“Photography is simple, photography is complicated” Unit 1

“Photography is simple, photography is complicated” (Zig Mroz 2017).

Week 5 NCFE Level 1 Photography.

This week we learned that there is no more magic to learn about photography.  We have Aperture, ISO, Shutter speed. Focus and Composition. So there you have it.  I could in theory, stop learning now…….

But no, there is so much more to learn.

We set our cameras to manual settings. If you have your camera set to Aperture priority (A on your camera) you will always have to use exposure compensation. When using Manual settings, however, you have to change the shutter speed according to the light levels.. In this instance, shutter speed is the exposure compensation.  If your shutter speed is not fast enough, increase your ISO!!  (Our tutor couldn’t stress the importance of this point enough).

The advantage of using Manual Setttings; once you have preset them is,you don’t have to keep changing your settings.

  • You have more control
  • you get consistency
  • you’ll have same the exposure – whatever what you take pictures of.

Our Homework this week was to, apply manual settings, and look for:

Lines in composition or leading lines. 

Balance of elements or depth in photograph.

(to be very honest, I did struggle with ‘Balance of elements.’)

Frame within the photograph – look for physical gaps, bridges windows, arches, etc…Invite the viewer in.

(OK, so …the last photo, of the boat ‘framed’ I cheated a bit and used photoshop to crop the image slightly. Well….a lot, actually.)

I’m still feeling a little confused about the technicalities of photography  (…all the blasted numbers!!  Yup…call me, dyscalculic, Google it…) See you’re getting a full education here. 😉 ). You’re confused too? Oh, ok… not just me then? But… As I take more photos and practice changing the settings, I am becoming a little more confident and my pictures are improving… And I’m still loving finding the ‘right shot’. 😀

The  best thing you can do if you like photography is, PRACTICE…practice…practice…!!

ps. Happy Halloween!


ISO confused…… Unit 1

Week 4 NCFE level 1 Photography.

We looked at ISO settings. Now, I have to admit here, that the entire lesson left me completely bewildered. Our poor tutor tried so hard, and looked so expectantly at me, but all I could say was “I-so confused…….”.  At the end of the class, he looked again,  “Now? Better?” he asked, one eyebrow raised like Roger Moore…  “Um…. A bit.” I mumbled. “A bit is better than ish”, he told me, reassuringly-ish.  As I left for the day I hoped it would filter through the what’s for tea? and where are my keys……?

But, here’s what I understand tonight, after spending most of my week snapping. (photo’s ….not at people 😉 )

ISO – for those techie people among you who are wondering what it stands for… it stands for International Standards Organization (I know…American spelling.) It’s a long and rather uninterestesting abbreviation, so if  you are a ‘techie’…. do just Google it.

The first thing to set before shooting is your ISO – when you switch on your camera always check your ISO.

ISO  means the sensitivity of a digital image sensor.
In the days when we used film, the no’s on the film canister that you bought would most likely have read 100/21 up to 1600/33 and now my digital camera ISO ranges from 50 – 29500

Wherever possible, use as low ISO no. as you can. A low ISO gives you best quality image.
An higher ISO number allows the camera to choose a faster shutter speed, but your images may be grainy and lack texture, or colour shades. That is the trade-off.

ISO works with shutter speed,  it is not dependant on light levels.
You should increase ISO when the shutter speed is too slow, to avoid camera shake or blurring of movement. So,  You change ISO only when you need a faster shutter speed. There may be times when you want some grainy-ness to your photo, for example; street photography, night shoots, or Black and white photography.

So, there you pretty much have it in a nutshell. All there is to know about photography…. Correct Aperture, Shutter Speed, ISO, Focus + Exposure compensation + Composition = A good photo. A really good photo.

Got all that? Oh good.

Picture on the left shows a faster shutter speed because it has an higher ISO, therefore the water is captured as water rather than as a blur.

We were also looking at compostion for rule of thirds. I took some photo’s of my gorgeous Grandson, in low light using an high ISO of 1250 . If you zoom in you can see the grainy-ness caused by the high ISO.

