Exact what are we putting together? Have you already forgotten the previous lessons? Shutter speed, aperture, ISO, focal length, and depth of field! Put them all together and you’ll have almost perfect pictures almost all of the time. We must qualify that sentence with the word ‘almost’ because the reality of photography is that sometimes the perfect picture alludes capture.
Shutter speed controls the speed at which the lens diaphragm opens, thus controlling the amount of light that reaches the camera’s image sensor. The aperture controls the size of the opening that lets the light into the lens. The ISO controls the sensitivity of light onto the image sensor. The focal length of the lens controls the angle-of-view of the lens. The depth of field is controlled by the aperture, lens focal length, and distance between the camera and the subject. Put them all together and you have the knowledge to take awesome pictures!
The golden rule, the one-and-only rule you’ll ever need to remember, is adjust, adjust, adjust. Adjust the aperture, shutter, and ISO as many times as it takes to achieve a satisfactory picture. I’ve seen tourists at national parks snap a picture, check to see how it came out, snap another picture, check to see how it came out, shake their head, and snap another identical picture. If the camera is on Auto, you can snap as many pictures as you want of the same subject and they’re all going to come out the same!
Here’s a normal base line to start with. Make sure your camera is on Manual. Set the ISO at 100 for outdoor settings. For indoor settings try ISO 200 or 400. Try an initial aperture of f/4. Try the shutter speed at 1/125. If the picture is too dark, you need more light. What change do we need to make to the aperture to increase the light? Moving to a smaller number opens the aperture. Set the aperture to a smaller number such as f-2.8. If your lens is limited and you’re unable to switch to a smaller f-stop number, try lowering the shutter speed. A shutter speed of 1/60 allows twice as much light as 1/125. Take another picture. Adjust the aperture. Take another picture. Adjust the shutter speed. Take another picture. Every picture will be different. By trial and error, you’ll find the correct combination of settings to get the picture you want.
Receive a free Certificate of Completion for this photography course. Pass a 40-question test on this course with a score of 70 or higher and receive a certificate of completion. Visit our Basics of Digital Photography Certificate of Completion page for more information.