Beginner Frustration

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Gregg, Dec 21, 2008.

  1. Gregg

    Gregg TPF Noob!

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    Just getting into photography i have found myself getting pretty frustrated with the basics. In terms of aperture, ISO, shutter speed and even when to use a flash. To be a little bit more clear, I don't really know how adjusting one setting effects another, or in what situations i should make a adjustment. For example today i was trying to take a picture of my xmas tree and just got bent out of shape playing with adjusting my cameras settings. I didn't know if i should have a faster or slower shutter speed or where to have my aperture at. So i guess im just asking for a little advice on how i could learn these basics so i don't have to take a photo, not come out good, and make adjustments 10 times before i do. Hope i'm clear. Thanks in advance.
     
  2. reg

    reg TPF Noob!

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    A lot of people recommend Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson as a book to, well, understand exposure better.
     
  3. Gregg

    Gregg TPF Noob!

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    thanks, i'll look into it.
     
  4. Flash Harry

    Flash Harry TPF Noob!

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    This will confuse you, photography is not as easy as people think, however working with manual settings from the start is not the way to go imo, start with your camera on Program mode, this will give you reasonable settings for any situation based on your camera/lens combination, take note of the settings in the viewfinder, iso, SS and aperture, then progress to shutter or aperture mode, try adjusting just one setting at a time till you grasp the basics and go from there. H
     
  5. tsaraleksi

    tsaraleksi TPF Noob!

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    I had a lot of trouble wrapping my head around settings for a long time, but I finally go it sorted by thinking of it as a continuum.

    First, you have three variables that you are working with: shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. Each one comes with trade offs-- too low a shutter speed and you'll get blurring from shake, too small an aperture number and you might not have enough depth, too high and you might have too much, and too high an ISO and you may have to deal with grain.

    So given that every setting has trade offs, you naturally want to figure out a way to balance each one, but first we'll go back to the continuum.

    Suppose you have a scene, with a fixed level of light, which we'll call Y. There are lots of ways to approach how to expose for the scene, it's all about what's important to you. In this case, we'll say that it's a very sunny day. Here's a couple possible exposures.

    If you shift the ISO around, you can either change the f/stop or the shutter speed
    ISO100, f/16, 1/100
    ISO200, f/16, 1/200
    or
    ISO200, f/22, 1/100

    If you shift the aperture around, you can change either, but we'll leave the ISO at 100

    f/16, 1/100
    or
    f/11, 1/200
    or
    f/2.8, 1/2000

    All of those would give you the same exposure, but with different depth of field. Obviously, you can look at it the other way as well, and change the shutter speed to suit what aperture you are looking for.

    Every time you change by one stop (your camera is probably set in 1/3 increments, so every three clicks), you double or halve the amount of brightness. Which means that if you think the scene is too bright or dark, you would change one variable, whereas if it has not change, then you need to change another variable to compensate for your change.

    I'm not sure this is making sense, so keep asking questions. It's a bit tough to wrap your head around at first. Try thinking of the different options as shifting dials, or as equations if you are a math person (something along the lines of A+B+C=Y, --- if Y=10, it could be 1+1+8 or 4+4+2 etc etc).
     
  6. Eldrich

    Eldrich TPF Noob!

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    Being new myself. I would have to second Flash Harry's advice to start with some automatic settings and work from there. You've probably done this to some extent, but what has been helping me (I just got my first SLR a few weeks ago) is taking a couple hundred pictures of things around my house, I took about 50 pictures of my cat last night with the sole purpose of getting a better understanding of my ISO. She hated the flash, and kept moving around, so I had to crank the ISO to 1600 in order to have a short enough shutter. Then do the same thing to understand shutter speed with dripping water, then understand aperture by taking pictures of cups on tables and trying to see the focus in the background etc. etc. I think its much easier to just play with the settings if you do it this way rather than trying to take pictures you actually want to keep.
     
  7. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    The SimCam: Film and Digital Camera Simulator - Photonhead.com

    Aperture controls depth of field. DOF is how much of the photo is in focus (usually front to back).

    Shutter speed controls how the camera renders time and motion. High shutter speeds freeze motion; low shutter speeds allow blurring. Shutter speed not only controls subject movement, but camera movement too (camera shake).

    ISO is how sensitive to light the sensor/film is.

