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Camera Settings

Lesson 2 from: Photography Essentials: Getting Your Best Shots

Sean Dalton

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Lesson Info

2. Camera Settings

Lesson Info

Camera Settings

So the first thing we need to discuss is how your camera works. And this is hands down the most fundamental piece of photography and we're using cameras as our tool, as photographers that is our tool and if we don't know how to properly use the camera, then we can't really capture what we really want to capture. We can't set ourselves free creatively. So in short cameras work by capturing the light every time you hear that click, that is basically the shutter opening up and light is coming into the camera. So what does that mean? Well inside every camera is what you call a black box, it's devoid of all light, it's completely dark. Um And within that black box is a sensor and that sensor is what records all of the information coming into the camera, records all of the light coming into the camera. So because cameras capture light, we need to tell the camera how much light it actually needs to capture. And the reason for that is because it affects the brightness of our image. If we have ...

too much light entering the camera, our photo is going to be what's called overexposed, which is way too bright. And if we don't have enough light entering the camera then our photo is going to be too dark. Thus it's really important for us to regulate how much light is entering the camera. So we can have a photo that is properly exposed. Um and just looks really good. And that's exactly what we're doing when we're shooting in manual mode instead of allowing the camera to choose how much light is entering our camera, we're choosing, we're telling the camera how much light we want to enter the camera. Now the reason why we want to shoot manually instead of allowing the camera to choose how much light enters is because all of the things that affect how much light enters the camera also have another effect, a creative effect on the image. So there are three different settings that we need to adjust to control the amount of light that enters our camera. Only three. And we need to create a balance between these three things in order to get the proper exposure. Those two things are shutter speed, aperture and I. S. O. And those three things comprise what we call the exposure triangle which is a nice little diagram. Um That kind of helps us understand how they all affect the exposure of our image. So all three of these things affect the exposure of our image which we already stated but they also have their own unique effect. And once you understand what effect that each of these things has in your image, you're gonna be able to capture any image that you want to capture. And you can also use any camera in the world because they all work the exact same way. So the first of the three settings I want to talk about is shutter speed. Now shutter speed is denoted by a number. So one second, 1, 1/100 of a second, one for thousands of a second etcetera. So remember how I told you how there's a little mirror that flips up and then flips back down to allow light to enter the camera. Well the speed of that flick that mirror is the shutter speed. And shutter speed regulates the amount of light entering your camera simply by how long that shutter is open. So the longer that shutter is open, the more light enters the camera, the shorter that shutter is open, the less light that enters the camera, it's pretty easy to understand and you can actually see it and hear it when you're looking at a camera. I'm gonna take two photos here and I want you to look inside the camera and I also want you to listen. So every time you take a picture you actually hear two clicks, the first click is the shutter opening and the second click is the shutter closing. So for this first shot, I'm gonna take it at a really fast shutter speed, which means that not a lot of light is going to enter the camera. So listen to how quick this is. It's very fast, right? And that is basically not allowing a lot of light to get into our camera which will result in a darker image. Now let me show you the other side, a really slow exposure, which means that we're leaving the shutter open for a long period of time, allowing a lot of light to enter the camera. So I'm gonna do a one second exposure here. So once again listen and look a lot longer than the one for thousands of a second that we did on the last one. Let me do that again. You can actually hear it, click up and then click down. So that is shutter speed in accordance to light and how much light is entering the camera. But remember I said that all three of these settings, shutter speed, aperture and I. S. O. Also have their own creative effect on the photo. Now the creative effect for shutter speed is the ability to freeze motion and or blur motion. The faster your shutter speed the more motion you're gonna be able to freeze. So like sports photographers they shoot with a really fast shutter speed so everything is sharp and zero motion blur. And if you shoot with a slow shutter speed where you're gonna have more motion blur in your photo if there are things in your photo that are moving. So this diagram really helps us understand the creative effect of shutter speed and how it allows us to freeze motion. So this diagram takes into account not only the amount of light entering the camera, but also the creative effective shutter speed which is the ability to freeze motion. So on the left we have less light with a faster shutter speed. So one over 2500 which is a pretty fast shutter speed, you're gonna be able to freeze a lot of motion with that and that's why we see that little man completely crisp, nice and sharp and that's because we're using that fast shutter speed on the other side, we have a one second exposure, which means that we're letting a lot of light into our camera, but also we have this blurred look. Now, one thing to note is that there is no right or wrong, This is a creative feature. So a lot of photographers will use a range of shutter speeds to capture whatever look they want. So for example, if you're shooting sports, you're gonna want to shoot at a really fast shutter speed, like one over 2500 or one over 1500 or sometimes they even go higher than that one over 4000. Um if you're shooting your friend walking down the street, you can usually shoot at 1 5/100 of a second or 1 2/50 of a second, Those are usually pretty good. And my camera is a lot of the time hanging out at those sort of speeds. And then if you're a landscape photographer and you want to capture, you know, a blurry ocean with the blurry waves or maybe you're shooting in a city and you want to catch like a lot of Light streams from the cars, you can shoot out a one second exposure, you can even shoot at a 32nd exposure And I've seen a guy shoot at like a 202nd exposure. Um and there was just, it was just gave the photo such a cool look because it allowed um so much motion blur in the image that it was completely blurry in some areas, but incredibly sharp in the areas that weren't moving. So it is a creative effect. And when you see those photos of the stars in the sky with the star trails, those are crazy like 5 to 30 minute exposures where they're just leaving the camera open for so long that the rotation of the earth is actually changing the position of the stars in the camera, allowing them to capture those really cool star trails. So another thing to note about shutter speed is that shutter speed negates