Photography Tips

Terms and words

The following are some of the most common words and definitions, that you'll need to get to grips with before you can produce super duper pics.
Don't worry though, although there are a gabillion options and settings to tweak and play with, we've grabbed just the most essential ones to get you started. They aren't in alphabetical order, rather in an order that hopefully will mean you won't ever be scratching your head wondering what a word is we're referring to...hopefully (no promises :-P)

Disclaimer: This is not an exahustive list, neither will it leave you a budding David Bailey by the end of it, we hope though it will help you get the ball rolling on what is a long journey of photographic understanding, possibly raising the odd smile as well.

Depth of Field (DOF)

Depth of Field is the part of a picture which will look in focus when you're done. A large DOF will mean no matter where relatively something was in your picture it will all be more or less in focus.
Think a cow in a field and a mountain in the background, neither are fuzzy. (We like to think the cow is called Gertrude) A small DOF would see Gerty in focus but the mountain would be blurred.


In a nutshell this is how much your lens opens when you take a photo. This opening allows light to go in to the camera and expose the film (simulated in digital cameras by the wizard's IT pixie magic, seriously it's a bit beyond our scope how that bit works, we just know it does!) The aperture can either be adjustable or fixed Lens opening. The size is usually denotaed in f/stops (or f/numbers), which complicates matters but basically a bigger number means a smaller hole (logic rating zero).

What does it do?

It affects depth of field. If you have a smaller aperture (large number), you get a large depth of field, larger aperture (small number) gives you a smaller DOF.
The tricky bit is that a larger aperture is a smaller number, so just remember it like this:
Large Aperture Number = Large DOF
Small Aperture Number = Small DOF

Shutter Speed

Shutter speed is hopefully a little easier to grasp than aperture, it is in essence how long your camera shutter is open for when you take a picture.

Ok I think that has that covered, next topic... what? You want to know more? Hmm ok, well....

It is measured in seconds, well fractions of seconds. As such 1/1000 shutter speed is faster than 1/30.
If you want to catch something that is happening quickly, like a splash of water or a bird flapping it's wings, you will need a super quick shutter speed. 1/4000th of second range. If your camera supports it, a really long shutter speed of 1 second will give some amazing effects, especially in low light conditions.
Shutter speeds are directly related to your aperture setting. As a general rule of thumb, a step up of shutter speed, combined with a step down in aperture will give you similar results.


ISO is a rather overwhelming topic when you first start out. It is in essence the guage for how sensitive your camera is to light. If you are working with film it is how sensitive the film is, in the digital world your image sensor acts in the same way.
The lower the ISO the less sensitive your camera is to light, as you move up in ISO your camera will be able to faster shutter speeds in lower light, but your pictures will get more grainy, this graininess is known as 'noise'.
In general an ISO of 100 is a normal crisp clear shot.

The Exposure Triangle

As you may have deduced by now, a perfect picture is very much reliant on tweaking settings depending on the situation you're snapping. The biggest impact settings are the ISO, aperture and shutter speed.
Because changing one of these can impact on the possible, or required value of the other two, these are affectionately refered to as the exposure triangle.

It is unfortunately a sad fact of photography that there is no one size fits all solution to perfect pictures, these are a very brief summary on the exposure triangle, our biggest tip is to find the child in you, load up a tasty plate of your favourite snack and have a play with each setting, to get a feel of the effect that each have.