Sony RX100 3    f/11  1/250    8.8m   800 ISO

Learning should be a continuous, life long process. Each stage represents a learning curve and every time you feel yourself reaching a plateau, it is time to move on to the next stage of your development. Initially you learn from the greats, then you learn from your peers, then you learn from your own body of experience, but the key is to persist and break out to the next level. ~Dan K

This week’s a photo study is a continuation of last week’s blog, The Photographer III , in which I focused on the Dan K’s first step, “Get an Eye for Photography.”  So to help us learn the art of photography let’s move on to Steps 2 through 7.

Step 2: Grasp the Basics

  1. Develop an understanding of perspective (position and focal length).
  2. Gain knowledge about focus (distance, aperture and depth of field).
  3. Explore the shutter speed and exposure.
  4. Study all aspects of color.
  5. Create a project that combines a learning experience with a presentation
  6. Return to Step 1, Get an Eye for Photography.

Perspective refers to the visual phenomenon where objects that are nearer to us appear bigger while those farther away seem smaller. In photography, perspective is influenced by 3 factors: Focal length, Shooting distance, and shooting angle.


Focal length is a measure of the lens’ angle of view and is normally expressed in millimeters (mm).  Using a short focal length will offer the photographer a wider angle of view and less magnification.  These two elements create a strong perspective effect.

Conversely, the longer the focal lengths creates a narrower angle and  greater magnification while weakening the perspective effect.

Distance from subject (shooting distance or “focusing distance”): The nearer the camera to the subject, the stronger the perspective effect. The further away the camera from the subject, the weaker the perspective effect.

Shooting angle: The more parallel your camera is to the subject (the shallower the shooting angle), the weaker the perspective effect. Conversely, if you align the camera at a steeper angle from the subject, you will get a stronger perspective effect.

In short, the easiest way to get the strongest perspective effect possible is to use a wide angle lens, move as close to your subject as possible, and shoot from a steep, diagonal angle.

The perspective exaggeration effect unique to a wide angle lens can help to create impressive photos with a strong sense of depth, dimensionality and scale. This is a good effect to use with deep focus.

Depth of field:

Aperture & Exposure:

To demonstrate differences of exposure with variations of aperture the images below were photographed with the same focal length (8.8m), ISO (100), and shutter speed (1/500s).  The aperture in the first image is f/5.6, the second f/3.5, and the last f/2.8.

To demonstrate variations of exposure each of the images below were photographed with the same focal length, ISO settings, and exposure composition of -.03.  The shutter speed of the first image is 1/1000s. The middle image’s shutter speed is 1/2000s, and the last is 1/250s.

Color:  visit: A Color Primary, an elementary review of color theory.

At this stage it is good to develop a basic understanding of these basic so that you will be able to have some control over the composition of your images and to build your technical skills with each click of the shutter.

By starting out right, with an understanding of what a good photo looks like, confidence may take a beating at first but you’ll be on the right path with less time wasted with follies into unnecessary gear or special effects ~Dan K

Step 3:  Be Reductive

This stage includes developing awareness of the elements within your image that have the potential to be distracting and learning techniques such as selective focus and lightening to help you direct the viewer’s eyes within the image.  Learning the restrictions within elements of focal length, black and white, and ISO.  Explore bending  rules and identifying where the edge of the performance and aesthetic overlap.

This is also the point where you start to develop a signature style. As always, go back to the beginning and see how your new knowledge applies to what you’ve learned before. ~Dan K

Step 4: Once you can TAKE A Picture, Learn how to MAKE A Picture

This is the stage where you learn creativity rather than observation. Learn how to arrange things for best composition rather than position yourself. Learn how to find and use natural light, or how to mimic it with flash. Learn how much control you can exert over the subject, context and equipment without losing the dynamic of the moment, the freshness and spontaneity. The goal is to be able to pro-actively get the shot that you wanted rather than being a passive observer.

