I’m a part of several photography groups on Facebook, and some provide a suggestion to provide your camera settings for any photos you uploaded. Things like aperture, shutter speed and ISO, for instance.
And while it can certainly be interesting to see these settings and see what they can do in certain situations, they don’t matter in the long run.
Settings Won’t Help to Recreate a Photograph
Unless you’re shooting in a studio with no windows and can control the environment completely, settings won’t be the end-all to recreating a photograph.
The reason behind this is simple — the environment will change over time. Thus, the lighting will be completely different, meaning that you’ll have to play around with your aperture, shutter speed and ISO. What’s more, you’ll also need to take white balance into account, especially if you’re shooting outdoors with sunlight that changes to cloudy and back again throughout the day.
The other thing that needs to be considered here is depth of field. Unless you’re standing in the exact same spot as the reference photo, with the same camera equipment, your depth of field will be different.
Plus, don’t forget that cameras and lenses treat settings like aperture and ISO differently!
Long story short, settings won’t help to recreate a photograph you see — instead, they might help or give you inspiration for new techniques to try.
Are Settings Ever Helpful?
There’s one plus when sharing your settings, which is when you’re letting photographers know part of how you created a photograph. This can give other photographers ideas on how to create something similar or to help them fix a potential problem they’re experiencing with a certain subject.
For instance, if you’re doing a long exposure, you might explain that you shot at f/16 in order to get some crisp starburst effects in the lights that were present. And you might give your ISO, in order to explain how not to blow out those lights in the photograph.
What Should You Focus on Instead?
Instead of worrying about your settings, learn the creative side of photography. Learn how to compose your image, how to plan out a shot. Let your environment determine your camera settings. Sure, you need a fast enough shutter speed to capture action, and a high enough ISO to shoot in low light, so learn how to shoot in the environment that you’re given.
With today’s revolutionary post-processing tools, you can turn a good image into a great one — no matter what the settings.
So Why Do Photographers Insist on Sharing Settings?
While sharing settings are helpful when comparing a series of images, or to inspire and give ideas, they can’t recreate a photograph — there are too many changing variables.
Instead of copying other photographers’ settings, learn how your camera best performs in terms of what type of image you’re after. Understand the basic functions of your camera and you’ll be on your way to achieving the look and feel that you want.