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Be sure to read this article for some beginning photography tips (or a review for the more experienced among you) then check the sidebar for the various article categories. Each category has literally hundreds of videos and articles – about a thousand as of this writing – and more are being added every day. Be sure to check back – often! Everything you ever wanted to know about photography is here!

Beginner’s photography – Photography books for beginners can be very confusing things… What the heck is an f-stop? Or, how do I decide what the best shutter speed is? Or, what do those black spiky lines on the histogram mean? BTW – what is a histogram?

Relax, it really isn’t as hard as it seems. Here are 3 simple steps to quickly and easily go from beginner’s photography to stunning, breathtaking images – faster than you could have ever imagined.

Beginner’s Photography Tip #1: Shutter Speed.

Chec the categories for 100's of articles...

Check the categories for 100’s of articles…

Shutter speed dial

Remember, the camera is a machine, it has absolutely no concept of creativity. On automatic, the camera is not trying to create a beautiful image. It is trying to get enough light to the photo sensor to register the average scene details (the whites and blacks are totally lost in most cases), while using a fast enough shutter speed to avoid camera shake and give you a sharp image.

There is your first beginner’s photography concept: A faster shutter speed will freeze movement and give you a crisp image. On the other hand, a shutter speed that is too slow will give your camera time to move while you are shooting and will give you fuzzy images.

But, what if you want to have a long shutter speed? That’s how they get flowing water and waterfalls to look like long silky strands of cotton candy.

waterfall

If you use a fast shutter speed to avoid camera shake, the water will be crisp, frozen droplets and not the long silky strands we are after. But, if we use a longer shutter speed, the camera shake will destroy our photos!

What to do…What to do.

That’s what creative photography is all about – the choices you have to make to get the effects you are after, while finding ways to overcome the various problems that arise.

By the way – the whole point to using a tripod is to be able to use a longer shutter speed without camera shake blurring your images.

Most beginner’s photography courses tend to get bogged down in the technical details and can be a bit confusing, but keep in mind, photo concepts really are very easy. Just decide how you want your final image to appear, select the options that will get you there and deal with the problems that arise.

Good news, selecting the options and solving the resultant problems are basic technical concepts and can be learned in a matter of hours. Then, you can spend the rest of your life mastering the creative side (the fun side)!

So, when deciding on how you want your final image to appear, the first choice you need to make is the shutter speed. If there is any movement in the scene – water, cars, people running… anything, first decide on if you want to freeze the action with a fast shutter or give the image a sense of movement with a slow one (or something in between). Then pick the easiest way to solve any problems that might come up due to your shutter speed choice.

If there is no movement in the scene, the first creative challenge is solved! You don’t have to worry about the shutter speed. You can pick a middle of the road shutter speed and move on to the next artistic decision.

Beginner’s Photography Tip #2: Aperture.

aperture

When creating your masterpiece, the next step is to decide what aperture is the best one to use to get the artistic effect you are after.

The aperture is a hole. That’s it. No matter how difficult or fancy all the photography books for beginners try to make it sound – the aperture is a hole that lets the light get to the photo sensor. Nothing more, nothing less.

Now here is where it gets fun. If you use a small hole, it tends to make the image’s depth of field deeper. A larger hole makes the depth of field shallower.

Depth of field is just the amount of the picture that is in acceptable focus.

depth of field

There are a lot of complex mathematical equations that you can use to determine the depth of field at any particular aperture, but you don’t really need them. Just keep in mind that the sharpness of an image will naturally fall off (both in front of the subject and behind). So, the smaller the hole, the further the area of sharpness will extend. The larger the hole, the less the area of focus.

If you want a sharp image extending all the way to the horizon, use a small hole. If you want your area of sharp focus to be narrower, use a larger hole. That way, you can have your subject in sharp focus while the background is just a blurred wash of color. This will focus more attention on the subject.

Selecting the size of the aperture (hole) is where a lot of photography beginners get lost. The diameter of the hole is measured by some complex trigonometric function that makes sense to mathematicians, but no one else! This mathematical function is written as an f stop (function = f). So, an f-stop of 2.5 (f2.5) or an f-stop of 16 (f16) are just shorthand ways to express the diameter of the hole.

aperture size

Here is a tip that more photographers than you may think never truly understand… the function is a fraction. So if you think of the f stop number as a fraction with a one on top, it all makes sense and gets really easy.

f-2.5 can be thought of as 1/2.5. f-16 can be thought of as 1/16.

½ is bigger than ¼ – right? So the larger the bottom number in the function, the smaller the hole and vice versa. So f-4 (1/4) is a larger aperture than f-16 (1/16), and would have a shallower depth of field.

Think about this for a few minutes and it will all make sense.

If you pick up a good beginner’s guide to photography, they will have the time and space to more fully explain the concept. But, you won’t have any problems if you just keep in mind that a bigger hole creates a shallow depth of field, and a smaller hole creates a deeper one.

Beginner’s Photography Tip #3: ISO

At some point all beginner’s photography courses will eventually get around to trying to explain ISO.

That is the way they measure the amount of light the photo sensor needs to get the proper exposure for the image.

It’s a concept that goes back to the days of film and while the technical aspects have changed from film to digital sensors, the labels for the concepts haven’t.

In film, everything doubles and halves. So a film with a speed of ISO 100, needs twice as much light to record the image as a film speed of ISO 200. A film speed of ISO 400, needs twice as much light as one of ISO 800, and 4 times as much as an ISO of 100. (ISO 100 x 2 = ISO 200. ISO 200 x 2 = ISO 400.)

The same ISO concepts apply to digital sensors.

So what you say… Why should I care?

Here’s why… Every scene needs a certain amount of light to be properly exposed. For example, a well-lit snow scene may have plenty of light at a shutter speed of 1/500th of a second. Capturing the star trails in a dark nighttime sky may require a shutter speed of several hours.

Now, if you are using a fast shutter speed, (when the shutter is open, it exposes the aperture’s opening and allows light to go through) it won’t let in as much light as a slower shutter speed, so it would help to use a faster ISO so you don’t need as much light! Or, if you are using a smaller aperture, the hole won’t be large enough to let in as much light as a bigger one, so again you should use a faster ISO.

Now, we have another creative decision. Slower ISO’s tend to give you richer colors, but need a lot of light. Faster ISO’s tend to be a bit less saturated, but need less light and can shoot in darker areas.

The sensor needs X amount of light for a proper exposure. But, you can get there by changing the shutter speed, aperture size, or ISO. That’s the trifecta of exposure. By adjusting the various settings, a “proper” exposure could actually be achieved with dozens or even hundreds of settings.

See how everything ties together? Photography for beginners doesn’t have to be hard or confusing. Just keep these three beginner’s photography tips in mind and it will all be pretty simple. Once you get a solid feel for the technical aspects, then you can let your creativity soar!

To learn more about a great online class, check out – Photography Master Class

For a bit of fun check out – Trick Photography

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