Posing. F.5.6, Sh. p 180, ISO1250

These ‘wine o’clock’ photo’s are taken at opposites of ISO. The photo on the right is taken at ISO1600 and the one on the left is taken at ISO20000.  You can see the grainy-ness in the one on the left without even zooming in. The grainy-ness is the trade off of using an higher ISO.  The photo’s were taken at 19.00hours, had I taken them any later, they may have been much blurrier!! 😉

In the middle of a special birthday party, where the party host was nothing to do with 4, nor zero (wink, wink)  I was hoping to take lots of photo’s, to practice my off-centre compostion, but my camera broke!! AArrrgh!! But one new lens later, all is up and running again. Happy. 🙂

Tomorrow, we’ll be looking at Shutter Speed, and I’ll tell all in my next post…. til then…. Keep snapping. I will.

Exposure Compensation – (It’s not what you think.) Unit 1

In week 3 of NCFE Photography level 1, we looked at exposure compensation. It has nothing to do with either exposing ones’ self, nor compensation claims!

If your camera is set to Aperture priority or ‘A” setting, you select your aperture and the camera will then automatically choose the shutter speed. You can however, using exposure compensation, override the shutter speed  to lighten or darken the shot.

Exposure compensation is usually displayed on your camera as (+/-)

The reason you may want to do so, is to deepen colour or saturation of flowers, for example.

On these two shots of a passionflower, you can see in the left hand shot that the flower is slightly overexposed and whilst it is in focus, it lacks depth. On the right, I chose an extreme setting of (-1)  it is underexposed, but the colours look better. You can see I have lost some of the sharpness of the flower because on a lower (+/-) exposure you can lose some focus due to camera shake.

Personally, I found that under exposing flowers worked better than under exposing these, Sunday afternoon river landscapes from Brentford Dock. Under exposure left the shots looking a little dull.

I think I am beginning to understand about depth of field, and I think I am even starting to grasp aperture settings..  I am however, still just snapping photo’s whenever and wherever I can.

No doubt tomorrows’ class will bring more exciting adventures and confusion.  Next weeks’ homework,  will involve more blogging, snapping, and photo modelling opportunities for a bemused and endlessly patient wbbf. (I’m not putting them up yet!)

F.Stop. What the F?! – Unit 1

In week 2, of NCFE Level 1 Photography, we looked at F.stop or aperture.  ‘The smaller the aperture, the slower the shutter speed.’

The f.stop or aperture, changes the size of the hole in the lens.

The smallest f.no will give you the fastest shutter speed in given light conditions, and a small (or shallow) depth of field.  On its’ lowest setting, you have the fastest exposure.

We also looked at Depth of Field. Depth of field is related to focusing.

We adjusted our camera settings to Manual


LARGE DEPTH OF FIELD = larger (higher) F.no ‘
Confused???! Yep…me too.

During class in week 2, I felt like the class idiot. I am confused and overwhelmed by all the numbers, and despite my tutors’ best efforts to explain, I still felt like I didn’t really fully understand. A few cups of tea at home and lots of drawing on bits of paper by my engineer wbbf still left me a bit puzzled..

I want to do well. I want to acheive my dream of becoming a photographer. Photography is so much a part of my life.. I take photo’s every day. They may not be photographically accomplished but they have meaning for me. I use my photo’s as a means of documenting my life, and have done since I was a child.

Our homework for this weeks’ class was to take photos on ‘A’ setting, which is a setting I’ve never really used, or even known what it was for!  So, we had to take photo’s on the lowest, middle and highest f.stop numbers. Then to take the same photo’s using wide angle or zoom.

We decided that Osterley Park during Autumn would make some beautiful subject shots. We were there for some two hours, and I took almost 400 shots! Ok, some of them (let’s be honest, most) aren’t brilliant but, I am slowly starting to see the difference that f.stop or aperture (I have been learning this parrot fashion!) makes.

Every book tells a story
A wolverine is eating my leg.


Every book tells a story
A wolverine is eating my leg. (2)
Every book tells a story
A wolverine is eating my leg (3)

Taking photo’s improves your appetite, so we had to f.stop for a cream tea, but as you can see, I was still taking photos and still adjusting my f.stop.

And finally, some beautiful colour on this rather grey day.

Mellow yellow
A gorgeous burst of Autumn colour. (f 3.5)