Camera Basics

camera basics guide

Thierry Bornier has the special skill of capturing the magic of China’s many landscapes. Since transitioning into the world of professional photography, he has taught himself many tricks to be able to get the perfect photograph. He has already started to share some of his knowledge via his photography workshops in China. Like all amateur and professional photographers, he had to start somewhere. Here we’ll explore some camera basics so you can start improving your photography skills.

Aperture lets in more or less light, shutter speed lets it in longer or shorter, and ISO is how sensitive the sensor is to light. – Digital Photography School


Aperture controls the size of the opening on the camera’s lens that controls the amount of light that is allowed in. When the opening is larger, or wider, the more light will be allowed in. The smaller, or narrower, the aperture is the less light will be let through. The focus, or depth, of the picture is also controlled by this function. When it is set wider, the image will be less focused while the opposite is true when set more narrow.

Aperture is measured in something called F-Stops. When the number is lower (F/3.5) it is a wide open aperture while a larger number such as F/22 is a small opening.

Aperture Cheat Sheet

Shutter Speed

The shutter speed, sometimes referred to as exposure time, is the amount of time the film or sensor is exposed to light. It controls the amount of light that reaches the film or other digital sensor that might be in place. Shutter speed is measured in fractions of a second and effects the amount of “blur” that is present in the image. The faster the shutter speed (smaller the fraction – 1/1000) the higher sharpness in the photo. If the shutter is left open long (larger fraction – 1/60) the more motion (or blur) will be captured by the camera.

Shutter Speed Example


When film was still in use, ISO referred to the film’s sensitivity to light. On today’s digital camera’s the ISO still controls light sensitivity, however in a more high tech way. The ISO ratings range from 25 – 3200 and effect the brightness and graininess/noise of the image. The higher the ISO rating the brighter the image, however it is likely it will also be noisier if aperture and shutter speed are not adjusted as well. Digital noise gives photographs a grainy look and is caused by the image sensor adjusting and overcompensating for the light in the image.

ISO example - Image Noise

Together, these make up what is commonly known as the exposure triangle. They work together to capture the right focus, light and mood to create the best photos possible.

Are you ready to take your camera off of “auto” and start exploring photography?

Image Sources
Camera Basics
Shutter Speed
ISO Example 


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