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Photo shooting How-to
by Luis Vinay


Some background
There is a few things you must know and be familiar with or at least understand before you start taking pictures to your models, like the ISO Speed, Shooting Speed, Aperture, etc.
If you want to go directly to the Hands on! section it's OK, but I'll recommend you to read the first part.

ISO Speed
The ISO Speed it's an arithmetic scale that describes the sensitivity to the light of a film, the bigger the number the lesser the amount of light needed to expose the film, for example a film with a 50 in the scale will need twice the light that a film with a 100 in the scale. I digital cameras there's no film but there's a CCD chip that uses this scale as well.

Shooting Speed
The shooting speed or speed it's the amount of time that the camera will be open to let the light pass to hit the film or CCD. When you take a picture, normally the camera it's open a few hundreds of milliseconds.

Aperture
The aperture controls how much light will pass through the lens and hit the film or CCD. The aperture is represented by a number followed by an “f”, in this case, the smaller the number the greater the aperture.

Macro Mode
This is a special focus mode that allows us to make perfect focus on very tiny and close objects, like the straps of a 1/72 ejector seat seat at 5 centimeters (about 2 inches) of the camera. In this mode, the camera will try to guess what are you shooting at, not always correctly.

Manual focus mode
In most digital cameras the camera processor will guess how to make focus for you, but sometimes you want something different that the camera guesses, for example you take a close-up and you want to make focus in the tail instead the cockpit and the camera focuses the latter, this is the case where you want to use the manual focus.

Depth of field
This can be easily described as “how far the camera sees”, a greater depth of field will allow us to see in focus object more distant objects, and a smaller depth of field will leave distant objects out of focus. This can is useful to cut out objects of a frame and give more sense of depth to a picture.

The white balance
Different light sources give light different tints, for example a low power regular tungsten light bulb will give to light a yellow tint, a 200 watt blue light bulb will produce a white light, Fluorescent lamp and low-consumption lights will also give a white light, the sun light has different tints at morning, noon and afternoon, morning light is more blue, at noon is white, and at the afternoon is yellowish.
Most modern cameras can compensate the light tint given by the light source to give more accurate color tones,

Preparing the set

The quality of the set depends on how much time and money you want to
invest on. I'll present you a cheap, quick and easy way of making a set.
They're many ways of getting a set to serve this purpose, that will be covered in
further releases of this document.

5' basic set

Here is where I do my modeling and here is where I going to prepare the “set”.


First, we need an even background, to concentrate the interest of the spectator in the model. You don't need nothing fancy I did mine with two sheets of light blue paper glued together.



I also added a stick to back of the sheet to hold it to the light using a couple of rubber gums, depending on the place you have to work out your own solution.


With this background we will hide the joint between the floor and the back of the set.
It's important that the join of both sheets be a less noticeable as possible to achieve the desired effect


Preparing the lighting
The most common light setup it's the three point lighting, but I found that using two lights it's enough to our purpose.
We'll use one light pointing directly to our model and the second to fill the rest of the frame.

An image worth a thousand pictures, so here are three examples of the same model, the same camera settings and the same lights, the only difference is the light placement.
The camera was set at speed of 1/100th of a second, with a f/2.6 aperture.




Now the fill light was moved from pointing directly from the top of the model to point to the back.


This last light arrangement, moved the fill light further to the back and the direct light more lower. Notice how with this setup we hide a canopy placing defect.




Taking Close-ups



Macro Mode
There is two methods that I use to take close-ups. One method is using the macro function, with the macro function enabled the camera will try to make focus automatically, usually if the camera is too close to the target (usually less than 5cm or 2in) won't be able to make focus, also can happen that the camera select as focal point something that wasn't our intention, in this case we must try a different angle or distance until the camera gets the right spot.

Manual Focus (MF)
The Manual Focus (MF), in contrast with the Macro Mode, doesn't makes focus automatically, instead the camera lets you select the distant to the objective, this method is more flexible but more complex.




The previous two pictures are an example of the usage of the MF, in the right picture the MF was set to make focus at ~10cm, in the left picture was set to make focus at ~50cm.


Essential Camera Settings

White Balance
This four pictures where taken with the same lights, same exposure and same speed, the big difference in the colors was made by the white balance mode that the camera was set for.

Fluorescent H Auto White Balance


Tungsten Evaluative

Shooting Speed
Here are some pictures to illustrate the effect of the different Shooting Speeds. In all the pictures the aperture is f/2.6.


1/100s 1/200s 1/400s


Aperture
Here are some pictures to illustrate the effect of the different Apertures. In all the pictures the shooting speed is 1/100s.

f/3.2 f/5.6 f/8.0