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Digital Photography BasicsAs a designer and occasional photographer, I found it helpful to carry around a little "cheat sheet" with these items when out in the field shooting. This reference is useful for amateurs and the occasional photographer wanting to learn more.

Many of these are applicable to SLR cameras and video camera settings as well

Resolution (for digital and video cameras)

  • Remember, you can't "add" resolution back into a photo once it's taken. However you can always decrease a photos resolution through a photo manipulation program such as Photoshop. The majority of digital cameras allow you to change this setting.
  • Fine, or High resolution - great for later printing or enlarging photo.
  • Low resolution - great for emailing or posting on the web.

F-Stop - Aperture (f-stop f/22 – f/1.4)

  • F/22 = aperture is more closed, giving a large depth of field 4ft -infinity - great for wide open landscape shots
  • F/16 = 5 - 18 ft in focus
  • F/8 = 6 - 11 ft
  • F/4 = 7-9 ft
  • F/1.4 = aperture more open, keeping the depth of field shallow and limited to what is nearby and blurring the background. Great for portrait photography.

Shutter Speed

  • Usually ranges from 1/8 second to 1/2000 of a second (most common default setting)
  • Leaving the shutter open for longer is excellent for interesting night shots.
  • Be sure to use a tripod for slow shutter speeds.
  • 1/8 (moving objects blurred) second will make a runner blurred, lights blurred or running water look soft.
  • 1/2000 (keeps moving objects sharp) of a second will stop a runner or running water.

ISO – Film speed (100-1000 speed)

  • 100 is for bright light, sharp and clear
  • 1000 is for dark or low light, grainy - There is also a filter you can use in PhotoShop to achieve this effect. (add noise)