Read my previous post on photography tips here.
I know it’s been sometimes since the last post. Now it’s time for some technical terms we need to know about photography. Disclaimer: these are by no means words from a professional. I’m still learning as I post this, too. :)
Familiarize yourself with the applications of these jargon words and you are on your way to possessing the knowledge for flexibility and creativity in capturing different moments. The actual flexibility and creativity itself must come from practice and practice!
It’s a lifelong process and that’s what makes photography an amazing long-term hobby to commit to! When you think you’ve got all the skills needed, you’ll always find something that opens up your eyes and amuses you. (Although I haven’t reached that stage yet, that’s what I heard from some professional freelancers.)
Today’s objective: to understand what aperture, shutter speed and ISO do to your captures.
Aperture, which measures the lens opening, is indicated as f-stop in your camera. I’m sure you have seen something like F5.0 or F8.0. By adjusting the number, you can see the difference in the depth of field as in how blur or how clear you want your background or your object in focus to be.
The smaller the f-stop number, the bigger the lens opening. The bigger the f-stop number, the smaller the lens opening.
For easy understanding, let’s imagine f-stop number as your eyes. The smaller your eyes are, the more focused an object will be in your sight. In other words, smaller f-stop number will give a greater zone of sharpness to our foreground image and blurriness to the background. The bigger you open your eyes, the more you see the bigger picture. Or, simply to say, bigger f-stop number will result in all images, foreground and background, to be in focus.
Notice how the blue pencil case in the background comes into focus also as you increase the f-stop number?
Try it out!
Do you see some forms of fractions like 1/8 or 1/125 on your camera’s screen display? Yes, that’s where you adjust how fast or slow you want to capture your image. Special attention needs to be paid to this key factor if you want to photograph moving objects. Depending on your camera, shutter speed can range from a few seconds to a fraction of seconds e.g. 1/4000.
The smaller the fraction (and by “small” I mean 1/125 and not 1/8 if you’ve forgotten your maths lesson), the less time you give your camera exposure to light. The bigger the fraction (e.g. 1/8), the more slowly the camera’s shutter closes and thus the more light is exposed to your camera. Therefore, shutter speed often comes hand in hand with aperture setting.
Anyway, the smaller the fraction, the faster you are able to freeze the motion. The bigger the fraction, the slower you capture the motion and hence the more tendency you’ll blur the images. If you’re still confused, I find this cheat sheet helpful!
It is basically the sensitivity of camera’s sensor to light. The higher the ISO number, the more sensitive the sensor is to light and hence the more noise the images will have. Therefore, as much as possible, aim to use the lowest ISO number to produce sharp images; although high ISO is necessary in a low light condition.
Another helpful cheat sheet..
and another one! ;)
If you didn’t catch anything until this point, the rule of thumb for a good capture is to
use cheat sheets set the aperture to get the desired depth of field, use sufficiently fast shutter speed to avoid motion blur unless intended, and to use the lowest ISO number possible.
By now, I hope you get the big picture of what these three keys do to your images and how they are all interrelated to produce great images. As for figures and settings that can be used for certain lighting conditions and movements, I believe it’s more convincing if you try to explore them by yourself (despite the prospect of using many available cheat sheets being so tempting!). Besides, you can have more chances to be deeply engrossed in capturing moments around you and have fun!
Hope these quotes inspire you! ;)