Many people enjoy photography, be it as a hobby or as a career. Shutterbugs – amateur photographers that fall in love with a camera and the act of taking photos, is a term in photography slang related to the camera’s “shutter”, the part of the camera that allows your images sensor or film to be exposed.
Like other artists such as painters and sculptors, photographers must look beyond the status quo and think creatively because, as is in all forms of art, creativity is much more important than anything else. As you become serious in your photographic endeavors, you’ll realize your changing perception of your surroundings. Your eye will become trained to see the things around you. You will start to observe potential subjects, images, and compositions all the time, learning to look out into the world with a different eye. You’ll be able to easily run a professional photo shoot. You will seek out your new subject and, as your proficiency behind the camera develops, you will be able to take better and better photos. Any person can learn the tricks of photography and go from amateur to professional.
Photography is a Time-Consuming Activity
Getting started in photography and becoming a great photographer is not achieved overnight. It takes a lot of time to learn and practice consistently, developing your photography over time. While photography is not a simple hobby, each day or hour of practice you put in can have astounding results on your skill.
Taking a photography course online will teach you the basics and essential technical aspects of taking quality photos. Perhaps you are even considering a career in photography since your friends and family tell you that you are a skilled photographer, so you are considering going professional. Whatever the reason for your interest, you’re here because you want to find out how to quickly improve as a photographer.
There is a wealth of resources about photography – from online courses to eBooks, to video tutorials, available at your fingertips. There are also a myriad of classes in which you can work with other photographers and professional photographers. In the digital age, all this information is ripe for the picking.
Developing Your Ability to See the World from a Different Perspective
Learning the techniques and the technical side of photography is essential to becoming a great photographer, but it’s equally important to master the artistry of photography. Color theory, composition, creativity, and working with light: these are all fundamental to your success as a photographer. Since photography is a creative art, having the creative vision behind your images is key to success.
The modern photographer must create artistic photos by using the right lens, having the right level of exposure, capturing an original composition, and of course, making sure the lighting is just right. Good photos will capture attention and evoke emotion. Those buying photographs are often looking for something different and creative, something grandiose or monumental, or something where subtlety is key. Find your place as a photographer and learn how you can create those photographs.
It takes time to develop an eye for photography, and it’s best to do some research and look through galleries, photo expositions, books, and magazines to get inspiration. The most important part of this process, however, is that you don’t put down your camera. There is only so much that you can research before you have to actually take photographs. Think about what you are trying to capture in the photos you take before you start. The art of photography involves taking pictures that capture unique images and moments from your perspective.
The Photographer’s Perspective is More Important than the Camera
Think of a camera as a piece of equipment to help you capture images. There are many types of cameras. DSLR cameras are the most popular, and they all offer similar features. When switching from amateur to professional photography, it’s essential to buy high-quality equipment that will fulfill client expectations. For amateur or hobby photographers, an affordable camera will be enough. An entry-level camera with a sturdy tripod, the right zoom lens, and flash will enable you to take good photos. If you can’t afford a camera or aren’t overly keen to invest in photography yet, learn to take photographs with your phone. No matter the equipment, your first photographs are unlikely to be anything amazing, so take the time to learn with your phone before feeling that it is necessary to invest in something more expensive.
Learn to Use the Camera
When deciding on a camera, make sure to study the features and technical descriptions of the camera. The type of camera you buy depends on what kind of photographs you want to take and how professional you plan to go. Take time to learn how to use it with all its functions properly. First of all, you should read the instruction manual to make sure you are operating the camera correctly. It’s essential to know how to set the ISO, the aperture, and how to set the camera on manual. Browse through the manual and read the sections thoroughly. Look at reviews and books about your camera. User reviews and professional reviews are helpful because they tell you the pros and cons of each camera. Additionally, don’t get too caught up in specifications and technical features that you may not use. Instead, look at what photographers that you are inspired by work with, and talk to independent camera store owners about what may be best for you.
Practice Taking Photos
In the digital age, the film is no longer required, saving you all the costs associated with developing film: an expensive and costly process in the past. Memory cards let you take thousands of photos without having to delete to make space regularly. That being said, make sure you invest in decent memory cards. A cheap memory card may end up costing you more than an expensive one.
To learn photography skills, take as many images as you can, using different settings. Spend a couple of days taking aperture priority shots, then the next few days, learn to use exposure settings. It takes practice to figure out how to capture what you see in the viewfinder correctly. Work through frustration and remember that it’s a process of trial and error. You will learn from your mistakes, and the photos will get better with time. And take a break to have some fun once in a while – don’t treat your photography like a job. A photo picture quiz can be just the trick!
Three Components of the Camera for those just getting started in photography
Consider that photography is a visual learning experience. But, it’s also essential to understand the technical elements of a camera. There are three crucial parts of the camera a photographer must be well acquainted with: the aperture, the shutter, and the sensor.
- Aperture refers to the diaphragm opening inside the lens. The size of the diaphragm determines how much light enters, and it will affect the depth of field of the photos. A shallow depth of field will result in blurred backgrounds, whereas a deep depth of field will create less blur but more of your subject will be in focus.
