Master your Photo Skills with the Concordian

Photography is as easy as one, two, three!

Are you ready to switch out the average camera on the phone in your pocket for a more professional camera? The team at the Concordian put together a simple guide to help our fellow photojournalists out with some advice based on journalistic situations you would find yourself in.

To start things off, before you even start fiddling with your camera settings, set your camera to Manual mode. This will give you full control of the camera versus other default settings where the camera might automatically adjust settings based on the situation.

Understanding the basics of your camera – 

Now that your camera is in Manual mode, you have to understand the interaction between light and the camera, also known as the exposure triangle. The exposure triangle balances three elements: your shutter speed, ISO, and aperture. 

Think of shutter speed as curtains for a window. Your shutter is the curtains that close inside the camera when you press the button to take the picture. It essentially opens and closes the shutter to either slow down or freeze movement. 

Imagine you open and shut the curtains at 1/500 of a second. Not a lot of light can get in during the short time it was open, right? You maybe get one brief glance out your window due to how fast the curtains shut, but not the whole scene. However, if the curtains closed at 1/30 a second, think of how much more you could see. The longer the shutter stays open, the more information the camera takes in. Longer shutter speeds can lead to motion blur, while faster shutter speeds freeze motion.  

Up next is your ISO, which is essentially light sensitivity. This concept goes back to the film days—each film had its own level and amount of light it was able to process. Think of it as a scale of light with 100 being a full sunny day and 3200 being nighttime. You can use this as wiggle room on your shutter speed or aperture. 

One more thing to keep in mind is higher ISO also comes with a bit more noise, or grain, and the camera would work harder to capture the scene.

The final component of the exposure triangle is the aperture. A camera is basically a hole that opens, lets light in, and then captures it in its simplest form. The aperture allows you to decide the size of that hole—it can either be wide open and let lots of information in, or tiny and only let a little bit in. This determines how much of your image will be in focus. 

Let’s say you just want to capture the foreground—whatever element is closest to your camera. You would use a smaller aperture of around F/2.8. For something like landscapes, where you would want everything in focus, we would suggest a wider aperture of F/14. 

Different journalistic situations –

As long as these three elements balance, you can conquer a lot of the photojournalistic scenarios you’d find yourself in. Are you on the news beat? In a lot of situations, you’ll be taking portraits of your subjects for a visual. In these types of situations we would suggest:

  • Shutter Speed: 1/100 or faster
  • Aperture: F/1.8 – F/5.6
  • ISO: 100-400
  • Focus: Auto (AF)
  • Focus Type: Continuous/Servo
  • White Balance: AWB
  • Drive Mode: Single Shot

Student leading the climate protest in downtown Montreal on September 23, 2022. Photo by Dalia Nardolillo/THE CONCORDIAN.

Do you like to capture the action of athletes on the field during a game? We would suggest the following settings for sports photography:

  • Shutter Speed: 1/500 at a minimum to ensure the movement is captured
  • Aperture: F/2.8 – F/5.6
  • ISO: 400
  • Focus: Auto (AF)
  • Focus Type: Continuous/Servo
  • White Balance: AWB
  • Drive Mode: Continuous/Burst 

Photo by Catherine Reynolds / The Concordian

Maybe you prefer to photograph the emotion and excitement of a concert. This can be a little trickier with all the crazy lighting typical to shows. One important thing to remember is that red light is the hardest to photograph in. Here are some settings that we would suggest to elevate your concert experience:  

  • Shutter Speed: 1/250 or faster (pro tip: try lower for some artsy motion blur) 
  • Aperture: F/1.8 – F/4 ( preferably as low as it can go!)
  • ISO: 1600 – 3200
  • Focus: Auto (AF) as well as spot-metering 
  • Focus Type: Continuous/Servo
  • White Balance: AWB
  • Drive Mode: Continuous/Burst

Photo by Catherine Reynolds / The Concordian

Long story short, this little guide does not cover every situation you’ll be faced with. It takes a lot of trial and error to figure out what works for you and we hope above all that this is a good start for your photography adventure!


Threats can’t silence Israel-Canada talk

Marc Garneau Israel-Canada talk will be rescheduled

On Jan. 12, Member of Parliament for the Liberal Party Marc Garneau was scheduled to speak to university students on the subject of Canada-Israel relations. The event was to be presented as a co-sponsorship by both the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) and the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research (CIJR). The morning of the event, CIJR received a call from the Montreal Police saying that there was a threat of violent protest from a demonstration estimated to comprise of at least 60 individuals.

These threats were very real and can be corroborated by several officers. It was indeed a cause for concern, considering that the police saw the need to call CIJR in the first place. The National Chairman of CIJR, Jack Kincler, therefore decided to postpone the event due to concerns over whether the building could be secured as well as to ensure the safety of attendees.

This comes at a very dangerous and sensitive time. The right to freedom of speech as well as religion recently came under attack with the horrific massacres that took place in France earlier this month. Twelve people were murdered in an attack against the French satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo. Known for its strongly secularist, anti-religious and left-wing views, the paper was targeted for its satirical cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad. A French police officer was killed shortly afterwards. Two days later, another gunman entered a kosher food supermarket in east Paris and murdered four Jewish hostages.

Because of Quebec’s close cultural and national relationship with France, these attacks have resonated strongly with us. This is especially true with regard to the Jewish community, since so many have family and friends in France. This event was meant to be an opportunity to present a forum for Marc Garneau, a respected and accomplished Member of Parliament, to present his views concerning Canada-Israel relations and interact with students. It would not have been postponed had there not been a real concern over the safety of attendees. The fact that university students could be in danger for simply attending an event and meeting with their representative of government is an egregious violation of their civil liberties.

On Jan. 20, a similar situation arose at the University of York. Luke Akehurst, a Labour Party activist, was scheduled to speak about the Israel-Palestine conflict. That lecture was cancelled, due to fears of security risks. This only serves to highlight the seriousness of the situation we face and how even the mere mention of subjects pertaining to the State of Israel are under attack on campuses by those who oppose its existence. Proper security precautions must be made in order to ensure the right of free assembly for all people, especially in the wake of these massacres.

“We will not be intimidated. [The supressing of] freedom of speech must be opposed on and off campus,” says Director of CIJR, Dr. Frederick Krantz. It must be stressed that this event has not and will not be cancelled. To do so would be to give in to the whims of weak-minded fundamentalists, whose sense of self can be easily compromised by different opinions and something as trivial as cartoons. To value freedom in the form of expression and religion and not surrender to terror is the best way to send out a clear message that such thuggish tactics are not acceptable in civilized discourse.

As of now, another venue is in the process of being finalized and MP Marc Garneau has announced a willingness to reschedule. The event has been rescheduled to take place next month, at a location where the security of all participants can be ensured. One thing is certain: while this turn of events has been unfortunate and threats of violence should not be considered legitimate forms of expression, this is anything but a victory for bullies who seek to silence discussion on Israel.

Bradley Martin is a Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) Fellow and student at Concordia University.


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