Ever journey starts at the basics. You want to learn martial arts? First you must learn to breath. Football? Start by learning the rules. Writing? Have to know your letters. Photography is no different. As I begin to learn photography, initially to take my own pictures for blogs and articles but eventually to use it as another potential income source, I must begin by learning the photography basics.
Cornerstones: photography’s basic building blocks
Every where you look for beginner photography you see 3 things: Aperture, Shutter speed, and ISO. These are the basic building blocks of a good photo. What does it all mean and how does it all work together? That is what I need to learn. So let’s break it down, one at a time then all together.
Aperture is the gap in the middle of you shutter. By adjusting the size of the aperture you are able to adjust two key variables, brightness and focus. The brightness is fairly obvious, the larger the aperture is, the more light can get in, the brighter your photo will be. The other end of that, however, is that the larger your aperture is the less of the photo that will be in focus. For instance a small aperture would be used to keep the entire image sharp and visible, while a smaller aperture will leave your subject clear and the background blurred.
The tricky thing about aperture is the measuring system and by this I mean, it makes no sense. Aperture is measured in something called f-stops. Plainly put this means that when you write it out it is an f followed by a number (usually shown as f/1.5 with the slash between, but sometimes not such as f1.5, they both mean the same thing). With me so far? Here is where it stops making sense. the smaller the number after the f the larger the aperture. for instance f/1.5 may be like this while f/22 may look like this
Best way I can make sense of this is to assume the f=1 and view them as fractions. not sure what the logic behind this method is but maybe I will research it one day (or one of you will explain it to us in the comments?), but who knows.
This one is fairly straight forward. Shutter speed determines the length of time that the shutter stays open for. The longer the shutter remains open the more light will get in leading to a brighter photo. The other side of this is that the longer the shutter stays open the more blur you will get from anything moving in the picture. This is helpful for capturing motion, a slow shutter speed to capture the blur of a fast moving car or a fast shutter speed to clearly make out a bird taking flight for instance. The trick is getting the right amount of blur and light at the same time.
Shutter speed is measured in seconds that the shutter is open for. This can vary a lot, on my camera for instance (Canon Rebel EOS T6) it ranges from 30″ to 1/4000″. This can lead to a lot of range in the amount of blur and light allowing for some creative pictures. Many of the higher end cameras can even take pictures much faster the 1/4000″.
The ideal way to do this is to be able to adjust the aperture to make up for any light lost from a fast shutter speed or to reduce light from slow shutter speed. The problem is, as we discussed above, this will also effect the focus of the photo you are trying to take, blurring too much or too little of the background. As such, there is another option to adjust the amount of light to fit your needs, ISO.
ISO is used for one thing and one thing only, adjusting the amount of light in a photo. This sounds like the perfect tool, however, like everything else in this post it comes with a caveat. The higher your ISO number the brighter your photo, but also the grainier. So the trick is balancing all of the 3 elements to get a picture that has the right amount of light, motion blur, focus, and sharpness. ISO can range from, in my case, 100-6400. Everything I have read recommends using the lowest possible setting when you can to get the sharpest image, but sometimes you need to bump that number up (and maybe even want the graininess in the right circumstance) so experiment and see what you see.
What did I miss/get wrong?
What advice can you offer to up and coming photographers?
What camera do you use to take your masterpieces with?
How do you decide what value to set each at when taking a shot, or do you use auto?
Let me know in the comments below or start a thread on the forum.