The Basics of Photography: the relationship between shutter speed, aperture size (f-stop) and film speed.

The information in the following sections can be used as a photography primer for anyone with any camera. However, in order to learn how to take creative photos, you must have a camera that you can control. This means a camera with which you can choose the shutter speed, the f-stop and the film speed. Most 35mm cameras(Nikon, Canon, Minolta, Olympus Pentax etc.) can do this. Although an automatic point and shoot camera is useful for recording events, you have no control over it. It is therefore not a good camera for learning photography.

Shutter speed
The shutter, is the part of the camera that opens and closes when you press the shutter release button. While the shutter is open, the scene you're taking gets passed to the film where it is recorded. The duration of time that the shutter stays open is referred to as the shutter speed. Shutter speeds are some of the numbers that you see in the viewfinder of most Single lens reflex cameras (SLRs) while you're composing your picture. These numbers range in value from as fast as 1/4000 of a

second or more to as slow as 1 minute or more.The important thing to remember AND THIS WILL QUICKLY DEVELOP INTO A THEME is that these numbers work in a precise and predictable manner. Let's say our camera meter tells us that the correct exposure for our scene is F5.6(F-stop explanation coming up shortly) at 1/2 (of a second). This means that the next shutter speed higher, 1 second, lets in two times as much light as 1/2 a second. The next speed, 2 seconds, lets in twice as much light as 1 second. This means that if the camera meter says 1 second, and we ON PURPOSE set the shutter speed to 2 seconds, extra light will hit the film and make the scene too light or overexposed. If the meter says 1 second and we set it at 1/2 a second, not enough light will have passed to the film and the scene will be too dark or underexposed.

An example of a string of shutter numbers: 1/500, 1/250, 1/125, 1/60, 1/30, 1/15, 1/8, 1/4, 1/2, 1, 2, 4, 8, 15 seconds. A shutter speed of 1/2 a second lets in twice as much light as 1/4 of a second. But it lets in HALF as much light as 1 second. The relationship is the same for every number on the scale. 1/125 lets in twice as much light as 1/250 because it stays open for twice the length of time. It lets in HALF as much light as 1/60 because it closes more quickly. Shutter speed choice is dependent on the amount of available light as well as mood you want to create. If you are taking a picture of a waterfall, a fast shutter speed like 1/500 of a second will freeze the scene, but a long shutter speed like 1 second will make the water blur into a soft stream. A good thing to know right up front is that most people cannot hold a camera (with a normal lens [50mm]) steady enough to take a picture at 1/30 of a second or slower (1/15, 1/8,1/4 etc.) This is because your hands are always moving slightly. At 1/60 of a second or faster(unless you're on a vibrating train or in the middle of an earthquake) the shutter opens and closes fast enough to capture the scene without blur. IF YOU ARE USING A ZOOM LENS HOWEVER, the camera is heavier and bulkier and you will need to use an even faster speed like 1/125 or 1/250 when hand holding the camera. The rule of thumb is as follows; 1/the focal length of the lens=the minimum shutter speed to use. Using the zoom lens again, if the zoom

is an 80-200mm your safest bet is to use 1/250 of a second at all times. (1/250 is the closest shutter speed to 200mm, the focal length of the lens) These rules apply to hand holding the camera. If you affix the camera to a tripod you can shoot pretty much as slow as you like because you are not moving the camera. If the camera is on a tripod though, and you are shooting a standing person, THE SUBJECT IS MOVING SLIGHTLY. So a shutter speed of 1/60 of a second, regardless of the camera lens used would be a safe bet. If the subject is sitting still or lying down (moving less) then you might try 1/30 of a second if the camera is on a tripod. What if you are taking a picture of a baloney sandwich? Baloney sandwiches don't move (usually). Then you may shoot 1/30, 1/15, 1/8 etc. But which one do you choose? NOW IT'S TIME TO TALK APERTURE SIZE AND DEPTH OF FIELD. Fast shutter speeds(1/60, 1/125 and faster)will freeze a moving subject such as a dancing kitten. Slow shutter speeds(1/15, 1/8 and slower)will not freeze moving subjects, and you can use this to your artistic advantage. Try taking a picture of moving water and watch the beautiful blurring effect result.

The Background - What is Going on in the Background - Article on Photography.ca
One of the key factors that separate the novice photographer from the advanced photographer is the background. Novice photographers just photograph the principal subject (baby, dog, grandpa etc.) and don't pay attention to the background. This is a huge mistake. The background is an important part of any photograph, and in most cases you can control it in various ways.

Awareness
The first and easiest step involves awareness. Be aware of what's going on in the background. Let's say you are photographing a baby being held by mom outdoors on the patio. You can place the mom pretty much anywhere that is safe for her and the baby. Let's say you have her sitting on a chair. Now what is going on in the background? Can you see the street? Is there a parking lot behind her? Is there a telephone pole behind her? Does the balcony railing look like it's going through the mom's head? Once you learn to pay attention to the background you can then make judgment calls as to whether the background is distracting or not. In general, background objects should not intersect with the principal subject. The background should blend with the foreground and not become a distraction. In our

example above if there was a telephone pole right behind the mom's head, or the background was a parking lot littered with garbage, then that would be distracting (unless you wanted it that way and were AWARE of it) In this example it might well be best to have trees in the background, or to place the actual building wall behind the subject. These types of backgrounds don't draw attention to themselves and so they emphasize the principal subject of the photograph. An advanced photographer will always be aware of the background. If there are some distracting elements in the scene, the photographer can move distracting objects, change his/her angle, change locations or even shoot a close-up if possible.

