Are you wanting to become a photographer or videographer but just have no idea where to start? Well this blog is made for you! It may also contain some more information for more seasoned veterans of the industry to review as well. As photography and videography are ever evolving fields, theres always new ways to tell stories. However, the fundamentals remain the same.
I can promise you that if you study these fundamentals and memorize them you'll end up making your work 3x as good in no time! I'll try to keep it short and concise as this is a course about the basics. If you'd like a more in depth explanation of these topics YouTube is an amazing learning tool and has everything you'll ever need!
Dislcaimer: None of the photos are owned by me, and are for general teaching purposes only
Topics We'll Cover in this Blog
What is ISO? ISO stands for the International Organization for Standardization, but that bits kind of unimportant. In reality the ISO is what we refer to the number on your camera that goes up in stops of 100.
When you're setting your ISO you're able to adjust the number and you'll see that it makes your image brighter. This is because it's telling your camera's sensor to change it's sensitivity to allow for more light to be artificially created within the image. As a side effect this can also lead to more noise being present in your image.
Cameras have typically have whats called a Native ISO and this refers to your camera's highest ISO that doesn't require a change in the voltage to the sensor and can deliver it's best picture quality. Typically a good rule of thumb to follow however, is that the lower the ISO you have the less noisy the image will be.
Above - an image showing how a higher ISO affects it's noise.
Above - an image showing how higher ISO affects light levels.
Aperture & F-Stop
The Aperture usually refers to the opening in your camera's lens that lets light pass through to it's sensor. With a larger aperture your camera will allow more light to hit the sensor allowing for a brighter image. The same applies in the opposite way. With a smaller aperture less light will hit the image allowing for a darker image.
The F-Stop is the unit we use to measure the size of the aperture. The lower the F-Stop the larger the aperture of the camera and vise-versa. For example, if you had an F-Stop of 2.8 more light will be entering and hitting the sensor vs if you had an F-Stop of 5.6. This also causes the image to become brighter without needing to adjust the ISO.
As a side effect of changing the aperture, you also change the DOF (Depth of Field) of the iamge you're shooting. This makes it so that the background of whatever you're focused on becomes blurrier. With a lower F-Stop you'll typically have a shallower Depth of Field. Your focus point will also become narrower with a lower F-stop.
Above - An image displaying how the DOF changes with a lower F-Stop
Above - An image displaying the effect of Aperture/F-Stop on Light and DOF
Shutter speed is the speed in which it takes the shutter to completely shut and reopen exposing the photo. It also determines the amount of motion blur that will be present in your photos.
If you have a lower shutter speed you allow more time for the light to hit the sensor which will cause more motion blur. However, it can also allow for a brighter image. Typically you'll see this used a lot in starry nightsky photography.
With a higher shutter speed you allow less light to hit the sensor. This makes for a darker image but can also cause less motion blur and enable you to capture fast action paced shots in crisp focus. Typically this is used in sports photography.
Above - an example showing the differences shutter speed makes for motion blur
Videography Shutter Speed
I've bolded and seperated this section because Videography shutter speed works differently. With photography you can use shutter speed as a tool to lower the light in your camera easily. However due to videography not being able to capture just a single photo, it has to handle shutter speed uniquely.
Different mediums of video use different frame rates; TV uses 30fps, Movies/Films use 23.976 (or 24)fps/ and people even film Slow Motion in 60 or 120fps. If you want to capture a natural looking motion blur for any video medium however, it is typically a rule of thumb to set your shutter speed to roughly DOUBLE your framerate. So for Slow Motion 60fps footage, you wanna use a shutterspeed of 1/120. For 24fps footage you wanna use 1/48 etc.
Above - an example showing the effect shutter speed has on light.
Focal Length & Camera Lenses
Focal length refers to the number on the lenses measured using (mm). The focal length of a lens is directly proportional to the FOV (field of view) of the lens.
There are 3 main types of lenses Telephoto, Normal, and Wide Angle.
Telephoto refer to lenses with a large focal length, capable of viewing distant objects in a larger frame.
Normal refer to lenses that create a field of view that appear natural to the user.
Finally Wide Angle lenses refer to lenses that capture a wide FOV in order to produce an image capable of capture a large area.
Telephoto Lens Ex. 80mm, 100mm, 200mm, Etc.
Wide Lens Ex. 28mm, 12mm, 8mm, Etc.
Normal Lens Ex. 50mm, 60mm, Etc.
Above - an example of the difference focal length can make to what you can see in an image
Lenses with a longer focal length also seperate the subject from the background more. As a direct affect of this the background can appear farther than it actually is. Wide lenses do the opposite making the subject appear closer to the background. Typically for portraits in order to not distort the face of a subject you want to stick to lenses in the Normal Lens category.
Above - an example of the ways different focal lengths can distort a subject's appearance.
Often times you'll see an number on your camera that's measured using "k" (kelvin). What that number refers to is the white balance of your camera. Through the process of adjusting your white balance you adjust the colours of your camera to make the image look more natural.
Every different type of light has a kelvin temperature associated with it. Daylight's colour temperature ranges from 5600-6000k, Interior Flourescent is typically in the 4600k range, and Moonlight/Nighttime typically falls around 3600k. Higher kelvin temperatures tend to have more an orange colour shift, while lower ones then to have more of a blue colour shift.
Above - an example showing the difference white balance makes on an image's colour shift
Above - an example showing whether or not an colour temperature is set correctly
Congratulations on making it through this far! I promise that if you study and master all of the above then your photography and videography skills will improve 3x as much!
While things in our industry constantly change and evolve, knowing these basics will help give you a foundation to build upon in the future.
Thank you for reading