Whatever you do, keep it simple and enjoy it

If you're not ready to delve into the cameras setttings then stick it on "Auto" or "Program," enjoy your camera and let it do all the hard work for you.


Photography can be as simple or complicated as you want to make it. Basically, it’s a compromise. It is a relationship between 3 key elements.


Which ever one you choose to prioritise in your next photograph, you must compromise with the other 2.

But what does that really mean? Today we're going to explore each key element and understand their relationship to one another. Once you've mastered that, the rest comes easy.

But just in case you are not ready to digest it all now, then learn what each element does and choose that setting on your camera. The brains in your camera are highly sophisticated, it can figure out the detail and provide you with a series of settings that work best.


P or AUTO : Is the automatic setting on your camera which will figure out the best combination of elements for the scene it is presented with

Tv / S : Prioritises shutter speed. You can select how fast you want the shutter speed to be and the camera will figure out the rest

Av / A : Prioritises Aperture. You can decided how much of the photo you want in focus and the camera will figure out the rest.

The other symbols we will cover in another article, lets just keep it simple.

But if your ready to delve deeper then read on...

Now before we go any further I going to introduce you to my quick SAFE SETTING guide and a back up strategy I still use today, its called ONE4LLOYDS - let me explain.


I have lived with a great saying in my former life in TV and film production and that is “One 4 Lloyds”. Directors love this saying and it’s an important one. One 4 Lloyds means "lets get one more shot just in case, just one more take". It was a safeguard, to retake the shot just in case there were unforeseen problems with the footage, or the photograph, or the final image. It means having a backup in your arsenal just in case the one you have, doesn’t work out. In film this is particularly pertinent with unheard background noise or interference, unseen background distractions, reflections or shadows that only become evident in post. But in photography it's the clarity and detail that is key. This habit has never left me. I will often shoot a scene, or subject and take “one for Lloyds” at the end just in case. I will change my composition, change my aperture, change my exposure, reframe slightly. Do something different, change the settings and reshoot. This if nothing else gives me options.


My other favourite habit is having a safe setting for every camera setting I use. If nothing else it gives me a place to start while I figure out the shot and what I'm trying to achieve. Practice your own or use mine, but have a safe place to start. Most of the time taking a photograph especially outside, takes on a natural progression, an evaluation of what you see and what you're trying to capture. You change and tweak your settings, review your shots, change your composition, adjust your exposure as the light changes. Nothing is fixed, you have to adapt as the environment adapts to it's own elements.




ONE4LLOYDS = 3 f stops

Depth of field – This is how much the photograph is in focus.

            It is measured in f stops.

It is simply explained as a hole size inside the camera that you select that lets light in when you take a photo. The size of the hole that you select is measured in f numbers or f stops as it is commonly referred to. In simple terms it is a way of naming each hole size you select.


SAFE SETTING - 500 [ie. 1/500]

ONE4LLOYDS = Faster means sharper 

Shutter speed – This is how quickly the cameras shutter plate opens and closes when taking the photo.

No matter what f stop you choose, (ie what size hole you want to let light in) the shutter plate itself must still open and close completely, to take the photo. It can do this either extremely quickly or extremely slowly taking several seconds. This speed chosen will impact the picture and how much light you have let in. A fast shutter speed will freeze an object in motion, a slow shutter speed will blur a moving object.

The measurement of shutter speed is given as a fraction of a second or greater than 1 second.



ONE4LLOYDS = Half it 

ISO – This is how reactive you want to make the cameras digital sensor to the light it receives.  

The diagram above explains the difference between light sensitivity on a sensor. The greater the sensitivity to light, the greater the grainy effect on the picture. The same would be true if the image was in colour. It would be sharpe, uniform coverage without noise. A low ISO value such as 80 or 100 would give a clean crisp resolution with little to no noise in the picture. It means the sensor will not be very sensitive to light and as a result create a cleaner image. On the opposite end of the scale ISO 25,600 would be ideal in nighttime conditions where there is very little light, making the sensor super sensitive to light so that it can harness any and all light that is available. You are able to generate a picture in an otherwise hostile low light environment. The down size is that the picture will be grainy. This in a nutshell is what ISO values mean


This very useful guide was produced by a man called Daniel Peter and called a cheat sheet. Now although I hate the name, it is super handy to have as a quick reference guide when you're getting to grips with your settings. In my humble opinion there is no such thing as a cheat sheet. We all start from nothing and learn our craft/hobby/passion and it doesn't matter how we do it, as long as we keep on learning. If you'd like to print out your own handy copy, click here and download our pdf file that you can print off.

This diagram is provided by Daniel Peter of Fotoblog Hamburg showing the relationship between the 3 key elements and how they work together.


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