Manual Camera Basics | Stephen Hicks | Skillshare

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Manual Camera Basics

teacher avatar Stephen Hicks, Photographer

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

7 Lessons (40m)
    • 1. 1: Intro

    • 2. 2: Camera Overview

    • 3. 3: Aperture

    • 4. 4: Shutter Speed

    • 5. 5: ISO

    • 6. 6: Determine Your Settings

    • 7. 7: Project Demonstration & Assignment

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About This Class

This is a must see class for ALL new photographers, hobbyists, and anyone who wants to do photography without using the Auto Mode as a crutch.

Join Stephen Hicks, the Lead Photographer at Studio Jay, as he goes over the basics of using a camera on full manual mode.

In this class you'll learn the basics of setting and adjusting a camera on fully manual settings.

You'll learn:
•Shutter Speed
•Effects and uses of all settings
•How to determine your own settings based on your current lighting conditions

Meet Your Teacher

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Stephen Hicks



Hello! I'm Stephen Hicks.

I’m a photographer in Southern California. I’ve been working in photography since 2010 (and practicing since 2005). Currently I work as the lead photographer for a marine hardware company and continue to do work with portraits, product photography, and landscapes.

Photography isn’t just a job for me, it’s a passion. A passion that I’d love nothing more than to share with you!

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1. 1: Intro: Hi. My name is Stephen Hicks. Thanks for checking out my course on digital manual camera basics. Over the course of this course, we are gonna work on putting your camera in the manual setting. By the time we're done, you'll be able to create an image like this without any kind of digital editing software. Canoe this straight out of the camera software needs. It's gonna be great. Um, Now it is worth saying before we start that you will need a digital camera with a full manual mode and a lens that can zoom. That last part might have seemed a little obvious, but there are actually lenses that don't zoom. The one that you're watching me through right now is one of them. So when you're ready, uh, go ahead and let's get started. 2. 2: Camera Overview: So the first thing I wanted to go over with you is just the camera in general. Uh, so this is a basic DSLR camera. DSLR stands for digital single lens reflex, which basically means that it's not just a point and shoot. There's actually mirror inside that moves up from down on all that kind of fun stuff. So the way that images are actually made in a camera, it's kind of Ah, three part process. That's maybe a little over simplified. But, um, I think that'll do, uh, do just Welford out so late travels through the lens and onto the sensor of the camera. But it actually goes through an opening called the Aperture, which you can set and customize. And then it goes and it hits a shutter, which opens and closes to let the light actually through. You can also customize and change how quickly or slowly that shutter opens and closes to let the light through, and then it hits the sensor in the back of the camera that records the light and ultimately creates the image. You can also customize that by changing how sensitivities to light, we're gonna get through all of that, um, in the following videos. But one kind of overarching thing in photography to keep in mind is that it's all about give and take. So a pretty basic example is that you can give away your money and get a better lens for your camera. You can giveaway light and get depth of field. You can give away light, get motion in the photos you can give away just so much So it really is just a big give and take kind of operation here with photography. And just keep that in mind throughout the video brought this, uh, this course you can't just get without giving a little bit. Now, what you give might not necessarily be something that you wanted to keep anyway, like in the next video, we're going to get into the aperture. So if you like a shallow depth of field, if you don't understand that term, it's totally OK. But if you don't like that, then you can give that away. You can get more light, and then it's your perfect photo. So there are always ways toe kind of get around things to learn on, basically adapt. So just kind of keep that whole give and take mentality. Um, just kind of, like, carry that with you throughout the lesson, and I guarantee that it will make everything a lot more fun. 3. 3: Aperture: So now I want to talk. Aperture. This is the first part of camera that light actually passes through. You can see it if a ah zoom in. It's actually this little part right here. Basically, you know where the light goes. So fight, I assume, and you can see it kind of change. It's not really changing. It's just changing based on the on the lens. Amateur doesn't usually change once you've said it, but on certain lenses it it can. If you set it too low and then you zoom in, it can actually change the aptitude, but that's not what we're going for right now. Aperture is the opening, the first opening that light passes through, and you can control the opening by changing its size. Changing the size of the aperture does a couple things to the image. First, if you make it wider, it lets in more light. So then your image obviously gets brighter because there's more light. However, making it wider also decreases Your depth of field. Depth of field is basically the area of a photo that's in focus. So one of the really common ones to see that people play with is a photo of offense where you know you're defense kind of goes along and then you're just alongside it, photograph it and then there's just a sliver of it that's actually in focus and sharp and everything else before and after that part, I get really blurry. Um, there is a little activity that I wanna try with you with with this class or with this lesson. So you will need