Week Two Theme: Transportation


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Week Two Challenge: Going Manual

Week Two Theme: Transportation

Did you get a new fancy schmancy camera this year? Or do you have one that lives in automatic? Don’t worry. You aren’t the only one. And I’m here to help. This week we are looking at the three major settings on dSLRs: Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority, and the dreaded Manual Mode. We will cover the other settings that you may have on your dSLR and digital camera another week.

First, a little bit about ISO. ISO is what makes your camera sensitive to light. A low ISO {100} will produce a dark image. A high ISO {800} will give you a lighter image. One important thing to keep in mind when you raise your ISO:  You are also creating more noise in your images. Noise is the grainy appearance in your pictures. I typically keep my ISO at 200 or 400, depending on the lighting.

Shutter Priority {S or Tv}: Shutter Priority mode is great for when you are shooting a moving object. For example, if you were taking pictures of your child playing soccer, this would be the setting for you. When shooting in Shutter Priority, you are controlling the shutter speed and ISO manually. You don’t have to worry about anything else. The camera will decide which aperture to use to provide enough light for the shutter speed you choose. Again, a high shutter speed would be used for a fast-moving object, like a speeding car or running children. The object you are focusing on will appear stationary while the background and things around it will be a blur.

Aperture Priority {A or Av} : I personally love Aperture Priority and used it as my baby step to Manual Mode. Just like Shutter Priority lets you chose the shutter speed, Aperture Priority lets you choose your aperture. Again, the camera will choose the correct shutter speed for the aperture and ISO that you have chosen. By using Aperture Priority, you can really control your lighting. The higher the f/stop {the lower the number}, the more light will be allowed into the lens. Also, if you are taking a picture with more than one subject, by lowering your f/stop {raising the number}, you can ensure that you have everyone in focus. A good reminder: The higher the f/stop, the more “blur”, or bokeh, you will have in your picture.

Manual Mode {M}: Oh the dreaded Manual Mode. I promise you, its nothing to be too scared of. When shooting in Manual Mode, you are controlling everything: Shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. The camera will only do what you tell it to. By playing around with Shutter Priority and Aperture Priority, you will get an understanding of what each setting does on it’s on. This will help you when moving over to Manual Mode.

If you are looking for more information on how to use your new camera, I highly recommend picking up a copy of Understanding Exposure. Make sure you read it about 20 times!


The Challenge: This week your challenge is to pick a setting above and master it. Then, show off what you learned!

I chose to show you how I understand Aperture Priority. Below are four images of the same objects taken at different Aperture settings. I shoot with a Nikon D60 and used a 35mm lens.

As you can see, each image looks entirely different. The first image is a tad over-exposed. By lowering my aperture {raising the f/stop number}, I could make the image darker. Not only do we have better lighting in the middle two pictures, there is less “shake” than with the first. Because I was shooting with such a low Aperture in the first picture, the shutter remained open longer allowing more shake. Also notice that as I lower my Aperture, more of the trains become in focus in the picture.

Now it’s your turn! Which setting are you going to master? When you start experimenting, try and write down your settings before you take each picture. This way, you can see which setting works best for each shot!