What is photography? Photography is one of the most popular activities in the world, ever since the camera was invented! Photography has grown in demand exponentially, and its popularity is still constantly growing, nowadays, photography is not just a hobby, instead! It has branched off into many different fields of applications! In fact, many people rely on the camera and photography to make a living, these people are professional photographers! We will go through a few basics of photography concepts and technical terms below!
History of What is Photography?
The first permanent photograph which served as a base for Modern photography techniques began as early as 1820!
From then on until today, Photography has emerged as a result of a combination of several discoveries!
The early “cameras” did not record permanent images and they were used to the only project in a darkened room on a surface!
But this was one of the most important steps in the evolution of photography, in 1825, Nicephore produced the first permanent photographic image!
This marked the beginning of the development of monochrome photographs!
Scientists started improving this technology with various materials to capture images further, color photography was explored during the whole of the 19th century!
Initially, it resulted in projecting only temporary images until 1861 when the first color photo was taken by James Clerk Maxwell, the Scottish physicist!
In 1888, the first camera which was easy-to-use was developed by Kodak!
This was followed by the invention of “the kinetoscopic camera” by Edison to produce motion pictures in 1891!
Four years later, in 1995, the cinematography was invented by Auguste and Louis Lumiere!
1910 marked the widespread use of wire-photos which further evolved and by 1922, these were transmitted between continents!
In 1932, photography evolved from just static images to Technicolor movies, the first of which was made by Disney titled “Flowers and Trees”!
Ten years later, in 1942, Kodak released its first “print” film named Kodacolor, 1952 marked the beginning of 3D film technology!
Photography today has become an exciting technological development not only in the form of static photographs!
But also in the form of high-quality videos in the high resolution creating awesome effects!
Essential photography equipment!
First, check your photography equipment, Basically, this includes:
- A 4-6 megapixel digital camera!
- A 512MB or 1GB memory card!
- A camera case or bag to keep lens cleaner, filters, lens brush, etc!
- A small tripod (optional)!
- Digital imaging software!
- Read the Manual!
Most of us never read the manual after purchasing a digital camera!
Before you start taking photos, I suggest you spend some time going through the basics of your digital camera included in the instruction manual!
To begin with, you can stick to the auto settings usually provided on the upper right-hand side of most cameras!
Once you feel comfortable with your camera and know what each setting does, go into manual mode!
This includes setting your aperture and shutter speed for correct exposure!
A slower film speed must be used in low light settings, check your digital camera for ISO settings!
This is the film speed and must be set to 200 or lower in low light and 400 or above in bright settings!
- Choose Your Subjects
Start with photos of things around your house, after practicing with individual objects, try making arrangements!
Use your tripod to set up the camera and position it about 3-5 feet away from your subject!
Take photos from different angles like close-up, medium zoom, no zoom, bird’s eye view, left, right, bottom, 90 degrees rotation, and 45 degrees rotation!
Fruits are easy to click and offer plenty of variety and color, Be creative and take photos of other natural objects!
If you have pets, train your photography skills with them!
- Good Lighting
Good lighting is a must for good photography, basic cameras do not have a very powerful flash!
It works well for closer images, not more than 7 feet away from the subject!
Your flash will work better in dark settings but will not be capable of removing shadows in the daytime photos!
So, pay attention to the time of day when you are taking photos, avoid taking photos of your subjects at high noon or late at night!
The best time to shoot photos is late in the afternoon when the sun is almost down or early morning as the sun begins to rise!
The best time to shoot photos is late in the afternoon when the sun is almost down or early morning as the sun begins to rise!
What is photography?
Exposure, Aperture, Shutter, and ISO are basic photography, we all love to pick up the camera and start clicking away!
In most cases, we never give much thought to what’s happening inside the camera to produce the actual image, In reality, most people probably don’t care!
But just in case you are curious or would like to use your camera in the manual mode rather automatic, read on the way an image comes out is determined by the exposure!
Exposure determines if the image is just right, too dark, or too amount of light! (depending on the viewer)
Three factors determine the exposure, they are shutter speed, aperture setting, and ISO setting!
These are pretty technical things, but I will explain it in the simplest terms that I can shutter Speed- this determines how long the camera sensor is exposed to light!
That is determined by the length of time the shutter stays open, the time the shutter stays open is expressed in fractions of a second, for instance!
A shutter speed of 1/125 means the shutter will stay open for 125th of a second and then close!
A speed of 1/30 means the shutter will open for 1 30th of a second!
The Aperture- This is an opening that decides the quantity of light reaching the sensor!
