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Photography

This website originally started with an aim to explain the technical aspects of photography in a way that was easy to understand. This section is no longer updated, but the original posts are below.

Aberrations: Spherical & Chromatic - Aberrations are imperfections in the optics of the camera lens and result in image deterioration. Different lenses will be affected by aberrations to varying degrees and in some cases these unwanted effects can be mitigated ... continue reading
Autofocus: Phase & Contrast Detection - There are two main types of autofocus—phase detection and contrast detection. Generally speaking, phase detection is used in DSLRs whilst contrast detection is employed in compact and mirrorless cameras. Technically speaking we’re talking about passive ... continue reading
Back Button Focus: Why You Should Be Using it - Many cameras these days give you the option to reprogram some of the buttons in the custom function menu. Apart from being able to lay out the settings in a way which is most intuitive ... continue reading
Binary - Binary code is simply a string of 0’s and 1’s. The number of ‘bits’ represent the number of possible slots for the 0’s or the 1’s. For instance, 3 bit binary code could look like ... continue reading
Bit Depth & Image Posterization - The bit depth of an image determines how many unique colours are available to create the image (even if the image does then not utilise all these possible colours)—a palette from which a scene can ... continue reading
Camera Settings - Once you’re familiar with the exposure triangle, you’re ready to switch out of Auto mode. No matter what brand of camera you own, you should be able to find most of the following settings (Canon camera ... continue reading
Colour Temperature & White Balance - Colour temperature is an important aspect of photography in ensuring accurate colour reproduction in a scene. Incorrectly setting the colour temperature or white balance on your camera can lead to (in most cases) undesirable colours ... continue reading
Crop Factor & Sensor Size - With 35mm film cameras, the “sensor” size was the size of the film negative itself—36 x 24mm (incidentally, the 35mm is the width of the film strip which gives a negative frame height of 24mm, ... continue reading
Depth of Focus - Depth of field refers to the distance behind and in front of the point of focus that appears acceptably sharp. This distance is inversely proportional to the aperture, as illustrated below. And demonstrated in photographs... ... continue reading
Diffraction in Camera Lenses - The effects of diffraction can be seen in the right-hand image below (point of focus was identical in all shots). Here we see that, relative to ƒ/8 the text at ƒ/32 is less sharp. For photographers, the ... continue reading
Dynamic Range & Clipping - The dynamic range of a camera (or printer, or monitor) is the ratio between the minimum and maximum light intensities observed. For digital cameras, it is the range outside which the camera records only pure ... continue reading
Electromagnetic Spectrum - The visible spectrum represents only a tiny proportion of the entire electromagnetic spectrum. There are three important properties of electromagnetic waves: 1. Electromagnetic waves are transverse waves They follow a sinusoidal pattern much like ripples ... continue reading
Exposing to the Right - Exposing to the right (“ETTR”) is, in some circles, a pretty contentious issue—in part because there have been a number of slightly misleading articles on the subject, which have themselves led to rebuttals which sometimes ... continue reading
Exposure Triangle: The Basics of Photography - Despite the huge technological advances in digital imaging in the past few decades, the basic mechanics of taking a photograph have not changed. Digital cameras may have automated the process (or, at least, given us ... continue reading
Extenders & Teleconverters - Teleconverters or Extenders are attachments placed between the camera and lens that increase the focal length of the lens by a given factor. A 1.4x teleconverter will give a focal length of 280mm if used ... continue reading
Filters: Advancing Your Photography - Filters are pieces of glass or plastic that are inserted in front of the lens to produce photographic effects that are often impossible to re-create in post-processing. As good as our digital cameras may be, ... continue reading
Histograms in Photography - The histogram is one of the most under-utilised photographic tools. It shows the relative distribution of tonal values in the image from black on the left to white on the right. Consequently, a darker image ... continue reading
Image Stabilization: Lens & Sensor - Image stabilization in a wider sense simply refers to the methods or techniques applied to still the camera during shooting for sharper images—including the use of a tripod. Optical Image stabilization (hereafter, “IS”) is the ... continue reading
Live View: Why It Matters - Live View or Live Preview is a function on just about all modern DSLRs and mirrorless cameras which lets you view the final image on the the camera’s LCD screen before you press the shutter ... continue reading
Megapixels: Why More is Not Always Better - Walk through the camera department of any electronic seller and the first statistic you will see next to the model name is the number of megapixels—12MP, 16.1MP, 24MP and so on. Especially in the lower ... continue reading
Metering in Photography - First of all, we need to make a clear distinction between reflected and incident light. Essentially, incident light is light directly from a given source (be it a sun or a lamp). Reflected light is ... continue reading
Metering Modes - There can be up to four metering settings in DSLRs: Evaluative, Centre-Weighted, Partial, and Spot. Below are the four diagrams that represent each one on your camera (Canon symbols, but other makers are similar). We ... continue reading
Mirror Lock-up - Mirror lock up is feature on most higher end DLSRs to reduce (minor) vibrations produced when the mirror flips up to allow light to pass onto the sensor. When you press the shutter on a ... continue reading
Moiré, False Colour & Anti-Aliasing Filters - There is a trend among manufacturers—beginning really with Nikon and the release of the D800E in 2012—to remove the anti-aliasing filter from digital cameras. Anti-aliasing filters are optical low-pass digital filters which essentially blur the ... continue reading
MTF Curves Explained - Modulation Transfer Function curves are helpful indicators of the performance of a lens. Seen for the first time MTF curves are very far from intuitive (not helped by the fact that different manufacturers use different ... continue reading
Noise in Digital Photography - In digital photography noise is typically associated with the mottled image we get when taking shots in the low light with a high ISO. Noise was an issue with film cameras as it is these days ... continue reading
Polarization: Linear & Circular Polarizers - Light that enters the lens is, in certain cases, partially polarized. The correct use of polarizing filters allow us to manipulate this partially polarized light to achieve effects that are practically impossible to reproduce using ... continue reading
Understanding Gamma in Photography - Gamma—or more precisely, gamma-correction—simply refers to the operation to encode the linear values the camera records into a non-linear relationship (or the reversal of this process in decoding). The reason we must gamma correct images lies ... continue reading

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