At a fundamental level, the shutter speed you use when capturing a photo primarily determines how motion is conveyed in the image. But how do you decide which shutter speed is best for a given scene? Fast times With a very fast shutter speed you can freeze motion. Not only does this provide an image with a high degree of perceived sharpness, it can also provide a view we are unable to see in the real world with our own eyes. For example, if you watch a bird dart quickly across the sky, you won't be able to make out fine details with your own … [Read more...] about Photography 101: Fast times and slow times too — Shutter speeds
When it comes to exposure in photography, it seems that most photographers have a reasonably good understanding of the impact of both the shutter speed and the lens aperture. But the role of the ISO setting can be a bit more mysterious. Of course, the shutter speed determines the extent to which motion in the frame is frozen or blurred. And the aperture primarily affects depth of field or the range of the scene that will appear in sharp focus. But what exactly does the ISO setting do? The need for speed The ISO setting on a digital camera … [Read more...] about Photography 101: What is ISO?
Recently, I saw a message in a photography Facebook group that asked why a person was having trouble taking pictures with her camera. The camera was having trouble focusing in a low-light situation, and no matter what she did, she couldn't get the camera to snap what she was seeing. While it's a frustrating problem to have when you're on a photo shoot, it's one that can be easily solved on most modern-day digital cameras. Why does it keep trying to focus? You might notice in a low-light situation, your camera will try to continually focus … [Read more...] about Photography 101: Why won’t my camera take the picture?
When I purchased my first DSLR — a Nikon D5100 — it came with a kit lens. It was 18-55mm and had a variable aperture of f/3.5-5.6. While the focal range was fairly common and a great starter, the limits of variable aperture soon became noticeable. So what is the difference between a fixed and a variable aperture in a zoom lens? Variable aperture lenses Lenses with variable apertures mean that the aperture changes based on your focal length. On my 18-55mm lens, I could achieve a f/3.5 aperture when zoomed all the way out to 18mm. When I … [Read more...] about Photography 101: The difference between fixed and variable aperture
Whether you use it in-camera or in your post-processing software, you ultimately will come across a set of mountains that help to describe the pixel distribution by the brightness of your image. This mountainous graphic is known as a histogram. What the "mountains" mean Histograms in Lightroom and Adobe's Camera Raw are broken up into five main sections — blacks, shadows, exposure, highlights, and whites. Some cameras and image editing programs divide it a little differently — shadows, mid-tones, and highlights, or blacks, quarter tones, … [Read more...] about Photography 101: How to read and understand a histogram
You just got a fancy new camera, with a shiny kit lens that, for the most part, has served you well in your beginning everyday adventures. Now you want to take your photography to the next level, whether it's getting a farther reach and being able to capture that dream-like bokeh that you hear everyone talking about or obtaining a more encompassing view. So, what's the next lens you should buy? There are a few different ways to go about answering the question, but the answer comes back to one question that you have to answer yourself — … [Read more...] about Photography 101: Which lens should you buy first?
One question I'm asked a lot is "Where does all the noise come from when my camera is set to ISO 100?" The answer is simple. The photograph is underexposed. What is ISO? Grain vs. noise Back in the film days, the ISO (or ASA as it was called then) setting was the sensitivity of the film in the camera. While grain existed in every image, high ISO numbers produced more grain because the film had to have bigger chunks of light gathering chemistry. Today, the same idea applies. ISO in digital cameras refers to the light sensitivity of the … [Read more...] about Photography 101: How does noise happen at a low ISO?
When we look at the basic principles of photography, one of the key elements has to do with focal length. When describing a lens, this is the first thing that comes to mind and what it is is a bit of a mystery. This article describes what focal length does. Focal length affects your angle of view and determines how much or little of a scene will be captured. As you zoom in, your angle of view decreases. The subject becomes magnified. Likewise, as you zoom out, more of a scene will be captured, and objects decrease in apparent size. Simply … [Read more...] about Photography 101: Why Focal Length Matters