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Design, Photography, & Fashion

Settings: Modes, ISO, Focus, and Depth of Field

Jimmy Chin

Lesson time 12:44 min

Get the most out of your camera's functions and lenses. Jimmy dives into how different settings have different effects, and shares practical tips for determining which configuration will help you get the best shot.

Jimmy Chin
Teaches Adventure Photography
National Geographic photographer teaches his techniques for planning, capturing, and editing breathtaking photos.
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When you put your camera in the bag, it's a good practice to kind of know what settings and modes that the camera's in. That way, you always know that when you pull a camera out, it's in aperture priority. Your ISO's set at 100. You know, I don't do that every time, but it's also always good, the second you pull out the camera, to look at everything-- scan what settings, what modes, and just level everything so that you're starting from scratch. Well, it's 4:00 in the morning. We're getting an early start. Let's see, battery check, FV mode, which is a new mode on the camera, on the R. OK, full cards. [MUSIC PLAYING] So when I think about the different modes in cameras, I like to keep things simple. It's good to have your go-tos in different scenarios. Everybody has different ideas of how they want to shoot and what modes they shoot in. And I'll just talk a little bit about my general practices. When you're shooting a subject where you really want to control the shutter speed, clearly, you go into shutter priority. I think of those situations as high-speed action shoots where you know that if it isn't at 500, or 800, or a thousandth of a second, you're going to get some blurring. And especially like skiing or snowboarding, where you really want to capture the action as someone's throwing an air or dropping a cliff, you want to make sure that you are able to get that really crispy shot with a high shutter speed. You can always shoot manual. You get your exposure. You figure it out. And you're able to nail it. But in some circumstances, if you're in kind of a mobile situation where you have to kind of pull your camera out and pop off a few shots without having much time, that's the time when you're looking to use these modes. I also think of using shutter priority if I want to slow-mo shot, and I want some blur, and I know that I'm kind of on the move. I've been kind of tracking somebody. I'm skiing along with them. And I've been just trying to get this shot of them kind of going through the trees and having some blur, just to show the motion in the image. You can use shutter priority to go slow and get a blur. The other main mode that I'll go into is aperture priority. That can be useful in a few different scenarios where you're shooting on the fly, you want to shoot at a low depth of field. Oftentimes, I use it when I'm traveling or on street photography. And you're going through a lot of different lighting situations. You're kind of on the move. There's a lot going on. You're thinking about other things. You don't have to sit there and deal too much with the manual settings. And you can kind of shoot on the fly. I mean, I think, these days, cameras are pretty good at finding exposure. And if I want to shoot at a certain depth of field, I'll just keep it on aperture priority. [MUSIC PLAYING] Exposure compensation's useful in various situations. It's not something I lean on very much. But there are times when...

Push the limits of your photography

Jimmy Chin has built his career taking photos at the top of the world, earning him the cover of National Geographic and multiple awards. Now he’s taking you on location to teach you techniques for capturing breathtaking shots. In his photography class, learn different creative approaches for commercial shoots, editorial spreads, and passion projects. Gather the gear—and the perspective—to bring your photography to new heights.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Great inspiration to get out and be smart about the way you shoot

I was completely inspired to go out and shoot! Thank you Jimmy Chin

Insight into shoot preparation and his approach to getting the results he achieves on location was great. Insight into his career, experiences and people he has met on the way very inspirational. I found the tips on post production/composition a bit basic but maybe ok for others.

Thoroughly enjoyed the class, but I wish there were more emphasis on the more practical side of photography rather than ideological. Either way, I feel like I was given valuable insight and I do not regret my purchase.


Skyler W.

While I love all the lessons here, I feel like this and the last one should've been at the end. I feel like those are the two lessons where everybody should know and something that you want to teach, before you go into the other lessons. Other than that, loving these lessons!

Chris O.

This series justifies the cost of the full MasterClass plan. I’ve learnt more here than in any other adventure photography training program. Very satisfying. 🙏👍

Peter S.

Pretty much all of these classes are completely Worthless. I came into the MasterClass with a lot of questions and expectations. Should I get a teleconverter lens? Tell me in your 20 classes many scenarios that you use different lenses. Tell me why this f-stop is preferable. What are the settings of your national geographic photos? What are ideal combinations of f-stop, Iso and aperture to get proper photos outside vs inside. Midday vs night time, etc. Jimmy Chin ends up talking about things like "you need to allow yourself to fail." Yea, no kidding, I already learn those lessons everyday in my own life and my own career. This is a waste of money. I literally learned more about photography from the first 5 minutes from ANY YOUTUBE VIDEO or from the first five minutes of any photography book or the first 5 minutes from taking a photography class. He just wastes your time telling you stories about when he was a kid, waiting tables, working for his mentors, how Conrad is his best friend, etc, etc, etc.

Jim C.

Depth of field is an important tool. It is controlled in three ways: Aperture, as he mentioned, but also by camera to subject distance and through lens focal length. Long lenses also used in movie chase scenes. A long lens makes one car following another look much closer to the lead car than it actually is.

Christine H.

I would have loved to know something about filters. Do you use polarizing or grey filters?


Finding the RIGHT moments to use it! That's often an intuition from experience / creativity.

Bryan R.

Great session. I found that a great way to learn these settings was to shoot at night. It was fun playing with the settings to get a good shot. Took this shot of my daughter with some fireworks.