how to use aperture [f/stop] & shutter speed to control light
[tips & tricks, ebook, photography lessons]
***NOTE: BEFORE GETTING CARRIED AWAY:
MAKE SURE YOU UNDERSTAND HOW TO USE YOUR LIGHT METER.***
how f/stop [aperture] controls light & detail in cameras
F/stop, or aperture, allows you to control the camera’s ability to see light and detail. Make sure to remember that for when we move on to shutter speed, and know the differences between the two.
THE BIGGER THE NUMBER ON THE APERTURE READER
- The smaller the opening in the lens will be; therefore:
- The less light the camera can see.
- The less blurry the background or foreground will be; therefore:
- The more details the camera can see, or larger depth of field.
- Big number = small opening
THE SMALLER THE NUMBER ON THE APERTURE READER
- The bigger the opening in the lens will be; therefore:
- The more light the camera can see.
- The more blurry the background or foreground will be; therefore:
- The less details the camera can see, or larger depth of field.
- Small number = big opening
This, of course is counter intuitive to most people, and can take a little while to practice with.
- Wide apertures (small numbers) are often useful for portraiture.
- Narrow apertures (large numbers) are often useful for large environments like buildings and landscapes.
- Mid-range apertures are useful for street photography, lifestyle and capturing movement.
how shutter speed controls light & movement
The shutter controls the camera’s ability to see light and detect movement. The definition really isn’t that simple, however I am trying to avoid making this just another boring ass technical guide.
Remember when I told you what the aperture controlled? Of course not, because ten to one that whole thing was confusing.
DON'T WORRY, HERE'S A LITTLE BIT BETTER OF AN EXPLANATION:
IF APERTURE IS YOUR CAMERA'S LIGHT AND DETAIL DETECTOR
THEN SHUTTER SPEED IS YOUR CAMERA'S LIGHT & MOTION DETECTOR
Shutter speed is represented by whole numbers and fractions which represent entire seconds or fractions of seconds. So 2’’5 = two and a half seconds, ¼ = one quarter of a second and 1/500 = one five hundredth of a second.
For now, don’t worry about whether or not your camera can see, but go ahead and set the shutter speed to 2.5 seconds and take a picture of whatever is in front of you. Then do it at 1/4 of a second. Then 1/500th.
The sound you hear when you push the button is either a fast “CLICK CLICK!” or “CLIIIIIICK CLICK” with a Southern drawl. That is the sound of your shutter, or the shutter opening and closing. The longer it is open/larger the fraction (or whole number) which equals more time for your camera to process light.
The less time it is open, the less time it has to allow light in.
Surely it follows that you should just leave the shutter open for a long time to let in a lot of light, right? That’s a reasonable guess, but no.
YOUR PERCEPTION OF TIME IS DIFFERENT THAN YOUR CAMERA'S
¼ of a second is about as fast as we blink which is pretty fast! However in camera years ¼ of a second may as well be eternity, and your camera probably feels like our perception of time is inferior to its own. This means that while your camera has longer to process light at ¼ of a second as opposed to 1/500 of a second, the camera also has more time to process movement either from you or your subjects.
If your subjects are moving, it will translate their movement into blur. If your hands are caffeinated or you are breathing the way that most humans tend to do, then your camera WILL pick up on it if its shutter is slow enough. This is often the cause of blurry and unattractive images, even in phones. Blur can be a fun way to add artistic quality, however there should always be at least ONE spot in your pictures that has 100% clarity.