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4 Camera settings that can make you a professional photographer

Photography goes way beyond simply focusing a camera and shooting. The difference between a good photo and a great photo isn’t the device. The gadget in your hand could produce those stunning photos you desire if you explore the possibilities outside the comfortable auto settings. It will only take a few tweaks of the aperture, shutter speed and exposure to get started. Ready? Let’s roll.

Aperture Priority Mode

An aperture—similar to the eye’s pupil—controls the amount of light that is allowed into the lens. On auto mode, the camera picks what it feels will work in normal situations, but if you’re gunning for great, you want to give the camera clear instructions.

The bigger the aperture, the more light is allowed into the lens. So, it follows that for wide photos, wall art, or decoration, you’d want to use a higher aperture (around f16/22). You would select a lower aperture (usually between f1.2 and f4/5.6) for smaller objects or closer views. A lower aperture will allows more light in than a higher one.

Here what you get for a lower aperture.

And with a larger aperture.


To switch to Aperture Priority Mode, locate A or AV on the mode dial on the top of your DSLR or advanced point-and-shoot camera. Here’s a fun way to try this out. To take a photo of a person and make the distant landscape (or background) blurry, use a low Aperture of f0.4.

Shutter speed mode

Shutter speed mode locks your settings based on your selected shutter speed. The shutter speed is the time between when the shutter opens and closes. This mode is most helpful when you are trying to photograph moving objects or when your hands are shaky. In these conditions, selecting a fast shutter speed gives you a better shot at getting a still image. To change the shutter speed, use the dial at the front of the camera (for Canon) or the back (for Nikon).

Note that if you’re on shutter speed mode, the camera automatically adjusts the aperture and vice versa.

Using the shutter speed more with some imagination, you can shoot more creative photos.

Exposure compensation

We have covered the aperture and the shutter speed. Now we tackle the third factor, the ISO speed, which determines the camera’s exposure which in turn determines how light or dark photos will look. Many cameras like DSLRs have settings that measure, lock and compensate for inadequate exposures.

This setting is very helpful when you are locked on either aperture or shutter speed modes and you want to tweak things manually. A classic example is when you’re in a dark place; you may want to manually increase the exposure to make it appear lighter in the photo.

Bokeh

Earlier when we talked about taking a person’s photo and making the surrounding background blurry, that is called bokeh. Bokeh is the visual effect of an out-of-focus areas in a photo. Bokeh’s are great for images used for wall art and decorations. To get a perfect bokeh, take the following steps;

  • Choose a large aperture (which means a lower F value). Aperture priority mode comes to mind.
  • Get closer to your subject. Minimize the distance between you and your subject.
  • Keep your subject farther away from the background you wish to blur
  • Decrease the depth of field by using longer focal lengths
  • For best results, use long and fast lens.

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