Camera info: Canon Rebel 350 D • lens 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
ISO 100 • f 4 • 1/100 sec
I’m going all serious on you again.
Earlier this week, I watched part of a documentary on how a North Korean man escaped from the concentration camp he had grown up in. He had watched his own mother and brother executed there for trying to escape, but eventually the desire to be free got to him as well. He and another man worked together to get out, and the other man was killed in the process. This type of stuff is still happening in North Korea.
I can assume that North Korea’s camps are very similar to Auschwitz, the Nazi camp we visited in Poland. Security there was extremely tight. In my photo, you can see a sign reading “Stop!” on a standard electric fence. Behind that, there is another barbed-wire fence with the top curved inward. It was also electrified. A third fence, the same design as the second, is next. Finally, there is a brick wall. Just by looking at it, I would guess it around eight feet high. If you look down the fence to the end, there is a small building with four windows. That is one of guard shacks, which were spaced along the perimeter of the camp. Guards would wait there for potential escapees, and try to shoot them before they reached the fence. In fact, our guide told us, prisoners would sometimes use the fence as a form of suicide, since the electricity was such a high voltage it would kill them. The guards tried to shoot the prisoners first, however, since they “did not like to clean up the mess” of someone being electrified.
Looking at all this, I did wonder how some people managed to successfully escape, as it seemed nearly impossible. According to our guide, some 802 attempted, but only 144 made it out alive (not counting all those liberated at the end of the war). I heard some found favor with dissenters who worked in the “hospital” and were snuck out. Some also escaped during work outings, but at high cost: for each successful escapee, ten others from their work team would be shot as a deterrent. Others were freed by SS guards who changed their minds about the Nazi agenda. As we walked around, I kept wondering to myself: If I was put in their place, what would I do? Would I try to escape or stay to protect those around me? If I did make an attempt, what would I try to do?
Put yourself in the prisoner’s shoes for a moment. How do you think you would handle this situation? Remember to pray for those still in camps today.
Photo enthusiasts! Time for another lesson! Are you excited yet?!?!
This week, let’s focus on shutter speed. The term is much simpler than all the other ones I’ve thrown at you, I think. 😉 Shutter speed is simply how long the shutter allows light into the camera – the speed at which it opens and closes. It actually requires a lot of technology to get the shutter to work at such high speeds, but I won’t get into that here. What you need to know is that shutter speed is measured in fractions of a second. Anything longer than 1/60 of a second is considered “slow” in photography terms, and “fast” is anything above 1/500 of a second. So, the picture I took above is just bordering on fast.
What’s the point? When there is any kind of action or movement in your photos, your shutter speed setting will determine how much “blur” is in your pictures. Fast shutter speeds will freeze the action (if you look closely, you can see some stray water droplets around the pot in the photo), while slow shutter speeds will blur movement (here’s one I did with a moving subject). Pick your shutter speed depending on what you want to do with the photo – do you want to stop the action or show it? There’s just one rule here: when hand-holding your camera, realize that some shutter speeds may be too low to get sharp images. Anything slower than 1/60 should use a tripod. Also, it should be equal to or faster than the focal length of your lens. So, if I’m using my 70 mm lens, my shutter speed should not be lower than 1/70 sec unless I have a tripod.
Ok, now it’s your turn! Check your camera presets (some explanations here and here) and go to Tv (shutter priority) mode if your camera allows. If you live near a waterfall or fountain, you’re lucky. For the rest of us, use your shower or sink faucet. Try adjusting your shutter speed while taking pictures of the water. What kind of effects can you get?
Try it! Then comment and let us know what your favorite results were.
Camera info: Canon Rebel 350 D • lens 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
ISO 800 • f 5.0 • 1/60 sec
In another installment of “what you may not know from a photo,” I wanted to feature something very close to home. This is my aunt Sally and her husband Gary. What you may not know about this photo is that it was taken less than 24 hours before she died.
Sally fought a five-year battle with breast cancer, but finally was told there were no more treatments available. She quickly made plans to spend some time with her family and get some important things done. One of her last wishes was to have some current family photos. She left behind her mother, husband, three boys, extended family and about 5-600 people who attended her funeral (more than the funeral home was prepared for!).
We went back and forth about taking the photos the day we did. We talked about doing them the next day if she was feeling better. She was exhausted and on oxygen, and it took nearly six hours to get her ready and over to the studio. Between each photo we had to let her take more oxygen while we set up the other people in the picture. It was a long day, but we’re so glad we went ahead and took the photos when we did. It just goes to show that you never know how important one action can be until the moment is gone.
Is there a kindness you can do for someone you care about? What is it? Now, go do it!
Camera info: Canon Rebel 350D • lens 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
ISO 1600 • f 7.1 • 1/160 sec
Hey all you photo enthusiasts! It’s a bonus photo lesson this month! Aren’t you excited?!?!? Previously, I shared about the Rule of Thirds and Framing. This week I would like to extend the lesson to Leading Lines, Active Space, and Simplicity.
Leading Lines are simply the way you use elements in the picture to draw people’s eyes to your subject. In my featured photo this week, notice how the tiger’s paw draws your eyes up to his face, then across to mine and my friend’s. Many people use roads, rivers, streams, bridges, branches, or fences as their lines. Anything can work! Straight, curved, or parallel lines are all good at promoting interest, and you can work them in horizontally, vertically, or diagonally.
Active Space is used when your subject is moving or looking off to one side of the frame. Most people’s minds automatically wonder what they are running toward or looking at. Therefore, the most effective photography often will leave extra space off that side of the photo, even if it’s just open field.
Simplicity is probably the easiest concept to understand, but can be difficult to photograph. The premise is: don’t put a bunch of stuff in your background that can distract you from the main subject. Sometimes this is done by the angle you take your shot, sometimes it is accomplished through creative use of aperture. A camera will flatten a 3D image down into a 2D photo, so things far behind your subject can instead look like they’re growing out of their heads, if you don’t pay attention. Remember: nothing should be in your photo that isn’t there on purpose.
Is there any photo topic or question you want me to cover in the future? Comment and let me know!
Camera info: Fuji Finepix A303 / Automatic Point & Shoot
ISO 100 • f 7 • 1/340 sec
For all the other aspiring photographers out there, here’s one you don’t want to miss! Previously, I talked about the use of aperture and timing. This week’s photo lesson covers a few points of composition, something you can practice with anything from a DSLR to a cell phone camera. There are lots of rules to composition, yet rules were made to be broken! My suggestion is to learn the rules and practice them until you know when you can break them. Since there are so many, I’ll give a few here and plan to add more in future posts.
The most well-known composition rule is the “Rule of Thirds.” Take any scene, and divide it up into three pieces, both horozontally and vertically. Now place your subject at any point where those lines meet (which normally seems just off-center). Here is an example (this can also be applied vertically). One time to break this rule: when your scene is symmetrical.
The second rule: framing. My photo above is the example for this one. Putting elements on the edges of the picture can help draw the viewer’s eye to your subject of the photo. In this case, I took this photo of a dock in Indonesia from inside the outhouse next door (and yes, it’s kinda freaky that the holes in the boards were that big!). Trees also make good frames.
So start practicing with these two rules and there will be more to come!
What is your favorite photo? Share a link and we can discuss how it was composed.