Theme Thursday: Dishes

Feb. 20, Feast of Blessed Francisco and Jacinta Marto (only allowed public celebration, for the time being, in Portugal), recipients of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima.

I had the presence of mind today to use the Theme Thursday prompt as an assignment and to put more than a half a second's thought into shooting.

First, I balanced two plates on the windows in the sun-room/living room because I love those windows, there's plenty of lighting, and there's built-in framing for the subjects.  I shot all of the following photos in manual mode, using the evaluative metering.  I've got next to no knowledge about metering mode, as I learned how to meter on a film camera and didn't have the luxury of choosing between evaluative, partial, spot, and center-weighted average metering.  If anybody knows what the heck these things mean, let me know!  Or even if you don't know how they work but have an idea of what works best for which type of situation.

With my EOS Rebel T3i, I also have the option of choosing the shot settings as regards lighting, and picture style.  As a rule of thumb, I keep these functions at Auto.  Changing the shot settings changes the temperature color.  Say, if you're shooting a stormy sky and want the yellow-dark lighting characteristic of the Overcast setting.  The Daylight setting gives a nice warm light to a photo.  But I'm partial to pure white light.  The picture style brings out certain colors and tones; therefore, Landscape brings out the blues and browns; Portrait brings out the rosy skin tone and mutes the whites and blacks.  You'll get a visual on how that affects picture outcome a little later.

I played around with composition, though I was very limited because the room is narrow and the 40mm lens needs some distance to focus and to capture wide subjects (two plates, spread far apart from each other).

I shot with a "low speed film," so to speak, ISO 100, because there was plenty of light in the room.  The higher the ISO number, the higher speed the "film," and the greater the possibility for noise--that grainy texture you see in the dark areas of a photograph when zoomed in close.  (Here's a helpful film speed guide.)

There's also a relationship between the ISO and shutter speed, which is always fuzzy in my memory.  Let's see . . . to let more light in, you need the shutter speed to be slow, so I take a risk of blurriness whenever I shoot with such a low ISO.  If you want to shoot using high speed film without it being blurry but letting plenty of light in, that means you need a slow shutter speed, which means the camera can't move.  That's where a tripod comes in handy.  (Which I don't have.)

Anyway, I digress.  I made some minor tweaks in Digital Photo Professional, with noise reduction and brightness/lighting.  You can't use unsharp mask with JPG, so I sharpened the photos slightly but left them alone otherwise.  Usually, I would transfer to PicMonkey and apply an unsharp mask there.  No idea if that's a good idea or not.  Professional photographers might cringe at such a thing, for all I know!  I also adjusted the contrast slightly in PicMonkey, and then I like to save in PNG because, in my experience, saving to JPG alters the color (you know, if you have a white background, saving JPG will make it stand out on the white blog background, but PNG will all but make it invisible).

Then I switched to RAW format to shoot.  While changing to RAW format doesn't make any practical difference in the actual shooting, it's completely different from JPEG in post production.  JPG has built-in noise reduction.  RAW doesn't.  So if you try to upload a RAW photo as a finished project, it's going to look really intense and rather grainy, like these ones I shot in RAW when I didn't know that!

RAW retains all of the raw information from the moment of shooting, so you have more options in editing.  For example, the photo below I altered the picture style to Faithful.

Kinda bland, but definitely more neutral.  This is how my dishes look to the naked eye.  More clay-colored and less yellow.  But maybe I want to bring out the blue paint.  In the following one, I changed the picture setting to Landscape.

I like this one the best.

All of the photos were shot with an ISO of 100 and an aperture of f/2.8 in manual mode.  The shutter speed automatically adjusts itself according to how I set the light meter (center or slightly to the right of center), but I deleted the photos from my camera memory, so I can't look to see what they were.  They were probably at or around 1/125.

If you found any of this helpful, do let me know in the comments!  And if you apply any of this "advice" later, I'd like to see the results.  Also, if you have any tips or outright corrections, those are certainly welcome.  Thanks to Cari for hosting!



  1. I understood none of that. But someday I hope too! :) Like the plates!

    1. It took me years of gleaning information to come up with the little I know. I'd probably save much time by just reading a book about it!

  2. I like the dishes. The windowsill, too. Most of your photo-talk went over my head (I only got a "real" camera last summer!), but I think you got a good shot. :-)

  3. I get completely tripped up on metering modes, too. I think I mostly leave it on "multi" which is probably the same as evaluative, except for when there is a bright sun or other light directly IN the shot but I'm focusing on something else and want to adjust the exposure to the other thing (a face, a tree, etc.). I loved reading this.

    I've gotten in the habit of taking pictures in JPEG + RAW mode. This is pure laziness on my part, because the thumbnails of RAW images don't show up when I'm scrolling through my pics. Of course it adds another layer of deleting the unnecessary RAW images later, but when I'm scrolling through pics, I need to be able to view them.

    Great tutorial and even better images. Loved it all.


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