A beginners guide to using your camera | Camera Basics 101

So you have a DSLR camera, but have never taken it off of that little green box- AUTO ( which honestly means that your pictures are not much better than a tiny point and shoot camera:( ).  So how do you use all of those buttons to take beautiful pictures of your children?  The secret…. it’s all about turning your camera to Manual. In Manual (M), you are in charge and can now tell your camera what to do.

Over the next weeks, I am going to explain to you as simple as I know possible the basics to taking beautiful pictures.

Today we will start with light…the only thing your camera needs to take a good or a bad picture. The trick is to tell your camera how much light it needs to let in through the lens to create an exposure. If too much light is let in, your picture will be white and overexposed.  Not enough light and your picture will be dark and underexposed.

To get the correct exposure you will need a simple combination of three things: Aperture, Speed, and ISO.  These three things are constantly at work, but in auto you don’t have the power to tell them the right combination, which is why your camera is now set to Manual.

In your camera…

  • The hole within the lens can open to a very large or small diameter this is called Aperture.
  • That hole, either large or small, can open fast or slow this is Speed.

These two factors control the amount of light that reaches the digital media(image sensor) or film within your camera (where your picture is stored).

  • That sensor or roll of film within your camera needs to know “how hard it needs to work” or how sensitive it should be to find the light entering your camera, this measurement is your ISO.  For example: On a bright sunny day, your camera sensor does not need to work very hard to find light. It will however, need to work very hard to find light in a candlelit room.

So by telling your camera how hard it needs to work (ISO), how fast and how wide it needs to open (speed & aperture) to let in the correct amount of light,  you will have the ability to tell your camera what to do in any situation.

So your task for this week is to dig up your camera manual and figure out how to put your camera in Manual (M), change the aperture, speed and iso on your camera.  Missing your manual, you can most likely find a pdf version online.

Don’t worry yet about figuring out those combinations. Let’s tackle this one easy step at a time. Next week we will talk about Aperture….my favorite of the trio.  And get ready for your first assignment so you can put into practice right away everything you are learning.

P.S. Feel free to comment or email with any questions along the way.

(Please note: I understand there are more technical terms and much more in depth explanations.  The purpose of these posts are to explain things as simply and friendly as possible…without all of the jargon, technical terms, and the knowledge behind every facet of the camera. If you are looking for more please email. I am happy to chat with you at a very geeky level or refer you to some great resources.)

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