This week in our Hermitage Museum photography class, we spent the majority of our time covering composition, and depth of field.

We also covered metering modes, Camera Dial settings, and went over recaps and questions from last week’s lesson.

One of the very first things we talked about was the “Aspect Ratio” (which is the ratio of the width to the height of a photograph) and how you lose some of your image when it gets printed because the camera shoots in a 2:3 ratio.
Here is an article to help you flesh out that concept more.
Below is a visual tool to help you see what different sizing would do to the image you have printed.
Aspect ratio for cropping

Hermitage Museum Photography Class – Week 2 Recap

Camera sensor sizes, and the difference between crop sensor and full frame models. We also went over lens compression and how the picture is affected by “crop factor”
Do you need a full frame camera? Check out this article to find out!
Bracketing – here’s a great article that really goes in depth about this!
Metering Modes and their functions – this article is concise and easy to understand.

~ Remember for this class we will live in Evaluative/Matrix Metering Mode

Camera Dial Modes

  • Auto = Fully auto the camera does all the work and you’re playing Russian Roulette
  • P = partial auto the camera allows you to set things like the ISO but controls the shutter speed and aperture
  • AV / A (depending on camera model) = Aperture priority you set the aperture and the camera sets the shutter speed
  • TV / S (depending on camera model) = Shutter priority you set the shutter speed and the camera sets the aperture
  • M = fully manual you make all the decisions

Here’s a good description of the mode dial settings as well as the scene selection settings.



Things to consider when framing your image:

  • Horizontal or vertical
  • Perspective
  • Subject
  • Simplify
  • Negative space
  • Lines
  • Visual Weight
  • Fill the frame
  • Motion
  • Depth of Field

We talked about the Rule of thirds, if you find it helpful, think of your viewfinder as a tic tac toe board.

This affects the composition and feeling of a photograph depending on where the subject is placed.

Shallow depth of field was also brought up, and and how can be used to isolate a subject from the surroundings.

Keep in mind, there are a combination of things that are needed to achieve the correct effect.


Learn your camera in manualMoving Your Focal Point

Moving your focal point around in the frame will provide greater sharpness in your images.

Using this technique will allow you to put the focus exactly where you want within the frame.

Here’s a great article on moving your focal point in the frame.

Please Note: This is not changing to lens to manual focusing.

Students will still be shooting with the lens in autofocus, I just want you to learn to choose and move your focal point.

This is done with your lens in autofocus mode.


Depth of Field

Photographers use depth of field (DOF) to isolate their subjects and throw a distracting background out of focus.

To create a nice blurriness/bokeh behind your subject you’ll need to use a combination of the following…

  • Use a long Lens (70mm – 85 mm and higher)
  • Have a wide aperture/f-stop (1.4, 1.8, 2.0, 2.8, 3.5, 4.0)
  • Get close to the subject
  • Keep your subject away from the background

Here’s a link to an article with some good information on achieving shallow depth of field.

Adobe put together a great article on understanding Composition.



keep calm and do your homework

Students have a big photography homework assignment this week.
Make sure you are out there playing with your camera and practicing what we learned this week so you’ll be ready to show your images in class.
Here’s the breakdown of your assignments:

Reading – Please read the Chapter on Aperture in our textbook.


Homework Assignment Part One

Take your everyday object and, using what you learned about composition and depth of field in in class, re-shoot it to make it look more interesting.

Practice taking a bunch of photos from different angles and utilizing different lighting.

I also want you to see how you can use depth of field (DOF) to enhance your subject.

Pick out 1 of your best shots and have it printed for class next week.

Don’t forget to bring your original photo as well so we can look at them side by side.


Homework Assignment Part Two

Depth of field: I want you to pick two objects, stuffed animals, potted plants, etc. They must be at least 12″ tall. No miniature objects, no people or pets, and set then up outside on bench or table.

  • Try not to shoot in bright midday sun. Early morning or late afternoon light is good as well as bright open shade (**see definition below).
  • If you have one, use your longer zoom lens for this assignment. Zoom in on your front object or physically get in close.
  • Make sure your items are spaced approx 3′-4′ apart and that you position yourself and camera so you can see both the front and back item.
  • Set your ISO for the lighting conditions. 200 for a sunny day. 400 an overcast day or a shady area. Don’t be afraid to chose a higher ISO if you need to! You want to make sure that you aren’t letting your shutter speed get too low.
  • Zoom in on your front object.
  • Set your aperture/f-stop to to your widest aperture for your zoom setting. Zero out your meter with the shutter speed and take the shot. Your front object should be in focus and your back object should be blurry.
  • Without moving your camera position, focus on the back object. If your light looked good in the first shot you shouldn’t have to change your settings. Take another shot.
  • Again, without moving your camera position, set your f-stop to a small opening. 16 or 18 should be fine. Focus on one of the objects, zero out your meter with your shutter speed and take another shot. Both your objects should be in focus. If not, set your f-stop to 22, 28 (or higher), re-zero out your meter and take another shot.

Print all 3 shots and bring them to class next week along with your reshot everyday item.

Here is an examples of the depth of field assignment:


Front Object In Focus

Photography homework assignment


Back Object In Focus

Depth of Field Comparison


Both Objects In Focus

Changing Aperture Manual Camera Settings


Hopefully today’s post for our digital photography helps!
As always, if you need anything, just let me know and I’ll be more than happy to help you!
**Definition for “open shade”: This term is used to refer to large shades caused by things such as large buildings, trees, hills, etc. However, these shades allow a large light source to illuminate the subject. It is good for photography because you avoid harsh highlights produced by strong sources such as the sun