Friday, July 6, 2012

Photography Basics

If one puts aside camera brand, format and medium, what are the basic parameters that a photographer can control? The answer lies in two parts: perspective and exposure. That is, how you see it and how you capture it.

This is effectively a combination of the lens used (to control the field of view) and the position of the camera relative to the object(s) one is trying to photograph. As many will know, the choice of focal length will only affect how much of the current scene or perspective is captured. It doesn't alter the perspective per se. Perspective is purely about the relationship between the photographer and the scene. Fir example, in a crowded room, moving further away from the crowd will generally make the people appear closer. Move closer in, and the gaps between the people will become more apparent. This, and in tandem with the 'critical moment' is the most important aspect of our craft.

Exposure is a combination of shutter speed, aperture and sensitivity of the medium. The latter, in the old days, was simply controlled by the ISO of the film. We were stuck with whatever we have loaded and brought with us. In the age of digital, the ISO can be varied and changed on the fly. An thus, becomes something that is as critical to exposure as the other two. We can now have, or should have; aperture priority, shutter priority and ISO priority. And a good camera sold allow the photographer to easily set, change and know these parameters easily. I have yet to see any digital camera that has all three controls as dedicated dials.

The final important control is exposure compensation. Unless you are using fully manual exposure, this is a very key control to enable the desired exposure. For this, the Fuji X100 and X-Pro 1 includes, which is nice, but I think Leica needs to include for the X3.

I think, that a camera that has all four dials as physical controls; easy to access and change, will make a camera eminently more useful and easy to operate. The kind of thing where the camera gets out of the way of photography.

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