Tips for New Photographers
the LustrePRO quick beginners cheat sheet
APERTURE? SHUTTER SPEED? FOCUS? MANUAL MODE?
Did you just purchase your first digital camera with hopes of becoming Americas Next Top Photographer? You plan on quickly making a lot of money from this extremely expensive equipment; Don’t you?
Maybe you’re just looking to get some good professional quality images to make your new products marketable online? Or could you be trying to capture clear images of your beautiful family beach vacation?
Either way you have arrived at the right place; We can help get you out of those weird fuzzy, orange, blurry, super bright or dark, poorly lit pictures. I should have titled this #HowToGetClearPictures I PROMISE, You will leave this post taking better images!
We will go over a brief list of the QUICK, SIMPLE, INFORMATIVE basic tips that will get you out of your “Auto” comfort zone & shooting like the PRO’s in no time!
Above is the rotating dial of a Nikon camera set to manual mode, the A is for aperture, S is shutter speed. All the others are auto presets.
Why taking your camera out of automatic mode and switching to manual mode makes a huge difference?
Auto mode may seem easy but your outcome is always either plain, over saturated, or lacking creative depth. Besides, ” Auto mode” is what pacifiers are to babies. Exploring in manual mode allows you to explore your creativity; Through the view finder, (eye piece on camera) there is a light meter; Its resembles the bottom of a bar code a few lines with a “+” sign on one end and a “-“ sign on the other in the middle lies a “0” You always want to keep this in the middle at “0” it will insure your images come out with proper lighting, you can control this lighting and capture tact sharp images, by turning the dials and adjusting the aperture, changing the shutter speed and or increasing/ decreasing the ISO Sensitivity. These three are all components to controlling the exposure. (How light or dark the image is). ISO will be discussed in a later blog
What is “Aperture Priority“?
Put most simply – Aperture is ‘the opening in the lens.’
Ever wonder how people get those luxurious head-shots with the blurred out background also called “Depth of Field”, Or how they manage to get 22 people all to fit and capture every detail in group photos without a blur?
When you hit the shutter release button of your camera a hole opens up that allows your cameras image sensor “ISO” to catch a glimpse of the scene you’re wanting to capture. The aperture that you set impacts the size of that hole. The larger the hole the more light gets in; the smaller the hole the less light.
Aperture is measured in ‘f-stops’ The F/number your see in your viewfinder.
Below is a visual explanation of f-stops and aperture.
You’ll often see them referred to here at Digital Photography School as f/number – for example f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6,f/8,f/22 etc. Moving from one f-stop to the next doubles or halves the size of the amount of opening in your lens (and the amount of light getting through). Keep in mind that a change in shutter speed from one stop to the next doubles or halves the amount of light that gets in also – this means if you increase one and decrease the other you let the same amount of light in – very handy to keep in mind).
One thing that causes a lot of new photographers confusion is that large apertures (where lots of light gets through) are given f/stop smaller numbers and smaller apertures (where less light gets through) have larger f-stop numbers. So f/2.8 is in fact a much larger aperture than f/22. It seems the wrong way around when you first hear it but you’ll get the hang of it.
Understanding “Shutter Speed“
Shutter speed is ‘the amount of time that the shutter is open’.
In digital photography shutter speed is the length of time that your image sensor views the scene you’re attempting to capture.
This should help digital camera owners try to get their head wrapped around shutter speed:
- Shutter speed is measured in seconds – or in most cases fractions of seconds. The bigger the denominator the faster the speed (ie 1/1000 is much faster than 1/30).
- In most cases you’ll probably be using shutter speeds of 1/60th of a second or faster. This is because anything slower than this is very difficult to use without getting camera shake. Camera shake is when your camera is moving while the shutter is open and results in blur in your photos.
- If you’re using a slow shutter speed (anything slower than 1/60) you will need to either use a tripod or some some type of image stabilization (more and more cameras are coming with this built in).
