Camera Basics

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 2, 1998

By Tommy Williams / L’Observateur / November 2, 1998

Because I’ve grown up in what many may call the “information era,” it’s difficult to imagine how many individuals rejected the concepts of Galileo Galilei.

Galileo (1542-1564) was an Italian physicist and astronomer who pioneered the use of the telescope and authored many documents in support of a theory that viewed earth as a free floating object that revolved around the sun. Due to hisviews, Galileo was sentenced to life imprisonment by the Roman Catholic church in 1633, and it wasn’t until 1992 that the church finally publicly acknowledged the Vatican’s error.

Although I am well aware that this isn’t a History 101 course, this is leading up to something important. For as long as I have been involved with photography,there are many individuals who have persisted in maintaining their same views and refusing to change. Fortunately for us, the view that I’m referring to is thepersistent use of a horizontal (landscape) format of taking pictures. Eventhough a camera can be held in an infinite number of positions, at this time, let’s only discuss the vertical and horizontal angles.

If you vertically position your camera, it should be in the same upright position or angle that your garbage can is in after the garbage man has passed. With pointand shoot cameras, position the camera so the flash is to the top or upside of camera. This position allows the shadow to fall low and behind the subject.Placing the flash on the bottom or lower side of the camera will force the shadow to rise or tower above the subject. Vertical positioning of the cameracan be used for shooting photos of anything in an upright position, such as buildings, trees or people. Keep in mind that both vertical and horizontal viewscan be used on almost any subject or object.

On the other hand, a horizontal camera position is the same position or angle as your garbage can after the garbage man has passed. This is the camera positionthat is the most frequently used to view by many camera buffs, maybe too frequently. The horizontal view is great for landscapes, skylines or large groupsof people.

The only way to determine which view or camera position suits any one specific subject or object is to experiment with your photos. Using both the horizontaland vertical angles when taking pictures can greatly influence how others view your photos and life. Maybe in 359 years from now, with a little research,they’ll determine that we shoot most of our photos in the horizontal position because we were genetically predisposed to the belief that the world is flat.

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