Explorenation recently conducted a half-day Camera Clinic at the London campus of Limkokwing University, with a group of 20 students from the Faculty of Communications in Kuala Lumpur. As part of their 3-week ‘Global Classroom’ teaching, their stay in London include visits to local business and historic sites, talks and seminars. It has become evident that the camera phone has substituted cameras for many people when they travel, as more than half of the group rely on their portables to record and capture photos. With the increase use of photo apps and filter effects to obtain dramatic looking images on the fly, and the ease of it, it is little surprising that so many are drawn to this new medium for their photography needs.
(Thanks to Kimberly Sammy for the slide pics)
It is also surprising that for those who owned digital single lens reflex (dSLR) cameras, the majority of them did not fully comprehend the various mode setttings offered by these devices; how to set aperture, shutter speeds and ISOs, how these relate to exposure, and how to get the best out of their cameras. There is no simple way around this. I would advocate that current practitioners learn how to use simple basic manual film cameras like the K1000, OM1, FMs or FEs if they wish to master exposure, or learn how to read an external light meter. It seems that the basic photography concepts have been bypassed by the modernity of cameras, and in some way, I blame the manufacturers for designing their cameras with buttons rather than dials. Call me old school or whatever, but I am a tactile and visual person. I like to see and understand how aperture blades work, as they close down. I like to understand what a focal plane shutter is compared to a leaf shutter.
The next question to ask is this : does knowing the workings of a modern-day camera enable you to take better images? My answer is no. But, it does help in understanding why your images are blurry or dark when you did not intend them to be. It would help you understand about sync flash speeds, managing depth-of-field, fill flash, hyperfocal distance, and much more. Simply put, knowing how your equipment works will help you get the most out of its capability, know its limitations and using the correct settings for different scenes.