Master your Photo Skills with the Concordian

Photography is as easy as one, two, three!

Are you ready to switch out the average camera on the phone in your pocket for a more professional camera? The team at the Concordian put together a simple guide to help our fellow photojournalists out with some advice based on journalistic situations you would find yourself in.

To start things off, before you even start fiddling with your camera settings, set your camera to Manual mode. This will give you full control of the camera versus other default settings where the camera might automatically adjust settings based on the situation.

Understanding the basics of your camera – 

Now that your camera is in Manual mode, you have to understand the interaction between light and the camera, also known as the exposure triangle. The exposure triangle balances three elements: your shutter speed, ISO, and aperture. 

Think of shutter speed as curtains for a window. Your shutter is the curtains that close inside the camera when you press the button to take the picture. It essentially opens and closes the shutter to either slow down or freeze movement. 

Imagine you open and shut the curtains at 1/500 of a second. Not a lot of light can get in during the short time it was open, right? You maybe get one brief glance out your window due to how fast the curtains shut, but not the whole scene. However, if the curtains closed at 1/30 a second, think of how much more you could see. The longer the shutter stays open, the more information the camera takes in. Longer shutter speeds can lead to motion blur, while faster shutter speeds freeze motion.  

Up next is your ISO, which is essentially light sensitivity. This concept goes back to the film days—each film had its own level and amount of light it was able to process. Think of it as a scale of light with 100 being a full sunny day and 3200 being nighttime. You can use this as wiggle room on your shutter speed or aperture. 

One more thing to keep in mind is higher ISO also comes with a bit more noise, or grain, and the camera would work harder to capture the scene.

The final component of the exposure triangle is the aperture. A camera is basically a hole that opens, lets light in, and then captures it in its simplest form. The aperture allows you to decide the size of that hole—it can either be wide open and let lots of information in, or tiny and only let a little bit in. This determines how much of your image will be in focus. 

Let’s say you just want to capture the foreground—whatever element is closest to your camera. You would use a smaller aperture of around F/2.8. For something like landscapes, where you would want everything in focus, we would suggest a wider aperture of F/14. 

Different journalistic situations –

As long as these three elements balance, you can conquer a lot of the photojournalistic scenarios you’d find yourself in. Are you on the news beat? In a lot of situations, you’ll be taking portraits of your subjects for a visual. In these types of situations we would suggest:

  • Shutter Speed: 1/100 or faster
  • Aperture: F/1.8 – F/5.6
  • ISO: 100-400
  • Focus: Auto (AF)
  • Focus Type: Continuous/Servo
  • White Balance: AWB
  • Drive Mode: Single Shot

Student leading the climate protest in downtown Montreal on September 23, 2022. Photo by Dalia Nardolillo/THE CONCORDIAN.

Do you like to capture the action of athletes on the field during a game? We would suggest the following settings for sports photography:

  • Shutter Speed: 1/500 at a minimum to ensure the movement is captured
  • Aperture: F/2.8 – F/5.6
  • ISO: 400
  • Focus: Auto (AF)
  • Focus Type: Continuous/Servo
  • White Balance: AWB
  • Drive Mode: Continuous/Burst 

Photo by Catherine Reynolds / The Concordian

Maybe you prefer to photograph the emotion and excitement of a concert. This can be a little trickier with all the crazy lighting typical to shows. One important thing to remember is that red light is the hardest to photograph in. Here are some settings that we would suggest to elevate your concert experience:  

  • Shutter Speed: 1/250 or faster (pro tip: try lower for some artsy motion blur) 
  • Aperture: F/1.8 – F/4 ( preferably as low as it can go!)
  • ISO: 1600 – 3200
  • Focus: Auto (AF) as well as spot-metering 
  • Focus Type: Continuous/Servo
  • White Balance: AWB
  • Drive Mode: Continuous/Burst

Photo by Catherine Reynolds / The Concordian

Long story short, this little guide does not cover every situation you’ll be faced with. It takes a lot of trial and error to figure out what works for you and we hope above all that this is a good start for your photography adventure!

Community Student Life

Gen Z, what’s happening to our desktops?!

Recent study shows nearly half of Gen Z gave up on filing their digital documents

I was stunned when Philippe Gingras, creative writing and scriptwriting student at Université de Montréal, opened his laptop in front of me. With a B&W Charlie Chaplin movie wallpaper and images like old-school typewriters to replace those boring file icons, the 25-year-old’s desktop looks like a cool vintage poster.

“I see so many people in class whose desktops are really messy, and it kind of disturbs me,” he said, adding that his own desktop reflects his passions and motivates him.

However, messy desktops are pretty common among Gen Z — those currently aged between 11 and 26. According to file encryption company Nordlocker, almost half of Gen Z respondents leave all their documents on their desktop without a home.

