Disclaimer: I am not a professional photographer. But I’ve learned a lot about photography since starting this blog. I wish I wouldn’t have been SO intimidated by words like “f stop” and “aperture” when I started. I ended up paralyzing myself from looking up ANYTHING because I was scared I’d have to learn EVERYTHING, which would require reading the amount of books in Belle and Beasts’ library… and ain’t nobody got time for that.
So if you are a blogger, mom, or just want to take great pics, I wanted to pass on this “what I wish I knew” back then breakdown.
There are 3 things that work together in photography and are all adjustable. I think about these three things like ingredients to a recipe. Eggs, butter, and sugar… but the amount of each changes depending on your lighting:
- F. stop (also called aperture)
- shutter speed
- F Stop/ aperture: 1.4, 2.2, or 2.8
- Shutter speed: the only thing I adjust until I like the picture
- ISO: 100
- F Stop/ aperture:
- The lower this number is, the blurrier the background. The higher the number, the more in focus the background. I love shooting with a low F.Stop and have always loved a blurry background. Almost all my pictures are shot between 1.4 and 2.2. If you are shooting a child or human subject closer up though, you’ll want to stay between 2.2 to 3.8 because if it’s too low, the nose could be in focus and the eyes will be blurry. Also, depending on what lens you have, it may only go down to 2.8 as the lowest F-stop.
- Here is David and Nilla shot at 1.4, 2.8., and 16 (fun fact, I didn’t even know how high my lens would go with aperture until this post). Look at how with the 1.4, the trees are completely blurred out. When you raise the F-stop to 16, the trees are completely in focus.
Another important concept to understand about the f-stop is the amount of light it lets in. I think about it like the pupil of my eye. If you are in a dark room, your pupil gets large to let in all the light it can so you can see. If you walk from a dark room, like a movie theatre, into a bright space, your pupil will close up and shrink in an attempt to block out all the light it can.
A low F-stop (1.4) is your pupil in the dark room. It’s the largest it can expand/open and It lets in a LOT of light. A high f-stop (16) is your pupil when you walk from a dark room into the sun; it’s the smallest it can shrink and blocks out a lot of light.
- Shutter speed:
- Once I decide on my F stop/ aperture, I just mess around with (re: increase and decrease) the shutter speed until I like what I see on the camera’s display screen. The lower the shutter speed, the slower it is, and the more light it lets in. The shutter speed number is actually in tenths of a second. So if it’s 125, it’s actually 1/125ths of a second. and if it’s 4000 it’s actually 1/4000ths of a second. Lower = slower. My rule of thumb is to never let this number get below 125 since it’s a pretty sure bet it will be blurry if you are holding it and not using a tripod.
- iso is “fake light” And, like anything fake, it can work, but it’s not as good as the original. I use it as a last resort. If there is enough light, 100 ISO will be sufficient. If your ISO goes higher than 500, your pictures will be grainy. Sometimes I have to bump it up but it’s only as a last resort!
So, to sum all of this up, the lower the F-stop, the blurrier the background, and the more light is let in. Then I just adjust the shutter speed depending on how sunny it is outside, keeping in mind that lower the shutter speed = slower the shutter = more light, higher the number = faster = less light. And I try to keep the ISO as low as possible.
And that’s it! If you have any questions feel free to snap me (LC_Steele) or email me and I’ll try my best to answer! Like I said, I’m definitely not a professional but I do love a good frame-able kodak moment 🙂
Thanks so much for reading and I hope you have a productive and short Monday!