re-learning photography

I’ve said before that there’s an alternate universe pretty close to this one where I’m a professional photographer instead of writer. Back in the day I was good enough to get a scholarship for photography, but I only pursued it half-heartedly, and after a while digital cameras started doing all the work for me and I forgot what I’d learned. I do manual photography as a kind of crap shoot (ahahah) anymore, without any real sense of how the light or depth of field is going to work.

I can afford to do that with digital cameras, since I’m not burning film, but it’s always kind of bothered me. I’ve made a couple more half-hearted attempts to re-learn the basic mechanics–a photo class here and there, mostly–but not to any particular avail, and I’ve long since gotten rid of the photography basics books I had in high school and college.

But it did kind of occur to me a little while ago that I tend to learn best from reading, and after faffing around a bit I picked up a basic photography book and have been poking at it.

It’s embarrassing, what I’ve forgotten, and how easy it is to remember. Low f-stops create depth of field and high f-stops flatten it, high ISO is good for stopping action and indoor photography, shutter speed–okay, shutter speed I could always remember, that’s pretty easy. :) But I am *terribly* out of practice working the three together, much less having an innate sense of what any given lighting scenario might require to create good pictures.

I don’t know that I’m up for doing a weekly photo challenge/theme/thing, because the last thing I need is Another Thing I Must Do Or Feel Like A Failure to stuff into my copious free time. But I might just kind of work my way through this book and see what I’m learning and doing and post some pictures as I go along, I donno. But I do have some hopes of improving my skills again, because it’s aggravating knowing I’m so much less good than I could be with even a little effort.

My favourite and most successful shot of the experimental pictures taken today, with no doctoring applied to it. It’s not an especially well-framed shot, what with a picture sticking out of the top of his head and a bannister in his neck, but those do at least illustrate the depth of field that I was trying to achieve. :)

doftest01

More of today’s ISO & depth of field efforts behind the cut, with thanks to a surprisingly patient model. :)

isotest01
1/100 sec; f/4.5; ISO 800; this was me having no clue what the ISO was going to need to be inside the house. 800 was clearly not enough. I did about eight more shots, adjusting it each time, until I ended up with:

isotest02
1/100 sec; f/4.5; ISO 4000, which obviously worked a lot better. These were the settings used for the picture above the cut, too.

doftest02
1/25 sec; f/14; ISO 3200. This isn’t a terrific comparative shot because it’s, well, different from the other two, but the depth of field has been flattened here by turning the shutter speed down, the f-stop up, and leaving the ISO more or less where I’d been playing with it for a few minutes at that point.