Professional Photography Course, The - George Seper
Photography Course P1...
INDEX CAMERAS & LENSES
PAGE Introduction to the Professional Photography Course
About the Author
Cameras The Small Format SLR The Medium Format Camera The Large Format Camera Small & Medium Format DSLR Features Interchangeable Lenses Adjustable ISO Depth of Field Preview Integrated Light Meters Mirror Locking Self-Timer Interchangeable Focusing Screens
10 10 15 18 20 20 21 21 22 23 23 24
Focal Length Lens Faults Spherical Aberration Chromatic Aberration Barrel & Pincushion Distortion Flare & Vignetting Lens Types The Normal Lens Wide-angle Lenses Telephoto Lenses
26 28 30 31 32 33 34 35 35 39 43
Specialty Lenses & Attachments Macro Lenses Zoom Lenses
45 45 49
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Reflex Lenses The Tilt-Shift Lens Filters
51 53 55
Caring For Your Lenses
Practical Lens Choices Food Photography Fashion Photography Portrait & Beauty Photography Architecture & Interior Photography Travel Photography Sport & Wildlife Photography
61 61 64 66 68 70 73
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INTRODUCTION TO THE PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHY COURSE Thank you for joining me on this journey of discovery. I have been working as a professional photographer for over thirty-five years and have accumulated a great wealth of practical knowledge about photography and the photography business, which I will share with you. While I realise it is impossible to completely cover the full extent of my knowledge in the space of this course, I hope that by the end you will have few questions and I will have no secrets. Over the course of my career I have trained upwards of a dozen assistants, the majority of whom now have successful careers in photography. I greatly enjoyed passing on my knowledge to them and it was a rewarding experience watching them grow as photographers and as people. It is my sincere hope that through this course I can reach a much wider group of keen individuals whose careers I can also help to kick-start. In the future I hope to offer several advanced modules, which will cover specific areas of photography in much greater detail. It is my intention to run this course in a relaxed and informative manner that is light on the jargon and only as technical as it needs to be. A word of warning! This is not a course for boffins or gadget freaks. I will be supplying you with the tools you need to forge a career as a professional photographer or to get the most out of your hobby and will not be waxing lyrical about this or that gizmo. I have many friends who have been pros for years and like me, they have arrived at a point where they have the gear that suits their style of shooting and they stick with it for years. With most of the professionals I know, it takes a major new leap in technology before they trade in their beloved cameras and lenses for the latest gear. __________________________________________________________________________________ 3 COPYRIGHT © ONLINE EDUCATION ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
We have recently gone through a quantum leap in imaging technology and every photographer I know has now traded in their film gear for digital equipment. The downside of this process is incurring the massive expense of retooling. However, the upside is that it has everyone experimenting and talking about photography again. These are very exciting times! I firmly believe that digital capture is the best photographic technological advancement since the advent of colour film, as I now have the sort of image control I could not have dreamed of twenty years ago, but more about that later… In the beginning of this course, I will be going over some of the basics of the photographic process and the equipment that is essential to your development. Like musicians learning and practicing scales, or painters learning colour theory and drafting, I believe it is impossible to excel in photography without having a good working knowledge of the tools and the processes. I have found that there seems to be two distinct types of people who take up photography; the first are those who fall in love with the process of photography and the equipment. The second are those with an artistic streak who are looking for a creative outlet. I have also found that over the years each type tends to migrate towards the other; in other words the technical type and gadget lovers often develop artistic flare and the artistic type become aware of and come to appreciate the science behind the craft. Whichever type you may be, I hope I can help to speed up your photographic development to a level of competency where you look at the world through an artist’s eyes. The middle of the course is where we get down to the fun part of making pictures and the related area of digital processing, retouching and printing. I will try to impart the wonder I have for light in all its flavours and to help you see “what’s really in front of you”, instead of what you think you see. For me it is the play of light over objects that I find magical and the challenge to see, understand, recreate and record this miracle is the excitement that is photography. I will share with you the insights I have gained over the years about light and its capture. We will look at sunlight and develop an understanding of it and an appreciation for its variety and myriad qualities. We will learn to see like __________________________________________________________________________________ 4 COPYRIGHT © ONLINE EDUCATION ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
children all over again… a skill that is essential to achieving the highest level of the art. We will explore Photoshop and the amazing arsenal of tools it gives us to take the captured image and transform it into the image we had in our mind when we opened the shutter. Along with my views, I will share with you the skills to use the tools and equipment essential to success in this industry. Please note that for this course the Photoshop I use and reference is Adobe Photoshop CS5. This is not to be confused with Adobe Photoshop Elements. Elements is the no-frills, stripped down version of Photoshop CS5 and doesn’t contain many of the more powerful features of CS5. If you are happy using PS Elements it will work for most of the course except for Module 9, where I suggest that you download a free 30 day trial version from the Adobe Website. Just don’t download it now or your trial period will expire before you need it. The last few modules concentrate on the business of photography and here I am uniquely positioned to help you get your careers rolling, as I have worked in four different countries (USA, Australia, England and France) and have been successful in each. I am also one of the few photographers whose career has spanned such diverse disciplines as fashion, food and architectural/interiors. In each of these areas I have been, if I may say so, at the top of the profession. Towards the end of the course I will advise you on setting up a studio, promoting your work, portfolio construction, agents, agencies, libraries, magazines, ad agencies, and how to get your foot in the door you wish to access. I will advise you on fees, copyright issues and how to set up your business. Throughout the course there will be eleven assignments that I, or one of my fellow tutors, will personally review and comment upon. It will be as close to doing a workshop with me that you can get, without having to leave home. All you have to provide is a willingness to learn, an enquiring mind and some latent talent that can be developed. As I mentioned earlier, after you have completed this course of study I will be offering in depth modules in the future. These are yet to be written, but I am working towards that goal. I look forward to your company.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR George Seper was born in New York City in 1950 and as a child worked in the family business delivering newspapers to people’s houses in the early hours of the morning. At about the age of ten he began to notice the beauty that abounded in the early morning light; from dew drops on spider webs to steam rising from manhole covers, to ice forming in puddles in winter. It was about this time that he decided that he wanted to have a magical life. He studied electronic engineering at university and after graduation went to work at the mecca of scientific research at the time, Bell Labs in New Jersey. He lasted two years there and realised that his life was anything but magical. He decided to try to pursue a career based on his first love; photography, which had been a hobby throughout his late teens into his university days. George was now on the path to having his magical life. He began his photographic career in New York City in the early 1970’s photographing theatrical productions and portraits of actors, as well as freelance assisting with commercial photographers. He immigrated to Australia in 1974 and set up his first studio in Sydney in 1978 after having worked for three years as a photographer’s assistant for the Creative Director of Vogue, Patrick Russell. During that time he also assisted the great Swiss photographer Hans Feurer, as well as the legendary English photographer, Norman Parkinson. George’s own photographic work was concentrated initially on fashion and beauty and he was a regular contributor to Vogue, Mode Magazine, Cleo and Cosmopolitan. George photographed both men’s and women’s wear, as well as many magazine covers. His advertising clients included the best fashion designers of the time. Looking for other means of creative expression, George began shooting food photographs for Vogue in the early 1980’s with Carolyn Lockhart, who was then both menswear editor and food editor of Vogue. __________________________________________________________________________________ 7 COPYRIGHT © ONLINE EDUCATION ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
His food photography revolutionised the way food was photographed, as he approached food with the eye of a fashion photographer and often worked with 35mm cameras hand held in natural light. This was a huge departure from the convention in the early 1980’s. George pioneered the short depth of field look that has become the worldwide standard of how food is still photographed.
His food photographs have since appeared in over 30 countries in publications such as Vogue Italia, Madame Figaro Paris, Gentleman’s Quarterly, Martha Stewart Living, Gourmet, Gourmet Traveller, Vogue Entertaining and Travel and an array of other magazines from Russia to Brazil. He has photographed several cookbooks and his advertising clients include Wedgewood, Royal Doulton, McDonalds and Wild Turkey to name just a few. Alongside a booming career in food photography, George also began shooting interiors for Vogue Living magazine in the late 1980’s. He achieved great success in this area and has also shot extensively for high end lifestyle magazines as well as for commercial clients like the Ritz Carlton and Hilton Hotels. George was a pioneer in the field of digital photography in the early 1990’s. He tested many of the early digital cameras, but found that the camera technology of the time wasn’t as good as film. His early digital work was shot on film, scanned using a Leaf Scanner and imported into an early version of Adobe’s Photoshop. In 2000 he took some well-deserved time off and went sailing, returning to work in 2005 refreshed and inspired. He works out of his studio in Newtown and contributes to several magazines such as Vogue Entertaining and Travel Magazine as well as doing regular advertising work producing several __________________________________________________________________________________ 8 COPYRIGHT © ONLINE EDUCATION ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
cookbooks each year. George is currently represented by StockFood photo agency. http://international.stockfood.com He still has his boat and his cameras and life is magical. www.georgeseper.com
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CAMERAS It is important that we begin our professional photography course with a brief rundown on the types of professional cameras and their uses. For experienced photographers some of this material will be a bit basic, but I feel that it is fair to get everyone who is doing the course started on an equal footing. I will also review each type of camera and discuss its strengths and weaknesses, which should be of interest to everyone. Unless mentioned specifically all cameras referred to will be digital devices. With the exception of some fine art applications, I believe film has “had its day” for the professional photographer.
THE SMALL FORMAT SLR In the days before digital cameras this camera was called the 35mm SLR. The acronym SLR stands for single lens reflex. (The digital versions are known as a DSLR). Please note that there is significant difference between a point and shoot, a ‘hybrid/bridge’ camera and an actual SLR as pictured below.
Figure 1 – A Sony point and shoot, a Nikon bridge and a Canon DSLR Single lens refers to the fact that there is only one lens, which is used to view the subject, as well as to focus the image on the film, now sensor. The reflex part refers to the fact that a mirror is used to allow this dual purpose to take place. When the button is pressed to take the photo, the __________________________________________________________________________________ 10 COPYRIGHT © ONLINE EDUCATION ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
mirror jumps vertically out of the image path and allows light to pass through the shutter to the sensor at the rear of the camera. Most often in small format cameras, the shutter is in the focal plane inside the camera body and this has advantages and disadvantages. The advantages are that your lenses don’t need individual shutters in each lens, which makes lenses cheaper, and that focal plane shutters can be made to open and close much faster than in-lens shutters with speeds in excess of 1/8000 of a second. One disadvantage of the SLR is that the speed that the camera synchronises with a flash unit is slower than an in-lens shutter, but SLR synch speeds have been steadily increasing over the years. Another disadvantage of the SLR’s focal plane shutter is that the action of the mirror’s movement can cause camera shake at low shutter speeds. Most cameras overcome this issue by having a mirror release function, which can raise the mirror prior to the shutter opening. This feature unfortunately means that you can see nothing through the viewfinder while the mirror is up, which makes photographing anything except still subjects very difficult.
