Although nothing will ever be like practicing with a camera in hand and with the light conditions available at that time, you are lucky to have tools that can help you at any given time. One of them is the photo simulator.
Because we cannot deny that practice is essential. I repeat for the millionth time in the blog, it is no use learning theory and terms if you do not know how to apply them. No one would think of reading a lot of books or articles related to driving and then not getting behind the wheel or doing it once a year. Anyone who drives daily even if they have not read a line about it beyond the driving manual to examine themselves will do much better.
The same goes for photography. No matter how much you read and study that if you do not put it into practice it will be forgotten and it will be a fruitless learning.
And yes, as I anticipated at the beginning, the ideal is to practice with the camera, which does not mean that there are no times when certain tools are useful. Today we talk about simulators.
WHAT IS A PHOTO SIMULATOR?
It is a tool that you can access online, and that simulates a photographic situation offering you the possibility of practicing the theory. It would be something similar to the airplane simulators with which the pilots practice, the only thing that instead of piloting a plane you take a picture.
There are different types, from those that simulate different focal lengths, to those that play with the triangle of light to achieve correct exposure. We will see you later.
WHEN ARE SIMULATORS USEFUL?
As I said, much better to shoot with your camera, of course, but … what happens if you do not have it at hand? What happens if you are convalescent? Does boredom kill you in a waiting room? You are in a place where you cannot move and there is neither light nor anything you can photograph, or you cannot find a model that is positioned for you. Or your card is full and you don’t want to delete photos.
It may also happen that you are thinking of buying a goal and as much as you have items that tell you the best focal distances for different situations , you want to see how it really is, how is the effect of 200mm versus 85mm, for example. You can’t do this if you don’t have the goal, but with the simulator. You see? Another utility
There are many situations in which these tools can be useful. That is why I present them in this article, in the hope that they will facilitate the task of photographic learning.
One way to test a camera without having it in your hands. To play with the different parameters such as aperture, ISO or shutter speed (among others). Very useful for practicing with the exposure triangle.
Although the explanations are in English, the buttons are in Spanish, so you can manage perfectly if you do not master the Anglo-Saxon language.
It allows you to vary the light from «dimmed interiors» to «sunny», play with the distance to the model, the focal length, the ISO value, the shutter speed and the aperture. You can shoot in shutter priority, aperture or in manual and simulate that you use a tripod, although as the girl moves, this last option does not help much, but it does help to see how the background would work and the girl moved. Ideal to play with the exposure triangle and see how you can compensate with one when you modify another.
2. SLR CAMERA SIMULATOR
Similar to the previous one but with significant differences. You can only touch aperture, speed and ISO. To practice with the exposure triangle. The good thing is that you do not need to shoot to see the result, as you move the cursor to one side or the other the image changes, it would be like the camera’s function that allows you to see live how the photo would look. You have three photos to try and you can “anchor” aperture or speed, if you wish, so that it works as an open mode or shutter mode. It is also in English and does not matter either;).
3. PLAY / CANON
In this Canon simulator you can also select Manual Mode, Opening Priority or Speed Priority. The exposure meter tells you whether or not the exposure is correct and you can vary aperture, speed and ISO. The good thing here is that the helicopter blades move and you can check the effects of freezing the movement or capturing it with a slow speed. Something you can’t do with the girl and the grinder because the girl moves all the time (of course, if you have a daughter like mine, it may be good to practice with her ).
Top right you have three sections: a booklet, which leads you to a basic manual; a camera, to practice or play; and a clock, which takes you to a challenge where you are asking for different types of results that you have to get (in English).
It also tells you, depending on the setting you modify, the effect you are approaching. For example, playing in Opening Priority (Av), a little arrow moves to tell you if the background will be more or less clear. In the example image, when you select the maximum aperture, the cursor goes to maximum sharpness (bottom right).
4. BOKEH SIMULATOR & DEPTH OF FIELD CALCULATOR
What I like most about this is how complete it is. If it included the lighting it would be “the nightfall”. The bad thing is that it is not a real model, but a drawing and this is not very cool. But well, to understand the concepts, play with different planes, different focal points, calculate the focal length, etc. is great.
It is good to be able to understand, for example, how depth of field works, how it is affected not only according to the opening, but also according to the distance at which the subject is. You can choose, in addition to the model for the image or the background, the camera model. There are many, surely you find yours.
5. CAMERASIM: EXPOSURE COMPENSATION
CameraSim offers us another simulator, very, very simple and at the same time very graphic in terms of exposure compensation. You can underexpose and overexpose to see the effect it causes on the image.
In this case we find simulators that allow you to practice with lighting, direction, intensity, and so on. It is the ideal option to practice light schemes comfortably from your computer or your tablet. Prepare your next session in this way if you cannot advance the work in a study.
6. FOUNDATIONS OF LIGHTING PLACEMENT
With this simulator, you have the option to play with a main light and a fill light. You can place them around the model, at different angles. You also have another option in which to place the focus at different heights and see how the results change. A very good way to understand how different light schemes work in a portrait.
Although the explanations and clarifications are in English, you don’t need to understand to mess with them. You click on the hours (simulate the hours of a clock on the ground) to decide where you want the focus and go. In the height simulator you will see how the focus goes up and down and you can sense the position (even if you don’t know that eye lebel means eye level).
7. VIRTUAL LIGHTING STUDIO
This is another study lights simulator and is in Spanish (among other languages). It is more complete than the previous one, it allows you to play with up to six points of light, you can change the direction, intensity, distance or add colored gels. The only thing is that the “models” give a little bit of credit;). The appearance of this simulator is not the prettiest although this nothing prevents you from practicing, because that is its function.
LIGHTING DIAGRAM CREATOR
Well, this is not a simulator properly, so I do not list it, but I put it here because once you use the simulator, if you want to write notes, you have this option through which you can create the lighting schemes that you want to save , instead of keeping them in a paper that you still lose.
Now I will introduce simulators that recreate different focal distances.
8. TEST OUR LENSES: FUJIFILM
You choose, through the arrows, the objective, then the aperture, the zoom if it is the case of a variable focal length and, finally, you shoot («Take photo»). Next, it shows you how the photo looked. You can have a good time playing to see how the different optics work according to their focal length and aperture.
Yes, once the image appears, click on the red box at the top left (“Save to lightbox”), then you can see the saved images and compare by clicking below the button to shoot (“View Lightbox”).
9. CANON LENS SIMULATOR
A simulator to test your objectives with which you can also see the topic of focal length. You choose which group of lenses you want to try (TV, macro, angular …), in some cases you will only get an image without the possibility of modifying anything, because they are fixed lenses, but in the variables, you can move the cursor (I indicate it with the red arrow in the image) side to side to see the difference in shooting, for example, at a distance of 75mm or 300mm. You see it at the moment, it is not necessary to shoot and wait for the “development”, the image is adjusted as you move the cursor.
10. NIKKOR LENS SIMULATOR
I leave it for the end because it seems to me that it is with which you can best see the difference when using a focal or another, because in the same image you can “use” a focal length of 14mm and one of 800mm, simply by moving the cursor. Very useful when you lose the topic focal length and with the theory you do not clarify.
Then you can choose different lenses, place them in different cameras and simulate their operation. Very interesting.
An addition is that you can check with just one click, the difference between Full Frame (or full DX format) and FX, with the clipping factor. You just have to click on the FX and DX buttons to the right of the lens selector (I point it to you with a red arrow).
Did you find it useful? If so, do not forget to share it before starting to mess up the simulators or your camera, because … you are already thinking about getting down to work, right?
Thanks for getting here ;).