Learning about photography can be tricky. There’s definitely a curve to it. At the beginning, you don’t know a thing other than to set the camera to Auto, point and click. This is true for any type of camera. It really doesn’t matter what it is. If you know nothing about photography, you know nothing. The goal is to learn.
Aperture controls how much light makes its way though the lens to the camera’s sensor. Shutter speed does the same thing, but in a different way. While the aperture of a lens is the hole in which the light passes and which can grow larger or shrink smaller, shutter speed controls how long the sensor is exposed to the light. Think of it like this; if you squint one of your eyes to let only a bit of light through to your eyeball, that’s aperture. If you have your eyes opened as wide as they’ll go and blink, that blinking is the shutter. Your eyelid is the shutter. So, if you think about it, if you have a wide aperture and a fast shutter speed, that’s pretty equivalent to having a small aperture and a slow shutter speed. The interesting thing about photography stems from the effects of having a particularly sized aperture or a particularly set shutter speed.
When it comes to ISO, that’s merely how sensitive the camera’s sensor is to light. Low ISO values are less sensitive than high ISO values are. Low ISO values don’t introduce much grain (noise) to an image while high ISO values do. The ISO in a camera can act as a go-between for photographers when they’re trying to get the perfect shot. Adjusting the ISO to a particular setting can help out when a scene calls for a specific aperture size or shutter speed.
Since not many of us know the perfect settings for any shot, it’s helpful to learn about photography as much as possible and to experiment in the field quite a bit. Using the Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority and even full Manual mode settings will help you learn about the inner workings of photography much more than using Auto mode. After all, Auto mode requires no thinking on the part of the photographer.
If you aren’t well versed in camera settings, there’s a way to work around that deficiency. When viewing a scene and gathering ideas for how you’d like the camera to capture it, you can take advantage of one or more of the Scene Modes available on your DSLR camera. Scene modes target specific styles of photography, so if you’re on the side of a mountain and you’d like to take a beautiful landscape photo using full Manual mode, you can switch over to the Landscape scene mode first, meter the camera and then record the settings the camera would use. This isn’t cheating, it’s learning. If you’re on a sports field and would like to take a sharp photo of someone playing on the field and have no idea what you’d set in Manual mode, head over to the Sports mode, meter and record those settings. Doing this is a good first step for the shots you’d like to take. You can then set your recorded values in Manual mode. If any adjustments are required as you shoot, you can easily make them and continue on your way.
Using the Scene modes that are built into your camera for a launching point for Manual mode is a great idea. Doing this will get you used to what each style of photograph calls for and you’ll be on your own, without the help from any scene mode, in no time.
Do you have any beginning photography tips that you’d like to share? If so, please add them below. Also, if you have any questions regarding this post, please let me know below as well. Thanks!