What Camera Settings?

Photographing the Light

You Take The Photos. Not The Camera.

Modern cameras are complicated things, but you only need to know one thing. Do they take good photos? Well, No! Is the simple answer. Read on to find out why.

First the camera will take the picture that you point it at. Second it will take the picture with the settings you choose. So you see it is not the camera that takes good or bad photos. It is YOU. So you need to know a bit about photography.

Sony a6000 mirrorless camera
Photographers at Play or Work, What ever.
Exif Data. f11. 1/10th. ISO-100.

It is very important that you understand the first rule of photography and that is. Composition is everything. The camera will take the picture you show it. So if it is a badly composed picture, then the resulting image will be badly composed also.

Your eyes are tricky little things and they can remove objects from the picture that they do not want to see. But the camera will capture it all, the good and the bad.

The best way to learn is to study eBooks and YouTube videos about your chosen camera so you know what it can do. And learn how to take pictures that are keepers, by finding out about 'composition', 'exposure' and 'depth of field'.

What Camera Should I Buy?

Sony a6000 mirrorless camera
Sony a6000 Mirrorless Camera

I shoot with Sony cameras, I think they are the best. But you choose what company you want to. But one things to keep in mind here is. What kind of photography am I going to do? If you just want to take a snap once in awhile or selfies then a simple camera is best, like the one on your phone. But if you want to get serious about photography then you will need a serious camera.

I recently changed my Sony a77 (a great camera) for a Sony a6000 (better camera) because it is better, smaller and lighter for me to carry about. But the a6000 is also the worlds best camera for the price. You can get the awesome camera a 16-50mm lens and a 55-210mm lens for under a £700.

About exposure, shutter speed and DOF
Exposure, DOF Shutter Speed and ISO all in one shot.
Exif Data. f4.5. 1/1000th. ISO-3200.

Study The Photo Above

In the shot above of the bee approaching the water lily has it all. Exposure (How much light) and 'DOF' or Depth Of Field. (How much is in focus). See how the back lily is blurry. That is intentional and I did it with a lower f-stop number I used f4.5. I used a fast shutter speed to catch some movement in the wings. I used 1/1000 of a second. In order to get the 'exposure or f-stop' and the 'shutter speed' I had to use a high ISO. I used ISO-3200.

Camera aperture settings
Slower Shutter Speed Smooth's The Water.
Exif Data. f16. 15 seconds. ISO-200

This is all stuff that you can learn through practice and study. And that is all up to you, but it is great fun to be out there doing it. Let me tell you a secret here. I keep one or two shots out of every 100 shots I take. That is a 98%-99% failure rate. And I am not alone. All pro photographers have the same rate.

OH we could keep more as they are not all that bad, we just take lots of shots of the same thing at different settings so we hopefully will get one of them right. This is called practice.

Camera aperture settings
What happens in the lens when we change the f-stop.

Why Choose 'A' for Aperture.

I am not going to go into all the details of exposure f-stops etc. that is your homework. I shoot most of my pictures using Aperture Priority Mode. That is the 'A' on your camera. You choose the f-stop and the ISO and the camera selects the correct shutter speed. For most of my photos I will have my camera on 'Auto ISO'. Most modern 'serious cameras' will let you set parameters for this. I use ISO-100 to ISO 3200.

Aperture Priority Mode is how you control the DOF or Depth of Field. A big # like f22 gets everything in focus. A small # like f1.8 gets a little bit in focus. And then there is everything in between.

By varying the f-stop we get creative expression, we get artistic photos, we become very, very clever photographers.

Big f-number for Landscapes. f8 or higher.

Aperture Priority for landscape photos.
With landscapes we want it all in focus, use a higher f-number.
Exif Data. f11. 1/125th. ISO-200.

When shooting things like landscapes we want to see it all in focus so we choose a higher f# like f8 or higher. In the desert shot above at f11 the far distant mountains are out of focus due to the haze and not the f-stop. But I could of got the same effect with an f-stop of about f5.6, smaller would mean less in focus.

With f-stops think 'FOCUS'. Big f-number is more in focus and a little f-number is less in focus.

The Other Camera Settings.

There are lots of shooting modes on your camera and you can play with them if you want to. I am talking about the 'Scene Modes' like Portrait Mode and Macro Mode etc. Personally I think they are a great waste of space. But you may need to use the sensible ones like 'S' for shutter speed use this for sports and moving subjects. And the 'M' for manual mode, use this when you feel you want to be in total control of your camera.

If you are about to buy a new camera then I strongly suggest you get one with a 'Live View Screen' this will allow you to see your intended photo in real time, as you change the shutter speed the picture on the viewer will get darker or lighter, this will help greatly when using the 'M' Manual Mode.

Aperture Priority for landscape photos.
Use 'Shutter Speed' for moving subjects.
Exif Data. f10. 1/500th second. ISO-200.

If you are going into photography in a serious way you will need Adobe Photoshop or maybe Adobe Elements or maybe another similar program. I use Adobe Photoshop and it helps a lot to be able to correct and enhance the photo as I always shoot in RAW format as should you. RAW gives the most photographic details in the image and more is always better, right.