Monday, January 2, 2012

Photo Challenge Day 2 (What I Wore) AND A Bit About Camera Settings

Today our weather has returned to a normal Pacific Northwest winter -- cool, wet, gray and stormy.  A perfect day to stay inside!  And it's a good thing, too -- now that I've decided to do a 30 Day Photo Challenge and go through 31 Days to a Better Photo, there's plenty to learn!

Today's photo challenge: a picture of what I wore.  Now I could bore or shock or frighten you by taking a picture of my outfit, but I don't want to do that until I'm sure we're good friends.  You might not want to know that I start every day in sweats and don't change until after I exercise (whenever that may be on a given day), or that on days like today my outfits are really dull, even a bit sloppy, because I'm not planning to go anywhere.  Add to that the fat that I chose to wear a white fleece vest today and Nora, one of our black cats, has decided to add her own magical touches to my wardrobe and you have a runway model's worst nightmare come to life. Of course I can't disregard fashion entirely, and so in an attempt to bring a bit of whimsy to my outfit I've donned a headband with a butterfly (my own creation, thank you), which you will see in some of the following pictures.

If, that is, you choose to read through this entire long and potentially rather boring post.  You see, today's lesson, step two in getting a better photo, was to read through the camera's owner's manual.  Which I did.  Sort of.  I at least read most of the good bits.  And I learned that our camera came with an official owner's manual and two unofficial tips books (the one on flash a bit of a pitch to buy an external flash -- and they almost have me convinced to do it!).
I spent a while reading through the main manual and taking pictures, recording adjustments as I made them.  You are warned -- you'll be faced with a bazillion shots of the same thing if you choose to continue reading.  All of it is from the desk in my craft room because, as I said earlier, it's a dreary winter day today and so we're stuck inside.

The camera has two more "creative" settings that Honey and I are trying to learn: AV (Aperture Priority) and TV (Shutter Priority).  We'll examine both today.  

Picture 1 -- TV with the autofocus adjusted manually to center over the frame instead of in the center of the photograph.

Picture 2 -- TV with the autofocus on automatic (center of the shot)

Picture 3 -- TV with the "picture style" (image effects) set to portrait (as opposed to standard). Portrait is supposed to be good for close-ups to make the skin look better. (Good! I need that!)

Picture 4 -- TV, picture style set to standard, which is supposed to keep everything crisp/vivid.

Picture 5 -- TV with the picture style set to "landscape," which makes blues and greens more vivid.  I am sure this would be more noticeable in an actual landscape -- somehow using the tissue box just isn't the same, even if that box does have leaves on it.  I can't see any difference here, can you?

Picture 6 -- TV with a picture style set to neutral. This setting is supposed to be for those who want more subdued tones in photos so that they can manipulate the image on the computer.  I think it's safe to say I'll be staying clear of this particular setting for a while.

Picture 7 -- TV with a picture style set to "faithful," which I guess creates a dull color scheme, also for manipulating photos on the computer.  Guess I'll stay away from this setting, too, for the time being.

Picture 8 -- TV with a photo style setting of "monochrome."  Black and white!  I may use this!

Okay, enough with the desk.  That's a bit boring, right?  Let's move on to looking at a few more settings on the camera.

I like the TV setting (shutter priority) because I can control the shutter speed myself.  This is very important when trying to take pictures in uncontrolled lighting.  It's amazing the difference shutter speed can make!

Picture 9 -- TV, shutter speed 1/80. Not bad for a fairly dark room!

Picture 10 -- TV, shutter speed 1/325 -- yikes that's dark!  So I guess on really bright days it would be good to increase the shutter speed to let less light into the photo.

I switched to AV (aperture priority) mode to try that.  This allows the photographer to control the f-stop on photos, which is useful when you want to set the depth of your field.  For example, if I was trying to take a picture of Honey on a warf and wanted boats in the background to be blurry, I could do that by increasing the f-stop number.  At least I think that's how it works.  Right now that's not very clear because of the setting I used today.  Guess I'll have to play around with this a bit more.

Photo 11 -- AV, f/20. Yikes that's blurry!  Maybe taking photos using a mirror is confusing the camera?

Photo 12 -- AV, f/20 with a makeshift "tripod" (Dawn of the Dreadfuls book on CD -- a Christmas present I'm looking forward to consuming). That's better!  Maybe we do need a tripod after all?  But who wants to carry such a thing??

Picture 13 -- AV, f/3.5 -- the lowest f-stop setting on the camera. It's fairly clear (considering I'm holding the camera in my shaky hands instead of using a tripod) and you can see that I am in focus and the wall (about six feet behind me) is blurry.

Picture 14 -- AV, f/20 with a tripod -- still a bit blurry.

Picture 15 -- AV, f/14, with flash.  This is a result of me thinking "I wonder if a flash would make it more clear because then the camera wouldn't be fighting for light."  As you can see from my first attempt, I was mistaken in my thinking.

Picture 16 -- AV, f/5, with flash.  I discovered that the f-stop's lowest setting when using the flash is f/5 instead of f/3.5.  I wonder why...?

As you can see, I have plenty more to learn.  Good thing it's just the start of the month!

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