- Shutter speed affects the amount of time that your shutter is open, exposing your sensor to the light. To capture images that are dark, or if you want to have visible blurred motion, use a slow shutter speed. A faster shutter speed allows less light to pass through and for freezing motion or action, or lowering the amount of light in a scene.
- ISO is the sensitivity of your sensor to light. The higher your ISO, the brighter your image will be. This means that you can shoot anywhere from super dark to super light. Beware, however, using an extremely high ISO, as a high ISO will also lead to large amounts of digital noise in your images.
Now that you understand the three main functions of a camera, read on to find out more that will help you create high-quality images.
Amateur photographers will quickly learn that exposure is essential in capturing great photographs. Exposure refers to the combination of aperture, shutter speed, and ISO – therefore, mastering exposure is a must! The same three elements are also involved in motion blur, depth of field, and digital noise. Aperture, shutter speed, and ISO are known as the three parts of the ‘exposure triangle.’ The combination of the three controls how much light is captured in a scene. Think of it like this: if you want to capture an image and you change one setting, the others will need to be changed too.
Once you’ve learned how each element functions, you may begin using your camera in manual mode.
Think of the aperture as the pupil of the eye – a hole through which light passes. If the aperture is wide, more light will be allowed in, if it’s narrow, not a lot of light will pass through. Aperture size is measured using the f/stop scale. The wider the aperture, the lower the f/ number will be. This scale is a ration between diameter and focal length. A lower aperture setting can be useful when working with low light, but it can also be harmful when working with landscapes, as the depth of field becomes shallow. On the other hand, a lower aperture is great for taking images like portraits, where you want the eyes of your subject to be the key feature.
When working with settings, begin by setting up the aperture because it determines how much of your scene is in focus. When creating a motion blur scene, work with the shutter settings first. It all depends on the type of scene you are capturing.
It’s useful to memorize the f/stop scale: f/1.4, f/2, f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, f/8, f/11, f/16, f/22.
When the light passes through the aperture of a lens, it goes to the shutter. With the shutter speed, you decide how much light you are allowing into the camera. In most cases, you want only small fractions of a second to avoid any motion blur affecting your image. Different shutter speeds are appropriate for different situations. Depending on how much light you are working with, you’ll need different shutter speed settings. For example, at night, when the image is dark, you will need a very slow shutter speed. For fast action scenes like sporting events, you’ll want to use a fast shutter speed such as 1/4000 because you want to capture movement clearly and sharply.
If you want to get a lot of light without using a low aperture or a high ISO, consider using a very slow shutter speed and placing your camera on a tripod. This will result in a lot of light over time, which is perfect for still scenes. This won’t work with moving subjects, however, as they will be blurred.
A good understanding of shutter speeds is the key to success in the art of photography.
After the light passes through the aperture, it is filtered by the shutter speed, and then it reaches the sensor. At this point, the ISO must be set up. When you increase the ISO, there is a higher level of exposure. When the exposure level is high, the image quality declines, and there is more digital noise and grain. You must decide how much grain or noise you want in your image and how much you’re willing to turn up the exposure. In some cases, when shooting blurry scenes, it’s best to have more grain but capture stable images because it’s almost impossible to remove blur in post-production. Furthermore, nowadays you can severely lower the amount of visible grain in images.
Certainly, ISO can be a strange thing to think about and understand. An easy way is to think of it as a gain dial. The higher you turn the dial, the louder the music. The background volume, however, gets more and more apparent, with silence being replaced with a light hiss. That hiss is digital noise, and the same thing will happen to your images.
To master the art of photography, you must master the three essential elements of the exposure triangle and remember that overall exposure is the most important element next to creative execution. Without mastering the exposure triangle, it will be hard to learn the important compositional attributes of photography.
Keep reading to learn about the “stop” based system used in measuring exposure and how to know when to prioritize aperture, shutter speed, or ISO to create the best photos possible!
8 Must-Know Camera’s Features for first-time photographers
1. Metering Modes
Metering modes tell your camera how it should look at your scene. Spot metering mode chooses an exposure setting based on a specific spot. If you take photos using spot metering mode, they will turn out different from evaluative mode because they will have different exposure. Spot metering is great if you have a specific subject, like a person, that you want the image to capture. Understanding metering modes will allow you to correctly expose your images.
Histograms tell you how exposed a photo is by showing you a mathematical review of a photo after it is taken. This information is useful for beginner photographers because it shows the effects of exposure. The histogram is displayed on the camera’s LCD screen, although it might be hard to see depending on lighting conditions. Use the histogram to see if you have any parts of your images that are lost due to over- or under-exposure. If the histogram goes past the bounds of the graph, then you have over- or under-exposed.