Aperture
Aperture (Click here for a full explanation on controlling aperture) refers to the size of the opening in a lens. If you are using a regular or digital SLR you can control the size of the aperture. Apertures are measured in F-stops where larger aperture numbers (i.e. F 22, F 32 etc) mean that the actual lens opening is getting SMALLER. A good way to think of it is as a fraction. 1/22 is larger than 1/32. Conversely, smaller aperture numbers ( F 1.4, F 2.8 etc.) mean that the the lens opening is getting larger. This is important to know because the size of the aperture also affects the sharpness of the foreground and background. A large aperture will make the background somewhat blurry. A small aperture will keep both the foreground and the background sharp.

F-2.0 A shallow depth of field. Note how the foreground is sharper than the background.

F-16 A large depth of field. Note how both the foreground and background are sharp. This is an important consideration to take into account. In the example above with the mother and baby, you might well want to choose a large aperture like F 2.0 or F 2.8. That way the background will be thrown out of focus which usually makes for a very pleasing portrait. On the other hand let's say you were taking a landscape shot. In this case you might well want to keep both the foreground and the background sharp. In this case you might want to choose an aperture of F-16 or F-22.

The viewfinder as a clock
A good technique for examining what's going on in the scene is to look at your viewfinder like a clock. When most people look though the viewfinder all they usually see is the foreground. A good technique to 'see' the whole scene is to look through the viewfinder and treat the scene as a clock. What is going on at 12:00, 1:00, 3:00 etc. By doing this you will see where the distracting elements are and how you can minimize them. Although this technique may take a few extra moments at the beginning of the session the resulting photographs will improve immensely.

Basic Metering - Grey card metering Article on Photography.ca
Basic Metering - Grey card metering
Too many photographers rely solely on their camera's built in light meter to determine exposure (F-stop and shutter speed combination). When they get their prints back from the photo lab they wonder why their prints are not all correctly exposed. To understand why this happens it is important to understand the basics of metering and how the camera sees and processes information. Camera meters, when used correctly, provide proper exposure readings which yield a full tonal range on the negative. However, they cannot think on their own. All reflective light meters, including your camera's meter are calibrated to give you an average reading of 18% grey (middle grey) on EVERY single shot. They are designed to average out the lightest and darkest tones under normal shooting conditions. Most of the time this exposure method works since most scenes have a variety of tones from light to dark which average out to18% grey. The camera meter uses this average to give you a reading which records the full tonal range of the scene.

18% grey (approx.)

But what happens when there isn't a wide variety of tones for the camera meter to average out? The camera averages them out anyway to achieve 18% grey. IF YOU FILL YOUR VIEWFINDER WITH A TOTALLY WHITE WALL, YOUR CAMERA METER WILL TRY TO AVERAGE THE ENTIRE SCENE (ALL WHITE) AND GIVE YOU BACK A READING FOR 18% GREY. The print made from that negative will be greyish. IF YOU FILL YOUR VIEWFINDER WITH A TOTALLY BLACK WALL, YOUR CAMERA METER WILL TRY TO AVERAGE THE ENTIRE SCENE (ALL BLACK) AND GIVE YOU BACK A READING FOR 18% GREY. The print made from that negative will be greyish. Knowing this allows us to compensate as needed for the camera meter's general readings. The following are good rules of thumb. If the scene or object to be photographed has primarily dark tones DECREASE the camera meter's reading by 1-2 stops. (e.g.. brown hair-1 stop, black hair-2 stops) e.g.. from F-5.6 to F-11 If the scene or object to be photographed has primarily light tones INCREASE the camera meter's reading (open up) by 1-2 stops. (E.g.. blond hair+1 stop, white hair+2 stops) e.g.. from F-8 to F-4 One of the easiest ways to get an accurate reading in ANY situation is to take the meter reading off a grey card. A grey card is a piece of cardboard that is the same tone of grey that your camera meter is calibrated for!!!. It can be purchased in any professional photo store for about 10 dollars or less. By using a proper reading off a grey card, you are assured that the camera meter is giving you the correct average reading. In the example above using the white wall, by placing the grey card in the scene and taking the reading off that, the camera is basing the exposure on the average it was calibrated to measure!!! The white wall (lighter than mid grey) will reproduce as white. If you throw a sack of coal into the scene, it will reproduce as black since the whole scene is already based on the average which IS the grey card. In order to take the grey card reading, place the grey card in front of the subject with the grey side facing the camera. Approach the grey card looking through the camera's viewfinder until only the grey card is visible. This is the reading you will use. Back up, recompose, dial in the grey card reading and shoot. You can also use a reflective light meter on the grey card to obtain the same reading.

For a fuller explanation on metering and producing negs which yield great prints check out Beyond Basic Photography by Henry Horenstein.

