We all need help from time to time with learning the foundations of photography. Whether it is trying to understand a specific process, or how to get a particular shot.
We have collected the best cheat sheets for photography. You can check them when you need some help, or just print them off and take them with you.
And if you want some more, take a look at our Quick Capture Cheat Sheets!
1. How to Understand Shutter Speed
Shutter speed is the most obvious contributing factor to exposure. It is a must-have knowledge to understand how your camera works. It lets you either freeze moving subjects or generate creative blur.
With a poor knowledge of how to use the correct shutter speed, you’ll end up with blurred results.
This cheat sheet will teach you the right shutter speed for the right situation.
2. Making Sense of F-Stops
F-stops and aperture can be very frustrating. This is especially true with digital photography, as there aren’t only f/stops, but also 1/2 stops and 1/3rd stops.
This handy NPhoto DSLR cheat sheet tells you exactly which is the wider and narrower aperture from where you are. The descriptions also let you know the difference between different sizes.
This handy infographic focuses on the ISO scale. It starts by briefly looking at understanding the scale. From there, it lets you know when you need to increase your ISO and why.
ISO is one of the most important parts of the exposure triangle. This makes it one of the fundamentally important areas of photography.
Knowing how to use ISO allows you to maintain high resolutions of your images.
4. What is the Exposure Triangle
The exposure triangle shows all three components that make up a photograph. These are the shutter speed, the aperture and the ISO.
These are the essentials to understand the flow of exposure. Changing one of these settings in manual mode means that you need to change one or both of the others.
This infographic is an ingenious way to let you know quickly which settings make the image lighter or darker.
5. Fast Vs. Slow Shutter Speed- Which One Should You Choose
Knowing how to photograph is only half of the battle. Using these tools and techniques allow you to capture the best possible images.
In this photographic cheat sheet, you’ll get to understand how to photograph fast-moving subjects.
6. How to Use the Manual Mode
Using manual mode might look scary at first. You have to know exactly what shutter speed, aperture, ISO do, and how they affect one another. You also need to be familiar with exposure compensation and the different metering modes.
But, if you manage to learn all these, you have much bigger control over your photographs. That is why it is useful for every photographer to get familiar with the manual mode at some point.
This cheat sheet made by Mommatography explains the basics you need to know if you want to start using manual mode.
7. How Aperture Affects the Depth of Field
Depth of field in photography means how much of your image is in focus. Depth of field starts at the closest point that is already in focus. It ends at the furthest point that is still in focus.
Changing your aperture is one of the most important factors when controlling depth of field. The wider the aperture (the smaller the number is), the shallower the depth of field is, and vice versa.
8. How to Take Photos in Low Light
You need to become familiar with new equipment and utilising the camera settings. This might mean pushing some to their absolute limits.
Go through this great photography cheat sheet from Snapsort. You can even print it off and take it with you.
9. How to Use The Sunny 16 Rule
But, if you are a film photographer, you might not have access to a light meter. To ensure your images are correctly exposed, use the Sunny 16 rule.
10. How to Read a Histogram
A histogram lets you see the range of tones within your scene and how they are captured by your camera.
The histogram is broken down into three areas, known as shadows, mid-tones and highlights. Every time you take an image, check your in-camera histogram to ensure you maintain a good tonal range.
It is also a necessary component of post-processing your images. For example, you need to use the histogram when adjusting the ‘Levels’ in Photoshop or Lightroom.
This photography cheat sheet is one of the most important to learn. Thanks to Digital Camera World, it is relatively simple.
11. 19 Rules of Composition
Composition is one of the most important areas of photography. You have to make sure to know the basic rules of composing an image. Once you have some of the technical abilities down, you can to concentrate on the creativity.
This is where composition comes in, and this handy Lens Lounge photography cheat sheet. Here, you’ll find 19 of the best examples, aimed at adding more interest to your images.
Some of these you will be able to pick up easily, such as the rule of thirds. Others will need more practise and forethought.
12. Why Is Colour Temperature Scale Important
This very helpful photography cheat sheet explains the different colour temperatures you are going to experience photographing different scenes.
The colour temperature is important when it comes to setting your in-camera white balance. All visible light falls on this scale, and each one is represented by several settings.
If you fail this step, you can always change the white balance during the post-production stage. For this to be effective, you need to shoot in RAW format.
Finding the perfect camera for you in the first step towards your photography. Your system is going to be stuck on you like glue, so it needs to be the right fit.
