Photography 101…Aperture, ISO, Shutter Speed, White Balance, Huh?

I use a Nikon D40 DSLR 6.1 megapixel

Several of you asked me to share the knowledge from my photography class.  Let me start by saying there is no way I can squeeze 3 hours worth of class into this post without making it very l-o-n-g.  I might lose you in the process.  F-stop, aperture, white balance, shutter speed, ISO.  Have I lost you yet?  I’m sure you’ve heard of all those words, but if you’re like me, how they work together can be a mystery.  A dense fog used to appear in my mind whenever I would try to understand all this and how it all worked together to create a picture!  But the light is starting to come on, and it’s exciting!

Let me just hit some of the highlights.  Some of you might already know some of this, so excuse me if it’s a repeat.  How many of you thought a higher pixel count was a good thing to look for on a camera and meant better photos?  Well, it can mean better photos, but it only matters on printed photos.  If all you’re going to print are 4 X 6 or 5 X 7 prints, then you really don’t need a high pixel count.  The benefit to a high pixel count comes when you want to print large photos.  Some food for thought.

an example of an image at different sizes as it pixelates found here

In this first class, we already learned about the benefits of changing your aperture, white balance, ISO, and shutter speed.  Up until this point, I’ve mostly kept my camera on P (meaning programmed), but as we played around with the M setting, it’s like it opened up a whole new world for me.  And by “M” I don’t mean manual focus, but manual where I can change the aperture.  The aperture adjusts the size of the opening through which light passes through.  It also controls the depth of field.  Just some FYI.

Here are some shots taken in class playing around in manual mode.  I switched between an ISO of 200 all the way up to 1600 using no flash and changed my f number (or aperture) to about 4 (my particular lens would only go down to 3.5).

wooden peg
wooden items

So why might this little setting be important?  By changing these settings, you can control what you want to focus and your depth of field.  Say you want to take a shot but there’s lots of stuff in the background you don’t want.  This would be handy.

Here are some more shots playing around with the white balance settings.

altoids cloudy white balance

Taken on the cloudy setting.  You can see that it looks a bit yellow.  But when I change it to fluorescent (because we were in fluorescent lighting) it brings out the colors without distorting them.

altoids fluorescent white balance

I’m already glad I signed up for the class.  And I’m glad I have a Nikon as the instructor also has one and is a little partial to them as am I. 🙂  So before this goes on the record as the longest post ever, I think that is all for now.  I have an assignment that I am looking forward to shooting but more on that next week.

If you are at all interested in learning about all these things, I highly recommend a class!  I’ve tried reading about it online, but hearing it in person and being shown on my camera how to adjust the settings was way more helpful than reading words on a screen.

I leave today to attend the memorial of my sweet friend, Karen.  Enjoy the posts while I’m gone, and I’ll see you next week.  Don’t forget to enter my giveaway!

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