Photography – basics

UAL Award in Art, Design & Media — level 1.

Introduction: exposure triangle

Aperture: depth of field

Shutter speed: sharpness

ISO: light

Depth of field (Shutterstock 500071480)
Assignment 1: aperture

The smaller the f-stop, the less depth of field, or less focused with a blurry background. The higher the f-stop, the greater the depth of field and overall focus of the image.

Creating Bokeh in a photo

Bokeh comes from the Japanese word boke (ボケ), which means ‘blur’ or ‘haze’—or boke-aji, the ‘blur quality.’ Bokeh is pronounced BOH-Kə or BOH-kay.

Bokeh can be defined as the effect of a soft out-of-focus background (or blur) that you get when shooting a subject using a fast lens at the widest aperture.

Bokeh is affected by the shape of the diaphragm blades (the aperture) of the lens; a lens with more circular-shaped blades will have rounder, softer orbs of out-of-focus highlight. A lens with an aperture that is more hexagonal in shape will recreate that shape in the highlights it captures.

A fast lens and wide aperture such as f/2.8 to f/1.4 will produce an out-of-focus blur/bokeh.

Aperture homework:

Light trails (Shutterstock 200108390)
Assignment 2: shutter speed

Shutter speed is responsible for the sharpness of an image. In particular, exposure, or brightness of an image, and creating dramatic effects by either freezing action or blurring motion.

Shutter speed is the length of time the camera shutter is open, exposing light onto the camera sensor; it’s how long your camera spends taking a photo. This has a few important effects on how images will appear.

A long shutter speed lets the camera sensor gather a lot of light, resulting in a bright photo. Another effect is motion blur – if the shutter speed is long, moving subjects in the photo appear blurred along the direction of motion. This effect is used quite often in sport photography and motorsports to convey speed and motion.

In contrast, a quick shutter speed exposes the camera sensor to a small fraction of light, resulting in a darker photo. A quick shutter speed also has the effect of freezing action. This can be a good effect for capturing birds in flight, a fleeting moment, raindrop or knockout punch.

Shutter speed homework: blurring, panning, light trails, and frozen/stop motion

lines and repetition
Assignment 3: lines and repetition


Lines and repetition homework: more shots on lines and repetition

(Shutterstock 418288372)
Assignment 4: colour

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Split lighting
Assignment 6: available light

ISO is a setting that can brighten or darken a photo. ISO is helpful when capturing images in darker environments – as the ISO number increases, photos get progressively brighter. However, a high ISO number can also result in more noise or graininess.

ISO also helps to be more flexible about aperture and shutter speed settings.