Have you ever felt that your photographs were a complete disaster? It is easier than you may think to compose the perfect photo. To take the perfect photo, one must know how to choose the right film, use a tripod, learn effective focusing, and to set up the scene in your viewfinder. The camera that will be described to take pictures is a manual 35mm Yashica SLR (single lens reflex) camera body, a Sigma 28mm-70mm lens, a standard tripod, a shutter release cable and Kodak Gold ISO 100 film. Landscape photography will be the subject matter, so grab some extra strength insect repellent and let’s get started!
Film choice is an important consideration in serious photography. Lower film speeds produce finer grained images. The prints, and especially your enlargements, will be sharper when you use a finer grained film. ISO 100 or 200 films are perfect for landscape photography. The two most important factors in choosing film are grain and color saturation. Color saturation determines how rich and vibrant the colors will be in the negative. These factors are also dependent on the film processor, so choosing one that you’re satisfied with is equally important.
Many photographers use Kodak Gold, because they produce the finest grain and richest colors in a commercial grade product. After selecting the film, place the film into the camera. Place your finger on the button on the side or back of your camera where the film is placed. Slowly slide the button up, thus opening the film door. Place the film in, making sure to put the film in correctly. You will know you have done this correctly if the film processes and a number appears on the top right hand side of the camera.
The photography market has been flooded with all types of tripods that range in price from thirty dollars to hundreds of dollars. Choose one that is sturdy, allows vertical placement of the camera for vertical shots, and extends high enough so that you can comfortably look through the camera’s view finder. All quality cameras come equipped with a threaded female adapter on the bottom of the camera’s body so that you can mount the head of the tripod onto it. Usually, this head separates from the tripod so that you can remove the camera without unscrewing it. This saves a great deal of time and frustration.
Using a tripod when you are trying to achieve a sharp, high quality photo will hold the camera as steady as possible. This is especially true when using low film speeds and low f-stops. The use of a shutter release cable also aids in camera steadiness and helps to further the illusion that one actually knows what they are doing. Another aid in this area is the timer that most camera types come equipped with. This allows for hands off shuttering, which diminishes vibration and also allows you to become a subject in their photos, instead of just their thumb being the subject.
Cameras come in lots of shapes and sizes. There are manual cameras, automatic cameras, point-and-shoots, digital cameras, medium format cameras, large format cameras, true panoramic cameras, and the disposable variety. Disposables are great to buy and can give the illusion of being “handy,” but can adventually cost more than purchasing a standard 110 camera. Once you mount the camera onto the tripod, one can begin to set up your shot. The wonderful thing about single lens reflex cameras is that when viewing through the viewfinder, you can see exactly what the camera sees.
If the image is out of focus, then slowly turn the wider, outer ring (a series of distance measurements is printed on this ring from 0. 5 meters to infinity, this is the sideways figure eight symbol) of your lens until the images in the cross-hairs become focused and lined up. Try testing this on something that has a vertical line, such as a tree trunk or a building that is within the field of view. Remember, the focusing distance of an object changes with the size of the lens. Now one can set up the scene they are trying to capture. At this stage, law of thirds should be discussed.
Always try to keep the horizon line of your photo in the top third or bottom third of your shot. Otherwise, the horizon line is a distraction and appears to cut the photo in two. Instead of centering the subject, try placing it to the right or left of the center. This technique actually produces a more interesting and artful image. A photograph has a series of layers, a foreground (closest object), middle-ground (objects between the closest object and the background), and background (outside surroundings; furthest objects from the closest object. ) The results can be stunning when you take advantage of these layers.
Be sure to look around at the surroundings before setting up the camera, in order to utilize these layers and create a sense of depth in the images. Also, be careful to make sure that the subject is far enough away from your foreground, so that your entire scene is in focus. You can also set up your scene by using a zoom lens, controlled by the middle ring on your lens (in this case it’s marked with the focal length measurements of 28-70mm). A zoom lens can be used to eliminate unwanted elements from the scene, such as a distracting vehicle, a telephone pole, or that annoying family member that will not go away.
Metering is a tool that you use to gauge the correct light exposure of your subject. There are two types of light meters, the one built into your camera and the hand held variety. If you look into the viewfinder and lightly depress the shutter release button, you will see either a red cross at the top, a green light in the middle or a red negative sign at the bottom, depending on what you are pointing your camera at. There are many variables when it comes to metering and light exposure, so it is best to experiment and bracket your photos.
Bracketing is taking several photos of the same shot at different exposures. The light meter inside your camera changes whenever you adjust the f-stop or aperture (shutter opening) of your lens by turning the skinny ring found closest to the body of your camera (f-stops are generally numbered from 3. 5 to 22). This meter is also effected by the shutter speed adjustment on the top of the camera body and by the ISO adjustment on that same knob. The ISO adjustment lets the camera know what kind of film you are using. Lifting up on the outer ring of the knob and turning it to the proper film speed can access this.
Turning the knob clockwise or counter clockwise changes the shutter speed. The B allows you to make time exposures by holding down the shutter release button. Numbers on the knob signify one second down to 1/2000th of a second. Generally, for landscape photography, it is best to keep the shutter speed between 1/8th and 1/125th of a second. This allows for the greatest amount of image saturation onto the film. Simply put, greater image saturation translates into greater detail. The more time the film has to make the image, the more detailed it will become. The f-stop setting should be between eight and sixteen.
With a lower f-stop, your picture will appear washed out; with a higher f-stop it will be darker, but the colors will be brighter. These two adjustments work in conjunction. Photography can be a very serious affair, conveying powerful, thought provoking images or it can be used to disclose the very secrets of the world around us. Most important, we can use photography to reveal something about ourselves and have fun doing it. Remember, it’s only film. Every bad picture you take is a lesson learned. So dust off that camera equipment and get out there to capture that perfect landscape photo!