The Big 3 – ISO, Aperture and Shutter Speed
Becoming an accomplished photographer requires distinct skill sets. You must learn how to drive your camera, to tune in and compose your image, and to control the post-production process so you can print and share. In order to ‘drive; your camera you have to understand The Big Three. These are the fundamental functions that govern the exposure and your images.
The Big Three:
- Shutter Speed
Simply put, shutter speed is the amount of time your shutter is open. The shutter opens to let in light and the amount of time the shutter is open has a significant impact on your image. When looking at your camera your shutter speed is written as 1/(a number). This means that your shutter is open for 1/(whatever the #) of a second. The slower your shutter speed is open the more light the camera will let in, the opposite applies the faster your shutter speed. Shutter speed varies hugely depending on what it is that you are shooting, the amount of light, the amount of movement, whether you have a tripod etc. If you want to photograph a crystal clear image of a fast moving car you will need a shutter speed around 1/2000.
Shutter speed varies hugely depending on what it is that you are shooting, the amount of light, the amount of movement, whether you have a tripod etc. If you want to photograph a crystal clear image of a fast moving car you will need a shutter speed around 1/2000. Conversely if you want to blur fast-moving water a 1/8 shutter speed will be necessary.
If you are in a low light situation you will require a slower shutter speed. From experience we believe the slowest handheld shutter speed is between 1/80 and 1/50 of a second. Focal length will also have an influence on camera shake so bear this in mind.
As with pretty much everything in photography, aperture is all about light. THe aperture is all centred around a diaphragm – this is essentially a hole that determines how much light is let into the camera. Aperture ranges generally from F1.2 up to F22. Confusingly, the LOWER the number the MORE light is let in by the camera:
The aperture is key to producing beautiful blurry backgrounds known as ‘bokeh’. The smaller the number – the less that is in focus, this creates the blurry background. Aperture is also central to having crystal clear landscapes – the higher the f stop, the greater amount of the image in focus.
Aperture can be used in a wide range of ways, from creating beautiful blurry backgrounds for portraits to crystal clear landscape image. As with all aspects of photography it takes practice to master and perfect.
(pronounced by the letters – I – S – O)
ISO is often explained as the worker bees of your camera. If your ISO is set at 100, imagine your camera ise sending out 100 worker bees to bring back the light for you. If you set it higher, 1600 for example, you send out more worker bees, 1600 in this case, to bring back light for you. The lower the number the less light. With high levels of ISO you will often encounter something called ‘noise’. If you image having lots of ‘bees’ out grabbing light, they may cause your image to look a little grainy or pixelated. If your photo is properly exposed it shouldn’t matter what your ISO is set at because it shouldn’t be grainy.
Typically if you are outside shooting then you can have a lower ISO such as 100 or 200. If you are indoors with low lighting you may want to increase your ISO to around 800.
Remember: Lower ISO = less light / Higher ISO = more light
We hope that this post can shed some light on the world of ISO, Aperture and Shutter speed to make sure you are well equipped to capture all those amazing moments.