your camera, any lens that you want. And if you want, um a ah, tripod, go for it. You can also use ah, steady surface if you feel like you need it. But before we get into that just little example here, this is a shallow depth of field image. You can see that only a little bit of the images in focus, and then everything else is just blurry and it gets blurrier. The further back you go here is basically the same image, but with a high depth of field, so you can see that a lot more is in focus here than in the last one. All right, so on your camera there is a mode that is basically auto, So we're starting off easy but it gives you manual control over the aperture, and then the camera will compensate for that with other settings. So go ahead and flip your camera to the A V mode. A V stands for aperture priority. Now there are so many different makes and models of cameras that I'm not gonna be able to tell you exactly how to set your particular aperture. You might need to consult your owner's manual, but for something like the camera that I'm holding here, there's a little button on the back that says a V so you know there's a correlation. So if you hold that down and you spend the dial right next to the shutter button, you should notice a little change happening if you look on your LCP monitor. Aperture is the number that's denoted by F, which is why it's also called the F stop. And if you change it, you're stopping up or stopping down. That's getting into some jargon now, so that's just a little bonus knowledge for you. So the smaller you make that number like F four. That actually is making the depth of field smaller, but it's also making the image brighter and it's opening up the aperture. So on aperture of F four is gonna be a lot wider oven aperture, letting more light a shallower depth of field. Where is something like F 16 F 22? That's gonna be a very small aperture, and that's gonna give you less light. But a wider depth of field, wider depth of field can come in handy when you are photographing like, ah, family or something where you have like kids in front grown ups in the back. So you know there's a range that you want a photograph it. If you're photographing just something like a lens or phone or something like that, then you know you can get away with a shallow depth of field. I personally like a shallow depth of field. I think that it focuses more on the subject in the background. Kind of gets flirt, so it's just kind of that nice. You focus. So go ahead and play with this mode. Um, said it to as low as you can go some. It's gonna vary based on your lens. I have some lenses that go down to F 1.41 point two Um and those air extremely wide open apertures so lets in a lot of light. And the depth of field is very, very small. But most zoom lenses uh, don't go that low. When you're zoomed all the way out, you might get a depth of field that's closer to 45.6. Something like that. Um And then if you zoom in, you might notice that the lowest step the field, you can go for the lowest aperture you could go actually increases. So maybe you have f four when you're zoomed all the way out. But when you zoom in, you won't go lower than 5.6. So right now, I encourage you to play around with this mode. Um, go ahead and post to your project in this class. Ah, photo that is, that has a hide up the field and then one that has a low depth of field and that should get you close. Ah, little bit more comfortable setting the depth of field and setting that aptitude yourself Now a little bit of warning because this is mostly a men are mostly in auto mode. If you go to F 22 for instance, where it's not living in a lot of light that will, um, compensate in other ways. And one way it might compensate is by slowing down your shutter speed, which will get into next. But basically, for this one, you might notice that, uh, everything is a little blurry or a little shaky because it's actually slowed down that shutter speed enough to where you're getting motion blur just from holding the camera. So the next lesson we're going to go over exactly why that happens and how you can control it. 4. 4: Shutter Speed: So now let's actually get into the shutter speed so you can control how quickly or slowly the shutter opens and closes. Toe let light in. So if you think about that with the you know, thinking about the aperture, the wider was more light. It let in and with the shutter speed, same kind of principle, but it doesn't open wide unnecessarily. It opens long. So the longer you let that open, the brighter your images, because the more light that it's letting it the reverse is also true. So you could let that shudder go very, very quickly and open on Lee for just a tiny little fraction of a second. Literally. Most shutters are fractions of a second, and that'll let in a lot less light. So here's the trade off. When you have a long shutter speed, you're letting in a lot of light, but you're sacrificing, um, speed. So you actually pick up motion. If you see a picture. Actually, let me just throwing up. Here's a picture that was taken with a long shutter speed. It was set on a tripod, so everything that's not moving is perfectly stationary. But you see that moving object is blurry. So here is on image of a fast cheddar speed. Everything looks stationary and still, regardless of the fact that the subject is moving. So when you have a very small shut like a very fast shutter speed, you don't see the movement and you don't get a lot of life. That could be really nice for when things are moving fast and you're trying to get detail. Or if you're trying to get those jump shots or anything like that, However, there are times where you might be photographing at night, where you don't have a lot of light toe work with, so you have to slow that shutter speed down. Now. The rule of thumb in photography is if your shutter speed is slower than 1/60 of a second, it's too slow to handhold. Um, now maybe there's a little bit of wiggle room. If you are, you have a very, very steady hand. Um, it's