A good photograph is one that captures the viewer’s attention. The photographer has to be able to tell a story with the photo. A good photo should convey a message, evoke emotion, and tell an interesting story.

A good photographer has to be skilled in their craft because they have to know how to use the camera and various lenses for different purposes. They also need to know about light and how it affects photographs.

Table of Contents

    Basics Of Photography

    If you are a sports fan, you know what it means when a team goes into a “rebuilding year”.  It is just when the owners or coaches decide its time to train new members and correct bad habits in others.  And invariably, what team leadership says when they go into such a time is that they are going “back to basics.”

    Sometimes it’s good for us as photographers to go back to basics.  And, of course, if you are just getting started in the world of photography and want to learn “the ropes”, the basics are a natural start.  But you want the basics of what the professionals know about the craft of photography.

    Anybody can take a picture.  I attended a wedding reception where the wedding party left a disposable digital camera on each table at the reception for guests to snap photos.  Before the evening was over, it was the children who were running around taking pictures of everything from the dirty dishes to their own underwear.  These were not photographers and while those pictures will no doubt get a few chuckles, these are not the kind of professional pictures people want for their long-term memories.

    Obviously, the cornerstone of the basics of photography is the camera.  When you see a camera geek walking around with enough equipment on his neck to launch a space shuttle, you get the impression that cameras are phenomenally complex, more than mere mortals can grasp.  But look at the professionals and you see them working with portable, relatively easy to operate cameras.  That is because the basics of running a camera come down to aperture and shutter speed.

    Now don’t get nervous about fancy terms.  Aperture is just a term for how wide your camera lens is open to let in light.  And shutter speed is just how long you let the light come in to affect the picture.  For getting a shot of a fast moving event, you want a wide aperture to let in a lot of light but a short shutter speed so you capture the event quickly and close the window so the picture is caught before more light hurts the quality.

    Photography is really all about light.  You can and will get learn a lot about lenses and flash photography and other ways to turn the control over the lighting of a shot to you.  So add to your core skills of photography a willingness to never stop learning.  The better and more sophisticated you get in your ability to work with the equipment, the more you will learn and the more you will want to learn.

    You can get a greater control over these basic controls of the camera such as aperture and shutter speed by learning how to switch from automatic settings to manual settings.  The automatic settings of any camera are just there for the general public who are not interested in learning the basics.  So they give you some basic settings like landscape, portrait and sports settings.  By switching to manual, you can learn what settings work best in different situations.

    And that takes us to the most important basic about becoming a great photographer and that is practice.  Take some time with your equipment and play with it.  Take it to situations and take photos with different aperture and shutter speed settings, in outdoor and indoor settings and different orientations to light.  Don’t get upset when some shots don’t work.  That’s part of the learning curve.

    By learning by doing, you will build your confidence in your work and eventually become a great photographer.  But don’t get cocky, there is always more to learn.  And that is one of the fun things about photography, isn’t it?

    Mastering the Basics of Digital Photography

    Digital photography can be a great hobby or a lucrative profession. Some people take pictures mainly to capture memories of family and friends while others are avid shooters of sunsets and landscapes. Whatever your reasons for taking pictures, knowing a little about digital photography can make a huge difference in the quality of your photos.

    Reading the Manual

    For the most part, no one likes pouring over a long manual to learn what their electronics can do. People often just attempt to learn through practice and figure things out on their own. With your digital camera, you could be overlooking a lot of features that come with it and some of these settings will make quite a difference in how your pictures turn out. You don’t need to adjust every setting manually, but for times when you’re in extreme lighting conditions or unusual weather it can be handy to know which setting will correct the inconveniences of your environment.

    Experiment and Play

    A lot of new digital camera users are afraid to change any settings on their camera in fear that they won’t be able to change things back. Again, reading your manual can give you the knowledge to restore settings. When a photo doesn’t look exactly how you’d like it to, take the same picture over and over with every different setting you can think of. With time and practice, you’ll know what each setting can do and you’ll barely have to think when it comes to deciding which mode to use for every situation.

    Using different lighting, angles, and composition can also have quite an effect on your photo’s outcome. Trying different things with backlighting, object placement, and subject centering could turn your plain old photo into something incredibly pleasing to the eye with highlighting and shadowing you wouldn’t have expected.

    Editing Software

    Your digital photography self education shouldn’t stop at your camera. Once you get your photos uploaded to your computer, use the software provided to fix any little flaws, colour issues, or unwanted noise. Experimenting with these settings will introduce you to new effects and editing techniques you may have never thought of trying before.

    Digital photography has a unique advantage over film by allowing you to view your photo immediately and delete what you don’t like. This makes experimenting with settings and lighting much easier because you can see right away what kind of effect you’ll be getting. With time, practice, and familiarity with your camera, deciding which settings or angle to use will become more and more natural and you’re increasing skills will be reflected in your work.

