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Skip Town Travel Photography with Jess Lillico - Brushing up on the basics in Vietnam

28th June, 2011
Jenny Butler
Tuesday 28th June 2011

Jess continues this weeks Skip Town Travel Photography Guest Blog with a trip to Vietnam! During the visit Jess provides some great examples to help us brush up on the basics of using our cameras. -Jenny x

Today we’re giving a quick overview of the main camera settings that you should know. You’re probably already familiar with terms like ‘aperture’ and ‘shutter speed’, but hopefully this post will be a helpful brush-up.

These photos from a boat-ride in Vietnam illustrate several of the basic techniques that you can use creatively to take unique and professional looking photographs.

The term ‘aperture’ refers to control over how much of the photo is in focus (the ‘depth of field’) through the selection of an f-stop number. A low f-stop provides a shallow depth of field, which looks great for portraits or food photography where you want something to stand out against a blurry background. The beauty of a low f-stop is that more light is let into the camera, allowing you to shoot in near dark without the need for flash.

The two photographs below are good examples of aperture manipulation. The first image (high f-stop) is in focus all the way through to the distance, while the second image (low f-stop) focuses on the boat in the foreground, while the background being very blurry.

Next, as an example of shutter speed, notice that in the image below, the fisherman’s net is frozen in mid-air. Generally, you’ll need around 1/1000th to freeze action.

All of the images in this series were taken using a 50mm f1.4 lens on a Canon 5D MkII. This is a perfect travel lens because it is light, sharp and good in low light. Shooting a series of images with the same lens makes for a more cohesive looking collection, too.

Finally, let’s talk about ISO, which affects the light sensitivity of the camera. The higher you set the ISO, the less ambient light is required for a good exposure.  This is especially good for low light situations, like the beach scene below. The sun was going down and we didn’t have a tripod, so our solution was to increase the ISO so that we could still use a fast enough shutter speed to hand-hold the camera (this generally requires a shutter speed of at least 1/30th of a sec).

So, next time you’re in a low light situation, don’t go straight for the flash - have a go at combining a high ISO with a low aperture instead. However, be aware that a high ISO can cause ‘noise’ which shows up as fine speckles on photos.

- Jess x

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