Getting The Basics

(revised version 2)

By Dave Le

I am writing this to help you advance your photography and become a better hobbyist. I will summarize and minimize the trio points that make a triangle in utilizing your camera and lens in non full-auto photography. There are three main technical mechanics to photography that work together evenly that I call the triangle. Each point of the triangle is shutter Speed, ISO, and aperture. I am summarizing this as best as I can for you in a couple of pages, don’t go out and buy an expensive 200 page book.

Shutter speed part 1.

Shutter speed controls the speed of how fast the curtain on front of the camera opens and closes. The ideal minimal shutter speed should be at least 1/125th of a second. The faster the shutter speed, the faster the curtain opens and closes. A faster shutter speed would be needed to freeze faster moving subjects. As the subject moves faster, the faster you would need to have your shutter speed be to prevent the blur.

“The 1/125th shutter speed is just a starting point. I suggest you stick with that until you are comfortable with setting your ISO and aperture of which we will talk about next. If you feel comfortable enough and want to jump straight into setting your shutter speed better, go ahead and read part 2.”

Shutter speed part 2.

Another component of using shutter speed is how far you zoom in with your zoom lens. If you are shooting a still subject at 18mm, try shooting at 1/20th of a second or faster. If you are shooting at 55mm, try shooting at 1/60th of a second. See what I did there? 18mm is at 1/20th and 55mm is at 1/60th. That means if you are shooting at 70mm, you would want to shoot at 1/80th of a second, and at 200m, that would be 1/200th of a second. Because your camera doesn’t have 1/18th or 1/55th of a second, you would shoot at the next shutter speed closest to your camera’s focal length. 18mm = 1/20th because 1/18th doesn’t exist. 55mm = 1/60th because 1/55th doesn’t exist. Remember, this rule only exists for still subjects, you will have to tweak the shutter speed to be faster if you are to shoot moving subjects, you will develop this technique and better utilize it as time passes.


You do not need to know what ISO stands for except that it stands for sensitivity. If you want to know just for giggles, it stands for International Standard Organization. This name will only confuse you because the name itself technically has nothing to do with sensitivity. The higher the ISO number, the nosier (grainier) the picture will look. You will want to try to set the ISO at the lowest possible setting. However there is a compromise. The lower the ISO number, it’ll make the shutter speed slower, thus causing blur if the shutter speed is too slow.


The larger the aperture number such as f7.1 - f16 or even f22, the more depth of field. More depth of field, meaning more of the overall picture in focus. The smaller the number, means less in focus. Whatever you are focusing on while at a small aperture number such as f2.8 - f.5.6 will become focused but the background and foreground will become blurred out. The smaller the number, the faster the shutter speed will become. The higher the number, the slower the shutter speed will become. So you will have to adjust your settings accordingly for your desired depth of field and your desired shutter speed and desired ISO.

“Aperture isn’t the only one controlling depth of field. As the distance between your subject and the background increases, the more blurry the background will be. Also as the distance between you and your subject decreases, the more blurry the background will also be.”

The end

To end this paper, let’s summarize everything. As you increase the F-stop number, you get more depth of field (The background becomes less blurry and more in-focus). However as you increase the F-stop number, the shutter-speed becomes slower. As you increase the ISO, the picture contains more grain (Also known as noise). However the higher the ISO, the faster the shutter-speed becomes. Every setting you change from ISO to aperture to shutter-speed is a compromise. They are a triangle.

This is it. It is the end of the session. If you need help with anything else or have questions. Please feel free to contact me.

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