We had our first class with Dylan today. Dylan is a fine arts photographer who also acts as the CMU Design digital media expert (read: has access to every bit of technology in the building). Dylan proved to be another fine teacher – fast talking but clear, full of nervous energy but engaging. He gave us a nice long lecture on the basics of digital photography and an interesting slide show covering trends in contemporary photography. While all my recent notes have basically been my notes, today’s will be even more so.
- ISO – Film (or sensor) sensitivity to light. Faster ISO’s need less light to do the job, but also tend to produce more digital noise. Slower ISO’s produce a smoother tonal range but tend to get blurry.
- F-Stop/Aperture – How open the camera’s shutter gets (think maximum diameter). The higher this number, the smaller the aperture. Higher F-stops need more light, but give broader depth of field (can focus on closer and farther objects simultaneously).
- Shutter Speed – The amount of time that the shutter stays open. This ranges from as long as you like, to thousandths of a second (the numbers are quoted in fractions of a second). Shutter speed numbers basically act opposite F-stops: higher shutter speeds need more light, slower one’s can get decent pictures in low light. If you move up in shutter speed, you generally want to go down with your F-stop to keep things balanced (though most digital cameras do all this for you).
- Focal Length – How wide your lens is. A 28mm lens is considered wide-angle, and will tend to stretch things out a bit. 50mm is normal, and 85mm is a telephoto lens, which will tend to compact space.
- White Balance – Different light sources have different temperatures, and thus produce differently colored ambient light that we generally want to adjust for. Dylan told us to get in the habit of not using auto-white balance on our cameras, as it tends to not work well.
- Resolution – the whole mega-pixel thing, not news to anyone. One thing to note here is that with film, resolution degrades smoothly as print size increases, with digital, you simply hit a threshold afterwards things just fall apart.
And a few other notes from the lecture:
- If your camera supports it, you should always shoot RAW format, which records all the data the camera takes in at the time of the photo (as opposed to JPEG, which loses data in the compression).
- It’s better to adjust for color/saturation etc. during the RAW to Photoshop conversion, than afterwards (as I have always done… oops).
For homework we’ve been asked to take a series of 10 to 12 photos that tell some sort of story or express a mood. I’m excited about doing this: I think I’m going to take some photos that try to evoke how being a student again makes me feel younger and brings back some of that ‘sense of wonder’ that children are so prone to. I’ll post the photos tomorrow.
For the afternoon software class we were asked to make a poster advertising our cell phone. I think the idea was that this would get us working in both inDesign and Photoshop at the same time. I decided to take this a rather humorous route and came up with the following (which is secretly the reason I chose my phone):
Not my best typography work, but funny, eh?