Three Tech Tips for Blog Photos

More and more fashion blogs are being created every day and it’s no secret that one of the keys to a successful blog is to have good photographs to go along with each of your posts.  It’s also no secret that photography itself is difficult, time consuming, and, for the less tech-savvy, just downright confusing.  When your camera is buzzing and whirring away on AUTO mode it’s basically working out a combination of ISO, Aperture, and Shutter Speed to give you a proper exposure.  Here are simple explanations of those three things and how you can use them to make the photography on your blog really shine.

 

ISO

The ISO number refers to a camera’s responsiveness to light.  Here are the three most important things to remember about ISO:

  • The higher the ISO, the more responsive your camera is to light.  Shooting at a high ISO number will allow you to shoot in a dimly lit room like at a showroom or at a runway show, for example.
  • The lower the ISO, the less responsive your camera is to light.  Shooting at a low ISO number will allow you to shoot outside on a sunny day, like if you’re shooting street style, for example.
  • The higher the ISO number, the more “noise” that will result; noise will make your images appear grainy and not particularly pretty so I suggest keeping your ISO as low as possible for the demands of the situation.

Aperture

The aperture is the opening in the lens that allows light into the camera.  Here are two important things to remember about aperture:

  • Shooting at a lower aperture number (like f/1.4 or f/2) will allow you to shoot in a dimly lit room and will also give you a nice, blurry, out of focus background.  Low apertures are great for shooting jewelry and accessories or for really making your subject stand out from the background.  Shooting at a low aperture will allow a lot of light into the camera and so your shutter speeds can be faster.
  • Shooting at a higher aperture (like f/16 or f/22), will keep your entire scene in sharp focus but can only be used for shooting where you have a great deal of light, like when you’re outside shooting street style or an outfit for a post.  Shooting at a high aperture will allow less light into the camera and so your shutter speeds will be longer.

Shutter Speed

Shutter speed is the length of time the shutter stays open once you’ve pressed the shutter release button.  Here are some things to remember about shutter speed:

  • Fast shutter speeds (say 1/125th of a second to 1/4000th of a second) are great for freezing action, like to keep runway models from getting all blurry.
  • Longer shutter speeds (1/25th of a second or longer) are great when you’re shooting in a dimly lit room, like at a SoHo boutique, and you need a lot of light, but they will also cause moving objects to appear blurry.
  • Be careful when you’re hand-holding the camera as longer shutter speeds will result in camera shake and a slightly blurry image from the movement of your hand.


The most important thing to remember about all this is that the three of these different factors are up to you to decide upon, depending on the demands of the situation.  Don’t let your camera make all of your choices for you; it may have a brain, but it doesn’t have a heart and so it doesn’t know what truly goes into making a good photo.

Also, I know how confusing this stuff can be and this is an extremely brief post to cover it all.  Feel free to ask me any questions you like.

 

Photos by: Nando Alvarez Perez

 

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29 Responses

  1. Liz

    AH! I love this post! I’m okay with my camera, but I ALWAYS forget to change the aperture and end up with the out of focus background, which is cool half the time, but when I want to capture myself in front of something it sucks.

    Thanks!

    Reply
  2. Tammy Trujillo

    Great post with great tips! I’ve beeb wanting to add my own photos from an SLR rather than just my iPhone, so this is so awesome for you to share. Much appreciated.

    Reply
  3. Catherine

    Ah, this is a great post! I know a little bit about photography, but this is a great starter-guide for DSLR users. Before I took photo classes, I’d always use auto settings, but now I never switch it off manual. The photos included are helpful!

    Reply
  4. Philippa

    This is good info, but it would be nice to see some tips for and examples of good compact digital cameras for those who can’t afford SLR’s. I can’t adjust aperture or much on my digi, and I want to get a new one so it would be really useful for reccomendations :) xx

    Reply
  5. Nando

    That’s a perfect topic for another post! I know a lot of you bloggin’ gals need help choosing the right camera (god knows there are way too many options these days) and I can definitely recommend you some in your price range next week.

    Reply
  6. Sunshine With Everything

    Thanks for this. I really need to start doing more with my DSLR. I never use auto but I use the manual settings in the simplest way possible. I need to learn more over the summer and buy a new lense too.

