October 6, 2020
This episode is for any beginner photographers or human beings wanting to learn the skill of HOW to operate a DSLR camera. If you aren’t familiar or only have a vague understanding of the words ISO, aperture, and shutter speed, keep listening. We are FIRM believers that no matter what business you run, knowing how to operate and take GOOD photos will benefit your business big time. With the presence of Instagram and social media being a HUGE way to market your business, knowing how to take photos with a quality camera is key. This episode isn’t JUST for photographers, but ANYONE who wants to know how to operate the basic functions of a DSLR camera.
Let’s start this episode by defining some key terms when it comes to operating a camera. There are 3 main settings you have to know and balance when shooting in manual.
Picture big sliding barn doors. These represent your lens. Aperture is the size of the opening the barn doors are in. Shutter speed is how fast the barn doors close.Now, imagine a water hose spraying into the barn doors. This represents your light or sun. How fast the barn doors close and how big the opening is is how much water (light) is going to be let into the barn.
If it’s a small garden hose with just a little bit of water (dawn or dusk where there’s not much light), you want as much of that water (light) in your barn (camera) as possible in order to result in a brighter image. To do this you want a BIGGER opening (a larger aperture) with the doors closing slower to let more water in (lower shutter speed).Now picture a fire hose with tons of water (midday BRIGHT light) you probably want a smaller opening (smaller aperture) with the barn doors closing fast (higher shutter speed) to keep the barn from getting flooded (the image washed out and overexposed). That means you want a lower aperture with a fast shutter speed.
Your barn doors control the water you let in. How big the opening is is your aperture. How fast the doors close is your shutter speed
This is the number that is normally referred to as an F stop. You’ll hear people say that their lens has an f stop of 2.0. Depending on the lens, apertures can range anywhere from as low as 1.2 to as high as 22.
Aperture is defined as the range of what in your image is in focus. When you see an image where everything in the image is crisp (typically landscape photography has everything in focus) that means they shot that image with a smaller aperture, meaning a higher number such as an aperture of 8 or higher.
When you see an image where the subject is clear but everything behind them is super fuzzy, blurry, and creamy (called bokeh), this means the image was taken with a LARGE aperture, such as a lower number like f/1.2 or f/2.0.
It can be confusing at first because the words are the opposite. A small aperture means that the f stop number on the camera is higher, such as 8, 15, 22, etc. This will make everything in focus and allow less light to come in.
A large aperture means the f stop number on the camera is lower, such as 1.4, 1.8, 2.0, etc. This makes ONLY a very particular part of the image in focus. This results in a more creamy blur behind your subject and allows more light to be let in.
In general, the larger your aperture (the lower the number) the MORE light gets let in your camera, and the smaller your aperture (the bigger the number) the LESS light gets let in your camera.
If you’re photographing people as your subject we HIGHLY recommend shooting on as low an aperture as possible. We shoot almost everything on an aperture of 2.0 (or very close to that) because we LOVE our subject standing out and the background being creamy and blurry. Just remember to shoot on as LARGE an aperture (low number) as possible. The exception to this is if you shoot landscapes and want everything to be sharp in focus.
As a general rule of thumb, you want your shutter speed as high as possible. The lower your shutter speed, the blurrier the image can be. As a rule, we NEVER let our shutter speed drop below 1/250. That’s when things start to get blurry.
Even when shooting in darker light, instead of dropping your shutter speed to bring more light into the image, try letting more light into the camera in different ways (by either lowering aperture or raising your ISO). Even if it’s dark you don’t want your images blurry unless you’re intentionally doing it stylistically.
If you’re shooting in midday, bright light, etc you’ll probably want to keep your shutter speed way higher, usually around 1/8000).
The higher the shutter speed, the fast it clicks, and the less light it lets in. The lower the number, the more light it is letting in, and the longer it takes to capture an image which can make things blurry.
ISO is an old film term that has translated over to digital photography but lost a lot of its original meaning in that transfer. It can sometimes be hard to explain the definition of ISO. To keep it simple, all you need to know about ISO is that the HIGHER the number, the brighter and GRANIER the image. You want to keep your ISO as low as possible.
Every camera’s low-light capabilities are different and the grain threshold is different. On older cameras, the threshold is around ISO 800ish. On my newer cameras, it’s roughly 6400 where you can start to notice the grain.
Adjust aperture and shutter speed to bring more light into the image before raising your ISO.
If you’re shooting at night and your shutter speed is as low as it can go before making the image too blurry, then that’s when I’d raise your ISO.
As a general rule of thumb, you want your aperture and ISO to be as low as possible. You want your shutter speed as high as possible. If you need to add in a little bit more light, drop your shutter speed before increasing your ISO. Try to find the middle ground as much as possible.
This was a super technical episode. So maybe listen a few times, on normal speed hahaha.
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