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PostSubject: Photography Basics   Photography Basics EmptyWed Sep 08 2010, 10:15

Here's something I wrote up a few years ago on another forum for people trying to get to grips with their cameras. It's nothing fancy but I'm getting asked more and more for some advice and I think this may be of benefit to some people. If you have anything you want to add you are more then welcome Thumbs up


Right the last few times I've come into this section there's been a few people asking about the basics of how to use a camera. So I thought I'd take it upon myself to write a starters guide.

Feel free to correct me or add your own things to this.

Right starting off the 2 most important things are Shutter speed and Aperture

Shutter Speed

Shutter speed is how fast the shutter of the camera (the bit behind the lens) exposes the film(or in a digital camera the film plate). A rule of thumb is that if your holding the camera and not leaning on anything try not to go under 1/60 otherwise it's likely it will blur.

Shutter speeds are measured in seconds. The higher shutter speeds are measured in fractions (e.g. 1/60th of a second) and can any where up to about 1/5000th, but general speaking you never need to go over 1/1000.
If you are shooting a subject that is moving you will want to use a fast shutter speed. For example when I take pictures of racing cars or BMX I'd stick to about 1/800 and upwards.

Slow shutter speeds can be used to shoot stationary subjects, such as a parked car. You will need a tripod or a sturdy object like a wall if you are shooting at night or in low light conditions. But this depends on the lighting, aperture and ISO of the subject. The longer the shutter speed the lower the ISO can be and the larger the aperture can be(see below for definitions).


This isnt so vitally important to get right as shutter speed is but it is important.

In basic terms aperture is how much of the photo is in focus. The higher the aperture the more of the picture will be in focus. It is refered to in stops (genraly from f/3.5 - f/22)

Higher apertures make the iris in the lens smaller which allows in less light in but gives more detail, thus making the shutter speed longer but more in focus. Low apertures are the opposite (obviously).

Here are two pics I took sitting at my pc a sec ago to portray what I mean. Look at the back ground to see the difference in focus.

Low aperture i.e less in focus, faster shutter speed (f/ 3.5, 1/2 sec)
.Photography Basics Lowap

High aperture i.e more in focus, slower shutter speed (f/ 22, 15 sec)
Photography Basics Highap


ISO is how reactive the film is to light. The lower the ISO the less reactive the film is and the longer the film takes to react (a longer exposure) and visa versa.

The lowest ISO on standard digital camera is 100 going up to 1600.

The lower the iso the less "noise" will be captured. Noise is a term used to refer to a dust/fuzzyness effect over the picture.

Heres an example:

Left : f/22, 0.8 sec, ISO 1600
Right : f/22, 15sec, ISO 100.

Photography Basics Iso

I've decided to add a quick guide of what to look at on a Canon. This guide is specificity a 400D but most cameras use the same basis on button layout. I would appreciate it if someone did one for Nikon's.

Before I start this is not a instruction manual, this is just a run down of what I would check/do if I were going to take a pic of a stationary car.

This is for Manual mode (M)

Here's a picture to clarify what im talking about and what the importaint things to look at are.

Photography Basics Buttons

For a stationary shot (with a tripod)

For starters set your camera to manual(M) mode.

I would then put the ISO down to 100 and leave it there for the rest of the day/night, if you are using a tripod you won't have to worry about the shutter speed. To do this press the "ISO button" (see the pic) and use the pad to move over to the "100" option. then press the middle button. This should bring you back to the main info page (as seen in the pic).

Next I would adjust the aperture. To do this in M mode you will need to hold the "AV button" and use the scroll wheel just behind the shutter release button.

Which way you want to put it will depend on what you want the out come of the photo to be. If you are looking to have a very small field of focus will put this down to the lowest it can be. This is very effective if you only want the viewers focus to be on one part of the image.
For Example this image works well because the background is blurred but the cogs are in focus.
Photography Basics 4850845666_8488393061

If you want to have a lot in focus put it all the way up (max on standard cameras is about f22) this is effective if you are trying to capture a whole car.
For example.
Photography Basics 4850850060_f9d8a0de39

Next up Id set the shutter speed to match the lighting. You can do this but using the scroll wheel (the same one you used to change the aperture but this time dont hold any buttons down). To get the shutter speed right your aiming to get the bar on the light meter to measure up with the centre of the scale (as seen in the pic). If its hanging to the left of the scales you need to make the shutter speed longer and if its to the right you need to make it shorter.

The next thing is white balance. this really isnt essential and for most people auto will do. But if you want to have a play about with it press the "white balance button" near the bottom of the camera and have a play. To achieve the right white balance I would advise aim at something white(A4 piece of paper, car, wall etc) and playing about until you think it looks suitable.

Hope this helps!

Last edited by max on Thu Sep 09 2010, 13:59; edited 1 time in total
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VW Mike
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PostSubject: Re: Photography Basics   Photography Basics EmptyWed Sep 08 2010, 13:07

Good advice dude Smile

Photography Basics 3833963105_d36ea8e450-vi


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PostSubject: Re: Photography Basics   Photography Basics EmptyWed Sep 08 2010, 14:26

tryed it and looks cool thx m8
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PostSubject: Re: Photography Basics   Photography Basics EmptyWed Sep 08 2010, 19:38

Very good. Making it a sticky Photography Basics 51732

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