Photography Basics Cheat Sheet

from "Snapshots" to "Photographs"

Know your Settings

  • A (green square) = Automatic [The camera makes all settings on its own]
  • P = Program Mode [The camera controls shutter speed and aperture, but you have control over ISO, Exposure Compensation, and White Balance]
  • Tv (or S) = Shutter Speed Priority [You control the shutter speed of the camera, along with the same things as Program Mode. The camera sets the aperture]
  • Av = Aperture Priority [You control the aperture of the camera, along with the same things as Program Mode. The camera sets the shutter speed]
  • M = Manual Mode [You have complete control over ALL the settings]

What is Shutter Speed?

When you take a photo, the "shutter" opens and closes to let light in. In Shutter Speed priority, you can control how fast or slow the shutter opens and closes. A faster shutter speed = capturing fast action--but a faster shutter speed = less light coming into your camera.
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What is Aperture?

Aperture refers to the opening in the lens of the camera that lets the light through. It is measured in "f-stops. The higher the f-stop number, the smaller the opening. The aperture affects how much light is let in at once; it also affects how wide or shallow the Depth of Field for your photo will be (how much of it is in focus).
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What is ISO?

ISO refers to how sensitive the camera is to light--this is back from the days of film, when you would buy different types of film based on ISO. The higher the ISO number, the more sensitive the camera will be to light, but the higher the ISO, the "noiser" your photo will be.
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What is White Balance?

White Balance is how your camera "sees" whites and blacks. Different lighting has different "temperatures": "warmer" lights have a more orange cast to them; "cooler" lights have a bluish tint.
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What is Exposure Compensation?

You can use Exposure Compensation to help balance out the exposure in your photos to make them darker or lighter (ex: to get a fast enough shutter speed to capture action, sometimes your photos might be too dark--you can fix this)
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