Wednesday, February 29, 2012

dslr definitions

I've been reading lots of books, blogs and forums about "how to take great pictures" or "get the most out of your dslr camera" and it's a lot to take in to say the least.  Assuming you are like me, with little knowledge of the technical side of photography, perhaps starting at the begining would be the most helpful.  Here are some terms that you will need to fully understand to get the most out of any of those other things.

  1. narrow opening: a small narrow opening
  2. opening through lens or mirror: a fixed or adjustable opening in a piece of equipment such as a camera or microscope that lets light pass through a lens or mirror
The larger the diameter of the aperture, the more light reaches the film / image sensor.  Many cameras, books, manuals, etc, will talk about aperature as an F stop. And you can see this somewhere on your camera. If I am using the eye piece, which I usually do, it shows up on the LCD when I press the shutter button half way.  Right now it says F5.6. If I zoom all the way out (make the image as far away as possilbe), its F22! The smaller the F-stop number (or f/value), the larger the lens opening (aperture).  This might not seem important or even matter to you just yet.  Once you start to do more with lighting, you will pay more attention to the F-stop.

ISO tells how sensitive the image sensor is to the amount of light present. The higher the ISO value, the more sensitive the image sensor is, so ideally, you can shoot photos in low light situations.  I strongly encourage you to get familiar with your camera's ISO.  Figure out where it is, how to change it manually, note how or if it changes between different settings and so on.  Play around with it.  You will use this much more than you realize.  On my Sony Alpha 300, I am able to go from 100 to 3200! And its all in a button on the top next to the shutter.  Thank you Sony. 

This, along with the flip LCD were extrememly handy during my sister's snow week coronation.  Imagine sitting in the middle of a crowded, extrememly dark gym.  Since I have the fake leg, I can't just pop up and take a great shot really quick.  And I can't scrouch down and slink next to the chairs.  So I sit in my chair, flip my screen down, turn up my ISO setting and shoot away.  Excellent!!
No editing, just high ISO!

Shutter Speed:
This is easy to understand (I think).  Shutter Speed is simply how long the shutter is held open.  Again, this relates to lighting.  It's like how long it takes the camera to take the picture you want.  You will notice this specifically when you are changing your lighting situations.  But also as you start to test out your settings too.  I found a great article about shutter speed that already says what I would say, so I'll work smarter and not harder here and just give you that link.  Before I do, I think you need to remember that if do start to experiement with slower shutter speeds, you MUST use a tripod or rest the camera on a table or something secured.  ANY jiggle, even if you didn't think you did, will blur the entire photo.  Many also use the self timer option with really slow shutter speeds.  But enough from me; here's the link.

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