I am no expert.
This I should warn you now.
However, I had a good teacher, and good teachers teach so others can learn. In the grand scheme of this lil’ thing called life, we hopefully then go on to teach others what we have learned and pass on that priceless gift of knowledge to them.
My gift-giving skills may not be of interest to you.
My gift-giving skills may be way off.
My gift-giving skills could totally suck.
But here they are anyways. I hope Santa approves.
- ISO: camera’s sensitivity to light
- aperture: depth of field (depends on the focal length of your lens + the distance you are from the subject you are shooting)
- shutter speed: how long your camera’s opening is well…open
- white balance: compensation for the fact not all light is the same temperature (flourescent vs. natural vs. tungsten vs. yellow)
- metering: how a camera determines the correct exposure
- focus: distance your subject is from the camera
- lightbox: see here
Still confused? It’s okay. I am too. Which is why we are taking this step-by-step (cue this 1990’s sitcom theme song)…
As I mentioned above, ISO simply translates to how sensitive your camera is to light.
Have you ever been on the beach where the sun is shining SO brightly, that you can barely keep your eyes open because your corneas feel like they are being burned to death? Or, have you needed to shadoob in the middle of the night and groggily stepped through the pitch blackness of your house in desperate search of the toilet only to run straight into a wall?
I speak from experience on both accounts when I say our eyes are sensitive to light.
Just like the camera.
Since I took these pictures in a artificially-lit room at a high school at 8:00pm, the ISO of 800 obviously worked best. The more light, the less the camera needs to work to compensate for light (ahem, low ISO). The less the light, the more the camera needs to work to compensate for light (ahem, high ISO). It is also the reason why you may come upon “noise,” or a grainy look, in your photos when you have a high ISO. The camera has to compensate in other areas to get the right lighting for your composition.
Here is a rough breakdown of when you want to use each ISO setting…
- ISO 100/200 = outdoor shots or indoor shots on a really sunny, bright day
- ISO 400 = extremely cloudy, dark day or normal inside shots
- ISO 800 = early morning or at night, when the sun has yet to come out and conditions are fairly dark
- ISO 1600 = extremely dark conditions
I think aperture is still the toughest one to wrap my mind around.
Probably because I’m pretty sure they purposely make it confusing.
On your camera, your aperture is likely going to range anywhere from f/3.0 to f/20. Like I said, this number is your depth of field, which in real human terms means how far you are away from what you want your camera to focus on. Do you want to focus whatever is exactly 3 feet in front of you? Or, do you want to focus on what’s 3 feet in front of you and everything farther beyond that?
As most things in my world, sometimes it’s easier to see it in pictures.
If you look closely, you’ll notice two things: (a) my ISO was clearly not high enough, as these pictures are all slightly underexposed (a higher ISO would have given me more brightness and made the whites more “white”) and (b) while it’s slightly hard to see in these shots, the more things are in focus in each picture as I upped the aperture. Look above, and keep your eye on the ring – it’s blurry at f/5.6 but in focus at f/10.
Again, a low-numbered aperture yields this (look at those center cookies clearly in focus!)…
…while a high-numbered aperture yields a big ol’ picture with LOTS of things in focus (the trees! the snow! that barn way way way way in the back there!).
Good, because things are about to get confusing.
The higher the number of the aperture (high = large depth of field), the SMALLER the lens opening is. And vice versa (low = smaller depth of field = LARGER the lens opening). It’s confusing, I know. I go by the rule that if I have something like a landscape or a picture I envision everything being in focus (i.e. large group, skyline), I use a higher aperture. If I am taking close-up food shots or pictures of one specific thing I want in focus, then a lower aperture suits me just fine.
Alright, you have officially graduated from photography 101.
Because I’ve got a sink of dishes calling my Everythingtarian name and have yet to eat dessert, it’s imperative I go and make both those things happen.
Next up: photography 102!