Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Basic Photography for Photojournalism
Dr Abe V Rotor
Reading assignment for students in Printing and Photojournalism, UST, as field guide and test review.
Know your camera. Befriend it, and you will go places together, and "conquer" the world of photography.
1. Subjects are everywhere. But you have to look for your subject. See new angles, dimensions, perspectives, and many other ways to make the most of each subject. Use all senses possible, draw out subjects from imagination. More than a "nose for news" approach or "gut feel", imagine, re-create, and feel your subject.
2. Camera cannot discriminate. "You and I may lie, but the camera does not lie." The camera captures all within its vision. But you can focus only on a particular object or part of it. You can script. Be sure a scripted picture is not obvious.
3. Power of colors. It means appropriate colors for your subject tuned to the occasion, ambiance, purpose - with the sense of moderation and fine taste. Colors are all around. Discern colors to attract, harmonize, create moods, contrast, emphasis. To make your subject look real. Use color schemes to add coherence to your picture, to interpret expressively. Use warm and cool colors properly. Strong colors do not always attract, maybe you need distorted colors like reflection on water. Be guided in color harmony using the Color Chart.
4. Exposure setting. Even with an automatic camera, you need to check and apply the proper exposure. Otherwise you get over exposed or under exposed results. Too high DIN/ASA/ISO under the sun results to granulated photo. (Pointillism effect). Practice bracketing: make a series of shots of the same subject with different modes (aperture, shutter, ISO), and at variable distance. Compare and choose, edit (if necessary), arrange or collage
5. Use lines properly. Lines lead the eye. Lines create moods, emphasis, direction. Break monotony, repetition, prosaic impression. Lines give a sense of measurement like distance, volume, height.
6. Focus to make clear, sharp image. Even with automatic cameras, be sure you get the best focus. The light meter measures light - not necessarily the subject.Use focus for emphasis and viewpoint, and differential focus (sharp and soft). Focus guides you in editing, specially cropping. It emphasizes the value of the picture, its newsworthiness and artistic quality.
7. Shutter freezes action. Or creates mood. Movement is a difficult subject. Split of a second. Passing view. Fast cars, winning shot, fired bullet. Yet a little blur or haze gives a special touch to the picture.
8. Aperture or lens opening. Depth of field must be well defined, unless you have another objective, like eliminating undesirable background. Shallow depth of field makes a particular person to stand out in a crowd. General rule is that the smaller the aperture, the deeper is the depth of field. Infinity mode is usually set on smaller aperture or lens opening just like how the pupil of the eye works.
9. Exposure setting. Even with an automatic camera, you need to check and apply the proper exposure. Otherwise you get over exposed or under exposed results. Too high DIN/ASA/ISO under the sun results to granulated photo. (Pointillism effect). Practice bracketing: make a series of shots of the same subject with different modes (aperture, shutter, ISO), and at variable distance.
10. Composition. This is basic in writing a song or theme, in painting, in architecture, and the like. Adopt necessary format - horizontal, vertical, or square - to the final picture, either with the camera or by editing, or both. Composition is the key to a masterpiece, it tells a story, it leads to the message, it presents a holistic view. It removes the wasteland, so to speak.
11. Viewpoint. This element has a great impact on composition. Is it at the left or right? How close should the subject appear? Close-up? Is it a low or high viewpoint in terms of perspective. Fill up the whole frame? Or give a breathing space? Often we ask, "What's your viewpoint?" You may mean, "How do you see the thing?"
12. Framing. It's like seeing a play. The characters are framed on the stage. In photography it may be a window, arched doorway, or an arch itself like the Arch of the Centuries. These can make a natural frame in your photo. Or you may need background framing, instead, like stained glass behind a praying person.
13. Contrast. This means subject contrast (rock and flowing water, tall and short partners). Or lighting contrast (brightness and darkness, light and shadow). Tonal differences can be subjective (simultaneous contrast, like silver lining of nimbus cloud). Use tone to simplify, or low-key tone to moderate. Contrasting tones make a silhouette effect.
14. Background. Ang ganda ang bundok! Akala mo ikaw ang sinasabing maganda. Sometimes what is beautiful is the background or backdrop, not the subject. Capitalize on the background to enrich your picture. In fact you can arrange it, if you can, to fit to your objective. The background may steal the show, so to speak. It might even ruin it. Don't allow this to happen.
15. Balance. Balance by conformity or balance by contrast. Be sure you know how to differentiate the two. Also, there's balance by position. Avoid rigid symmetry, for all you know the result is a better perception of balance. Variety leads to balance. Center is not always the rule for balance. Don't stand on the center. Have more space at the front than at its back. Move the building to one side to show, say sunset, or the road.
16. Light. Without light there can be no photography. Look at light, natural or artificial, as important element in photography. Use light on translucent object (leaves, cloth). Sunlight tells time and direction, creates repetition or twin patterns. Vary light to create moods, silhouettes, rim-lighting effect, in outlining shapes, flare and glare. Make essence of existing light, make it "spill", hide, appear like curtain or frame an object.
17. Direction refers mainly to the direction of sunlight as it strikes an object. High noon emphasizes the eye sockets, makes trees dwarf, shoulders broad. Light reveals rough surface, bares embossed figures. It's you who adjust to directional effect, you can't fix it. Certain views like buildings and landscapes are best at certain hours of the day.
18. Use lenses creatively. Standard lens can take you far and wide to a variety of subjects. But you may need special lenses. Telephoto for news coverage and bird watching. You may need extended perspective to extend depth of field, wide angle for panoramic view, fisheye lens for circular images and to frame skyscrapers. Telezoom acts in two ways as the term implies - reach out and crop. Mirror lens is designed to reduce the bulk and length of extrema telephoto lenses. They are used in war zone and in astronomy.
19. Filters enhance or change the look of pictures, whether color or black and white. The universal filters are Ultra Violet (UV) filter, and polarizing filter to remove reflection.
Green makes view fresher, blue makes the sea deeper, red a more dramatic sunset, yellow makes the ricefields at harvestime golden.
20. Flash. Today's cameras have built-in flash which automatically flashes when lighting is inadequate. There are cameras that have flash mode irrespective of lighting condition. This is to counteract glare. It equalizes distribution of light. Or it lights the subject without lighting the background. But flash can minimize details. In fact it leads to over exposed pictures.
Key to success in photography is constant practice. Like any other skill, the ability to see and realize is not just automatic response. The skill is best absorbed and used subconsciously through constant practice.