Practice makes perfect is a phrase weíve all grown up hearing, and itís one that really applies when learning photography. Without practice, we wonít know what setting does what, or indeed how each one impacts on the final photo.
As Iíve been practising during the last few weeks, Iíve found that shooting the same object with different settings, and then comparing the results, is the best way to go. Playing "spot the difference" is just another way of training myself to know which settings to adjust in any given situation, and by how much. It means I end up with dozens of photos of the same object, each with subtle differences, and after a while my vision tends to get blurry from it all.
As Iíve found out, this requires consistency and steadiness. Even the slightest change in angle, or distance, can affect the way your shot turns out, and unfortunately I don't have the steadiest of hands. As you could probably tell, the photos I took in my previous post were all slightly different. I knew they were, but I didnít think too much about it until it was pointed out to me.
Take, for example, these two pictures from my first post:
I knew that they werenít exactly the same, but I also wasnít aware that more than just the aperture had been changed when I took the second shot. Iíd thought I had gotten the angle ďclose enoughĒ to the original for it not to matter (also taking into account I wasnít 100 percent clear on what aperture actually did at the the time). In fact, the camera had automatically adjusted both the shutter speed and the ISO, so pretty much everything was different. The ďbenefitsĒ of using a semi-automatic mode, I guess?
In any case, the point Iím trying to make is that, in order for comparison shots to actually work, you need to minimise the variables. It means that the shots I take should have the same distance, angle, lighting and focus ó which seems virtually impossible when youíre holding the camera in your hands.
This is when a tripod comes in handy. Once you set up your camera on the tripod, you donít need to adjust it again; all you need to do is press a few buttons and youíre good to go. The likelihood of your shots retaining the same settings goes up, and your spot the difference game becomes much easier.
I didn't have a tripod when taking these shots, because I hadnít thought it necessary when first starting out. One very helpful reader suggested that I use a beanbag, or a wheat bag, instead. Luckily I have an abundance of wheat bags, the kind you microwave to use as a heat pack for aches and pains, so I gave it a go. It seems to work fine ó I can make minor adjustments to my camera without completing changing the settings ó but it still canít compare to a real tripod, of course.
Iíve ordered a miniature one to use for now, but I'll have to invest in a proper one later on. If anyone has any suggestions of which ones to get, or where to get them, please let me know!