Lessons about Exposure and Lighting

I had the pleasure of photographing a very beautiful Siamese cat named MooShu. He is a very peaceful cat who adores interacting with people. He is an older gentleman with beautiful deep blue eyes and a magnificent silky smooth coat. Moo, as I affectionately call him, is an excellent cat to photograph as he is very trusting and not at all skittish.

Choosing my first subject was easy. However, choosing where he would be photographed wasn’t so easy. Moo likes is special place which is an upstairs room with not a lot of light. So, how do I handle this?  I tried first to photograph an object that I thought would be similar lighting as the room that Moo was in, but I was wrong.

The object I chose to focus on to pre-set my settings before photographing Moo was a small metal butterfly sitting on a special shelf that was all its own. The lighting in the room was an overhead chandelier and I wasn’t sure if the lights were fluorescent or regular light bulbs. But once I shot this photo, I thought I’d be all ready to seamlessly shoot some photos of Moo. I was wrong…

Metal Butterfly

Metal Butterfly

Moo was in an upstairs room. The lighting was completely different. As a matter of fact it was almost non-existent! Moo liked to hang out in what was described as the “MooShu Lair!” Yes, it was indeed Moo’s very own room. It was a simple room that was quiet and peaceful just like Moo. But…the lighting was completely different. I did not think about the lighting being different from room to room. The room had one small decorative lamp sitting on a side table and a window. The sun had set and dusk had set in. MooShu was barely visible on the couch in the room. You would think I could get Moo to move to a different room, but he was sooooo comfortable laying on the couch I didn’t have the heart to call him to another room. So much for pre-setting my camera to easily take pictures.=

Now I was at a loss. Since the room was dark I couldn’t see the buttons on the camera to figure out what settings I should change to accommodate the lighting.  After “fiddling” around with the settings, here is the first picture I took of Moo in the dark room.

MooShu in a very dark room.

MooShu in a very dark room.

Sheesh…that is just awful…I know!!!  Here’s the second photo I shot in which I increased the ISO:

Moo Shu - same dark room different settings.

Moo Shu – same dark room different settings.

Oh, boy…not much better. But then it dawned on me. E X P O S U R E! I needed to increase the exposure! So, that’s what I did.

MooShu – dark room – increased exposure

Ahhhh…much better! This is the MooShu I know.

There are a few lessons I learned during this photo session:

  1. You can’t preset your camera’s setting while standing in a different room from where the picture is actually being taken.
  2. I need to memorize the buttons on my camera. It was very frustrating not really knowing which button showed the correct menu on the camera’s screen.
  3. I need to relax. There was no pressure here. I was only with my husband and Moo and there was no reason to be nervous, but I was.
  4. I realized that I don’t yet have a good grip on exactly how ISO, Exposure, Aperture and all the other settings affect the photograph.  I need more lessons.

Here are a few more pictures of MooShu.  I love that cat!

MooShu and Mark

Beautiful MooShu

Beautiful MooShu


My Big Fat New Revelation – Old Cameras Have Settings!

A few days ago, I decided to look around my house and see if I could find any of my old cameras that I bought in the past. I’m happy to say that I found a few. One camera, I didn’t even remember I had! After joyfully looking at them all and playing with the settings, I had a revelation. Better photography has been at my fingertips all these years and I never realized it. I’ve never played around with camera settings until now! (Gulp!) They were all Auto-Focus and I thought that was the BEST setting to ALWAYS use. A few weeks ago I took a DSLR Photography class on Craftsy and my entire photography life was changed forever!

You see before I took the Craftsy course, I thought my new-found love of photography and new found ability to achieve a better quality picture, was all about having Big Fat New DSLR Camera. By today’s standards a DSLR is one of the best camera’s you can have today to take incredibly beautiful pictures. My Big Fat New Camera has a lot of bells and whistles which, of course, were not available to the general public or a hobbyist like me. At least I don’t think the 1988 equivalent to a quality camera of today’s stardards would be cheap enough to be purchased by a hobbyist like me.

So, back to the camera I found today that captured my interest. It was the oldest camera I owned and it was a Pentax IQZoom 900. Now, I do remember having this camera, but I didn’t remember when I bought it.  I looked on the web and found an old posting from the magazine, Popular Photography, dated 1989 and it featured an article entitled, “Break Out Of Your Creative Rut With Pentax IQ Zoom Cameras.” I can’t actually tell if it’s a real “article” or an extended advertisement presented in an article format because there is no author listed. There is a typical advertisement for this camera on the page preceding the article so the two may be connected. You may be able to see the article through this link: http://bit.ly/1AGqQPh (don’t worry, it’s a harmless link). Any way, once I realized this camera is from from the late 1980’s (OMG!), I realized I probably bought this camera around 1988 because I used this camera on my honeymoon to Walt Disney World in Florida in 1988. Here’s a scan of a picture of a swan I took with this camera back in 1988. (My bird theme continues from childhood!)

In 1988 I continue to take pictures of birds!

In 1988 I continue to take pictures of birds!

I can tell you exactly what setting the camera was – Auto Focus (surprise!) – actually it was Auto Everything, because I didn’t know the camera had settings. Yup, I admit that I did not know, until today, that this camera had settings that would affect the quality of my pictures!

When I sat down today to examine this vintage (not old) Pentax camera, I removed the dead batteries, put in new batteries, turned it on, and heard the motor do it’s thing just as if the camera was used last week! Then I pushed  the little tiny controls on the back of the camera that could only be depressed using my fingernail, and I saw little tiny symbols appear on the little tiny monochrome screen! One was a little sun (for taking pictures in bright light), a “B” “ME” “INT” and, settings for flash and continuous. Oh, and it has the count for number of pictures taken on the film. Did I mention that this camera I found today HAS film loaded in it?  Kodak Gold, 36 400/27. How long has this film been in the camera? I have no idea.

Here are pictures of the front and back of that camera.


My Pentax Camera circa 1988


The settings I “discovered” today – 27 years later. LOL!

Here are two more photos  taken with my Pentax camera in 1988:


Cinderella’s Castle – Walt Disney World – 1988


Here’s me – my name is Patty – this is 27 years ago.

So, I took this camera out for a stroll today and started snapping pictures. I zoomed in on my subject and snapped the first picture! Then I took the camera away from my eye to review it on the screen. However, there is no screen to review pictures! Wow, I haven’t used a camera without a screen to review photos in YEARS! How weird! But, for the first time in this Pentax camera’s existence, I selected the camera setting for “sun” as I was shooting outside in kinda bright light. Would my pictures have come out better back in 1988 had I turned on the “sun” setting while shooting pictures on my honeymoon?  I don’t know, but I hope to find out after I develop this film.

I’m not sure what the other settings on this camera are for (yet), but I found an old manual for this camera on the web so I’m going to print it out and see if I can use these other “advanced” settings.  Will these settings give me a better quality picture? I don’t know, but it will be fun trying!

If you have any suggestions for me with regard to using this camera. Let me know. Remember using this Pentax camera is just for fun and to reminisce. Who knows, I really may learn something here, because it seems to have some sort of “selfie” setting. Oh yeah, this I have to see!