The size of the aperture opening will vary depending on the setting!
Aperture settings are expressed as f stops, A very small aperture opening would be set maybe for f16 or f11!
A large opening which would allow a lot more light to reach the sensor would be set at perhaps f2.8 or f4! (there are other settings in between)
ISO setting- Again, this is how sensitive the sensor will be to the light, for instance, on a sunny day!
The camera can be set to a low ISO to get a good exposure, ISO 100 is pretty normal for that situation!
However, an hour before dusk, the strength of the light has weakened and the sensor setting will have to be changed to may ISO 400 to get a good exposure!
Remember the sensor can pick up more light at higher ISO settings like ISO 400 or ISO 800, you can change any one of them to alter the image!
If you have all three sets to give you great exposure, changing anyone will require changing another to get the same exposure, for instance!
If you make the aperture opening smaller, you will need to keep the shutter open for a longer amount of time to adjust!
That is to get the same exposure luckily!
Most cameras will make these adjustments automatically!
But many cameras will give you the option to juggle with the settings as you please, I don’t want to get too technical!
At least now you know a little about what’s happening before you press the shutter, A lot more technical stuff could be involved but I hope this helps!
The elements of photography?
Photographers interested in improving their skills will learn by reading about the habits and techniques of great photographers!
Photographers are not born with a camera in one hand and a light meter in the other!
The great ones are passionate about their products and their photographs are the best evidence of their passion!
Many of the great photographers waited hours, climbed mountains, or endured war for magnificent shots!
Ordinary photographers cannot match their devotion or they’re daring!
But they can improve the quality of their work by studying some aspects the best had in common!
Lighting, composition, and patience are three ingredients of great photographs!
That can be used to improve the results of ordinary photographers!
The great photographs usually have magnificent light!
Sometimes perfect lighting can enhance or transform ordinary events, people, and scenery!
The great photographers used available light in many of their best photographs!
The light they used was ordinary, but they captured this light at extraordinary times!
The first light of the dawn, twilight, streams of the rays of the sun through a cloudy sky!
Photographers determined to capture this might have to get up earlier and get outside at twilight, the composition is important!
People have been holding up the leaning tower in Pisa for ages!
Use your imagination! Have you ever seen the same scene with the tower falling on a terror-stricken person?
The right angle and the right placement could get you a funny picture of your favorite person and place, your patience made your pictures special!
Most regular photographers want pictures of children!
Don’t get them standing at the plate waiting to swing at the T-ball, wait and get them just after they swing!
Get the faces of the winning team as their last opponent strikes out; you won’t have to tell them to smile!
Most people laugh when it looks like a cactus is growing out of someone’s head!
Check out the background before you shoot, A group photographed in front of a beautiful sunset will make a pretty picture!
A beautiful cathedral in Italy might make a great picture, and there are numerous spouses pictured standing in front of such a cathedral!
Catch the spouse emerging from the front door of the beautiful church, Action makes a more dramatic picture even if it is frozen in time!
Fast and slow shutter speeds can both add to the dimension and drama of a photograph!
The basic camera settings?
Digital cameras come with basic settings which are great for most photographers when starting out!
As you become more experienced and want to try experimenting you will probably want more from your camera!
This means learning more about the different settings your camera has to offer!
The fully automatic mode, usually a green symbol, will completely take control of your camera settings!
So it is better to use it for only the most straight forward point-and-shoot pictures!
You are enjoying it? if not then you can read my other post!
Some tips for using your camera settings to great effect!
The first one to look at is the “P” or Program mode, this will give a high level of automation but still allows for some alterations to the basic settings!
The SCENE mode, designed for situations such as landscapes, close-ups, or sport, saves a lot of hassle, so use them if your camera has them!
Use the highest image quality your camera has to offer!
The RAW format gives the highest quality but uses a lot of storage!
JPEG loses a bit of quality but is easier to work with on your computer!
You can always reduce the size of the image, but you can’t put in quality that wasn’t there in the first place!
If you have one, the BRACKETING setting is useful to make sure you get the right exposure!
This will allow you to take usually three slightly different exposures, Hopefully, one of them will be correct!
Use the A (Aperture) priority setting to control the depth of the field, that is the band of the image which is in sharp focus!
This setting allows you to set the aperture of the lens, letting the camera control the shutter speed, A low AV will give a shallow depth of field!
Very useful for throwing the background out of focus, for example, A high AV will allow everything from foreground to distant objects to be sharply focused!
T (Time) or S (Shutter) priority setting allows you to set the shutter speed when controlling the camera aperture!
