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Portrait of a Young Man as The Artist
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ralinad From: ralinad Date: July 7th, 2006 02:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ack. How to explain this quickly... there must be a site out there somewhere.

Just to start, here is a way I've explained these before, that seemed to work:

Lets say you want to take a picture in low light (disregarding depth-of-field) - you have three things that will allow your camera to work faster in that situation (without using a flash)

1 - Shutter speed. Leave it open longer, but things get blurrier. Either by your subject's movement or your own.
2 - Aperture - lower numbers=wider opening. This is one of the advantages of more expensive lenses, they tend to go to a lower number (many stock lenses stop at 3.5, there will be a big price jump to get a 2.8, for example. This will be the maximum opening at the widest zoom setting - they may let less light in when zoomed in.
3 - ISO setting. This mimics film speeds - higher numbers will need less light to work, at the expense of adding grain to your photos. There is software out there like noise ninja can help to remove some, but it will still be there.

These things are less of an issue in bright light, and they become more apparent in my mind in low light situations - so thats probably a good place to experiment and test out settings. Reading is no replacement for trying it.

Other random quick things to help you get started. I can explain further, but I'm trying to keep it simple for starters -

You always have choices. Thats the cool thing - you get to decide what you want. Aperture and shutter speed work in tandem to produce your image. Depending on what you're trying to accomplish, the aperture-priority and shutter-priority modes are excellent - you can choose what you want, and your camera will adjust the other setting to produce an acceptable exposure. That, and they're MUCH quicker to use than full-manual in those situations where you want to get a picture quickly. Like most of them.

Aperture - Smaller apertures (higher numbers) will result in longer depth-of-field. The problem is that your camera really needs to be steady, like on a tripod or the ground, to use the really small ones like f/22. The exposure time will have to be longer at a smaller aperture to let in the same amount of light. Personally, I like to play with a short depth of field, and thats one of the advantages of getting a dSLR. The little handheld point-and-shoots don't often have the ability to shorten it, but can have a long one easily if you want that.

Your camera will take its clearest pictures at mid-range apertures, like f/8.

Shutter speed - When you get to slower ones, the shake from your own hand will create blur below 1/30-1/40 or so. You can always brace it against a pole, your chest, the ground or whatever you can find to go lower. Be aware of your subject's movement as well, as that can create blur too.

Your flash is a wonderful thing if you learn to use it well - like in bright sunlight. Notice the shadows that show up on faces and under hats in the bright sun - it can help to fill those in without really changing any other settings.

Hopefully thats a few little tidbits to get you started. There is a great book called "understanding exposure" that is pretty good at explaining this with photo examples.
abmann From: abmann Date: July 7th, 2006 02:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
Awesome. Thanks.

Yeah, the shaky hand thiog is bad. I'm going to be playing with brcing tonight while i'm shooting. Should be interesting.

Also, why the hell do they invert the f numbers? Larger numbers should correspond to larger apertures, even if it's an arbitrary number assignment. i know that the jumps between numbers corresponds to an exaxct doudling of the light let in; I just think they could have made a more useful convention that did the same thing but corellated the numbers to epected "size."

Photos seem to be better at a low ISO. It isn't often that I used a higher ISO, especially in lower lights. Low lighting plus high ISO almost always shows grain in the photos. I'm glad I can change aperture adn shuttter speeds now. Much better. :)

I need to get a tripod soon.. And a better flash. The onboard flash is pretty crappy. Luckily, the gift certificate I will be getting sono covers half the cost of the better flash Nikon produices. Hooray!
ralinad From: ralinad Date: July 7th, 2006 03:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
I honestly don't know where the aperture numbers come from - thats something I should look up.

Photos are clearer at low ISO, yes. Bear in mind you have the option to go up though, especially in very low-light situations where you don't want to use a flash. Also, test out how much grain it really puts in. Mine, I can go up to about ISO 400 without it adding that much. A lot more is there at 800 and 1600, but noise ninja will take care of a good amount of it. Just test it out so you know what your options are - and its going to do a lot better than your old camera at the higher ISO settings.

Good luck!

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