If this would have been a book like the ones for s/w engineering, it would have been titled “photography tricks for dumbs”. Hehhe! Please don’t take it personally. I said this only to give you an idea that this effort is to educate the household camera users, who take pictures only on birthday parties, picnics and likewise 🙂  If you have a normal camera (not a D/SLR) then this learning becomes easier. Thats the best part of using a compact camera that you see the processed image on your screen before taking the shot. With D/SLRs, you have to take the shot to see how it looks with the settings you applied. In compact digicams, u see the final result before taking the shot. Congratulations if you are having a compact camera in your hands right now 😀

I will try to teach you how to use your camera better and in case you have an D/SLR, then how to use them too 🙂 And I will wrap everything up in 2 posts. So, here’s my first ever attempt to teach photography, hope you don’t search my residence to throw stones for repeating what you may be already knowing! Happy reading!

Before I begin, I want to make you clear that henceforth you will not be taking any foto in your favourite “Auto” mode. Its for people who don’t know a thing about camera settings or fotography…..which wont be the case with you when you are done reading this post 😉 We will be using one of the creative modes. For today, we will stick to just one, that’s the easiest: ‘P’ which stands for ‘Program’ mode. Below you can see a short briefing (click on the image to see enlarged):

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Now onwards set your shooting mode to P permenantly. Done?

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OK, now let me describe the terms that we will using in these posts (oh yes! One more thing: I prefer writing foto than photo and fotography & so on ). Okhey, here we start ::

Frame : frame is the image that you see finally, i.e. whatever you see in the rectangular area which we call a photo 🙂  Sounds silly, but is the most important aspect to be taken care of, for any great photo. For e.g. a frame with 5 ppl standing in line in attention, smiling at the lens is the most boring group foto you can find around.

White balance : WB is a feature that is used to compensate with color temperature of the ambient light visible in frame. As per specifications, skylight (average blue sky) has maximum temperature at 12000 kelvin and candle light has least at 1800 kelvin. Don’t worry about the technicalities, just go to your camera’s WB menu and select the preset that you feel is making the picture look as you like it.

Custom color : this is the setting where you find the “black & white” mode or “sepia” mode etc. This is generally used by pros to bring out better colors in their fotos.

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Ok, now that we are done with the introductions of who is who, lets move on to see who does what ::

WB (white balance): is used to compensate the color balance of a frame. For e.g. using “day light” or “cloudy” WB mode would result in warm orange/reddish coloring. Go to your camera settings by clicking on Function button and you will find these WB mode names.

For example in image below, i have used the “Auto” WB mode. This is an image of my table lamp lighted by single candle. A candle lights everything in a warm tone (orange coloring) by default. So if you keep your camera WB in “auto” mode, then it may by default pick “day light” or may be “cloudy” which gives the warm appearance.

Since the object here is the reflective silver coating of table lamp’s inner side, so the difference has minimised. But imagine a non reflective surface like our skin. If you would take your sweetheart’s picture in Auto WB mode while having a candle light dinner, she may look red like a pumpkin and after watching that foto, she may dump you too! hahhaa. So, taking her picture at that instance in Tungsten WB mode may save your relationship. Lol!

So now, at this instance if i want to take the actual color of this object, then i would use the “tungsten” mode to compensate the orange shade and bring the final output more closer to reality.  Heres the same shot taken in “tungsten” WB mode which by default has a bluish tinge.

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Custom Color : Ok, now to explain you Custom Color setting, you will have to again go to your camera settings using Function button. I have taken the picture of my bedsheet as example in Auto mode for this setting, which it may display as “my colors off”. Take a close look at the colors:

Now, i select “Vivid” in the custom color settings and watch the difference:

This way, different settings are used for different purposes. Like the above Vivid selection is generally used for nature and wild fotography. If you are picturing people, you may use Neutral selection to give natural look to skin tone, and so on.

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Exposure compensation: Now comes the biggest head ache of all times in fotography….poor light i.e. either extreme light like a bright sunny day or low light like indoor shoots or night shots etc. This feature can brighten your foto if taken in low light or you may even use it to soften the light if the lighting is too much like in a very sunny day. In most cameras these days, there is a dedicated button for this, shown like in image below and old ones have this inside the camera settings menu:

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Just for example, i have taken this shot of my coffee mug under same lighting conditions with different exposure settings.

In the below shot, i have kept the exposure to +1 or say i have over-exposed the subject (which means, its going to lighten up the picture more than normal, i.e. the setting that i would use if am taking picture in low light condition):

whereas the below picture was taken with -1 exposure or say i under-exposed the subject. (this value may be used when shooting something in outdoors under extreme sunlight or some such very bright lighting conditions). Please note that both these fotos were taken in the same lighting situation just to explain you the effect of over-exposure or under-exposure.

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Now some miscellaneous creative terms:

Bokeh: it’s the blurriness of things in the frame. Like in the foto below, the main subject is totally sharp while look at rest of the  background. That blurred, bloated effect that is called bokeh effect. This can be achieved most easily by macro mode. If your camera has a macro mode (extreme closeup mode, denoted by a flower sign as shown below):

then you enable this mode and take picture af any subject, the rest of things that are farther from the main subject get blurred. Below is one example of an image with bokeh:

the green background (leaves), white circles (sky visible from between the leaves) etc is displaying the bokeh effect 🙂 Will explain you the other ways to achieve this effect in the next post which would be an advanced one.

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Silhouette : it’s the case when the main subject is dark and the rest of the surrounding is visible in its natural colors. This happens when the source of light is behind the subject i.e. the subject (whom u are shooting) stands between the source of light and your camera. For e.g. if your friend is standing in front of the sun (during a beautiful sunset) and you are facing the sun (so the camera too faces the sun), then the resulting foto is called to have silhouette effect, like in image below :

By the way, he is my friend Amit Dhamal enjoying the sunset at Diveagar beach in Konkan, M.H.

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Fine enough, we are done with the easy part today 🙂  These settings are and must be used to bring out better pictures out from your camera. Apart from the technical aspects, i would suggest you not to look into too much of the technicalities and use these features in a way that makes you like the shot more. I mean, take a shot with a setting irrespective of whether it is the right setting to be used or not, and if you dont like it, then try another combination. Continue till you like it and gwala! You have learned to use your camera best! 😀

In case you have anything to ask further about anything mentioned above or photography in general, please feel free to write to me or call me (contact details at “what can i do for you” ) and i would be happy to answer.

Enjoy buddies…..happy shooting! 🙂

Please visit back in 4 days (coming monday) for the next post….no no! that wont be this kinda boring tutorial 😀

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