Thursday, April 14, 2016


--> Want to improve your photography skills? Photography is really all about the light.  How much light gets into your camera to make the image.  You’ll hear a lot about the “big three” or the “exposure triangle” when learning to shoot in manual mode.  These refer to ISO, aperture, and shutter speed.  

I shoot in manual mode exclusively and when I go to set my settings, I always set my ISO first, so we’ll start there.  ISO is all about the sensitivity level of your camera to available light.  A lower number represents lower sensitivity to light while higher numbers mean heightened sensitivity. The drawback in using increased sensitivity is that it produces noisier images. Simply put, you end up with grainy pictures if you use high ISO. One advantage of DSLRs is that you can increase the ISO and they handle better in lower light situations. Of course, we’d all love to have the highest quality images, but the disadvantage of shooting with higher ISOs and having an increase in noise/grain can be a small price to pay when capturing memories at night or at a ballet recital.  

The aperture controls light that passes through your camera lens. If you shoot with the aperture adjusted to the smallest opening, the smallest amount of light is allowed to enter. For example, if you are taking a photo in an environment that’s too bright — how should you adjust your aperture? Simple — adjust to smaller aperture to let in less light. The aperture’s sizes are measured by f-stops. A higher f-stop means a smaller aperture hole while a lower f-stop means a bigger aperture opening.  The aperture also controls the depth of field, a larger opening will give you a narrow plane of focus.

Let’s talk about the shutter speed. The shutter speed measures the duration of time a camera’s shutter is open to allow light into the camera sensor. Shutter speeds are usually measured in fractions of a second. Fast shutter speeds allow less light into the camera sensor and are used for high-light and daytime photography while slow shutter speeds allow more light into the camera sensor. Obviously, slow shutter speeds are ideal for nighttime photography.

How do you take properly exposed photos? How do you find a balance between those that are not too dark or too bright, the desired amount in focus, and fast enough to avoid camera shake. The three – Shutter Speed, Aperture, and ISO – need to play together well.  Each arm of the exposure triangle is important to creating the best image.   What settings should you use?  A good starting point in an average lighting situation is ISO400, F/4.0, SS 1/160.  Start there and take a photo, check it and then adjust.  Too bright?  Increase your shutter speed.  Too dark?  Increase your ISO.
Here is a cheat sheet:

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