All cameras offer different setting choices. If you are using a DSLR, you will have an option to use Manual mode, Aperture priority, shutter priority, and more.
Manual mode allows you to make all of the setting choices on your camera. Though it’s typically for advanced users, it can produce incredible results once you know how to operate settings on your device. Learning Manual settings can take time, so don’t be frustrated if you do not instantly get the results that you are hoping for. In Manual mode, you will select the ISO, the shutter speed, the white balance, and the aperture of your camera. Shooting manually shifts control from the camera to the photographer, much like driving a manual car vs. an automatic one. If you are photographing something as complex as a black bowl on white tablecloth, then the camera’s choice is not always as good as your own, once you master the settings and learn how to use Manual mode. Until then, cameras today offer wonderful alternatives that allow you to select some aspects of the setting but not all.
For something slightly less technical, you can use one of the camera’s pre-set modes. In these modes, you will select one setting to work with, like Aperture or Shutter Speed, and the camera will make settings based on your decision. If you select Aperture priority (A or AV on some cameras), for example, the camera will decide the ISO, the shutter speed and the white balance.
ISO, or film speed in “vintage” terms, measures the sensitivity of light on the image sensor. The lower the ISO, the less noise or grain will appear in your image. The higher the ISO, the noisier or grainier your images will be. The benefit of using a higher ISO (selecting 400 rather than 100, for example) is that you can shoot at higher shutter speeds and/or smaller apertures. Low light settings will require higher ISO. Candlelight in a dark room can give you a nice moody feel that would be ruined by a bright flash, but increasing the ISO on your camera can help you to capture the scene without adding external lighting.
Aperture priority mode will require you to know about f-stops. Each f-stop represents an aperture opening size and this (along with the shutter speed) controls the amount of light that your lens allows in to your camera’s sensor. A smaller aperture is a larger f/number; f/32 is a much smaller aperture than f/2.8.
Depth of field is controlled by Aperture. The wider or open your lens is (the smaller f-stop that you use, like f/2.8, for example), the less of your image will be in focus. The smaller the aperture that you select, like f/22, the more of your image will be sharply in focus. In order to blur your background and keep the subject in focus, select a smaller f-stop on your Aperture priority mode. Note that you won't see this through your viewfinder (or on your screen as you're composing) though. DSLRs meter with the lens at its widest aperture and only adjust the lens to its selected aperture at the moment of exposure. Use depth of field to control how much of the subject is in detail and how much of it blends in to background. How much of the dish is desired in focus? What’s the current trend? Look to magazines, Pinterest, and cookbooks to get an idea about what the current trends are in food photography and just how deep or shallow you want your depth of field to be.
Shutter Priority mode (TV) allows you to determine the shutter speed that you want and the camera will automatically adjust the aperture to create the correct exposure for the image. Faster shutter speeds can freeze motion and reduce camera shake. A shutter speed of 1/250 will freeze most things, but a shutter speed of 1/500 will freeze even more. The exact speeds that you use for specific subjects are something that you will learn through practice, trial and error. Note that in most instances of food photography, it’s the Aperture that you will want to control rather than the Shutter.
Tip:A smaller aperture means more depth of field; a larger aperture means less