Type: Process Essays
Sample donated: Gerald Hansen
Last updated: September 21, 2019
Let’ssay you’re a traveler and you fell in love with the beauty of thenew nature spot you discovered or you’re in your sister’s weddingand you would like to treasure that intimate moment when they saytheir vows, it’s undeniable that having a good camera with you canmake these special moments last almost a lifetime.
Photography hasallowed humans to preserve different memories that we can always lookback into and be nostalgic about. Not only that it’s stress relievingto some, it’s also a way for others to show what they really feelabout how the world goes and they express it through their photos.Professional or not, everyone has this innate talent when it comes totaking pictures. But for those who are just starting withphotography, what are the important rules they must keep in mind tobecome successful in this field? We are going to talk about thebasics about using your camera and what are the proper settings youshould use. Ifthis is going to be the first time of you owning a DSLR camera, youwill see letters and abbreviations like “Av or A”,”Tvor S”,”P”,”M” at the top.
These talk aboutyour shooting modes and in some cases you might find more of these onsome other DSLR’s depending to the manufacturer. We will talk aboutwhat these mean and when you should use them. You also need tounderstand the importance of the amount of light in each photo to getthe right vibrancy and proper exposure. We will also talk about howto properly use your camera in different lighting conditions and theright settings for different landscapes and scenes. This articlewill also discuss with you the different methods of metering andfocusing.
We will also talk about different file sizes for you tohave the best image quality for your pictures. 1.Understanding Shooting modes and how to properly use them.AperturePriority (Av or A) Ifyou were a beginner, it’s advisable for you tostartmasteringfirst what are the variousshooting modes. You will always find your shooting modes on the dialthat has the “Av or A”,”Tv or S”,”P”,”M”and “Auto” atthe top of your camera. Eachof the shooting modes, once selected will tell your camera what to dowith exposure andwill automatically determine theshutter speed.
“Aperture Priority” allowsthe userto set the size of the aperture while the camera sets the shutterspeed. The aperture works like the iris of the eyes. Itdeterminesthe amount of light that passesthrough thelens of yourcamera whenevertheshutter is ready or in use. The aperture is measured in “f-stops”and displayed as an “f-number”(f/2.0,f/2.8, f/4.0, f/5.
6, f/8.0).Just remember that the smaller the “f-number” is, the widertheaperturewillbe andonce you set the “f-number”toa higher value, it will make the aperture narrower.Onceyou set your camera tothis mode, you have complete control of the depth of field and yourcamera will just do the necessary adjustments. The depthof field is described theareaof reasonablesharpness within ashotthat will appear in focus.The size of the depth of field depends on the size of the aperture.The larger the depth of field, the smaller the aperture is and viceversa. Alargedepth offield is best usedfor shots of landscapes,beaches and aerialshots of a place or aforest.
On the other hand, asmallerdepth of field isideal for closeup shots of small objects like a bee hovering on a rose. ShutterPriority (Tv or S) Thisnext mode we are going to talk about works similar with AperturePriority (Av or A). The only difference with this next mode is thatyou have full control of the shutter speed. The shutter speed is thelength of time the shutter remains open whenever the camera is inuse. The shutter speed is measured in seconds or fraction of asecond. If you would like to take a photo of a rushing river and makethe water look like its frozen, select a shorter shutter speed tocreate that frozen effect to the water.
If you would like to take aphoto a speeding car in a race track and make it appear real fast,select a longer shutter speed to blur the image of the fast movingobject. If you would like to take a photograph using a shortershutter speed, it will be best for you to also use a tripod. Thetripod will make sure that the camera remains steady while theshutter is in use. Take note that both the (Tv or S) and the (Av orA) are “Semi-automatic” modes and most beginners will justmock their functionality because well, they are not really manual.But as a beginner, you must understand that these two modes produceastonishing results once you become adept in using them. Manual(M) Thismode will give you the option to set everything yourself the way youwould like it to be. From the size of the aperture, shutter speed andexposure, you have the control over them.
A bonus with the use of themanual mode is that there will be an exposure indicator within theviewfinder that will tell you how much or less of exposure is neededin your photograph.Program(P) The Program mode is considered as the “neutral mode”between the semi-automatic modes and the manual mode. The camera willkeep the right exposure while you have the option to change theshutter speed and the aperture. The aperture and shutter speed workshand in hand that’s why changing the aperture will also change theshutter speed and vice versa. 2.What is “ISO” Inphotography, ISO is the value of various levels of sensitivity ofyour camera’s light sensor to available light. It is measured fromISO 100 to ISO 6400 or sometimes more and it’s responsible fordetermining the total amount of light required to meet the desiredamount of exposure in an image.
On a bright scene, It is best to usea lower value of ISO since you have all the light available for yourphotograph. Using a lower value of ISO will ensure that your photowill have minimal or no noise at all. Now in places where there isnot much light available like indoors, using a higher value of ISOwill provide higher sensor sensitivity and will allow your camera touse all of the available light in the area which will make yourphotograph appear a bit brighter. However, photos taken in darkplaces using higher ISO value is prone to developing noise. Noise isa common visual distortion that appears to be small grains on theimage especially in photographs taken in dark places or at night.
