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Mastering Photography

Mastering Photography


In this third level book, youth will understand the use of wide angle and telephoto lenses, filters and special film, light meters, shooting photos with different light sources and the use of natural and artificial lighting for effect.

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Youth will also learn to shoot reflections, using framing and viewpoints, still-life, formal and informal portraits, symmetry, patterns and textures, color composition, pictures with a purpose and much more. 80 pages, full color.



Mastering Photography - Lighting
Infrared Film


Some wavelengths of light, invisible to the human eye, can be seen and photographed by special cameras and image sensors. Infrared, ultraviolet, and x-rays are among the best known. Infrared photos can create unusual colors; green foliage becomes magenta, and pale skin tones become green. False color images often reveal details that we don’t normally see. Infrared film was originally made to detect hidden military bases, showing the difference between living foliage and dead branches cut for camouflage. It is also used by forensic scientists to spot forgeries in documents and paintings. Some imaging techniques don’t use light at all. A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner uses a combination of magnetism and radio waves to pick up signals from the human body and then a computer uses these signals to create a visible image. For digital cameras, this can be done though editing software using software filters.


More about Metering Systems


There are four types of metering systems that are commonly found on modern cameras.

  • Average metering—Takes light readings from across the whole image and finds the average.
  • Center-weighted average metering—Light readings are determined by the brightness in the center of the frame.
  • Spot metering—Like a hand-held meter, a spot meter takes readings from a tiny area within the frame. A photographer can point to different areas within the frame to get several readings before choosing a setting.
  • Matrix metering—A multi-zone system where the camera compares brightness levels in the zones to determine the best setting.

A hand-held meter has the advantage of taking incident light readings (light falling on the subject), as well as the reflected light reading (light reflected from the scene). A camera’s built-in meter just takes reflected light readings.

The histogram is a graphic chart found on your digital camera that shows the brightness levels of an image ranging from pure black on the left to pure white on the right. If your digital camera offers a histogram, you can use the chart to read the exposure of a photo.


White Balance Settings


The process of compensating for color tone in different light is referred to as balancing the light or white balance. The most common white balance settings are:

  • Daylight—for direct sunlight
  • Cloudy—for shady, overcast skies
  • Fluorescent—for use under fluorescent lighting
  • Incandescent/tungsten—for use under standard light bulbs and some types of fluorescent lighting

Some digital cameras have a custom white balance setting. You take a reading off a white colored object to set the white balance. Check your manual for specific instructions. These settings act much like filters adding necessary warm or cool casts to the picture to help accommodate for different lighting situations. If you are using JPEG or TIFF format, setting the white balance is very important. Only the raw format lets you easily adjust white balance when importing the image into your software.

Double Exposure - Moving the Moon


Moving the Moon — You can move the moon so it is right where you want it to be by double-exposing the picture. To do this you need a camera that lets you take one picture on top of another. Check your camera instructions to see if your camera can make a second exposure. Take one night picture without the moon; remember where the dark sky is positioned. Then take a second picture looking up in the sky showing only the moon so that it shows up in the dark sky of your first picture. Try double-exposing night-lights and signs or put your friends on a television screen using a double-exposure.

Black Light — a still life using beads, clear glass goblets, glow-in-the-dark objects, a flashlight covered with colored cellophane, or other objects that represent your Presentation Portfolio theme. Place a black light bulb in a clamp reflector. Set the camera on a tripod and use a cable release. Before taking the picture, focus the camera in a lighted room. Turn out the lights. Depress the cable to open the shutter for 30 or 40 seconds. Then depress the cable to close the shutter.

Three-Headed Person — Set your camera on a tripod in the dark. Cover your subject with black fabric leaving the head uncovered. Prepare three hand-held flashes. Open the shutter. The first flash captures the head facing left. The second flash photographs the head of the person facing the camera. The third flash captures the head facing right. Close the shutter.


Ghost Photography / Apparition


Try some ghost photography. An apparition effect can be created with a camera that has a bulb setting or flash attachment, a tripod, and a cable release or remote.

  1. Use a hidden light or waning, natural light or create an eerie setting with artificial light.
  2. Arrange the subject and props to set the mood, for example, a window, a piano, and a person dressed in costume.
  3. Set the camera on bulb, focus on the subject and part of the window, open the shutter and count to five or less (depends on the light coming in). Then tell the subject to move out of the area, count again, and close the shutter.
  4. More than one photo shoot might be needed to get the proper apparition effect. Give this photo a title.


Digital Noise


Noise pollution or digital noise is generally an unwanted characteristic of a digital photo. Digital noise gives a photo a grainy effect. Digital noise is related to your ISO settings. You generally get the best picture quality by using a low ISO setting. You should only increase the ISO settings when you need a faster shutter speed to avoid a blurry picture. Higher ISO settings produce more noise, which becomes even more noticeable when you enlarge an image. For more information on ISO settings, refer to Book 2, page 17.