Concordia journalism student Alexa Toguri-Laurin said her old laptop was very messy. She recently got a new laptop and worked hard to organize it better than the last one. “It doesn’t look too messy on my screen, so it doesn’t cause me too much anxiety every time I open my computer.”

The study shows 45 per cent of Gen Z respondents simply use their search bar, or the lovely CTRL+F (or CMD+F for Apple users) to find files rather than look for them. 

While Toguri-Laurin agrees the search option on her computer comes in handy, it’s useless without a consistent labeling system for your files. For her, naming files strategically is much simpler and less chaotic. “There’s so much sensory overload with how messy my desktop was,” she said. “It was so overwhelming for me to scan through my entire desktop and fish out one particular document.”

Tips and tricks from fellow university students

The human brain requires order to focus better. According to a Harvard Business Review article,  messy spaces are mentally exhausting and affect your ability to concentrate. Sarah-Maude Dussault, school and adaptation student from Université de Sherbrooke, uses an iPad but organizes her files thoroughly in Notability. “I have attention deficit disorder (ADD), so if I don’t save it, it never existed in my head,” she laughed. 

So, how do we organize our desktops?

Language and linguistics student at Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières and journalist Rosie St-André shared some handy tips. She explained that she learned how to organize her computer by watching YouTube and TikTok videos. She said that watching creators like Julia K. Crist, her favourite on YouTube, organize their digital space motivated her to do the same. “It also helps you identify what kind of style you like,” she said.

After watching a few videos, St-André decided to make her own wallpaper on Canva, where she could design and colour-code her background as she pleased. She split it into three sections: school, work, and finances. She also added a motivational quote and some pretty pictures for the aesthetics.

Organization as motivation

“I feel like people get discouraged when it comes to studying because it’s so complicated to get set up for it,” said Gingras. “It isn’t hard to study, it’s just hard to sit down and do it.”

For him, having an organized desktop means sitting down and avoiding a 15-minute search for his documents. We know it – motivation comes in temporary bursts. We need to seize it while it’s there. “I love knowing that I won’t have to search for my documents every time I sit down to get some work done,” said St-André.

Although Toguri-Laurin admits her desktop isn’t your typical aesthetically pleasing desktop from Pinterest, she’s happy with her progress. “It’s an example of how much better I am at organizing my life and making things better for myself,” she said. “I’m really proud of myself for accomplishing that, because I don’t have to stress myself out like I did five years ago.”

Student Life

Grabbing your mental health by the horns

Girl, Let’s Talk tips and tricks for recognizing signs of interpersonal distress

The Female Department, a Montreal-based women’s collective, hosted the first edition of their event, Girl, Let’s Talk, last Thursday, Jan. 31. The goal of the event was to open up a conversation on mental health led by two experts in the field, and to create an environment where women can speak freely about their mental health struggles with other women.

The founders of the Female Department, Danièle-Jocelyne Otou and Stephanie Arthur, timed the 10th edition of their series Cocktails n Confessions just ahead of Psychology Month, and the day after Bell Let’s Talk Day.

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, one in five Canadians experiences mental health issues or mental illness each year. Kristin Horsley, a PhD candidate in Clinical Psychology at McGill University, offered simple tactics to keep mental health in check.

“Track it,” said Horsley. “Write it down. It doesn’t get more sophisticated than that. […]This is important to do because you need to know where you are to know where you can go. If you’re hungry, not sleeping, not getting enough exercise, not seeing enough people, you can expect your mental health to suffer,” said Horsley. “Basic self-care is everything. It is the foundation of our mental health.” Therein lies the struggle: keeping that foundation sound.

We live in a society where we measure ourselves based on those around us. However, you will never be anyone but yourself. “We’re constantly trying to see [how we take care of ourselves] […] as a form of progression,” said Em Tardif-Bennett, an event attendee. “We’re constantly trying to strive to perfection while also giving the illusion that we’re perfect.”

The event attendees agreed that, like anything else, mental health has an ebb and flow. It’s constantly in a state of flux, and determining when your mental health is under threat is onerous. “Once we let go of that expectation,” Tardif-Bennett said, “We can finally just be present in our lives, acknowledging how far we’ve come and how much work we’ve done for ourselves.”

But how do you recognize the signs of transitioning from being stable, to in a slump, to exhibiting detrimental behaviour? “When it affects your social function, your function at work and your interpersonal relationships, that’s when you know it’s time to seek help,” Horsley said. It is also essential to understand that emotions are our bodies’ response to change, and they indicate which areas of ourselves and our lives need more tender love and care.

Above all, Horsley explained, know that your emotions are entirely valid. “When you feel your anxiety and fear, lean into them because they’re telling you something,” Horsley said. “Lean into your fear and help yourself understand what it is telling you.”

Feature graphic by @spooky_soda

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