Starting out as a photographer is intimidating! There are hundreds of different options on how to set camera settings and it just seems impossible – I totally get it! When I first picked up my camera to look at it, I immediately put it back down because I didn’t know where to start.
You’ll be happy to hear there are only a few things you do need to know in order to start taking pictures and the rest will come over time. And don’t fret when you’re preparing for a photoshoot for the first time because you’re still new to the game and practice does make a difference. It’s all about learning and being patient with the process.
If you’re a new photographer, I’m going to give you some professional photo tips. Not that I would call myself a professional by any means but this is what the professionals are talking about! When you’re starting out, there are three things you should be paying attention to in order to still capture amazing shots.
These three things (aperture, ISO and shutter speed) make up something called the exposure triangle. The relationship between the three can be confusing so I’m here to break it down for you. One of the best photography tips is to have your camera in manual mode at all times, this allows you to adjust the settings to your likings and in my opinion, do much more!
What is Shutter Speed in photography?
Shutter speed is exactly what it says in the name – the speed at which the shutter of the camera closes. In other words, it’s the length of time light is allowed to hit the camera’s sensor. This setting is measured in fractions of a second, looking something like 1/1000, 1/250, 1/30, 1/2, 1/4, etc. As for setting shutter speed on your camera, a simple way for understanding shutter speed is that the larger the bottom number, the faster the shutter speed will be. As the number on the bottom grows larger, the less time your shutter is open, meaning the less time it’s exposed to light.
What aperture to use and what does f stop mean?
So essentially, aperture and f-stop are the same thing. Aperture refers to the opening of the lens through which light passes through the camera. A great analogy to help understand the concept is to think about how your eyes work. As your eyes move between light and dark environments, the iris in your eyes will either be opening or shrinking. In other terms, this changes the size of your pupil.
F-stops are a way of describing the size of the aperture in photos and this is how it will be read on your camera as well. For example, f/16, f/8, f/4, f/2.8, f/2. How these are read are the opposite of what you’d think it would mean. When you see f/16 vs f/2, keep in mind that the bigger the number on the bottom, the smaller the hole is which means less light. As for f/2, the hole will be much larger and more light is allowed in.
To hopefully lessen any confusion with this, consider aperture as a fraction. So when the f-stop is f/16 or f/4, picture 1/16th and 1/4th. As you know, 1/16th is smaller than 1/4th so taking it back to f/16 and f/4, an aperture of f/16 is smaller than f/4. For nighttime photography, a larger aperture would be used and for daytime photography, a smaller aperture would be used to take photos. Think of it as you want a bigger opening for more light to pass through at nighttime and less light is needed during the day when the sun is out.
What is ISO in camera talk?
ISO was set by the International Organization of Standardization so hence the name. ISO refers to the sensitivity of the sensor of your camera. When you set your ISO higher, the sensor collects less light and a low ISO means more light is collected to make the exposure!
Some photography tips on how to improve image quality using this setting is to remember that on a sunny day, you can expect to have your settings on low ISO, around ISO 100. As it gets darker and cloudier outside, the ISO setting will increase to an ISO 400 or even higher.
So take note, when you’re doing photography in low light, the general rule of thumb is to increase the ISO on your camera. If you’re shooting in especially low light, nighttime for example, the ISO will be much higher – possibly 1600.
Whether you’re looking to learn more about landscape photography or portrait photography for beginners, this will be super useful to get you started. When I first got my camera, ISO, aperture and shutter speed were the only three things I learned about on how to set camera settings and I was able to start taking photos right away.
Did you love these photography terms for beginners? Save this post to come back at anytime to remember how to set camera settings!