Today’s lesson must start with one thing: review.
I’ll wait here on my new couch while you go back and refresh yourself on photography 101. Don’t worry about keeping me waiting as I’ve got my new Ben Folds CD playing from Thursday’s AMAZING concert and hot coffee in hand keeping me company.
Now that we’ve covered ISO and aperture, it’s on to…
Shutter speed is simply how long your camera is open. Shutter speeds generally range between 1 and 1/4000 of a second. It is an especially effective tool if you want to capture motion – either stopping motion (i.e. catching me mid-bite of a giant burger) or catching motion (i.e. seeing my cartwheel technique). However you use shutter speed, remember it is going to work in conjunction with both ISO and aperture to either let in more or less light.
Here is the progression of shots I took to show you this, starting with 1/60 of a second (stopping motion = a quicker shutter speed = less time open) and ending with 1/10 (catching motion = a slower shutter speed = more time open)…
Knowing your shutter speed is also going to help you avoid “camera shake” – the fuzziness that occurs in pictures when the shutter is open for too long. You can correct this two ways: (1) buy a tripod or (2) make sure your shutter speed is NEVER slower than (1/focal length of your lens). For example, I have a stock 18/55mm lens. That means when I take wider shots at 18mm, my shutter should not be slower than 1/18. When I take up-close food shots at 55mm and my camera is zoomed in all the way, my shutter should not be slower than 1/55.
This next little trick I learned is going to save you from lots of crummily-lit pictures…
WHITE BALANCE (WB)
Not all light is created equal.
Flourescent light is bright, white and glows like those creepy aliens you see in end-of-the-world movies. Tungsten light is that awful artificial room lighting. Natural light is beautious and a photographer’s best friend. My apartment lighting is gaggy yellow.
When you’re physically in my apartment, these books (all of which I have yet to read) don’t look like they’ve come down with a severe case of jaundice. The colors are clear, bright and beautiful. So, how do I show you, my dear readers, that this is in fact true?
CUSTOM WHITE BALANCE.
- Find a neutral color in the room you wish to take a picture in. In my case, I took a picture of the white walls in my living room.
- Hit ‘Menu’ on your camera, and find the custom WB feature (this will vary from camera model to camera model). Hit ‘Set.’
- Next, choose the picture you took in step #1. Again, hit ‘Set.’
- Set-up your camera for the shot you want to take. Before you snap it however, hit your WB button, and ensure it is set on ‘Custom WB.’
- Shoot, baby, shoot.
Custom WB is your new best friend. Use it. Abuse it.
As it turns out, I am going to do a photography 103 post, because my talkative Everythingtarian self has more to say. Surprise, surprise, I know. In my last + final post, I promise to put what we’ve learned together and show you some other fun things your camera can do for you.
In the words of my wonderful photography teacher John, the point of learning about your camera is to take more control over it instead of it controlling you.
Case in point: this picture.
All these pictures are about equally exposed. However, each and every one is taken at a different combination of ISO, aperture and shutter speed. They’re all different yet all very similar. Having more control over your camera will allow YOU to find the combination YOU like and give YOU the tools to take fantastic photos.
Stick with me.
I promise we’ll put all this photography nonsense together without you losing your mind.
I’ve already lost mine for you.