This is needed when the shutter speed is important, for example, an action shot will require a very short shutter speed, for low light conditions, a long exposure may be necessary!
The subject of lighting conditions, try altering the ISO setting, this is the equivalent of the film speed in old technology!
Raising the ISO number makes your camera more sensitive to light so you can use higher shutter speed, useful to freeze the action, or avoid camera shake!
Another setting you can use is MACRO, this lets you get some really great close-up shots of objects!
It used to require special lenses for these photographs and was beyond the reach of most amateurs, Now, all it needs is an automatic setting on your camera!
Set the camera to SERIES or CONTINUOUS exposure and be ready to make a number of exposures in rapid succession!
If the action is unfolding in front of your eyes you don’t want to miss that vital shot!
The default White Balance on your digital camera will be auto, which is fine but can sometimes give a cold feel to your photographs!
When you are shooting landscapes or outdoor portraits try changing the setting to cloudy!
This will give a warmer, richer tone!
Get to know your camera settings and experiment to find out what effect they have!
You will find that your camera is more versatile than you think!
Your photography will improve and become far more rewarding!
What are the basics of photography?
Trust me there won’t be a test at the end of this article but there are some basics of photography and terms that you should know if you are going to be serious about this subject!
We will go through a few basics of photography concepts and technical terms below!
When you have a group of people in front of you with smiling faces ready for you to say ‘cheese’ or if you are taking a shot of a scenic area!
The most important consideration is the light factor!
Light controls the type of exposure and therefore the quality of the photo is dependent on the quality of the light on your subject!
The amount of light that impacts the film or digital sensor when you click!
Controlling the amount of light is a good pre-occupation in the mind of a photographer keen to get a good shot!
The word ‘exposure’ is a very important word in the lexicon of both amateur and professional photographers and is based on the understanding of light in creating good photographs!
- If there is too much light, the photo will look overly bright and overexposed!
- A happy group of people will not look as vibrant if there was inadequate light when you took the picture!
- Bright sunlight can create shadows under the eyes!
- Poor lighting may not bring out the colors in the scene to maximum effect!
- There are a few basics that you can apply to circumvent poor picture quality due to unfavorable light conditions:
- Change the position from which you take the shot!
- Change the light if clicking indoors!
- Use the flash!
The use of the flash can be a boon when you operate in different light conditions!
If you have an overcast sky, the flash in your camera will serve the purpose of letting some light into the image!
That you are trying to capture and brightening it up!
The flash also works to your advantage when your subject is not too close but slightly away from you!
But you have to check the ‘flash range’ of your camera in your manual!
The flash works best when your subject is within a recommended range that is usually at least 4 ft and generally not more than 10 ft!
Most simple cameras have an automatic flash, slightly better models will have settings for fill-flash!
The concept of fill flash revolves around filling light in areas of a picture that may turn out dark or shadowed!
Fill-flash has the ability to balance the amount of light on different parts of a subject to ensure that the exposure is adequately bright!
For instance, a portion of a person’s face may appear shadowed and the fill-flash setting can help iron out this problem!
You have to pay attention to the direction from which light falls on your subject and there are several approaches in manipulating the angle of light to improve the visual appeal of a picture!
Sideways lighting: Light from the side is used to creates depth in the picture and is considered one of the best ways to use light if you are taking a portrait photograph!
Light from the top: This is a method used to brighten up most of the scene but does not work as well when you take a photograph of a person!
It tends to create shadows on the lower half of the face when the lighting is high!
Light from behind your subject: This strategy is sometimes used by photographers to amplify the impact of the picture!
It can create a halo-like effect; it can add artistic shadows and can also create a striking contrast between the subject and the background if used effectively!
When you use a ‘backlight’ it is recommended that the fill-flash settings on your camera are also adjusted in order to avoid shadows in your photograph!
The second issue in photography is the aesthetics of the picture!
Aesthetics is the creativity and attention to detail that you bring to your photograph!
It is the most interesting part of photography since it is almost like a visual equivalent of composing a poem or writing a story!
Aesthetics requires the use of visual skills to compose and deliver a pleasing, eye-catching, and captivating image!
It is a type of vision that you have for your photograph in terms of look and appeal!
Aesthetics requires a good eye for detail, the following factors have to bear in mind in creating an aesthetically appealing photograph:
- Distance from the subject!
- Changing the direction of your camera based on picture dimensions!
- Objects impinging on the picture!
- Avoiding too many elements!
Each of these factors that go into aesthetics is described and explained below!
The background is a photograph that requires much consideration!
It influences the manner in which your subject is portrayed in the photograph!
