Learn Photography With CameraSim–DSLR Simulator

by Alexei Rivera | May 22, 2011 7:58 am

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[2] 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+.


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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