To realize your full potential in this exciting industry, you need to not only have a foundation in photographic knowledge and skills, but it's also important to differentiate yourself in order to have an edge over your competition (Which is one reason why we have built elective modules into this course, to allow each student to develop a slightly different mix of experience and skill).
Note that each module in the Qualification - Certificate In Photography is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.
Photography has changed considerably over the decades; and will no doubt continue to change. Anyone can take a photo but capturing an appropriate image that is exceptional, requires a lot more skill and knowledge than what the average amateur photographer has.
You need more than just good equipment.
- You need to understand the physical science that makes that equipment work; and the way to use that equipment to best advantage.
- You also need to understand the principles that underpin artistic expression
This course provides you a foundation in both the artistic and technical aspects of photography; and helps you connect with the photographic industry. It improves your prospects for building a business or getting a job in professional photography; and lays a foundation for further learning.
Understand the Technology and You will Take Better Photos
Consider shutter speed, for example. Shutter speed is the length of time the shutter remains open, allowing the light to act on the film.
To understand shutter speed, it is necessary to understand what a shutter actually does and is. The shutter is a mechanical device that allows for the exposure of the film and comes in two main varieties; leaf and focal plane.
The focal plane shutter is made up of a number of blades, in two distinct sets that travel across the plane of the film. The first set, in the inactive position completely obscures the film. On the firing of the shutter, the first set travel either down or across the film horizontally to open the shutter and expose the film or sensor to light. At a controlled interval – the selected shutter speed – the second blind or curtain is released and completely obscures the film again.
This common shutter design is inefficient – but cheap to install. It has a problem with faster shutter speeds where the second blind leaves its start position and is attempting to close the shutter while the first blind is still travelling across the film. This causes great problems when using flash because it means that only a strip of the film is exposed while the flash is firing.
Leaf shutters are not ‘at the film plane’ but are built into the lens itself, just behind the aperture. When a SLR camera using a leaf shutter is fired, a series of blades, from 5-8 go through a process like this:
- shutter release is pressed,
- the shutter blades close to obscure the film,
- the mirror is flipped to open,
- the aperture blades close to the selected f/No.,
- the shutter blades open for the required duration and then close,
- shutter is re-cocked and the mirror lowered to the start position at wind on (For a non-SLR with a leaf shutter, the mirror action is removed)
The actual shutter speed, measured in seconds or fractions of seconds, is the duration that the shutter (of either type) is open to expose the film/sensor to light.
Because the shutter is open for the entire duration of the exposure, flash will synchronise to the maximum shutter speed of the lens. However, leaf shutters tend not to go faster than 1/500th of a second.
The shutter on a camera is responsible for controlling the movement in the photograph. The shorter the shutter is open for, the less light that can get in. The longer the shutter is open for, the more light the camera is exposed to.
To blur the subject and create a feeling of action and speed in a shot, use a slower shutter speed e.g. 1/8th of a second. To create a crisp picture with little or no blur, use a faster shutter speed e.g. 1/1000th of a second.
Here is a representation of fastest through to slower shutter speeds on a typical camera:
Fastest 2000 1000 500 250 125 60 30 15 8 4 2 1 Slowest
‘Stops’ are the difference between each shutter speed.
A fast shutter speed actually captures a moving object very quickly. The movement is literally frozen and held fast, so the picture is very sharp with little or no blur.
A slower shutter speed exposes the camera to more light as the shutter is open for longer. Because it is open for longer, the movement of the image is captured, which can create the blur of movement which is great for action shots.
- 1/2000th of a second = crisp shot of a moving subject (no blur). Static shot which completely freezes the action to produce a very clear shot.
- 1/8th of a second = blurring of a moving subject creating a feel of action.
Different shutter speeds can create interesting effects. Try experimenting with shutter speeds to see the results. It is important to know and understand how to use shutter speeds to their best effect for the subject at hand.
On shutter speeds under 1/125 second, it is difficult for a photographer to hold a camera steady enough to avoid movement of the camera during the exposure. The chances of the picture being blurred are high (because of either camera movement or movement of the subject). This is somewhat dependant on the lens being used; a long focal length lens presents more of a stability problem than a wide angle lens. If using a very long focal length lens; 300mm and above, use a tripod or monopod to steady the equipment.