Changing Positions - Get Down On Your Knees (or Get Up On a Chair)
A simple way to make your photography more interesting is to change the position/and or angle of the camera. Most people take their shots facing their subjects straight on. They, and their cameras are always at the same level as their subjects. Varying the whole camera position gives interesting results that are often unexpected. One my favorite positions is down on my knees, or better yet, lying on my back. The subject of the photo doesn't really matter. It could be a person, a horse, or even a building. Just get really low down and angle your camera way upward until the subject (or part of the subject) is nicely composed. This changes the entire perspective of the photograph, the main subject tends to look larger and more imposing (See picture A). Take a shot of a 6 year old in this way, and you'll be surprised at the result. You can do the reverse as well; get up on a chair and shoot down at the subject. Better yet, experiment and invent your own unique positions. Another easy way to get an interesting effect is to take the picture with the camera rotated from the normal shooting position. We are used to seeing body positions and backgrounds straight up and down. By tilting the camera either slightly or extremely, the subject gets tilted as well (see Picture B). This adds interest to the photograph.

Pic A - This model is only 5 foot 1 but because I took this picture while lying on my back, she looks larger.

Pic B- This is a straight on shot. The camera is not tilted so the main subject remains vertical.

Pic B1- I rotated the camera before I shot this picture. The subject is therefore rotated as well. One of the keys to creativity is experimentation.The next time you take a photograph, experiment by getting yourself and your camera into a different position.

Cold weather photography - Article on Photography.ca
Photograph in Cold Weather
It's so cold you can see your breath...mostly in the form of thick frost covering your camera's viewfinder and ice around the hood of your jacket. You'd scrape it away, but your gloves froze to your tripod a couple of hours ago and your bare hands are so numb they feel like they don't exist. Worse, your jacket got wet after all that hiking, and now the cold is really starting to seep through and make you shiver.

Before you go home and make that extra-large mug of hot chocolate, realize that there are ways of making your foray into the wild a little more comfortable. After all, the cold temperatures of winter are what make it so beautiful! Dressing for the occasion will keep you comfortable and allow you to focus on photography instead of your freezing fingers and toes. Long underwear and thick socks are a good start, keeping a layer of warm air close to your skin and wicking away moisture. Insulating layers go over the long underwear - sweaters, jackets, down clothing, and insulated pants, depending on the severity of the weather. Finally, add a wind breaking layer to keep your hard-won heat next to your body where it belongs. If it's raining or snowing, (see below) make sure that the wind breaking layer is waterproof. Top it all off with a toque (an insulated hat), a scarf or balaclava, and warm gloves. If you're going to be outside for a long time, running or hiking quickly, (a great way to stay warm!) or getting even slightly wet, make sure than none of your layers are made of cotton. Layers of thinner clothing are better than one bulky layer, allowing you to strip and dress as needed. Fingerless gloves with a foldable over-mitt will let you keep your hands warm and still easily operate your camera's controls. Camera batteries suffer drastically decreased performance during very cold weather. Keep spare batteries in a pocket next to your body, swapping them often with the ones in the camera. In extremely cold weather, it may be necessary to keep all your batteries in your pocket, only loading them into the camera when you're ready to make a photograph. If you work in the cold often, consider buying (or making) an external battery pack that holds the battery in your jacket and supplies power to your camera through a cord. Be aware of other limitations of working in the cold too. Metal surfaces can cool skin or even freeze to it, so wrapping your tripod legs with insulating foam or tape is a good idea. Hold your breath while composing a photograph to avoid fogging up your viewfinder and lenses. At northern latitudes, winter days are very short, so get outside before the daylight disappears! If you're using film, be aware that on very cold (and thusly very dry) days, film can break, or worse, build up static electricity from movement through the camera and create bright streaks through your photos. Wind film as slowly as is possible, (a nearly dead battery can be useful here) and don't make more than one photograph per minute. Bring calorie-rich food and a hot drink in an insulated flask, even if you're only going out for a short time. Hot liquid warming your insides on a cold day is not to be missed! Hot drinks also help warm up frozen hands that spent too much time on tripod duty.

After your arctic adventure, when you bring your camera equipment inside, keep all camera bodies and lenses in their cases until they warm up to room temperature (about 3-4 hours) to prevent moisture from condensing on delicate electronics inside your camera. After your equipment has warmed up, open the cases and allow any accumulated moisture to fully evaporate before using the camera again. Don't let the unique challenges of cold-weather photography keep you inside! The world can look very different and beautiful on a cold day - ice, snow, and frozen mist have all been favourite subjects for me in the past. Keep your eyes open for hoar frost, patterns in frozen water, and icy steam coming from warm water or underground venting systems. Winter light, especially at northern latitudes, can be very pure and white. The sun sits low in the sky, and lends a very 3-dimensional look to most subjects. With a little foresight, cold-weather photography can provide you with great experiences and remarkable photographs!

