We hope you've been following our resident photography "magician", Leela Cyd Ross, and her series, Super Photo Magic School. The archives are filled with some great advice about improving the quality of photos you snap, whether beginner or even if you're a bit more experienced. But if you're just starting out, you'd do well by watching this newbie-friendly video put together Matthew Gore of Light & Matter, explaining the 3 basic elements of exposure: aperture, shutter speed, and ISO.
As you can now understand, photography is a game of trade-offs between these three factors. Suppose you take a photo at a medium aperture, medium shutter speed, and medium ISO and its exposure is correct (fills the bucket), but the motion is a little blurry. We know that to stop action, you need to use a faster shutter speed (don't leave the water on for so long). But if you ONLY change the shutter speed, then your "bucket" isn't going to fill up. To make up for the change in shutter speed, you either need to let in more light with a larger aperture (bigger hose) or use a higher ISO (smaller bucket). But if you use a larger aperture, you get a shallower depth-of-field, and therefore, a more blurry background. If you use a higher ISO instead, you get more digital noise. In some cases a blurry background is desirable, so this may be an easy choice.