Getting aperature and shutter right the first time . . .

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Ryan Hall, Jan 27, 2009.

  1. Ryan Hall

    Ryan Hall TPF Noob!

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    I've been playing with ISO levels, white balance, aperture, and shutter on my D80 a lot in recent weeks just learning how different combinations of the settings affect picture results in different light environments. And I've learned a lot, but regardless of what I know now, I still find myself having to experiment, taking "test" shots and adusting the settings until I get the picture just right so it looks good. Do some of you more experienced photographers learn to get it right the first time, or is this generally a trial and error process?

    I would imagine that having the right equipment makes it a lot easier to get it right the first time. I've got the 18-55mm lens, and a 70-300mm lens, as well as an SB-26 speedlight, and the speedlight works wonders. What are your thoughts?
     
  2. Jaszek

    Jaszek No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    well I usually test but a lot of the times I get it how I want it using the light meter. I don't know about Nikons but in Canon I have one when I look through the viewfinder. Your d80 probably has that too. Try to have it in the middle by adjusting the settings.
     
  3. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    part of being new to the game is not having experience in different situations with different subjects, different lighting and different kit. That means experimentation is going to be something you do a lot at the start as you get used to the camera and the settings.
    The key part (I find) is that you have to work out in each situation what the order of importance for the settings is;
    eg - do you

    a) want a fast shutter speed to freeze motion (shutter speed)
    b) want a specific depth of field in the shot (aperture)

    and sometimes your going to need to over or under expose a shot to get it - sometimes that means the shot fails and other times its recoverable in editing. Its all experience - oh and don't think the past masters with film did any different - they just had the added pressure that each failed shot cost them in money to take it.

    the only way to cheat round this is lessons - tutoring in the field. You can get that from other amateurs, paid workshops, courses, photography clubs
     
  4. TheUndisputed

    TheUndisputed TPF Noob!

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    I'm no professional, but I always take a series of test shots before actually shooting my subjects. Regardless of whether I have to or not, I always want to make sure my settings are perfect for the environment.

    For example, if I know I am going to be shooting outside under certain circumstances, I will go outside in those circumstances, set the camera up, and then go on my shooting instance. My girlfriend goes on the radio a lot (She is a promotional model for a local station here) and I shoot her when she goes usually. Well, before we go into the studio, I always take about 6 to 8 test shots of her in the green room with similar lighting, that way once I go into the studio, I can just snap away and I know the pictures are turning out exactly the way I want them to.
     
  5. Katier

    Katier TPF Noob!

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    The times I have to experiment would be :-

    Timed exposures at night to guard agains reprocity failure.
    Working with Flashguns to get the lighting right ( even if I was working ultimatly to film I'd work with digital for the settings then swap to film)
    Night work often need to bracket to get the lighting right.

    and

    Taking into a bright background where I want the forground exposed.
     
  6. Captain IK

    Captain IK TPF Noob!

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    I think the trick is learning what information the camera's meter is reading and how to interpret it.
    As an example...shooting in snow the camera's meter will always want to under expose the pic because of all the bright white in the frame. It will want to render it gray.
    So you learn to take the meter info and increase the exposure.
    These are the things that take time to learn. The beauty of digital, I have come to realize, is that it costs almost nothing but time to do so.
    In the days of film, it was an expensive learning curve.
     
  7. Phranquey

    Phranquey TPF Noob!

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    :thumbup:

    I wish I could count the number of film rolls I completely screwed up. I have been shooting for 22 years now, and I am to the point of I can look at what I am shooting, set the camera, and usually be right on...or close, but I will still shoot a couple of test shots and "chimp the histogram" just to make sure I have what I want.

    Example of thought process....I shoot a lot of birds:

    - I shoot birds with a 500mm, which yields a shallow depth of field at almost any f-stop, so I am more worried about shutter speed to avoid blur from lens vibration and subject movement.....set camera to shutter priority....~1/500.

    - WB to cloudy, even on a sunny day...tends to give warmer tones.

    - Check my focus mode. Do I want single area, group dynamic, closest subject, etc.

    - Check my exposure mode. Do I want Spot, Center weighted, or Matrix.

    - Drop ISO all the way down, then meter my general subject area. If it is a darker background, I will need higher ISO to achieve exposure at my set shutter speed. If is a lighter background...great, leave it alone.

    - Make sure the exposure is at +1/3...for some reason, almost all Nikons I have played with underexpose at the metered level. If I am shooting into a bright background, I will need to bump this by an additional 1/3, 2/3, or even a full stop... because the camera will want to meter the background, and my subject will be underexposed.

    - Do I want to bracket? Set the bracketing and then set the shooting mode to continuous fast so I can click off my brackets faster and get relatively the same shots bracketed for each frame.

    - Do I want RAW or JPG? Typically, I shoot JPG, unless the images are really important to me, then I will shoot in RAW in case I screw something up that can be fixed in PP.

    - Pop off a few at my desired area, chimp, how close did I get....make adjustments.

    These decisions all usually happen within a few seconds....


    It all comes with experience. Be glad you have a delete key, and not hundreds of messed up rolls of negative sitting in a box while learning this process.

    Finally...the whole meaning is to have fun doing it. I understand it can be frustrating at times, especially when you mess up that one shot you really wanted, but it will happen (often), and you learn from it.

    And take heart....I just picked up a studio light set, so I am starting from scratch all over again. It's a whole new process for me, so there will be a lot of deleted shots of my pets and wife's stuffed bears.....they make great models that are free and don't complain
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2009
  8. ksmattfish

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

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    Exposure is like making toast: it's all about intensity (aperture) and time (shutter). When first starting out making toast it's not uncommon to burn or have to re-toast the bread. But eventually working the combination of the 2 controls sinks in, and you get perfect toast every time!

    I'd stop messing with all the other variables, and concentrate on shutter and aperture until you get those figured out. Set your camera to auto-wb (or daylight wb if you want to be like it's loaded with film), and pick an appropriate ISO: sunny=100, dim or indoors=400, very dim=1600.
     

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