Understanding your camera (part III)

Hey, I'm back.  That's good news.  I've been doing this for a few weeks and I haven't given up yet.  That's a good sign! 

For the record, it's really hot today.  Not hot for people who live in hot places, but hot for us living in the bay area.  It's gonna get above 90 today. This is a good time to talk about how the heat affects your photography.  Well, that's easy... it doesn't, but it makes it hard to be outside.  There's a tool that will help you, though.  It's called cold beer.  You can buy it almost any place that sells beverages.  Keep it in your fridge and it will taste much better.  It really helps you take better pics in hot weather.  In fact, the more you drink, the more interesting your pictures usually are.

Okay, let's finish our beers and move on to the real focus of this post, the third part of the exposure triangle... ISO.  We've previously talked about shutter speed and aperture, so that leaves only one thing, ISO.  In the old days... years and months and months ago, people used film and when using film, ISO was a measure of how sensitive a film was to light. It was measured with numbers like 100, 200, 400, etc.  The lower the number the lower the sensitivity of the film and the finer the grain in the shots you’re taking.  Now each roll of film had a different ISO number, so the only way to change that was to put in a different roll of film, with a different ISO number. 

Today, with digital cameras, all we have to do is change the knob that controls our ISO. In fact, we can change the ISO for every picture we take if we wanted to!  In digital photography, ISO measures the sensitivity of the image sensor, instead of the sensitivity of the film – the lower the number the less sensitive your camera is to light and the finer the grain. Higher ISO settings are usually used in darker situations to get faster shutter speeds – however the cost is noisier shots. Noise in digital photography refers to that grainy areas that you see, usually in the dark spots of a photo and usually when using a high ISO.  So you can choose the ISO you want to use, but again, like in the other aspects of our exposure triangle, you'll affect the other settings on your camera.   Remember, it's all connected, so when you change your ISO, you’ll notice that it impacts the aperture and shutter speed needed for a well exposed shot.  If you bumped your ISO up from 100 to 400 you’ll notice that you can shoot at higher shutter speeds and/or smaller apertures.

Shutter Speed + ISO + Aperture = Your Exposure

Okay, now let's go get a beer!

Lightroom 5 is here!

Well, wouldn’t you know it.  Last week I decided it was time for my first real blog update. Something with some real thought behind it.  I focus it on one of my favorite photography tools… one that I use all the time.  A tool that makes my photos really stand out and one that I think would benefit almost any photographer.  I dedicate the blog post to Lightroom 4… one of my favorite programs from Adobe.  So I get my thoughts down on how great Lightroom 4 is and a few days later Adobe goes ahead and releases Lightroom 5!  Now, we knew it was coming.  The beta release has been out for a few months, but I don’t think anybody expected it to be released so soon.

So it’s out and of course, I love it.  It’s not a huge change from Lightroom 4, and anybody who’s used to using the previous version of LR won’t have any problem upgrading.  However, there are a few new features that stand out.

A feature that’s sure to get a lot of attention is the Advanced Healing Brush, which lets you remove distracting objects from your photos. You can using it to brush away little objects, like dust, or you can make an entire person disappear.  This feature is great for removing ex-girlfriends from a photo (not that I’ve ever had to do that). :-)  Now of course major retouching will still need to be done with Photoshop, but this makes minor retouching much easier than it used to be using LR alone.  A new “Visualize Spots” tool also takes care of sensor spots really easily on your photo.

The upright feature is pretty cool and removes the need to laborious cropping and straightening of crooked photos.  You’d be surprised at how hard it is to take a truly straight photo which makes this feature really useful.  You can automatically level horizons or straighten buildings with a single click.

The radial filter is something I’ve been wanting for a while.  You can focus on specific points in a photo by creating off-center vignettes, or multiple vignettes within a single image.  Previously, your only option for vignettes was to create one standard overall vignette which only highlighted the center of the photo.

You can pick up the new Lightroom 5 for $149.  If you have an older copy of Lightroom, you can upgrade to version 5 for $79.



Okay, so here it is, my first blog entry.  I've thought about how great it would be to have a blog, to be able to express my thoughts, share interesting information and have a forum for discussing photography.  Now that I have it, I don't know what to write, but I hated seeing the blank page under "blog," so you can understand my problem.  Well check back, just not too often.  There will always be pretty pictures to look at, but not always pretty blog entries to read.  Although this one is shaping up swimmingly.