Camera Operation List

Controls, physics, and strategies

Catching light in a box

What you should know about your camera:
Explore the controls menus so you can set the resolution and the format-RAW, JPEG, or both.
Set the ISO and white balance. Find the mode switch for manual, aperture priority, shutter priority, and program.

Find the controls to turn auto-focus on and off, and stabilization, if you have it.

The Internet is alive with photo tutorials. You can find several versions of every technique. One is bound to make sense.

Here are some sources you might try out:

The Slo-Mo Guys show how shutters work

Vimeo school’s choosing a camera:

A checklist:

Find a classmate(s) to help you find controls and run through the following items.


Depth of field

Modes of operation

Stabilization options

Exposure Triangle


Test 1-Framing

Create examples of typical composition types. Refer to Vimeoschool,
Set up in a location with a stable subject. Take four photos to demonstrate each of the following:

  1. Establishing wide shot
  2. Medium shot
  3. Close-up of face
  4. Extreme close-up of details; i.e. hands, tools, feet, etc.

Test 2-shutter and aperture relationship

Shoot a shutter-speed versus aperture series. Use a tripod for these. These will show how lens aperture controls the depth of field, or depth of focus.

Shoot three shots of the same composition. Choose a still-life scene with lots of depth so you can evaluate the depth-of-field. Have some objects close up and some far from the camera.

Set the camera on manual mode, set the aperture to f5.6 and do test shots to find the shutter speed that gives a pleasing exposure.
Do the same shot at f11 and f22; for each full f-number step (bigger number=smaller aperture; double the exposure time as you increase the shutter speed.

A bigger f-stop number=smaller aperture opening.The typical full stop numbers are 1.4, 2.0, 2.8, 4.0, 5.6, 8, 11, 16, 22, and 32. You double, or halve, the shutter speeds for each f-stop change.

The exposures should retain the same brightness.

For example: if you shot at f5.6 with 1/30 sec. shutter, switching to f8 would require 1/15 sec.; f11 would require 1/8 sec.; and f16 would require 1/4...and so on.

Name the shots "f5.6, f11, and f22".

Examine the effect f-stops have on your images. How did the sharpness vary?

Test 3-Sharpness and Shutter Speed

Choose a scene with a live and moving subject and a background with lots of detail. Using a tripod-mounted camera with manual controls, set the ISO, shutter and aperture to create these demonstration shots:

  1. All motion in the scene is frozen and sharp.
  2. Background is sharp and the subject is in motion and blurred.
  3. Follow the motion with the camera so the subject is sharp and the background blurs. This takes practice.

Store your results into sub-folders named Test-1, Test-2, and Test-3; all stored in a "shooting-test_YourName" folder, in the Dropoff ShootingTest folder.