So you asked santa for a DSLR camera to take awesome photos of your kids. You opened it on Christmas morning and you have no idea where to start. That was me for a solid year.
When you hear photographers talk about aperture, exposure, ISO, shutter speed, etc. It’s like a completely different language at first. Don’t worry, it really isn’t rocket science!
Depending on the brand of camera you have, you will notice on the top round dial, you have different modes. The green rectangle is probably where you started. Full Auto. Anyone who is comfortable with their camera probably just gagged a little when I said FULL AUTO. Here’s why. When you’re in Auto, your camera is picking everything for you, and while these cameras are pretty smart, they aren’t your own eyeballs and don’t see what you want exactly out of that photo. So lets start in one of the easiest “creative modes”
Turn that dial to P. That’s Program Mode. Program is the place you can get a little more out of your images but not have full responsibility to pick every setting. You can set your ISO to auto and let the camera figure out how much light you need. Your camera will also set the aperture deepening on how close you are to the subject. Snap a few in Program mode and see how you like it. You should notice a little background blur, or Bokeh.
Now, try AV mode. Aperture Priority. In this mode all you’re responsible for changing is the aperture. There should be a little wheel on the front of your camera and when your turn it, you’ll notice the numbers change something like 2.0, 2.8. 3.2, and so on. What that means is that the smaller the number, the smaller amount of the image will be in focus. You’ve seen those beautiful portraits where the entire background is blurry? Thats the aperture being set to a lower number. Or you will hear it as setting it “wide open”. Just means the lens is letting more light in basically. AV mode is one of my favorite modes next to shooting in manual.
Manual (M) is when you get really comfortable with your camera. You’ve figured out what all those terms mean and you’re ready to pick all the settings by yourself. Before shooting in manual, I suggest shooting in Program, Or AV mode and studying the information on the photo when you’re in the preview section. At the top of your photos, you’ll see some numbers. Those numbers are your f/stop (2.0), Your shutter speed (1/300), and your ISO (200).