    Depending on your lighting you can't always just set what you want, you may have to find a workable compromise between the 3 settings.

    Here's a popular Photo 101 analogy: exposure is like filling a bucket of water from a faucet.

    The water is light. Filling the bucket to the top without under or over filling is the goal. Shutter is how long you leave the bucket under the faucet. Aperture is how far you open the faucet. You can fill the bucket by leaving it under a trickling faucet for a while, or fill it by leaving it under a faucet open full blast for a very short time, or something in between. ISO is the size of the bucket. It takes twice as much water to fill an ISO 200 bucket properly, as it does an ISO 400 bucket. It takes half as much water to fill an ISO 200 bucket properly, as it does an ISO 100 bucket.
     
  8. lord demon

    lord demon TPF Noob!

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    ..i m new comer here...'n trying to learn 'bout photography...i've got a SLR Nikon D40..can anyone suggest me how i can start my journey to photography with this camera...what i should do first..
     
  9. Battou

    Battou No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I never read it. I honestly believe many people over complicate the basics. I don't know wether it was simplicity or photography classes I took but this comes second nature to me, so much so I can't even begin to describe it because I don't think about it.

    I do however make the rookie mistake of forgetting to change my aperture from 32 to 5.6 and really boching an exposure every now and again tho.....
     
  10. B.A.

    B.A. TPF Noob!

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    I am also a beginner (first post here, in fact). I picked up one of the 'Dummies' books (which was specific to my camera, 450D) and that has helped me tremendously. I tried reading up about basic settings online prior to ordering my camera and I just could not wrap my head around it. This book (along with having the camera in-hand) really helped me to understand how one setting will affect another.

    I'm sure the literature that everyone else has suggested will be great for you, but I just wanted to throw in my 2 cents as a fellow beginner. It'll click for you after you play around with it for a bit.
     
  11. inTempus

    inTempus TPF Noob!

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    Good advice guys.

    I've not had my camera a week yet. Like you I was getting frustrated a little because I thought "I'm smarter than this". I assumed photography was easy as well... you buy an expensive full featured camera then all you have to do is frame the shot... or so I thought. :)

    Nope.

    So, do as people have advised. Use some auto features. That's what I've been doing. I've been shooting in P mode, Av mode and Tv mode. P mode is probably the easiest.

    Regardless, I've discovered Christmas trees are very tough subjects.

    I played with taking pictures of mine for about 30 minutes before I figured it out.

    First, get a tripod because you'll need it for longer exposures.

    [​IMG]

    My settings for that picture (besides using a tripod).

    Shutter speed (Tv): .5 second
    Aperture (Av): 7.1
    ISO: 200
    WB: Auto
    Focus: manual

    I found that I needed a longer exposure time and a smaller aperture (larger the number, the smaller the opening). This gave me the look I wanted. But because I had the shutter open for 1/2 a second, the tripod was critical.

    I've also found that I can further reduce blurring by not only using a tripod but also using the auto-timer function. This gives me a couple of seconds between pushing the shutter button and the picture being taken. This lets me get my hands off the camera and for things to settle before the shot is taken.

    Good luck!
     
  12. UncleRico

    UncleRico TPF Noob!

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    Both of these posts give good information. If you're mostly in well-lit areas, I would not bother with ISO at first. Add that to the mix later, once you understand the relationship between aperture and shutter speed.

    If you take a picture with a large aperture (small number), you must compensate for the additional light by using a faster shutter speed and vice versa.

    Also, learn how your camera displays shutter speed. I'm pretty sure that most use the " to indicate full seconds. So 30" is 30 seconds, the max shutter speed on my camera, and 4ooo is 1/4000 of a second, the fastest speed on my camera.

    I would add, that as a beginner (I am one too); one of the best things you can do is lower your expectations and just take pictures. When you're shooting a subject, shoot it multiple times with varying settings. When you load them to your computer, look at them. I'm not sure what camera you use, but many include ISO, SS, and aperture in the metadata of the photo. Compare the pictures. What does a picture with an aperture of 2.8 look like compared to f8, or f16. If you notice a lot of blur in the photos, ask yourself why. Are you zoomed in really far? If so, camera shake becomes more apparent. Is your subject moving? If so, you might need to increase your shutter speed.

    Just my .02. Good luck,

    Ryan
     

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