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Photography for beginners: Understanding exposure

There’s something wrong with me. I can’t say the word ‘exposure’ without my mind adding a few ‘tee hee hee's. I mean, how old am I? 
Now, quite apart from my immature giggling, the exposure we’re currently learning about is the way light meets and greets our camera. If you get the basics right, the two should get along famously. A half-press on your camera’s shutter button (some are set to have a little ‘dingalinga’ sort of noise when you half press them - helpful for us beginners, annoying for everyone else) will allow your camera to take a light reading of the scene you are looking at. Your camera’s viewfinder will then show the values and settings activated by the current light in the scene on the light metre. This is basically shown on the metre from -3 to +3. You adjust from there, using the three contributing elements of exposure. You're going to get to know these three elemnts so well that you'll be besties in no time.


How much light do I have to work with?
ISO measures the sensitivity of the image sensor. So, when you are shooting in low light situations, you will generally increase your ISO setting in order to get a faster shutter speed. The cost of a higher ISO setting is grainier shots – there’s a lot of extra ‘noise’ being captured in the shot as well as what we’re after. This is sometimes worth the cost because you can capture images in lower light without needing a flash or other artificial light source. Grainy shots can sometimes be artistically lovely (just think of all those Instagram filters), but the general rule of thumb is to use the lowest ISO level possible… so shooting where there is lots of available light is good for us beginners.
When shooting outdoors during the day, an ISO of 100, 200 or 400 will be suitable. By selecting a higher ISO level, you would be taking photos in a dark or overcast setting.

Shutter speed

Is my subject moving and do I want to freeze it?
Shutter speed is the amount of time that the shutter is open and therefore the amount of light that is let into your image sensor.
Shutter speed allows you to vary the way you capture a moving image. Consider that the options here are endless – are you shooting a footy game and want to bring the player holding the ball into focus but blur the rest of the team? Or do you want the whole team to be in the shot? Now, are the team playing at the time, or standing still in that standard ‘I’m a footy player with my arms crossed, look at my biceps’ pose they do? All of these variables will mean you’ll need a different shutter speed to accurately capture the shot the way you are framing it in your mind.
My favourite kinds of shots that manipulate shutter speed beautifully are shots that capture running water.


How much of the scene do I want to have in focus?
The aperture controls how open the lens is when you are shooting. The more open the lens, the greater the amount of light in your shots.
Aperture is measured in ‘f stops’. One stop halves or doubles the amount of light entering the lens. The confusing bit is that larger apertures (lots of light) have smaller f/stop numbers and smaller apertures (little light) have larger f/stop numbers. So f/4 is a larger aperture than f/22. Actually, that’s not the only confusing bit now that I’ve read through this post so far… but I just know that with some practice, we’ll get the hang of it.
The other thing to keep in mind is that it is generally your aperture that controls your depth of field. A higher f-stop number (lower aperture) generally creates a shot that has most of the image in focus (deep depth of field). A smaller f-stop number (higher aperture) focuses on one element and blurs the rest of the shot (shallow depth of field). Your eye works with both a large and small aperture, allowing you to see both large and shallow depth of field depending on where your focus is. Consider this when you are setting up your shot – what ‘looks’ best to the naked eye and how can you reproduce this in your shot?

Getting our three friends together

Arriving at the ‘correct’ exposure is a juggling act between the three pals we’ve just met – ISO, shutter speed and aperture. How much of each component do you need to get the effect you want in your shot? Increasing one will generally mean increasing the others, unless you are deliberately creating mood through over or under exposing your shot. The only way to really get to know the relationship between this dynamic trio is to take lots and lots and lots of shots, adjusting each element as you and analyse the outcome.
You can also download this handy A4 cheat sheet I made to get you started. Click on the image, right click and save to your computer and print.

Now, go out and take a million shots for practice and have fun!