Ideally, it will be best to use lower ISO values as much as possibleand just increase it if it’s necessary.3.The”Exposure Triangle” Now that you have the idea about the aperture, shutter speed and theright use of ISO, let’s take a look as to how these functions arerelated to each other and their relationship. A little principle youmust know is that these three are part of what is known inphotography as the “Exposure Triangle”. These functions areall responsible for the amount of light your camera will be getting.A sudden adjustment to any of these three will affect the rest of thelight functions. The balance of exposure also depends to theadjustments made to the ISO, aperture and shutter speed.
Forbeginners, it is advisable to first start using semi-automatic modesand auto-ISO. What is good about the use of semi-automatic modes andauto-ISO is that you do not have to worry about adjusting yourexposure to acquire the desired lighting in your photograph. 4.Metering Yourcamera can make intelligent changes and necessary adjustments tolight required in various photographs. As long as your modes are setcorrectly, you can just trust your camera to do its best. Your camerawill always do the calculations of how much light is needed and yourcamera will also asses the entire focal area both the dark and brightareas and will determine the amount of exposure needed in theseplaces. This process is called Metering. Metering allows your camerato asses the scene and the camera will do the job of adjusting theexposure.
For example, If you tried to take a photograph of a brightsummer morning at the beach, the result will give you an image a bitdarker than how it actually is at your location. The adjustments aremade by your camera to give you an image of the scene that is clearand not too bright. On the other hand, if you tried to take aphotograph of an old cathedral from the inside, which is a place withnot much light available, the image will appear a little brighterthan how it should be to show you a more detailed photograph of thecathedral. Metering will determine how much exposure is needed sothat you will have the desired tones in the image averaging to 18%grey. You still have the control which areas you would like to appeardimmer or brighter in an image. There are three kinds of meteringcommon DSLR cameras are using as of today.
First is the “Average”Metering in which the camera will assess the tones and exposureneeded to deliver the image with 18% grey from that assessment. Nextis the “Spot Metering” where the camera will just use asmall spot at the center of the viewfinder averaging 5% of the actualviewfinder area, the camera makes the assessments of dark and lighttones in this spot and just apply the adjustments of tones of 18%grey to this area. And last is the “Centre-Weighted”metering where your camera will weigh the exposure reading at thecenter of the viewfinder that could sum to up to 80% of the scene,disregarding the far edges of the image. Average and Centre-Weightedis ideal to be used by beginners. These two will give you the rightexposure you will need without too much of the adjustments. 5.
Focusing Yourgoal is always to obtain the photograph of your preffered subject andmake it appear perfect as much as possible. Proper focusing willallow you to provide emphasis to your subject. Without the rightfocus, you won’t get the image the way you would like it be or ifthe subject is moving, you might not catch it in your frame. The goodthing is that we have different focus functions that you could tryusing from time to time to get the best artistic quality for yourphotograph depending to your subject. One is the “AF-S” orauto-focus, single mode. This mode is best used for photographingstill objects. The “AF-C” or autofocus-continuous best usedfor capturing fast moving objects. When you take a peek at theviewfinder, you will see small dots across the screen.
By simply halfpressing the shutter button, one of the dots will blink in redindicating an active focus point. The active focus point is whereyour camera is going to “pay attention” once you press theshutter button.6.
File Size and Types Nowfor optimum image quality, you have the option to set your files todifferent file sizes and formats. You have the settings in yourcamera that you can change before you start taking pictures. It willbe best for you to have your files set to large formats that is ifyou want to preserve every pixels your camera has captured.
Yourcamera will give you the option whether you would like to set yourfiles to “raw” or in “JPEG”. A “raw” file stores all theimage data captured by your camera and provides adjustability toprinting or post processing. However, it might have some issues suchthe need to convert each file using an editing software to convertthem to much larger file formats. The “JPEG” format is thecompressed file type that is automatically being processed by yourcamera after you set it.
“JPEG” files are smaller in size so youcan save more of this type in your memory card. If your files are setto “JPEG” format, you could print out your images straight fromyour camera. Byhaving a little knowledge about these functions as a starter, surelyyou will have the best quality photos you could share with yourfriends or loved ones or if you were lucky enough and someone noticedyour masterpieces, it might open up tons of opportunities for you andyour work of art to be recognized. Photography is both entertainmentand self expression. The beauty we see in each pictures we take givesus a sense of fulfillment, especially if we have captured the imagethe way we would like it to be.
Once you become more familiar withthe proper use of your shooting modes, proper exposure, metering andfocusing it’s no doubt that you can produce extra-ordinary works ofart that will always capture the hearts of your audiences. Fromphotos of sunsets to mountain ranges, to running children or flockingbirds, with the help of right settings you will surely have artworksthat you could always treasure and be proud of. Photography is abroad field and many have succeeded in it. You might say that it willbe just a hobby for you right now. But who knows? Now go grab thatcamera and start shooting!