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Photography Basics

Good morning, everybody! This blog is about photography basics. I'm going to go over the three main components you should know when shooting in manual mode. That is shutter speed, aperture, and ISO.

If you don't like rather learn this in video form, check out my YouTube video

I'm going to try to break these down individually to help you understand how to use them but I want to make sure that you know when you change one, it can effect the others. What I mean by that is if you are in a situation where you need to change your shutter speed, you may to need to adjust your aperture and ISO to compensate for that change of your shutter speed.

Shutter Speed

Let's start with shutter speed. This refers to the length of time that your shutter is open for. When you press the shutter button on your camera to take a picture, you can determine how long your shutter is open. The longer it's open, more light will be let in and of course the shorter it's open, the less light that will be let in. Let's say for example you were trying to get a photo of somebody running. If the shutter is open too long, since that person is in motion, you will end up with a blurry image, because the camera will be capturing the motion.

Exposure too long, resulting in a blurry image (shutter speed: 1/125th)

In order to correct this and reduce the blur, you will need a very fast shutter speed.

More appropriate shutter speed of 1/100th

The term long exposure refers to the shutter being open for an extended period of time. Let's say you wanted to try to get a silky smooth picture of a waterfall. The amount of time you'll want your shutter to be open for will depend upon how fast the water is moving, but you will most likely want your shutter to be open somewhere between 1 and 10 seconds (but this will vary!).

Exposure length of 1/2 second.


The term aperture refers to how wide the shutter will open. A lower number (f/2.8, for example) will result in the shutter opening very wide. An aperture such as f/18 will result in a more narrow opening. A wider opening means that more light will be let in, as there is physically a wider space for the light to enter. We can't discuss aperture without mentioning depth of field. A wider aperture will result in a shallower depth of field and a more narrow aperture will create a deeper depth of field. A shallow depth is best for portrait photography as it will allow the subject to be in focus and the background to be blurred. A more narrow aperture will create a deeper DOF, allowing more of the image to be in focus, often great for landscape photography.

Aperture of f/2.8 creates a shallow depth of field


Lastly, ISO. ISO refers to the camera sensors sensitivity to light. A higher ISO will make the camera more sensitive to light. This will allow you to take images in lower lighting conditions, but will add grain and noise to the image. Generally speaking, you'd like the ISO value to be as low as it can be. Unlike aperture and shutter speed, ISO will not change or control the amount of light coming through the cameras sensor.

ISO too high on the left. The shadows on the right can be corrected in post-processing.

I hope you found this helpful and can get the chance to get out and practice what you've learned. There's no one best way to do things, so be creative and change up your settings! Let me know what you think by leaving a comment below and if you are more of a visual learner, be sure to check out my YouTube channel for more related content!


■ Follow me on Instagram @traveltrachs for more outdoor content.

■ Blog: (link in profile)

■ Subscribe to my YouTube channel ("Mike Trachtenberg")

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