This infographic from Optics Central will help you determine which camera is right for you.
14. How to Choose Lenses
It isn’t only a camera and the sensor within that makes a good picture. The choice of lens is one of the most important factors related to image quality.
This photography cheat sheet shows you a comparison between each lens’ field of view and focal length. It is a perfect way to show you how much of the scene you can capture with a specific lens.
15. Reading Your D-SLR’s Viewfinder
The viewfinder on your camera gives you much more than just the framing of your scene. Here, you’ll find all sorts of information in regards to your camera’s settings.
The most important areas that you won’t find anywhere else on your camera are the focus points. This lets you know what part of your scene will be sharp, depending on your choice of lens.
This is handy to know. This photography cheat sheet from Nikon isn’t something you’ll need over and over. Look at it for a few minutes, and you’re ready.
16. Know Your Rights As a Photographer
Knowing your rights as a photographer is very important. This is something you need to see if you are out in public or private domains photographing.
These are printable cheat sheets. Keep them with you as a quick reference in case you have any trouble, or end up photographing in areas you are unsure about.
17. The History of the Camera
This Pixntell infographic is a great way to learn the history of the camera. It will let you know where and how it all started, and just how far we came to have what we have today. The smartly shaped images mixed with the supporting text makes this an interesting read.
It isn’t going to help you shoot better, but it’s nice to know the background of our modern-day cameras.
When doing portrait photography, knowing how to compose the photo is crucial.
The general rule is to crop below or above joints, but never through them! This is one of the most important things to know, ensuring your photographs don’t look strange or unnatural.
This guide shows you where you need to crop the body. It goes from the widest full body shot to the tightest facial portrait. It also shows examples of the photos taken with various croppings.
19. Pet Photography Tips
If you have ever tried to take pet photos, you know how chaotic and messy they can get. To make the most out of your pet photos, a cheat sheet can come in handy.
Even if you do them every single day for thirty years, it can still be easy to forget something important. To help you out, we have devised a photography cheat sheet on everything you’ll need for pet photography!
Travel photography is a mixture of different genres. You can expect it to cover landscapes, street, documentary and architecture, and many other fields. This is why you should be familiar with photographing in different genres of photography.
It makes sense to give you a few tips on how to cover all of these areas. Even if you aren’t a dedicated travel photographer, your holiday images will benefit.
As far as photography cheat sheets go, this one from Visually is clear and full of text. There are no images to help you along, but you get everything you need. Simple.
21. The 6 Components of a Great Property Photograph
Real estate photography is becoming one of the biggest fields of photography. More and more people means more and more housing, which needs to be advertised.
Business ventures such as Airbnb also provide more opportunities for this type of photography.
This photography cheat sheet runs through the 6 most important components of a great photograph in this field. Take these tips from Focalagent and try them out!
22. What’s Your Wedding Photography Style?
When you start photographing weddings, you’ll need to meet the couple before the big day.
You need to discuss all the important information that the couple wants and expects. You should also discuss the style they want their images to be in.
This Simply Bridal wedding photography cheat sheet shows you five of the most important shots. It even looks at them through three different photography types.
23. The Beginner’s Guide to Newborn Photography
Newborn photography can be a very joyous field to work in. By no means is it easy. You will need a lot of patience, inspiration and, of course, talent.
This photography cheat sheet from Adorama runs through the basic ideas you need to know. It is a great resource to ensure the best possible images.
From the best ways to keep the newborn comfortable, to little tips and techniques. You’ll be glad to have this on hand when you complete your first few shoots.
24. How to Take Great Black and White Images
Black and white photography can create dramatic atmosphere and highlights textures or shapes. You can convert any image to black and white. But generally, it is the most useful for portraits, architecture and street photos.
This cheat sheet from The Photoblographer helps you with the basics of this photography style.
25. Waterfall Photography Cheat Sheet
Waterfall photography is a specific area of landscape photos. Therefore it requires some particular settings that you need to get familiar with before you take waterfall photos.
You need to consider things such as your gear, the settings you use, and the external factors you meet on the location. The cheat sheet below, that was made by Pixels and Wanderlust, explains these aspects of waterfall photography.
Photography has many aspects to pay attention to. Whether it is the technical details or the creative side, it is good to have something that you can turn to when you need help.
We hope that the photography cheat sheets above will help you with learning photography from the basics!