Class – How To – Follow-up

Some basic points:

We talked about The Exposure Triangle. Here’s a good article.

Shutter Speed

Here’s a good article on shutter speed.

Most people can’t hand-hold at less than 1/60th of a second — the picture is blurred by your own movement. Some ways to make up for this in low light situations:

  • Tripods — from big to small — gorillapods come in all sizes.
  • On a tripod, a time-delay shutter will help to avoid the jiggle from you pushing the shutter release
  • Brace yourself to stand still, and hold the camera close to your body
  • Brace the camera against anything — table, doorframe
  • Rapid fire multiple shots, if your camera can do this — the middle shot is likely to be the clearest

You DO want to pay extra for image stabilization (IS) — in the camera (point and shoot) or the lens (dSLR).  It makes a difference!

Exposure Compensation

We began talking about exposure compensation — many cameras allow you to bump the exposure up  (brighter) or down a little (darker) while basically staying in automatic mode.  The images with this article demonstrate the results.   The easiest cameras to use are those with a dial for this, like the one shows here, but many small cameras have this somewhere in the menus.


On-camera flash is to be avoided if at all possible because

  • It usually only works for about 10 feet or less;
  • You often end up with a too-bright subject against a too-dark background;
  • That kind of flat, straight on light is ugly (and makes people look ugly!)

You can use a simple piece of paper to diffuse the camera’s flash so you don’t get such a deer-in-the-headlights effect. (Thanks, Bryan!)

    The one time it IS useful is for filling in dark places in the image — notable, shadowed faces.

    (In the 2nd example, below, the flash isn’t actually on the camera but coming in from the side — but this demonstrates the idea.)

    No flash

    with flash fill

    Recap from Jan 26 – camera basics

    Keeping settings on auto is fine for now.

    Zoom: use optical but not digital. The digital zoom just makes the pixels bigger, considerably reducing image quality.

    ISO: 200 is a good all-purpose setting (but may be too dark for indoors). 400 is fine. Going above that depends on your camera; the less expensive the camera, the sooner you’ll get noise in the image as you raise the ISO.

    Image settings (size and resolution): maximize these. The only reason to go to a lesser-size/resolution is to save memory, but you lose image quality.

    The only special scene mode worth using is the one for fast-moving subjects, usually labeled sports with an icon something like this:

    Canon special scene modes

    Canon ISO control

    Nikon ISO control