Photography notes


FACTORS TO TAKE A GOOD PHOTO: the order of importance

  1. Light
  2. Lens
  3. Camera F shutter speed (if under 1/30 you need a tripod)

How to set a camera up

Go through the following questions:

  1. Is this an aperture or shutter speed shot?
  2. Which ISO should I choose? A: the lowest possible.
  3. While aperture should I use?

– to blur needs a lens of 50mm+ & be close to the subject, with distance between the subject & background

  1. What shutter speed does it give?
  • if 1/30 or faster – shoot
  • if slower than 1/30, worry @ shake; can I use my tripod? If no, increase ISO
  1. Shutter speed
  • put on ISO 100
  • choose speed
  • if A = no blinking, shoot
  • if A = blinking, increase ISO

Camera settings:

M         Manual, makes life very complicated

A-dep   Automatic depth of field

CA        Creative automatic

Av        Aperture value

Tv        Shutter speed (time value)


Good types of light

  1. Overcast, shadowless
  2. Dawn
  3. Dusk/twilight –for shooting buildings & townscapes, choose dusk

Taking a picture


Aperture Shutter speed
Affects depth of field

Adjustable hole to let light in in – narrow = less light comes in

Don’t want too much light = overexposure

“How long the hole stays open”

Fast shutter speeds freeze movement

Slow shutter speeds slow movement

Sports : 1/250

Fast sports : 1/500

Traffic/misty waterfall : 1 sec & slower

Panning shot: 1/30

Need to balance correct sized hold, open for right length of time = correct exposure

Aperture and depth of field

  • Units of aperture = F stops (focal stops)
  • Range available depends on the lenses available
  • typical range is (wide) F2.8, F4, F5.6, F8, F11, F16, F22 (narrow)
  • the aperture (hold) gets narrower as you go up the scale and LESS light is let in
  • each difference = letting half as much light as previous
  • the depths of field gets bigger



  • fixed lenses – can’t change the aperture – 24mm, 50 mm
  • blurred background only starts at 55mm


18, 28, 35 50 80, 135, 200, 300
wide angle, estate agents, group, landscape normal lens – true to life

street photography, still life, documentary, travel

sports, wildlife, paparazzi, portraits (over 100 – gen 200)
macro lens – get 100mm – only buy a PRIME lens

Best image quality

  • Buy a prime (i.e. fixed) lens
  • Canon L series (24-105mm lens is £700)
  • Stay with the same brand as the camera body (unless Sigma).



Q – How to deal with a sunny day: A – add a polarising filter to the lens

Brands: Hoya pro, B&W (best)

UV Filter Protects lens – put on all lenses (a.k.a. anti-haze)
Polariser Useful in sunshine (use if you need sunglasses), and to get rid of reflections.  Gives a blue sky.
Neutral density Blocks out light.  Helps with a slow shutter speed on a sunny day.

ISO (international standards org)

100  200  400  800  1600  3200

  • The sensor becomes more sensitive to light, so shutter speed gets FASTER
  • Anything over 400 = FAST
  • Anything under 400 = SLOW
  • The highest quality picture on a digital camera uses the lowest possible ISO


When to use ISO

  1. In aperture mode: if shutter speed is below 1/30 and you don’t have a tripod
  2. In shutter speed priority mode: if shutter speed won’t allow a balance of exposure


  1. Set camera to “P”
  2. Quality of light is in direct proportion to the size of the flash
  3. Ideally, get a built in diffuser
  4. Change the mode of flash to manual, to control the amount of light

If flash is used well, you shouldn’t be able to tell that a flash has been used.