*Author and House of Rose Contributor – Jessica Philippo, from One July Living.
Make sure and read the first post in this series: 3 Steps to Better Pictures – Without Changing a Single Camera Setting.
Before I began my photography journey there was simply morning, day, and night. In the day, the sun filled my home. At night, the lights came on. Simple enough.
And now? I see the world completely different. I notice way the sun comes through my daughter’s nursery in the morning. The way it filters through the trees in the afternoon. The “golden hour” created just before sunset. The way a lamp illuminates and casts shadows across my grandmother’s face while she prays at night.
I chase light. I crave it. Because I am a photographer, and light is my paintbrush.
And today is the day that YOU will begin to see light in a whole new way.
As I mentioned in my first guest post, and you’ve likely heard before– shooting in manual mode is a game changer. But to learn manual mode, you must also learn light.
Today we are going to explore how to use manual mode on your camera.
So what exactly do manual mode and light have to do with each other? Let me introduce you to your new best friend, the Exposure Triangle.
Manual Mode is all about evaluating the light available to you, and adjusting these three settings in your camera to determine how you will approach your ideal exposure.
What does ideal exposure look like (we’ll talk more about this in a future post)? Something like THIS when you peer through your camera…
Now, I’m going to throw A LOT of information at you today. But that’s why this is a SERIES! We will revisit each of these areas in more detail in the coming months. But first, we need to understand the Exposure Triangle as a whole.
So today, let’s quickly break down each of the elements.
One of my best friends stopped by the other day and totally fell into my trap an opportunity be a model for all you fine folks.
INTRODUCTION TO ISO
This number represents how sensitive your DSLR’s sensor is to light. The higher the number, the more light it will collect. On most entry-level cameras, the maximum ISO setting is typically around 1600 (and goes higher as the quality of camera improves).
Here’s the catch … the more you raise the ISO number, the more grain (referred to as “noise”) you will introduce to the image.
General rule of thumb…you want to keep your ISO as low as the situation will allow in order to produce the best quality image.
Left Image Settings: ISO 6400, shutter speed1/640, aperture 4.0
Right Image Settings: ISO 280, shutter speed 1/125, aperture 2.8
These images may not appear much different from one another. Until you zoom in and reveal the difference in quality caused by the higher ISO. You better believe you’ll see the difference in your prints!
INTRODUCTION TO SHUTTER SPEED
Shutter speed represents how long your shutter will be open. In other words, how quickly the image will be captured. As an example, if you want to freeze a moment in time – such as a running toddler, or suspending a falling snowflake – then you will want a very fast shutter speed. If you want to capture the blur of a train as it speeds by, then you would want a slower shutter speed.
Here’s the catch… the faster the shutter speed, the less light that will be captured. Why does this matter to you? If you are shooting in a low light situation with a high shutter speed – you may end up with a very dark (or even pitch black) photo! Or vice versa, a shutter speed that is too slow in a bright lighting situation would result in a “blown out” or entirely white image.
General rule of thumb…to ensure you capture a sharp image without the aid of a tripod, I recommended shooting at a minimum shutter speed of 1/150 (150th of a second). Toddlers? FASTER! They’re speedy little buggers. Then adjust your ISO and aperture accordingly to keep your image properly exposed.
Note: everyone should have a best friend who will jump to action after you say “ok, shake your head like a crazy person” without question. (love you girl)
Top image Settings: ISO 4500, shutter speed 1/800, aperture 3.5
Bottom Image Settings: ISO 800, shutter speed 1/60, aperture 3.5
INTRODUCTION TO APERTURE
Aperture is responsible for depth of field.
I often see questions about “how do you create that ‘blurry effect’ in the background?” That is all about aperture.
Here’s the catch… The smaller the number of the aperture setting (more shallow the depth of field) the MORE light will be captured.
The larger the number of the aperture setting (the deeper the depth of field) the LESS the light will be captured.
General rule of thumb…
- If you want to create a blurry background, use a smaller/wider aperture setting (i.e., 1.8-4.0). But don’t go overboard, you may only get the tip of someone’s nose in focus!
- If you want to photograph the latest room you remodeled or a mountain landscape, you will want a larger aperture setting to deepen the depth of field and keep more of the image in focus (not just that lamp that’s closest to you!)
Top image settings: ISO 200, shutter speed 1/1250, aperture 1.8
Bottom image settings: ISO 2200, shutter speed 1/200, aperture 16
Have I lost you? Take a deep breath and don’t worry. I promise, you can do it. Next month we’ll start putting these into practice! First up – APERTURE!
– Read your camera’s instruction manual and learn how to switch your camera to MANUAL mode.
– Read your camera’s instruction manual and learn/practice how to adjust the ISO, Shutter Speed, and Aperture on your camera.
WANT TO JOIN IN ON THE FUN BUT NOT SURE WHAT TO BUY? Check out my investment guide for the photography beginner.
Make sure and PIN this to your photography board for future reference…you know…so when you bust out your camera and completely forget what Jessica just taught us. For that time.