3. F-stop, Lenses, Field of View and Composition

Assignment Discussion

Lets look at the three images each of you have sent in, be aware of pattern in terms colours, shapes, and objects in these images.

  • Do you notice any similarities between the three images you capture this time and the images from your previous ones?
  • What difference in colours and experience of light occurred because you were shooting in the golden hour?
Less than 90 degrees to the Sun
Sun Directly Behind

Questions from Last Week:

Review of Speed priority

Automatic Exposure Bracketing (AE Bracketing)

If you are using a mirrorless camera you can see your exposure in the viewfinder, if you are using a SLR then you will have to look at the photograph after you have taken it to see the exposure. You may notice when you are shooting in bright sunlight that the image you capture is different from what you saw with your eyes, the sky may have gone all white when it is actually blue, or the dark coloured areas may have gone black with a loss of detail.

This is because a camera has a less dynamic range than your eyes. Your eyes have a range of 20 to 30 stops although at any given time they may only be seeing 10 stops of light. Cameras typically have a dynamic range of between 12 and 15 stops. 

To overcome this limitation in dynamic range some photographers use exposure bracketing. Exposure bracketing takes a number of shots in rapid succession at different exposures. These different exposures are then merged in post processing software. When bracketing you will need in most cases to be in Aperture Priority with your ISO locked rather than floating. The speed should then determine the different exposures. If the light is not bright you may need to either be on a tripod or raise your ISO to avoid camera shake.

Cameras with Bracketing 

Cameras without Automatic Bracketing

These cameras do not have automatic bracketing, so you would have to use the Exposure Compensation dial to manually create three shots. Here is a video on how to exposure bracket manually

  • D3300 
  • D3500
  • D40
  • Sony Alpha SLT A33:


To make enduring photographs, one must learn to see with one’s mind’s eye, for the heart and the mind are the true lens of the camera. Yousf Karsh

Photographer: Edward Burtynsky

Edward Burtynsky is one of Canada’s most respected photographers, with works featured in the collections of more than 50 museums around the globe, including the Guggenheim Museum in New York and the National Gallery of Canada. He was a recipient of the Order of Canada in 2006, Burtynsky’s work dissects the relationships between industry and nature. His images of global industrial landscapes across Canada, the United States, and Europe capture beauty in these unlikely environments, as well as explore the environment impact of these sites. Burtynsky also founded and continues to manage Toronto Image Works, a darkroom rental facility, gallery, and digital imaging lab.

Railcuts #8
(Red hill, C.N. train) C.N. Track, Thompson River, British Columbia, 1985
Homesteads #32
View from Highway 8, British Columbia 1985

Edward Burtynsky, early in his career, was capturing things that caught his eye. In the first two images you can see he is looking at natural environments that have been slightly modified by human presence. This early attention to what caught his eye eventually evolved into a deep theme that runs through most of his work, that of manufactured landscapes which can be seen in the first two images.

Log Booms #1
Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada, 2016
Tetrapods #1
Dongying, China, 2016
Iberia Quarries #3
Cochicho Co., Pardais, Portugal,, 2006

Speed Priority Review

Set your camera on your tripod, set your ISO to automatic, and leave your aperture to float by setting your camera to Speed (Tv) priority. What you should find is, as you adjust your speed, is the camera will automatically change the aperture or ISO, until it reaches a point where the maximum or minimum aperture setting or the maximum ISO is reached. At this point the aperture number will display a warning that the camera can not adjust the aperture any longer and the exposure will be incorrect. This might mean the aperture number flashes or goes red.

Have someone stand in front of the camera and wave their hands while you take a series of pictures. Take a picture of the person including the hand at 1/8, 1/15, 1/125, 1/250 and 1/500. Review the images and look for three things, at what speed are the images of person in each photograph less sharp and at what speeds are the movements in the photograph frozen. When did your camera adjust the aperture and when did it adjust the ISO. This will give two pieces of useful information, first at what speed does your camera freeze small movements and large movements. Second how does the cameras automatic ISO and Aperture adjust.