Figure 2 - Small format DSLR - Canon 1DS MKIIl & Canon 50D The beauty of this format is that it is designed to be hand held and I strongly suggest that you do so whenever possible. When operating the camera on a tripod, one tends to get locked into a position and a resistance seems to develop against changing the camera position. I prefer to keep the camera off the tripod as long as possible while I explore a variety of different heights, lenses and positions. The end result is usually better than my original ideas. Only when I have arrived at the best combination do I set up the tripod if it is required. __________________________________________________________________________________ 11 COPYRIGHT © ONLINE EDUCATION ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Another great feature of the SLR is that you look through the objective lens and see exactly what the digital sensor sees. At the time of writing, the best known and most highly supported professional SLR cameras are the Canon1Ds MKIII and the Nikon D3x. Other manufacturers like Sony, Olympus, Pentax and others make excellent cameras, but Canon and Nikon seem to have the small DSLR camera professional market pretty much to themselves. The main difference between pro DSLRs and those marketed to the amateur market is that the pro DSLRs have a full 35mm size sensor (24mm x 36mm) while the amateur cameras sensor, generally known as the APS-C sensor, is considerably smaller (roughly 15.7mm x 23.7mm). What this means in practical terms is that if you had 35 mm Canon EOS film cameras like I did, your lenses would still have the same effective focal length when switching to the digital model using a full frame sensor. Using the smaller APS-C sensor with older 35mm film lenses means that the old lenses have a longer effective focal length, which means that your wideangle lenses are not so wide anymore and your telephoto lenses are even longer than before. For example most APS-C sensor cameras have a lens factor of 1.5 times, so your 35mm lens is now effectively a 52mm lens (1.5 x 35 = 52). If this sounds confusing just picture an image projected onto a movie screen, which fills the screen edge to edge. If you replace that movie screen with a smaller one, the projected image will be cropped losing its edges, which will make the scene seem less wide. This is a simplification, but I hope it is one that illustrates the effect of the smaller sensor versus the full frame one. Of course, if you are buying a whole new camera system then you will not need to worry about this, but it is good to know anyway. At present Nikon has the largest small format DSLR pixel count at 24 mega pixels – the D3X – for my money it is one of the best systems in the small format area. However, I have been a Canon user for nearly 40 years and am sticking with the brand and their 21.1 mega pixel DSLR, as I believe that megapixels aren’t everything. Figure 3 – Nikon D3X The technology changes at a frightening pace and I know as soon as I write this a new camera will be released by someone, which will change everything. __________________________________________________________________________________ 12 COPYRIGHT © ONLINE EDUCATION ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
I have discovered one weakness with digital sensors and that is that the edge quality seems to fall off with wide-angle lenses below 24mm. So if you do a lot of wide-angle work I would test both the Nikon and Canon with your favourite focal length lens and look at edge sharpness in particular. Another type of small format professional camera is called a rangefinder; the best known of these is the Leica. The rangefinder has a viewfinder that is used to compose the shot, view exposure information and focus by way of a “ghost image” superimposed on top of the normal view. A separate objective lens is used to make the photograph. The beauty of the rangefinder is that it is very compact, silent in its operation, simple in design and lightweight with very small, lightweight lenses. A disadvantage of the rangefinder is called parallax error. This error is the result of the focusing lens being offset from the objective lens so that what you see is not quite what you get. Parallax error is particularly obvious when photographing subjects close up. This anomaly is accounted for in the better rangefinders through a function whereby the outline of the image frame is shifted in the viewfinder, compensating for the difference between the two different points of view. Another disadvantage of rangefinders is the inability to view the subject at the aperture used to expose the image. For my money this is a big drawback. However, this type of camera is very popular with photojournalists and travel photographers. I currently own one of these cameras, but rarely use it, as I have difficulty focusing the rangefinder and I also take better pictures when I look through the objective lens rather than a viewfinder. Leica has joined the digital revolution with a rangefinder camera called the “M9” which superficially looks the same as their 35mm film models. The Leica system is known and revered for the quality of its lenses and the M9 with an 18 mega pixel sensor, coupled with their amazing quality lenses seems to surpass all others in the field for image quality. There is a very strong second hand market for Leica equipment and they are very collectible. I have found that the small format SLR in both the 35mm film and digital format to be perfectly adequate for images to be reproduced in magazines and that the resolution of the CMOS or CCD sensor surpasses that of 35mm film.
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Figure 4 - Leica M9 digital rangefinder small format camera I use a Canon 5D Mkll camera as a backup camera. It has a full size CMOS chip like the 1Ds MKIIl and the identical pixel count of 21.1 mega pixels. The 5D Mkll lacks the ruggedness, waterproofing and many features of the much more expensive 1Ds Mklll, but is still a great camera in its own right and I cannot tell the difference in quality in the final images. I have used both cameras on several assignments and by the time the images were printed in the magazine I couldn’t tell which image was shot with the 5D Mkll and which was shot with the 1Ds MKIII. The bottom line here is that if your foray into magazine photography is being delayed until you can afford the top of the line camera, my advice is: if you are ready in all other respects, don’t let the gear stop you. Buying a new camera system is a very emotional issue and over and above the technical specifications, reputation, feel and the love factor, one should really consider the camera dealer’s support, service and hire facilities for the brand you are considering. If things go wrong, and they do, it is important that you are fully supported by the dealer. They should have the facilities in place to be able to lend you a replacement and also be able to repair your broken equipment quickly. It is also very expensive to own every lens in the range and also a bit disheartening to have to spend the entire fee for the job on a piece of specialised equipment that is probably required just for that particular assignment. You need to have access to a wide range of hire stock that is well maintained and reliable. __________________________________________________________________________________ 14 COPYRIGHT © ONLINE EDUCATION ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
I prefer not to buy online, but rather negotiate a fair price with my main suppliers. I find that if I support them they are always there to support me and believe me, when you are standing there on a job surrounded by clients with egg on your face, with a piece of broken gear, it is a great comfort to be able to call the supplier and hear him say that he is sending a replacement over in a cab. This holds true for all professional equipment; not just cameras.
THE MEDIUM FORMAT CAMERA Medium format cameras come in a lot of different shapes and configurations; much more so than the small format DSLR. There also seems to be more brands available to the professional with good support and hire facilities. The main players are Hassleblad, Mamiya, Sinar and Leaf.
Figure 5 – Mamiya RZ33, Hasselblad H3DII-22, Hasselblad H3DII-31 One of the top digital back manufacturers, Phase One, have struck a deal with Mamiya and now release a complete system based around a Mamiya body and lens. __________________________________________________________________________________ 15 COPYRIGHT © ONLINE EDUCATION ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Leica has also recently joined the medium format club as has Pentax, the latter of which had previously made an excellent medium format film camera beloved by fashion photographers in particular. This can only be a good thing for photographers as it will lead to better quality, more features and lower prices.
Figure 6 – Pentax 645D These cameras are all DSLRs. However, some have in-lens shutters and some have focal plane shutters. The main advantage of the focal plane shutter, which is used on the Mamiya 6x4.5 AFD11 system, is that the lenses are much cheaper and lighter than the others and the camera has shutter speeds of 1/4000 of a second. In truth the same advantages and disadvantages for the different shutter systems that exist for the small format DSLR still hold true for the medium format DSLR. Modern medium format DSLRs also now come with auto focus lenses, which were unheard of five years ago. So far the focusing systems appear much simpler and less versatile than the small format DSLRs and focus on one spot only, rather than an array of focusing spots. The advantage of having a medium format DSLR is having the ability to switch between film and a digital back. There is also quite a range of digital camera backs available in this format from 16 megapixel up to 80 megapixel at the time of writing. These medium format digital sensors are basically the size of two joined small format sensors, but are 16 bit as opposed to 12 or 14 bit, which gives much more tone and colour information. So for example, a 22 mega pixel Phase One digital back will outperform the 21.1 mega pixel Canon small format in all areas except speed, due to the increased bit-depth. The Canon can shoot over five frames per second and the Phase One around one per second. This can be a critical consideration depending on what you are shooting. We will get into bit-depth in greater __________________________________________________________________________________ 16 COPYRIGHT © ONLINE EDUCATION ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
detail in a later module, but suffice to say for now that the greater the bitdepth, the better the image. The medium format system is now no longer the dividing line between the pro and amateur photographer. So much money has gone into the development of the small format DSLR that the lower cost, smaller size/weight and abundance of features makes the argument for upgrading to a medium format system less compelling than it used to be in the days of film. Shooting with a small format DSLR is a joy, and frankly, shooting with a medium format monster is slow and a bit primitive by comparison. The point I am trying to make here is that unless you really need amazing quality and mega mega-pixels for large prints or billboards, the disadvantages of getting into a medium format system should make you pause at length to examine your reasoning. For the last twenty-five years I have been using the Rollei 6008 medium format film based system pictured below. I love this camera system and was delighted to find that I was able to upgrade this system to digital allowing me to use all of my original lenses. I have the original manual focus lenses, which I find easy to focus. They are all European lenses of the highest quality.
Figure 7 - Rollei 6008 with Sinar Emotion 75, a 33 Mega pixel digital back __________________________________________________________________________________ 17 COPYRIGHT © ONLINE EDUCATION ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
The lesson to be learned here is; buy your camera system from a manufacturer that has a good track record for anticipating new technology and allows for retro fitting. It has saved me a small fortune to be able to continue using my Canon and Rollei equipment even after such a quantum leap in the new digital technology.
THE LARGE FORMAT CAMERA This camera is usually known as a view camera and sometimes as a technical camera. In the days of film, this type of camera was often used because it allowed a film format from 9 x 12 cm up to 18 x 24 cm in size. This larger size film gave a much higher quality image than the smaller formats. The view camera also has the ability to adjust the lens panel as well as the film panel in every direction, which allows total control of the plane of focus as well as perspective. These panels are known as front and back standards. Since the advent of high-resolution digital backs, view cameras are primarily used where focus and perspective control are required. The same digital backs that attach to the medium format cameras are attached to the view cameras, so image quality is identical and no longer a consideration. Having said that, there are other digital devices that give a much higher quality image, such as linear scanning backs for example. They have up to a 416 mega pixel resolution at latest count, and are only made for view cameras. These devices generally take many seconds to many minutes to complete the scan and seem to be used primarily by architectural and landscape photographers who often do very large prints of their images. They are also used extensively by galleries for copying artwork, where fine detail and great tonal rendition is essential. I don’t own one of these devices, but from what I understand a company called Better Light in the USA make some of the best. Their website is www.betterlight.com. As well as having the focusing and perspective advantage I spoke of earlier, the advantage of view cameras is that they are a very simple design that has been around for 150 years in its simplest form, and is therefore very reliable. As they have integral bellows, no additional equipment is required for closeup photography. __________________________________________________________________________________ 18 COPYRIGHT © ONLINE EDUCATION ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
On the other hand, the disadvantages are many: They are large and cumbersome, which I liken to driving a bus compared to a DSLR Ferrari and because there is no prism to flip the image, as in a DSLR, the image appears upside down and left to right. Believe it or not, after time you do get used to it and develop the ability to mentally flip the image in your head. There are also mirror systems available that flip the image right side up, although it still remains left to right. When using a digital back connected to a computer in tethered mode, there are software packages that allow you to view the image and calculate focal planes on the screen. This makes life much easier if not more energy intensive and cumbersome.