Hot Weather Photography - Article on Photography.ca
Photography in Hot Weather
It's hot enough to make your eyes cross - in fact, they do cross a little every time your pounding headache pulses with your racing heart. You've burned yourself twice by touching your searing hot, black metal tripod, and your sunburned skin feels like it's covered in fire ants. You'd like nothing more than to get out of this heat wave, order an ice cream and 20 litres of water, and jump in the lake. Hang on a sec, though. Squint your eyes and look around you - the summer can bring some delightful visual treats your way. What if you could take you mind off the baking hot day long enough to actually make some photographs? Though clothing can't actively cool you off, what you wear will hugely influence how you feel on a blistering hot day. Sunburned skin feels hot, so prevent sunburn by wearing light-coloured clothing or sunblock. A hat keeps the sun off your face, though the brim can interfere with your camera's viewfinder. You can either wear one with a floppy brim or one that can be turned backwards when needed, like a baseball cap. Sunglasses help protect your eyes, and can be pushed up onto your forehead when they're not needed. Cotton or synthetic clothing will keep you cool during the day, but cotton will stay clammy longer once the sun goes down in the evening. To stay alert and creative in the heat of the day, stay hydrated. Dehydration, while not as dangerous as some think, will make you listlessness and fatigued, reducing your attention span and making it hard to concentrate. Sweating (which you'll be

doing a lot of) purges your body of water, salts, and calories, so make sure you eat as well as drink. Small, light snacks will keep you awake in the heat longer than large, heavy meals. Sports drinks provide much of what your body needs, but are expensive - juice or water along with a small amount of food should do the same job. In extreme heat, some mechanical camera components can break or malfunction. Aperture blades will occasionally expand and bind, either not closing to the desired aperture or staying closed after the exposure. The blades can sometimes be freed by gently tapping the lens or pressing the depth of field preview button, but often the lens will need to be cooled before it will work properly. Your camera's shutter can be damaged if the camera is pointed at an extremely bright object with the mirror locked up (a vibration-reduction feature found on some cameras). Avoid using the mirrorlock function if you're photographing the sun or a reflection of the sun on a hot day. Heat waves are a hazard to clear photographs on a hot day. Heat waves are apparent ripples in the air just above the ground, caused by the difference in temperature between hot earth and slightly cooler air above it. Heat waves can confound any efforts to create a clear photograph of a faraway object low on the horizon. This effect is especially obvious when using high magnification lenses. There's nothing you can do to prevent it - you can only focus on other photographs, wait until the day cools down, or photograph the heat waves themselves! Though heat can feel like a heavy weight on your chest, great photographic rewards can be reaped by venturing out into the desert or up the dusty summer trail. Midday high summer can sometimes feel eerily like the middle of the night - all is sleepy and quiet as everything alive waits to venture out in cooler temperatures. Take advantage of bright light to use unusually fast shutter speeds, or use the harsh contrasty light to create a mindscape of highlights and shadows. As always, you're only limited by your imagination!

Low Light Photography (Without a Flash)
Taking pictures in low light situations (without a flash) generally produces interesting photographs. The low ambient light of the surrounding environment creates a mood that straight flash photography cannot match. There are however some special challenges to shooting in low light situations. The most important considerations are metering, shutter speeds and film speed. If you have a spotmeter, that would be your tool of choice in order to determine the exposure of a low light situation. If you don't, get as close to your subject as possible

and take a reading from the most important element in your shot. Lock in that reading, back up and take the picture. Do not to include extremely bright elements (i.e. a candles ) in the center of your viewfinder when taking your reading. Most people cannot hold a camera fitted with a normal lens at speeds of 1/30 of a second or slower without blurring the photograph. Likewise, most humans or animals cannot stay still (unless they are lying down or standing against something) for longer than 1/60th of a second. (See the Holy Trinity of Photography for a fuller explanation). In order to avoid camera blur use a tripod and a cable release to shoot at speeds of 1/30 or slower.

This photograph was taken on a tripod using Kodak T-max 3200. Exposure was F5.6 at 1/8 sec. Note the blurred bus coming from the left side. Film speed is another consideration when it comes to low light situations. There are many different available speeds but speeds of 1000 or greater are perfectly suited for low light situations. This is due to the film's increased sensitivity to light; You need less light to expose the photograph. This increased film speed also lets you use a much faster shutter speed than say 100 speed film. Fast films are available in both black and white and colour, and in negative or slide film. Currently the fastest colour films are available in speeds of 1000 and 1600. These are made by Fuji and Kodak respectively. The fastest black and white film is 3200. It is made by both Kodak and Ilford. These films are available from professional photography stores, and are slightly more expensive than lower speed film. The only possible drawback (it's a matter of taste) of using fast film is grain. The faster the film the larger the film grain. This film grain is not that apparent on small prints but is readily apparent on enlargements. The faster the film speed the less light it takes to correctly expose the photograph.

Pulling it All Together to Capture Light
Photography is the art of recording light. In order to record light you need to know how to tell your camera how much light to record. Understanding photography exposure allows you to give correct instructions to your camera. After all, your camera is just a tool, you are the artist. There are several items that a photographer uses to control light.
   