    The Equipment Basics

    When getting started with digital photography, there will be a few standard pieces of equipment you’ll need to purchase. If this is to be a casual hobby, or you’re just learning, you don’t need to go all out and buy everything top of the line, but getting some quality items that will last you a long time and can take great shots is very important. Start with the basics and upgrade your equipment over time as needed.

    The Camera

    The main thing you’ll need to get started in digital photography is a decent digital camera. They’re available with many different features and at varying price ranges, so depending on what you plan to do with your camera and what your skill level is, finding the perfect camera is a matter of understanding what each one is capable of. The cheapest, lowest quality model may not take you very far while the most expensive model could be a waste of money. Too many features could also make a certain camera more difficult or confusing to learn on.

    Digital Photography Gear

    A simple, standard tripod will be a great addition to your digital photography equipment. For pictures that require longer exposure or are taken in low light, a tripod will make a huge difference in the quality of your photos. Your camera itself will come with a kit lens, but you may find it necessary to purchase one or two additional zoom or macro lenses for close up and wide range shots.

    Camera Bags and Cases

    Your digital photography equipment is an investment so you’ll want to protect your camera and everything that goes with it. A durable camera bag is essential to provide protection to your gear while allowing you to conveniently store and transport everything. Getting a water proof camera bag will give you a little extra protection against rain and humidity. You may also find it handy to purchase a bag with extra pockets and compartments for batteries, lenses, and adapters.

    All the Little Stuff

    A large memory card plus a few spares will be vital when out shooting for long periods of time. The same goes for spare rechargeable batteries. Running out of room to store your photos or being stuck with no power can be a disaster when you come across a beautiful landscape or a candid moment that needs capturing. Having extras of everything will ensure you never miss an opportunity for a great shot.

    Be sure to read your manuals and train yourself to use your equipment properly. Knowing your camera’s capabilities will allow you to get the most from your digital photography efforts. Purchase just the basic equipment when you’re first starting out and add more advanced equipment as you hone your skills and become more experienced in the world of digital photography.

    Finding the Camera That Suits You Best

    Choosing the right digital camera when undertaking a new hobby or profession in digital photography will be the key element to your success and photo quality. With such a wide range of camera types and prices, it’s important to know every option that’s available to you and buy only what suits your needs.

    Equipment Costs

    Your digital photography budget may be limited, so determine first how much you’ll be willing and able to spend and take a portion off for the additional accessories you’ll require such as memory cards, batteries, a tripod, and a camera bag. Once you know what you have left to spend on the camera itself, determine which features you think you’ll absolutely need and which ones will be useless to you. As you progress in your digital photography skills and interest, you may decide to upgrade, but buying an inexpensive digital camera to start off with can be an excellent device to learn on.

    Camera and Photo Size

    Digital cameras come in all shapes and sizes and some can be big and bulky while others are incredibly compact. A tiny camera may be less cumbersome to shoot with, but keep in mind that it may not have as many added features or might not photograph with the same quality a larger one would have. Photo size is something else to consider because digital cameras with less megapixels will not be able to provide decent quality for large photos. More megapixels will allow your photo to be printed on a larger scale while retaining the proper resolution and preventing pixelation.

    Additional Features

    A large LCD screen can be very handy when trying to review your pictures as you take them. Especially when photographing in extreme lighting conditions, such as too sunny or too dark, a bright, large screen can allow you to see the shots you’ve taken much more clearly. When it comes to zooming, pay attention to whether the zoom feature is optical zoom or digital zoom. Optical zoom will extend the lens of your camera while digital will just magnify the image. Magnifying could result in loss of quality, so choosing an optical zoom feature whenever possible will give you better shots.

    Too many features could make your camera more difficult to use and will likely increase the price of that device. Decide in advance which features you’ll require to prevent overpaying and buying things you don’t need. In time, if you become more serious with your digital photography endeavors, you may find you’ll need to upgrade and at that point you’ll likely have a more specific idea of your camera needs.

    Simple, But Effective Lighting Techniques

    Poor lighting can make it nearly impossible to get a decent photo but by trying a few techniques you may be able to get more out of your low light photos or extra sunny action shots. Trying different settings and becoming familiar with your camera will go a long way in helping you decide which modes to use so experiment as often as possible when you’re in unusual lighting conditions.

    Artificial Lighting

    In low light, you may need to use an internal or external flash. It can take time and practice to develop an eye for lighting conditions, but by experimenting with one or multiple external lighting sources you’ll be able to determine the best ways to shine a little more light onto your subject. Sometimes you may want additional shadow or highlighting effects and external lighting placement will bring these effects out much more dramatically.

