Practical Knowledge

All of these are topics of photography that I need to know. I will add to this page as I learn:

Camera handling – How to hold, and adjust controls, on the move

This was covered in the first photography workshop where we were told to expose shots correctly. These features change for each camera but on the Nikon D7000, the back dial alters shutter speed with the front dial altering F-Stops.

Using the camera in M mode

The mode dial on the left side of the camera switches the camera into M-Mode (Manual Mode). This means the camera will not assist the user in exposing a shot correctly etc.

How to change shutter speed and why

The shutter speed is how fast the shutter moves, in a DSLR, which changes how long light is allowed onto the sensor. This has a dramatic difference on how bright the shot is and the amount of motion blur in a shot. A relatively long shutter speed, say of 5 seconds, will have a lot of motion blur as every second of the exposure, light is being accepted onto the sensor. This will create a very bright image. However, a short shutter speed, say of 1/1000 of a second will produce a very crisp image, good for shooting a fast-moving subject, but will give a dark photo as light has only been allowed onto the sensor for 1/1000 of a second.

How to change aperture and why

The aperture is how wide open the lens is and this changes the length of focus in a shot. This can direct attention in a shot, to make the viewer see something in a different way, for example having the entirety of a background blurred. This larger the aperture, the more light is being let on to the sensor and thus the image is brighter.

( From: )

Manually focusing

I have used video cameras where auto-focus is a tool required for the shoot, so manually focusing with a ring on the lens is somewhat of a new skill. This is basically a box of focus that can be moved toward or away from the camera, the aperture changes the size of this metaphorical box.

Lens angle

This can be changed by the amount of zoom used and distance from the subject. See more in Week 4: Portraits, ( )

Changing ISO and ISO’s Impact

ISO is digitally boosting light in an image, sensor gain. This makes a brighter image but adds noise and grain to the photo. For this reason, it is best to have the smallest ISO possible to have the least amount of noise in an image, however for particularly dark surroundings, it is sometimes necessary to use this feature.

A mode

Or Aperture Priority is a type of automatic mode, where the aperture is the focus of the camera. This means that adjusting shutter speed is no longer in the hands of the photographer, the camera does this automatically to get the best shot.

S mode

The is the same as aperture priority (see above), but for shutter speed.

Flash basics

The main complication with using flash is to not over-expose any part of the image. Using a flash gun can give two exposures, the subject and the background both being correctly exposed, and techniques such as rear curtain flash can give motion blur to a subject showing the speed that they are travelling at. Using a larger flash bulb can produce a very different effect. A subject can be in perfect light with an entirely black background. Knowing how to use flash is an important part of portrait photography or product photography.

(See more in my post for Week 5 Reading log; “David Präckel: Basics Photography Lighting” and Lighting Week 5).

RAW: why to use it and how

RAW is a photo file format. It codes each pixel as an individual colour and because of this RAW’s have upsides and downsides. One major downside to shooting in RAW is that the file size is very large, colouring each pixel individually means each photo is a lot of data. For this reason, a lot of photographers shoot ‘RAW + jpeg’ so they have access to a smaller file of the same image to either send to a client or post on a blog where a lower quality image is not a huge deal. A jpeg compresses the file size by bulking very similar coloured pixels together instead of colouring each pixel individually, this leads to a lower quality image. Another upside to shooting in RAW is editing.

RAW editing dialogue

Editing a RAW file can be done in certain programmes such as Adobe’s Camera RAW. This programme allows the photographer to use histograms to gain a correct exposure of an image, possibly saving it if the photo is majorly under or over-exposed.

The significance of resolution. What is DPI?

DPI (Dots Per Inch), is the number of or pixels that are in one inch on the screen. A higher DPI is a higher resolution image as it allows for greater detail.


(See more and image from: )

Photoshop basics

Using Photoshop is how I became interested in photography. I have used this programme for a number of years and so already knew the basics. To get started with Photoshop, what you need to know are: Layers, cropping, adjustment layers and a few of the basic tools such as transforming and masking.

Layers are each image you are working with. This allows you to alter an image in any way and always have the original. It also allows you to add or take away effects from your image without damaging it.

Adjustment layers are used to control how the image looks. There are adjustment layers for contrast, levels, colour reduction, brightness etc. These can also be turned on/off or have their opacity reduced so the effect is not fully visible.

Cropping and transforming are used to get the right canvas size for a project you need and having the right size of any other photos in your composition.

These are the basics of Photoshop but there is always going to be more.

Histograms and their uses

Histograms can show how much of each colour is in a shot, and the spread of light to dark. If an image is correctly exposed, the graph will not stray outside the left or right of the histogram.


This histogram shows a well-exposed image.


The top graph shows an under-exposed image whilst the bottom graph shows an over-exposed image.

Histograms are used to correctly expose an image whilst shooting or editing an image file.

(Images from: This site explains histograms very well)

Data bending

Data bending is a process of altering a photo by changing its code. More of this can be seen in Lofi Rosa Menkman – A Vernacular of File Formats, reading log week 8. The effects created are varied and unpredictable. In the past, I have spent great time and effort editing photos to make them appear to be corrupted, but altering the data of the image to create a random and interesting effect is not something I have done, until now.

3 point lighting basics

I have studied this in relation to studying cinema. This is a style of lighting composition used to create various effects. (To see an in-depth study of lighting read: Bordwell, David & Kristin Thompson, “The Shot: Mise-en-Scene.” p.191-8, and Phillips, William H., “Cinematography,” in Film: An Introduction (3rd Edition) p.70-78).

(From Bordwell, David & Kristin Thompson, “Style as a Formal System,” Chapter 10 of Film Art: An Introduction (7th Edition) p. 128)

This is where light is fully in control by the photographer. There is a key light, a back light and a fill light. The manipulation of the intensity of each light, along with the camera’s position can drastically alter how a photo is perceived.

For example:

These photos are all of the same subject but just based on the change in 3-point lighting, each photo conveys different connotations. I will have to keep this in mind as all of my photos are portraits in this style, I would not want to layer meaning through the lighting if I did not intend to as someone could misread the image.

Composition principles, rules of three

This is the basic rule of thirds. The top two points at which the vertical and horizontal lines cross are focal points, the human eye is drawn towards them. For my final series, I want the viewer to connect with my subject so I am having the eyes of my subjects on the focal points. This will create an instant effect on the viewer as the subject is looking directly at them. Compositional principles apply to all styles of photography, not just portraits.

In Conclusion

I began this photography course with very little knowledge how to physically take a photo, my main interest in photography had been in editing. However, throughout this course, I have learnt about all the aspects to think about when taking a photo to best convey one’s own purpose and have applied them to my own photography.

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