That pretty much sums up the past 2 months.  The winter Olympics were on.  And we got an unnatural amount of snow for western Pennsylvania.  You’d think that would provide fantastic photo opportunities for a starter photographer, but somewhere between the 1st and 5th major snowstorms, I shockingly became sick of the white stuff.   I guess it happens when you walk out your front door and see this –

The good news is it has almost all completely melted and the first signs of spring are surfacing – and so is my inspiration to learn and take more pictures.

So while sitting on the couch watching the hockey game last night (baby steps..), I grabbed my camera and started playing around with the settings.  I discovered a really neat ‘?’ button on my Nikon that gave an explanation of the setting you are on.  Equipped with this button, I felt confident enough to turn the dial off of AUTO and onto the mysterious ‘M’.  Now I just needed something to take a picture of.  I turn to my left and am face to face with this –

1/200  f4  24mm  ISO 800

Not surprising.  What was surprising is that he laid there the whole time I was experimenting and flashing.  Good boy!

I’ve always been intrigued by the ISO setting, it seems to produce a pretty cool result when it’s high.  So that’s what I played with this time.  This one on Manual –

1/60  f5  35mm  ISO 800

and then for comparison’s sake I threw it on AUTO for the same shot

1/125  f5  35mm  ISO 100

I am unsure of why the 2nd picture is darker with a lower ISO setting?  It does have a faster shutter speed ..


I also went back to my DSLR for dummies book this morning and reviewed the next chapter, a introduction to noise and exposure.  Here’s what I learned:

Visual noise is what you get when you crank up the sensitivity of a sensor so it can capture the sparse population of photons that exisit under dim lighting conditions.  This sensitivity is measured in ISO settings.  Noise is worse at high ISO settings, long exposures, & if the camera has small pixels.

Exposure is the amount of photons available for capture by the sensor.  If a lot of light is bouncing around a scene, a large number of photons can illuminate the sensor in a very brief time.  If the light is dim, you may have to wait longer for enough photons to reach the sensor.

An ideal exposure exists for every scene – you can get it by either
(1)adjusting the length of time the sensor is allowed to suck up photons (shutter speed) or
(2)by modifying the number of photons that reach the sensor at any instant (lens opening/aperture/f stop)

Aperture is the size of the opening through which the photons pass.  To get the right amount of light for an exposure, you need to choose the right f-stop.  When the numbers get larger, the amount of light an aperture can admit gets smaller (f2 is larger than f4)

f-stops and shutter speeds are equivalent.  Cutting the shutter speed in half produces the same effect on exposure as using an f-stop that cuts the size of the lens opening in half.

f-stops control the amount of light reaching the sensor, and also affect the amount of an image that’s in focus.  Small f-stops provide large areas of focus (depth-of-field) and large f-stops offer a small, sharp focus range