kind of stuff like that. But ultimately, if it's going slower than 1/60 of a second, even if it's at 1/50 of a second, it's gonna be too slow. So shutter speeds, like I said, are in fractions of a second, and they're usually denoted by fractions on your little LCD screen. So if you look there right now, if you set your camera to manual and you look at your LCD screen, you should see F. And then whatever the last apple tree you programmed in there is. And then you should see a fraction maybe 1 4/1000 of a 2nd 1 100 of a second. Anything like that. If your shutter speed is very, very slow, it'll actually be denoted by quotation marks after the number. So if you have your shutter speed set to open, stay open for one full second and then close. You'll see a one with quotation marks. The shutter is almost universal on how to adjust it, so you probably don't need your manual. But if this doesn't work for you than meets your manual, and that's a little the same wheel that we used to adjust the aperture last time without pressing any buttons, you can spend this and you should see that shutter speed start to change. You can go faster, go slower. Basically, however you want. So for the exercise on this lesson, we're going to switch your camera to the TV mode that actually stands for, uh, shutter speed Priority. Technically, the T is for time, so kind of a time priority. But regardless, um, we're going to go to the TV mode. This will let you set your shutter speed manually and have everything else compensate. So you probably will need a tripod because we're gonna or a steady surface, actually, because you can study your camera on a table like this, hold it down, steady and take your shop. So I want to see one of something moving, even if it's just waving your hand in front of the camera. I hope you can see that even if it's just like waving your hand in front of the camera. I want to see that captured with a high shutter speed and a low shutter speed. So that's go ahead and scroll your camera down to maybe 1/20 of a second. That's pretty slow. I know it sounds really fast because, you know, we count in seconds. It's a second isn't that long, But to a camera, a second is forever. So go ahead, scroll down to 1/20 of a second or even slower. Photograph that moving object, then go ahead, Speed. That shut her up. Maybe 21 1/100 of a second. And take that shot. You should see the same thing, but it will be stopped now because your camera is compensating in other ways. It's gonna compensate with the aperture and the I s. So we're going to get into the I s so in the next lesson. But that's your warning. So if you see your depth of field changing, you can see that the camera is compensating for your settings for the time, with the aperture and in depth of field. And that will get you more used to changing the shutter speed manually by yourself. So go ahead and give that a shot. Play with it. And then when you're ready, move on to the next and final lesson about the well not find lesson in the episode in the class. But the final I was our final lesson about these three settings 5. 5: ISO: So let's talk sensor. And by sensor, I mean the I s o camera. Now, like we've been talking about, everything in photography has a give and take. The given take for the I s O is one that's probably more important than any of the others And photography The given take four eso is the image quality itself. So what you get with I s O is a range of numbers between usually 100 then the top number can very quite a bit between cameras between 1600 2,212,000 those numbers kind of very wildly. But the important thing that you need to know is the lower the number, the higher quality of the image. So I try to never put my eye eso above 100 if I can help it because 100 will give you the highest quality image. Now let me show you what I mean. Here. This is an image that was taken at 100. I s O. You can see that it is clean. There's nothing crazy about it. Um, and there's no artifact ing of any kind. There's no grain, cause it's really grained that you're going to see grain, which a lot of people mistake for pick civilization. So now here is an image taken at, uh, 4000 eso. It's the exact same image. I compensated with shutter speed, so that would be exactly the same brightness. But now you can see that it is green near, um, and just kind of a lot lower quality. If you're viewing this on a mobile device, you might not be able to pick up as much as if you view it on a larger screen. Ah, but that's what you're going to see. Same thing on your camera. If you shoot with a high I s O and you take a picture. It might look really nice and clean on your little LCD monitor, but once you loaded onto a computer, you might start to notice that grain that J peg artifact ing. Um, obviously, the images that I showed you were mostly black and white. They were actually color pictures. But just of things that we're all in shades of black, white, grey and all that kind of stuff. If you're shooting color on things that actually have color, you might even notice the colors start to get a little bit muddled or muted. And just it won't look quite a nice However lower that I s o goes, the darker the image will be. So if your images dark, that means you either have to slow down your shutter speed or open your aperture. You compensate, Get more late in there. Now there is arranged. There is Ah, I call it a safety range. That's not a technical term. That's just a Steve term. So I typically get good results. Um, anywhere between s 0 104 100 that's my That's my safety range. And different cameras handle I s o a lot differently. Uh, this camera is, you know, Ah, Canon rebel. So it's on the lower end. It's not really a professional camera. It's a consumer level, and it is pretty bad with handling higher. I s O photography and videography too, because you actually have to set your i s over that a za little fun fact this video is taken at I s 0 500 because I'm indoors and there's relatively no natural light is actually let's see if I could