Mastering Photography - Composition 3
Photo Facts: Professional Food Photographers


Professional food photographers use interesting techniques to make food look better. Dye can make food more colorful. Vegetables are coated with a thin layer of oil to make them shiny. Cereal is photographed with white school glue instead of milk; it looks creamy and not watery. There are many “tricks” to improve the appearance of the photos.

Mastering Photography - Composition 4
History of Photography Portraits


In the late 1800s, someone having a portrait taken had to remain completely motionless for as long as one minute while the shutter was open or the photo would be blurred. Clamps were often used to support the head and back to make sure there was no movement. Smiling was not allowed. Blinking was forbidden.

Mastering Photography - Composition 5
The Macro Lens


A macro lens is a lens designed for very close-in photography. Many digital cameras offer a macro mode, which enables the camera to photograph the smallest details.

Mastering Photography - Skill Building


Use a tripod when doing macro photography. The depth of field is so shallow that the slightest movement can cause the wrong part of the subject to be in focus. Nighttime photography is best with a tripod because the slightest movement will make the photo blurry. Photos with very fast shutter speeds to stop action benefit from tripods to avoid camera shake. Low ISO settings and long shutter speeds improve with tripods.


File Size / Pixel Resolution


The word pixel comes from “picture” and “element.” A pixel is one tiny dot of the overall photo. Different pixel resolutions result in different print sizes. If you are going to produce artistic prints, shoot in the highest pixel resolution available. Reduced pixel resolution is fine if you will need only low resolution (for example, for e-mailing).

Digital cameras give you a choice of file format. The best way to decide which format is best for you is to try them out. As you switch between modes, compare how many photos you can capture on your memory card, how they open in your computer, and the quality of each as you enlarge them.

JPEG — The most popular image file format. The results are acceptable and the amount of images you can fit on a memory card is far greater than when using a TIFF or raw file.

TIFF — A high-quality image file that is a good choice if you have lots of space on memory cards. TIFF assures the highest image quality, especially when printing. For a brochure, you might want to use TIFF files.

Raw file format — This format captures a pure file without any image processing occurring in the camera. They can produce large, high-quality image files. However, they require special software to open on your computer.


Specialized Equipment


Underwater photography, large format cameras, copying techniques

Underwater photography — Observe all safety procedures before scuba diving.

  • Equipment: Special equipment must be completely waterproof and able to withstand water pressure for underwater photography. Waterproof disposable cameras are available for snorkeling or for use in a pool. There are also camera bodies or shells made for cameras that allow you to take a camera into water.
  • Light: The deeper the water, the more wavelengths of light are absorbed, some sooner than others. Below 100 feet, most photos tend to look blue; add flash for good results.
  • Composition: For general views, shoot upward toward the surface. For underwater shots, try double-exposures.
  • Skills: A flash used at a 45-degree angle will help with the hazy effect caused by the particles suspended in water that reflect light.

Copying techniques—More than original images, photography is a useful way of copying existing pictures and artwork.

  • Equipment: A copystand can be improvised using a tripod and two small desk lamps placed on either side.
  • Light: The key to good copies of artwork is even lighting. To avoid reflections and shadows on the surface of the object, mount a pair of lights at 45 degrees.
  • Composition: Some popular uses for copying techniques include repeat prints, insurance records, heirlooms, coin collections, framed pictures, and slide copying.
  • Skills: Avoid reflections of framed pictures; surround the camera set-up with a sheet of black cardboard, cutting a hole for the lens.

Large Format Cameras—Large sized cameras and film are used by commercial and advertising photographers in studios to provide better images; the large film can be enlarged to billboard size without distortion. High-resolution digital cameras that are lighter and less bulky are replacing the large format cameras.

  • Equipment: Lens mounted on a board-viewing screen, mounted at back. In between is a bellows, which allow the lens to move up and back.
  • Light: Film should be loaded in total darkness one sheet at a time. Images are viewed on a viewing screen in dim light—hence the need for a hood.
  • Composition: The size of film is 5 X 4 or 5 X 7 inches and gives extra quality for the large format and blowing up to poster size.
  • Skills: Use manual only. Shutter speed and aperture must be set by hand, providing control over the final image that is not always available in other formats. Both the film plane and lens plane can be tilted, rotated, and moved up and down, giving control over the perspective and depth of field.

Mastering Photography - Photo Links

These links are intended to enrich member learning and not designed to substitute the information contained in the 4-H Photography books.

4-H Digital Photography Project

Improve your picture taking skills with SimCam

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