    Reply
  7. A

    Thanks for this!! Extremely helpful! Would you maybe be willing to post a crash course on how to actually change these settings on different dslrs? Or how to take fun photos by changing different settings?

    Reply
    • Nando

      Absolutely! Hopefully I’ll be doing more of these photo related posts soon and this would be a perfect topic.

      Reply
  8. Cate Young

    this is a great article but just one correction:

    “Shooting at a high aperture will allow less light into the camera and so your shutter speeds CAN be FASTER.”

    your FOCAL LENGTH is longer.

    i don’t mean to be a pest, but with photography these three things are both the most basic and most difficult aspects of the entire ordeal. this is a really good explanation though, and i really like the annotated examples. i wish i’d thought to do that.

    Reply
    • Nando

      Thanks for the comment, Cate, but I’d like to make a few corrections to it, by way of an example. Say you’re shooting a jewelry case at a dimly lit boutique (I use this example because it actually happened to me). You’re shooting the jewelry at f/2.0, with a shutter speed of 1/125th of a second; this is slightly problematic because at such a low f-stop and with the subject so close your depth of field is very narrow and you can only get one piece of jewelry in focus at a time when you really want to get the whole case in focus. In order to get the proper depth of field you close down your aperture by 3 f-stops, to a higher aperture number of f/8. Now you have the proper depth of field, but you’ve also cut three full stops of light and you will need to make your shutter speed longer (i.e. slower) by three stops to compensate. Three stops slower on your shutter speed will cause you to go from 1/125th of a second all the way down to 1/15th of a second, which is a significantly slower shutter speed and will probably lead to some shake from your hand; thus, by closing your aperture down (i.e. smaller hole for light to enter, but a higher number f-stop) and making your shutter speed longer you’ve achieved the same EV (exposure value) as you did at f/2.0 and 1/125th of a second.

      Changing these values will have no effect on your “focal length.” Focal length is a measurement of the distance between the front glass element of the lens and the point at which the light rays converge within the lens and re-orient themselves into a correctly oriented image. Therefore, on a 35mm lens the distance between the front element of the lens and the point at which the light converges and turns right-side-up is 35mm inside the lens, on a 70mm lens this distance is 70mm, and so on and so forth.

      What you may have been referring to is “depth of field,” or the range of the image on the z-axis that is in focus, which will indeed be much greater at a higher f-stop, as my photos illustrate.

      Reply
  9. Tali

    Thanks for the info! I begin seriously thinking about taking a photography course.. I begin to feel I lack info while I have the need) Some of my questions are answered in this article.

    Reply
  10. Style Island

    I am really working on trying to make my pictures better— can we start a discussion, or can someone speak to the best cameras that aren’t over $1000, but maybe in the 4/500 $ range….
    also– what if you don’t have a boyfriend photographer who can follow you around all day?
    what can you do- is it best to buy a tripod?

    and any good links or references for good 1 time photography classes?
    thanks in advance for feedback!

    Reply
    • Nando

      I can definitely give you plenty of suggestions as to what cameras you can find in that price range, it’s a field that’s been growing a ton in the past few years and the cameras are really excellent. I was probably going to make it a post next week, but if you’re really in a rush to get a new camera I can send you an email with some good options.

      Reply
  11. Tea

    Thank you so much for explaining the technical jargon so simply – i never knew what iso meant!

    Reply
  12. roanjean

    Despite having a camera of my own and read articles about the tech side of photography such as this, I still can’t seem to properly apply what I’ve learned! Anyway, great article because your examples are relateable.

    Reply
  13. Cheryl

    Thank you so much for this! I’m a novice photographer, and right now for my blog my 12 year old daughter is actually taking all my pics! She’s doing a great job….I’m struggling with post production. When I crop a pic it shows up on blogger looking like I’m in a funny mirror because it seems to “squish” the pic. I don’t have Photoshop and I’m trying to learn Gimp 2.6. Any post production tips you can offer ate much appreciated!
    Thanks!
    Cheryl

    Reply
  14. the fashion turd

    This is really well written..i was trying to explain these basics to a friend recently and now i can just send her this link! thanks chaps!

    Reply

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