If you have stumbled upon this blog it must be because photography has peaked your interest and you want to learn more about how to get off of manual mode! Hey guess what; I was here too six years ago and watching a million youtube videos and reading numerous blogs about f-stop, shutter speed, and back button focus! It was extremely overwhelming because there was so much information out there…and the names all seemed to intertwine with one another so I am going to break it down in the simplest form so hopefully you are off shooting a lot quicker then I was!
The light triangle: F-Stop aka aperture
There are three major points when it comes to shooting in manual mode in regards to light (which is the most important thing in my book) f-stop, iso, and shutter speed. These three elements control what your photograph looks like in terms of lighting and depth. The first one we are going to focus on is aperture or f-stop… cameras can range depending on aperture anywhere from f1.4 all the way up to f14 and even higher. Your aperture is how wide your lens can open… Crazy thing is the lower the number the wider your lens will open up. I know a little backwards but I didn’t make up the rules. So the wider your lens is OPEN the more light it is going to bring in…
f1.4- brings in a lot of light
f7- brings in less light
Aperture is also in charge of the depth in your photo; you know those photographs that have the subject in focus but the background is blurry & yummy. That my friends is because the photographer is shooting at a wider aperture.
A perfect example below: When I was shooting the photograph on the left I wanted to make sure everything was in focus so I set my aperture at f6, for the picture on the right I wanted all my focus on the bride so I photographed her at a f1.4!
Shutter speed is another aspect that controls how much light your lens is bringing in! The shutter is the noise you hear when you camera takes the photograph. It is the SNAP of the photographer! When your shutter speed is higher 1/800 your lens is bringing in less light because the shutter is moving at a higher speed. The opposite happens when your shutter speed is at a lower number 1/100… it is moving slower therefore letting in more light!
The shutter is also a key component when you are photographing movement. If your subject is running around and you are trying to capture a moment in time your shutter needs to be at a higher number because it needs to be able to keep up with your subject!
Lets look back to this same wedding; the photograph on the left I had my bride and groom simply standing there with no movement so my shutter speed didn’t have to be as high 1/500, where as the photograph on the right was them dancing around so I increased my shutter to 1/900 just to make sure my camera could capture movement!
The last piece of the puzzle; the reason this one is last is because this is the last setting I change when it comes to light! I set my aperture first, then adjust my shutter speed, and then I fine tune my ISO just to make sure my photograph is properly exposed. ISO is the light sensitivity or how I think of it is the “gathering of the final light”. The greater the ISO the easier it is for your camera to capture light in darker situations! The higher the ISO the more grain that is added to your photograph. I try to keep my ISO on a lower level because I want to keep my photographs soft and not a lot of noise!
Let’s put them all together!
If you have made it this far lets put all three together and see how they work to create magic; First start off with your aperture: I like to shoot wide open to create a soft photograph with plenty of depth so I will typically set my f-stop at f1.8 (now that is allowing my lens to have a lot of depth as well as a lot of light coming in because my lens is wide open) to make sure that I am not overexposing my subjects I will start off having my shutter speed at 1/700 and again my ISO is always starting at the base 100. I will snap a couple of photographs to see how the photograph looks. I will either adjust my shutter speed lower or higher to create an evenly lit photograph.
My final piece is this: camera settings like these three will change throughout the entire session! I adjust my f-stop and shutter depending on light, if my subjects are moving, etc… the more you practice shooting and adjusting these settings the more second nature it will become! When I first started I had to take at least 2 minutes in between prompts to adjust settings and now I can do it on the fly without even thinking! Take your time and remember to be patient with yourself and the process!