Depending on your choice of background, your subject will be shown to affect or maybe overshadowed!
The background also makes the difference between a boring and interesting photograph!
The colors, the type of background and the context adds to the vibrancy of the photo!
A common problem among beginners in photography is not paying attention to whether the image is being captured fully!
When you view your subject through the viewfinder, you may think you have clicked a person from head to shoulder or from head to toe in a full shot!
But when the actual photograph is processed, the top of your subject’s head or part of the hair may be missing!
Or, if you did not center your subject when you composed the shot through your viewfinder, a part of the shoulder or hand may be lost into the edges of the photo!
You need to concentrate when you view your subject through your camera before you click, in order to get the picture exactly the way you want it!
- Distance from the subject
The distance from a subject is another critical aspect of getting a good picture!
You want to see facial expression, not a mass of faces when you take a photograph!
To do this, you have to be at a suitable close distance to your subject!
On the other hand, when you click pictures of campus, the distance that you click from can give you a wide view and take in a lot more of the scene!
To take close up pictures of flowers or crystal or any decorative item, you have to move into close range and use suitable lenses to achieve the right magnification!
- Changing the direction of your camera based on the picture
Many a time you may not be able to capture the subject in its entirety in the conventional horizontal position in which the camera is usually held!
You can easily change the direction, hold the camera vertically, and then view your subject!
You will be able to capture more of a longish subject like a tall monument, a full-length picture of a child, and so on!
- Objects impinging on the picture
At times there are certain objects in a scene that seem to almost invade into the picture!
For instance, if you take a picture of a group of your friends on a street!
Chances are that a street sign may gain prominence in the photograph unbidden and may seem to sprout out of the head of one of your friends in the photograph!
Or the light fixtures in your living room may find a place in the picture and appear in the form an unseemly blob in your photo!
And the tough part is when you take the shot you may not be aware of this because the eye is focused on the people in the picture!
- Avoiding too many elements
A picture cluttered with too many objects may detract from the actual subject!
For instance, a wide view of a room in which your subject is sitting may create a photo in which too many objects vie for attention!
If the person in the picture is your main target then narrow down and concentrate mostly on clicking the subject!
While a good background adds value to a picture, too much paraphernalia could take the attention away from the main subject!
Your picture may be focused and the lighting may be good but there is so much going on in the picture that it becomes aesthetically lacking and maybe even a little jarring!
Besides Light and Aesthetics, the third issue in photography basics refers to ‘focusing’ the picture!
Getting the right focus is the difference between a blurred image and a sharp image!
If you have an autofocus camera, the camera will do the job for you, this is available in most basic models!
You can also achieve focus manually in other cameras using the mechanism to adjust the focus and to lock the focus on the subject before you click!
To achieve the right focus, it is important to decide on the artistic elements of the final picture!
There are areas of a scene that you may want sharper and clearer!
For instance, when you photograph a famous monument, you may want the building as well as the blue sky against which it is silhouetted to be crystal clear!
If you are photographing a camel in a desert, you might want the camel to be clear and a slightly hazy/blurred effect of the surrounding sand!
If you are taking a shot of a room containing a priceless vase, when you look through your viewfinder!
You want the finer details of the intricate patterns on the vase to be clearer than other objects in its vicinity!
So, it’s also a question of the portion or key part of your picture your focus is really on!
This area that you identify for your focus is referred to as the ‘depth of field’!
You can lock the focus on the depth of the field that you choose!
You can control the focus and depth of field depending on your objectives for different shots!
The basics of photography are better applied when you put into perspective the capabilities of the camera model that you use or plan to purchase!
Simple point and shoot cameras require minimal knowledge in operating them!
They are easy to use and have the bare minimum controls!
The user has to just compose and aim the shot on the subject and presses the shutter button!
‘Click’ and the job is done! the camera handles its functions automatically!
For those of you who want to work with a slightly more sophisticated camera!
You have the option of a Single Lens Reflex camera popularly called the SLR system!
This type of camera is available in both 35mm film format as well as digital format!
Digital cameras have no film but the image is captured on an image sensor and stored in a photo memory!
Digital cameras in general provide superior picture quality!
The internal system of the SLR camera is made up of angled prisms and mirrors that actually work like a lens when you click!
But you have a few things to learn about this camera system before you can achieve better light exposure, sharpness, and good focus!
While it is imperative that you study the instruction manual of your SLR camera system thoroughly to understand the features and functioning!
Given here are some of the features and a brief explanation of how these features can help you in achieving the right exposure!
- Additional lenses for close up shots
An additional feature in an SLR camera that makes it far superior to a simple ‘point and shoot’ camera is the ability to use add-on lenses!
