A picture speaks a thousand words and a well-shot picture say much more. In the first segment of our workshop, we discuss the various aspects of shooting the perfect picture in different scenarios and enhancing them after they’ve been shot. Right from the initial steps of shooting, using proper cameras and equipment, to the post processing and printing of images, we’ll give you brief step-by-step guides on the various crucial aspects.
Camera settings and techniques
First and foremost, avoid shooting at noon or when the sun is directly overhead. Apart from the lighting conditions, you will need adjust your camera settings. For a normal point-and-shoot, having settings like aperture, shutter speed and the manual mode are helpful, however not all have a manual mode. In such cases, just the aperture and shutter speed controls will suffice. We have taken both indoor and outdoor shoots into consideration for the following tutorial as there are no fixed settings that apply to all situations.
Step 1: Rule of Thirds
A very common mistake that most of us make when shooting portraits is to place the subject right at the center. While it might seem like the most natural way of capturing portraits, it definitely has the makings of a very dull and unimaginative picture. The basis of this rule states that if you were to divide a rectangular frame with two equidistant vertical and horizontal lines into nine equal parts, then the point where the lines meet is where the subject should be placed. This rule is applied to prevent positioning the subject at the center. To make things simpler, you can enable the ‘grid’ view option that most cameras come with.
Step 2: Aperture and Shutter Speed
Both aperture and shutter speed are inversely proportional to one another, which means that if you increase the aperture range, the shutter speed will automatically decrease, and vice versa. However, this only happens when you choose to shoot either in aperture priority mode or shutter speed mode. The shutter priority mode is best used when you're shooting either in low light or when the subject that is being shot requires a really high shutter speed, like when you're capturing fast moving objects. If you want greater control over the depth of field, then the aperture priority mode should help achieve this. Decrease the number of f-stops to get a better depth. However, they require sufficient lighting to make the overall picture stand out field. This is best used when you only need your product or subject to be your point of focus.
Step 3: ISO
The selection of ISO settings plays an important role in photography and how your images turn out. The lower the camera's ISO levels, the finer will be the overall image quality. However, the ISO levels all depend on the lighting conditions. Better the lighting conditions, smaller will be the ISO levels. However, we recommend not going beyond ISO 400 when using digital cameras, because anything over this value will produce visible noise. The same cannot be said when shooting with an SLR, because SLRs come with a larger sensor size along with better post-processing capabilities. The best way to overcome the noise issues with digital cameras would be to set it to manual mode (if your camera supports this) or switch to either shutter/aperture priority while not going above ISO 400. It is recommended that you make use of a tripod, especially when you are shooting under low light conditions.
Step 4: Flash Intensity
Depending on what you are shooting, you will need to adjust the flash intensity, otherwise you might just end up burning your overall image. We do not recommend using the on-camera flash, as you will only end up spoiling the overall image. Try making use of the Bounce Flash method discussed later on in this workshop. For point-and-shoot cameras though, the Bounce Flash method won’t quite work since the flash comes built in. So apart from reducing the flash manually, you can have a white sheet of paper placed in front of the flash to further reduce the flash intensity.
Lenses for Indoor and Outdoor usage: As far as point-and-shoot cameras go, you obviously don’t have the choice of choosing the lens. There are a few that offer up to 30x optical zoom, which is more than enough to capture objects that are at quite a distance. Adding to this are the preset scene modes that make the normal digital point-and-shoot a jack of all trades. For cameras that offer add on lens support, a zoom lens, macro lens and a normal lens are designed to fit into one single unit. However, the stock lens that you normally get with a DSLR has a maximum of 3x zoom, which isn’t much, especially if outdoor photography is what you are into. Here, however, you have lenses to take care of each aspect of photography. There are three types of lenses that generally fit a DSLR – zoom lenses, prime lenses and macro lenses.
Zoom Lenses: A typical zoom lens (24 – 90 mm) will give an approximate zoom range of 3.5x. However, if you want the best of both worlds, try going in for a 28 – 200 mm zoom lens. That way, you wouldn’t need to carry an additional lens when traveling.
Prime Lenses: Prime lenses, on the other hand, don’t offer any kind of zoom. In other words, these lenses have a fixed focal length. But what they lack in zoom, they more than make up by delivering superior image quality. In addition, these lesnses are lighter and cheaper than traditional zoom lenses. They also have a larger aperture range that is capable of capturing images in low light conditions while maintaining the same shutter speed of a zoom lens. Prime lenses are best used when you require the picture to have a certain depth of field.
Macro Lenses: Macro lenses are best used when you want to capture extreme close up shots of subjects. They are best used to highlight specific parts of a subject while blurring out the rest. However, they require sufficient lighting to make the overall picture stand out.