    Auto Settings

    Your camera’s auto settings can come in handy in many situations, but sometimes it can sabotage you for the more complicated shots. If you’re getting unsatisfactory results with every picture, turn off your auto settings and try experimenting with the white balance and flash settings on your own. Some cameras will also have preset modes you can try that are customized for night, sunny, or cloudy scenes.

    Low Light Obstacles

    When trying to get a decent shot at night, sometimes the settings that fix your lighting issues add other problems instead. Low shutter speeds can be good for low light images but can make pictures blurry if there’s any movement. Using a tripod can eliminate this problem for any still shots you might be taking. Higher ISO settings can also help, but extra noise can be added to your image. Some noise can be edited out on your photo editing software, so what can’t be fixed when shooting could be corrected later.

    When you find a technique or setting that really works for you, make a note of it and try it in other situations. With more and more practice, overcoming lighting issues will become a natural reflex. It will take time to train your eyes to asses your lighting situation, but once you get the hang of it, your photos will show a huge improvement.

    Lighting Tips

    Photography requires a few skills to make your prints look professional.  One part of making a print professional is lighting.  Lighting in photography takes a little planning and understanding of a few techniques.  You best subject or object might not turn out that way if the proper light does not help to laminate the area. Below are a few tips on using light for photography.

    First you must decide if you will use artificial or sunlight.  If you are using sunlight you will rely on the Kelvin scale to determine the temperature of light and therefore the color of light.  The color of light is important to maintaining the colors you see around you.  For instance the warmer the light the redder the light will be, thus you may need to pick the time you will go out and shoot photographs. Outdoor lighting offers so many different times to take pictures depending on your need.

    Next a photographer needs to understand the sun’s color scale.  Pictures tend to lead the viewer towards certain feelings; often softer colors evoke more emotion.  So understanding the suns impact on the colors will help you find the correct time of day.  The sun evokes blue hues in the morning hours, while closer to noon you will find more neutral colors.  The neutral colors can take away some of the definition you want in your print.  Knowing how you want to shot the picture will also help you determine when you wish to take the shot.

    When using natural light you will need to work with the angle and direction of the sunlight.  If the sunlight is broad and diffused you will have softer shadows while the more narrow the light is focused the more shadow you can create.  Often at noon when the sun is in mid arc you lose definition of the subject.  The subject could look grainy.  This is why shadow is used; the shadows can give you more quality to the print if used correctly. This adds to the beauty of your pictures.

    You can also modify sunlight through certain techniques.  Modifying sunlight when taking portraits outdoors requires the use of a background.  You may wish for a breath taking landscape that will provide more composition to the photo.  You may need to block the sun if it interferes with you or your subject’s sight.  You might also bring in a white surface to fill the shadows.  Landscape photography requires less work than usually natural light for portraits.  In fact using natural sunlight for landscape photography without modifications can yield you a better photograph.

    Landscape photography uses nature to provide the light and shadows.  This is why you need to understand the light scale and temperature.  Time is the most important aspect of using sunlight.  To understand natural lighting you need to understand the affects the sun will have at certain times of the day.  For instance if you are in a thickly vegetative forest the sunlight will have difficulty streaming in unless it is over head.  You will have natural shadows in the forest and remember you can move around your subject to find the best angle with the sun.

    Photography is an art that requires techniques and practice.  Lighting is a major part of photography, especially when you are using natural light.  Sunlight can bring plenty of shadows or take them away depending on the time of day.  Knowing the best time to take a photograph depends on the sun’s angle.  Photography is an interesting hobby and profession when practiced properly will give you plenty of prints for your home and others.

    Whether you are a professional or a novice photographer, you want to produce some exquisite pictures with the proper lighting. With this in mind, choose your lighting according to your needs and the needs of your subject or object. Your pictures will be delightful with brightness when you use the best lighting situation.

    Use Of Filters in Photography

    Filters have two different meanings depending on how long you have had photography as a hobby.  Most of us today think as filters as an option with Photoshop.  This is not the case.  Before the invention of computers and things like Photoshop we had small glass discs to create the filtered affect.  There are many options with filters you can blur a picture, sharpen the picture, and even block out the UV rays.  Filters are often used to correct a problem or make a picture look a little different.

    Lets talk about filters that blur a photograph.  When you are taking a picture of a waterfall at the bottom where the water rises in a cloud you can add a filter to create the cloud in the picture.  Cameras don’t always see what the eye sees.  In some cases it can have a high resolution to depict the actual water drops rather than the cloud, so adding a filter to your lens can help create the effect your eye sees.

    Other filters such as the UV protector guard against the harsh rays.  Along with the UV filter you should have a polarizer.  The polarizer is used in photography when you are taking a shot into direct sunlight or other light.  It will help balance out the photograph so that you don’t get the washed out look.  Other filters can give you the washed out effect if you feel your photography would speak more.  The filters in Photoshop are not as wide as the filters you can actually buy for your camera, but they can have some of the same effects that you are after.

