Experiments with Aperture and Shutter Settings

Because I'm an exceptionally tidy person;-), I always make sure that I delete the photos from my SD card, once I've downloaded them from my camera. It's neat and organised and it prevents the build-up of excess clutter:-D

Unfortunately, it also means that I can't analyse my shots, later, to learn from all of my experimenting:-(

So, this time, I thought outside the box and I wrote down all the apertures, shutter speeds, ISOs, etc, of the 115 photos that I took on Saturday - before I erased them all. It took quite a while to do, but, now, I'm learning about all of my mistakes by comparing the results - so I think it was probably worth it.

Being of a scientific sort of mind(!), I decided to control my experimenting by only changing certain settings. That way I could isolate the effects of a few settings, rather than try to guess the changes that a mishmash of adjustments would produce.

I set the camera to manual mode and chose which settings would be constant and which would be my variables.

The ISO I kept constant at 200, as it was a fairly sunny day with dark shadow areas. I had the white balance set at 'cloudy' but I think it probably should have been set to 'sunny', given the brightness of the sky. I'll do a white balance experiment, next time.

The exposure compensation was at +0.3 and that would probably have been okay, but I made a mistake. I was using the screen to view the shots after I had taken them, and I think I may have over-compensated for the effect of the bright sun shining on the screen. Next time, I'll trust the little line thingy that matches up when the shutter speed and the aperture are in balance! What made me think I was cleverer than a computer?

This first photo was taken with an aperture of F8. Apparently, this is very low for landscape photography. A greater depth of field is achieved with a smaller aperture, or a higher F number. But, I wanted to experiment and see what a lower aperture would do to the focus of the foreground, particularly to the grass and the tree.

The shutter speed was 1/1600 sec.

This second photo was taken at F18 with a shutter speed of 1/160 sec. One thing I noticed with the lower aperture is that the darker forms in the picture were underexposed. In order to see details in the shadows, the lights had to be overexposed. These extremes weren't so exaggerated, when I used a higher F number.

I didn't notice a lot of difference between the sharpness of the details throughout the pictures, but this could have something to do with the lens that I was using. So far, I have stuck with the same lens - just the standard 18mm-55mm zoom lens that came with the camera kit. Maybe, a wide-angled lens would have given a different effect?

This is the last photo, again, with a blue sky filter added. This compensated for the different adjustments necessary to correctly expose the bright sky and the darker forms. I tweaked this on the iPad, but the camera itself has a great range of filters so I'll work out how to apply them before our next outing.

This picture was taken with an aperture of F18 and a shutter speed of 1/125 sec.

Now, this photo was taken with an aperture of F4, which is normally used for portraits and close-ups, and a shutter speed of 1/4000 sec. It's interesting how the fast speed of the shutter has minimised the rays of the sun, reducing it to a small, bright circle of light. Later in my photography book, it teaches how to avoid glare in landscape photography. I'll share more of this when I read how it all works.

This photo is actually the earlier picture, taken with the smaller aperture (higher F stop). It now has had a pink filter added for effect.

Here's a comparison of two photos taken in different modes, which allow for different levels of control by the photographer.

This first photo was taken in manual mode, with an aperture of F11 and a shutter speed of 1/400. The focal length was 50mm.

This second shot was taken in landscape mode, which has a filter automatically added to deepen the colours. The camera chose an aperture of 11, too - I got it right! It upped the ISO from 200 to 280, and so, the shutter speed was adjusted to a slightly quicker 1/500 sec. In landscape mode, the white balance is set to automatic. The focal length here was slightly longer - 55mm.

I think the colours of landscape mode have improved the picture, making it appear more as it appeared in real life, but the clouds have now lost their hue. They have been reduced to plain blue and white, and they appear overexposed.

This is the first shot, again, which I took using manual mode. This time, it has a blue sky filter added, from the iPad - the sort of filter that landscape mode adds on the camera. I think it's an improvement on both the manual and landscape modes so, next time, I'll take these type of photos manually, with the blue sky filter set on the camera.

Next time, I'll try adding the camera's own filters and I'll experiment with the white balance. I might, also, keep comparing my shots to the same photos taken with the automatic modes to see whether I'm making sensible choices and, also, to see what flexibility I have to improve the shots when I take over the controls.

Happy shooting!!


Victor S E Moubarak said...

You really are very methodical and logical. And you have a lot of patience in writing down all the details of 115 photos.

I like the bit where you say you thought you're cleverer than a computer.

My computer beat me at chess once. Mind you, it was no match for me at punching and kicking!

God bless.

Sue Elvis said...


I guess you will learn a lot by keeping records. I can't say I understood much of your post but I did enjoy looking at the photos!

God bless.

Vicky said...

Haha! It's really humiliating to be beaten by a machine, isn't it? Actually, the best way to play the computer is to choose the two player option and play the opponent, as well. Then, if you start to lose, you can swap players without getting clouted for it. I win a lot when I play like this.

God bless, Victor:-)

Vicky said...

Is there still a bit of the economist in me, do you think, Sue? Or is it the scientist that brings out this methodical learning? I expect you didn't know about the BSc!

God bless, Sue:-)

harvestingjoy said...

Vicky, I'm sure all those details are transferred onto the computer with your photos. (My camera does it.) I can't remember where you will find them but if you go searching, I'm sure you will find them.

Chareen said...

Hi Vicky

You can download Picasa for free and it will give you all those settings in the info of your photo's on your pc.

did your camera come with some software ?

If you have an apple computer it comes with picture editing software that will give you all your photo info when you use it.

Are you using a Microsoft pc or Apple Mac ?


PS I will be back to read your post in more detail. :)

Loved the picture comparisons.

Vicky said...

Thank you, Missy:-) I did actually wonder if the camera software did that but I've been too lazy to install it:-/ Maybe, that can be my goal for tomorrow:-D

Gosh, I am such a dummy! I've been sitting here, patting myself on the back for my brilliant organisation skills, when I could have had it all done for me. Now that I think about it, writing things down manually does seem a bit old -fashioned!

God bless, Missy:-)

Vicky said...

Thank you, Chareen:-)

I've actually downloaded Picasa on the computer and I have the Picasa app on the iPad, but I haven't actually used it. As you can probably tell, I'm not very technologically savvy - but, I am very good at writing lists;-)

I was just telling Missy that I've been too lazy to install the camera software, yet, but I think I will do it, tomorrow. I've got a PC but one of my girls has a Mac so it might be worth installing it on both to see which is better. Up till now, I've transfered my favourite photos to the iPad so that I can edit them there. Hmm...I'm wondering how the software will compare to the apps.

Thank you for the encouragement, Chareen. I hope the post makes some sense, when you come back to it:-D

God bless, Chareen:-)