Photography | A Beginner's Guide to Camera Settings



After helping Victoria's Vintage get to grips with her new camera I thought I'd write a post offering you some photography tips! It can be really tricky if you're new to photography to work out all the different settings and what they do, this post will explain various photographic terms and how to use them. Below I've listed all the things I think you'll need to know to start off with, beginning with...

Exposure: Whether your image will have the right levels of brightness. There's an exposure meter so that you can see if the settings you've chosen will work, you should aim for the middle of the meter, too far right and it will be too bright and too far left and it will be too dark. Exposure is controlled by Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO.

Exposure Metering: Your camera is able to work out what setting you need to your photo to be exposed correctly. It can also use different areas of the frame to get this right. If you're taking a photo of yourself then it needs to be exposed for you, not the background otherwise the background will be lovely and bright and you will be too dark!

ISO: How sensitive your camera is to light. Whack it up when its dark but keep it as low as you possibly can as it will make your photos grainy.

Aperture: How much of your image is in focus and how much light is let in. If you want the whole thing pin sharp choose a smaller aperture such as f 16 but if you're taking a portrait and want to blur the background try f 5.6. Choosing a larger aperture will also let in more light which makes it good for dark situations whereas a small aperture is best for bright daylight so prevent your photo being overexposed.

Shutter Speed: How fast your photo is taken. 1/200 is a good speed normally. A faster speed is good to freeze movement and reduce blur, a slow shutter speed is good for motion blur. Shutter speed also effects how much light there is, too slow and your photo will be overexposed (too bright) too fast and it will be underexposed (too dark). 

If your new to a DSLR, manual can be quite tricky to get used to but the camera will have priority modes which can make it easier. 

Aperture Priority (A): Allows you to set the aperture to how much you want in focus and sets all the shutter speed and ISO for you. (Personally I love shooting with a wide aperture and blurring the background out which is great for portraits).

Shutter Priority (S): Allows you to set the shutter speed while the camera sets the aperture and ISO for you. You only really need this if you must freeze motion or achieve a motion blur.

There are also automatic modes such as portrait, landscape and night that will figure out the best settings for each scenario. 

The best thing for getting used to your camera is to practice! If you have any questions or need advice I'm always happy to help!



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