Camera Operation: Aperture Priority

We have been experimenting with Speed priority while leaving aperture and ISO in automatic mode. We now need to experiment with Aperture priority while leaving speed and ISO in automatic mode. In this mode you will need to observe how different apertures impact your images. The higher the aperture or f-stop number the smaller the opening and the more depth of field you have and the sharper the background. Each camera depending on its sensor size will provide different results in terms of depth of field. You should find the higher the f-stop the more everything is in focus and the lower the f-stop the less is focus.

Three Ways to Control Depth of Field DOF

Previewing Depth of Field

Aperture Experiment

  1. Set your camera lens to the lowest possible f-stop it should somewhere between 1.8 and 2.8, unless you are using a zoom lens in which case it may be higher. Make sure your camera is is Aperture mode and your ISO is set to automatic. If you are using a zoom lens set it to its widest field of view. Now choose an object that is on the desk in front of you and focus on the object while keeping some of the background in the frame. What do you notice?
  2. Set your camera lens to the highest possible f-stop it should be somewhere between 16 and 22. If you are using a zoom lens set it to its widest field of view. Now focus on the object. What do you notice the is different?
  3. Now experiment with different f-stops. What do you notice.


  • Prime versus Zoom: Primes have a fixed focal length zoom lenses have a variable focal length. Zooms are flexible and have a range of focal lengths. Prime lenses are usually lighter and smaller with lower f-stops for low light situations, better bokeh, better depth of field and often sharper.
  • Standard Lens: Usually this is the 50mm lens (50-60mm) they are closest to the angle of view we see relatively distortion free.
  • Wide Angle Lens: Usually 35mm-20mm lenses used often for landscape photography. The 35mm Lens is also a very popular street photography lens.
  • Telephoto Lens: Usually 70-200mm they often used for portraiture and wildlife photography.
  • Super Telephoto: (300-600mm) are usually used for wildlife and sports.
  • Macro Lens: these are specific lenses that allow the photographer to focus very closely. They are sometimes found on 60,105 and 200mm lenses.
From Camerasize.com
From Camerasize.com
50mm equivalents for APSC cameras: Nikon 35mm DX f1.8, Nikon 35mm ED f1.8, Nikon 35mm f1.4 ED, Fujifilm 35mm f2, and Fujifilm 35mm f1.4.

Changing a Lens

Sensors in your camera carry an electric charge and can attract dust; also lenses are connected to the camera electronically. So when changing a lens, always turn off your camera and keep the opening of the camera facing down. Make sure the end of the lens being attached to the camera is clean, and the end you are going to attach to the camera is face down until just before you attach it. Try to minimize the amount of time the camera is open and the lens is uncapped.

Field of View

Each lens has a different Field of View. In the chart below you can see that a 24mm lens gives you and 84 degree view of the scene whereas a 50mm lens only gives you a 46 degree view.

Fujifilm has an interesting site that allows you to experiment with different lenses while looking at the same scenic view. You can access this by clicking on the following link.

The chart below gives you a quick look at the different fields of view.

Courtesy of Rob Will

Camera Artistry: Composition

Photography is performance art. You are dancing with your viewfinder within a scene to find a composition.  Unlike painters, writers and poets, a photographer seeks to find the compositional elements within the viewfinder, like that or an editor.

I like to explore composition in in a number of ways, where do the key elements fall within the frame, how do the leading lines within the frame help or hinder how the viewers eyes move through the frame and where are the horizontal lines falling in the composition?


Photography exist within a frame and the framing of an image is compositional process. Elliott Erwitt, a Magnum photographer, has a very famous image (above) called the Chihuahua New York. Looking his Contact Sheet Print: gives you some idea of his process of creating this composition.

The process of composing an image within a frame in all art forms is to draw the viewers eye into the image. Drawing a views eyes into a frame and keeping them there determines the strength of a composition. This is achieved through subject matter, narrative and compositional strategies.

