Your DSLR camera’s manual shooting mode is a powerful thing — it gives you total control over the camera’s settings, which means you can adjust your photography however you please. Of course, that power can also be overwhelming, especially for beginners. Thankfully, manual mode really boils down to just three important settings: shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. Here’s a breakdown of each one.
Shutter speed: How quickly the shutter closes when you take a photo
According to SLR Lounge‘s definition, shutter speed is “the duration of time that the shutter is open.” In other words, the shutter can close faster or slower depending on your settings. The faster the speed, the less light travels through your camera. The perfect shutter speed for your session depends on the area’s lighting.
For example, if you’re shooting outside on a bright day, you’ll want a middle speed so the photos don’t get overexposed. On the other hand, a photoshoot at night should have a slower speed, and action shots should have a higher speed.
Aperture: Controls the depth of field
Next, you should adjust your aperture. As Nikon notes, aperture “controls the brightness of the image that passes through the lens,” thus altering your depth of field. You should use a high aperture when you want everything to be in focus in the shot. Meanwhile, a low aperture will blur the background behind your subject.
You’re better off using a low aperture for headshots, where you only have one subject as the focus of the photo. On the other hand, with family photos, you can make the aperture a bit higher to ensure that you capture everyone in the shot. The highest aperture settings are best for action shots, like a sports game.
ISO: Brightens and darkens photos
Finally, we have ISO, which Nikon describes as “the sensitivity of the camera’s sensor.” A higher ISO will brighten your photos, while a lower ISO will darken them. However, keep in mind that a poor-quality lens using high ISO can make the photos turn out grainy, so you might have to play around with the feature. Use a low ISO for a sunny day, and a high ISO for nighttime.
Taking these three settings into account, here’s the typical sweet spot for an outdoor shoot on a sunny day. This should give you an idea of how to adjust:
- Shutter speed: 1/100
- Aperture: f/4
- ISO: 100
Contact October Dreams Photography for more tips.