Shutter Speed Aperture Film Speed Light Meter Once you understand what each of these items are, it is time to pull them together to create a properly exposed image. It does bear noting that "properly exposed" refers to the exposure the photographer intended. Sometimes the photographer wants to underexpose and image or overexpose it. Proper exposure depends on the intentions of the photographer. Proper exposure is created by using various combinations of film speed, shutter speed, and aperture. The photographer then checks the light meter to confirm that these combinations will result in the desired light reaching the film or sensor. Film speed is almost always the first factor that is determined. With film cameras, the film speed is determined by what film you use. In a digital camera, the camera or photographer chooses a film speed equivalent to use in a given situation. The chosen film speed tells the light meter how much light the film requires to create an image. After a film speed is chosen, the photographer considers the subject and environment of the photograph in order to determine if depth of field (controlled by aperture) or motion control (controlled by shutter speed) is more important to the image. Occasionally there are subjects where both motion control and depth of field are equally important, or the dominant concern can chage quickly. Is Motion Control(MC) or Depth of Field (DOF) More Important?

     

Landscapes - DOF Sports - MC Posed Portraits - DOF Nature Photography - DOF & MC Photojournalism - DOF & MC Architecture - DOF Once a photographer knows which factor they feel is most important, they set that factor first. For example, a photographer wishes to take a photograph of a meadow with mountains in the background. The photographer wants a large depth of field so aperture is the most important factor in that case. The photographer then sets a small aperture(large depth of field) using the F-Stop guides on his/her camera. After setting the aperture, the photographer looks at the light meter reading and either increases or decreases the shutter speed to move the light meter needle into the center of the scale. If this shutter speed is below the focal length of the camera lens or below 1/60th of a second, the photographer must do one of two things:

Reconsider the setting combination

Use a tripod (or other support) to steady the camera In cases where the shutter speed is the most important factor, the photographer's choices are further limited. For example, a photographer wanting to photograph a car race sets shutter speed first. Then aperture is set in accordance with the light meter reading. Sometimes there is not enough light available to gain a proper exposure with the desired shutter speed at any aperture. In this case, the photographer has the following options:

 

Reconsider the setting combination Use a higher film speed The bottom line in setting exposure combinations is to know what setting to change in order to use another setting that you "must" have for the image you wish to capture. There is no set right or wrong combination for any image. Every time you take an image the lighting/subject situation changes slightly and setting changes are required to compensate for those changes. You may be able to shoot football images with settings of 400 ISO, f8, 1/250 second on one day and the next day (due to uniform color or cloudy skies) you must shoot with 800 ISO, f4.5, 1/90 second. Use your light meter to know when your settings allow enough light to enter the camera to capture an image.

Shutter Speed Basics
Shutter speed is one of the most basic important controls on a camera. Shutter speed controls the amount of time that your film, or digital sensor, is exposed to light. In effect, the shutter determines what image is captured on your film. The shutter is a small plastic sheet that opens and closes to allow light onto the film or prevent light from reaching the film. The shutter is opened when you press the shutter release button on your camera to take a picture. The shutter speed determines how long the shutter remains open. In cameras with TTL (through the lens) viewfinders, the shutter release button also moves a mirror out of the way of the film and shutter curtain. It is this movement of the shutter curtain and the mirror that gives taking a picture its distinctive "click" sound. As you become more familiar with your camera and shutter speed you will begin to notice the difference in the sound of the the "click" based on the speed of the shutter. In time, you will be able to tell about what shutter speed any camera in the room is using just by the sound of the shutter. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Shutter Speed Basics Measuring Shutter Speed How to Set the Shutter Speed Shutter Speed in Preprogrammed Camera Modes - Basic Shutter Speed in Preprogrammed Camera Modes - Advanced Shutter Speed Situation Guide

Measuring Shutter Speed
Shutter speed is generally measured in fractions of a second. A shutter speed of "5000" means that the shutter will open for 1/5000th of a second. Shutter speeds of 1 second and longer are generally marked with a ', or other similar mark, after the number. This means that 16' on your camera's display would stand for 16 seconds. The letter "B" is often used to indicate the shutter will remain open as long as you

hold down the shutter release button. Slow Shutter Speed Shutter speed is considered to be "long" or "slow" when it is slower than 1/60th of a second. (Remember, this is marked as 60 on your camera dial or display.) This numbers comes from the fact that most people can only hold a standard lens (between 35mm and 70mm) steady for 1/60th of a second or less. This is different from the commonly used term "long exposure" which usually refers to shutter speeds of over 1 second. Fast Shutter Speed Fast shutter speeds are generally considered to be those shutter speeds faster than 1/500th of a second. These shutter speeds are used to freeze, or stop, motion for a clear image when shooting fast subjects. Rule of Thumb A good rule of thumb for knowing the slowest shutter speed you can use with a particular lens, without using a tripod, is to use the number of the lens size. For example, a 300 mm lens can be hand held at shutter speeds of 1/300th of a second and faster. Note that the minimum hand held speed should never be below 1/60th of a second without image stabilization assistance from your camera or lens.

How to Set the Shutter Speed
Shutter speed is set on cameras by turning a specified dial on the camera body. In older, fully manual cameras, this is a dial on the top of the camera body that is marked with numbers ranging from 1 to about 5000. In newer cameras the shutter speed is generally displayed on an LCD screen while the photographer turns a small wheel near the shutter release button to adjust the speed. The exact placement of the wheel will vary from camera to camera. On point and shoot cameras, there may not be a control to select specific shutter speeds. Instead, you may need to understand your camera's preprogrammed modes to obtain the desired shutter speed. Many SLR cameras also have these preprogrammed modes as well as a few additional modes of fine control.