Figure 8 - Large format camera - Sinar P2 For me, the biggest disadvantage of using a view camera becomes apparent out of doors, where the bellows act like a sail in the wind, causing the whole camera and tripod to vibrate, adversely affecting image sharpness. In the studio, for slow studied work, the view camera and related computer gear give amazing image control that is unsurpassed. __________________________________________________________________________________ 19 COPYRIGHT © ONLINE EDUCATION ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
I personally try to use the smallest camera that I can use to get the job done. Everyone is different, so this is something you have to work out yourself. The best camera to use is the one that you feel most comfortable with that will deliver the quality necessary to satisfy you and your client. When photographing people I always reach for the small format DSLR and hardly ever use a tripod. I often shoot at a slow shutter speed to get a bit of movement. I generally dislike photos of people that look like they are nailed down. I try to impart dynamism to the photo with a bit of movement and the resulting blur helps give the photo a feeling of energy and immediacy. Some people would disagree with me and say that you should see every line and wrinkle, but really, it takes all types!
SMALL & MEDIUM FORMAT DSLR FEATURES For the most part, we have so far discussed how small and medium format DSLR cameras have a great size and weight advantage over large format cameras. I will now discuss many of the mechanical features, which are available on these cameras. There are many software features and options available on these cameras as well. I will be discussing these in greater detail in their relevant modules as a premature discussion will probably only confuse the issue at this stage. I will include the most common features for small format DSLRs, as features vary from brand to brand and model to model. Please be aware that small format DSLRs generally have many more features than medium format DSLRs, but most of the ones I discuss below are available on both formats.
INTERCHANGEABLE LENSES The most versatile feature of modern DSLR cameras is having interchangeable lenses available to suit just about every situation. The range of lenses available to today’s photographer is extensive. Any professional camera must have the ability to change lenses. I will discuss lenses and their uses in depth later in this module. __________________________________________________________________________________ 20 COPYRIGHT © ONLINE EDUCATION ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Figure 9 - Medium format DSLR lens range
ADJUSTABLE ISO With a range from 50 ISO to 3200 ISO, this setting affects the sensitivity of the light meter as well as the sensor (more on this later). The best quality is usually obtained using the camera’s default setting, which in the case of small format DSLRs is usually 100 or 200 ISO, or 50 ISO on medium format digital backs. I will discuss the quality implications of higher ISO settings in a later module. This feature has been around since the early days of roll film when ISO was known as ASA. Film was actually made with different ISO ratings for different light conditions. This meant that photographers carried a bag of different ISO film with them, particularly on location shoots. Modern DSLRs allow the ISO to be changed from exposure to exposure. Film photographers will remember having to carry several camera bodies with them with different film on board each one. How lucky are we now?
DEPTH OF FIELD PREVIEW All pro DSLR cameras have a depth of field preview button. Modern DSLR lenses have a wonderful feature, which keeps the lens wide open at the largest aperture until the image is exposed. This type of lens is called an automatic lens. This feature allows the image in the viewfinder to remain bright at all times, regardless of the aperture to which the lens is set. This makes picture composition and focusing much easier than it was in the days of non-automatic lenses. __________________________________________________________________________________ 21 COPYRIGHT © ONLINE EDUCATION ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Figure 10 - Depth of field preview button detail Depressing the depth of field preview button stops down the lens to the working aperture; this allows the photographer to see the focus exactly as it will be exposed. This feature comes at the cost of the image in the viewfinder being darkened temporarily, due to the smaller aperture. I use the depth of field preview all the time as a focus check, prior to exposure and would be lost without it. There is more about depth of field in the next module.
INTEGRATED LIGHT METERS These have been a feature of SLR cameras almost since their invention. Apart from being amazingly convenient, an integrated light meter reads the light, that will eventually expose the image. This means that it compensates automatically for light lost when using filters, or when photographing at high magnifications, which we will discuss later. For me the real benefit of having an integrated light meter is the speed that it allows the exposure to be adjusted in changing light. If you do most of your work using natural light, as I do, you will need to able to react quickly to changing light situations, which can be caused by clouds, tree branches obscuring the sun, reflections from buildings or even passing cars. Under these circumstances, using a hand held light meter results in missed shots or __________________________________________________________________________________ 22 COPYRIGHT © ONLINE EDUCATION ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
badly exposed ones, at best. I will discuss the finer points of using various light meters in a later module.
MIRROR LOCKING Most DSLRs come with a feature to allow the mirror to be locked up prior to exposing the image. This is very handy, if not essential, when making long exposures where the vibration caused by the mirror movement can cause loss of resolution in the final image.
Figure 11 - Mirror lock up feature on camera menu On some cameras this feature is accomplished by pressing a button and on others the option is available through the camera’s menu. Either way, you should use this feature when needed; it can make a big difference to the sharpness of your images especially in low light situations. Be aware that you will need a tripod or steady surface to support the camera to use the mirror lock up feature effectively. It is only suitable for still subjects as the viewfinder is blacked out with the mirror up.
SELF-TIMER Another nifty DSLR feature is the shutter delay; also known as the self-timer. Apart from allowing you to set a delay long enough to allow you to __________________________________________________________________________________ 23 COPYRIGHT © ONLINE EDUCATION ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
photograph yourself, this feature has a more serious use. When you find yourself on location without a tripod or cable shutter release, you can improvise using the shutter delay. In desperation I have used the branch of a tree, a brick wall, a stationary bicycle and many other reasonably solid objects in conjunction with the shutter delay function to steady the camera, enabling me to take a sharp photo instead of missing out. If you are without a cable or remote release, on most cameras you can use the mirror lock and the shutter delay features simultaneously to get the sharpest image possible.
INTERCHANGEABLE FOCUSING SCREENS The final feature worth mentioning is one that is little used by many photographers, but great to have when needed. Having interchangeable focusing screens is an optional accessory for many small and medium format DSLRs. On some systems the range of different screens can be quite extensive. Some of the screens are: very bright laser matt screens with grid lines, plain matt screens without markings and a variety of focusing micro prism screens for different speed and focal length lenses. Over the years I have used several of these for various reasons. I once owned a 500mm reflex lens, which had a fixed aperture of f/8. This lens was difficult for me to focus until I purchased the laser matt micro prism screen made for slow telephoto lenses. When shooting architectural and interior shots, it is very useful to use a screen with a fine grid superimposed upon it, to help align vertical or horizontal planes. For general purposes I use the brightest laser matt screen available to help me see the shot as clearly as possible.
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Figure 12 - Removable focusing screen with grid pattern __________________________________________________________________________________ 25 COPYRIGHT © ONLINE EDUCATION ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
LENSES Lenses and the field of optical design can be an incredibly complex topic of study involving quite complex mathematics. I will endeavour to keep it as simple as I can as I have found that a moderate level of knowledge in relation to lens design has enabled me to make the correct choices when it comes to selecting lenses. The first thing you need to understand is that all lens design involves compromise on some level. Each lens has its optimum performance at a particular focusing distance and at a particular f/ stop. The other thing to understand is that all lenses have some faults. These are called aberration and distortion. If we are buying general-purpose lenses, which most photographers do, then life is made easier by the fact that most lens companies produce their lenses for general use and are relatively fault free. The selection of lenses is a critical issue for the professional photographer. There are two basic types of lenses that concern us and several specialty lenses that we must be aware of and understand. The two main categories are prime lenses and zoom lenses. The differences are that a prime lens has a fixed focal length and zoom lenses have the capacity to operate over a continuous range of focal lengths. Although the improvement in the quality of zoom lenses has been enormous over the years, be aware that for general use, prime lenses are sharper, faster, more compact and contain less optical faults than zoom lenses. Having said that, zoom lenses have their place in most photographers’ kit.
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Figure 13 - Comparison between prime and zoom lenses
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FOCAL LENGTH In simple terms, lenses function by having a convex curved surface, making them thicker in the middle than at the edges. Light from a distant object enters the lens and is bent, or refracted, as a result of this difference in lens thickness. The rays of light pass through the lens and are focused at a distance behind the lens. The distance in front of the lens is known as the object distance and the distance behind the lens is known as the image distance. In very rough terms you can think of the focal length of the lens as the distance from the centre of the lens to the point of focus behind the lens where the film or digital sensor is positioned. Be advised that for zoom and telephoto lenses this is not necessarily true, as these are optically complex with a lot of elements. This is a simplification, as the exact focal length is from the back nodal point in the lens to the back principle focal point. However, for most photographers, knowledge of the exact location of the nodal points in the lens is generally irrelevant. I know the calculations and I have never had to use them.
Figure 14 - Lens physics describing focal length __________________________________________________________________________________ 28 COPYRIGHT © ONLINE EDUCATION ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Something to keep in mind is that the distance of an object is directly proportional to its size in the viewfinder and on the sensor. In other words a one metre tall object may appear to be one centimetre tall in the viewfinder at a distance of five metres and at a distance of ten metres it will appear to be half a centimetre tall in the viewfinder. This relationship holds true except in very close-up work where refocusing the lens for the closer distance throws the whole spatial relationship out the window. Another relationship to be aware of is that if you double the focal length of the lens you will double the size of the object in the viewfinder. The final useful relationship to keep in mind is that if you double the focal length of the lens you half the angle of view. For example, a 50mm small format lens has an angle of view of 46 degrees, while a 100mm lens has an angle of view of around 23 degrees. Knowing these relationships will help you to visualise the effect that using different lenses will have on the final image.
Figure 15 - A 50mm lens has an angle of view of 46 degrees
Figure 16 - A 100mm lens has an angle of view of 23 degrees __________________________________________________________________________________ 29 COPYRIGHT © ONLINE EDUCATION ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Another interesting lens characteristic is that at infinity distance all lenses that are free of flaws will yield the same image if cropping is allowed. For example, if you photograph a distant scene with a telephoto lens at minimum aperture and then photograph the same scene from the same position with a wide-angle lens and then crop the wide-angle image to be the same size as the telephoto image, the resulting image will be identical except for the loss in quality due to cropping the wide-angle shot. This is because the light rays at infinity are travelling in a parallel direction in both lenses. The different effects that lenses give you are due primarily to perspective changes. Perspective changes are brought about by a change in the relative position of the objects within the frame. Mid distance objects, when photographed with a wide-angle lens focus at infinity, but infinity is much further away for a telephoto lens. This allows for selective focus of mid distance or closer objects on a longer lens.
