Basics of DSLR Photography

Understanding how to use your DSLR is not as tough as it appears. Think of the digital camera as a box that lets in light. On that box is a series of various controls. These controls allow you to let a lot or a modest bit of light in. The quantity of lighting coming in will influence how you capture your image.

Let’s begin with the auto function. The auto function enables the camera to make the options for you. This enables you to just concentrate on shooting the photo rather than stressing about the settings. The auto mode is straightforward however it is not ideal.

The basics of digital SLR photography are simple to become skilled at when you recognize how the camera controls lighting. Camera has control over the light two main ways; Aperture and shutter speed. Your aperture is the opening in which you allow your light in. Your shutter speed is how you organize the speed at which the lighting is coming in. You need them both to be able to control the light.

Think of the camera as a human eye. Your aperture is the iris that opens and closes. The shutter speed is like the eyelid. Your aperture is also identified as F stop. F-stop is a numeric value that tells you how much the iris is open. If the aperture is pretty open then we say that it is a substantial aperture. A large aperture is a small number. For example F2 .8 is a very wide aperture. It means the aperture is open very wide. It is comparable to how the iris operates in soft light. The iris will open more to let supplementary light in so that we can distinguish things in the dark. Your digital camera is the same.

Aperture not only has control over how wide the iris is but it has an important role to play in depth of field. Depth of field just means what part of the photo is in focus. If every single thing in the photo is in focus then we call that a extended depth of field. If there is only a minor part of the photo that is in clear, sharp focus we call this a small depth of field.

When you have a wide aperture, F2 .8 for example, your depth of field can be small. If you have a small aperture such as F 22, then everything in image is in focus. (Lighting permitting of course.) I will explain this in another article.

Shutter speed is directly linked to seconds. Shutter speed is calculated in fractions of a second, seconds and then minutes. A number of cameras have a function called “Bulb”. This will mean that the shutter stays open for as long as you hold it open. You can attach a particular cable to the camera and press it once. The shutter will open up. It will shut only when you depress the remote cable button. This will mean that you could have the shutter right open for an hour if your camera allowed it.

Let’s take for example the night sky. There is not much light at the human eye can distinguish. In this instance we may want to keep the shutter open for 10 seconds or more. However if we want to take a photo of movement that is fast paced and “freeze” the action, then we want to retain a very fast shutter speed. This is where we get into fractions of a second. I have a Canon 5D Mark II and the shutter speed can go to 1/8000 of a second. This is extremely fast! I use a fast shutter speed when I want to create the effect of water floating in midair for example.

You will see types of shooting modes on your camera dial. Not only do you have the automatic mode but you have aperture priority, shutter priority, manual and possibly more. Aperture priority creates the aperture for you. It means the camera chooses what f-stop to shoot in and you select the shutter speed. Shutter priority works the other way round. This will mean that that the camera chooses the shutter speed and you do the rest These two settings are okay but you still will not get the ideal result. The best function to use is manual.

When you employ the manual setting you have essentially the most control over your digital camera. You can set the shutter speed and the aperture concurrently. Once you become comfortable with how manual works then you can start to have more influence over light. Once you have most control over the light that is when your pictures begin to look beautiful.

Learning how to use your SLR is not a heavy or complex process. It actually a lot of fun and quite simple when you get the hang of it. The basics of digital SLR photography simply depend on your camera’s capability to interpret light. This of course will mean that that you have to examine light as well! Once you comprehend how light works with your camera you can then pick the shutter speed and aperture that creates the photographs that you desire.

Once you master the basics of digital SLR photography you can then move on to shooting with tools to improve your light. These tools can enhance and manipulate the appearance of lighting in your images. Shooting with the flash is one such example of this. But I will leave this to an additional lesson.

Your internal light gauge is a very significant part of understanding light. Your internal light meter is a small scale that you observe when you look through the camera. When you put your dial on manual then the indicator will be more to the left hand side or the right.

Based on what camera model you have the indicator means there is not enough or too much light. When the indicator is sitting in the center of the scale it means the camera believes there is just the precise amount of light and you may confidently take the photo. To be able to master light effectively just begin photographing in automatic and write down the aperture and shutter speed that the camera has recommended. Then change your dial to manual and pick those same aperture and shutter speed settings. You will see that those settings may not be the perfect ones that you once thought. At times at those settings can make the photo under exposed. This is why it is imperative to take photos using manual.

Learning how to use your DSLR takes a bit practice. The great thing about photography is you can always remove the photos you don’t like. Do not be fearful of making mistakes. Mistakes are catalysts for discovering new things. Once you learn how your camera interprets light then you will be free to become the skilled photographer you’ve always dreamed about.

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