Department of Creative Arts
St. Pius X High School

Ms. D. Gravelle

I4 - Introduction to Equipment





Canon Rebel T5




Steps for Learning How to Use a DSLR Camera

Master Shooting modes (including priority modes and full manual)
Understand ISO
Learn the ‘exposure triangle’
Master Metering including exposure compensation
Learn About Focussing
Understand file size/types
Learn about White balance



Shooting Modes



Aperture Priority (Av or A)
Aperture priority can be thought of as a ‘semi-automatic’ shooting mode. When this is selected, you as the photographer set the aperture and the camera will automatically select the shutter speed.

The aperture is the size of the opening in the lens through which light is allowed to pass whenever the shutter is opened – the larger the aperture, the more light passes through.

The aperture is measured in ‘f-stops’ and is usually displayed using an ‘f-number’, e.g. f/2.0, f/2.8, f/4.0, f/5.6, f/8.0 etc, which is a ratio of focal length over diameter of the opening. Therefore, a larger aperture (a wider opening) has a smaller f-number (e.g. f/2.0) and smaller aperture (a narrower opening) has a larger f-number (e.g. f/22). Reducing the aperture by one whole f-stop, e.g. f/2.0 to f2/8 or f/5.6 to f/8.0, halves the amount of light entering the camera.

Now, to change your aperture, you use the little black dial right below the shutter button in the first picture. Turn it to the left for a lower aperture and a right for a higher one. Be sure to keep an eye on your shutter speed as you do this.

Aperture is one of the most important aspects of photography as it directly influences the depth of field – that is, the amount of an image that is in focus.

An aperture of f/13 was used here to give a large depth of field, ensuring that the whole image, from the foreground grasses to the background mountains was sharp

A large aperture of f/4.5 was used to capture this water vole, against a soft, out of focus background



To change your ISO, press the ISO button. The lower your ISO (100-200), the smaller amount of light your camera will use. So if it’s a real bright sunny day and you’re taking pictures outside, set your ISO to 100. The higher you set your ISO, the more light your camera will use. So if you want to take a picture inside without a flash, you can try setting your ISO higher to 800 or 1600 to see if you can get a high enough shutter speed to hand hold your camera. The catch with using a high ISO is that it makes your pictures pretty grainy, it shows up REALLY bad in reds and oranges, so I always try to use the lowest ISO possible.

I4.A1 - Depth of Field

Read the following article on Depth of Field and then answer the questions below.

What is Depth of Field?
What apeture and f-number (small or large) are required for a small depth of field?
What apeture and f-number (small or large) are required for a large depth of field?
How does focal length control depth of field?
When should you use a smaller depth of field?
When should you use a larger depth of field?
How can you determine depth of field?

Using objects from the classroom or ones that you bring from home take several shots that illustrate different focus points. Use this website as a guide.

Depth of Field Assignment

Post your pictures with the camera settings in a caption.


Discuss the merits/problems of each photo.
If you had to pick one photo which one would it be and why?




TV Mode – Shutter Priority

One of the most important choices you make when taking a photograph is deciding what shutter speed to use. The shutter speed controls how much light comes into your camera, and how motion is recorded.

A faster shutter speed will freeze action and slower shutter speeds can create a blur.


Turn the dial on the top of your camera to TV. This means you will be controlling the shutter speed and the camera will automatically adjust the aperture to make sure you have a correct exposure. Shutter speed is how fast the camera records the picture. You’ve seen those pictures of cars at night where you can only see a red streak from the tail lights, right? That’s because the shutter speed was set very low to record for a long time and capture the car as it was driving out of the picture. And you’ve seen pictures of athletes that completely stop motion and show exactly what he was doing right at that millisecond? :) Those pictures use a high shutter speed.

To change your shutter speed, use the same dial you used to change your aperture. When set it TV mode, it will control your shutter speed. Turn it to the left for a lower shutter speed and the right for a higher one. I like to keep my shutter speed around 125 when taking portraits of something that’s going to be relatively still… A sleeping baby, kids that are old enough to sit still and smile for the camera, etc. If you have a lot of wiggling around, like babies or toddlers, you might want to go higher to around 200. If you want to capture action, like a kid running, riding a bike, paying a sport, etc, you probably want your shutter speed to be around 500 to 1000.

Be sure to keep an eye on your aperture as your change your shutter speed. If your aperture number starts flashing, that means that the shutter speed you selected is too high to correctly expose the picture. That means your aperture can’t be set any lower to allow in more light and your image will be too dark. You need to lower your shutter speed until the aperture number stops flashing. This means the picture will be correctly exposed.


I4.A2 - Shutter Speed Assignment

Read the following article on Shutter Speed and then answer the questions below.

Define Shutter Speed
How is Shutter Speed Measured?
What happens when you use a shutter speed slower than 1/60th of a second?
What can you do to avoid camera shake at slow shutter speeds?
What affect does a slow shutter have on your image?

In this simple exercise that you can do at home with a ceiling fan or at school with a pedestal fan, you will have the opportunity to practice setting your camera on different shutter speeds, and seeing how each affects motion in the image.

Fan Assignment

Post your pictures with the camera settings in a caption.


Discuss the merits/problems of each photo.
If you had to pick one photo which one would it be and why?


On your camera look for a thing that looks like a plus sign made out of small boxes contained within a box? The button right below that is the AF Point Selection button and it controls your automatic focus (AF) point selection. Turn your camera on and press that button. See if it’s set to “automatic selection”. This means your camera will “guess” what you’re trying to focus on, and automatically choose what it thinks you want to focus on.

To change to “Manual AF Point Selection”, first make sure the AF Point Selection screen is open by pressing the AF point selection button, then press the “SET” button (located under the ISO button and above the WB button in the second picture). This brings up a diamond shaped grid of focus points. One of them should be highlighted. That means it’s always going to focus right there. Generally you keep it set right in the middle, but you can change it to any point, whichever one you feel most comfortable with. To change it, use the 4 buttons located to the north, south, east and west of the SET button. When you get it to the desired point, just press the AF point selection button again.

When set to Manual AF Point Selection, your camera will always focus in that one spot. When you look through the view finder, you should see the same AF point selection grid. If you press the shutter button halfway down, the AF point you selected will highlight and you will probably hear your lens focusing. This means your lens is focused on that one spot. Now sometimes, just because it’s focused in that one spot, doesn’t mean the picture is framed exactly how you want it. Just keep the shutter button pressed halfway down and move your camera until the picture is framed the way you want it. Then press the shutter the rest of the way to take the pic. With practice you will be able to do this very quickly.


M Mode – Manual!

After mastering AV mode and TV mode, it’s not that much of a leap to go to fully Manual Mode. To shoot in Manual mode, turn the dial on the top of your camera to M. The black dial right below the shutter button now controls your shutter speed. To change the aperture you will use this same dial while holding down the AV button.

After lots of practice in AV mode and TV mode, you will be familiar with what shutter speeds and apertures you prefer. Now you can put them together! When changing the shutter speed and aperture, be sure to keep an eye on your exposure. Remember, that’s the thing on the screen in the second picture that says -2…-1…0…1…2. You want to keep your exposure around 0. I keep mine between 0 and 1 because I like brighter pictures.