LENS FAULTS Modern lenses are quite complicated designs and usually have a combination of several lens elements back to back and in groups. The action of bending the rays of light through so many curved pieces of glass can introduce faults in the focused image. These faults affect four lens qualities: sharpness, colour, shape and luminance. Lens sharpness is also referred to as the lens resolution. This is the ability of the lens to resolve fine lines on a test card. The higher the resolution the more lines per mm the lens can separate. Modern digital lenses have enormous resolving power. Lens resolution is negatively affected by diffraction and spherical aberration.
Figure 17 - Lens resolution test chart __________________________________________________________________________________ 30 COPYRIGHT © ONLINE EDUCATION ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
SPHERICAL ABERRATION This occurs when the light rays passing through the central axis of the lens focus at a different spot than the rays from the lens edges. This is usually corrected by employing better lens design. If you own a lens that has spherical aberration you can improve the sharpness of the image by simply stopping down the lens. This is done by selecting a smaller aperture.
Figure 18 - Examples of spherical aberrations It was once believed that the resolution of light passing through a pinhole would increase infinitely as the pinhole was reduced in size. This was found not to be true as it was discovered there was an optimum size after which any further reduction in size would spread the light, rather than focus it. This diffraction phenomenon limits the practical resolution of a theoretically perfect lens as well.
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CHROMATIC ABERRATION There are two types of chromatic aberration: longitudinal and lateral. Longitudinal chromatic aberration is a fault where a white point of light is broken into its primary, blue and green colours and focused at different distances behind the lens. Lateral chromatic aberration occurs where the primary colours all focus on the same plane; however they have slightly different magnification. Chromatic aberration can appear as a stray bit of colour around a highlight or an edge. In uncorrected lenses, stopping down the lens makes this effect generally less noticeable.
Figure 19 - Examples of chromatic aberrations There are however, two types of specialty lenses that correct for chromatic aberration; achromatic lenses and apochromatic lenses, which are often called “Apo” lenses. Achromatic lenses are corrected for two colours and apochromatic lenses are corrected for three colours. __________________________________________________________________________________ 32 COPYRIGHT © ONLINE EDUCATION ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
BARREL & PINCUSHION DISTORTION These are two of the most common faults that occur to the shape of the image. If you think of the image as a rectangle with straight vertical and horizontal edges, barrel distortion bows the straight edges outward and pincushion distortion bows the edges inward. Pincushion distortion can affect both telephoto lenses and single element lenses as the distortion is increased as the thickness of the lens increases. Barrel distortion can affect wide-angle lenses with the greatest evidence of this occurring in fish-eye lenses, where it is pronounced. Stopping down the lens doesn’t help cure either barrel or pincushion distortion I’m sorry to report.
Figure 20 - Pincushion and Barrel distortion __________________________________________________________________________________ 33 COPYRIGHT © ONLINE EDUCATION ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
FLARE & VIGNETTING The most important luminance faults are flare, vignetting, diffraction streaks and ghost images or flare spots. Flare generally occurs when photographing an object in the presence of a very bright background or where very bright light enters the lens directly. Flare causes the image to have a washed out appearance with reduced colour saturation. Flare spots can occur as the result of light being reflected between the internal optical lens elements. Flare spots often appear as an in focus reflection of the lens diaphragm. This fault is obvious in all lenses when including the sun in the photograph. Modern multi-coatings on lenses have reduced flare dramatically and using a lens hood can also help enormously. Diffraction streaks often appear in night photographs as streaks of light or star patterns around bright pointed light sources.
Figure 21 - An example of lens flare. Image 2009 © Joey Boylan __________________________________________________________________________________ 34 COPYRIGHT © ONLINE EDUCATION ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
This is caused by the diffraction of light around the edges of the diaphragm blades. Vignetting occurs when the centre of the image is brighter than the edges. Its cause is difficult to explain, but has to do with something called the “cosine to the fourth power law” which I won’t even try to explain. It can also be caused by using a lens hood that is too long for the focal length of the lens. Be vigilant when attaching filters or lens hoods to very wide-angle lenses. Stopping down the lens will reduce the effects of vignetting, but not flare. That briefly covers most common lens faults. If you are considering purchasing a new lens, ask to be able to test it before you buy or better still ask to see the tests done by the supplier or a magazine review. Lens test cards are available from some professional equipment suppliers. Be sure to test for flare. Shooting a dark object with a much brighter background easily does it. Enlarge your test images on the computer screen until they become pixels and have a good look around as all lenses are not created equal. If all of these flaws and faults are frightening you off, take heart. Most modern lenses created by the top companies have eliminated many of these flaws from their lenses. Software like Adobe Bridge and Adobe Photoshop also has filters for eliminating most lens faults very effectively.
LENS TYPES THE NORMAL LENS The term ‘normal lens’ or ‘standard lens’ is used by photographers to describe a lens whose focal length is roughly equal to the diagonal measurement of the sensor format. If we use the full frame 35mm sensor format as an example, the dimensions of this format is 24mm tall and 36mm wide. Using our high school maths we can figure that the diagonal of a rectangle 24mm x 36mm would be 43mm. The normal lens made for most 35mm film format cameras is standardised at roughly 50mm.
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It is also apparent that a normal lens most closely approximates the correct distance the object is from the camera. It makes the image appear the most normal of all the lenses. One advantage of normal lenses is that they are available with large apertures at a reasonable price. For small format DSLR cameras using the smaller APS-C sensor, a normal lens is roughly 35mm, where a 35mm would be classed as a wide-angle lens on a DSLR with the full frame 35mm sensor.
Figure 22 - Sensor sizing chart Many medium format cameras use a digital sensor that is 48mm by 36mm and have a normal lens that is roughly 60mm. Therefore, a normal lens will vary depending on the size of the sensor. It becomes apparent that a normal lens of 43mm for the 35mm format camera would in theory be a wide-angle lens on a medium format camera. However, we must remember that the small format 50mm lens is designed to project its image on to a 24mm x 36mm sensor and as such wouldn’t have enough coverage to be able to be used on a 48mm x 36mm sensor.
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The image would simply look like a circular image in the middle of a larger black field. This means that we cannot use lenses made for smaller format sensors on cameras with larger sensors. This is particularly relevant when upgrading from an amateur APS-C sensor camera to a full frame DSLR one. The old lenses will not be compatible! The good news is that we can go the other way and use lenses designed for full frame sensors on cameras with smaller sensors provided they use the same mounting system.
Figure 23 - Lens angle of view for 35mm format __________________________________________________________________________________ 37 COPYRIGHT © ONLINE EDUCATION ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Normal lenses are great for waist up portraiture as it enables the photographer to keep an intimate distance with the subject, thus allowing for all-important human interaction. At this distance a normal lens won’t distort features, but beware of getting too close, as distortion will start to creep in. If you attempt a head shot with a normal lens you will find that the nose becomes abnormally large making the normal lens unsuitable for close up shots of people’s faces.
Figure 24 - Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM For years, small format cameras came with a normal lens as part of the original purchase, with a choice of maximum aperture. Today, normal lenses seem to have fallen somewhat out of favour. I must admit that I don’t own one for my small format system. I do, however, own a normal lens for my medium format system, but I never use it. I find it a bit boring and even though I dig it out of the case from time to time, I usually return it to the case unused.
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WIDE-ANGLE LENSES Wide-angle lenses are lenses that have a shorter focal length and a field of view that is wider than a normal lens. They are also known as short lenses and for the 35mm size format range from about 14mm to around 40mm.
Figure 25 - Sony 20mm f2.8 wide-angle lens As we have previously discussed there is a direct relationship between focal length and angle of view, therefore lenses with a focal length less than a normal lens are referred to as wide-angle lenses.
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Figure 26 – Wide-angle interior shot © George Seper Wide-angle lenses are often used to capture landscapes, interior spaces and for architectural photography. They have an interesting characteristic whereby objects close to the lens appear much larger than distant objects. This is known as foreshortening and is a type of distortion of the image. This feature can be exploited to get interesting effects, albeit with a certain amount of perspective distortion.
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Figure 27 – Wide-angle architectural shot “Beach Lockers, Finale Ligure” © Matthew Evans If desired, when using a view camera, this distortion can be neutralised by adjusting the back standard of the camera. I don’t believe in giving hard and fast rules for lens use, but I do suggest you think carefully about using a wideangle lens to shoot portraits. I say this because you are likely to distort the subject’s features, which usually means giving the sitter a large nose. Wide-angle lenses on the other hand can help create dramatic still life and architectural images. Wide-angle lenses are tricky to use for close up work. I find a small amount of perspective distortion a very nice thing indeed; however, it can go very wrong within a few millimetres. You have to get the distance just right for the shot to work properly. I am very fond of using wideangle lenses as they create images that are close to how I visualise things. If I were allowed to have only one prime lens, it would probably be a 24 or 28mm lens for my small format system. I hope, however, I never have to make that choice.
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Figure 28 - Wide-angle perspective used to dramatic effect © George Seper __________________________________________________________________________________ 42 COPYRIGHT © ONLINE EDUCATION ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
TELEPHOTO LENSES Telephoto lenses have focal lengths that are longer than a normal lens and are also known as long lenses or simply tele lenses. With these types of lenses the angle of view is reduced and far objects appear nearer. This lens distorts perspective by “stacking” distant objects seemingly on top of each other.
Figure 29 - Nikkor AF-S 400mm VR telephoto lens The distances between objects tend to disappear, much like looking through binoculars or a telescope. This effect can be very pleasing when used correctly. If a wide aperture is used with a telephoto lens and the subject is relatively close or at a middle distance, the background can be easily blurred to the point of being a smear of highlight, shadow and colour. This characteristic makes the telephoto lens the main choice for portrait photographers. It is a trap to use a telephoto lens to save you from getting closer to the subject, except for sport and wildlife photography where they are an ideal choice. These lenses impart a particular look to the photo and should be used to achieve that purpose. Don’t use them because you are afraid of getting close to your subjects, except of course for wild animals or football players! __________________________________________________________________________________ 43 COPYRIGHT © ONLINE EDUCATION ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Telephoto lenses start at around 70mm when using a small format camera and the range extends beyond 1000mm. Surfing photographers generally use extreme telephoto lenses to get up close to the action and to isolate the surfer visually in the shot.
Figure 30 - Telephoto lens used for surf photography. Image © Scott Clarke - Getty Images Ultra long telephoto lenses are prone to chromatic aberration; however the higher quality ones are usually apochromatic to correct this tendency. Wide aperture telephoto lenses can cost a huge amount of money, as it becomes difficult to supply such large pieces of glass without flaws or aberrations. We will discuss the relationship between f/ stops and focal length in the next module. Something to keep in mind when using long lenses is that it is advisable to use a tripod or a fast shutter speed or both, as you are almost guaranteed to take blurry photos through camera shake if you don’t. A really neat rule of thumb that I have used forever is: you can generally hand hold your small format camera and still get sharp photos if you match the lens focal length to the minimum shutter speed used. What this means in practice is that if you are shooting with a 250mm telephoto lens, don’t hand hold at shutter speeds below 1/250 second. Use a tripod or increase the shutter speed if possible. Conversely, if you are using a 24mm wide-angle lens you __________________________________________________________________________________ 44 COPYRIGHT © ONLINE EDUCATION ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
can still hand hold at 1/25 second and expect to get a sharp image. I sadly find that as I get older I need a bit more leeway on this rule… I don’t know where I picked up this little gem, but over the years I have found it to be true; except after a big night out where a tripod and wheelchair are de rigueur.