Composition Strategies

There are many methods for creating compositions as an artist. Let’s look some of these:

  • Rule of Thirds (main subject in 1/3 of the frame either vertically or horizontally).
  • Foreground, Middleground and Background. [Foreground/Group of Seven: Repersoir)
  • S-Curve
  • Rule of Odds (odd numbers of subjects).
  • Leading Lines (lines that draw attention to the subject
  • Balancing/Imbalancing Elements (including another element to balance the main subject).
  • Open Ended Scene (you can’t tell for sure what is actually going on).
  • Room for movement.
  • Frame within a Frame/ implied framing
  • Controlling strong verticals or horizontals
  • Checking horizon lines are level
  • Strategic cropping of lines, and objects
  • Balancing bright and dark area

I suggest we focus primarily on the first two of the composition tools: the rule of thirds and the foreground, middleground and background.

Rule of Thirds/Golden Ratio

An explanation of how the golden ratio is found everywhere and is described in the video below.

The rule of thirds that photographers talk about is a simplification of an artist composition idea called the golden ratio, sometimes referred to as the golden mean, or divine section. It is often used by photographers, artist and architects when designing or composing their work.

Rule of Thirds versus Golden Ratio

Foreground, Middleground and Background

Paying attention to the foreground, middle ground and background will help give you images greater depth and add a sense of scale.

Here is a simple process you can follow in order to do this, it should help you look at what you are shooting in a more dimensional way: 

  1. Spend some time identifying interesting objects in at least two of the three areas of the location you are going to photograph.
  2. Think about how you might arrange these objects by moving about the scene looking through your camera to see how they change as you frame from different positions.
  3. Make a note of the leading lines and how they are impacting the composition.

Eye Level and Other Views

Eye Level
Ground Level
Above the Head

Photography Events of Interest

Opening Night – Photographs of England – Trevor Martin

February 6 @ 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Beau Photo Shop, 110 – 1401 West 8th Ave
Vancouver, B.C. V6H 1C9 Canada

Trevor Martin is a master photographic printer and photographer, and long-time resident of Vancouver. He began to photograph in 1960 in the UK and moved to Vancouver from Cornwall, England in 1969. Since he started, he has created a collection of thousands of silver print black and white photographs of England, Canada, and around the world. This exhibition of 18 photographs are the first to be printed after a review of his work in England, and especially of his home county of Cornwall, that date from 1960’s to the 1990’s.Find out more »

Artist Talk – Trevor Martin

February 15 @ 11:00 am – 12:30 pm at Beau Photo


Keep in mind both the rule of thirds (golden ratio) and the creation of depth using foreground, middle ground and background. Pay attention to where horizon lines and vertical lines are within your frame as we discussed in class. It is up to you to decide which is better to use: Aperture priority or Speed priority. As we discussed, this will depend on the light, speed of movement in the frame and what kind of depth of field you wish to use. 

Keep in mind that when something of interest catches your eye, do not just make one photograph. Keep in mind the discussion around Elliott Erwitt’s photograph of the Chihuahua, where he spent a long time making many photographs in the same location. Like Erwitt. Make lots of exploratory photographs and move around looking for different angles or perspectives. Avoid staying in one spot and just zooming in and out with your lens.

If you want to capture a streetscape with people in it, locate a spot where you can sit down. Take your time getting your camera out; this will allow time for you to blend into the location where you are sitting. Once you feel comfortable, start to work on a composition. Relocate yourself once you have exhausted the possibilities of this location and repeat the process. If anyone approaches you and questions what you are doing, you can tell them you are taking a course and learning how to use your camera and your assignment is to photograph a streetscape with people in it. Usually. this gets a smile and solves the problem.

Chihuahua New York, Elliott Erwitt. Magnum Photos

If you have a camera bag with camera gear in it please bring it to the next class so we can explore what sorts of accessories individuals in the class find useful.

Camera Questions

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-2.png
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Canon-ISO-Changing.jpg

Return to Course Outline