Well known photographer:  Ashwin J who has been a photographer for many years, has written an article describing what he feels are the most important camera settings you need to know, need to get comfortable with to be a good, successful photographer.  Read through his article here and learn from one of the masters:
This article aims to help beginners understand the correlation of three important factors of digital photography. Aperture, shutter speed, and ISO settings are the three most important camera settings when it comes to exposure:

“Camera lens and aperture” captured by Nayu Kim

1. Aperture is the size of the opening of the lens through which light enters to expose the shot.

2. Shutter speed is the amount of time that light is allowed to enter through the lens for exposure.

3. ISO is the amount of sensitivity toward the light entering into the lens. The higher the ISO setting on your camera, the higher the sensitivity will be. The lower the ISO setting on your camera, the lower the sensitivity. Too much ISO sensitivity causes the photo to be grainy and washed out. Lower ISO can cause a photo to be very dark or the colors to look faded. (ISO stands for “International Organization for Standardization,”* which is an organization that standardized a system to measure the sensitivity of film rolls. This has been adapted into digital cameras without much change.)

The photographer needs to find a balance between these three factors in order to get a shot that has perfect brightness and colors. The quantity and intensity of light coupled with the amount of time that light is allowed to enter makes or break a great photograph.

“The very colorful sunset in Bratislava” captured by Miroslav Petrasko

A good analogy that helped me understand how these factors work with each other is that of coffee and milk. Think of light as milk in your morning coffee, aperture as the size of the opening in your milk jug, shutter speed as the time for which you allow milk to flow into your coffee, and ISO as the strength of the black coffee in your mug. The bigger the opening of your milk jug, the more milk flows out of it (aperture). The more time you allow milk to flow, the more milk flows out of it (shutter speed). If you couldn’t control the flow of milk and wanted your coffee darker, you’d make your concoction itself stronger (a low ISO sensitivity setting).

“Good Morning” captured by Artur Chalyj

Choose an object (or person) as a subject and start experimenting with these settings. Make sure the subject has adequate light falling on it. Once you get a feel for these settings and their resulting photographs, go ahead and try shooting the same subject in different lighting conditions. A step further would be to try capturing moving objects. Try a lower ISO and higher shutter speed as a starting point for moving shots.

“Crazy Dizzy Spin” captured by Carly Webber

Most cameras take care of these settings automatically for the user. But they also allow you to adjust these settings manually. It’s important for a beginner who is serious about getting into photography to learn the essence of these three factors and begin to experiment by changing the settings. It is recommended that you use auto focus while learning so that you can concentrate solely on mastering exposure.

About the Author:
Ashwin J (nikonl120 dot in) is an amateur photographer who currently owns a Nikon L120.


After posting this article, I was reminded in a comment to this article that was written that the term ISO does not stand for International Standards organization.  Check this out:
April 9, 2013 | By Nick CarverWhat is ISO and What Does ISO Mean?The Misconception:
What does “ISO” mean? Ask anyone seemingly “in-the-know” and they’ll tell you “ISO” is an initialism for “International Standards Organization” and thus it is pronounced “eye-ess-oh.” Sounds pretty convincing, but this is false.

Why This is Wrong:
There is no such thing as the “International Standards Organization.” Go ahead, Google it. It doesn’t exist. So then what does “ISO” stand for? Nothing. It’s not an initialism or an acronym.

Allow me to explain…

Here’s where the confusion comes from: although there isn’t an “International Standards Organization,” there is an “International Organization for Standardization.” The International Organization for Standardization is a corporation based in Geneva, Switzerland that sets all sorts of international standards for manufacturing and engineering, one of which is film sensitivity in photography. Their whole deal is getting the world on the same page with standard regulations, measurements, and certifications.

Then what is “ISO?” It’s this company’s name, that’s all. No different than “Pepsi” or “Honda.” But “ISO” obviously is not an initialism or acronym because the correct acronym (in English anyway) would be IOS. So then what does ISO mean? Well, it’s derived from the Greek root “isos,” which means “equal” – like in “isotope” and “isosceles.” And if you look at the website for the International Organization for Standardization, you’ll find an explanation on why they chose this Greek root instead of an acronym to represent their company (source:

Because ‘International Organization for Standardization’ would have different acronyms in different languages (IOS in English, OIN in French for Organisation internationale de normalisation), our founders decided to give it the short form ISO. ISO is derived from the Greek isos, meaning equal. Whatever the country, whatever the language, the short form of our name is always ISO.