SPECIALTY LENSES & ATTACHMENTS MACRO LENSES General purpose lenses that display good optical characteristics for most situations often struggle when trying to photograph objects at scales larger than 1:1, where the image distance is greater than the object distance. Macro lenses are small and medium format lenses designed for close-up work. They are most commonly short to medium telephoto lenses, as this is generally the best compromise between good image magnification and a wider field of view.
Figure 31 – Olympus 35mm f3.5 macro lens __________________________________________________________________________________ 45 COPYRIGHT © ONLINE EDUCATION ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Macro lenses are often slower than general purpose lenses, which makes correcting many of the faults inherent in close-up photography easier for the designer to overcome. By slower I mean that the maximum aperture of the lens may be one or even two f-stops less than that of similar focal length general purpose lenses. Macro lenses often exhibit good shooting characteristics at normal distances as well. Most macro lenses have an extended screw thread, which allows the lens to focus quite closely without the use of extension rings. This is fantastic, as I find it very frustrating to do a shoot where I am forever putting extension rings on and off.
Figure 32 - Example of macro photography __________________________________________________________________________________ 46 COPYRIGHT © ONLINE EDUCATION ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Figure 33 - Example of macro photography When considering macro photography, it is important to be aware of bellows and extension tubes/rings. If you can’t move the lens far enough away from the sensor to get the magnification you want, you can take the lens off and insert gadgets that provide that extension for you. The simplest variety are known as extension tubes. These are nothing more than hollow tubes with a fitting on the rear similar to that on the back of a lens which connects to the lens mount of your camera. The front of the extension tube has a lens mount of its own and your lens is attached to that. Extension tubes look a little like teleconverters (which increase the focal length of your lens), except they have no optics inside. They do nothing but what their name says: extend. They are available in multiple sizes, often as a set, with, say, 8mm, 12.5mm, and 27.5mm tubes that can be used alone or in combination to produce the amount of extension needed. __________________________________________________________________________________ 47 COPYRIGHT © ONLINE EDUCATION ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Figure 34 - Sony Macro Extension Tube Another alternative is known as a bellows extension. A bellows is an accordion-like attachment that moves along a sliding rail to vary the distance between the lens and camera continuously over a particular range. Where extension tubes each provide a fixed amount of magnification, bellows let you produce different magnifications, as much as 20:1 or more. It has a tilt and shift mechanism on the front column, which allows you to vary the angle between the lens and the back of the camera (where the sensor is). This shifting procedure can help you squeeze out a little more depth-of-field by tilting the sharpness “plane” in the same direction your subject matter “tilts” away from the camera. A bellows attachment, like the one shown in the next figure, frequently has a rotating mechanism that allows you to shift the camera from horizontal to vertical orientation. Some bellows have two rails: one for adjusting the distance of the lens from the camera, and a second that allows moving the whole thing — bellows, camera, and all — closer or farther away from the subject. That allows it to function as a “focusing rail.” Once you’ve moved the lens out far enough to achieve the magnification you want, you can then lock the camera/bellows distance and slide the whole components back and forth to achieve sharpest focus. Keep in mind that there is a tendency towards underexposure when using a bellows. If you are using a DSLR with an integrated camera and light meter, it __________________________________________________________________________________ 48 COPYRIGHT © ONLINE EDUCATION ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
will automatically adjust for this and you will not need to do anything. For those of you that are using large format cameras and hand held light meters I will go into bellows extension in greater detail in the next module.
Figure 35 - Nikon bellows extension
ZOOM LENSES A zoom lens is a lens which covers a continuous range of focal lengths without the need for refocusing. A zoom lens is typically described like the following: 24–70mm f/ 2.8. This describes the specifications of a lens having a maximum aperture of f/2.8 and a continuous range of focal lengths from 24 to 70mm. This one lens can effectively replace possibly as many as three or four prime lenses in a photographer’s camera bag. Two zoom lenses can replace a whole bag of prime lenses. Note here that a “prime” lens is one which cannot zoom. It is capable of only one set focal length such as 50mm. __________________________________________________________________________________ 49 COPYRIGHT © ONLINE EDUCATION ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Figure 36 - Nikon-24-70mm-f2.8 zoom lens The first true zoom lens was patented in 1902, but the first mass production of zoom lenses was not until 1932 and these were used for movie cameras. It was not until 1959 that the first zoom was put into regular production for still photography. When I bought my first serious pro 35mm cameras in 1969 no pro worth his salt would touch a zoom lens except for special zoom effects that looked a bit like they were inspired by Dr. Who. I didn’t own my first zoom until 2005 because I probably had some innate prejudice and it was a known fact that they just weren’t as sharp as prime lenses. They were slower and the focus did shift as one zoomed, although it wasn’t supposed to. The performance of zoom lenses has now improved so spectacularly that most pros use them for convenience and travel photographers wouldn’t be caught without them. They are still not quite as sharp as prime lenses, but the difference in quality is outweighed by the convenience that zooms provide. I suggest that you don’t rush out and buy a zoom lens with a range of say 18250mm, as this lens will be such a design compromise that the quality will be poor. __________________________________________________________________________________ 50 COPYRIGHT © ONLINE EDUCATION ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
The best zooms have a short range of focal length and a constant aperture. One of my favourite zooms is a 24-70mm f/2.8. It is fast, nearly flawless and pin sharp.
Figure 37 – Zoom lens used for travel photography. Image © Tony Burns – PI Graduate It only takes a few missed shots due to having the wrong lens on the camera to win you over to using a zoom especially when doing reportage or travel photography.
REFLEX LENSES Reflex lenses use a system of mirrors instead of lenses to increase the focal length of the lens. These lenses are most commonly of the ultra-long telephoto type from 500mm and above on a small format camera. They also usually come with a fixed aperture, which is usually quite slow. They are designed like a Casse grain telescope where the light is reflected off a concave primary mirror at the base of the lens and reflected back to a small secondary mirror at the front of the lens. It is then returned to pass through a hole in the centre of the primary mirror on its way to the film plane. This is a __________________________________________________________________________________ 51 COPYRIGHT © ONLINE EDUCATION ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
lot of back and forth, which is what gives it the long focal length for an apparently short lens length. Reflex lenses have the advantage of being compact for their focal length and very light weight, compared to conventional optical glass lenses. Being a simple design without optical glass elements or a diaphragm, they are also usually relatively inexpensive to buy. When I shot a lot of fashion pictures, I used a 500mm f/8 reflex lens extensively and really loved the look it imparted. It had a very flat field and had the peculiar effect of turning out of focus, specula highlights into little bright doughnuts of light. It was a definite look! The main disadvantage of the reflex lens is having a slow fixed aperture as well as having the doughnut highlights. They are quite fragile as well, but for my money all lenses should be treated like gold. Unfortunately, they are not quite as sharp as high quality optical glass lenses of similar focal length and aperture - but hey, they are much cheaper by comparison!
Figure 38 - Fixed aperture reflex lens with filter draw __________________________________________________________________________________ 52 COPYRIGHT © ONLINE EDUCATION ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
THE TILT-SHIFT LENS When photographing tall buildings or other structures from the ground, the verticals will converge making the sides of the building appear to lean backwards. Tilt-shift lenses are constructed to allow the lens to shift in the vertical plane, which has the effect similar to raising the front standard of a view camera. This movement greatly reduces or even removes the converging vertical effect. Tilt-shift lenses are available for both small and medium format and are generally of slight wide-angle design. Canon produces three TSL lenses at focal lengths of 24mm, 42mm and 90mm. They are usually a bit bulky and have protruding knobs, which allow the shifting to take place.
Figure 39 - Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5 L Tilt-Shift Lens Shift lenses are unnecessary for large format cameras, as the movement of the front standard accomplishes the same task, only better. In Adobe Photoshop CS through CS5, a control is included which corrects converging vertical distortion very effectively, making a shift lens something to hire only when absolutely necessary, unless you are an architectural photographer. Is there anything that the folks at Adobe can’t fix? __________________________________________________________________________________ 53 COPYRIGHT © ONLINE EDUCATION ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Figure 40 – Example of converging verticals. Image © Yusul Hashim. __________________________________________________________________________________ 54 COPYRIGHT © ONLINE EDUCATION ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
FILTERS Back in the days where film ruled the world, I had a filter kit in its own camera bag that was scary. Now that we are in the digital era, the need for most filters has been superseded by computer software, which can do anything filters can do and more. The possible exceptions for me are neutral density and polarising filters, which I still use. Polarisers are most commonly used to reduce or even eliminate unwanted reflections. They have many uses, from darkening the sky and water in travel photos to reducing nasty reflections in car photography or when copying artwork. Every kit should have one to fit each lens. They are cheap, indispensable and dramatic in their effect. Be advised that I don’t recommend using a polariser for people shots, as it deepens shadows and makes skin look pasty. Using a polarising filter can also cost you 2 stops worth of exposure.
Figure 41 - Filters __________________________________________________________________________________ 55 COPYRIGHT © ONLINE EDUCATION ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Figure 42 - Before and after shot comparing the use of a basic, graduated Neutral Density Filter. Neutral density filters are neutral grey in colour and are used to reduce the amount of light entering the lens. This they do evenly and affect overall exposure much the same as closing the lens aperture. I have used them to allow shooting at wider apertures or slower shutter speeds when working outdoors or with flash. Please keep in mind that the Neutral Density (ND) filter is only a piece of grey glass or plastic, which has the sole effect of reducing the light entering the lens. This loss of light must then be compensated for by changing the exposure. The ND is solely used to allow one to shoot at a slower shutter speed or wider aperture and is like being able to lower the ISO below the camera’s minimum ISO setting. It can also sometimes (but rarely) be helpful when mixing flash and daylight. It is only grey glass and affects exposure only, not picture quality.
