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In this post I’ll be discussing Aperture, Shutter Speed, and ISO. The three camera settings that control “exposure” – the brightness of your photo.

There are three settings on your camera that control exposure: Aperture, Shutter Speed, and ISO.

The Aperture is the thing that opens when you press the shutter button on your camera. The ‘aperture setting’ determines how big the opening will be. It's measured in f-stops. The smaller the f-stop number the larger the opening, and hence the more light that gets in.

The Shutter Speed determines how long the aperture stays open. Shutter speed is measured in fractions of a second. The faster the shutter, the less light that gets in.

The ISO setting determines the camera’s sensitivity to light. Think of it as a light amplifier. The higher the ISO, the brighter the image.

In most cases you will want fast shutter speeds (to eliminate blur), low ISO (to reduce noise), and an appropriate aperture setting to give you the 'Depth of Field' you want (small aperture = large depth of field, and vice versa).

Now, every camera comes with an “AUTO” mode that can automatically ensure that you always get correct exposure. However, the AUTO mode is typically a compromise of moderate shutter speed, with average aperture, and middle-of-the-road ISO. This can produce good results, but if you want to take great photos, you will have to take your camera off of AUTO, and gain a basic understanding of how the exposure setting affect your photos. Here's a basic guide to get you started.


 APERTURE
SMALL <-----------------------------------------------------------------------> LARGE
f/22           f/16           f/11         f/8          f5.6         f4        f/2.8
Large Depth of Field                                           Shallow Depth of Field

SHUTTER SPEED
FAST <------------------------------------------------------------------------> SLOW
1/2000        1/1000         1/500        1/250        1/125        1/60        1/30
Freezes images/sharp - no blur                   Motion blur (may need a tripod)

    ISO
LOW <-------------------------------------------------------------------------> HIGH
ISO 80        100             200          400          800         1600        3200
No noise                                                                       Noise


So what exposure settings should you use? Well, it depends on what you're trying to capture. I typically shoot wild birds, so I want to freeze the action (fast shutter), have a shallow depth of field (large aperture), and high quality (low ISO). Here's an example:

Common Grackle In Flight by GarryKirsch
Fast shutter speed, large aperture.


If you shoot landscapes, you may want lots of depth of field (small aperture), high quality (low ISO), and you probably use a tripod so shutter speed doesn't have to be that fast. Here's an example:

The Path Less Traveled by GarryKirsch
Slow shutter speed, small aperture.

</p>For more artistic shots, you may want a grainy look (high ISO), blur (slow shutter), and shallow depth of field (large aperture).

It all depends.

Here's the good news - you don't have to immediately go to MANUAL mode (where you have to control everything). There are several semi-automatic options. For instance you can choose Auto-ISO - which means the camera chooses the ISO while you control the aperture and shutter speed. There is APERTURE PRIORITY where you choose the aperture, and the camera chooses the Shutter Speed. And there is SHUTTER PRIORITY where you choose the Shutter Speed and the camera chooses the Aperture. In all these cases the exposure will be correct because the camera will balance whatever selections your making so that just the right amount of light hits the sensor.

Of course there are times when you may want to 'over expose' or 'under expose'. I suggest you use the camera's 'exposure compensation' settings for that, or switch to MANUAL mode and utilize the exposure meter.

I know this can be a lot to take in all at once, but to become a better photographer you will need to learn it - and in the world of digital photography, there's no cost to experiment. So be brave, take your camera off AUTO, and discover the possibilities!



Add a Comment:
 
:iconhearted-rogue:
Hearted-Rogue Featured By Owner Apr 8, 2014  Student Photographer
Garry, 
is it possible for you to post this in the PhotoTakingLovers group?
that would be awesome!!!

please!!!!!?
Reply
:icongarrykirsch:
GarryKirsch Featured By Owner Apr 8, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer
Done. :)
Reply
:iconhearted-rogue:
Hearted-Rogue Featured By Owner Apr 8, 2014  Student Photographer
thank you!!!
Reply
:iconafrican-amber:
African-Amber Featured By Owner Mar 30, 2014  Student General Artist
Thank you. This was really helpful!
Reply
:icongarrykirsch:
GarryKirsch Featured By Owner Mar 30, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer
You're welcome! I'm glad it was helpful! :)
Reply
:iconcharmed-ravenclaw:
Charmed-Ravenclaw Featured By Owner Mar 30, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
This was helpful to me :)
Reply
:icongarrykirsch:
GarryKirsch Featured By Owner Mar 30, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer
I am so glad! Thank you for saying! :)
Reply
:iconcharmed-ravenclaw:
Charmed-Ravenclaw Featured By Owner Mar 31, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
No worries!
Reply
:iconpureoptic:
pureoptic Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2014  Student Photographer
This is a great guide for anyone looking to learn more about taking great quality pictures. This covers all the basics, and is really helpful. Great guide! :) 
Reply
:icongarrykirsch:
GarryKirsch Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer
Thanks ny friend! I appreciate the positive feedback. :)
Reply
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