Welcome back! Did you get a chance to try out playing with your white balance yesterday? One thing that I didn't mention, which was brought up in a comment by Laurie, is that apart from the built in settings, you can also set a custom white balance. How each camera does this will vary, but it basically involves taking a shot of something that is pure white, then telling your camera to use that as a reference point when taking photos. I tend to mostly use my built in white balance option, but if I am in a location with mixed sources of light, I try to do a custom white balance shot.
So today we're going to get into a bit more detail with exposure. Basically I am going to show you how you can shoot in manual mode. Eeek! Trust me it is simpler than you might think. If you bought a fancy new camera thinking that now your shots would be perfect, but are disappointed by the results you get from using the auto or P mode, then this will get you excited!
As we learned yesterday correct exposure is controlled by aperture (the opening) shutter speed (how clickly it is closed) and ISO. These three together are comonly known as the exposure or photography triangle. Your camera will have buttons and dials to help you control these three things. Since every camera is different, this is where you will need to go get that manual! (Note, I will address point and shoot cameras a bit later on).
The first thing you need to do is set the photo mode dial at the top to M
Now look through the view finder and you will see a set of numbers at the bottom that looks like this
The number at the left is the shutter speed, the next one is the aperture. Then comes the exposure scale. For the moment I only want you to pay attention to the little arrow in the middle of the scale, and the black bar at the bottom, what I called the sliding bar. This little bar is what tells you that you have correct exposure. When it is in the center as shown that's when you press the shutter to take the shot!
So here we go. Choose a well lit but shady spot and a subject, be it a person or object. Set your white balance to shade. Set your ISO to no higher than 400. Point your camera at the subject. Adjust your aperture to 5.6. Look to see where that little bar is. Now adjust your shutter speed until that bar is bang snack in the middle. That's it,take your shot!
It will probably take you a while to get used to all these manipulations and you will feel clumsy at first, but it will get better! The more you use the buttons and dials, the easier it will become. Now for your second test I want you to change your ISO, either increase it or decrease it. Leave your aperture at 5.6 and make a note of what happens to the shutter speed value in order to once again have a correct exposure. What did you notice?
If you're comfortable, now go ahead and use a different aperture OR shutter speed and then adjust the other to get correct exposure. That's it! You're shooting in manual!
But Francine, you ask. What if I don't have time for changing all these settings? Well this is where you ask your camera to do some of the work for you.
You can set your camera to aperture priority (Either A or Av on your dial) and you choose the aperture you want, and the camera will automatically select the shutter speed to get the correct exposure.
What aperture to choose? Well if you want those lovely, buttery soft blurry backgrounds use a low number. I tend to use 3.5 or lower whenever I can, to get that nice blur in the background. If you want to take a photo that includes a clear detailed background use a higher number.If I am shooting a landscape then I will use 11 or 16.
If you are photographing an active child, pet or sports, you might want to use the Shutter priority setting (S or Tv). In this case you select the shutter speed and the camera will automatically change the aperture for a correct exposure. As a general rule of thumb the lowest shutter speed I've found that will freeze action and not cause blur is 160.
Where does ISO come in? If you played around a bit with changing the ISO, you might have an inkling what role it plays. Because this is already a lot of information to absorb, I will talk more about ISO tomorrow.
Point & Shoot Cameras
If you have a point and shoot camera you can also achieve better photos by taking your camera off auto. Lets look at the dial again.
Yours won't have the letters, but you will have a bunch of different symbols.These are the ones you should find on any camera.
The head in profile is the setting you can use for portraits, and this is the one to use for getting nice blurry backgrounds.
The mountain is the setting for taking landscape photos or if you want to capture a clear detailed background.
The flower is for macro shots: getting close to stuff! Pay attention to your focus though!
The running man is for fast moving subjects
The moon and star is for taking photos at night.
Some cameras include even more symbols, so be sure to check your manual to discover what they mean and how you can use them.
I think that's enough for today! Please do leave any questions in the comments.