:: Next week: Organising our million photos ::


Wondering what to do with all the kids' artwork!? {giveaway!}

What seems like two millennia go (but was actually only two years, but let's face it, two years online is worth at least 2000 years in real life) I wrote a post about stylish ways to display your kids artwork. Now, at the time the kids were all small (that is to say they were today's age minus 2000 years) and we had so much artwork coming in that in the winter of 2012 the Badoo was buried under an avalanche and only emerged sometime in the summer of 2013. No, that's not true. But there was a lot of artwork. And I do love my daughter.

I'm not a huge sentimentalist, but chucking out the kids' artwork is tough. Now, I'm not talking about the scribbles and the colouring-in and the 27 drawings of me and my best friend holding hands outside of a house with a tree. Rather, I'm talking about the extra-special pieces that you know your child has really put their heart and soul into. They come around only every so often, but over the years every so often builds into a mountain of Everest proportions. So it was no surprise at all that I was looking for ways to do something with the artwork, rather than just stash it in a hard-to-close drawer.

Here is a quick summary of some of the artwork display solutions I found at the time:

1. Blutac them to the kitchen cupboards (off to a slow start obviously)
2. Peg them up across a line of string
3. Frame them
4. Intersperse them with your real art
5. Hang them on clipboards
6. Have them made into a quilt (!)
7. Washi tape them straight onto the wall

Fortunately, I have some much-needed news... there is a better way. In fact, there is a way that will make your eyes pop out of your head and tears stream down your face (or at least that's what happened to me).

Let me tell you, my mate Tessa from Down That Little Lane is a very fine Tessa to know. One day she asked me if I kept much of the kids' artwok and I said, "does a bear like honey?" She then asked me to pull together about 30 of my favourites and send them to her.

Because it was Tessa, who is always up to something good, I didn't hesitate to send her 30 random masterpieces that I just happened to have lying around in the cupboard.

Secret-squirrel Tessa then had Kim from Zonkt Designs carefully make those darling, somewhat crumpled, very-loved pictures into an artwork I will never-ever grow tired of. A real, genuine, wonderful, unique mini-masterpiece. All those beloved pieces of my kids' childhoods, all captured together forever in the most beautiful way.

You can see why the tears streamed down my face. Hats off to you, Kim, your mini-masterpieces really are something very special indeed.

Guess what? You can win a mini-masterpiece all of your own. And it will even have your own kids' artwork in it, not my kids' artwork... how good is that!?

To enter all you need to do is tell us in 25 words or less:

What is the most favourite drawing you have ever received?

Then follow the prompts in the Rafflecopter widget below to be in with a chance to win. Competition is open now and closes Sunday 07/09/14 at 11.59pm AEST

 a Rafflecopter giveaway


Weekend Rewind L: Mathematics is not my strong point

And so we arrive at number 50 weekend rewind. Which equates an average of roughly 3,000 links. Which equates to about how far my mathematical capabilities extend to. I actually had to ask Bart for help with helping Badoo with her maths homework the other night. I think I would feel more ashamed of myself if I actually cared one iota for maths.

Incidentally, an iota is the ninth letter of the Greek alphabet and (Ιώτα). The word 'jot' derives from iota as does the German, Spanish and Portuguese name for the letter 'j' (jot/jota).  See, I am much more interested in words.

And I just love this:

Other things that had me this week:

Reading... How to Build A Girl by Caitlin Moran. Hugely wonderful.
Writing... my Problogger presentation - finally smashed it!
Trying... to bring back the poke on Facebook. Didn't go so well.
Loving... my amazing sister's success.
Marvelling... at my DTLL finds, especially batboy.
Making... a drawstring bag a la Frog, Goose + Bear (isn't fabric paint the biz!)
Wondering... whether really slow or really fast drivers piss me off more.

Fast or slow? (DRIVERS, you saucy minx!)

Happy reading.
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THANK YOU for joining the Weekend Rewind list, hosted by Maxabella lovesLife, Love and HiccupsSonia Styling and Kelly Exeter. To join in, simply link up your favourite post from the week just gone. Then settle in to read some wonderful stuff from your fellow bloggers: no pressure to read, but it's always worthwhile.