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Photography is a hobby that can easily become an obsession!! But in order to really master photography you MUST learn 3 key elements. These elements are what will make your pictures really pop and become from candid lucky shots to professional planned manual shots. This Live will be a 101 type focus to get you all introduced to certain terms, aspects, and thinking with photography. I will post everything I type here tonight in the photography section of the forum for you to review at a later time!

F-Stops, Shutter, and ISO meanings from technical to layman terms


F-stops are technically called Aperture Settings. On your cameras, most will have a manual setting for Aperture or a letter "A". This setting controls the inner window in the camera by either making it WIDER or NARROWER. The term F-Stop is referred to the F number. They can range from an F4 to an F22, though some cameras will have lower F numbers and some will have slightly higher. This is where it can become confusing because the average person would assume that the larger number would mean a wider opening. It is in actuality reversed!

The Aperture setting controls the amount of light that is being allowed into the camera lens, as well as control depth of field. An F4, for example, will mean that the window will be open very wide..think of a toilet paper roll. When you look at the roll thru the opening..that is pretty big ! Now the extreme other side is an F22..that is a very narrow tight opening..think of a straw. So in comparison with those two extremes..the amount of light coming in from the toilet paper roll compared to the straw is a big difference. So in essence, an F4 would be used when photographing in a dark setting because we would need the wider to let the most light in. And an F22 would be used when photographing in a bright setting because we need the narrower to let the least light in.

Depth of Field is another aspect and control that Fstops (Aperture) have. The higher the Fstop number..the more your image will be in clear focus (ex. F16,F22,F32) The lower the number..your foreground will be in focus but your background will be slightly out of focus (ex. F8, F5, F4).

So for are taking a shot of a model standing in front of a busy street corner. You goal is to make this person stand wouldnt want the background of a busy street corner to take away from your you set your Fstop between an F5 - F8 and your model (foreground) will be clear and more in focus..and the busy street (background) will be slightly out of focus..therefore pointing attention to the model. This technique of Depth of Field is a way for you to control where the focal point of the image is as well as give a sense of depth to the viewer.


Most cameras with a manual setting will have a certain amount of shutter control. On your cameras, most will have a Shutter setting as a "S". The shutter on the camera is meant to control how FAST that inner window we spoke about OPENS and CLOSES. What this does is controls how fast to capture the oposed to Aperture which controls the amount being let in to hit the film. Shutter speeds range on some cameras from 1/30 (one thirdith of a second) to 1/2000 (one two thousandth of a second). Some cameras will be even slower at 1 second and some will be faster at 1/5000 (one five thousandth of a second) and some also have what is called BULB which is leaving the shutter open until you close it.

Shutter will also control movement .You can capture a freezing motion at high fast settings (ex 1/2000) or capture slow movement like those cotton candy looking waterfalls (ex under 1/15).

So for want to take a picture of your cat jumping in the would set your shutter speed manually to a fast 1/500 or 1/ soon as the cat hit the shutter button to take the picture. The window will open and shut at lightning speed to capture the freeze motion of the cat in the air. Please note: keep in mind some point and shoots have a shutter lag..which can really be bad..and you can not control your clarity of the subject..I suggest if you camera has a bad shutter lag..pleaseeeeeee get a new camera!!!


Before the digital age..and all we had was film cameras..we would head to the local store and buy film. 800,400, 200, and even 100. What those numbers mean are ISO film speeds. ISO or the older ASA term is basically a rating of sensitivity to light In film we bought 100/200 when we shot outdoors because of the bright light sensitivity..and we bought 800 for indoor for low light sensitivity. The higher numbers of like 800 or 400 is in layman term what you would use at a concert, in the home, or any other darker lit areas. The lower numbers of like 200 or 100 you would use for the opposite brighter lit areas such as sunlight. Most digital cameras will have a menu option for you to manually set this speed! That is actually beneficial because say your at a concert and you shoot some set your ISO to 800 and take pictures..then when you go out the next day and you want to shoot your kids in the yard on that sunny just switch the ISO to 100. With film would have to waste the film in order to switch to a different roll!

Another point to remember with ISO film speed is graininess or as the digital world calls it, noise. Higher film speeds of 800 for instance will cause a higher amount of grain/noise on the image as opposed to lower film speeds of like 100 which will cause almost no grain/noise. That is why most black and white photographers who used film would shoot with under ISO 100 to get the cleanest image.

I hope by now you have at least noticed one thing about all three of these keys....they all have a control of light of some sort! Light is what makes the image! That is why cameras were called Light Boxes in the early days! All three of these elements control this light in different ways..but combined they aide in taking the perfect photo with the correct exposure and correct color. Here is an example using all three elements and this is interactive:

Goal..taking a picture of fireworks at night

Let's start out by thinking:

What ISO film speed should you use?

Well..fireworks are shot at I would opt for the highest ISO I can set or let's use 800 (over 1000 is available also on some cams and some films).

Now..lets think aperture (Fstop).

It is a dark almost black there isn't a distraction to the goal image and you would want the fireworks as clear as possible.. so let's set that Fstop to as high as you let's use an F22.

So now we have our film setting..and we have our Depth of Field in control. So all that is left is shutter.

Being we are using an F22 (or the straw hole) we have to compensate and use our Shutter setting. We need to be able to leave the shutter open long enough to let MORE light in.

So you can either set your shutter to BULB which you can then control by leaving it open as long as you want and close it manually. Or you can set your shutter to 5 seconds or 3 seconds. (YOU NEED A TRIPOD FOR THIS) Alot of times you can bracket your shots by changing the shutter or the aperature till you get your desired result.

Tips for remembering how to use each element

Sunny F16 Rule: On a sunny, bright day…set your F Stop to F16 and set your Shutter Speed to your ISO Film Speed. That is a base start to gaining the correct exposure!

Ex: Fstop = F16, ISO film is 200, Shutter=200 Adjust as needed with the shutter to bracket for BEST exposure.

Dark F11 Rule: On an overcast day..set your Fstop to F11 and set your shutter speed to your ISO Film Speed. That is the base start in order to get the correct exposure.

Ex: Fstop=F11, ISO film is 400, Shutter=400. Adjust as needed with the shutter to bracket for BEST exposure.

When shooting indoors, always try to set your ISO film speed to at least 400 or most 800 (or 1000). You will get the most sensitivity to light for a better exposure.

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