get a reflection not. They're too big. I have two big lights that are illuminating here right now. So it really depends on your camera and the camera that's recording this video. Is it Canon five D? And that's actually pretty good at higher eso photography and videography. So I feel comfortable that you know, I s 0 500 So really play around with your particular make and model of camera to see where you think that your eye eso is good. Now you set your eye, and so and this one convey vary a lot between cameras. I know that there are some with just touch screens that have ah, you know, it's pretty easy. You just tap the i s so and then you tap the eyes so that you want. But, uh, if your camera doesn't have a touch screen or anything like that, like this can rebel. There's a little I s o button. You just tap that press that sorry. And then you can go ahead and select Shariah. So from the display on the back screen. So there's the given take. And I guess it was really easy toe. Understand? You know, you you can get more light, but you're giving away image quality now that's ultimately up to you. And there is no eso priority mode or anything like that. So I'm gonna give you some settings for indoor photography. That should work. Um, but you might have better luck with this going outside, at least for the the lower I s O photography. So set your eyes. So for I s 0 100 so that's dark, but high quality. And then you can set your shutter speed, too. Probably about one anywhere between 1/60 of a second and 1 1/100 of a second. So that's slower but still handhold herbal. Or you can set your camera on a surface and go ahead and slow that down. For your aperture, I would recommend F four or even lower you open it up, get that light in there and then take a shot. You'll be able to see that it's nice, high quality photo without any kind of grain. J peg artifact ing. Ah, pixel ization. It's not really pick civilization. Just people think of this and ah, that will be a nice looking image. Then go ahead and crank that I eso up high trying for 4000. If your camera supports that, if it doesn't just go as high as you can. Uh, you can speed your shutter speed up to 1 4000 of a second because that's a really high I s O. So it's making that sensor extremely sensitive to light. So then you can kind of speed that up and really get those stop motion shots almost in a house. Um, you can give your aperture at f four. If your images too dark at those settings, go ahead and slow your shutter speed down your We, uh you've got way more shutter speed than you need to hand. Hold a camera so you could slow it down by a factor of 10. You know, go down toe. You know, 1 4/100 of a second and it'll still be fine. Uh, I didn't say it already. You can keep your aperture it at four and take a shop. You'll be able to see that this one is a lot green year. It's not quite a smooth looking as the as the one at the low rise, so and go ahead and post those photos and your class project so we can take a look. I guarantee that it will be really fun to see. You know the difference between these things, and that's the last setting that you need. You can now technically set your camera manually. The only thing is that you need to, ah, know when to use what settings, and that's what we're going to get into next for, you know, setting for different lighting conditions. 6. 6: Determine Your Settings: Now we're onto the light meter. This is the part of your camera where it will actually tell you how much light it thinks that you need for a particular photo. Now this on cameras like this is in two places. The first you'll see it on the LCD screen. The second is through the actual viewfinder itself, and it'll only show itself through the viewfinder when you press the shutter button halfway down. This is what you're looking for. This is the actual little scale. Sometimes the numbers air different, but ultimately it's a scale with zero right in the middle. It's also gonna have some kind of indicator, whether it's a little pointer a block, adopt whatever something along that scale that tells it that tells you if you're getting too much light, too little light. Basically, the negative numbers mean that it's very dark. The positive numbers mean that it's very bright. The camera wants you to balance it right at zero. The camera is not that smart, so it tries to put everything to ah, middle ground. So if you're trying to photograph something black, it's It doesn't know that that's what color it should be. it Things black equals shadow, so it wants you to make that brighter, and it'll read as dark. So if you have a well exposed image of black kittens on a dark gray rug, it's gonna read as very dark, even though it might already be perfectly exposed. So the light meter on your camera is a tool, not a rule. Now you know how to adjust your settings. You can do the aperture, the shutter speed and the I s o manually by yourself. So take your camera. I prefer to use the one through the View finder because, um, somehow there's a little bit of a discrepancy. And that might just be with cameras that I've used. But the most accurate one is through the view finder. So when you look through the viewfinder and you press the shutter button halfway down, you can see that little scale light up. Now you can adjust your settings while looking at it so you can see the little indicator move on scale while you change. So if it reads is dark, you slow your shutter speed down. You should be able to watch that little dot travel up into the positives actually think my video might be river so up into the positives. Now, the little exercise I have for this video is nice and simple. Just use manual settings, take a good shot. And if you can let me know what settings you used for that picture and what environment you were in, now it's gonna change wildly from, you know, going inside to going outside. And if you're scale goes from negative to positive, too, and it set like you see the little indicator on the positive, too, that doesn't necessarily