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

The Truth:
So “ISO” is not an acronym. No doubt about that. It’s just a company’s logo written in all capital letters derived from the Greek root isos. And just like you wouldn’t spell out “PEPSI” every time you ordered one, you shouldn’t spell out “ISO” every time you talk about it. That’s why “ISO” is correctly pronounced “EYE-so.” No matter how many times you hear it pronounced “eye-ess-oh,” and even though everybody and their mother says it “eye-ess-oh,” it just simply isn’t correct. Doesn’t matter if a guy has been taking pictures for decades or working with ISO standards for 50 years, if he says it “eye-ess-oh,” he’s wrong.

And if you want further information about the ISO confusion, click here, here is a short video:


My Thoughts and Rants:
Alright, I’ll be honest. For awhile I was guilty of thinking ISO stood for International Standards Organization and for years I pronounced it “eye-ess-oh.” That was based partly on misinformation from an online resource (What?! You mean Yahoo Answers isn’t always correct?) and mostly from my own assumptions. After all, it made perfect sense. But that’s what happens when I assume. I make an ass out of u and me.

So I can’t really fault people for saying it “eye-ess-oh.” It’s in all capital letters so it certainly looks like an acronym. And the majority of shooters say it that way even though it’s incorrect. But hey, just goes to show you how quickly false information can become “fact.”

My only rant on this is that a couple years back I saw on Yahoo Answers that someone posted a question asking what is ISO and what does ISO stand for. Some know-nothing do-gooder happily answered with “It stands for ‘International Standards Organization.'” Seeing this error, I politely corrected the answer with the information I stated in this blog post. All was finally right in the world. But sure enough, a few days later I get a notification that someone has “improved” my answer. I go to check it out and some idiot changed it back to the wrong answer! 

Don’t get your information from some dumb yahoo on Yahoo Answers. And don’t let anyone try to correct you into saying it the wrong way. It’s “EYE-so.”

Everyone say it with me now: EYE-so!





Many of us here in the United States are in the middle of a hard arctic blast, and it just makes it seem like not a good time to go out and take photos.  It’s miserable outside, and photos can wait.  Or should they?  Some of the best photos ever taken are sometimes taken in the bitterness of cold.  I can hardly wait until January where I live and fog rolls in.  That is the best time to go out and capture some of my favorite photos.  I still love this close-up photo I have taken of just a clump of grass:


I will admit that I am not a winter person, but, it seems that winter brings on the most interesting times to take photos.  When fog rolls in, or when winter snow storms cover the trees, it is a natural piece of art that unfolds right before you.  It is a great opportunity to add to your portfolio collection.

I am including a great article written by:  James Hutchison about learning to take photos in the cold of winter.  So, please read through this, and learn some of the great things he has written here:


Many photographers run for cover when the outside air temperature dips five or ten degrees below the freezing point, fearing their equipment may malfunction, or worse, their fingers and toes will fall victim to Jack Frost’s wiles. Although these concerns may hold some truth, the reality is that with adequate and thoughtful preparation, the snow-shy landscape photographer has a whole other side of nature to discover during winter—and a beautiful one at that.

cold weather photography

Crisp winter air emphasizes the beauty of luminous clouds, eerie fog and mist, and that special light only a sunrise can provide. It is said that “success is the random collision of chance, opportunity, and perseverance.” I can claim that this so called off-season time of year provides ample opportunity for just that: the capture of successful images to add to your portfolio.

Now having said all this, I’ve actually been guilty of not exploring the winter wonderland that lies in my own back yard! Even though I’m Canadian, my nose (and my photo gear) have been kept quite warm, at least until recently.

In early winter of 2004 a friend and photography mentor offered the opportunity to accompany him on a weekend of travel and photography in one of Canada’s most spectacular areas called Bighorn Wild Land in Alberta. The photo opportunities are plentiful in this region, thanks to the grandeur of the Rocky Mountains, waterfalls, lakes, and wildlife. And my friend is a full-time pro who knows the area intimately, so how could I say no?