When you attempt to take a close up shot of objects in nature like a flower or a butterfly, you might want a very high level of clarity!
You can add power to your camera by attaching an additional lens onto your camera lens for greater magnification of your subject!
These supplementary lenses are available at reasonable prices in different powers like +2, +3, and so on!
You can also look for a model with an optical zoom lens that gives you the flexibility of variable focal length and a range of lens options within a single zoom lens!
- Shutter speed
The shutter in your camera lets light in during a shot and keeps light out at other times!
When the shutter opens for exposure, light is allowed to impact on the film or image sensor!
If you set the slow shutter speed, more light impacts on the sensor and affects the type of exposure!
When you use faster shutter speeds your picture is sharper and clearer!
There is a maximum shutter speed that is available to you in your camera system!
The shutter speed is set at a fraction of a second- for instance, 1/1000th of a second!
It could also be 1/2000th or even the much-preferred higher speed of 1/4000th of a second that is available in certain models!
Professional use models boast of an even higher shutter speed of 1/6000th or 1/8000th of a second!
If you want to freeze action such as in sports, you require fast shutter speeds!
There are many more features that when used effectively can add value to the impact of your photographs!
Most 35mm SLR cameras have a TTL viewfinder!
“Through The Lens” stands for the metering system!
This device has the ability to measure (on a scale) the amount of light impacting the film!
Using this device is the key to control the exposure and get the right amount of light in order to capture a proper image!
You can also use a tripod with your SLR camera, A tripod is your answer to achieving the right exposure in a close-up shot and in low light conditions!
It holds the camera steady, helps in focusing, and ensures a sharper picture even when the shutter speed is slow!
Quickly improve your photographs
- Fill the frame
One of the reasons that many people are not satisfied with their pictures is the fact!
That the subject is so distant within the frame of the photograph that it is difficult to see them, In such cases, the subject is typically lost within the scene!
The following beginning photography tips will help you to fill the frame with your subject and create far more interest:
Use your optical zoom lens, this is a great way to achieve close-up shots!
Move closely in order to make sure you are positioned as effectively as possible to achieve a close-up shot!
- The rule of thirds
The rule of thirds is one of the most important beginning photography tips you should be aware of in order to achieve good results!
Some digital cameras today have the ability to place a 3×3 grid over the scene which can help this process!
Even if your camera does not have the ability; however, you can image the grid, divided by width and length!
Your subject should ideally be placed on the intersection of two lines but this is in no way mandatory!
There is nothing magic with the intersections and the most important thing with the rule of thirds!
Is that it helps you avoid centering the subject in all your photographs!
If you place the subject out of the center of the photograph, you will find that you can achieve more visual interest in your photographs!
- Unclutter the scene
Another reason why some photographs do not tend to turn out well is that they are too cluttered!
It can be difficult for the main subject to stand out in the photograph because the background and surroundings are too cluttered!
Try to choose settings where the background is simple and uncluttered!
This will help your subject to stand out and prevent it from blending in with everything else in the background!
- Fill flash
In some cases, you may notice that there simply is not enough light from the existing light source!
In this case, you may need to supplement the light source, A solution to this problem is the fill flash!
This is not a true flash as a flash would generally be used at night!
A fill flash works to provide supplementing lighting or to fill in light in the part of the photograph where the shadows are too strong!
This can make a dramatic and immediate difference in your photos!
A typical example is if you take a close-up photograph of a flower with very strong daylight and contrast!
In this case, you are likely to get fairly strong shadows in some parts of the flower!
A fill flash can give these shadows a “kiss” of light to brighten them slightly!
Most cameras on the market today have a fill flash feature!
You do not even need to use full manual mode in order to take advantage of the fill flash feature!
The exact way in which you use the fill flash feature will depend on your camera model, so you should check your owner’s manual!
Many cameras have a lightning bolt near the main button, By pressing this button you should be able to go through the different flash options!
Many people make the assumption that buying a lot of expensive equipment right away will automatically produce great photographs!
While more advanced equipment can provide you with more options, It cannot take the place of practice and experience!
Even a point and shoot camera can be used to take great photos when you spend some time experimenting and practicing!
The more time you spend taking pictures the more you will learn and the better photos you will be able to produce!
The guidelines discussed here on the basics of photography and the additional features of the SLR system!
It Will not only get you started but also help you avoid the common mistakes that many budding photographers make!
Study your manual thoroughly for insights and ideas!
Learning photography requires patience and the ability to constantly experiment and teach yourself through a process of trial and error!
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