mean that it's on Lee that far. Boats, uh, the zero mark the right at the center, the equilibrium, whatever you want to call it, that's just a high as your scale goes. So it might say that it's here, but it might be all the way over here. So if you're adjusting your settings and you don't see it moving, either you're adjusting your settings in the wrong way. Like let's say you see that indicator of positive too. Your eyes so is at 100 you set your I S 0 to 1000. You're just making it brighter, and it's already brighter. So you won't see that move, or it's so far off the scale that you are going in the right direction. Let's say it's at positive two. And then you're increasing your shutter speed to make it faster, less light in. So it dims the image and you don't see it moving yet. Just keep going. Go until it hits that center spot now because I did say that it was a tool, not a rule. Look at your image after you take it. Get it balanced right in the center. Take the image and look at it. That's one of the advantages that we have with visual cameras over film is that you can see that thing immediately. When you're dealing with film and you take a shot, you can't see it until you go back to process the film, print out the image and then you can see it. So with this, just go ahead, take your shot. Look at the image. Doesn't need to be brighter. Does need to be dimmer. Go ahead now, just in the actual video here, I'm wearing a you know, white or a light shirt, so I'm looking at the light meter as I sit down and I can see as soon as I walk into the frame, it tells me that the image just got brighter. It didn't something like just from a death. So keep that in the back, your mind as you're adjusting your settings and playing with the different tools and techniques that you've used. And this is the second to last lesson, which means the next one I'm gonna get into our project overview. We're going to make a zoom burst image. 7. 7: Project Demonstration & Assignment: all right now, everything that you need to know for setting your camera manually, you know, like I've said a couple of times. The big project with this class is that zoom burst image. You have all the technique you need to do this. You have all the knowledge to do it. And I'm gonna give you just the last little bit of pointer for this project. You will need your camera, you will need a zoom lens and you will need a tripod or, at the very least, a steady surface. It recommended tripod because depending on your camera and your lens, the study surface might not be, uh, good with it. Because what we're actually going to do is while it's taking the image, we're going to zoom in and out. And I know it's a little bit difficult to see, especially if you're using a tinier screen to view this. But lens hood for this lens is actually extending past the bottom of the camera. So as I moved the lens in and out, it actually very subtly moves the whole camera up and down. And if you're using a tripod, it's gonna be balanced right there so you don't have to worry about the actual camera moving up or down or anything like that. Now I pre recorded because I use the that camera, the one that is also recording these videos for my photography work. So I pre recorded a little, um, a demonstration of exactly how to do this. So I'm gonna cut to that, show you how to do it, and then you will be good to go. So, like I said, I need your camera, zoom lens and tripod. So my current settings and I do have a little bit more light than would be just regularly in the house. You know, it's typical because I've got the little things going on here, but my current settings are one second shutter speed. So it's gonna open. Take a picture one second and then close F 14 and on eso of 320. So what you're gonna do is have your stationary object that you're gonna photograph, zoom into it, get it on focus, you do one second, wait about half a second and then zoom back out. So and I like this here stuff one more. So here is managed damage you got the microphone mostly on focus, and then it just kind of you can see the zoom out just happening in the actual image. You can see that motion. That only happens when you zoom into the object and you're actually zooming out while it's taking the picture. And you need a slow shutter speed. You can use a slower shutter speed in one second. You could do two seconds. How Relying What? But you don't want it to stop zooming out before the images done taking, because then you have your initial object pretty crest, some zoom, and then that zoomed out part also in focus. Let me actually take a picture of that so that you can see what that looks like slowed its down to seconds. So I do that. It has changed my aptitudes out 20. And here we go one to all right. That's also kind of a trippy effect, So that might also be fun reviews, but for the actual zoom burst effect, you want to continuously zoom out and not finished before the cameras bench taking the image. That's all there is to it. All right, so that wasn't too bad. You know it's It involves a little bit more timing and manual control than normal photography work does. But it does give you the ability to do something really cool with your image that most people would do with a computer. And you can do straight out of the camera. Now there are a couple other fun things that you can do with a camera. You can make things look transparent with a slow shutter speed. Um, but we'll get into that with, uh, I think another class. So until then, feel free. I would love to see your project posted in the class. You can feel free to get in touch with me. Um, you can go find me at www dot j a. Y dash studios dot com. It's J that studios dot com just have to spell it out so you don't type in the letter J. Um, I would love to hear from you. I'd love to see your work. I'd love to see what you can accomplish after this after this course, so have fun with your new skills. Have fun with your camera, and that is the most important part of photography is just have fun with it.