A Random Header Image
12th February 2009

a question for my photographing peeps

Anybody out there know any good tutorials on how to figure out aperture, shutter speed, f-stops and ISO? So far, I’ve read Ken Rockwell’s tutorials on how to set up the Nikon D40 and how to use the different menus, which was very helpful, and Pioneer Woman’s tutorials, but I think I need a step-by-step explanation. What I’d really like to do is take a class through the college, but I have neither the time nor the money for that. So online it is.

I got some lovely pictures during my weekend with Susan:

Alice with dimples

but I’d like to learn how to blur the background more. And take better pictures of flying model airplanes.

Beuller? Beuller?

This entry was posted on Thursday, February 12th, 2009 at 11:03 pm and is filed under Photography, Susan, Those Rare Days Off. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


  • There’s always wikipedia. I took photography in school, which was awhile ago (pre-internet, pre-digital), but Kodak had a great book series you maybe could find at the library. There were also magazines like Popular Photography, no clue if that’s around anymore. National Geographic has photo seminars, so it’s possible they have info on the web or in print.

    You might know the rest of this…it’s fairly basic, but just in case…

    ISO is how sensitive the film is to light. Again, not sure how this is approximated in digital, but the rule of thumb was 100 for outdoors, 200 for flash, 400 for darker situations, 800 or 1600 for capturing either dark scenes with no flash or situations with quick motion.

    Aperture is how wide the hole the light comes through is. If it’s wide open, you’re letting in a lot of light; if it’s narrow, you’re letting in less light.

    F-stop is depth of field. I usually stuck with “infinity” where everything is in focus. For the subject to be in focus but blur the background, you’d want a small f-stop — the focus is close to you.

    The last element is the shutter speed. The shorter exposure, the less light hits the film. A long shutter speed (together with a tripod, ideally) lets you capture low light, or make waterfalls look soft and blurred (for example).

    A model airplane in flight, you’d probably want an ISO of 100 if you’re in the sun and for better contrast or 800 to catch quick motion, wide aperture, medium f-stop (depending on where the plane is), and a short shutter speed to capture the action.

    A lot of people get mathematical about it. After awhile you get a feel for it. And your camera probably has some great tools to help you make some of these decisions.

    (I miss my 35mm)

  • Anonymous says:

    Aperture etc


    As I recall, you didn’t take yearbook/photography from your dad in high school, where some of this stuff was taught.

    If you want to blur the background, look for “depth of field.”

    In short:
    If the lens is wide open (large aperture) you will have a shallow depth of field. If the lens is closed down, you will have large depth of field.

    The focal plane is a plane, parallel to the film (or in this case, the CMOS sensor of your camera) which is in sharpest focus. If you move forward or backward from the focal plane, you move out of focus. Depth of field is the distance in front of or behind the focal plane which is more or less in focus. When the aperture is large, the front to rear space which is in focus is very short. When the aperture is closed down, the front to rear space in focus becomes quite long.

    Since you want the stuff in front or behind your subject to be blurred, you need a large aperture.

    On your fancy new camera, don’t use the “P” setting–it automates both the aperture setting and the shutter setting. Shutter is the amount of time the shutter stays open–anything longer than 1/60 of second needs a tripod to avoid shaking and blurring. Shutter speed has NO effect on depth of field. Set the function switch to Aperture priority. The setting is probably something like Av (aperture value) as opposed to Tv which is time value (shutter priority).

    As you learn more about your camera, you can move to manual mode, where you set both the shutter and the aperture manually.

    A corollary to the large vs. small aperture concept is the lens itself. A zoom or telephoto lens usually has a much smaller aperture than a non-zooming lens. For any given lens diameter, larger aperture usually fetches a larger price. For the blur you want, choose the lens with the largest aperture (expressed as the f-stop. A smaller number (such as 1.2 or 1.4) will have a larger maximum aperture. Stock lenses supplied with cameras typically have larger f-stops. Look up f-number on Wikipedia for a good explanation.


Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

  • Julia’s Journal

  • Just an ordinary girl.
  • Archives

  • RSS Red Head Snippet

    • End of the year reflections January 1, 2022
      TV shows watched: The Great British Bakeoff, Shadow and Bone, Bridgerton, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Ted Lasso, Long Way Round, Long Way Down, Long Way Up, Star Trek Discovery, The Mandalorian (season 1), Wandavision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Loki (am I missing any?) Movies watched: Tick, Tick … Boom, Single All the Way, […]