January 13, 2010

When starting out to learn about photography you can sometimes find yourself lost in a sea of terms. Aperture, f-stops, ISO, megapixels, exposure and more can leave your head spinning, and prevent you from getting the information you need to take great photographs of your children.

While it may seem daunting to you I urge you to sit back, relax and take it one baby step at a time. You know the saying “How do you eat an elephant?” – one bite at a time, of course. Photography is no different, take it in small bites, one at a time, and before you know it you will have learned more than you ever thought possible, and most of it will become second nature.

Let’s take “Exposure” for example. The definition of exposure is simple: Technically speaking an exposure is a photographic image. An exposure is created when a certain amount of light (controlled by the aperture setting of your camera) hits the sensor in the camera for a certain period of time (controlled by the speed of the shutter).

In other words you, as the photographer, can control how your photographic image looks simply by controlling the aperture setting and shutter speed of your camera. Over time we will discuss in detail aperture and shutter speed, but for now you need only concern yourself with the limitations presented by the automatic modes of your camera.

Beginning photographers are always befuddled by the issues of exposure, depth of field and the settings on their cameras, so most of you simply use the automatic, or program, modes on your cameras.

If you have used the auto or program mode on your camera you have probably found that the photographs, by and large, are pretty good – but not always. Camera manufacturers make cameras that come with a number of default settings that allow you to achieve the results you are looking for.

You may also have discovered that when you use the auto mode on your camera that everything is in focus – foreground and background – which is what the computer in the camera has chosen. But what if you want your child to be in focus and the background out of focus? What if you would like to capture your child splashing through a puddle and freeze the water droplets in mid air? Or get a photo of your child running through a field and want to capture the light on their hair but still capture light on their faces?

All of these situations can be achieved by learning a little more about exposure. There are three key elements to exposure: shutter speed, aperture and ISO settings. Each of these elements set correctly will result in a properly exposed photograph.

Understanding these elements so that you can use them in creative ways can change the look and feel of your photographs dramatically, and in future posts we will explore each of these elements in detail.

Until then be sure your are taking photos of your kids as often as possible.


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