Learn to SEE the light! As photographers we write we light, (photo meaning light and graphy meaning to write). Light is the most important aspect of any photography, without it no image could be made. The quality of light can make the same subject a mediocre photo or a great one.


Photo Basics


Film Speed
Film Speed is the measure of a film's sensitivity to light, and is indicated with an ISO number such as 100, 200 etc. The higher the number, the more sensitive the film is to light. Therefore, lower speed films are much better geared toward bright, sunny days, whereas higher speeds are better for indoors and lower light situations. One thing to keep in mind is if you are planning to do enlargements, 8x10 or greater, slower speed films have finer grain and look significantly better when printed larger.


A common rule for photographers and composition is the rule of thirds. It states that as you compose a photograph you should mentally spilt the area into thirds. This means in your minds eye you should see 3 horizontal lines splitting up the scene and 3 vertical lines perpendicular and crossing the horizontal lines. From that point try to position your subject or a visually interesting component on one of those crossing lines. Therefore you should never have something directly in the center of your images, also called bull's eye composition and considered visually boring. Try composing with the horizon close to the bottom of the image if there is some interesting clouds or making a portrait off center to add a sense of place to the photograph.


However, as the old saving goes all rules are made to be broken so once you master the rule of thirds then try to find ways to break it without making boring centered images.


Different Qualities of Light


  • Direct - Light directly in front of the subject tends to flatten out the light.
  • Directional - Light towards the side of the subject adds more depth and reveals textures.
  • Backlit - Can often times underexpose the foreground subjects but when used in the right situation can create a great dramatic image.


Helpful Photo Tips


1. Remember to Keep Extra Film and Batteries With You
You'll need them when you least expect it and want them the most.

2. Get Close to Your Subject
If you are photographing your kids, your brand new car, or some flowers in your garden don't be afraid to fill the frame with your subject. Eliminating some background that isn't essential to the subject makes a stronger photograph.

3. Look For a Unique Perspective
Don't hesitate to explore different ways to photograph the same old subjects. For portraits, try getting eye level with your subject, it helps to make the image more engaging. Photograph everything off center, do things you wouldn't normally do and see if you like it!

4. Use Your Flash Outdoors
During mid-day, direct sun creates harsh shadows that look unnatural and unpleasant when photographing people outdoors. In these situations turn on your flash, called a fill flash, which will soften out the light and eliminate the shadows creating the same quality of light on a cloudy day. This technique is also helpful with extremely "backlit" situations, such as a portrait of your child on a beach with the sun setting in the background. The camera will read the sunset as a sufficient quantity of light to make a good exposure, however because that main source of light is behind your subject, your child will end up being too dark, or underexposed. The fill flash will help to correct this problem, but you have to be able to recognize the situations where you need it.

5. Know the Range of Your Flash
Your latent images, or exposed negatives, will begin to loose quality after around a month of sitting in your camera. By developing the film sooner you can help to ensure the highest quality in your images and prints.

6. Develop Your Film Promptly After Exposed
Your latent images, or exposed negatives, will begin to loose quality after around a month of sitting in your camera. By developing the film sooner you can help to ensure the highest quality in your images and prints.

7. Be Conscious of the "Decisive" Moment
Whatever it may be that you are photographing, there is always going to be a specific moment, expression, smile, laugh or way that the light is hitting the subject that is more telling than the rest. The ability to foresee that moment is extremely challenging and comes with experience so keep your finger on the shutter and make a lot of pictures!