This is a watershed in many a photographer’s career, when they become dependable shot makers rather than opportunistic photographers. Do not consider taking on any semi-commercial work until you can reliably deliver a consistent work product…~Dan K

Step 5:  Learn to Edit

We all need to be better editors of our own work. It’s not just about fixing things in post; I’m talking choosing about which images to show and which to throw.

A portfolio is often let down by a bad image. Unfortunately, if you haven’t worked through from step one, you might not be able to tell the difference between a mediocre image and a good one ~Dan K

Step 6: Find Yourself

We eventually get to a point where we are comfortable with a certain look, a certain subject, or genre. Our work becomes recognizably ours. Sometimes this is done intentionally, sometimes we become well known for a subset of our work and everyone wants more of it.

Once you have your signature style and something to say, individual images take on singular meaning, rather than being about the gear and the mark it left on the image. You can’t buy this in a camera store and you can’t pay someone to teach it to you. ~Dan K

Step 7: Reinvent Yourself

Break out of creating essentially the same image again and again with subtle variations.  Break out of this rut and find a second and a third style.  Once well known many artists, especially commercial painters, get stuck reproducing essentially the same picture again and again with subtle variations.

By this stage, you no longer reference other people’s work; they reference yours. May we all reach this point! ~Dan K

This week’s photo study is an exploration of shutter speed.  Shutter speed, a basic photographic component, is defined as the amount of time your camera allows light to enter your camera.  The variables of a scene being photographed together with the size of aperture and the shutter speed have the potential to create unique images.

A fast shutter speed will freeze moving objects.

Nikon D750     f/5.6   1/2,500  300mm   100 ISO

While fast shutter speeds create crisp and sharp images, slow shutter speeds — open for half a second or longer – extends the length of time light is entering your camera.  This light is continuously  being influenced by the motion within the scene and thus creating blurry, foggy, silky, or milky elements within an image.

Nikon D750    f/22    1s    35mm    100 ISO
Nikon D750    f/8   241s   24mm   100 ISO

The shutter speed in panning photography can be as low as 1/20 or as fast as 1/125.  The trick is to match the speed of the subject with your speed of panning.  The inclusion of motion blur within street photography is often created with a high aperture setting, a low as possible ISO, and a low shutter speed.

Nikon D750   f/29   1/6s  75mm  100 ISO
Nikon D750   f/9    1/20s     85mm     320 ISO

The images below are examples of various shutter speeds with the same aperture and ISO settings.

Nikon D750     f/7.1    1/60s   35mm    100 ISO
Nikon D750     f/7.1    1/30s    35mm    100 ISO
Nikon D750     f/7.1   1/20s    35mm    100 ISO

Thank you for taking the time to visit.  I hope you enjoy Ted Forbes’ discussion of shutter speed and his nighttime images.  Would love to hear your thoughts and see your creative work.

Nikon D750   f/5.6   2.5s   40mm   ISO 100


Nikon D750   f/8   2.5s   40mm   ISO 100
Nikon D750   f/11   1.30s   40mm   ISO 100
Nikon D750   f/6.3   1.30s   40mm   ISO 100

After pondering the feedback about the image I submitted for RAJ’s closeup/macro lesson, I realized my understanding of shutter speed was a bit fuzzy and in need of  study.  So with a bean bag for camera support and the Nikon set on auto-focus (I did not want to be impeded by my lack of experience with manual focus), I experimented with 40 various macro images of  peppercorn and Himalayan salt.  Of the four posted above, my preference is f/11 at 1.30 seconds.

The image I submitted for RAJ’s “frame your subject” lesson was revisited to darken the lit rectangle on the left as it was noted to be a distraction.



RAJ’s notation about the sunflower image in portrait mode brought to mind a photo article about how, as a camera moves closer, an peanut in a match box transforms from an image of a peanut to one of a piece of sculpture.  In the sunflower image (right) I cropped the image in portrait and followed up with a bit of clean up along the bottom with Photoshop’s content-fill.

Jump on over to RAJ’s Photography Lesson to begin a great learning experience.