Monday, December 13, 2010

The Basics

So I've decided to start from the beginning.  I’m only writing this to help either, complete beginners or people who would just like to understand better, the principles of photography. That’s why I'm going to be very layman and not go into too much detail.  So let's jump straight in.

There are 3 functions you need to know on your camera and understand what they do.  It's using these 3 functions in combination that will help you to take better photographs.  They are the most important things on your camera whether it's digital or film, although who uses film anymore, right?! (Er-hm, I do!)  Point is, the rules are the same.  So what are these 3 things? Well, in no specific order since they all work in combination to give you the final result, are:-

1) F Stop
2) Shutter Speed
3) ISO

“Wait! you said that you would use layman terms, what's with this ISO and F Stop? “
Don't worry, you don’t need to know what they stand for, only what they do.  See how simple we’re keeping this!

1)    F Stop:  This function also known as the Aperture relates to the lens only.  Inside the lens there is an iris, just like your eye.  The lower the F Stop number the wider the iris and as you would expect, the higher the number the smaller the iris.  So if the iris is wide open then more light travels through the lens.  If the iris is tight then less light gets through.  Just like your eyes, if you are in a dark room the iris opens up wide to allow you to see better.  It’s the same principle with lenses.

2)    Shutter Speed:  This function specifies how slow or fast the shutter (doorway to the film/sensor) opens and closes.  The lower the number, the slower the shutter speed and, off course, the higher the number, the faster the shutter speed.  Once again, think of this logically, if the shutter is opening and closing slowly then more light is getting through and if the shutter is opening and closing quickly then less light is getting through.

Generally speaking:
Fast shutter speeds are used to let less light into the camera on bright days and for any fast moving objects such as sports photography but not exclusively.
Slow shutter speeds are used for low light photography such as night time shoots.  These may require the use of a tripod as the camera needs to be motionless.

3)    ISO:  This is a little more complicated so I’ll give you a little history.  Since I am explaining from the point of view of digital cameras, this one has its history with film.  So back in the old days, in the time of film cameras, the ISO number on a film would represent the sensitivity of that film to light.  The higher the ISO the more sensitive to light that film is.  The downside to this is a grainier picture.  So, to cut a long story short, DSLR’s follow the same rules.  Even though there’s no film, the ISO behaves in exactly the same way.

Like I said at the beginning, it’s the combination of these 3 functions that help create the final result.  If you want to dig deeper about these 3 functions then I highly recommend you look on wikipedia for a more in depth description.

No matter how good a photographer you are, in the end it will come down to the combination of these 3 functions for everything you do.
In the following posts to come, I will go into the different ways you can use these 3 functions to achieve very different results in your photographs.  Stand by!

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