the amount of camera shake in your photo. So if you're shooting at a really slow shutter speed like this, you can't hand hold that camera because even just a little bit of shake is going to result in a blurry photo. So the rule that I always have is if I'm holding the camera in my hand, I try not to go below 1 1/ of a second for shutter speed because that will allow us to make sure that you know are moving hand is not going to make the image blurry unless we want that look, but usually doesn't look very good if you do have a more modern camera. Some of the more modern cameras have, like in body stabilization or even the lenses have stabilization which means you can kind of drop below that 1, 1/100 of a second because the camera kind of as a stabilizer inside allowing the image to be more crisp. So next time we'll talk about aperture and aperture is also known as the F stop. And aperture is also denoted by a number um and its usually indicated as a mark on the lens. So this lens is 1.8 which means the maximum aperture of this lens is 1.8. Now, apertures typically range from 1.2 all the way up to F 22 that just depends on your lens. So, aperture is pretty easy to understand, aperture is basically the size of the hole in your lens that's allowing light to enter the camera and basically the wider that opening, the more light that's gonna enter the camera and the smaller the opening the less light that's going to enter the camera. What gets complicated when we start talking about the numbers um aperture is kind of weird. It doesn't make a lot of sense because the smaller the number, the wider the opening. So an aperture of F 1.8 or F 1.4 is a really wide aperture which means a lot of light is getting into the camera whereas an aperture of F 10 Or F- 14 or F- 22. Those are really small apertures which doesn't allow a lot of light to get into the camera. And this is another thing that you can actually see in the camera when you look at it, it's pretty cool. So if you look into the lens of this camera you can actually see a small hole with what looks like blades around the hole. Um and that whole is essentially our aperture. Now if I adjust the aperture you can actually see that hole getting bigger, allowing more light into the photo. So that's great. We understand how aperture controls how much light enters the camera. But what's the creative effect of aperture? Well the creative effect of aperture is the ability to control the depth of field. And depth of field is essentially the amount of blur and an image beyond the subject that is in focus. And we also call this this blur bouquet bouquet is kind of a really sexy term and photography right now because bouquet looks really cool and um it can really make your image look super artistic. So when it comes to depth of field essentially the larger our aperture which is a lower number in this case, the shallower our depth of field will be the smaller our aperture which means a bigger number like F eight or F 22 the more focus you will have in your scene. So you can have focus all the way from the foreground, all the way into the background. Now, both small and large apertures are super important for photography and we use all apertures of the camera depending on what type of thing we're shooting. So for example, if you want to take a portrait and you want to have that person's face and focus and then have everything behind them be really nice and out of focus. So we can really focus on the person on the subject for that. We're gonna want to use a wide aperture. So an aperture of F 2.8 or F two or F 1.8 or F 1.4. That is a super wide aperture which will really give us that cool, unique artistic look. But if you want to capture something like a super crisp landscape and have everything nice and in focus um including maybe there's a bush in front of you um and then far off in the distance is a beautiful mountain and you want to have both the bush and the mountain in focus. Well for that, you're gonna want to use a really small aperture like F or F 22 you know, aperture is really important for capturing that really creative look and I think it has um one of the bigger impacts on your photos. So once you can understand this, you can really start taking some really cool artistic photos. And for me when I understood aperture, it really helped kind of click the other things into place. Okay so the last part of the exposure triangle, uh the last setting that we need to understand is I. S. O. S. O. Is also denoted by a number usually starting at 100. Which is a low I. S. O. All the way up to 12,500. Or even crazy numbers like 56,000 I. S. O. Now in short the easiest way to understand it is I. S. O. Is the sensitivity of the sensor. We can get more technical than that but I think that's the most important thing you need to know. It is the amount of sensitivity that your center has. So the higher the I. S. O. The more sensitive your sensor is going to be which means that it's going to be able to record more light. The lower your I. S. O. The less sensitive your sensor is going to be which means less light in your image. So when it comes to regulating the amount of light in your image, I. S. O. Is pretty easy to understand. But the unique effect of I. S. O. Can really have a strong effect on our image and not really a good one. And that's why I like to call I. S. O. Our last resort let me explain why. So when we increase our I. S. O. In our camera we're increasing the sensitivity of that sensor. However with greater sensitivity comes greater instability and when I say greater instability I mean that the camera starts to kind of guess the light waves that are entering the camera doesn't really have the stability to understand all of the different light waves that are entering the camera and properly record them. Which means that the higher I. I. S. O. Is the more digital noise or digital grain is going to be in our image. Which honestly just looks really bad. It doesn't look good. It's really not like the old film grain that we used to see. You know when you look at an old uh image from a film camera there's kind of that grainy um And really kind of artistic look. It gives the photo texture. Um Well that looks great on film cameras but with digital cameras it doesn't look good at all it's all kind of discolored and it just really doesn't look good. So we want to avoid this as much as possible right? And we do that by basically keeping our I. S. O. As low as possible. And the only time we increase our I. S. O. Is when you know we've set our aperture we've set our shutter speed and we still don't have enough light entering the photo. Maybe we're shooting in a dark environment or maybe indoors where there's just not enough light. Um Only then only as a last resort do we increase our I. S. So like I said I. S. O. Can really negatively affect the quality of your image. So I want you to experiment with this. Um take an image at 100 I. S. O. Um And then adjust the camera and then take another image at the maximum the maximum I. S. So that your camera can take it at. So whether that's 6400 or all the way up to 32,000 whatever that number is, take an image of that zoom in and look at the image. It's going to look dramatically different. Okay so now that we've talked about all three of the piece of the of the exposure triangle and we've talked about the creative things um that they do as well. We need to talk about them together. So in this next lesson we're gonna talk about how you can balance all three of them. Um to capture the image that you want to capture.

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