Aperature and other settings


TPF Noob!
Apr 19, 2009
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Oshawa, ON, Canada
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Hey there! I am new to this forum. I LOVE photography and I am in the midst of starting a part time business doing mostly equine shots. I have a Canon Power Shot S5 IS which is the only camera I have ever owned. I have never taken any courses or been taught anything other than the basics. I want to make some money and learn everything I can and eventually purchase a much better, more advanced camera. Until then though... I have no idea what settings to use for different lighting ect, I have never managed the aperature level on my camera, I don't even know what it is or what to set it at and when. I have my first test photo shoot coming up and I am photographing a horse show in 2 weeks! I really need some info, tips all that you have for me so I can get some good shots and know more of what I am doing then. I have signed up for some courses at the end of May as well. Thanks! :D
Buy this book: Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson. It's cheap, it's short and it will tell you 99.825% of everything you want to know about aperture, shutter speed, film speed (ISO) and how they all relate.
The only thing I can say is this. These are the basics.

There is a triangle for exposure. Shutter, Aperture, and ISO.
Shutter is what will determine WHAT you capture.
Aperture is what will determine HOW you capture it.
ISO is what will determine IF you capture it

Shutter's WHAT is speed. Fast = frozen, Slow = motion blur.
Aperture's HOW is how much of the image is in focus. Open = low depth, Closed = high depth
ISO's IF is if there's enough light. Low ISOs = for bright light, High ISO's = Low Light

The key is learning how each affects the image. And there is no ONE setting for a shot. It all depends on what you are trying to capture.

Lets take a simple scene. You set your camera for 1/250th f/8 ISO 400
Lets assume that these settings aquired a proper exposure of the scene.
Lets take a look at each.
The 1/250th shutter speed will mean that the picture will come out fairly clear, with little motion blur except fast moving things.
The f/8 aperture means the depth of field will be fairly sharp with foreground, subject, and background in good focus.
The ISO 400, means there was a little less light than ideal.

Now. Say it came out a little dark with those settings. So you want to adjust them to get a proper exposure.
You could use a longer shutter speed, but this will increase the possibility of getting more motion blur on moving objects.
You could open the aperture up, but this will result in a change to the depth of field, possibly blurring the fore/background.
You could increase the ISO, but this could introduce grain into the photo.

So which is right? Depends on what you want.

Now lets take your upcoming horse photos.
You see a horse coming. You want to take a photo. You decide that you want just the horse in focus, and you want to freeze the horse's movement, and its a bright sunny day.
So take it apart.

Just horse in focus. = Open aperture, to slightly blur foreground and background with the horse in focus. So f/2-4 would probably be good.
Freeze movement = Fast shutter speed. So 1/500 or higher would be best.
Bright sunny day = Low ISO, preferably ISO 100 to get as little grain and a clear picture as possible.

You see a horse coming. You want to take a photo. You decide that you want to capture the horse, the barn in the background, and the grass in front of the horse. You want to capture the horse's movement to show motion in the photo, and its a bright sunny day.
So take it apart.

You want alot in focus, so close up the aperture. f/8 or higher would probably be good.
You want to capture the horse's movement, so a slower shutter speed. 1/100? Maybe thats too slow...1/150? If the horse is really moving, you might even get motion blur at 1/350...how much do you want blurred? the legs, or the whole horse?
Bright sunny day...again low ISO if possible.

Learn to take a scene apart. Seperate it into its individual elements, and pick what you want for each part of the exposure triangle.

Practice makes perfect. Use manual mode and practice. The more you shoot, the more you will be able to know what to use.

I wish you the best in your photography...keep shooting.
Thank-you so much guys! I am definately looking for that book, I checked out the site too and the explanation given was fantastic! Everyone's response was very helpful! Thanks so much. I am trying to learn this now and I will practice! Where can I share pictures?

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