Life & Style
Three Aspects Of Photography
By Ryan J. Beard
Sep 26, 2012 - 5:48:34 PM

LOS ANGELES—For the average photographer, most cameras’ auto settings do an adequate job of capturing the moment. However, if you are interested in improving your photography skills above those of your camera’s auto settings, it is essential to understand three fundamental aspects of photography: lighting, aperture, and shutter speed.


When framing your subject, understand where the lighting is coming from and how this will affect the composition of your photo. One of the most difficult lightings to shoot with is backlighting. Try to avoid backlit subjects, as you will lose detail, and your subject will become silhouetted. If photographing outside, a photographer's dream is a cloudy day. The sun is a very harsh light source; it can wash out certain details of the clouds, and its direct lighting leads to shadows where detail is lost. For example, when shooting a portrait within the direct sunlight, half of the subject's face may be shrouded in shadow. It is best to shoot on a cloudy or overcast day. The clouds distribute the sun’s light, much like a lampshade distributes the light from the light bulb; shadows are lost, more detail is gained, and it is easier to take great pictures. Other great times to take photos are at sunrise and sunset. Again, the sun's light is less harsh and more evenly distributed.


Shallow Depth of Field
Aperture is a fundamental aspect of photography that is necessary to understand in order to take beautiful photos. Aperture is the hole within the camera’s lens that lets light into the camera’s shutter. The aperture range varies between lenses. An aperture of f/3.5 would be a very large aperture or opening within the lens, while an aperture of f/22 would be a very small aperture or opening within the lens. The aperture of the lens affects the photo’s depth of field. A photo’s depth of field is the distance between the photo’s nearest and furthest points that appear in focus. A large aperture (f/2 for example) will yield a shallow depth of field. For example, within a portrait the subject’s nose could be in focus while the subject’s cheeks, eyes, and ears, along with the background may appear blurry and out of focus. Think of taking a bucket of paint and throwing it onto a canvas, the paint will be splattered and messy, just like the background of a photo with a large aperture will be blurred and have little detail. A small aperture (f/22 for example) will yield a broad depth of field. For example, within a portrait the subject’s nose, cheeks, eyes, and ears will appear in focus along with the background. Once again, think of taking a bucket of paint, but this time pouring it through a narrow funnel onto a canvas. The lines created from the paint will be sharp and precise, just like the image “poured” through the small aperture (funnel) of the lens will be detailed, sharp and precise.


Finally, it is crucial to understand shutter speed when composing your photos. The shutter speed is the amount of time the shutter is open to expose the film, or in this day, the digital sensor, to the light. The more light, the faster the shutter speed. Shutter speed can also contribute to the composition of the photo. For example a slow shutter speed can show motion, or make a raging river appear smooth, and tranquil.


Lighting, aperture, and shutter speed go hand in hand. When composing your photos, all three must be considered. For example, if you want a slow shutter speed when taking a picture of a waterfall to make the water appear as a veil, you must then consider the lighting and adjust your aperture accordingly. These three fundamental elements of photography are crucial, and must be considered in order to achieve the desired composition. So set your camera to the manual mode that you may have avoided till now and experiment. In doing so, you will begin to understand the relationship between lighting, aperture, and shutter speed required to take beautifully composed photos.

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