Photography Cheat Sheet: A Shortcut to Understanding Camera Settings
May 9, 2019
Using the camera in manual mode can be hard at the beginning but it gives you endless possibilities to express your creativity. Understand and practice camera settings with this intuitive and fun infographic.
Modern cameras give you presets for many types of photography. You can choose between landscape, portrait, snow, night, beach, interior, and other predefined modes. The camera can handle all settings by itself. But is this what you really want?
Manual mode, the hardest to use, takes time and require knowledge. In return, it gives you control over your compositions. You achieve not only a correctly exposed image but also atmosphere and meaning.
The only way to master camera settings is by learning the basics and practice a lot. This Photography 101 Cheat Sheet is designed to teach you how to achieve the perfect exposure. It explains the three most important parameters and helps you understand how to use them. Moreover, you can print it and keep it in your pocket and use it anytime you need a piece of advice.
A bit of theory
Aperture, shutter speed, and ISO are the three parameters that dictate the exposure. The balance between their values is hard to manage, but not if you use this Photography cheat sheet. It uses graphical elements to make everything clear and straightforward. It also gives you the most common range of values for each parameter and explains what they actually mean.
The photography cheat sheet is great for novice photographers. All you have to do is look at the scene and decide if it's dark or bright. Then look at the infographic and see what settings you need for your case. You'll see notes like "f/22 = small aperture = less light" and "1/1000 = faster = darker". Experiment by giving priority to each parameter and set the other two accordingly.
But how can you decide which parameter must have priority? Photography cheat sheet helps you decide based on a comprehensive list of visual examples. This way you can see exposure settings in action and understand how to use them in your photographs.
The examples list includes a famous moving waterfall and serene bokeh effects, but also basic situations like blurred background for a portrait and golden hour landscapes. It covers concert and food photography, blurred and freezing motion, macro photography, and stars photos. You'll find here examples that cover all possible situations related to ISO, aperture, and shutter speed decisions.
In every example, there is an image and the values of the three parameters used for exposure. You'll also find useful notes referring to other settings or tips and tricks. You can take similar photographs just for practice purposes or use the examples when you are in similar conditions. Print the infographic and keep it in your photo bag.
Remember that every picture is different and light conditions can be different. These examples are a starting point, but you have to change the settings step by step until you achieve the perfect exposure for your scene. You can practice with each parameter individually to see how it affects the result.
Photography cheat sheet teaches you the relation between exposure parameters. It also allows you to understand where each of them has to have priority. By using the most common situations you can learn the basics of photography in no time.
Keep in mind that every photograph is unique and technique only helps you to achieve what you want. The decision is always yours. There are photographers who intentionally underexpose (low-key photography) or overexpose (high-key photography) their photographs because this suits their artistic vision. There are photographers who choose to blur the foreground and keep the background in focus. Everything is possible if you know how to work with exposure and set your camera properly.