January 26, 2013

Training Wheels for your Manual Camera

Camera Counselor is BACK! In these posts you will learn more about how to take and edit pictures like you never knew you could. HERE IS MY FIRST post  in case you missed it.

This post is all about getting out of AUTO mode.

It is scary to turn that dial from AUTO to manual that first time. What you really need is training wheels. There is so much to know that it can be overwhelming to go completely manual, so I will give you the training wheels you need today.

First there are 3 settings that effect your EXPOSURE (amount of light that hits the "film")

1. ISO in the olden days the ISO used to be the film speed.
The higher the ISO the less light you will need, but your pictures will also have more "digital noise"
The lower the ISO the more light you will need, but your pictures will be "smoother" looking (for lack of a better description) and have less digital noise.
Why would I use a high ISO then? BECAUSE sometimes you have a great moment but not a lot of light.
I seem to be at home at ISO 400 it lets in enough light without "noise" but inside I've been going quite a bit higher because it is so dark this winter (ISO 1600!) which is creating a lot of noise in my pictures. I think it is more important to have enough light then to worry about digital noise!

2. APERTURE the pupil of the camera
The APERTURE is the hole in the cameras lens that lets the light in.
The bigger the aperture number (example F 22) the smaller the hole (I know it doesn't make sense!)
The smaller the number (F 1.4) the bigger the hole.
Like your pupil, if it is dark you need a bigger hole or aperture to let the light in.
If it is bright out you need a smaller aperture.
If you have a large aperture for example 2.8 you will get the background out of focus (shorter depth of field) and we all love fuzzy backgrounds in portraits.
If you have a small aperture you will get almost everything in crisp focus from the foreground to the background (works well for landscapes)

3. SHUTTER the "blink of the camera"
The shutter literally opens and closes like a shutter to let light in.
The longer the shutter stays open the more light is let in (shady, low light)
The shorter the shutter stays open the less light is let in (sunny, bright light)
1/60th of a second is the LOWEST you should go if you would like a picture that is in focus (assuming you are taking pictures of people or hand holding your camera) Even at a 1/60th which is a slower shutter speed, you must be very still when you click it and your subject should be still.
The higher shutter speed are used for movement, BUT you need lots of light! Try 1/1000

SO NOW THE THE TRAINING WHEELS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Choose either Aperture or Shutter. Flip a Coin, go ahead.

Set your Camera dial to A or AV (aperture priority) or
TV or S (which is shutter priority)

Now you can work with just one of these settings to better understand how they work. The camera will automatically address the exposure (just as it did in auto) but you will get to set the Aperture or Shutter.

Try this. . .

A slow shutter (1/15) when something is moving.
A fast shutter speed (1/500) when something is moving.

A small aperture f 22(everything foreground, middle ground, background are in focus, but you need LOTS of light)
A big aperture f 2.8 (everything in background goes out of focus.)

I hope this helps. I tried to keep it as simple as possible to start because it really is very complicated once you try to put it all out there.

AS FOR EXPOSURE RIGHT NOW, DO WHAT LOOKS GOOD, we can talk about metering the light later except my approach is not a science.

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