Site Intro

This site is designed to teach the most basic elements of DSLR photography in the most simple way possible with examples to illustrate. The goal of the site is so that photographers new to DSLR photography from either proper point-and-shoot cameras or cell phone cameras are able to begin to maximize what DSLRs are capable of beyond their full-auto and pre-program modes (which are not covered here).

I am a Canon shooter, but you should choose whatever DSLR you use based on your personal preference. I will reference Canon and Nikon specifically as they are the most widely used, but everything here is applicable to every DSLR on the market today (as well as advanced point-and-shoots and mirrorless cameras that allow these adjustments). Please note! As this is not a "How to Use [X] Camera" site, I cannot possibly cover how to change each of the functions below on your particular camera. This site is best used in conjunction with your instruction manual, so that you can see how to make the adjustments below on your own camera.

Please see the labels right above this text to skip to various aspects of DSLR photography such as ISO, Aperture Priority, Etc. I have lettered these labels in the order that I believe they should be covered (although F. and G. could be switched) - so it's best to start with A. and go down the line.

Thanks for reading!


Shutter Priority Mode (Tv, S)

What you control:
1. How fast the shutter fires
2. Making the image lighter or darker

What is the range?
Usually from B (bulb - as long as the shutter button is held down the shutter stays open) through either 1/4000 or a second or 1/8000 of a second, depending on the camera. The smaller the number, the quicker the shutter speed

Shutter Priority Mode ('Tv' on Canon, 'S' on Nikon) allows you to prioritize your preferred shutter speed depending on what you're trying to capture. Faster shutter speeds can freeze action, and slower shutter speeds can show action. Below is an example of a fast shutter speed (1/200th of a second) and of a slow shutter speed (26 seconds). Even though I'm juggling four juggling balls quickly, a 1/200th of a second shutter speed has no problem 'freezing' this action. In the photo on the right, I'm juggling three lighted juggling balls in a dark room: because of the long shutter speed, you can see 26 seconds worth of juggling in one exposure. Additionally, longer exposures allow you to photograph night scenes where freezing action isn't necessary. For other examples of what you can do with a long exposure, look here, here, here, or here.

         1/200th of a second exposure                                                                    26 second exposure

How to use Shutter Priority
- Choose your ISO
- Turn the control knob to 'Tv' or 'S' (or other, depending on your camera brand)
- Choose your shutter speed (generally this is done with your main control dial)
- The camera will then choose the correct aperture setting to match your shutter speed.
- Take the photo that you'd like to take
- Review it on your camera's LCD (zoom into the image to check focus (check your user manual to see how to do this))
- If you don't like what you see, re-adjust your shutter speed
- As with the P mode, you can change the exposure compensation to lighter or darker (the camera will NOT change your Shutter Speed when in Tv (S) mode: it will adjust your aperture)
- Note: if using flash, check your manual to see what your camera's highest flash sync is. Most cameras max out at either 1/200th or 1/250th of a second, which means that at speeds higher than this you can't use your flash

"My photos are coming out too dark!" If you're still having this problem after changing the exposure compensation, you're probably using too fast of a shutter speed for the amount of light that you have available to you. Either use a slower shutter speed or turn up your ISO to a higher number, or you can try using a flash.

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