January 7, 2015 - Camera & Lens

by Francine Way


In the course of my food & travel blogging, I have to take a lot of pictures. The need motivates me to improve the quality of my pictures. I had read through my camera manual cover-to-cover twice and took a foundational photography course at a local community college. Starting today, I will go through different photography books, documenting my progress through each in this Photo Corner blog. As a starting point to this journey, I have selected "A Short Course in Digital Photography" by Barbara London and Jim Stone (3rd edition). 

Chapter 1 intends to educate its readers on basic camera controls, types of cameras, and readying the camera for image focusing and settings adjustments. It also briefly talks about shutter speed and aperture. On page 3, a project instructs photographing subjects near & far, indoor & outside, in the shade & in the sun, a portrait, a landscape, and an action scene. Below are the pictures that I took to complete this project:

Near (indoor)

Near (indoor)

A landcape

A landcape

Far (indoor)

Far (indoor)

A portrait

A portrait

Outside (sunny)

Outside (sunny)

An action (dog yawning)

An action (dog yawning)

Outside (shady)

Outside (shady)

Out of these pictures, I like the landscape picture the best. It has the best light quality resulting in a crisp image with a bright sky and details on the black grill. I expected both the food and the (non-yawning) dog pictures to show a bit more textures as I was standing very close to both subjects. One confusion that I ran into took place with the food picture, the camera was having difficulties focusing (the lens kept going back and forth) - which I suspect as having something to do with the current focal length set up in the camera. The next chapter will cover lenses & focal lengths a bit more. 

Chapter 2 intends to educate its readers on focal lengths, focusing on sharping a part of a photo, and playing on photo perspectives. It also talks about the different types of special lenses such as zoom, macro, and fisheye lenses; depth of field; and filters. On page 32, a project instructs photographing a subject with a short lens (35mm or shorter) and a long lens (85mm or longer). Below are the pictures that I took to complete this project:

Short lens (24mm)

Short lens (24mm)

Long lens (85mm)

Long lens (85mm)

Comparing the pair, the distance that I had to have between myself and the chair was far shorter with the short lens.  The long lens allowed me to stand almost three times as far away from the chair as did the short lens. With the short lens, I also had to angle my camera at a 45-degree down angle from the chair to fit the entire chair into the photo (versus the straight eye-level that the long lens allowed me). The impression of depth is much clearer with the short lens as the long lens compressed everything in the background to a flat surface (as the author indicated). Lastly, the entire chair and its details are better captured with the long lens, for example: the short lens hid the chair pole (the part between the base and the seat cushion). 

More to come tomorrow with chapters 3 and 4 :-)