When I took my first photography class, many moons ago, a lot of time was spent in the dark room. Yep, that’s right. We did film photography in which we exposed our own film, and used enlargers and chemical washes to create our final printed images. While I don’t do film photography much anymore (something I’d like to get back into) everything I learned in that first class about how to use my camera carried over into the digital photography world. Knowing how film speed went hand in hand with shutter speed and aperture was crucial in order to get anything to show up on film. The same is true with digital cameras. Knowing how the different components of the camera work together gives you the freedom to shoot with intention, taking the exact photo you want without leaving it up to chance with the auto setting.
Something I run into here and there, is engaged couples telling me that in order to save money they decided to just have their “Uncle Joe,” who has a nice camera, take their wedding photos. Those same couples are the ones who tell me a few months later that if they could re-do anything from their wedding, it would be hiring an actual photographer because they don’t have any photos from their wedding that they like. I’m not sure who you are or why you’re reading this, and while I would like to be your photographer, I would like you to have great photos whether they’re taken by me or someone else. So here’s the deal. If, for some reason or another, you just have to have “uncle Joe” take your photos, please have him at least read through this series on how to use your camera so that hopefully he is able to give you a few images you love. What is comes down to is this… I want you to have amazing wedding photos! (and the auto-setting just won’t give you that)
On that note… Lets jump right in!
Everything that I talk about in this series is going to be for when your DSLR camera is set to the Manual mode, which is that big “M” on the top dial. Over the next 4 posts we are going to take a quick look at the components of shutter speed, aperture, ISO and white balance and discuss how they work together. I know you are probably wondering what in the world I’m talking about, but before you concern your pretty little head with what each of these things does, lets take a quick look at where all these buttons are on our cameras.
Now that you at least have a visual on where to find each of these components on your camera, lets talk about the big picture (see what I did there?!). Photography is all about light. That is one of the reasons I love it! Every part of your camera is based on getting enough light to see what you want it to see. You have probably heard the term exposure tossed around a bit when it comes to photography. This term basically refers to how light or dark your image will be once it is captured by your camera. The goal of your camera when it is in auto-mode is to get a “properly” exposed phto in which the highlights are not too bright, and the shadows are not too dark. However, there are many situations where that simply won’t cut it if you want your photo to look a certain way. Sometimes proper exposure for what you want, might mean that the background is a bit brighter or darker so that your subject is well lit. The photo below is of my grandma. She has alzheimer’s and so I used to take her out to one of her favorite coffee shops once a week just to get her out and about while spending time with her. We were sitting near a window and she was lit so beautifully that I just had to bust out my camera. Had I put my camera on auto-mode, I probably wouldn’t have gotten nearly as much contrast. In doing all the adjustments in manual mode I was able to get beautiful highlights, and dark shadows in the background, illuminating her face and putting the focus on her eyes.
By learning about the three individual components that determine exposure, which are shutter speed, aperture, and ISO, you’ll be better equipped to make exposure decisions on your own! Stay tuned to the next few posts start learning a bit more in depth!
Talk to you soon!