Last week, we looked at Image Composition and Automatic Mode. Digiknow continues the theme of making images by providing another two compositions and introducing you to two changeable features using the Program Mode. Let’s get started!

Compositions

Symmetry

Symmetry is interesting and can be used horizontally, vertically and diagonally. Think about where you see symmetry in daily life. This might be lettering, shapes or buildings.

Firstly, horizontal symmetry. In the diagram below, note the horizontal line splits the frame from left to right. What appears on the top should be mirrored on the bottom.

Example of using horizontal symmetry
Example of using horizontal symmetry

Below is a photograph demonstrating a reflection with the horizon centered (vertically centered) within the frame. Note the sky, cloud and land above the horizon is also reflected in the water beneath the horizon.

Credit: Michael Baird - example of horizontal symmetry (what's on top is reflected on the bottom)
Credit: Michael Baird – example of horizontal symmetry (what’s on top is reflected on the bottom)

Next, vertical symmetry. In the diagram below, note a vertical line splits the frame from top to bottom. What appears on one side should be mirrored on the opposite side.

 Example of using vertical symmetry
Example of using vertical symmetry

The image below shows vertical symmetry through architecture. Imagine a vertical line splitting the image top to bottom and what is on the left of the line is mirrored on the right.

Credit: Thanos Pal - example of vertical symmetry (what's on the left is reflected on the right)
Credit: Thanos Pal – example of vertical symmetry (what’s on the left is reflected on the right)

Symmetry provides a sense of balance in terms of weight. The opposite of symmetry is asymmetry where subjects are unbalanced. Asymmetry is also a composition.

Diagonal

The second composition covered this week is diagonal composition.

Diagonal can be a 45 degree angle, or in photography terms, a line connecting opposite corners of the frame, or within 20% of the opposite corner. This is not a 45 degree angle but seems to be a reasonable rule of thumb.

Viewing the image below, note the corner to corner line and the lines within 20% of the opposite corner. This could be multiplied up for every corner.

Examples of diagonals within a frame
Examples of diagonals within a frame

Diagonal lines (corner to corner) also pass through two intersections of the rule of thirds, so congratulations, you’ve layered up compositions and are using two by using diagonals.

Example of using Rule of Thirds and Diagonal composition
Example of using Rule of Thirds and Diagonal composition

Here’s a few examples of diagonals as photos.

Credit: Ricardo Gomez Angel
Credit: Ricardo Gomez Angel
Credit: Georgia de Lotz
Credit: Georgia de Lotz
Program Mode

Last week, we discussed the camera making some decisions but not all decisions. As users, we have a fair amount of input, even when using Automatic Mode. When using the Program mode in cameras, this is the next closest mode to Automatic Mode.

In the Program mode, the camera still measures exposure, you can just point and shoot. However, there are features here to be manipulated. They can be used in any mode (except automatic).

The features covered this week are Exposure Compensation and White Balance. We will use these functions separately so you can see the individual results of each. Realistically, as a photographer, you would mix and match camera functions as much or as little as you like to suit your needs.

Exposure Compensation

Exposure generally means how dark or bright the overall photo is. Photos (whether full colour or black and white) have three tonal areas: shadows, mid-tones and highlights.

An acceptable exposure is where there is detail in all three tonal areas, i.e., the photograph is not overexposed (too bright with highlight details burned out), or underexposed (too dark with shadows lacking detail).

Without getting too technical, exposure can be manipulated using the EV +/- (Exposure Compensation) button/dial/menu on the camera. When the +/- is pressed, you get a scale similar to the one below.

Example exposure scale
Example exposure scale

The EV scale can look different on compact/bridge cameras.

The example exposure scale above goes from -3 to +3. Many cameras can achieve -5 to +5 or -7 to +7. Scales on different cameras may have more or less range.

By default, the EV is set to 0, an acceptable exposure.

In darker conditions, take the EV pointer towards the plus (+) to brighten the exposure.

In brighter conditions, take the EV pointer toward the minus (-) to darken the exposure.

To use EV, press and hold the +/-. Whilst holding the button, rotate the wheel to move the EV pointer.

Large mark on the scale are stops of exposure.

EV Scale - example of EV stops
EV Scale – example of EV stops

Smaller marks on the scale are 1/3 and 2/3 or 0.3 and 0.7 of a stop.

EV Scale - example of EV thirds of stops
EV Scale – example of EV thirds of stops

Task

Take three photos using the Program mode (P) (if P isn’t available, use Aperture (A or Av depending on the camera model)).

  • Change the EV to -2, take a photo
  • Change the EV to 0, take a photo
  • Change the EV to +2, take a photo

When the images are previewed, they are in reverse order. You should have the following results (these are set out in order of capture).

EV results of -2, 0 and +2 (Credit: D Casement)
EV results of -2, 0 and +2 (Credit: D Casement)

Within the task just completed, -2, 0 and +2 were used to see results quickly. Normally, you may set the EV a little in to the plus or minus (i.e., 0.3 or 0.7) and it’s better to underexpose slightly and brighten in editing software.

NB: remember to reset EV to 0 (default).

White Balance

White balance (WB) is the colour temperature (or colour of light) of what you capture. Some images can be quite warm (more golden) or cool (more blue) in tone. This is something that may not be noticed by everyone.

Best practice, colours should appear as natural in the photo as they do when viewed with your eyes. Whites should be white.

How do I use white balance?

Identify the light condition you are in.

Below you can see the white balance symbols that are available in camera (some cameras may have a few more).

White balance symbols
White balance symbols

Typically, select the icon that best describes the lighting condition. If the sun is out, choose the daylight/sunlight icon to record the scenes colour under that lighting condition.

Indoors, identify if the lighting is a fluorescent light source or other type of artificial light. Tungsten settings are based on the tungsten light bulb which is less and less available.

If you cannot identify the lighting conditions you are in, use Auto White Balance (AWB) and let the camera calculate the colour of light.

Task

Using the Program mode, take photos of the same subject using each of the symbols from AWB to Flash. Ignore the Custom and User Defined settings for this task.

By photographing the same subject repeatedly, on playback you should see the results. An example can be seen below.

Results of white balance (Credit: D Casement)
Results of white balance (Credit: D Casement)

Within the task just completed, the first seven symbols of white balance were used to capture the same scene. The scene was captured under an artificial light condition. The white balance used can be seen above each result.

Note the different colour casts throughout each scene. Some are warmer, some are cooler. One is definitely correct. In this instance, it was AWB.

Albeit white balance is used to correct colour, it can be used creatively to warm subjects up or cool them down.

If you capture the incorrect white balance and haven’t noticed at the point of capture, don’t panic. The white balance can be corrected in the editing process but it is better to get as much right at the point of capture to minimise editing time later.

NB: remember to reset white balance to AWB (default).

Summary

The DigiKnow blog this week looked at two compositions: Symmetry and Diagonal. These can be added to your toolkit. Rule of Thirds, filling the frame and leading/lead in line were covered in previous weeks.

This week, you were also introduced to two functions within the Program Mode. These functions can be used in any mode (except automatic) and they give you some control over exposure and colour of images. The functions were Exposure Compensation (EV) and White Balance (WB).

EV is ALWAYS exposure.

WB is ALWAYS colour.

Do join us next week when we continue with Depth of Field. As always, follow us on Twitter and we look forward to you joining us next week.


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