APERTURE, SHUTTER SPEED, ISO

Now that you understand why photography can be considered "lighting control", lets jump into
the most important camera setting you have to master (the sooner the better).


APERTURE
The aperture is a small set of blades that control how much light will enter the camera. You will often hear a photographer saying, “open the aperture” so more light will enter the camera (imagine the blades opening like a door) or “close the aperture” (closing the door) so less light passes through the blades.

APERTURE, SHUTTER SPEED, ISO

Now that you understand why photography can be considered "lighting control", lets jump into
the most important camera setting you have to master (the sooner the better).


APERTURE
The aperture is a small set of blades that control how much light will enter the camera. You will often hear a photographer saying, “open the aperture” so more light will enter the camera (imagine the blades opening like a door) or “close the aperture” (closing the door) so less light passes through the blades.

If you take a picture and it looks too bright (overexposed), you want to close the aperture. This means you choose a higher F-stop (a number from 1.2 to 22). If your picture is too dark (underexposed), you’ll choose a lower F-stop number. Easy, right? Well now come the ticket part. The aperture also controls the “depth of field.”

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Have you ever wondered how to make those fantastic portraits where the face is in focus and everything is blurred (shallow depth of field)? That’s the depth of field! Have you ever taken a family picture and not everyone’s face is in focus? Thats the depth of field! Now that you know what’s affecting the sharp focus of your pictures, lets learn how it works; it’s quite simple.

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The more you open your aperture (1.2) the more shallow depth of field you will have. Vice-versa, the more you close your aperture (22) everything in your picture will be in focus! It will take a minute to understand this concept, don’t worry! It really helps if you go out there and experiment with your aperture. This is a major aspect of photography that everyone should know.

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SHUTTER SPEED

A technical description would be: “shutter speed, also know as exposure time, stands for the length of time a camera shutter is open to expose light into the camera sensor. More simply put: If the shutter speed is fast, you can capture movement faster so the movement looks frozen.

If the shutter speed is slow, you will create an affect called motion blur. This captures the movement. Shutter speed also controls how much light your image will get. The faster the shutter, the less light you will get in your shot.

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Vice-versa, the slower the shutter, the more light you will be able to capture. The shutter speed is measured in fractions of seconds. Ultimately, the shutter controls light and blur of your image.

ISO

You will use ISO to control the exposure by using a software in the camera to make it extra sensitive to light. The higher the ISO (2000), the brighter it will be. On the other hand, the lower the ISO (100), the darker it will be.

Easy, right? There is a catch. When you set ISO too high you will start seeing grainy images (this is called noise). I never shoot higher than 600 ISO. When I shoot in a studio and I use studio lighting, I can easily set my camera to 100 ISO. This will give me the least noise possible. (I hate the noise).

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Now, Lets pull all this together! Even before thinking about what the subject of your picture should be, you want to know how to control how much light you need. Lets do a few examples.

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Friend at dinner: It’s 8 pm, the is no sunlight, and the restaurant is pretty dark. This is when the photographer is thinking what the purpose of that image should be. Lets say you need to take a picture with everyone smiling: Set the ISO to around 1000 (it will be noisy, but bear with me). Set the shutter speed to /50 or higher (lower than that and you will have blurry friends). Set the F-stop around 4 or higher (you don’t want to open the aperture too much or you will risk having some of your friends out of focus) In this situation, I would set the F-stop and shutter speed before the ISO. Because my main goal is to get all my friends in focus and sharp enough, I do not care too much about the noise.

Here’s another example: It’s 1 pm, exterior, and you want to take a picture of a runner. First thing you want to think about is shutter speed. You want to capture the runner as sharp as possible so shutter speed should be set at 600 (or faster). The second thing you want to think about is do I want to have everything in focus? Or do I want that shallow depth of field? If so, set your F-stop! The last thing you want to do is set your ISO. If it’s sunny, you will have plenty of room for you ISO.

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Last example: It’s night time and you want to take a beautiful picture of the city. First thing is you don’t want to have a beautiful image with noise. So, set your ISO around 320 (not higher then 600), close your aperture to around 8 (not lower). This will make sure everything is in focus. Now it’s time to set your shutter speed! A tripod is need for this technique (or rest the camera on something that is not moving). Change the shutter speed to 5 seconds (or any longer or shorter speed). This will take a couple tries.


We will talk a lot about this is the beginner photography course and we will test all kinds of situations. All right! This was the most technical class we will have, trust me when I say you are going to need this.

Knowing what exposure, shutter speed and ISO are is essential. But knowing what they are and what they do is not enough. You need to master them, use them without even thinking about them. It will take time, but this is the right path to becoming professional photographer! Good Luck!

 Best,

Andrea