A Beginner’s Guide to Photography

Photography is a hard subject, to begin with, and you may wonder where to start. What are the best cameras for beginners? How can you learn photography easily? Well, you’re about to find out. Here, I’ll take you through the steps of photography for beginners, so that you can take the best pictures possible.

How cameras work: Where you Begin

When trying to understand photography, you need to first find a good camera for beginner photographer types. However, what’s the point in understanding photography when you don’t even know what cameras entail? Most photography tutorials don’t even tell you the first three elements that you need to know.

I’ll tell you about them below.

The first part of camera 101 is the aperture, which is the diameter of the hole within the lens. Changing this changes the hole size, and it allows for more, or less light into the camera, allowing you to create your final image.

Next, you’ve got the shutter speed, which most beginner cameras do take into account. But, you should understand that when you adjust the shutter speed, it takes in less or more light, which will capture or freeze motion. These go from 1 to 1/1000 and it represents the length and the amount of the motion blur.

Next, you have ISO, which is the sensor that captures the light that your camera captures. The higher the ISO, the more sensitive it is, but also the more digital noise. When you’re in the sun, you’ll want low ISO, but higher ISO captures more sensitivity yes, but also more noise, and you’ll get a better picture at night. In dark areas, you need higher ISO, but the subject will need to stand still.

So how does photography work well, the light that’s captured showcases the image that you’re looking for? Basically learning how to do photography is based on how you handle light, and there are different photo techniques that play a part in this.

Now, let’s talk as well about exposure, the next part of photography once you understand the three basic elements.

Exposure: How you Capture images

If nothing else, you need to know exposure, and most photography tutorials focus on this. Understanding how to utilize exposure will let you take better photos. Basically, you combine all of the elements of the aperture, the shutter speed, and the ISO, in order to create different elements that create exposure.

So, all of these create exposure, and they can also affect the depth of a picture, how much blur there is, and digital noise.

Understanding all of this is the way to becoming a good photographer. You will need to play around with manual mode, which is how you create some of those amazing photo techniques that you see.

Essentially, you should consider exposure as a type of a triangle, so that when combined, they control the light that’s captured.

So everything involving exposures happens in three steps. Let's begin with aperture, which again, is the hole that lets light through. It’s literally like how your eye works, and that’s why people say photography is working with light since both your eyes and photography involve both of this. The wider the aperture, the more light allowed in. as the aperture widens, you'll notice that the f/number starts to get lower, allowing for more light, which is good for low light, but this will affect the depth of the field, so if you’re taking landscapes it will make your photos look very flat. Aperture is essentially the setting that you set first since this affects the scene that is focused on. So, if you want to set up your scene and the light, you should begin with this.

But, if you’re taking photos of something that’s moving for example, such as maybe a cat or a dog, you need to also think about the shutter speed, and aperture is actually second to that in some cases.

Then you have shutter speed which, once you've decided how much light is going to pass through, you need to decide how much will be allowed into the camera itself.

Now, when you are learning photography 101, chances are you probably aren’t going to be working with high-action scenes, but instead, you're getting basic training photos to work with. That is because you want to have the shutter speed at a very low level in order to prevent motion blur. So you’re taking pictures of a table, you want a smaller shutter speed. But, if you’re wanting something that captures the moment in a crisp manner, without blur, you’re going to want to go super fast, and even faster. Sports photography for example usually utilizes a shutter speed of 1/4000, and if you’re taking pictures at night, you need a very slow shutter speed. You should figure out how much light is available to you, and what you’re shooting.

The shutter speed essentially filters out how much of the light you’re letting in. If you have the aperture set to a level where you are getting lots of light in, you can use a much lower shutter speed, in order to help eliminate the blur all that much in the picture.

Finally, you’ve got the ISO, which in turn is when the light passes through the aperture but filtered by how fast the shutter speed is, and then, the ISO is basically the sensor, which is the final place the light goes to.

When you turn the ISO up, your exposure will increase, but the image quality does decrease. This is often called digital noise, and this can affect the quality of the picture.

Have you ever seen those images where it looks a little bit grainy, even though you have no motion blur within the image? that’s the ISO, and usually, if you’re working with a subject that has a lot of movement, you may want to up the ISO.