The experience was fun and educational. Having worked in the outdoors in the wintertime years ago as a surveyor, I knew to dress warm enough so that shooting wasn’t uncomfortable. Don’t get me wrong though, it wasn’t a walk in the park—pre-dawn setup at the shore of Lake Abraham was very difficult due to howling northerly winds. It was bad enough we had to splay the legs of our tripods wide so they wouldn’t topple, so you can imagine how protecting ourselves from wind chill was essential.

Now, before any of you go trudging out into the wild winter in your brand new custom-made mukluks, there are a few tips and tricks I’ve picked up when it comes to clothing and equipment. But even before that, if you’re inexperienced you should start out taking short jaunts from your vehicle; no big hikes your first time out.

winter landscape photo

We kept our extremities toasty with chemical hand warmers. These are a godsend when fiddling with your camera’s dials and knobs. It’s a good idea to wear thin gloves for working with your equipment, and heavy mitts with the hand warmers inside to de-frost from time to time. Footwear should be of good hiking quality, fully intended for cold weather. Remember, you may be standing around for a while waiting for the right light. I mistakenly spent a few hours wearing thinner boots and although purchased as “winter footwear”, my estimation of their insulative value was wrong. It’s best to bring a thinner pair of boots for driving, and heavier ones if you plan to be out for more than half an hour. It’s always good to have options! Dress in layers, with something over your head and ears; remember most of your body heat is lost through your head. A balaclava under your warm winter hat will help when it’s really cold.

For the parts between your head and feet, I recommend long underwear, snow pants, a turtle-neck sweater, an insulated sleeveless vest, and a warm coat with a high collar. Down-filled, or anything rated for minus 30 degrees is good. When hiking to reach your destination, unzip your coat and your vest as you warm up.

Camera equipment, for the most part, will function as normal provided it has been professionally lubricated and cleaned, and it isn’t 40 below! Mechanical parts do have environmental limitations; refer to your manual if you’re in doubt. Even a DSLR without its film transport mechanism has motors, solenoids, etc. to actuate the mirror and auto focus. But, you can usually push the limits beyond published specs by keeping the battery warm, which is usually the first thing to affect camera performance. This can be done with an umbilical adapter that plugs into the battery’s compartment, and a wire long enough for storing the battery in your warm clothing. For digital cameras, image storage is limited around minus 13 degrees, even if you have the latest memory card technology.

If your tripod has metal legs, don’t handle them with bare hands as they will extract the heat from your skin, and possibly initiate the onset of frostbite. Keep those mitts handy when moving from place to place. A trick my friend did to “winterize” his tripod was to fasten pipe insulation to the upper part of the legs with cloth hockey tape. This also makes it more comfortable when it rests on your shoulder while traversing from site to site.

winter photography tips

“little tree” captured by Rob (Click Image to See More From Rob)

Plan your shooting based on the weather forecast. If you haven’t already scouted out some favorite spots, do so with a compass. The sun rises in the south-east in winter, and sets in the south-west. If it’s going to be overcast, waterfalls are great subjects. Other good overcast subjects are ice patterns in frozen lakes and ponds, and babbling brooks with lots of snow and ice formations.

Don’t despair if it’s overcast before sunrise. We were about to give up on an overcast morning but got lucky at daybreak when the sky cracked a bit and the red sun painted gorgeous under-lit clouds and mountain peaks. My friend had the place in mind the day before, so our foreground was already figured out. Good light can appear fast, but disappear just as quickly. If your day is going to be partly cloudy, you’ll be blessed with a killer sunrise photo. Entire books have been written on landscape compositions, but I’ve learned the most magical time to shoot anything can be at sunrise and sunset. The light is fantastic at this time, and more so in winter. Think reflecting pools of water for a foreground—in the right conditions they’ll provide a rising mist that is beautiful when captured during a colorful sunrise.

With the right clothing, planning, and dependable equipment, nature provides us with some magnificent material! I became a fan of winter photography and will continue to enjoy it in the future. Give it a try if you haven’t yet.

About the Author:
James Hutchison (burnstownimages dot ca) is a graduate of the New York Institute of Photography, and a member of the National Association of Photoshop Professionals.