- Shutter speeds available to you on your camera will usually double (approximately) with each setting. As a result you’ll usually have the options for the following shutter speeds – 1/500, 1/250, 1/125, 1/60, 1/30, 1/15, 1/8 etc. This ‘doubling’ is handy to keep in mind as aperture settings also double the amount of light that is let in – as a result increasing shutter speed by one stop and decreasing aperture by one stop should give you similar exposure levels (but we’ll talk more about this in a future post).
- Some cameras also give you the option for very slow shutter speeds that are not fractions of seconds but are measured in seconds (for example 1 second, 10 seconds, 30 seconds etc). These are used in very low light situations, when you’re going after special effects and/or when you’re trying to capture a lot of movement in a shot. Some cameras also give you the option to shoot in ‘B’ (or ‘Bulb’) mode. Bulb mode lets you keep the shutter open for as long as you hold it down.
- When considering what shutter speed to use in an image you should always ask yourself whether anything in your scene is moving and how you’d like to capture that movement. If there is movement in your scene you have the choice of either freezing the movement (so it looks still) or letting the moving object intentionally blur (giving it a sense of movement).
- To freeze movement in an image (like in the shots below) you’ll want to choose a faster shutter speed and to let the movement blur you’ll want to choose a slower shutter speed. The actual speeds you should choose will vary depending upon the speed of the subject in your shot and how much you want it to be blurred.
above is a visual explanation of shutter speed.
Get Your FOCUS Together!
I myself use Nikon EVERYTHING, So in most of my tutorials you’ll find mostly Nikon products but a majority of the standard tips apply for any photographer.
As you may find on many Nikon “Nikkor” Lenses” you have the option, just like on the actual camera body, to switch A “auto focus” to M “manual” on the side of the lens. Also on the camera turn the auto focus option to manual!
NOW YOU ARE IN CONTROL!
At this point, half-pressing the shutter; what you’d normally do to find focus in AF mode — is a useless action. Adjusting your focus must be done using the focus ring on your lens. If you have a zoom lens, you should have two rings: a zoom ring closest to the body of the camera, and a focus ring toward the end of the lens.
As you turn the focus ring, you’ll see different parts of the shot come into focus. The point at which an object comes into focus correlates with its distance from the lens. In fact, if you look at the top of the lens while turning the ring, you’ll see the numbers in the window changing, that is the distance in feet or meters that the lens is focused on.
Some advanced or studio photographers actually use these careful measurements to focus on their subjects, literally measuring the distance from the subject to the lens to find the perfect focus. (This is especially useful for photographers shooting product photos in a fixed studio set, or head-shots.)
But in most cases, while you’re shooting in “the field,” precise measurements aren’t an option. Instead, you’ll need to trust your own eyes to make sure your subject is in focus. Luckily, there are built-in tools to help you do that.
PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE!!! I cant express it enough! You have to try these techniques at home, work, events, wherever you are your camera should be in hand practicing and or”freelancing”so you can find your flaws and correct them. You can also become aquainted with your new friend; Yes your camera is now your new best friend. LOVE IT, LEARN IT, PUSH THE RIGHT BUTTONS and you can learn how it responds to lighting in different circumstances; Like bright daylight, or really low light situations. Doing this helps get you familiar with what settings work best and quickly. You wouldn’t want to dive out there, land a job and not know how to effectively use your camera, RIGHT? That would be such an amateur move and may be bad for your brand in the long run.
*Another side tip if your camera is not snapping quickly and you aren’t using a tripod, then your settings may not be correct; If you look into the viewfinder and see it is not aligned to “0” then adjust your wheels to get the perfect Exposure, ISO, Aperture, and Shutter Speed to get a faster, more rhythmic, SNAP!
below is an explanation of your cameras view finder.
Now get out there and tell your story with clear detailed photos. Post your before and after photos on LustrePro Facebook Page and let us know how our tips helped you. You can also contact us with any questions at LustrePROstudios@gmail.com
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