Essentially, when learning the basics of photography, you need to understand all of these, and for many people, if you don’t have this down, you’ll struggle even with beginner photography. You should prioritize the aperture, the shutter speed, then finally ISO in every single photo, and learn to manipulate these each time.


Understanding your Camera Itself

Next, you’ll realize when learning even a beginner photography camera, that it’s super confusing. There are so many different modes, and even the DSLR direct reviews don't’ really tell you a lot about what you’re working with. Here, we’ll go into understanding the different camera modes, and why they matter.

Metering Mode

What the heck is that? Well, essentially this is how your camera looks at the light, and it’s more than just learning the aperture, ISO, and the shutter speed. While there are free online photography courses that go into detail on this, you will want to understand that different cameras have different modes. You can use different levels of exposure, and different modes, and from there, you can prevent the images from coming out over or underexposed.

Histograms

This is literally a review of the photo exposure once the picture is taken, and it literally shows how exposed a photo is, whether it be for better or for worse. Start camera types don’t really go into this clearly, but sometimes if the LCD is decent, you may get a good picture of the type of information that is being displayed, since they are affected by the lighting conditions.

The histogram is a good way to understand beginner photography, though it may be a little confusing when beginning.

Modes for Shooting

so you have different camera modes, and they include Auto, programming mode, shutter speed priority, manual mode, and aperture priority. How do you figure out which one you should use? Well, there's a lot of misinformation about it, and a lot of guides will tell you not use manual mode. Well, the best way to learn is to understand each of the different modes, and how they affect the settings.

Shutter speed focuses on the speed of the shutter, giving you a picture that’s either blurred or very crisp and clear. This is good for taking pictures that involve a moving object

Aperture focuses on the light, automatically adjusting for the ideal settings. Again, this is good if light is the focus of the subject and not the depth of the field as in the case of a landscaped image.

You have auto mode, which automatically adjusts the settings for your camera, which is good for beginner photographers, but in order to fully learn all these basics, you need to learn how to not shoot in just auto mode.

Finally, you’ve got programming mode, which basically a setting that is in between the aperture and shutter speed focus, but also between auto mode. you’re pretty much controlling the ISO, so if you want to manipulate the ISO while still getting a picture that is incredibly clear, this is the way to do it. It works wonders especially if you are struggling with learning how ISO affects pictures, and it can be a good way to learn digital photography, especially at a basic level such as this.

When learning photography, you need to understand these modes, so you have an idea of how to manipulate the picture for success.

Depth of Field

This is another part of photography that you need to know. This is something that happens when you shoot with a higher aperture. The wider the aperture, the shallower the depth of the field. While this can be used creatively, it also has some practical applications. If you want to have a flatter look to a picture, you use a wider one. If you’re trying to create a narrower and more focused scene, you use a narrower aperture. This is another element of photography you need to play with in order to understand.

White balance

If you’re learning digital photography, you need to learn white balance, and basic photography classes sometimes overlook this. You definitely need to look into this, since it can make or break a photo, and it’s responsible for the warmth of the picture, determining whether something will be blue, orange, warm, or cold. Auto white balance doesn’t do a good job, especially when you have tungsten light, so you should definitely learn white balance. Any beginners guide to photography should also discuss this since it is a key part of trying to create the perfect image.

Focal Length

Have you ever wondered what that mm means when you’re looking at your camera? Well, that’s actually the “zoom” of the picture, and it includes this perspective on it. You should figure out which focal length works for different situations, and some people tend to use longer ones for portraits in order to cover the entire nuances of your subject. Good beginner camera bodies tend to have this feature, and you can play with it in order to manipulate I in the way that you want to.

Crop Factor

Unless you’re spending a couple of grand on a camera, you’re going to have a crop sensor, which essentially means that the sensor is smaller than other SLR cameras, which means that it will crop the image, and it affects the photos, which can influence the lens that you get. You should research the field that you’re going into before getting a beginner photography camera since this can affect how much the image will be cropped when you take it.

Polarizing filters

This allows for light to come in from one general direction, removing the reflection and glare from objects that aren’t metallic. Water and glass tend to be the most affected, including the hazes created from the sky. Cutting out reflections will crate saturated photos. While it does look great, you can’t edit this, so you should make sure that if you're going to use this, you learn to understand it.


