As I’ve previously mentioned in a post. I may have an entry level DSLR but I don’t have the fancy flash heads, mega-watt lighting equipment and uber lenses to take my photos. I make do with what I have. But most importantly, I read up and took time to practice what basic knowledge I knew about taking photos and worked my way from there. With that in mind, I’d like to share what stuff I’ve found out that has aided me in taking my humble photos. And these are things that you could do with any average point and shoot digital camera these days.
I’ll be discussing the 3 more common settings that affect how a picture looks the most; aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. But before I get in to that, Let me explain to you, briefly, what these three factors/ settings affect; exposure and depth of field.
Exposure, basically, is the measure of how bright or dark the image you take comes out. In some cameras, You can “meter” the exposure and adjust your three settings accordingly to get the proper or ideal exposure level. Likewise, you can tweak them to your preference to make the picture purposely under or over exposed.
“The exposure is the amount of light received by the film or sensor and is determined by how wide you open the lens diaphragm (aperture) and by how long you keep the film or sensor exposed (shutterspeed). The effect an exposure has depends on the sensitivity(ISO) of the film or sensor. “
Next one is Depth of Field. The-Digital-picture.com simply explains it as to “how much of your image needs to be sharp in focus or – how blurred you want your background.” Pretty straight forward, right? So if you see those pics where the subject is very sharp and the background has these nifty colored circles, other wise known as “bokeh”, that picture has a very shallow depth of field.
Now you pretty much have an idea in your head of how you want your picture to come out. So how do you get that image in your head down into the film or memory card now, you ask. Well, here’s what you basically have to fool around with to get the desired effect.
In a nutshell, it is how wide or narrow the shutter opens determining how much light comes in to the lens of the camera. The lower the number or “F-stop”, the wider the shutter opens. The higher the number, less light comes in, meaning darker pictures. The shutter by the way is the part of the camera that you would hear that would go “click/beep” when you press the button.This also determines your depth of field or “DoF”. The wider you open the shutter, the more shallow your depth of field is, the more your background gets blurred. Openning up the aperture also allows you to make for faster shutter speeds, Making it narrower, requires you to have the shutter open longer, decreases lens glare and light dispersion, gives you more detail in your picture allowing you to take that epic night shot of a city skyline.
Measured in fractions of a second, this tells you how long the shutter is open. Same with a wide aperture, longer exposure means you get to expose the film or a digital camer’s sensor to light thereby leading to brighter pictures. However, keeping the shutter open for longer periods of time means you are more prone to motion blur. Something you don’t want if you’re taking portraits and still shots.
Simply put, ISO is the measure of a camera’s light sensitivity. Standard ISO’s are ISO 100, ISO 200 and ISO 400. The lower number means less sensitivity meaning you either have to compensate with long exposures or a wide aperture. Higher ISO’s mean that the camera or film becomes more sensitive to light. However in some digital camera sensors, higher iso settings also make it more prone to digital noise. That would be like the really grainy photo you take with a VGA cellphone camera.
So, keeping in mind the purpose of aperture, shutter speed and ISO setting, find the ideal setting that would get you your desired effect when taking photos. One more thing, using flash when taking photos, drastically affects how your photos turn out. It negates nearly all of them settings as it can tend to wash out the subject in white light and/or give you a really dark background. If you really want to get a feel for the settings discussed here, turn off that flash and use natural lighting or whatever light is available to you.In the next installment, I’ll be covering the other settings that you’d commonly find in a modern point and shoot camera that can also affect the output of your camera. If you feel like reading up some more, I suggest hoping over to the-digital-picture.com’s article ‘Exposure Basics‘ and learn from one with tons more experience. If you’re interested in really going down into the concepts and theories and EVEN the math in photography, DPReview.com has an extensive glossary on photography terms, applications and calculations.