Sorry if this this is the wrong location for this thread but couldn't see anywhere more suitable.
As a relative newcomer to film photography using a mid range SLR (Nikon F80) I am struggling to get past the automatic functions on the camera. My aim is to get to a point where I can put the camera in manual and fire away getting the same, or better, results than I do now. My problem is a lack of understanding on the basics and despite many late nights reading countless books I struggle to put theory into practice.
Where is the best place to start ?? Does anyone know of any courses that may help or of anyone in my neck of the woods that will consider some personal tuition ??
All help gratefully received.
"Take nothing but Photographs, leave nothing but footprints"
Can't help with your neck of the woods I'm afraid. But you should manage to get shooting in manual with some understanding of what is going on. It's a bit lot to describe here in one go, but one only really needs to understand how the camera controls light (aperture and shutter speed), how it measures light (the meter in camera or outside it) and what the film does with it (ISO, type etc).
With the F80, don't try to jump from P to M. Take turns using the S and A modes where you control one of the two exposure controls, and let the camera deal with the other one. Say you start with A, set the aperture to a fixed f/5.6, and point the camera at various things and look what it does to the shutter speed. Do the same with S mode, and set say, 1/60th, and point around seeing what happens to aperture readings.
Read up on how reflected light meters work (Google is your friend here).
Basically, take it in small steps. Good luck... but seeing your signature, you won't need it.
If you tone it down alot, it almost becomes bearable.
- Walker Evans on using color
One of the (many) good features of the F80 is the depth-of-field (DOF) preview button. Make sure you use it.
Digital is best taken with a grain of silver.
For learning the basic principle of film photography and the manual process of how to take photographs and make prints, Henry Horenstein's "Black & White Photography" is a good book to start. It shouldn't take up too much time to read.
Olly, the book mentioned above is a good one. I would be happy to work with you if you don't mind a bit of a boat ride
Originally Posted by OllyB
This is the place to ask questions. everyone here will jump to help. feel free to PM me with any questions any time. or post publicly, we are all here for you.
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APUG is indeed the right place, but I'm moving this to the 35mm forum
-- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
I should practice this more myself. Keep a notebook and write down your exposure factors when shooting manually. It will shorten your learning curve dramatically.
Understanding the principles isn't really complicated. Doing it right will take some practice. Here's my take on the general principles.
Taking a photograph is like pouring a correct quantity of light on a sensitive material. You use your meter to figure out how much light you need to make a correct exposure, then you decide with what tool you want to control the volume of light impressing your film. Using a meter effectively means interpreting what it tells you, not following it blindly. You need to learn what part of the scene you should meter, and what correction you should apply to the reading it gives you.
You can either use aperture or shutter speed, and they are calibrated on the same scale, casually referred to as the "stops." Because they use the same intervals, from any aperture/shutter speed pair your camera is in, if you close the lens and slow down the shutter, you will always have the same quantity of light. Your meter gives you for a given amount of light all the equivalent aperture/shutter speed. If you choose any of these, you will have the same volume of light reaching your film.
Although aperture and shutter speed have the same effect on the amount of light, they do not have the same effect on how your picture will look like. A small aperture means lots of depth of field; a fast shutter speed means you can stop movement. Conversely, a slow shutter speed can create movement lines, and a wide aperture a shallow depth of field. To go either way is desirable in some situations, and not in others: it depends on what your subject is and what your vision is.
There are various ways to apply corrections to your light meter reading in order to get a better exposure. You should generally aim your meter at the darkest portion of your photo where you want details (so not full black, just dark), and from the reading you have, expose one or two stop less (you need to test). Exposing one stop less is EITHER closing your lens OR setting your shutter at a higher speed. That is a crude, but effective way of interpreting your meter reading. Go read Ansel Adams's The Negative for the full shebang.
Finally, because photography is like an assembly chain, bear in mind that the process needs to be controlled from the moment you take the picture until you have the printed photo in your hand. Usually, for one beginner's mistake, there's one obvious step at which to fix it. But to make better photographs, there are many, many parameters you can change.
Hint: listen to the older photographers... That's what I do!
Using film since before it was hip.
"One of the most singular characters of the hyposulphites, is the property their solutions possess of dissolving muriate of silver and retaining it in considerable quantity in permanent solution" — Sir John Frederick William Herschel, "On the Hyposulphurous Acid and its Compounds." The Edinburgh Philosophical Journal
, Vol. 1 (8 Jan. 1819): 8-29. p. 11
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The best place to start? Here, and now. Get out of all the books and DO!!
Reading and studying are useful, no doubt, but nothing can match the reinforcement of experience. Somewhere, everyone becomes saturated with information, and what is really needed is, more or less, reflex action. By DOING you will allow you "muscles to memorize" and It will come. It WILL.
I think a valid parallel is that of bicycle riding. One can read about the proper way to ride until the brink of sanity is reached - but you will NEVER know how to ride a bicycle until you DO it -- "X" amount of times.
Ed Sukach, FFP.
Buy a copy of David Vestal's The Craft of Photography, the best book on 35mm B&W ever written.