Learn Photography With CameraSim–DSLR Simulator

Learn Photography With CameraSim–DSLR Simulator
May 22 07:58 2011 Print This Article

camerasim
Large aperture (small f number) will create a nice blurry background

 

Ever wanted to make that perfect shot of a kid smiling, or a sweet picture of a model or a friend, complete with an out-of-focus blurred background but you didn’t know how? Well, CameraSim will teach you how, even before you consider buying an expensive DSLR.

 

In the simulator, a girl is standing on a playground, holding a pinwheel. Its your job to take a picture of her and do her justice. You have some options to figure out to get yourself a great shot. These are what professional photographers change as settings of the camera to achieve the effect that they want.

 

Light is the primary thing to consider here, and to prove the point, we have 4 total variables to affect light. Lighting is obviously how bright it is when you take the picture – sunny or gray or dark. Better lighting is almost always preferred, but bright sunlight isn’t always available, especially indoors. ISO affects the camera’s sensitivity to light. Higher number means it picks up light easier, but as a side effect gives off white noise pixels. (You will notice this more in lower end cameras in the dark.) Aperture is the opening of the lens for light. Smaller number means larger opening and light incoming. Aperture is one of the biggest ways to affect the equation, plus it has the photographer’s favorite effect of blurring more of the background when you have the opening larger. Finally, the shutter speed controls how long you open your lens to absorb the light. Naturally a longer shutter speed lets in more light, making things brighter, but the side effect is that objects, like the pinwheel, are moving and thus will be recorded as blur. To achieve less blur, you need to speed up the shutter speed to about 1/200+.

 

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Slower shutter speeds create motion blur

 

The other two settings involve distance and framing. Your distance variable is the physical assumed distance you are from the subject. This determines how you can frame the shot. Your focal length is basically your zoom. At the smallest number, this is the widest your lens can go, and largest is the most zoomed in. Zooming in helps to bring the background out of focus to achieve the isolation you want in your subject – if you’re taking a portrait picture.

 

To make things simple, most new photographers want to achieve that out of focus background that isolates the subject. To do this easily, pick Aperture priority and use the lowest f number. (On the simulator its f2.8.) Zoom the lens all the way forward, and adjust your distance accordingly. Assume a certain lighting condition, and pick a low ISO. Then take your shot. You should find that there’s more blurring in the background than usual, which is great to tell people what it is exactly you want them to look at. Try changing the lighting levels to dimmer to figure out what you need to do in order to get the right amount of light, with minimal blur, and least amount of dirty white grainy pixels. These are good experiments to take so you know what to do in various lighting conditions.

 

This should, hopefully, teach you a lot about what you need to know, without even needing a camera or going outside. We hope this gave you a little bit of extra knowledge the next time you shoot. So now, go out and snap!

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Alex
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2 Comments

  1. Irene Enriquez
    February 04, 19:19 #1 Irene Enriquez

    This simulator looks really promising. I’m currently learning photography, and this will really help me out. I recently learned how to use and adjust the aperture settings, and it was really fun. I’ve always wanted to take photos that have blurry backgrounds.lol I’m having a hard time taking photos at night though. I’m not sure how to take photos manually yet.

    • panzerpuff
      February 08, 21:46 panzerpuff Author

      Hi Irene, glad you liked it!

      At night it really gets difficult in getting great shots and you’ll need to be a bit creative in getting more light. Basically if you do one or more of these things it will help give your camera more light:

      a.) open up the aperture (low f number = more light). Some lenses can go to much lower f numbers and are preferred in low light. Most kit lenses achieve their lowest f number when zoomed all the way out.

      b.) slow down the shutter speed – normally its better to have a fast shutter speed (to prevent blur) but at night you might be able to get away with a 1/15 second. But that is really pushing it and blur will definitely show up.

      c.) increase your ISO – its better to use the lowest “base” ISO on your camera, but at night you can increase it to a level you’re comfortable with. Higher ISO makes the camera more sensitive to light but will also increase the noise in the image. The maximum ISO you should use is based on how well your camera performs. For my Nikon D5000, I’m comfortable with ISO 800, and might push it as high as 1600, but never to 3200 as the pictures become really ugly. On Nikon cameras, you can also enable Auto ISO which picks a higher one for you if it needs more light.

      d.) use a flash – not the best solution, but makes things simpler.

      A possible combination of A, B, C, and D can help you take better pictures in low light, but it does require some discretion by the photographer.

      I shoot mostly in Aperture priority mode (A) with the lowest f number picked always. Without getting too technical, I’ll just say that going with Aperture priority mode with Auto ISO then adjusting your Exposure Compensation (EV) is one of the easier ways to shoot at night/indoors.

      Exposure compensation is basically an automated way of increasing or decreasing the brightness that you want. So when my initial test shots are too dark I increase the EV, and decrease it when its too bright.

      Hope that helps! =)

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