Shutter Speed in Preprogrammed Camera Modes - Basic
Almost all automatic cameras today have some sort of preprogrammed shooting modes. These are designed for specific situations such as action, landscapes, and portraits. If you know what these modes change about your camera settings you can use them to your advantage in many more situations than just the intended ones. Action Action mode is an automatic setting mode where the camera is predisposed to use the highest shutter speed possible for the lighting situation. In this mode you can not set the exact shutter speed you want but you can lessen your chances of a blurry image due to slow shutter speed by using this mode. Landscape Landscape mode is basically the opposite of Action Mode. Landscape is programmed to give the smallest aperture (largest F-Stop) possible in order to ensure a large depth of field. This means that the shutter speed will be slower. If your camera does not allow Manual or Tv mode and you are wanting to shoot a nighttime or blurred motion shot, try the Landscape setting. Night

Night mode goes a step farther than landscape mode. Night mode not only prefers the slowest shutter speed possible, it also turns off the flash and sets the fastest film speed possible. This means that your shutter speed may be only marginally slower because the fast film speed decreases the amount of light needed to expose the image. Portrait Portrait mode is a bit tricky when dealing with shutter speed. Portrait is programmed to have a shallow depth of field (large aperture/small F-Stop) and use a slow film speed in order to throw the background out of focus and obtain a very fine film grain. This means that the shutter speed will be faster due to the aperture setting BUT because the camera is using a slower film speed you will probably loose any shutter speed advantage.

Shutter Speed in Preprogrammed Camera Modes - Advanced
Manual Manual setting is marked "M" on newer cameras and is, in effect, the only setting on manual cameras. Manual mode means that you are fully in charge of the settings of your camera. If you set the shutter speed while in M mode, you will need to make an adjustment to aperture yourself in order to maintain a correct exposure. Use your camera's light meter to ensure the values are in balance. Shutter Priority The setting on your camera marked "Tv" is called Shutter Priority mode. This means that if you use Tv mode and set the shutter speed, the camera will adjust your aperture value to maintain a correct exposure. Program Program mode is marked by a "P" on the few cameras that have this option. In program mode, your camera responds to some preset conditions you programed through the menu. Generally, this mode allows you to set either the shutter speed or the aperture while the camera adjusts the other setting to maintain proper exposure.

Shutter Speed Situation Guide
Now that you have a good understanding of what the shutter speed is and how to control your camera's shutter speed, you need some guidelines on what shutter speed is needed in different situations. The following list will give you some idea of where to begin in selecting a shutter speed for specific situations. The speeds listed are the needed speeds to freeze the action under normal conditions. If you want to blur the action, decrease the shutter speed. To adjust for a very fast situation, increase the shutter speed.
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Football - 1/400 Baseball/Softball/Hockey - 1/350 Kids Running - 1/350 People Jumping - 1/250 Golf Balls - 1/3200 Water Splashing - 1/350

Introduction to Photography
From Liz Masoner, Your Guide to Photography. FREE Newsletter. Sign Up Now!

Let's Get Started
Starting out in photography is a wonderful time full of creativity and discovery. Unfortunately, for many "baby photographers" their first introduction to photography is a time of wrecked nerves, confusing advice from friends, and frustration as you learn a new camera and try to capture on film or digital media what you saw with your eye. Let me assure you, it does not have to be a traumatic experience. The following information will guide you through that first "baby photographer" phase and familiarize you with basic concepts so you will be ready to take your next steps with as few stumbles as possible. Even more experienced photographers will find good information so read on.

Composition WordNet Search defines composition as "something that is created by arranging several things to form a unified whole". That is exactly what it is. The composition of your photograph is the combination of elements coming together to create the whole image. Subject What is your photograph about? Without knowing the answer to this question you image will never work. Your subject is what you want the viewer to see first when they look at your image. It can be small or large, sometimes your subject will be a spider, other times it may be an entire mountain. No matter what your subject is, you must consciously choose a subject in order to make your image work. Rule of Thirds The rule of thirds explains where to place your subject in the image. Imagine that your image is divided into nine equal squares, basically a tic-tac-toe board with the lines equally spaced. The four points where the lines cross are the strongest focal points of your image. The lines that make up the squares are secondary strong points. The human eye is naturally drawn to these spaces within a frame, not the center of the frame. Make use of this to maximize the impact of your images by placing your subject along one of these lines or intersection points. If you are doing a portrait "head shot" of someone, place their eyes along these points and lines. Background and Foreground A photograph is a 2 dimensional representation of a 3 dimensional scene. This means that the camera effectively "flattens" the scene. Background is anything behind your subject. If there is a tree directly behind a person's head it will appear that the tree is growing out of their head. Likewise, a fence could seem to grow out of the side of a person. Foreground is anything in front of your subject. Foreground is just as important. If you are shooting a beautiful lake sunset but there is an ugly tire in the water's edge the photograph can be ruined. Focus Will your subject be sharply focused or fuzzy? Will you have the foreground and the subject in focus but the background fuzzy? How fuzzy will the background be? Focus

will make or break your image. This is where aperture, F-Stop, and depth of field come into play. Aperture is the size of the opening inside you lens that lets light to the film or digital surface. F-Stop is the measurement of the aperture. Depth of field is a term telling you how much of your scene will be in focus or blurry. This is how you begin to control how your camera flattens the scene. In general, you want the subject and a small part of the foreground in focus but the background blurry. This helps avoid distracting lines around your subject. However, there are times you will want the entire scene in focus, such as landscape scenes. A good rule of thumb regarding your F-Stop is to remember that the larger the F-Stop number, the more of the scene will be in focus and the more light you need to record the image. Conversely, the smaller the F-Stop number, the less of the scene will be in focus and the less light you need to record the image.

Lighting Lighting is photography. Photography is the art of capturing light reflected from subjects onto a film or digital surface. Always be aware of your lighting. If your subject is your child but his or her face is too dark to see, the image will not work. When you look at a scene, your eyes constantly adjust for the different lighting situations in the scene. When you take a photograph, the camera only records one light situation. Every camera is slightly different on how it "meters" or reads the amount of light in a scene. This is one reason why you must know your camera. Some general rules of thumb are: avoid harsh light behind your subject, watch out for dark shadows, and watch out for whites that glare in the light. Color The world is in color. Sometimes the colors are white, black, and grey, but it is still color. While your subject will already have a color of its own, pay attention to how that color interacts with your background and foreground. If your subject is green and the background is green, your subject is liable to be hard to see in the image. In contrast, if your subject is red and the background purple, you may be able to see the subject very well but the clashing colors can distract from the subject. Motion There are two choices with motion in a scene. Freeze it with a fast shutter speed or let it appear as a blur on the image by using a slower shutter speed. Either choice is just that, a choice. A waterfall can be a beautiful image with the water blurred in motion or with the water frozen in midair. A baseball player hitting the ball can be a great image with the bat and ball blurred or with them frozen in time. The choice is up to you but you should always make that conscious choice of which type of motion you want. Also, remember that if you have a camera that your viewfinder shows you the actual view through the lens, what you see if the viewfinder is not what you will capture. As the camera records an image your view will be blocked for a fraction of a second. It is that fraction of a second your camera records. The best advice I ever received with sports photography was to remember that if you see it in your viewfinder you missed it.

Digital Focus: Choose the Right Exposure Mode
All about exposure, aperture, shutter priority, and flash memory. Dave Johnson

Feature: Choosing the Right Exposure Mode Which is more neglected: the Maytag repairman or those exposure mode controls on your digital camera? At least the Maytag guy can complain to people on TV occasionally. For many folks, the exposure controls never even get a second thought. If you leave your camera on its full-automatic setting all the time, this week's newsletter is for you. You'll get no argument from me that your camera's Auto setting is great... at least half the time. There are many occasions, though, when a few tweaks could save the day, or at least give you a better picture. Aperture Takes Priority Many digital cameras come with a pair of exposure modes called Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority. These are great when you want to get a little creative. Aperture Priority, often abbreviated with just the letter A on the camera's LCD menu or on a dial on top of the camera, is the mode to choose when you want direct control over how much of the image is in sharp focus, but you still want the camera to work in a mostly automated way. This control lets you dial in the aperture setting for your picture, and the camera itself calculates and sets the appropriate shutter speed to match. When you set a big aperture value, like f/11 or f/16, you're maximizing the depth of field in the picture. The entire depth of the image, from the front to the back, will be in sharp focus. On the other hand, you can set a low f/stop, like f/2 or f/4, to minimize the depth of field. Only the subject will be in sharp focus, and the background will be comfortably blurred. Why would you care about this? Depth of field mostly becomes an issue when shooting portraits, because the subject will stand out from the background better if it is the only thing in focus. The Aperture Priority setting can come in handy at other times, too. If you're taking a close-up photo, such as a shot of a bug on a leaf, you'll want to maximize your depth of field. Depth of field gets really shallow in macrophotography, so when you're engaged in taking pictures of small subjects like bugs, coins, jewelry, and flowers, you want to dial-in as much as you possibly can to keep your entire subject in sharp focus. When Speed Counts Shutter Priority (often abbreviated with an S) lets you change the other exposure variable. Using Shutter Priority, you can select any shutter speed from very fast to quite slow. Select a shutter speed, and the camera adjusts the aperture to match. Note that digital cameras tend to have maximum shutter speeds of up to 1/500 or 1/1000 of a second, and they can handle shutter speeds as low as 1, 2, or even 8 seconds--as long as the camera thinks the lighting is low enough to allow such long exposures. The Shutter Priority mode is usually most helpful in motion photography. Want to freeze the action? Pick a very fast shutter speed; the faster the better. Want to show "motion blur" in action shots? Slow down the shutter speed.

Of course, you're astute enough to realize that since your camera's shutter speed and aperture setting are so closely related, both controls really do the same thing. So if your camera doesn't have an Aperture Priority control but it does have Shutter Priority, you can set the shutter speed high in order to reduce the depth of field and get a blurry background. If you have both controls, though, use whichever one gives you the most direct control over your subject. After all, these program modes are there for your convenience. Taking Manual Control If your camera has a manual exposure control, you'll probably never use it--and I wouldn't blame you. The automatic and priority modes are fine 99 percent of the time. In fact, there are very few situations in which manual control would come in handy. The most common situation in which I switch to manual control is night photography. Auto-exposure controls aren't particularly useful at night; I often end up switching to manual and taking a long time-exposure with the aperture wide open. I'll give you details on how to do that in a future newsletter.

