I recently purchased my first ‘real’ camera (the FujiFilm XT1) and the experience so far has been a mixture of excitement and frustration. Prior to the FujiFilm, the most advanced camera I shot with was my iPhone 5s, this is what caused some frustration.

With my 5s all I had to do was point, maybe adjust the focus and lighting a bit, and shoot. At first with the XT1, I didn’t even know how to take a normal photo, as it was configured to shoot with a filter when I first opened it. This caused a little frustration but could have been avoided if I had just read the manual (I was too excited to read the manual).

Reading the Manual

Now, most people I know dread reading manuals, I also normally fall into that camp. However, when I finally realized how in over my head I was, I read/skimmed the manual. Granted it wasn’t the best reading material, it served its purpose and allowed me to figure out how I could take normal photos with my camera.

While reading the manual I also learned about what all of the different knobs on the camera controlled. There was one to control ISO, another to control the shutter speed, and one more to control the aperture. Now coming from an iPhone camera, I had no idea what any of those controls actually did and how they contributed to taking a great photo.

Planning ahead, I bought a book on exposure a few months before this camera purchase. The goal was to read the entire book before buying the camera but I wanted to be able to apply what I was learning, so I bought the camera after a few chapters.

Take some photos

Before deciding to dive back into my book on exposure, I decided to head to Golden Gate Park for the day and take some photos. I had little to no idea what I was doing and was completely ok with that. The goal was to experiment with the camera and see what I could produce with little to no knowledge of photography. Eventually, I want to do a post mortem on these pictures, but that’s for another blog post.

This day of stumbling, motivated me to get back to my book on exposure and learn as much as possible about taking a photo that looks correct.

Exposure is 🔑

One thing my book taught me is that exposure contributes a lot to taking a great photo. Exposure is how much of light that falls on a camera’s sensor (or film if your old school) and the combination of three things make achieving a correct exposure possible:

  1. ISO: how fast light is written to the sensor/film
  2. Shutter Speed: controls how long light hits the sensor/film
  3. Aperture: the size of the hole that the light travels through to hit the sensor/film

Each of these factors impact the other and understanding the relationship between them is important. We’ll explore that relationship in my next post…

Thanks for reading and happy shooting! 📸