Tuesday, August 11, 2009

F. Stop.

Today is my one-month anniversary with my beloved Nikon D60, which my beloved Davis and his parents and my parents bought me for my 25th birthday. I took photography for a year in high school, but along with trigonometry and iambic pentameter this knowledge has fled for greener, more fertile pastures. So I've been scouring my manual and my favourite photography blogs to try and reacquaint myself with things like shutter speed, ISO, apertures and F-stops. It's a strange world, but I'm having lots of fun.

One thing I've picked up is that wide aperture = small f-number = bokeh = good. Another thing that I've learned the hard way is that bokeh with jewelry = half your piece out of focus = bad. I decided to play around with apertures today trying to shoot my newest earrings to see how they compared.

This was taken at F/5.3 and 1/400 s. I like the softness of the base of the bowl, but I wish I could get both earrings in focus, or at least one whole earring with sand dollar and waterdrop.

This was taken at F/8 and 1/160 s. When I've been playing with the aperture lately I've been leaving the shutter speed for the camera to decide. All those choices make me a little anxious and plus, I can't figure out how to adjust them both on the fully manual setting. This one is pretty good, I think. More of the rear earring is in focus, though I'd like the droplet to be sharper.

This one is probably my favourite, even though my focus was a little off the sand dollar and more on the seahorse. But the droplets are in focus, while there is still some dreamy blurriness around the periphery. The F-stop here was 13, and shutter speed 1/60 s.

F/20, 1/30 s. To me not a whole lot of difference between this and F/13. I did notice though how the shutter speed is getting longer as my aperture gets smaller to compensate for less light getting in. That was making it difficult for me, without a tripod, to control shaking even with my vibration reduction lens. I was looking at Gorilla pods the other day because I had a coupon, but man they were still expensive. I know I don't need a Gorilla pod - that's like saying I need Nike shoes - but they are cool looking. Incidentally, when I was working at the animal care centre at UBC over the summer, someone brought in an injured snapping turtle who'd had his leg bitten off by a raccoon. The staff named him Tripod. I thought that was hilarious.

F/29, 1/13 s. The blurring is more obvious in this one. though the crystals come out looking pretty nice so maybe it was more a problem with the focus. You can see though that the bottom of the bowl is a lot sharper than in the earlier photos, and the texture of the table is starting to come through.

I can't even imagine being into photography before advent of the digital camera. I guess, when we did film photography in high school, that we were a lot more careful and took a lot more time to set up each shot. It makes me feel a lot of respect for photojournalists and sports photographers back then. I use at least 50 shots trying to take a picture of a stationary pair of earrings and pare that down to 5 keepers, if I'm lucky! If I'd had to spend time adjusting the exposure of a film camera while shooting these earrings outside this morning, I wouldn't have been able to turn around and grab this shot of my mom's tribbles:


  1. Lovely jewelry... and those cats have hilarious faces! :)

  2. Your close-ups look so much better than mine! I keep trying, but I think I'm missing something. Nice work!

  3. Thank you! It's been a steep learning curve. If my photos are any good, I can only chalk it up to patience, taking a zillion photos, macro setting on p&s cameras, manual focus on dslrs, good lighting, more patience, photoshop, and re-shoots if necessary as I improve. Keep trying!


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