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Figure 43 - Graduated Neutral Density Filter The ND is rarely necessary for normal small format DSLR photography these days because modern DSLR cameras have shutter speeds up to 1/8000 sec, which can be used to shoot wide open in most lighting conditions if desired. The ND filter is similar to wearing a pair of non-polarised sunglasses and contains no magical powers to make a badly lit shot look good. It doesn’t affect colours or tones or flare or anything else. In fact, filters generally encourage flare and are to be avoided unless there is a specific reason for using one. Keep in mind that almost anything you place in front of or behind the lens will reduce the exposure. With filters this is called a filter factor, which is usually inscribed on the filter or on the box it came in. To get the correct exposure multiply the filter factor by the exposure time. For example, if the shutter speed is 1/8 of a second and the filter factor is 2, simply multiply the shutter speed by the filter factor to arrive at the new shutter speed of ¼ second. Once again, integrated light meters come to the rescue and make life easy by measuring the light coming through the lens. They will, for the most part, give a correct reading without having to worry about filter factors. Filters are generally better placed between the rear element of the lens and the mirror. This is mostly a flare issue, as filters are usually not as good optically as the front element of the lens. Many long telephoto lenses come with a small filter draw at the base of the lens for this reason. If possible, place the filter behind the lens, not in front of it. Be warned though that you can damage the cameras internal mechanisms if you get this wrong, so beware. I will go into colour filtration in greater detail in a later module. __________________________________________________________________________________ 57 COPYRIGHT © ONLINE EDUCATION ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Figure 44 - Use of ND Filter. Image © Steve Kelley
CARING FOR YOUR LENSES The best thing you can do for your lenses is to use them often. The worst thing for them (apart from being dropped into the sea) is to be shut away in a dark, airless, damp place like a camera bag. Mould attacks the multi-coatings on modern lenses and if left unchecked can render the lens unusable. Cleaning the front and rear surfaces of the lens with lens cleaner or pure alcohol will help, but will not prevent mould from forming on the internal lens elements which are impossible for most of us to get to. The free flow of air and sunlight generally prevents the mould from gaining a foothold. Mould often appears first on the edge of the lens as a spider web like structure and it doesn’t take long before the rest of the lens surface is attacked. The best thing to do is to inspect your lenses regularly, especially the ones you use less frequently. At the first hint of mould, either clean it yourself, or if on an internal element, have it cleaned by a professional. Any delay could __________________________________________________________________________________ 58 COPYRIGHT © ONLINE EDUCATION ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
result in a ruined lens, or at best, a lens that has to be returned to the manufacturer for recoating. There are special cabinets now available for storing lenses in a low humidity environment and I believe these to be a worthwhile investment depending on the climate where you live. Over the past thirty years I have spent a small fortune having my lenses periodically cleaned by a professional. A techno guru friend of mine, David Kay, has suggested that I can get a substance called THYMOL from the pharmacy which will kill mould. He suggests putting the THYMOL into a container with small holes in the lid, like a salt shaker, then putting the shaker with the THYMOL and the mouldy lens into an airtight container for a few weeks and voila; the wicked mould is dead. He also warned me that THYMOL is poisonous, so beware when handling it. Use gloves and a breathing mask and anything else you feel is necessary for your safety. I haven’t tried this cure yet, but David is rarely wrong.
Figure 45 - THYMOL crystals I regularly wipe the barrel of my lenses with a slightly damp cloth, especially if I have been working near the sea or in a dusty environment. I also find that a cotton T-shirt that has had several trips through the washing machine to be the best lens cleaning cloth - second to none. When not in immediate use I always replace the front and rear lens caps, as it prevents dust and scratches on the glass. I don’t recommend using a __________________________________________________________________________________ 59 COPYRIGHT © ONLINE EDUCATION ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
protective filter on the lens, as it will undoubtedly have some unwanted effect on your photos. I also don’t believe in putting a cheap UV filter in front of a very expensive lens unless it is absolutely necessary. A final word regarding lens care - don’t drop them. They really hate it.
CAMERA CARE Wipe them periodically with a slightly damp cloth and dry. Try to be gentle with them and never use one as a weapon unless your life is at risk. Cleaning the digital sensor is a risky pursuit, but unfortunately one that needs to be done from time to time. I have had success using air pressure from a rubber blower to clean the CMOS sensor on my Canons so far. Never touch the sensor with a brush or cloth as it is extremely likely to suffer damage. If in doubt, and I believe it is wise to be so, have your camera periodically cleaned by the people who make them. I know Canon offer this service for a modest fee. Read the camera manual for the manufacturer’s advice regarding cleaning the sensor. I thought my days of retouching photos were over until I discovered dust on my sensor. It was a sad realisation. Most DSLR cameras these days have a glass filter in front of the sensor which can be vibrated at an ultrasonic speed. This seems very effective at removing dust particles. I have yet to discover what actually happens to the dust, but I wish they could use it on the floors of my house! Never let a battery sit in an uncharged state for too long in the camera, as batteries can leak and wreak havoc on the electronics in the camera. If you can afford it, get insurance. You will sleep better, especially while your cameras are at the mercy of airline baggage handlers. I once arrived at Heathrow, only to discover my steel camera case revolving on the conveyor belt with the lid peeled open like a sardine tin and the lenses clearly visible to all and sundry. I was lucky that time and British Airways replaced my case, to their credit, but this story could have had a very unhappy ending as I was uninsured at the time. Airport baggage handlers may not share our gentle touch when it comes to handling expensive camera gear. __________________________________________________________________________________ 60 COPYRIGHT © ONLINE EDUCATION ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Figure 46 - Pelican Cases are a great option if you have to check your precious gear.
PRACTICAL LENS CHOICES FOOD PHOTOGRAPHY When photographing food I generally, though not always, use a large aperture medium telephoto lens. My favourite small format lens is my 85mm f/ 1.2 Canon L series. This lens has a wonderful optical quality and has the ability to blur the background to the extent that near distance objects can become unrecognisable.
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For food work I rarely shoot longer than 135mm or wider than 40mm. I have recently begun to use a 24-105mm f/4 zoom lens, as my style now involves backgrounds that are not quite as soft as I once employed. I now find modern zoom lenses to be of a very high quality, compact and extremely convenient. When shooting on medium format I like to use my 180mm f/2.8 Schneider lens. This lens has amazing qualities that I love. Call me a snob, but I think that European lenses have a certain quality that is unsurpassed by the Japanese manufacturers.
Figure 47 - Figs. Image © George Seper It is hard to quantify, but I believe that European lenses, particularly those manufactured by Schneider, Leica, Rodenstock and Zeiss, make lenses that are extremely sharp, have great colour saturation, without being overly high in contrast. __________________________________________________________________________________ 62 COPYRIGHT © ONLINE EDUCATION ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Figure 48 - Food shot on small format 70mm (24-70mm zoom) lens f/5.6 Image © George Seper __________________________________________________________________________________ 63 COPYRIGHT © ONLINE EDUCATION ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
FASHION PHOTOGRAPHY When shooting fashion photos, anything goes really. I have used lenses from 24mm through to 500mm for different effects. Probably my all-time favourite lens was a 300mm f/ 2.8 Canon L series. This lens was pin sharp wide open at f/2.8 and blurred the background beautifully.
Figure 49 - Image © Iconogenic - iStockphoto For beauty shots and magazine covers I often use either an 85mm f/1.2 or a 135mm f/2 Canon L series lens. I find that for photographing women close up it is better to use a small format camera, as the last thing wanted is fine detail. I even soften the lens a bit sometimes, using a layer of fine black fishnet or tulle. I use a black net because it is less prone to flare and softens the image nicely, without looking too artificial. One would think that a black net over the lens would darken the image substantially, but it only causes a ½ stop loss for a single layer of coarse black tulle. This softening can easily be done later using Photoshop’s Surface Blur filter, but I have used this black net technique for years, before Photoshop existed __________________________________________________________________________________ 64 COPYRIGHT © ONLINE EDUCATION ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
and I like the effect. The net technique works best for portraits, but not so well for full length subjects. A word of warning… I have found that unless you already have a string of fashion clients who trust you, it is not such a good career move to be shooting fashion photos that are too different from the rest of the pack. I know that this sounds like a bit of a cop out, but fashion seems to exist in a very narrow band of what is in and what is out. A fashion photographer has to be careful not to be pushing a look that is so far in that it is out… enough said.
Figure 50 - Image © Jasmina - iStockphoto
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PORTRAIT & BEAUTY PHOTOGRAPHY The aim here - whether doing wedding portraits, magazine covers, glamour or shooting the chairman of the board - is to flatter the sitter. They will hate you if you exaggerate their worst feature. Again, as a suggestion only, I find that a short to medium telephoto lens (say between 80mm and 135mm on a small format camera) generally gives the most pleasing perspective. It is also usually better to have the sitter’s eyes, not the frames of their glasses, in focus. It is also better to use a moderate aperture, around f/8 or f/11 or so, rather than shooting wide open at the maximum aperture.
Figure 51 - Image © David Goldman __________________________________________________________________________________ 66 COPYRIGHT © ONLINE EDUCATION ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
For most women and increasingly more men, flattery is the order of the day and the use of the black net described above, or some other softening technique, either done in camera or in post-production, is often recommended. Some increasingly rare individuals like to see every line and wrinkle, but I find these to be in the minority.
Figure 52 - Image © Julia Savchenko - iStockphoto These are not rules; please let me be clear about that. I have seen wonderful portraits, done by great photographers using normal lenses at wide apertures; so none of this is sealed in cement. I am just giving you guidelines as a starting point. Where your individual style takes you is part of the great photographic journey. __________________________________________________________________________________ 67 COPYRIGHT © ONLINE EDUCATION ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
ARCHITECTURE & INTERIOR PHOTOGRAPHY Be wary of using a wide-angle lens for everything. It is tempting to show rooms and spaces from wall to wall, but an entire interior shoot done exclusively with a wide-angle lens looks pretty monotonous. Look for opportunities to use a moderate telephoto or normal lens.
Figure 53 - Image © Matthew Evans Tilt-shift lenses are custom made for architectural photography to get the lines straight. Look for interesting details and drop the background out using a wide aperture with longer lenses. Look for interesting angles. Vary the height of the tripod. Look up and look down. You will be surprised what you find if you open your eyes and your mind to the huge range of possibilities that each location holds. Be different. Be daring. If you are in doubt about how adventurous the client __________________________________________________________________________________ 68 COPYRIGHT © ONLINE EDUCATION ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
is, shoot the scene a few different ways. Nothing will turn you into a boring photographer quicker than playing it safe and being as conservative as you think your client is. They may surprise you! I have found that generally wide-angle shots look better if sharp throughout. If something is soft in a wide shot it often, though not always, looks like a mistake.
Figure 54 - Image © Ken Hayden
Figure 55 - Image © George Seper __________________________________________________________________________________ 69 COPYRIGHT © ONLINE EDUCATION ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY The wide-angle zoom and medium telephoto zoom lenses are the travel photographer’s best friends. Use the wide-angle zoom for scenic and architectural shots and the tele-zoom for photographing people, markets and food etc. The zooms allow the photographer to travel light and there is nothing worse than missing a great shot because you are fumbling around in your bag for the right lens. Perhaps have an extreme wide-angle prime lens for quality reasons. Throw a polarising filter in the bag for water shots and to give a great sky effect. A set of close up rings completes the kit for photographing jewellery, fine details or herbs and spices.
