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Day 93 of 365: The 3 Components of a Photograph


Day 93: The 3 components of a photograph are aperture, shutter and ISO. It is important to understand how each of these components affect a photograph.

  • Aperture: The size of the opening of the lens. The larger the aperture the smaller the number. The smaller the number the larger the aperture. Counter intuitive right? Yes. Example: F1.8= Large aperture   F22=Small aperture. The smaller the aperture, the more focused or sharp your image will be and vice versa.
  • Shutter speed: Again the smaller the number, stated as a fraction of a second, the faster the shutter speed. Example:  1/1000 FAST      1/2 SLOW. The faster the shutter speed the more focused or sharp your image will be and vice versa.
  • ISO: The ISO measures the sensitivity of the image sensor. The lower the ISO number the less sensitive your camera is to light and the finer the grain, ie., ISO 100. Higher ISO settings like 2000 are used in dark settings and give you are more “noisy”  or “grainy” photograph.

If you shoot pictures in the automatic mode, the camera will choose what aperture, shutter speed and ISO for the photo. If you shoot in A or Av mode, you set the specific aperture and the camera will choose the right shutter speed. If you shoot in S mode, you set the shutter speed and the camera will choose the right aperture. If you shoot in manual mode, like I do, you are the one that chooses the aperture, shutter speed and ISO. Shooting in manual mode puts you in total control of all the components of the shot.

If shooting landscapes, generally you want to select a smaller aperture like F14 in order to get a sharper, more focused landscape image. If shooting a portrait, generally you want to select a larger aperture like F3.2 to make your subject “pop” from the background.

If shooting at a sporting event, you want to use a FAST shutter speed like 1/1000 in order to freeze the action, unless you want to show motion. In this case, you want to use a slower shutter speed like 1/15.

If you are shooting outside in the dark, you will want to set your ISO high, like 1600 or 6000 in order to make the camera more sensitive to the light, but your photo will be very grainy or noisy! If you are shooting a portrait you set your ISO at 100 in order to have a fine grain photo and usually your light is adequate.

Hope that helps. Try to shoot in manual mode and see how your pictures turn out. Experiment! With a digital camera you can do that, just delete them if you don’t like the way they turn out!

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