How to Take Good Images

So we’ve touched on the body, and the different modes you have with your camera. Now, let’s talk about the 10 steps that you need to take in terms of taking professionally sharp photos. You want to make sure that you shoot in raw, choose the correct aperture, and the shutter speed. These are easy to understand, but doing them wrong can affect your photos, that’s for sure.

There are ten things that you should make sure you have in mind when you take good images, and they are as follows:

  • Use a faster shutter speed—that will get you crisper images.
  • Use a tripod—helps with keeping the images nice and crisp, and also prevents shaky hands.
  • Focus it properly—Pick the best area to focus on, and set that onto there.
  • Use a good lens—a 50 mm is a good one, to begin with, and you should begin with that, and know where to go from there.
  • Keep your lens clean—a good lens will only do so much. If there is dirt, it creates a noticeable effect on photos.
  • Stabilize the image—if you have image stabilizations, turn it on, so you can shoot at lower shutter speeds and narrow apertures, and you should make sure to turn it off when using a tripod since it can negatively affect photos.
  • Use a base ISO—the base ISO is the best one since it gives you the sharpest photos and reduces the noise.
  • Get the lens sweet spot—if you do it between f/8 and f/11, you’ll have the best field that works to prevent too much blur and a narrower depth and makes the pictures less flat.
  • Use light— the lighter the better, and it affects the sharpness of photos, and you can actually use flash to fill it up, but camera lights do the job even better.
  • Shoot in RAW—seriously, do this, since it will let you have the sharpest picture, and you should make sure you do have the right amount of sharpness to it.

Consider these ten tricks when looking to shoot the best photos, and many beginner photography guides can provide more information on this too.

The right Lens Matters

The first thing you’ll want is a camera that handles the photography basics well and a good lens. You should get one that’s 50 mm and f/1.8 in terms of frame, and these are typically the standards for DSLRs.

This is good as well for understanding aperture, and later on, you can get better lenses. You also will want to understand composition to take good photos, but if you’re struggling with this, you should learn the rules first before you continue.

The Rule of thirds

Next, you need to know the rule of thirds. The idea of this is that you divide your camera into thirds, and you want to put the objects on these lines, making the image work well. While it is a good thing to know, don’t go crazy with this. Beginner photographers tend to go a little bit overboard with this, but it can improve the photos and make them interesting.

Visual Weight

The next thing you want to know is the visual weight, and this is basically what we’re drawn to look into. When you look at this, you’ll start to see what the viewer will look at initially, and the elements that will direct the attention to where you want them to look. It’s understanding where you want the person’s focus to go towards.

Triangles

Next, you have triangles, which is everything that you want to look at, and distinguishing what you want to do with them, making them simple to manipulate, and are very common, and it’s one of the simplest compositions, and are good for different techniques too, including line and paths, and you can even use them to help stabilize the photos too.

Eye Lines

This is a big one for photos of people. You want to make sure that you have the eye lines, especially when viewing photos. It’s essentially the direction the eyes of the subject are going to. The space in front of the subject is known as the “lead room.” For example, if you focus on that, and know how the subject is looking at something, it creates tension and other elements too. While they aren’t literal lines, they create different elements, and in turn, you can create the triangles in the picture when you’re working with this, along with vertical lines.

Balance

Balance is another important part of it, and it’s how we feel when we see a picture. If you see a photo that is unbalanced, it can make you feel easy, and a balanced one is more relaxing. It really shouldn't matter whether you balance or unbalance a photo, but different situations call for different things, since it can affect a photo in different ways, and after you’ve put all of this together, you need to look at this, so that you understand whether or not you’re creating the right effect.


Conclusion

Photography is fun, and you can play with your camera, learn photography basics, and from there, master the photography techniques that you want.

There are other resources that you can use as well, including photography classes for beginners, which are good if you’re less of an online person when it comes to learning a skill. If you want to learn online, there are many online classes that will teach you how to get started in photography, along with digital photography for beginners that will help you better understand not just your camera, but also simple photography tips and tricks to take it to the next level.

But, your next step is to get a camera and begin with this, and hopefully, this guide can help you learn photography so that you can be the best photographer possible, and helped you understand the nuances of this so you can make the best images possible.

>