Figure 56 - Image © Tony Burns __________________________________________________________________________________ 70 COPYRIGHT © ONLINE EDUCATION ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Figure 57 - Image © Tony Burns __________________________________________________________________________________ 71 COPYRIGHT © ONLINE EDUCATION ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
There is nothing more nerve wracking than travelling rough whilst carrying a year’s wage worth of camera gear. It is best to look like a tourist rather than a pro, especially if travelling in a poor country. It makes border crossings easier as well. If you are shooting film, be very careful at airport security check-points where they x-ray everything. I have to admit that I haven’t shot film on travel assignments since 9/11, but prior to that, I always insisted that my film was checked by hand and never x-rayed. Nothing destroys a latent image on film more completely than a good dose of x-rays; unless of course it is two or three doses of x-rays, as the effects are cumulative. To assist security staff, I always put my exposed film in one clear zip lock bag and my unexposed film in another. If necessary, I would take the film out of its box or even remove it from the plastic container. I would beg, plead and cajole, but I never let them x-ray my film. If travelling in today’s hyper paranoid travel environment, I would definitely leave the film at home and go digital. It was hard enough before 9/11 to beat the x-rays. It probably requires a letter from the Pope today.
Figure 58 - Image © Tony Burns __________________________________________________________________________________ 72 COPYRIGHT © ONLINE EDUCATION ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
SPORT & WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY I must admit to not being an expert at either sport or wildlife photography. However, I have found myself on the back of a Landrover in Africa with wild animals alleged to be just beyond view. This is the domain of the ultra-long telephoto lens or the telephoto zoom. Most animals are pretty wary of people sneaking up close to them and are much better at spotting us than we are at spotting them. Please note that the animals, which aren’t afraid of us, should be treated with utmost care. Their supreme confidence should make us think twice about getting close. Here the telephoto lens excels. Apart from allowing you to fill the frame with their bulk without being torn apart and eaten, you also have the ability to drop the background out of focus, making the perfectly camouflaged animals stand out against a field of similar colours.
Figure 59 - Image © Tony Burns The same advice goes for sports “stars” on the field… treat them warily and use the long telephoto lens for your own safety and security!
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Figure 60 - Image © Pali Rao Surfing photography often requires the longest lenses, as the good surf breaks can happen some distance beyond the safety of the sand. Be forewarned that this is a deadly environment for camera gear, as it is rich in sand and salt spray, sworn enemies of mechanical devices and electronics.
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ASSIGNMENT ONE It is important at the outset of the course to make certain that everyone has a firm understanding of lenses and basic photographic equipment. This assignment is reasonably straightforward and designed to alert your tutor to any weakness in your grasp of these fundamentals. If necessary, your tutor will be able to supply material or advise particular areas for your improvement. For each of the following hypothetical photographic assignments you have the following equipment at your disposal (note that you do not have any zoom lenses): Two small format DSLR cameras with full sized 35mm sensors 20mm lens 24mm tilt-shift lens 35mm lens 50mm lens 90mm tilt-shift lens 100mm macro lens 135mm lens 300mm lens Neutral Density Filter Polarising Filter Two quick cycle portable flash units made specifically for your cameras Transportable studio flash gear Tripod Monopod Nominate which of the abovementioned equipment you would use for each of the following 10 scenarios and give a brief explanation of why you made those choices: 1.
A large art gallery has hired you to photograph every individual framed painting in the gallery for an upcoming exhibition. They require colour accurate copies of the artwork for use in a catalogue.
An advertising agency has hired you to photograph individual “pack shots” of a range of packet soups. The soups come in small rectangular boxes, which have a glossy finish. They want the pack to look heroic and important.
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A men’s magazine has hired you to shoot an action outdoor fashion feature of a male model in the centre of a large city wearing various business suits. They want lots of movement in the images and are happy with some motion blur.
A sports magazine wants you to photograph an afternoon football game and they get you a press pass, which allows you access to the playing field. They want high contact physical shots with frozen action.
A lifestyle magazine wants you to shoot a cover shot of a woman in a large, bright, modern city apartment. The woman is to be the main focus, but they would also like some of the atmosphere of the apartment to be evident.
You have been hired to photograph a wedding in a church. The light is bright enough to avoid having to use a flash and the minister has allowed you access to all areas.
You have been hired by a gossip magazine to shoot “social” shots at a gala movie premier one evening. The location is inside a dark Rococo (ornate) cinema and you have a press pass and are free to mingle with the “stars”. The editor requires a collection of posed and candid shots as the crowd parties through the night.
A book publisher has hired you to photograph Italian food in their studio for a new cookbook. The studio has large windows along one wall and lots of working space. They want the entire book shot from above, looking down on the food with an “aerial” perspective.
A book publisher wants you to travel through France to photograph a book on wine. They want farm and regional images, as well as shots inside the cellars and manufacturing areas. They are on a tight schedule and have a limited budget, so you will be travelling alone in a small rented car without an assistant. You have only three weeks to cover all viticulture areas before the autumn harvest.
10. A fashion magazine wants you to photograph the latest trends in makeup. You will be shooting female models in a studio and they may be accessorised with the latest earrings and other jewellery, but the makeup is the star. They are looking for striking, close-up images with vivid colour and texture.
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IMPORTANT NOTE To submit this assignment, please go to “Assignments” on your Student Page and click on Assignment One. __________________________________________________________________________________ 77 COPYRIGHT © ONLINE EDUCATION ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
A lens defect.
A lens that is designed to correct for chromatic aberration.
The ability of the system to quickly change one tonal value to another in the shortest space.
The colours red, green and blue which when added together produce white. Used primarily with light sources.
Adobe RGB (1998):
The preferred colour space for professional printbased photography with a gamut that closely approximates the CMYK printer’s gamut.
An opening in the lens that controls the amount of light that reaches the film plane.
Aperture Priority Mode: The user manually selects the aperture and the camera, in conjunction with the metering system, selects the shutter speed. Apochromatic Lens:
A lens designed to most accurately correct for chromatic aberration by focusing all wavelengths into the same plane of focus.
A modern SLR lens which remains at maximum aperture regardless of the selected aperture, until the shutter is depressed.
A situation where the light source is mainly behind the subject.
A lens fault, which bows outward the parallel edges of the image frame.
Bayer Pattern Array:
The most common colour distribution pattern on CCD and CMOS digital sensors. This array
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employs twice as many green receptors as it does red or blue receptors. Bellows:
A flexible, light tight rectangular tube, which is placed between the lens and the camera to facilitate close up photography.
Represents the amount of tonal information per colour channel. 8 bit represents 2 to the power of 8 or 256 gradations and 16 bit represents 2 to the power of 16 or 65,536 tonal gradations per colour channel.
Occurs when a sensor element receives too much light and the stray electrons spill over into adjacent sensor elements. This can be common in CCD sensors.
The practice of reflecting light off a usually white surface.
To take a range of exposures; often with the assumed correct exposure as the middle exposure.
A set of instructions, usually visual, used in advertising to convey ideas to the creative team.
An attachment which allows the tripping of the shutter from a distance. They vary in length from several centimetres to many metres as well as remote controlled. They are often used to reduce camera shake when using slow shutter speeds.
An early photographic process invented by Englishman, William Henry Fox Talbot in 1835, which produced the first reproducible negative image on paper.
An ancient and room sized forerunner of the modern camera.
A digital capture format which captures the raw information from the digital sensor without
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interpolation or compression. It is generally the preferred format for professional image capture. CCD:
A charged coupled device. This is one type of sensor used in digital photography. The CCD array uses the Bayer pattern.
Compact Disc Recordable. These are used to record digital information that is not editable.
Colour information for each of the primary red, green or blue (RGB) colours, received from the digital sensor, is each stored in segregated locations or channels.
Digital silicon sensor.
A lens fault whereby all colours do not focus at the same point. Chromatic aberration is a common fault in telephoto lenses.
French for Commission Internationale l’Eclairage which translates as the International Illumination Commission. See also LAB colour.
Circle of Confusion:
A non-sharp circle of light on the film plane, which originated as a single point of light. The largest circle, which appears to the eye as a point is known as the largest circle of confusion.
An extension ring, which fits between the lens and camera to facilitate close–up photography. A type of inflexible, fixed length bellows attachment. They usually come in sets of different length tubes.
A Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor. This is one type of sensor used in digital photography. It has a similar function to the CCD sensor and similarly uses the Bayer pattern array.
A colour system employing cyan, magenta, yellow and black used primarily as inks in the printing industry - also known as the subtractive primaries.
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Colour Bias is a deviation from a neutral white balance towards red, green or blue.
Extraneous colouration, often along edges, which can be caused by poor quality lenses, poor registration in multi-shot systems and interpolation artefacts in 1-shot systems.
The colour of a light source expressed in degrees Kelvin (K).
Colour Temp. Meter:
An electronic meter, which displays the colour temperature of a light source.
Is an edge effect whereby the edge between black and white is more defined than the edge between two greys.
Cathode Ray Tube. These are old style computer monitors, which employ an electron gun and a phosphorescent screen to produce an image.
A shutter mechanism used primarily with large format cameras in which the front and rear lens elements can be removed by the operator, exposing the diaphragm blades.
An early photographic process developed in 1839 by Frenchman Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre, which produced a positive image on a polished metal plate; usually copper.
Depth of Field:
The distance in a photograph between the nearest object which retains sharp focus and furthest object which retains sharp focus. Depth of field is controlled by setting the aperture. Some lenses have a depth of field scale on the top of the lens barrel.
Depth of Field Preview: A facility on most SLR cameras which enables the lens to be closed down to the shooting aperture. This is useful to evaluate the depth of field at a particular F/stop. __________________________________________________________________________________ 81 COPYRIGHT © ONLINE EDUCATION ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Depth of Field Scale:
A delineated scale on a lens or camera body, which indicated the depth of field for a given aperture on a given lens.
A set of adjustable blades, inside the lens, which vary the opening in the lens. Setting the aperture opens or closes the diaphragm.
A lens fault caused by the scattering of light within the lens causing a reduction in lens sharpness or resolution.
A percentage measure of how much printing ink spreads on paper.
Dots Per Inch is a measure of a printer’s resolution or the fineness of a halftone screen.
Digital Single Lens Reflex camera.
Digital Video Disc used to store images or digital files.
The range of light intensity in stops, which can be recorded in a particular film, paper or digital sensor.
The combination of shutter speed and aperture. It is the amount of light, which is admitted onto the sensor or film.
An aperture or shutter speed adjustment, in which the light entering the camera is increased or decreased by a factor of two; i.e. doubled or halved.
A lens that has a wide maximum aperture. Fast lenses are more expensive than slow lenses and allow more light into the camera.
To lighten shadows.
This refers to the overall thickness of silver on the films surface.
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A term used to describe the location of the film within the camera. Film plane is now also used to describe the location of the digital sensor.
A piece of optical glass, which is often coloured and placed in front of, or preferably behind the lens. Filters can have many uses; from colour correcting, to magnifying, polarising and for special effects like starburst and soft focus.
