Sophomore Arjin Claire took this photo by sprinkling water on a piece of clear tape over an image of the Eiffel Tower. (Photo courtesy of Claire)

QUARANTINE CRASH COURSE: Sophomore spends week focused on photography

With the coronavirus pandemic sweeping through the country and everyone being stuck at home, I wanted to try a new hobby: photography. 

I have always wanted to learn how to take pictures properly, so I used this time to do so. 

Before I could take pictures, I had to learn about cameras. I started researching them and what different settings meant and did. 

The first thing I learned about was aperture. It’s one of the three pillars of photography, along with shutter speed and ISO, and is “certainly the most important,” according to photographylife.com.

Claire takes a photo of the Louis Vuitton logo by placing it under a piece of tape sprinkled with water. (Photo courtesy of Claire)

Aperture is the opening in a lens that light passes through to enter the camera. By adjusting the aperture, you can change how much light reaches the film or digital sensor. Aperture can be used to change the dimensions of your photo by controlling the depth field. If you change the aperture and allow more light to come through, the background is blurred and the object is in focus, whereas if you let less light through, most of the photo is in sharp focus.

Aperture is measured in f-stop, and the smaller the number after the “f,” the more light comes through. So an aperture of f/1.4 will have a larger opening and allow more light in than an aperture of f/22. 

Another effect of aperture is the brightness, or exposure. A large aperture will increase the brightness, while a smaller aperture will make the picture darker. 

Shutter speed is the length of time the shutter is open, or how long it takes your camera to take a photo. 

Shutter speed can be used to increase the brightness of a photo or create dramatic effects like freeze motion or motion blur. If you take a picture with a low shutter speed, such as five seconds, the photo will be brighter.

Additionally, a longer shutter speed will lead to more motion blur, so something that is in motion will appear blurred in the direction that it is going.

The other use of shutter speed is freeze motion, which occurs when you have a high shutter speed. Freeze motion makes objects that are falling or in motion essentially freeze in place in sharp focus. 

ISO (International Organization for Standardization) is measured in numbers — 100 is low and 6,000 high. The higher the ISO, the brighter the photo.

Using ISO is normally a tradeoff, because the higher the ISO, the grainier the photo. Therefore, ISO is typically used only when a photo is unable to be brightened by aperture or shutter speed. 

Claire shines yellow light on a flour mound to create this photo. (Photo courtesy of Claire)

After learning about the fundamentals of photography, I started messing around with settings and began to take pictures with a camera I had at home, a Canon EOS 60D, as well as my phone camera. 

I started by taking pictures of random things that I found around my house, then moved on to making scenarios of my own out of household items like tape and flour. As I took more photos, it became a lot easier to understand what I needed to change on the camera to take better photos. 

The biggest thing that I learned is to keep trying new things. If a picture doesn’t turn out right, keep playing with the settings, and eventually you’ll get a good picture. 

—By Arjin Claire

Originally published in the May 26 edition of the Octagon.