Congrats! You got your first camera and you're ready to start your photography journey.

Let me guide you through all the basics that you should know in order to achieve great photos.

The top three things that are vital in understanding your camera are:




Each of these settings in your camera determines how much light you’re letting into your camera, but they all have different properties and do different things.


ISO determines the sensitivity of light to the camera, and how much light you are letting in to the sensor.

It should be switched depending on how light or dark your setting is. It should be the first thing you check when you turn your camera on! This number can range from as low as 64 all the way to 6400 or higher.


Aperture is determined by “f stops” and also determines how much light you’re letting in, as well as your 'depth of field' aka how blurry your background is going to be.

Most basic lenses have a range from F/5.6-F/16 or F/22. If you have different lenses, it can go as low as 1.4, 1.8, 2.0 etc…


This is probably the MOST important one to pay attention to. This determines the amount of time you are exposing the camera to the light! And how sharp the photo can be.

Cameras can stay open for seconds to hours!!! But you want the shutter to be fast so your photos are tack sharp.

Let's dive into each one in more detail...

ISO in more detail

When to use a Low ISO

Outdoors: Use low ISO 100-200 during bright daylight, 400 for dark cloudy days or when it is starting to get dark

When to use High ISO

Use High ISO Indoors or Outside Past Sunset: 800-1600


The higher the iso:

The more light you are letting in to the camera.

So that's why, if it's already bright,

you use a lower ISO


The higher the ISO, the more

you risk letting grain and noise into your image

An increase in the ISO makes the sensor absorb light FASTER. The higher the ISO (more sensitive) the harder the image sensor has to work to make a good image, which thereby produces more digital noise.


You know when you see photographers photos of people or things and the background is really blurry? That’s because it has a high depth of field, and they used a small “f stop"

When to use a low aperture:

Use a low f stop when you are shooting portraits or an object and want a blurry background.

If you are using a kit lens, the lowest aperture will be f5.6. But most prime lenses, like a 50mm or 85mm can have an aperture as low as f1.2-1.8

Avoid going that low. Having it that low can make you miss focus, because the focus point is so small

So, in short,

blurry background=


When to Use a Low Aperture:

Use a HIGH f stop when you are shooting landscapes, stars and large  groups.

If you are using a kit lens, the highest aperture can be up to f/16

For large group portraits, use f/4-f/8

Landscapes, f/5.6-f/16

If you buy a nicer lens, like a 50 or 35 mm,

you can go as high as f/22

You only want to go that high if you absolutely need to.

Shutter Speed

Shutter speed is numbered by 1/2nd 1/180th of a second…. 1/8000th of a second…

Shutter speed is numbered by 1/2nd 1/180th of a second…. 1/8000th of a second…

NEVER go under 1/125th shutter speed if you want sharp photos.

To determine your best shutter speed, look at the light meter inside your camera and make sure the line is in the middle or near. You can adjust as needed

In Conclusion....

Those are the 3 most important camera properties that you should know! I hope this helps. There are many other things that help create a good photo such as lighting, posing, etc....

If you'd like to learn more in depth I offer mentor sessions and lessons on photography 101! Click the button below to learn more and book a session with me.