3. Shooting Modes
You’re probably wondering how to decide which shooting mode to use? Popular modes such as manual mode, full-auto, program, aperture priority, and shutter speed priority can confuse any photographer, but remember that it depends on the shooting conditions. Make sure to learn what each mode does, and you’ll be able to choose the best mode for your shooting conditions. Most guides will tell you to start learning in full-manual mode and to stick to that because it is what professionals use. That, however, is not true. While you should learn in full-manual mode, once you have, you have the freedom to use whatever shooting mode you think works best for you in each situation.
4. Depth of Field
If you are shooting in low light conditions, you need to allow more light into the lens; therefore, you must widen the aperture. Shooting with a wide aperture can be tricky because it creates a shallow depth of field. Some photographers use shallow depth as a creative trick to enhance their photos. If you are shooting landscapes, for example, using a narrow aperture will make the entire scene stay in focus. If you need more light, lower your shutter speed, and use a tripod.
5. White Balance
The faster you understand white balance, the better because it will affect the tone of your photo. White balance determines the color cast of a picture; it is the setting responsible for the warmth of a photograph. The white balance determines whether your photo appears cold (blue) or warm (orange). Most cameras have an auto white balance feature, but it usually does not do a perfect job; thus, it’s better to set it yourself. The best way to go about that is shooting in a Camera RAW file format. These formats allow you to change the color temperature of your images after you have taken them.
6. Focal Length
You’re likely familiar with the ‘mm’ on your lens, but do you know what it means? The focal length determines the zoom of the camera, but it also changes the perspective of a shot. You need to know which focal length to use based on your shooting situation and what effects it will have on your image and how it will distort it.
7. Crop Factor
Most cheaper cameras have a crop sensor which will affect the shots. The sensor is much smaller than the sensor on professional and more expensive SLR cameras. The smaller sensor means that the effective focal length of your lens is increased. The crop can have different effects on your shots and might cut off vital parts of your image. For example, small sensors will give you a narrow viewing angle, affecting your perspective.
8. Polarizing Filters
Polarizing filters are responsible for allowing light into the lens only from a certain direction. What this means is that it removes the glare and reflections from non-metallic objects. Usually, there will be natural anomalies in photos, but without glare and reflections, you’ll have more saturated colors. Think about the haze in the sky, for example, or water and glass – these are usually the most affected objects, and it’s almost impossible to remove the glare and reflection in post-production, so doing it naturally while shooting is best.
An essential element of professional photography is to have sharp images. It’s a multi-step process that involves setting up the aperture and shutter speed to get more sharp and clear photos. Professionals recommend that you shoot in RAW format as opposed to JPEG. In JPEG format, information is lost during the process of compression.
For beginner photographers, buying a good lens is important. Start with the popular 50mm f/1.8 prime lens, which is an affordable lens for SLR cameras. It’s an affordable lens but excellent quality, perfect for beginners. It will teach you a lot about using aperture and shutter correctly. It will also teach you how important it is to move as a photographer. As a prime lens, you can’t zoom with it. That means that you have to move to get the image you want, which is a skill that will improve your photography tremendously.
Composition for Photography Beginners
Great photographs begin with a good understanding of artistic composition. Exposure is essential, but so is a good composition; therefore, every beginner should learn better compositional techniques.
There are some basic composition rules that photographers follow:
Rule 1: Rule of Thirds
The first rule is easy to follow and works for all beginners. Divide your frame into three parts (thirds). Place your significant objects into these thirds by adding at least one object in each section. Frame division is a simple yet great way to create quality photographs. But, make sure that your entire body of work isn’t simply subjects on lines of thirds.
Rule 2: Visual Weight
Visual weight refers to making particular objects/elements stand out in an image. Some objects will have a stronger visual weight (or influence) than others – they become focal points that stand out. Using visual weight properly will improve your compositions. Once you understand how to use visual weight, you’ll be able to attract the viewers’ eyes to the elements you want in a photo.
Rule 3: Triangles
As all photographers know, shapes are fundamental. You’ll find triangle shapes everywhere, both in nature and in photography. Learn to make the most of triangles and improve your compositions. Triangles are easy to use in composition since they are easy to use and modify to your advantage. For example, use triangles to make images stable or unstable. You can use triangles in combination with other compositional techniques, such as leading lines or the rule of thirds.
Rule 4: Eye-lines
When taking photos of humans, you are using eye lines. Eye lines refer to the direction of your subject’s eyes, the direction the eyes are facing. Eye lines directly affect how a photograph is viewed and perceived. The negative space in front of the subject’s eyes is known in photography terms as ‘lead room.’ This space will focus a viewer’s attention on a specific part of a photo. These lines create tension or produce compositional elements such as triangles or vertical lines.
Rule 5: Balance
Balance in a photo affects how we react to it: whether we are visually pleased or feel uneasy when looking at a picture. Unbalanced images will produce a feeling of uneasiness, whereas a balanced photo makes viewers feel relaxed. It’s essential to think about whether you want to portray balance or not in your composition. Learning to use the effect of balance to get the desired reaction from viewers is an integral part of mastering photography.
Now that you’ve read through the basics of digital photography, you can begin buying the right camera and equipment and start taking great photos and start your journey toward becoming a photographer.