Welcome to Design House Digital’s School of Design. Today, and every single day in September, we’ll have new blog posts; informative, detailed, and FREE classes that will take your digital scrapbooking to the next level. Each subject will have a new post weekly, and at the end of the month you won’t believe how much you’ve learned!
Hi there! Allison here with some Manual mode SLR info. Shannon has done a great job the last 2 weeks introducing you to the auto and semi-automatic modes of your DSLR. As she explained every DSLR is different so please consult your manual (or my favorite Google) on how to adjust these settings on your individual cameras.
There are so many factors that go into using manual mode with your cameras. I’m going to discuss these settings today and next week share some photos I’ve taken and share what my settings were and why I chose them. I think that will help it sink in a little better.
Shannon shared a GREAT cheat sheet that we’ll use as we talk about your different settings.
Each of these has an effect on your end result. I want to start with ISO because it’s usually the setting that I set first. 100-3200 is a normal range for a digital SLR. The lower the number here, the LESS sensitive your sensor is to light. The higher the number the MORE sensitive it is to light which is why in dark situations you’re going to want a high ISO and outdoors in full sun you can use a lower ISO. The lowest ISO you can use for your situation is (in my opinion) the best because the higher up you go the more noise (fuzziness) you’re going to get which does result in a loss of clarity. So if I’m outside in the middle of the day I’ll choose 100, inside at night (and I’m not using flash) I’m usually at 3200 or in my cameras case even higher at the setting of ”high”.
Next I set my Aperture. I choose this based on a few things – the look I want, and how much light I have to work with. Think of the aperture as the pupil of your eye. When you go in the dark what do your pupils do? They get bigger (in an aperture this is a small number like 1.8 or 3.2). When you instantly flash a light at them then shrink up and get smaller (a high number for an aperture like 11 or 22). So the more light you have the higher the number you can use (or smaller the aperture) the high numbers allow more of your scene to be in focus as well as usually results in bluer skies if you’re outdoors. The lower apertures result in a much softer background, less in focus, and will likely blow out more of your skies outdoors if you’re photographing anything other than the sky itself.
Shutter speed is how fast your shutter opens and closes (like your eyelids) the length of time it is open is where they get the numbers for the shutter speed. A shutter speed of 500 is when the shutter is open for 1/500th of a second. A lower shutter speed does allow more light in, but also can result in blurriness of your photo due to a moving subject or even camera shake. We can only hold those heavy cameras still for so long! A higher shutter speed will allow you to capture action and freeze time!
Exposure is how your photo will come out “light” wise. When you’re in auto your camera chooses settings so that your exposure is right in the middle at 0. A lot of people like to keep their exposure a bit over, but if you’re photographing say a large group of people who are all wearing black clothing your exposure meter is going to see things a bit differently so your photo will actually need to be a tad under exposed.
The white balance can be left on Auto which I think a lot of people do, but even the cameras modes can help your photo turn out much better. For example, if you’re taking photos indoors at night and don’t want to use your flash the tungsten or fluorescent settings will probably yield colors much closer to what they are in real life than your auto setting. For outdoors it’s a little less noticeable. Setting a custom white balance is the best way to achieve proper colors every time but it’s best to get all the other basics down before you delve into that!
If you want to practice some basic settings you could start with outside during the day are ISO 200, aperture 5.0, and see where your shutter speeds are landing you on your exposure meter. Usually adjusting the shutter speed is a scrolling wheel because it’s what you’ll adjust the most as you’re snapping away. If you’re taking pictures of kids, pets, or moving objects try to keep your shutter speed around 200 or above to keep them in focus!
If you’re indoors where it’s much darker you’ll need to bump up that ISO (like I said before I use high quite a bit), will have to probably open up your aperture (to 3.2 or lower if your lens can go lower) and slow down your shutter speeds. Again, if you have a moving subject getting down too low (below 100 or 80) will result in a blurry subject.
Here’s a little example of aperture changes – notice what happens with my iso and shutter speed as my aperture gets smaller (the number goes up). The aperture is also displayed as F-stop which is what the “F” means in these photos.
Because my camera is sitting on the table in these photos I’ll share an example of a low shutter speed vs. a high shutter speed.
Feel free to discuss or ask questions in our Photography Forum!