1: Humble Beginings
In July of 2003 I began shooting digitally. My first digital camera was FujiFilm Finepix 3800 (purchased for $344.00) with a 128MB XD storage card (purchased for $58.99). *Note: I feel it necessary to include all of theses details because my kids and grand-kids – 50 years from now will no doubt find it hard to believe. This is what it looked like:
This camera was top of the line. It had a 3MP sensor with a 6x optical zoom.
This is the first photo I took with it – my dorm room door in Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma:
A lot of times I could see shots in my mind’s eye, but I never could get the results I wanted from my camera. Much of this had to do with my lack of understanding about the nature of light and the way cameras capture and convert light into digitally stored mediums. This changed when a I met one of my best friends, Josh DeMotts.
Josh was (and still is) an Air Force photographer. It was he gave me a solid foundation from which to grow in photography. Josh taught me the fundamentals, things like – aperture, shutter speed, bracketing, and film speed (ISO). He also taught me composition – the rule of thirds, leading lines, searching symmetry or patterns, depth of field, and framing. I cannot state enough how huge his influence on my development as photographer.
2: Understanding Light
My mother always told me that photography was a natural fit for my personality because it requires both technical and creative aptitudes. Technical aptitude is needed to master mechanical and electronic aspects of the camera as well as understanding the physics of light in relation to capturing it with the camera. Creative aptitude is necessary for visualizing, framing, and composing shots.
I believe that understanding the physics of light has made me a better photographer. WARNING: For those who enjoy the technical side of things, keep reading. For others, I would suggest you skip to the next section…
How Light Travels: Particles, Waves, and Photons
How a Camera Captures Light
Lens: A camera’s lens influences the angle at which light enters the camera. It is the first thing interacting with light as it travels to your camera’s sensor.
It was my friend Josh who gave me my first exposure (pun intended) to how a camera captures light. He taught about this thing called aperture. On a camera, your aperture is what regulates the amount of light coming into the camera. It is simply a key hole that can be opened or closed. Opening the hole allows more light to enter the camera. Closing the hole restricts the amount of light entering the camera. Initially, I found the representation of aperture on my camera to be counter-intuitive. The higher aperture number on the camera (for example:F22) the more hole is closed down and light is restricted. Oppositely, the higher the aperture (example: F10) the bigger the hole is and the more light is let in.
Josh also taught me about shutter speed. The duration light is exposed to your camera’s sensor is determined by your shutter speed. A camera’s shutter is like the shutters found on a window. Opening the shutters permits light to enter a room, closing them blocks the light. When you take a picture the shutters open for a determined amount of time and then close. Your camera’s shutter and aperture work hand-in-hand to capture light.
Films Speed (ISO):