    Have you ever wanted to create a star effect when taking pictures of light filtering through the trees?  You can create a star effect with any photograph by using a star effect filter.  This filter allows light to pass through a series of thin lines etched into the filter letting the light streak outward in a star shape.

    Some filters actually help you create a depth of field or focal point.  The fog/ mist filter is one of these.  The fog/ mist filter allows for a glow or flare of light in the photograph.  Photography is filled with much skill and equipment.  Having filters to help create the perfect professional photograph will enhance your fun with your hobby.  Lets look at a few more filters.

    There are color correcting lenses.  If the sky is too blue for the photograph you can choose a filter that will tamp down the blue to a less bright state.  If you are into underwater photography you might have filters that allow for the underwater colors.  The color spectrum does not have a great range under water.  A lot of things will look red even though they are not.  It is easy to bring about the original color of underwater life when you use special filters for color correction.

    The use of filters in photography not only allows you to have special effects in a photograph to create something new and different, but it can help enhance the shot by adding color or dampening the natural effects of light.  Photography has many types of equipment that require skill and knowledge making it a wonderful hobby or profession. If you need a hobby, photography allows you to be creative.

    Which Digital Photography Software Is Right For You?

    Choosing the right digital photography software can be almost as important as choosing the right camera. While your digital camera will play the largest role in capturing those stunning shots, your software will be the behind the scenes editor that cleans up any noise and corrects your colour when lighting conditions or white balance was less than perfect.

    Editing to Perfection

    So many photos we take are almost perfect but they have those one or two little flaws. Most photo editing software will allow you to touch up basic colour issues or red eye, but some can provide you with much more involved editing options to give you complete control over your final result. If digital photography is a casual hobby for you, anything more than the basic features may just make the program more complicated to use. Digital photography professionals will likely prefer software with all the bells and whistles to touch up even the most subtle flaws.

    Photo Editing Fun

    Photo editing software isn’t only for correcting colours and flaws. Many programs allow you to add or remove people and objects or insert borders and other images. Certain programs come with features which will allow you to create greeting cards, calendars, albums, or storybooks. You can scan and touch up older photos as well by enhancing the colour and luster that may have been lost with age or low quality equipment.

    Sharing and Storing

    With online communications being as they are, quite often we don’t even print our pictures out to share and enjoy anymore. Many digital photography software programs have features which give you a variety of online sharing and photo album options or will have user friendly settings that help you store your photos on your computer for easy access in the future.

    Choosing the Right Software

    Many cameras come with their own free software, so trying these programs out first will give you a better idea of the features you’re looking for. If you find that the included software just doesn’t fit your needs, more advanced software can be found and purchased easily online. Take advantage of any free trials you’re offered to see if that particular software is right for you before buying anything.

    It’s important to fully research the software you intend to buy because the features included and ease of product use can differ drastically with every program. For some, a basic and easy to use program will fit all your needs. Others may require much more complicated software that might be a little more expensive. Starting with the software included with your camera and testing free trials can give you a much better idea of what you’re looking for should you decide to buy any new photo editing software.

    Earning an Income with Digital Photography

    Digital photography can be a great hobby but there are plenty of ways to make money from it as well. If you love taking pictures and you’re always snapping off photos anyways, why not try earning a little extra income from it? Not only can it be nice to have some extra money coming in, it can be incredibly rewarding to know someone is willing to pay for the photos you’ve put so much effort into taking.

    Stock Photos

    Selling your images online can be an easy way to put your digital photography efforts out there. You may not make much per photo, but if you’re taking tons of pictures anyways, uploading them to a micro stock website and selling larger quantities could bring in quite a bit of money over time. You may even choose to set up your own stock photo website and sell them individually or with a certain number of images per pack.

    Personal Photographer

    Putting up local ads or getting your name out there by word of mouth could open you up to custom jobs. Taking candid shots for weddings and birthdays or shooting display photos for hair salons, bakeries, or other businesses can be a fun way to make some extra money while practicing your digital photography skills and developing them further.

    Selling to the Media

    Being in the right place at the right time can put you in the position to get some great shots. By attending local events and taking pictures of whatever you can, you may get some shots you can sell to newspapers or magazines. While these types of media will generally have their own photographer on hand, they’re almost always willing to pay for freelance photos if you’ve taken shots they can use.

    Selling Locally

    Creating cards, calendars, or postcards with your photos and selling them at local art or coffee shops can be another good way to establish yourself as a serious photographer. Experiment with different angles, lighting, and composition and you may find yourself producing incredibly artful prints that people are willing and eager to buy. Keep shooting everything you can and when you discover the techniques that work best for you, put them out into the public however you can so people can see the work you’re capable of.

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