Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO


Last Saturday, I jumped at the opportunity to participate in a beginner’s photography class. I did the usual online search for such and, in the process, found Bella Pop Photography. They have a really cool website that’s fresh and hip, yet natural and simplistic. I liked the photos and I was excited to learn the professional photographers offered classes and social events.

I registered for the beginner’s class focused on “shooting in manual” and went to the Kimball Art Museum, located in the Cultural District of Fort Worth, with my fancy-schmancy camera and a water bottle. Husband explains the current weather as being in a constant hair-dryer. That’s the perfect way to explain this gosh-awful weather in North Texas. It’s hot. It’s windy. It’s miserable.

This sculpture (thing?) is located outside the main entrance of the Kimbell Art Museum. I think it's a little cool, a little funky, and very mysterious!

Brandon and Brandy, owners of Bella Pop, are wonderful and sweet people. They are very knowledgable about photography (good thing since they’re professionals!) and eager to share their passion with newbies like myself. I immediately felt comfortable (though a little sweaty, but remember it was 4985028520945 degrees outside!) and excited to learn new photography techniques. The class was small, four students in all, plus B and B. During the two-hour class, I was able to ask questions, practice new techniques, and even experience an A-HA! moment or two!

The first came when I realized that if I looked through the little eyepiece-thingy (instead of the LCD screen on the back) I could see the focus boxes, manual settings, AND the light meter at the bottom. Whodathunkit?!?!

(blushing with embarrassment)

Brandy distributed a cheat-sheet of photography tips and techniques, along with an overview of the concepts we would cover during the two-hour class. Shooting in manual involves three components: aperture, shutter speed, and ISO.

Before this class, I didn’t know a hill-of-beans about aperture, shutter speed, or ISO. If my life depended on explaining them, I’d be a dead woman melting in the Texas heat. I knew enough to know I needed a photography class!

Here’s what the professionals (B and B) have to say:

The aperture is the “hole” inside the camera that allows light into the lens. The larger the hole, the more light can enter. The smaller the hole, the less light. 
For creativity, the choice of aperture will control the depth of field of a picture. Pictures with shallow depth of field (subject is focused while the background is out of focus) require a large aperture, such as f/2,8. Pictures with everything in focus (from front to back) require a small aperture, such as f/22.

I recently learned “depth of field” is also called DOF. I’m overcome with genius-ness right now.

Aperture (depth of field) practice


APERTURE (depth of field) practice - I'm focused where Brandon is pointing.


I don’t know if B  and B are usually subjects in their own classes, but I just clicked away anyway!

The shutter speed is a “curtain” that determines the length of time light is allowed to enter the camera. For creativity, the choice of shutter speed will control motion in a picture. The faster the shutter speed, the more it will “freeze” moving subjects. The slower the shutter speed, the more moving subjects will “blur.”

With this fango-dango feature, I’m realizing how important a tripod is to photographers, especially for still subjects.

SHUTTER SPEED - I "froze" this Beemer with a faster setting so it's not blurred.

I can only imagine what the drivers along Lancaster were thinking as six people with their cameras were on the sidewalk.

The camera’s sensitivity to light, or ISO, is best thought of as a “boost” of power for your camera. For creativity, photographers often “bump up” the ISO settings when there is not enough light or to create a grain effect in camera. Bumping the ISO enables faster shutter speeds in lower light with less blur.

Brandy later explained ISO as the “Monster” for your camera. If you who live under a rock, Monster is an energy drink. I’ve never had one myself, but I know they’re quite powerful. I’ll stick with my sweet tea, it’s got enough sugar in it to power a large metropolis. ISO gives your photographs more of that BOOM-BOOM-POW without an additional flash lens.

Did I learn anything from this class? Of course! I know I need lots and lots and LOTS of practice! I also learned new tricks for shooting in manual mode. I met B and B, along with the other students, who are awesome and great and fun people to sweat with.

This final picture cracks me up and I have to share…sorry Brandon!

I think it pretty much sums up Brandon’s thoughts about me asking lots of questions, having to be a photo subject, AND having to be out in 97429842093486 degrees of heat.


There you have it, my first photography class. Thanks B and B at Bella Pop for hosting this class and helping me with the basics of shooting in manual. Y’all were super-fun.

If you are in the North Texas area and need a professional photographer, please check out Bella Pop. If you don’t need a photographer but you’re interested in classes or social events, visit Bella Pop’s website for a list of events. They’re really awesome and I’m looking forward to future lessons myself.

Happy Tuesday!




  1. how fun!!!! crazy I’m just finding this post 😉 it was an insanely HOT day!! lol but we did have a blast meeting everyone and rocking our cameras with you. thanks again for joining us!! xoxo Brandy

  2. Nicole, I think I’ve told you before but Sony puts on a 2 day course in Dallas yearly I think. I went a few yrs ago and it was fast and furious, but very imformative. If you find anymore classes in the area, let me know. Maybe we could meet up!

    • Hey Jan, I remember you saying you attented an intensive photography class, but I didn’t know the name. It sounds great and something I’d like to do sometime. I was definitely impressed with Bella Pop….I’ll check their schedule for future events and let you know, I’d love to meet up and take pictures with you.

  3. Awesomesauce! I too am in the process of learning. I love my camera and photography and last year I took the leap and found the confidence I needed to trust myself and my eye. I now sell my photos on Etsy! I loved this post and I have to remind myself of the Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO constantly!

    Happy Shooting!

  4. Nicole, this is a fabulous post!
    I admire you for doing this course to learn more about photography, and if I lived near you, I would definitely join you in the course – then we could practice with each other!
    I’m a keen photographer myself, but want (and need) to know more about my camera and how to improve what photographic skills I have!. I hope you will write about your journey here, because I will be following you with keen interest.
    Thank you so much for sharing your first lesson!

  5. I wish I lived in the Fort Worth area just so I could join your photography class. I need to brush up my skills.
    Very nice post! I’m looking forward to your future posts concerning photography class. Thank you.

I appreciate all comments and read every single one. (To avoid the spam garbage, I approve them.) Go ahead, share your thoughts - it makes me smile when you do that!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: