Because every time I prepare to teach in a class, I LEARN something that leaves me feeling embarrassed and a bit cold in my feet. What I had just learnt would have completely missed my attention if not for the preparation for class.
Being active as a professional photographer means that you have a fair bit of technical competence and update on current technology. But we also get through shoots with our eyes half-closed. By that, i mean the technical knowledge is so soaked in, that, one doesn't need to keep thinking about the fundamentals. Yet it is in these fundamentals that we overlook the obvious and when the knowledge does dawn on us, it leaves us humbled, at least it does for me.
Take for instance the simplest matter matter of focal length of a lens, for those who have shot on film cameras and those who only shoot on Full-frame digital cameras, this is a simple matter. An 18mm lens is ultra wide and 55mm lens is very close to a normal lens. But come crop frame digital cameras (APSC) and all this gets a bit muddled. Most of the new prosumer cameras come with a complementary 18-55mm and you think wow! Camera companies are being generous these days by giving out a wonderfully wide zoom lens free with their cameras. But wait !! An 18mm lens on a crop frame camera is actually the equivalent of a 28mm lens and the 18-55 suddenly becomes a 28-80mm lens, the kind we always used to get with film cameras - best compliments of the camera company. This focal length confusion doesn't stop with DSLRs , it goes down to point and shoot cameras as well. Most small cameras come with a focal length range of 5-25mm. Don't be fooled. This isn't an ultra-extra wide lens range. It translates into the standard 28-140mm lens. So why aren't these new age lenses being marked differently. Why doesn't the nomenclature follow what ones sees through the lens.
The lesson for me was that lens manufacturers maintained their focal length nomenclature irrespective of what format they make the lens for, the standard is always the 35mm film format!! Why do they do that? Simply because during days of film, there was only one format size, 35mm. Now there are so many different sensors , varying in size with no standardization at all. There has to be something that is standard, so for better or worse 35mm film has been the chosen one. Revealing!!
And then there is the LiveView mode. This is a super duper invention that comes with all new DSLRs. I am so thankful for it because live view is what paved the way for video shooting capabilities on DSLRs.
I always had a problem when shooting with studio flashes and using radio triggers to sync them. When using live view mode , the radio triggers never worked, while they worked perfectly fine when shooting normally. I found the answer to it when i was doing some research for my DSLR filming workshop.
When shooting video in DSLRs we keep altering shutter speeds but i always wondered why i never hear the shutter open and close. Video shooting is silent in spite of the shutter working.. I researched it and found that the shutter in video mode (and live mode) works electronically, not mechanically. The sensor is basically switched on and off for the shutter speed duration while the mechanical shutter remains open. Explains why flashes don't work. The impulse for the flash trigger is controlled by the mechanical shutter opening and closing, since this does not happen in live view mode, the triggers don't work.
I am sure i could have done my shoots and gotten through my career without knowing any of these behind the scene fundamentals. But to know is to be empowered and thanks to my workshops, i had an opportunity to dig up these answers. These are just two of the many interesting points that have come up and have been answered. As much as i gain immense satisfaction in watching my workshop participants transform and walk out feeling empowered as photographers and filmmakers, I secretly have to thank them for asking those questions, they made me dig back into my fundamentals!!