What!? You still don’t understand your camera settings?
Still a mystery even after you read that simple, “beginner friendly” article on f-stop, camera shutters, and the exposure triangle? You still can’t grasp the difference between an f stop of 2 vs. 16? And how you have to then increase your shutter speed or aperture when you are taking photos outdoors.
I have one thing to say to you: that is totally normal! In fact, I am willing to bet that no one EVER just picked up a camera and starting taking beautiful pictures. It takes some practice, and most of all, an understanding of the TWO primary camera settings.
I’ve taught many people to understand the settings on their DSLR camera with the following analogy and explanation (see the 10 minute video):
“THANK YOU! You are awesome at what you do. I feel like a pro now.” – Amanda
“It finally makes sense!! Thanks to all of your detailed information and examples, I finally understand what all of these settings on my camera mean and can take beautiful pictures!” – Shelly
After watching this video, you are ready to click here and dive into ALL of your camera settings!
Think of Your Camera as an Eye!
If you think of your camera as an eye, the settings will all start to make sense.
Your eye is dynamic. It adjusts to light and movement. It can focus on certain items. It is exactly what your camera is trying to do!
“Shutter Speed” is your Camera’s Eyelids
Shutter speed is your camera setting that determines how fast the shutter, or the ‘camera’s eyelid’, will blink.
Start with your eyes closed. If you open your eyes for a long time, you are seeing what is occurring around you. You can see movement. On contrast, if you blink your eyes quickly, your eyes can only capture what occurred for a very fast time period (not even enough time to see anything move.). This is exactly what shutter speed is!
A slow shutter speed (1 full second in camera terms) will capture movement, but that comes out as a blur on your pictures. You want to avoid capturing movement on a picture. One benefit of a slow shutter speed is that it will allow more light to enter into your camera (since the “eye” is open longer); therefore, you can take pictures in lower light.
A fast shutter speed (1/500 of a second in camera terms) will not not capture movement, and will result in a clear and crisp picture. One downside is that since the camera’s “eye” is only open for a tiny period of time, so a lot of light does not enter into the camera. What this means is that you need more light for faster shutter speeds.
“Aperture” is Your Camera’s Pupil
The pupil of your eye is the opening in the center of the iris, or that black dot. The function of the pupil is to allow light to enter into the eye. In a dark room, the pupil gets bigger (or dilates) to let more light in. Out in the sun, the pupil will shrink up (or constrict) to let less light in.
There is no more accurate description of how your camera works! This camera setting is called aperture. Aperture refers to the opening of your camera, and how much light it will let in.
Aperture is measured by a number referred to as the “f stop”. If you have a “low” f-stop, such as f/3. then your camera’s “pupil” is opened wide. This will allow a lot of light to enter in, and allow you to take great pictures in lower light, such as indoors or at night.
If your f-stop is a high number, such as f/16, then your camera’s “pupil” is very small. Just like your eye in the sun, it will let in less light so that you can see better in bright sun.
Also, when your camera’s “pupil” is open wide, it will allow for a blurry background (or narrow depth of field). This is a great way to get those creamy, blurry backgrounds in your photos.
Your Lens is your Camera’s Glasses
You can take great pictures with the lens that comes with your camera. BUT (there is always a but!), if you want to up your camera game, get it a better pair of ‘glasses’. The lens for your camera can alter how far your camera can zoom and how much control you have over your camera’s settings.
I use my Nikkor 50mm lens for 99.9% of my photos. It is not an expensive lens, but allows for really low “f numbers” or really blurry backgrounds. My lens allows for an “f stop” of 1.8, which is VERY low! The 50 mm lens is sometimes referred to as a normal lens, because it most closely mimics the way your eyes can see the world. If you don’t have one, I recommend getting one! It will greatly improve your photography!
You can click on the above lens to check it out or you can check out this overstock site for more deals!
Does that Make Sense?
- Shutter speed is the camera’s “eyelids”. Faster shutter speeds (higher numbers) will allow for less movement blur, and also let in less light.
- Aperture is the camera’s “pupil“. A wider camera opening (lower f stop numbers) will allow for great pictures in low light and more background blur.
Your camera, just like your eye, is constantly evaluating and balancing light and movement. By thinking of your camera as an eye, these mysterious camera settings will start to make sense and photography will magically CLICK! (pun intended).
Now you are ready move to my complete photography tutorial, and learn exactly how to use these settings:
The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Photography
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