Camera Settings for Lighting Scenarios

Understanding the functions of your camera is DIFFICULT! But, it doesn't have to be. In this post, I'll show you what my camera settings are for each & every lighting situation you can possibly imagine.

So...let's dive in!!

Don't want to read this post? Check out my Youtube video on this topic instead!

Lighting Scenario: Direct Sunlight

Direct sunlight happens when the sun is at it's absolutely highest, so depending on your location... anywhere from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. When I'm shooting direct sunlight, I always keep my ISO as low as possible! I'll adjust my shutter higher in order for me to keep my low aperture (so I can get some niiiiice bokeh).

Settings for this photo:

ISO: 50 F/2.0 Shutter: 1/1600

Lighting Scenario: Shade

When the sun is covered by clouds & creates a nice shade, this is a great time to get evenly lit photos. When I shoot in the shade, I keep my ISO lower but I won't go as low as the previous examples (ISO 100). I find that ISO 200 is perfect for shady situations! My aperture stays low for stylistic purposes, which means I needed to bump up my shutter high to get proper exposure.

Settings for this photo:

ISO: 200 F/1.8 Shutter: 1/1000

Lighting Scenario: Indoors with Window Light

I find that when I'm inside for photos, windows with lots of natural light are my best friend! In this scenario, I needed my ISO to be higher than it was outdoors, which is why I went with ISO 320. I left my shutter higher at 1/640, since first looks can be pretty fast paced and I wanted to capture everything crystal clear!! My low aperture was to let in enough light for proper exposure.

Settings for this photo:

ISO: 320 F/2.2 Shutter: 1/640

Lighting Scenario: Indoors with Limited Light

For this image, I found that my subjects needed to be facing away from the window in order for me to have enough room to shoot!! As a result, the lighting was darker since the window was behind my subject. I had my ISO at 500 to give my subjects enough light, which is also why my shutter was low at 1/320. My aperture was cruising a little higher than normal (f/2.8) so I could get the bridal party also partially in focus.

Settings for this photo:

ISO: 500 F/2.8 Shutter: 1/320

Lighting Scenario: Very Limited Light

This is a CLASSIC situation when photographers think: "How in the world am I supposed to get photos of this?!??!". A sparkler exit is a great example of limited light, and for this photo I had my ISO as high as it could possibly go (ISO 1000). Then, my aperture was as LOW as it could go to let in as much light as possible. I tried to rock a shutter speed that was still fast (so my subjects wouldn't be blurry), but low enough that I wasn't darkening my image.

Settings for this photo:

ISO: 1000 F/1.4 1/320

Want to learn more about camera settings? Check out my Guide To Manual Camera Settings!