Taking good photos has never become easier. Social networks, smartphone cameras, and constant internet connection have completely changed the definition of “amateur photographer” and the way we take, share and interact with photos. Cameras on our phones have become so good that, with the right knowledge, one can use them hand in hand with some entry-level DSLRs. However, even the biggest names in the industry have to have started from the bottom and worked their way to the top using the same basic tips we have prepared for you.
Learn what different camera modes represent
Almost all basic point and shoot cameras have a manual, automatic and programmed mode. Manual mode lets you specify the conditions before capturing a photo, automatic mode chooses the best settings and applies them by itself, while the programmed mode is used to pre-determine some of the characteristics and is often used when shooting a single, unchanging object. Photography beginners are advised to avoid the programmed mode as it imposes those pre-determined characteristics, or effects, onto your photo. It’s always better to control the settings manually and add the effects later in post-production.
Rule of thirds
One of the essential things to know in photography, the rule of thirds shows us that photos will always look better when the subject is not centered. This may sound a bit strange, having in mind that most portraits are made dead center. But almost every camera, including the one on your smartphone, has a grid mode, which splits the image into two horizontal and two vertical lines. Placing an item of interest onto those lines or at the points where the lines meet leads to better composition.
That’s why, for example, the best photographs never feature horizons dead in the middle, but rather align the horizon along the bottom or the top third line, depending on what the photographer wants to be in focus, the ground or the sky. If you have a subject in the foreground, whether it’s a tree or a person, try placing them against the left or the right third line.
The holy trinity of shutter speed, exposure, and aperture
To summarize this as briefly as possible:
- Exposure, or ISO, represents the camera’s sensitivity to light. Lower ISO is better, however, chips with high ISO are capable of taking photos even in situations with very low light, but the pictures will end up having more noise. Noise is a word photographers use to describe a grainy photo.
- Aperture controls the amount of light going through the lens. It’s indicated by what is called an f-number, where each of the numbers representing the size of the hole which lets the light in. Higher number characterizes a smaller opening, meaning the background will be in focus.
- Finally, shutter speed describes how long the shutter stays open. It’s expressed in milliseconds and short shutter speed is used for capturing a moment, while longer times are used to paint the image of motion in a picture.
Always take the highest quality photos
Whether you are using a Nikon, Fuji or any of the Canon EOS cameras, taking low-res photos does increase the file saving speed, which can be useful when taking a continuous shot. Nonetheless, memory cards have become so cheap in the last couple of years that there aren’t any excuses for low-resolution photos. Try using a camera which is capable of taking pictures in RAW format, as they contain all the data the camera sensor has received, making them easier to work with. You can’t fix a lousy JPEG, but raw photos can be salvaged and manipulated further after being taken.
These are some of the tips and explanations of photography and camera essentials for beginners and it’s always good to know what exactly needs to be done in order to bring out the best out of a picture. Have in mind that reading an article online can never be replaced with practical first-hand experience followed by hard-work and dedication to the craft. Even the professionals are using these tips in their everyday work, so try to incorporate them into your learning curve and you’ll be making top-notch photos in no time.