Dave's Favorites: Crop and Resize With A Smaller Image 3.0
Ever since little girls started posing with fake fairies back in 1917, photos have been meant for sharing. These notorious images were some of the earliest examples of trick photography, and were even championed by an all-too-gullible Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. But for sharing pictures via e-mail, 3-megapixel digital images are cumbersome. I've often suggested that you resize pictures in your favorite image editor before attaching them to electronic messages. A better alternative might be a program called A Smaller Image, from TriVista. This simple $15 program is designed from the ground up to crop and resize photos. Just drag an image into the application window and move a cropping frame around the screen until you've got you want. The cool part is that you can configure the cropping frame's proportion based on how large you want the resulting photo to be, so there's absolutely no guesswork. Set the end photo size to 640 by 480, for instance, and the cropping frame is proportioned correctly for the job. You can also scale the cropping frame to include more or less of the original image in the new, resized photo. It's all very clever and makes you wonder why no one thought of that before. A Smaller Image also includes sharpness, brightness, and contrast controls, an optional graphic border for images, and a simple text tool for adding captions. If you frequently re-size photos for e-mail, the Web, or printing, A Smaller Image is an essential tool. For $15, you can't go wrong.

Q&A: Do Memory Cards Deteriorate?
I was recently told by a salesperson that CompactFlash memory cards will deteriorate after about one year of use. In other words, the quality of the images recorded on them will deteriorate with time. Is that true, or is the salesperson not telling the truth? --C.C. Chu, Cornell University Digital photography is a high-tech blend of traditional photography and computers, so it's not surprising that it is hard to be a good salesperson in this biz. You have to know a lot about many different topics, and you have to stay on top of technology that changes almost every day. Now that I've tried to soften the blow for that poor salesperson, let me say that that's the silliest load of malarkey I've ever heard! Flash memory--like CompactFlash, SmartMedia, and Memory Stick--doesn't deteriorate over time in a way that affects the quality of the images stored on it. That's a very "analog" way to look at the world. Videotapes deteriorate, for instance, just by being played or even by sitting quietly on a shelf, and the image quality suffers as a consequence. Digital media, though, doesn't work that way. Memory cards will function just fine for years and years if properly cared for. However, a number of factors can damage them and render their data unreadable. Exposure to temperature extremes can damage the cards (though testing has shown them to be unbelievably resilient), as can removing them while data is actually being recorded. And if you like to use them to send pictures to grandma via snail mail, think again: The CompactFlash Association warned in January that the irradiation used to sanitize U.S. mail can cause CF media to become both unreadable and unusable. Another casualty of the anthrax scare!

Take TV Pictures
Taking pictures from the television screen using your digital camera is quite easy. If you have ever tried taking pictures straight from your television screen, you might have sometimes noticed horizontal lines running up and down the picture. That is because a TV screen is "painted" one pixel at a time from top to bottom. The lines appear on your pictures when you use a shutter speed that is too fast and that "freezes" the lines on the television image.

Kodak Easyshare DX6490 Shutter-Priority mode, Spot 9.8mm, 1/90 sec., F3.2, ISO 80

In this One-Pager™ tutorial, we'll give you the one simple trick that you need to know to be able to take television picture using your digital camera. Ready? All right, simply use a shutter speed of 1/30 sec. and preferably slower. The idea is to use a shutter speed that synchronizes with the the painting of the TV image and voila -- no moving horizontal lines. You might want to experiment with different shutter speeds, such as 1/15 sec., 1/25 sec., (but less than 1/30 sec.) to see where you get optimum quality on your TV using your digital camera. Of course, to be able to set the shutter speed on your camera, you need to be able to switch to Shutter-Priority mode. The following pictures were taken with the Kodak Easyshare DX6490, and I find that a shutter speed of 1/15 sec. is optimum. With 1/30 sec., a few lines is apparent at larger image size. For images of a computer screen, try 1/20 sec. and slower, and get a meter reading directly from the screen.

Dora Shutter-Priority, Spot 9.8mm, 1/15 sec., F3.6, ISO 80

Max & Ruby Shutter-Priority, Spot 9.8mm, 1/15 sec., F5.6, ISO 80

Smallville Shutter-Priority mode, Spot 11.5mm, 1/30 sec., F3.2, ISO 80

Star Trek Enterprise Shutter-Priority mode, Spot 11.5mm, 1/30 sec., F3.2, ISO 80

What if your camera does not allow you to set a shutter speed directly? Well, then you have no choice but to experiment. For example, try one of the scene modes. Or, try this very arkward experiment:: - take a couple of pictures in the room (not of the bright TV screen) - upload to your PC and look for a picture where the EXIF info says a shutter speed of 1/30 sec. or whereabout was used - go back and lock your camera's light meter at that subject [must be same distance from subject as you will be from TV because AF will usually also lock] by a half-press of the

shutter button - then recompose on your TV screen and take the shot at the locked exposure.

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