Photography with a manual camera
Aperture, F6, Shutter Speed, 1/60, are terms and numbers that can overwhelm a new interest in photography with a manual camera. I propose that before you learn the "terms" gain an understanding of the principles behind these terms. We may not all have manual SLR cameras, but we do (god willing) have eyes. And guess what? There aren't that many differences between the principles of how a camera works and how the human eye works.
So let's talk about your beautiful eyes. Ever wake up, stick your head out from your blankets to be greeted by the brightness of the sun? Notice that your eyes immediately want to squint and shut? This is because the iris of your eye doesn't adjust as quickly as your blankets fall to the floor. When in a darker setting your pupil opens up wider, because the iris is allowing the most possible amount of light to come in your eye, making it easier to see in the dark. When the opposite happens and you find yourself in a well-lighted room or direct sunlight, your iris doesn't need to compensate as much and your pupil will constrict.
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This is the basic principle of the Aperture/F-Stop settings on your camera. The lower your F-Stop number, the more light you let in, the higher your F-Stop number, the less light you let in. So when shooting in a dark place, use a lower F-Stop/Aperture (dilating the pupil) and when shooting in lots of light, close use a higher F-Stop/Aperture (constricting the pupil). Think of going outside on a sunny day, your scenery is over-exposed until your pupil constricts. When you go back inside to a dark room, the scenery is under-exposed, until your pupil dilates.
Now let's move on to Aperture's partner in crime, Shutter Speed. Think of shutter speed as the blinking of your camera. Once the shutter button is pressed, depending on your settings, it will be determined how long your camera's eyelid stays shut before opening again. A sunny day on the beach would decrease the need for a long blink, a cloudy evening in the dark woods would need a long blink. An example of a slow shutter speed would be 1/30 of a second, this would allow a larger amount of light into your camera; a long blink. An example of a fast shutter speed would be 1/1000 of a second, allowing a small light in your camera, a quick blink.
You would think a slow shutter speed and a small aperture/f-stop would allow lots of light and be great, but don't be fooled. Sometimes compensating too much will allow too much light in and create an over exposed photograph. I would recommend choosing the aperture setting on your camera and allowing your shutter speed to automatically partner up, or vice versa, depending on the shot. Most of the time I would say pick the aperture setting. An example of a shot that the shutter speed setting should take the lead is a motion shot, select the shutter and allow the aperture to partner up automatically, since shutter speed has more to do with motion than the aperture. One day I'll get more into capturing motion.
There are of course many other options on SLR cameras and I will tackle them another day. However, this is a good start for understanding the basics of Aperture and Shutter Speeds, and how they relate to our own eyes. Practice, remember how the scene looked to your own eye, and document the settings you used. This is the first step to having this become a second thought while shooting.
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Posted in Photograph Post Date 10/29/2015