Exposure in photography is controlled by 3 elements, I call this:
The Magic Triangle
Your ISO setting is an invaluable tool in your creative armoury.
Q Have you taken photos at a party and discovered they were all blurred, not just because you had downed several beers?
Q Or think a newborn's eyeballs would melt if you use flash?
This is why you need to understand ISO because it can get you out of some sticky situations.
Warning: I'm not going to make this technically hot, just simply understood.
ISO controls how much data or light your sensor records.
Low ISO = accurate detail
High ISO = less detail (warning-may produce NOISE)
NOISE = made-up pixels to fill in the gaps that your sensor missed=not great
The colours were changing every few seconds, so to catch the image I wanted I set a high ISO of 2500, I still needed a tripod because it was a 4s exposure.
Note New cameras have sensitive sensors so you can shoot fantastic detail
at high ISO, and if you need this, they are worth every penny.
This Auricula was being buffeted by a stiff breeze. You couldn't tell. To freeze the image and get everything in focus I set the ISO to 640 the aperture to f16, the camera set the shutter speed to 100 s, rendering the shot perfectly. This set is going to be featured in The Garden 2015.
Note: Digital ISO is loosely related to film speed. Fast films=high ISO=grain
Grain is good, noise not so much.
Let me recall one final story for you. I was tutoring a photography group shooting summer flowers outdoors. It was a gusty day, not ideal. Fred, was frowning at a beautiful rose. He had set his ISO to 100-great for crisp, detailed shots, but impossible in a force 4.
Me: 'Why don't you increase the ISO?'
Fred: 'Because, you don't get really detailed shots.'
Me 'How many shots are you getting now?'
The lesson: Ignore ISO at your peril.
Photography is a balancing act. But now you know better. Enjoy practicing, it really does make perfect.
Part 2 of the Magic Triangle -
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A waterproof, strong camera bag, big enough to hold all your equiment. I use one for over-the-shoulder by Lowepro which has a handy rain cover for really bad showers, but you might like a back-pack style.
Make sure there are enough compartments for:
(and a back-up if you have one)
-the number of lenses you want to carry around
-pockets to keep extras like batteries and memory
I use a DSLR;Canon 5D MkII. I pack it with the lens off and always put the protective cap on.
Lenses There are a vast array of lenses and over the years you will collect ones that work for you and probably have too many to fit in one bag. So its important to choose essentials for the job that you are doing. Its also important to keep your kit as light as you can, because carrying it around is tiring.
Top Tip: a fishing trolly with pneumatic tyres is a great way to transport your gear
So I suggest you take the miniumum but buy the best quality you can afford. You don't have a lot of time if you want to shoot a whole garden, you need to be able to work quickly and efficiently to catch the best light, so you don't want to be changing lenses all the time.
A wide angle lens, I use a Canon 28-135mm with Image Stabilisation. I can hand hold this lens without blur for people shots. Its very versatile.
A zoom lens, I use a 70-200mm, a cracking lens and can be used for both close-up and distance.
A macro lens I have a Canon 100mm. Its been with me for a good few years and still turns out the goods.
Now, that's just the basics and I know other photographers who swear by different equipment, but these will get you the shots.
Top Tip: Buy the best lens you can afford. If you have a great camera body don't waste money on a cheap lens. I made that mistake once, it got sold on at a considerable loss pretty much straight away!
Top tip: Use a UV filter on all your lenses and don't take it off
Top Tip: Use a lens hood, it stops flare and protects your lens from scratches and light rain.
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A remote switch to take photos on slow exposures to avoid camera shake.
A tripod great for holding a camera with heavy or long lenses steady, particularly if you are shooting at slow shutter speeds.
I have had a love hate (mostly hate) relationship with all my tripods, but sometimes I can't work without them. They are cumbersome and it takes longer to set up shots. But they need to be sturdy as they are carrying some heavy-weight equipment. I'm currently using a Manfrotto with a trigger tripod head.
I carry a smallLastolite reflector in my bag. This shades and reflects light to parts you didn't know you could reach.
Top Tip: If you don't have one, you can make one from a piece of card or improvise with a sheet of white paper.
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