A factor used to describe the amount of light, which is lost in the filter. A filter factor of 2 represents a loss of one f/stop.
A condition whereby bright light enters directly into the lens, causing a reduction in contrast and a hazy effect.
A high intensity, brief duration light source used to light subjects for photographic purposes.
The amount of time it takes for a flashtube to fully fire.
Fly on the Wall:
This means not posed and candid. Shot from the hip is another similar term.
A measurement, in millimetres, of the distance from the optical centre of the lens, or nodal point, to the point of focus. Lenses are usually described by their focal length.
Focal Plane Shutter:
A shutter common to many SLR cameras, that sits in the focal plane, just in front of the film or sensor.
Is a piece of ground glass, or optically diffused glass that allows the image to be viewed in camera.
To visually make something appear shorter as an aid to perspective enhancement.
Symbolised by the Greek letter it is used to describe the characteristics of the translation by a
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computer system from a linear tonal range to a human tonal range. Gamut:
A range of colours contained boundaries of a colour space.
For our purposes it is a black and white scale which progresses in one stop intervals from black to white.
High Key Image:
A photograph of a scene, which lacks deep shadows and contains mostly mid-tones and highlights.
The brightest area in the photograph; usually close to pure white.
A graphical representation of exposure values. Can be black and white or colour.
The shortest distance at which a particular lens can be focused and still be sharp at infinity.
In Camera Light Meter:
A reflective light meter, which is integral in the camera’s construction.
A focused object so far from the lens that the rays of light entering the lens are parallel. Infinity is graphically illustrated by the symbol. This symbol appears on the lens barrel and is usually the end stop of the focusing ring.
In Lens Shutter:
An in lens shutter is positioned in the lens itself. The advantage of an in lens shutter is less vibration when activated and the ability to flash synchronize at any speed.
Incident Light Meter:
A type of light meter, typically hand held, which measures the light falling or incident upon an object. These meters, while a bit slow to use, can be very accurate in evaluating correct exposure.
This acronym stands for the “International standards organization” and represents film or
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digital sensor sensitivity to light. It has replaced the old ASA “American National Standards Institute” rating; however they are interchangeable. LAB Colour:
Developed by the CIE (Commission Internationale l’Eclairage). This colour space represents each colour by its luminance and where it falls on an a (red/green) and b (yellow/blue) colour axis.
A term used to describe a camera that uses sheet film in a larger size than roll film. Large format cameras usually have at least on adjustable standard.
An exposed image, which is as yet undeveloped. A film, which has been exposed to light and has undergone a photochemical change, is described as having a latent image.
Liquid crystal display. Currently the most popular form of computer monitor. It is also used for the digital readouts on modern cameras.
A lens hood attaches to the front of the lens and acts as a shade preventing direct light from entering the lens. The use of a lens hood helps to prevent flare.
Used to determine exposure. They can be handheld or integrated within the camera.
In a straight line, also a straight line response.
A telephoto lens with a focal length longer than a normal lens.
Low Zone Shadow Detail: LPI:
Is another way of saying deep shadows. Lines Per Inch is the current terminology for determining the resolution of a half tone screen used for printing images on a printing press.
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Refers to lenses or equipment enabling close-up photography.
The user selects the aperture and shutter speed on the camera.
The unit of measure of the resolution of a digital sensor. It literally measures the number of vertical silicone sensors multiplied by the number of horizontal silicone sensors. One megapixel is equal to one million pixels.
A type of focusing screen that is partially composed of very small prisms, which appear to “dance” when the image is out of focus.
Mired is an acronym for micro-reciprocal-degrees. It is a scale which is used to ease some of the difficulties involved in calculating colour filtration.
A lens, which employs mirrors instead to lenses to focus the image, also known as a reflex lens.
The mirror lock which is available on most SLR cameras enables the mirror to be taken out of the film plane and locked in the up position. It is used primarily to reduce camera shake during long exposures.
A low to moderately powered tungsten light, which is used to represent the light generated by flash lighting.
Pronounced (moi-ray) this is an interference pattern, which is caused by the conflict between a pattern on the image subject and the pattern configuration of the sensor elements.
A type of film, which captures a black and white or colour negative or reversed image of the subject. Negative film is usually printed on paper to produce a positive print.
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Neutral Density Filter:
A grey filter that has a neutral effect on the image colour but evenly reduces the brightness of the image entering the lens.
Unwanted and random interference. Noise often occurs in the low light areas of a digital image and is caused by low level background electronic emission within the digital sensor.
A standard lens, which has a focal length, which is roughly equal to the diagonal measurement of the digital sensor.
Open Shade is a large expanse of shade which is open to the sky. The light is usually quite even in intensity, although rather blue when the sky is blue.
Capturing an image in such a way that there is no information in the highlight areas. Also refers to a shot that generally appears too bright.
A film, which can be either black and white or colour, which is sensitive to all colours of the visible spectrum.
Perspective Control Lens:
A shift lens, which allows the lens axis to be shifted.
The act of telling a story usually published in newspapers or magazines, through the use of still images.
The industry standard image retouching software developed by Adobe Systems Inc.
A lens flaw whereby the parallel sides of the image are bent inwards.
The most rudimentary form of camera where a pinhole and not a lens is used to form the image.
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A term used to describe a picture element; which is physically, a single, minute light sensitive silicone receptor on the digital sensor.
A filter, which allows light to pass in one plane only. It has the effect of reducing stray light thereby reducing reflections.
An instant print system, available in either black and white or colour and sometimes with a usable negative, developed and pioneered by the Polaroid Land Corporation. I have used the term Polaroid throughout this course to refer to all instant print systems, although this is technically incorrect.
A collection of images usually printed and sometimes bound or boxed, which contains the photographers work.
Pixels Per Inch is a method of quoting the resolution of a digital image.
The process of visualising the final print before the film is exposed.
A lens with a single, fixed focal length. Prime lenses have superior optical qualities to zoom lenses.
A shooting mode where the camera selects both the aperture and shutter speed.
To reduce the amount of time the film is immersed in the developer thus reducing the film’s density.
To extend the time the film is immersed in the developer thus increasing the film’s density.
A transparent and heat resistant glass used to protect electronic flash tubes.
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Quick Cycle Portable Flash:
This type of flash unit can be held in the palm of the hand. It attaches to the camera's hot shoe or can be used in another location and triggered using a separate flash or an infrared trigger. It is battery powered and has relatively low power output. Some cameras have an inbuilt flash that also qualifies as this type of flash unit.
A type of focusing system employing an objective lens and a separate focusing lens. A ghost image is superimposed on the primary image and focused by bringing into alignment.
Random Access Memory is fast and volatile temporary digital storage.
An image capture format without interpolation, which contains the raw information from the digital sensor.
The non-linear response of film at low light levels whereby an increase in exposure has a diminished effect upon film density.
Typically a white board or mirror like surface used to reflect light towards the subject.
Red green and blue. The colours used to digitally record and display colour images in camera and on screen. Some home printers also use RGB inks for printing although the printing industry and higher end printers use the CMYK colour system. This is also known as the additive primaries.
Reflected Light Meter:
An exposure meter of the type found integrated in SLR cameras, which measures the light, which is reflected from the subject. Hand held versions are also available.
Typically a white board used to reflect light.
Commonly, a long focal length mirror lens.
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The ability to record fine detail.
A type of film in various sizes, that comes in a roll wound around a spool. Not sheet film.
The intensity of a colour.
Scanning Digital Back:
A digital capture device that gathers digital information through the physical movement of a scanning head. These can be very slow but of the highest resolution. They are commonly attached to the back of large format cameras.
A translucent material used to diffuse daylight.
Shadowy Scene with Subdued Highlights:
This means a scene, which lacks illumination by direct sunlight. It does not mean dappled light. This is a dark scene taken in the shade or on an overcast day.
A removable lens, usually of medium wide focal length, which has adjustment knobs, which shift the lens elements off axis. This has the effect of straightening converging verticals or allowing one to shoot directly into a mirror without recording your reflection. This is also known as a perspective control lens.
Represents the highlight values on a films density / exposure curve.
A device which allows light to expose the film or digital sensor for a specific amount of time.
Shutter Priority Mode:
The user manually selects the shutter speed and the camera, in conjunction with the metering system, selects the aperture.
A method of attaching a lens or film back to a view camera. On large format cameras the front and rear standards are usually moveable in all directions, which allow for precise focus and perspective control.
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A highlight, usually small, which is so bright that the sensor contains no colour information. It appears as pure white.
A type of reflective light meter, where the reading is taken from a small area of the image. Useful in contrasty lighting situations where a separate highlight and shadow reading is required. Can be camera integrated or hand held.
A colour space developed in 1995 by HP and Microsoft to approximate the gamut of LCD monitors, scanners and the internet.
A normal lens. Roughly 50mm on small format SLR, 75mm on medium format, 150mm on 9x12 cm large format and 300mm on 18x24cm large format.
Closing the aperture to a lesser amount (higher number).
The colours cyan, magenta and yellow, which when added together produce black. Used primarily as inks for colour printing. Black is usually added making CMYK to give a richer black.
The abbreviation (SWOP) refers to a special set of uniform standards in printing known as the “Specifications for Web Offset Publications”.
The maximum shutter speed at which the flash and shutter will enable a fully exposed image to occur without clipping.
Connected via a cable as in a camera to computer connection.
Represents the shadow values on a films density / exposure curve.
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A colour film also known as slide film, which is the main type of film used by magazines and the printing industry.
Transportable Studio Flash Gear:
Is generally large and heavy equipment comprised of separate flash heads equipped with modeling lights. They require cords, stands and mains power to operate. It is bulky and slow to setup or relocate. It is capable of high power output and is extremely versatile in allocating power to the separate flash heads or for attaching softboxes and umbrellas.
An adjustable camera support with three legs.
An acronym for through the lens metering. A system, common on SLR and rangefinder cameras, whereby the light passing through the objective lens is metered, to give an exposure value. This provides a reflective mode of metering and is very quick and responsive to changes in light levels.
An incandescent light globe used as a constant light source, whose filament is constructed from tungsten material.
Capturing an image in such a way that there is no information in the shadow areas. Also refers to a shot that generally appears too dark.
A large format camera, which usually has adjustable film and lens standards. Sometimes referred to as a technical camera. The image is typically viewed upside down on a ground glass panel on the film standard.
A phenomenon, whereby the centre of the image is brighter than the edges. Can be caused by faulty lens design or more commonly, through
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using a filter assembly or lens hood that is too long for the lens. Most common in wide-angle lenses. Visible Spectrum:
White light broken up into its component colours. All visible colours.
The ability to render white without introducing a colour shift.
Named after the English inventor of commercially available colour photographic filters, Frederick Wratten. Filters of different colours and density are given unique Wratten numbers.
A lens with continuous, variable focal lengths, over a range of focal lengths.
A previsualisation, exposure and film development system developed by American photographer Ansel Adams.
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