Hello! A few of you have been struggling with your Aperture, so I am just going to write about it again here in the hope it will help. Please keep asking questions until you get this though okay? 

Most of you will have the kit lens that comes with your camera body. These lenses are not very fast, so often struggle indoors without a tripod. 

If your image is blurry it maybe because:

- Your aperture is too big a number and therefore not opening wide enough to shoot without a tripod.

- You are trying to focus too close to an object. The kit lens is not a macro lens, so cannot do detail shots. 

- Your lens is set to manual. On the actual lens you can set it to M or A. I nearly always have it set to A because my eyes are not good enough to focus manually and often I am photographing my children and they move quickly. I personally find it easy to use the focus options we looked at on Friday and tell the camera where to focus. 

- It's just too dark inside where you are taking the images. Try shooting outdoors to see if it makes a difference. You will then know if it's being indoors that is causing you trouble. 

If you need to use a tripod that is absolutely fine! If you are indoors and getting blurry images with your lens then use a tripod. 

Does that help? Please promise to keep asking me if it doesn't! 

I think today's video will help too. 

 

ISO

In film photography ISO measured the sensitivity of the film to light. The lower the number (eg 100 ISO) the less sensitive the film and the finer the grain on the images produced on that film. 

In digital photography the same ISO numbers are used and the sensitivity the numbers measure is the sensitivity of the image sensor. The higher the number the more sensitive your camera is to the light and the more grain will appear on your images. 

On lots of your cameras you will have the option to use Auto-ISO. I was so excited when Auto-ISO came along because it meant that for most of the time I didn't need to think about the ISO and I could get on with concentrating on composition, light, focus points etc. However, because I already had a knowledge of choosing the right ISO, when my camera wasn't doing what I wanted it to and I wanted to override the Auto-ISO then I knew what I wanted/needed to do. 

So, instead of just telling you to pop your camera on Auto-ISO and never worry about it, I want you to regularly spend time taking it off Auto and choosing the ISO you need for the circumstances you are shooting in. 

You can also pay attention to the ISO that your camera is choosing for you when you are shooting in Auto-ISO mode.

Here is a list of good starting points for you. 

ISO 100outside, bright day
ISO 200outside cloudy/dull day
ISO 800+  indoors
ISO 1600+ low light

Generally, you always want to use the lowest ISO you can to avoid grainy/noisy images. Unless of course you want to create that grainy look of film in your image. 

However, higher ISOs allow you to shoot in low light without having to use a flash. 

If you have taken your lens down to the lowest aperture it will go but your shutter speed is still too slow and your images are all blurry, then the next thing you can adjust is the ISO. 

One thing to be careful of is if you have been taking images indoors at a high ISO and then go outside and forget to reduce the ISO down to a lower number you might find your images are overexposed or even sometimes just all white. Don't panic, just reduce the ISO back down. This used to always be a nightmare when I worked as a wedding photographer and I'd leave a dark church and then open the big doors to a bright Summer's day, usually walking backwards as the bride & groom walked down the aisle and out of the door. I'd be caught up in the emotions of the moment and focussing on capturing those and the composition. The last thing I wanted to worry about was turning down the ISO...which is one of the main reasons that I fell in love with Auto-ISO when I first had it on my camera! 

Have a go at experimenting with the ISO, especially when you are indoors. 

 

EXPOSURE COMPENSATION 

Exposure compensation enables you to make an image lighter or darker than the exposure your camera is giving you. It is like using the sunshine feature on the iPhone that we looked at last week. 

If you're image is feeling too light you turn it down, if it's feeling too dark you turn it up. 

Make sure you look at the whites (or lighter parts of your image). Have you lost any detail? If you have then turn down the exposure. Are the blacks and darker colours lost or do they have their detail? Are they too light? Then turn down the exposure. 

There is technically correct exposure and then there is exposure to create a particular look and feel. Some of us prefer light and bright images while others prefer darker, moodier ones. Play around with this and see what you like. 

To change your exposure compensation you need to find a button with a +/- on it and then turn your dial up and down to change it. Some of you will see it change in your view finder, others on your display...or both! 

Do be careful though. It's super sensitive, so just increase or decrease by one little point...not a whole 1 or 2. These little points are called stops.

Inside I usually shoot at 0.5 or higher and on a sunny day outside I will shoot at -0.5 or lower. 

From top left to bottom right: -2, -1, -1/3, 0, +1/3, +1

If I want to have a really light and bright image I will go up higher than I might usually go. And, in the same way if I want a dark and moody image I will go down lower than I would usually go. 

When I am thinking about my exposure compensation I am considering two things:

1. Do I need to adjust for the current circumstances I'm shooting in? A dark room, a really sunny day etc. 

2. Do I want to adjust it to create a particular look for this image? 

Have a go at changing your exposure compensation. Take several images on different settings like I have done above and see what works for you in different situations. See what you like! 

Putting it altogether

Once you have decide the Aperture you want to use for the style of image you want and the circumstances you are photographing in consider: 

ISO....can I leave it on Auto? 

Exposure Compensation...do I want to brighten or darken this image? Are the white/lights showing their details? Are the black/darks dark enough? Do they have enough detail? 

Keep practising and soon all this will come together! 

White Balance

White balance on your camera is there to help make sure that things that appear white in real life also appear white in your images. seems to go in one of two ways. You put on auto white balance and everything looks great. All the whites look white and you don't even have to give it a second thought. 

Or...you take a photograph and realise that everything is blue, orange or yellow. Or just plain yucky! This is nearly always because of artificial light that you can't turn off. When I worked as a wedding photographer white balance as some venues was a total nightmare. But these colours can also be caused by low natural light at dusk or dawn. 

If my auto white balance isn't working then I try one (or more!) of the following. 

First, I check to see if any of the alternative white balance settings on my camera will help. For example Incandescent for domestic lighting. 

Second, I shoot in RAW mode. Not all of your cameras will be able to do this but if you can shoot RAW and you are in a tricky lighting situation then I would do it. The files are very large, so you might not want to do this all the time but if you shoot RAW then all the colour data is retained in the file, compared to a JPEG file where unselected colour data (dependent on the White Balance setting you have selected) is not included in the file. This means that when you edit a RAW file you can correct the tone of the white in the image. 

I don't shoot all my work in RAW though. The files are too large and apart from for white balance work I rarely use the RAW data, so I just don't feel it's necessary. Pro-photographers are split on this one, so remember this is just my personal view. Other photographers shoot everything in RAW. 

Third, I set a custom white balance. I use a white card to take an image to set the custom white balance to. Each camera you have will have a different button for this. When I do it I take a photograph of the white card and then go to 'custom white balance' in my menu and select the image I've just taken. The custom white balance will then be adjusted to capture images in the same setting as the one I'm currently in. 

Be careful when you set the custom white balance indoors. You must make sure you put it back to Auto White Balance when you go back outside. Otherwise all your images will be really blue! 

Have fun! x