Learning how exposure works will help you to take control of your camera and take better photos.
Aperture, shutter speed, ISO are the elements that combine to create an exposure.
As you’ll soon learn, these elements have an effect on more than just the exposure, causing alterations in depth of field, motion blur, and digital noise. Once you understand how each one works, you can start diving into manual mode and really take that control back from your camera.
Exposure happens in three steps, starting with the aperture. This is the hole inside the lens, through which the light passes. It’s similar to the pupil of your eye: the wider the aperture, the more light is allowed in and vice versa.
Simple? Not quite.
As the aperture widens, the f/number gets lower and more light is allowed into the camera. This is great for low light but be aware that it’s going to make the depth of field very shallow – not ideal when taking landscapes.
So there’s a bit of give and take and I go into full detail about that in this post.
Exposure will be much easier if you can memorise the f/stop scale.
The scale is as follows: f/1.4, f/2, f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, f/8, f/11, f/16, f/22.
Once the light has passed through the aperture of the lens, it reaches the shutter Now you need to decide how much of that light you’re going to allow into the camera.
Ordinarily, you only want a very small fraction of a second (for example 1/250) to prevent motion blur. However, different shutter speeds complement different situations: anything from really fast (1/4000) for sports photography to really slow (30 seconds) for night photography.
It all depends on what you’re shooting and how much light you have available to you.
The histogram shows you a mathematic review of an exposure after the photo has been taken.
It essentially tells you how evenly exposed a photo is.
LCD screens aren’t very good at showing you this information through their display of the image because they are affected by the ambient lighting conditions you’re in and the brightness of the screen itself.
That’s why the histogram is such a powerful tool to utilise.
Full-Auto, Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Speed Prioirty, Manual Mode… how do you work out which one you should be using?
There’s also a lot of misconceptions about which mode to use under which conditions, as well as a lot of bias towards not using manual mode. When you understand what exactly each mode does, the one that will be suitable for your situation becomes a lot clearer.
When you’re shooting in low light, you invariably have to widen your aperture to allow enough light into the lens but this has one rather major side effect: shallow depth of field.
This can be used very creatively (often to excess) but it’s not all good. There are many situations, such as landscapes, where you’ll want to be using a narrower aperture so that the whole scene remains in focus.
This tutorial walks you though everything you need to know about choosing the right aperture (and therefore depth of field) for the right situation.
A lot of you may not realise but, unless you spend about $2000 on your camera, you’re more than likely to be shooting on a crop sensor. This means that your sensor is much smaller than professional SLR cameras which essentially crops the image.
This has a range of effects on your photos. It creates a narrower viewing angle and will influence your lens purchases in the future.
Polarizing filters only allow light into the lens from a certain direction. This results in the removal of glare and reflections from non-metallic objects such as water and glass, as well as haze from the sky, making for more naturally saturated colours.
Not only does this look great but it cannot be replicated in post production, hence it’s so important to understand.
What can I say about the nifty fifty? What’s not to love?
For those of you who don’t know, when I talk about the nifty fifty, I’m referring to the 50mm f/1.8 prime lens that can be picked up very cheap for most digital SLRs.
It’s a great introduction to buying better quality lenses and an excellent way of getting to grips with aperture.
The article linked is a review and guide. I wrote it because I recommend this lens as the first upgrade for every beginner photographer to make. It’s easy to use and, for the price, will yield some excellent results.
Visual weight is different to size or weight as we know it. It’s all about what we’re drawn to when we look at a photo.
When you understand visual weight, you’ll start to understand how people look at photos and how you can position certain elements in a frame to direct the viewers attention to where you want them to look.
It’s not so much a tool or a rule, but an understanding.
Triangles are in almost everything we see in one way or another, it’s just a case of distinguishing and knowing what to do with them.
Triangles make great compositional tools as they’re easy to make and manipulate, and are remarkably common. They are also a great way of combining different compositional techniques, such as lines and paths, to create a more interesting part of a photograph.
You can even use them to make a photo feel more stable or unstable.
Balance in a photo affects how we feel when we look at it. An unbalanced photo can make us feel uneasy, whereas a balanced photo will make us feel more relaxed.
It really doesn’t matter whether you choose to make the photo balanced or unbalanced but you should understand why you’ve chosen one or the other, and the effect that this will have on your photo.
Again, it’s one of those situations where the more you know, the easier it will be to produce the desired effect.
So that’s a brief introduction to photography for beginners.
Of course, there’s tons more you can learn about photography and I would encourage you to go and explore for yourself in my tutorial archive.
In the meantime, if you’re looking to get started with some free premium training for photographers, check out this video.
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