Just read the manual… And don’t be afraid to ask what works with others and have fun playing with settings. So basically practice taking shots before you want to capture that moment in time.
Every camera has features that makes it marketable to be sold more than the last model. But don’t worry, what you have now is all you need. There are four key areas to focus on at first. 1. Aperture, 2. Speed, 3. ISO, and 4. Available Light
1. Aperture: Basically that is the iris that opens and closes allowing different amounts of light to reach the image sensor or film. The setting can be easily identified by the f just before a number. Here is where is gets backwards for most people, the smaller the number means the larger the opening. And the larger the number means the smaller the opening. A typical setting of f3.5 means the it is wide open. A setting of f22 means it is closed off to a tiny opening. So what does that mean… Well, use the small numbers in low light and the high numbers in bright light. It takes time to learn these settings and to experiment with all the in between settings. Fun tip: A high f-stop like f22 means the focus will flatten the image, letting near and far objects be in focus. This works great on landscapes. And a low f-stop like f-3.5 means the focus range shortens. So when focusing on objects like those on a desk, the focus can be adjusted to pick things close to the camera or far from the camera. What you focus on will be clear while everything else will appear blurry.
2. Speed: It can be summed up as to how fast the shutter opens then closes to allow light to hit the sensor or film. In the digital world that means how long the sensor is on to capture the image. A speed of 1/1000 is really fast, and that also means less time for light to reach the sensor. 1/125 may be typical but it is much slower than 1/1000. 1/40 means more time for light to reach the sensor. What does all this mean? Slow speeds are for low light and fast speeds are for bright light. Fun Tip: Sports are where the fast speeds are. Those silky waterfall photos in calenders are done with a slower speed like 1/5. But at those slower speeds it becomes necessary to use a tripod. That’s why those night shots with the point-n-shot cameras get blurry.
3. ISO: This setting give the camera the reference to how sensitive the camera is to light. An ISO setting of 200 is for bright light, while a 1600 is for low light. Cameras now have settings like 6400, 128000. With those higher settings comes the trade off… more noise, all that digital data that makes the photo look grainy. It takes time to practice using this setting. In bright light you can keep that setting low. In dim light you need to increase the number.
4: Available Light: This ties everything together. When trying to figure all those settings, it comes down to available lighting. Outside in the sun, means smaller aperture, faster speed, and lower ISO. Inside, like a concert means a larger aperture, slower speeds, and a higher ISO. It takes time and practice to get the settings like the way you want. With digital cameras it is easy to take lots of photos and check the results. Fun tip: Early morning and late evening are the magic hours, the light is more direct on the subject and it comes through windows more directly.
Point-n-shoot cameras have all those scenes to take the guess work out of shooting photos. Paying attention to what that setting is helps when moving from one environment to another. DSLR camera’s take those settings up a bunch of notches. Don’t be scared of those manual settings, just be aware of what the settings are and adjust accordingly to the changes in light.
Here’s an easy way to practice. (also explore the website for more information and tips)
Also, see what else is out there…