This first appeared on The Grits Blog, but I wanted to share it with you guys as well because I think it’s that good. Just kidding. I mean, it’s a pretty darn good post, so enjoy!
I want to share with you some easy ways to figure out your DSLR camera. While I am no expert at all, I have had my camera for a number of years and I want to share some easy tips with you today to help you take better pictures – in manual. It might sound scary, but it’s not that bad.
I am very much self taught, but I don’t think that means I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m also all about practice making perfect. Practice for me means shooting anything and everything – including my cat. While these tips are easy to understand, there is a lot of practice that goes into getting the pictures to look perfect.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, right?
Anyways. There are 3 things you need to know about your camera to shoot in manual. I shoot with a Canon Revel xsi and I primarily use the 50mm 1:1.8 lens. The 3 things you need to know about are shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. Don’t worry, we will discuss these in more detail.
Err…what does all that mumbo-jumbo mean? Well, the Canon Rebel is the camera body. With DSLR cameras, you can choose any lens that will fit your camera. While cameras do come with lenses, they are called kit lenses and aren’t the best at getting the correct aperture.
Learn this chart above. You will use it all the time – just take my word for it.
A little back story: For the longest time – and I mean a really long time – I was shooting in Av mode. This is the mode that you select your aperture, and the camera comes up with the shutter speed and ISO necessary. I didn’t start playing around with ISO for a long time. And I wish I hadn’t done that. You can tell a world of difference by setting the ISO yourself, especially if you are indoors.
Essentially, this setting makes pictures look brighter. The higher you can go, the lighter your picture will look. Since my camera is an older model, the highest it will go is 1600. But I haven’t had to use it that high yet. An ISO of 100 would make a picture seem to be less bright. I would use a lower ISO if I was shooting outdoors, on a sunny day. You would need a higher ISO if you were shooting inside on a darker day. The goal is to make your picture look nice and bright.
Shutter speed = 1/100s | Aperture = 1.8 | ISO = 1600
In the picture above, if the ISO was any less, it would look a lot more dark in the house. Even though I had the windows open, we don’t get a lot of light coming in from that side of the house, so I had to use a higher ISO to get the look I was going for.
What I suggest that you do is play around with it. Go outside and find something you want to start shooting and try different ISOs out. You will be really shocked at how much of a difference it can make in your photos.
The way I think about this is to say, “If I want motion to stop, I need a higher shutter speed. If I want to have the look of movement, I need a lower shutter speed.” This confused me for a long time. Since I mainly shot in Av mode, the camera determines the shutter speed for me. I think it can be a good thing, but I also know that I lost a lot of control doing that. I like having the control to decide what my shutter speed is going to be.
The shutter speed on my camera goes up to 1/4000s. That means that it is basically stopping the motion of whatever you are shooting. You could also think of high shutter speed as capturing a moving target – like a kid or an animal. My animal is a lazy ass, so it’s easier to photograph him than it is a kid.
Compare the 2 pictures below.
Shutter speed = 1/800s | Aperture = 1.8 | ISO = 200
Shutter speed = 1/50s | Aperture = 14 | ISO = 640
You can see how the different shutter speeds changes the way that the water looks, right? With a lower shutter speed (the bottom picture), the water looks more like continuous movement. In the 1st waterfall picture, the water looks stagnant. Pretty cool difference, right?
Find things that have movement (kids, water, cars) and see the differences you can make with your pictures. It might surprise you!
Aperture basically makes the backgrounds blurry in photos. If you have a kit lens, it’s hard to get a blurry background (it’s not really made to do that). Part of the reason I wanted to 50mm is because it give you the option to get lower in aperture and really get a nice blurry background.
Shutter speed = 1/400s | Aperture = 2.5 | ISO = 200
In the pictures above, you can see that the pictures are focused on the flowers and the blurry backgrounds. I used an f stop (known in the photography world as the aperture) of 2.5 for both of the above photos. I just combined them to make it a little easier for you guys to see them. I love creating blurry backgrounds with flowers. It’s so much fun to practice on flowers.
My best piece of advice for you is to practice and just get out there with your camera. That is how I learned most everything – I tried to read the manual but that didn’t work very well for me – and I know that it will be best just to learn a few tips and practice!
So now that you have the photography triangle down, what are you going to take pictures of?
I am so excited to introduce you guys to Sarah who blogs at Sarahphrasing Life. She is a member of the Small Blog Mentor Program and I am so happy that I have gotten to know her through the program. Her blog is amazing.
One of my favorite things that Sarah does is that she creates meal plans for the week. All of her meals look delicious. She even will sometimes post about recent recipes she made, like the Puffed Chicken Pot Pie. Can I get a Yummo? Delicious looking. She has so many recipes that I want to try. They really all look delicious, and who doesn’t love trying a new recipe?
Sarah also got married last year and she looked gorgeous in all of her pictures! I don’t know about you, but I absolutely love seeing pictures from other people’s weddings. Hers looked amazing and she looked beautiful!