of someone else in the class who:
1. knows who Ansel Adams is.
2. took photographs on summer vacation.
3. knows what a fish-eye lens is.
4. has a relative who is a photographer.
5. knows what an f stop is.
6. brought their camera to class today.
7. has a skylight filter on their camera lens.
8. knows absolutely nothing about their camera.
9. owns a Nikon camera.
10. has shot a roll of black and white film.
11. wants to make photography a career.
12. took photography in high school.
13. likes black and white photography better than color.
14. has had a photograph published.
15. owns a zoom lens.
16. has a digital camera.
17. knows what an enlarger is.
18. has a camera bag with them today.”

Okay, so I admit – I did get to know people. But I still felt like I was 10. We, of course, discussed the syllabus, including the midterm, print portfolio, critique and presentation requirements. Oh, and let’s not forget the professor’s idiosyncrasies, the best of which is her policy on promptness and the ramifications for those who do not abide by her rules. Good heavens. We also got a tour of the darkroom, which rocks! I’ve never taken a photography course before, and therefore have never been in a darkroom, so it was cool to see. Our evening ended with a discussion of the basic parts of a 35mm camera and details on shutter speeds, f stops, and depth of field.

I was surprised to find out that this course is completely based on the use of a 35mm camera. Totally fine with me, but we lost two students right off the bat because they don’t have the required 35mm. Seriously, nowhere in the course description did it say that. I am totally excited to know, too, that the course is exclusively black & white – yippee! And let’s not forget the darkroom – 2 hours of lecture, 3 hours of lab. Woohoo! I’m psyched!

I have no doubt this course will be fun. I’m also admitting that it’s going to be a good bit of work. For now, I’m getting ready for a week complete with lots of reading. Oh, and let’s not forget the supplies! I’m hoping to make it out of Service Photo (local photo shop recommended by HCC) with a bill totaling less than $350. We’ll see!

So, if you felt like I was the paparazzi before, get ready for a whole new adventure that’s even more intense than before!

Now before I forget, what can I share with you from this week’s class? Here is some basic information on aperture and shutter speeds, as well as the basic parts of a camera. Hopefully the subject matter will be more interesting and less elementary next time.

The aperture controls the amount of light passing through the lens to the film. It’s expressed in f stop values, the most common of which are: f/16, f/11, f/8, f/5.6, f/4, f/2.8, and f/1.8. Counter intuitively, the larger the f stop number, the smaller the opening. So a small f stop value (f/1.8), or wide aperture, lets more light through, and a high f stop value (f/16), or small aperture, lets less light through.

Shutter speeds control how long light passes through the lens to the film. This value, too, varies greatly, with a typical range of 1/2000 of a second to 30 seconds. When photographing sports events, a fast shutter speed is required to capture an image that’s clear. Alternatively, if you wanted to show the motion of flowers being blown by the wind, you might choose a slower shutter speed of a second or two to highlight the movement.

These two creative controls share a close relationship. Think about it. If you have a large aperture opening, maybe f/1.8, on a sunny day, you’re going to need a quick shutter speed, perhaps 1/2000, in order to avoid an overexposed image. A wide aperture opening (low f stop value) and a slow shutter speed would let too much light in, “whiting out” your image. Not good! There’s a sweet spot, and it’s up to the operator to determine the proper values.

Parts of the Camera … ……………………………………………………………………..
1. camera body: a light tight box
2. lens: bends light from subject to make image on film; allows light in to make exposure on film
3. aperture ring: hole that lets light through
4. focus ring: makes image sharp/blurry
5. ASA/ISO dial or designator: sensitivity of film
6. shutter speed dial or designator: amount of time light is allowed in
7. film advance: moves exposed film out of the way and brings new film in for exposure
8. shutter release: takes photo
9. film rewind button: “releases” film for rewind
10. film rewind knob: allows for manual rewind of film into film canister
11. battery compartment: holds battery
12. meter on/off switch: turns camera power on & off
13. camera back release: allows user to open camera and remove film

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