Starting with photography can be intimidating, especially with digital cameras and all the camera settings.  It can feel like learning a new language.  Remember a camera is only a light box.  It captures light.  This is true regardless of if it is film or digital.

Hopefully you find this post and it helps you start the journey. Learning an understanding some of the basic settings, and what they are for, should help.  I am going to explain 3 camera settings functions that all cameras have, shutter, aperture, and ISO.


The shutter is measured in time, and is the part of the camera that lets the sensor capture an image when you push the button.  It needs more or less time depending on the light available where you are taking the image.  It is usually measured by a fraction of a second (Example 1/20, 1/200, 1/1000), or in seconds or minutes (think night photography).  The shutter opens up when you take an image.


The aperture is referred to in “f-stops”, and usually ranges from about f4 to f22.  This varies between lenses, usualy based on what the lens is for and how much it costs.  The aperture lets in more or less light, but also adjusts how much of the image is in focus.  General rule is that the larger the number on the setting the more the image will be in focus.  The aperture starts with an “f” and then the number (Example f22, f5.6, f4).  The aperture is in the lens.  The smaller the aperture the lens can go to, usually the more expensive the lens will be.


ISO refers to the sensitivity of the sensor. The larger the ISO number the more sensitive, and more light is visible. The trade off is, by increasing the ISO, the camera produces more noise which makes the image more grainy.  That graininess is commonly referred to as digital noise.  It is usually best to use the lowest ISO setting that you can to reduce as much of the digital noise as possible.  Digital noise can be distracting to an image.

Hopefully this helps give you a basic understanding of what these 3 camera settings are.  You can spend a long time working to master them, and spend lots of time reading about them.  Therefore, long story short, don’t forget to just go out, use that camera, and shoot.  Use those images to see what looks good and what doesn’t.  Any editing tool will be able to show you what the shutter, aperture, and ISO was for a given image.  This will help you learn what works and what doesn’t.

Don’t forget to look at the images on my site in the galleries starting at:  Hopefully you find some of them inspirational for your own photography adventures, or maybe you find an image you want to call your own.

While I share this journey with everyone on the internet, I will attempt to keep explanations simple and easy for everyone to understand.  Many times I get questions from friends and acquaintances based on them reading stuff on the internet and just being more confused.  That said, if anyone has a question about something written here, please leave me a comment with the question.  Maybe that will turn into a whole different post or maybe it will be a quick answer that clears it up. 

Next, check out the beginning of my journey of the 4X5 Field Camera.