vintage rhinestone necklace f/20

Vintage Rhinestone necklace on jewelry stand. Deep focus. Aperture f/20. Sweet!!

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I’m a widely published, exhibited and acclaimed photographer. Yet I had no idea how to use my DSLR (Digital SLR) camera. Nor which lenses to buy. Til I bought the wrong everything.

Film I could handle. Why? Because I didn’t have these choices. Focusing and composing were my main issues. But all these settings in DSLR cameras? Forgetaboutit.

That is what and why I’m teaching you, so you don’t have to suffer like I have.

I read books, magazines, manuals. Lots. But my art really developed studying settings revealed in Lightroom. I am constantly refining my tech and art photo skills.

I photographed thousands of images to learn this. Then edited several dozen to show YOU the best images to become very comfortable with these terms.

IF you are struggling with the dials on your camera or wish to feel a bit more comfortable, read on. Or come back AFTER taking my class.

Three dials or settings affect your photos. Read as little or much as makes sense. Rinse and repeat. I spent a long time figuring this out. Glad to share!

Aperture controls HOW Large or Small is the Area of Light getting into the camera.

  • The more open or wider the lens, more blurry areas.
  • Blurry areas are result of small DOF or Depth of Field. You will hear or read a lot about DOF in my programs.
  • The more closed the lens, the sharper the image. Larger DOF.
  • Usually.
  • IF you want details, Aperture usually needs to be shut down a bit.
  • If you love the blur, open ’em up.

Shutter Speed determines HOW LONG THE LIGHT PASSES into the camera.

  • Just a quick bit of light or a long enough you have to stand still or mono/tripod time.
  • If you want that detail, and shut down the Aperture, you gotta increase time for that narrow light to enter.
  • Maybe use mono/tripod.
  • Usually.
  • Or you need it cos it’s dark out there.
  • But too slow results nasty blurriness.
  • Unless you like that kind of thing. <smile>

ISO settings not as critical as others. Usually.

  • It’s a left-over film term. Refers to sensitivity to light.
  • Set a lower ISO when sunny, bright or very well-lit.
  • Set higher ISO when dark.
  • The higher the ISO, the more grain.
  • Grain is bit of color distortion. Wrong colors appear here and there.
  • Subtle, but the image isn’t as smooth.
  • Newer and higher-end cameras allow shooting in the dark with varying results.
  • If just for online, you can get away with more.
  • Print is more demanding and unforgiving.

Aperture has certain advantages, which I discuss. In depth. mostly DOF or Depth of Field. I like details.

To use my fave Aperture settings, I have to make sure the Shutter Speed is not too slow (blurry images) or ISO is not too high (causes grain, which I show you).

But, IF you choose, for example, Aperture Priority, the camera sets the other two settings. What if camera software sets a Shutter Speed which causes bad blurriness?

I’m all about Manual. BUT YOU can use ANY setting you want.

I am merely sharing my fave examples, so you see how easy to use Manual can be in SOME instances. And why I bother. Other times, gimme Auto.

If there’s a lotta action, just use Auto. Now you are aware or at least introduced to how those settings might affect your image. If that matters. Better to get a maybe somewhat fuzzy photo than none.

M: Manual: You now can manually change all your settings. Shutter Speed, ISO, and my fave, Aperture.

A or AV: Auto. It appears to me, Auto opens the lens as wide as it goes.

  • The wider the lens, the more fuzzy areas.
  • I like details.
  • To open it wide and allow ALL that light in, it might slow down the Shutter Speed.
  • Resulting in an out-of-focus image.
  • Which looks just fine on the back of your camera.
  • Til you put it into your computer.
  • Might work for small social media images.
  • But if you wanted to print it or sell it, epic fall, too blurry.
  • Just cos the camera decided you needed the lens open all the way.
  • I prefer directing tech to use MY fave settings, not some weird programming by someone who isn’t an artist. Who definitely doesn’t think nor create like I.
  • Other times, when you want to capture a lot of action quickly or can’t be bothered to figure out every exposure for every shot, Auto works. There’s other choices, but keeping it simple for now.

More Deets about Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO

Aperture: “The opening in a lens through which light passes to enter the camera.”

Aperture controls Area of Light Entering and How Much Area is in Focus. Major stuff.

Aperture settings are called “F stops.’ F stops range from F/1.2 to F/22.

F/1.2: Most amount of light entering camera. Needs less light than bigger numbers. Narrow DOF generally.

F/22: Tiniest amount of light entering camera.

  • Needs a LOT of light. Great DOF.
  • I shot rhinestone necklaces on a light jewelry stand. Closeups. You can see every facet in the stones, every color. I used f/20.
  • I also used a lot of bright, small, tabletop lamps inches from it. With my head stuck in the middle.
  • I get so hot I have a small table fan as part of my tabletop photo studio.

The smaller the Aperture or F Stop, the Wider the opening. MORE light entering.

Yeah, the bigger the opening, the smaller the number. The smaller the opening, the larger the number. Go figure. You get used to it.

Photographers refer to “The Exposure Triangle.” All three settings must be in sync. Usually you can see the settings when you are looking through your camera.

Mine are on the bottom. I want to be sure the Shutter Speed is not too slow, the lens open or closed per my wishes, and acceptable ISO.

Many refer to charts to line up the settings. Fine, but when you are out shooting, ya gonna figure the math in your head?

Didn’t think so.

Again, I am ALL for studying and reading. But I know that’s often not practical in our busy lives. Plus many of us just don’t learn from charts and formulas. We need the basics, then rely on the settings which work best for each of us. Trial and error.

Lightroom is a Life Saver in this matter. You’ll see in my classes. How often I refer to the settings. And talk about composition, lighting, and the feeling and story behind each photo. No, don’t detail all of them. But enough you get an idea of maybe how this might work for you. Or figure out what works best for you.

I’ve never seen it explained this way. I’m sure it has, but most rely on … charts.

One final mention: RAW vs JPG/JPEG.

Raw must be read by special software. Photoshop and Lightroom love Raw. Do whatever programs you use feel the same?

Raw provides a ton of data on large files. Images can appear flat, til processed in Lightroom or Photoshop. I’ve not experienced this.

JPG compresses data on easier to view small files.

I shoot Raw with Jpg preview. I started with only Raw. Some of the images in my classes were early Raw files.

Why I shoot raw: Jpgs throws out data. My little Sony camera, which I love and use quite often, has one nasty habit. Only shoots yellow photos indoors. No white point. If I photograph a white tablecloth, it’s going to have a yellowish tint. That’s an extreme, but real case.

Jpgs have limited editing capabilities. And that varies from camera to camera.

Jpgs were designed to act like this! Joint Photographic Experts Group created the JPEG. ‘E’ dropped online because initially only three letter format whatever. Anyway, some pro photogs got together in the early days of digital imaging. We started with scanners. Photogs wanted to send proofs to clients, not printable images. Plus files had to be small to send over the net in 1992.

Basically, if you are a photographer, you learn ONE thing early on: people will steal your images every chance they get. So Jpgs were designed to limit what you can do with them.

Final thought: never keep opening and saving one file as a Jpg over and over again. Often after I open and work on a Jpg, I save it as a PSD. Then if I have to keep coming back to it, it’s not degraded.

Found this cool little vid on Aperture:

A 5 minute Crash course to learn your DSLR camera 

Remember that Dreaming Big Rocks. You rock when you go for it, whatever it is.

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