Basics of Photography – The Ultimate Tips for Beginners

Basic photography is not about what camera or lens to buy. It’s all about you as a photographer to understand the basics of photography and become a better photographer.

Photography is no rocket science. Any one who has an intention to learn can start. Let’s look at some of the basics of photography you need to know to get started.

Consider this image:

This is the kind of image we all shoot as beginners in photography. Not a great image. Yes, this has been photographed by me. But still not a great image. This is one of my earlier images when I got started. As you can see, even I used to click shaky, blur images.

In case you want to improve your photography, then you need to get the basics right. The basics of exposure triangle parameters which consists of aperture, ISO and shutter speed is what you need to understand. Let’s understand what it is.

Shutter Speed: Shutter speed in simple terms is the duration of time the shutter is open for the light to enter and hit the sensor. It is expressed in seconds such as 1/15, 1/30 or 1/500 etc. This is one of the parameters which controls how much light should enter the camera.

Shutter speed is responsible for freezing the action or creating motion blur in the image. A faster shutter speed like 1/1000 or higher will freeze the action depending on how fast the action is happening and a slower shutter speed like 1/15 will create motion blur or even responsible for hand shake when shot hand held.

To know about basics of exposures look at these 2 examples which shows what shutter speed can do to an image.

The below pic has been shot at a shutter speed of 1/500 which has frozen the water flow.

The below pic has been photographed for 20 seconds which has created the nice silky flow of water. As a photographer, you will have to decide what shutter speed you want to use.

Aperture: Aperture is the size of the lens opening. It is the circular opening in the lens which is responsible for how much volume of light should enter the camera. It is expressed as f/4, f/5.6 or f/8 etc. F stands for the focal length of the lens.

Aperture is one of the parameters which is responsible for depth of field. Depth of field is that area of photograph which is in sharp focus. The other 2 parameters responsible for depth of field are focal length and camera to subject distance.

As you can see in the below image, by using an aperture of f5.6, we have created a very shallow depth of field and the background has gone completely out of focus. This was photographed with a 800mm f5.6 lens.

You do not need a very high end camera / lens to achieve this. Consider the below image which has been shot with a basic Canon 1200D and 55-250 kit lens.

Now how did we achieve such great out of focus background. Simple:
1. Lens: 55-250 kit lens. Zoom out completely to 250 mm. Longer the focal length, shallow is the depth of field.
2. Subject distance: Move as close as possible to subject which gives a shallow depth of field.
3. Small aperture: Used the smallest possible aperture on the lens which is f5.6

ISO: In simple terms and it is the sensitivity of the sensor. During film days, it used to contain chemicals which would react to light. That is where the sensitivity of the film comes into picture. In case of digital photography, it’s the sensor which reacts to light. Slower ISO takes more time to reach and higher ISO takes less time to react to light.

The drawback of using high ISO is that it creates a lot of noise in the image and hence the image quality goes down. The evel of acceptable noise in an image is purely dependent on the camera model. Some of the professional bodies can give you good quality image even at a high ISO of 5000.

As a photographer, you will have to get a good hold on these basic concepts of photography and then take your learning forward.

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