Photography For Beginners

Dan Eitreim

December 30, 2014

So, you’ve just gotten a camera and you are looking for information on photography for beginners. Congratulations! You are about to embark on one of the most exciting, fulfilling, frustrating and downright irritating hobbies there is.

Mabry's Mill

But, if you are careful about what photography tutorials for beginners you select, you will soon see that getting great photography really isn’t all that hard! But, here is a major caution… Most photo books, courses, tutorials and so on are NOT written to teach you anything. They are written to show off the photographer’s pretty pictures. The photographers don’t really care if you learn anything new from them as long as you are awed at their photos and consider them as masters and authorities in the field. (There are quite a few psychic and financial benefits to being considered an authority.)

Worse, why would they want to create potential competitors by showing you all their secrets?

Since they aren’t really concerned about teaching you anything, the various photography tips for beginners are usually poorly written, disjointed and confusing at best. At worst, they can be downright wrong.

Let’s try to organize our thoughts so that we can know what is important in our photo education, and how that information relates to the whole.

Dundas Square

First, beginner’s photography can be broken down into two main categories: Mechanical and Creative.

Today, we’ll talk about how to master the mechanical side of photography.

Here’s a vital tip: Your camera is a machine. It has no concept of creativity. It cannot and will not replace your creative vision!

“But, if I put my camera on automatic, it gives me really nice shots!” you might say.

Here is what’s happening when your camera is on automatic. It has sensors that will “read” the amount of light in a scene and establish an average. Then it will set the aperture and shutter speed at a setting that will record that average.

So, if your scene is an average scene – you may actually luck out and be able to get a decent shot. Notice that I said decent, not amazing.

The parts of your scene that are in the center of the “average” range will record ok. Areas in the outlying sections, either blacks (shadows) or whites (highlights) will be nothing but featureless blobs. Don’t even think about shooting a snow scene or one with a lot of dark areas, they will just turn out as an ugly gray color.

New York

Here is an interesting experiment, set your camera on automatic and take a picture of a pure white piece of paper. Be sure to fill the frame. Now, using the exact same light and etc., shoot a picture of a pure black piece of paper.

Guess what, they will both turn out looking exactly the same! When the camera “sees” the white paper, it will set the aperture and shutter speed to record a middle of the road “average” light. Then when it sees the black paper, it will do the same thing! They will both be the exact same “average” shade of gray. It is called 18% gray which is exactly in the middle between white and black.

The next time you see a picture of a snow scene that is dingy and gray rather than a pristine white, now you will know why…

The camera doesn’t know it has just destroyed your beautiful, once in a lifetime picture. It just knows that the aperture and shutter speed were set to record an average of the light.


So here is your first rule in digital photography for beginners: Get your camera off automatic!

Once you are off automatic, now you have a whole new set of problems. How do you set the shutter speed, aperture and ISO? By the way, what the heck is ISO?

Here is rule number two in DSLR photography for beginners: Read the manual!

Reading the manual that came with your camera is easily the most boring – yet vital – thing you can possibly do.

Pick up your camera, and the manual. Start at page one and keep with it until you fully understand everything on that page. Then go to page two and so on. By the time you are finished, you will have a very thorough understanding (dare I say mastery?) of the mechanics of your camera and will be ready to start studying the creative aspects of taking photos.

There are a number of benefits to doing it this way. First of all, it is free – the manual came with the camera! It is one of the best photography books for beginners.

Second – and very few people really get this – once you are past trying to figure out what all the buttons, switches and dials do, you can devote all your attention to the creative – and you will know how to get your visions into the camera.

Once you no longer have to think about the mechanics, you will find that your creative visions will soar.

You’d be surprised at how many professional photographers have no clue what various options are available to them and wind up shooting the same old pictures day in and day out.

Try it, you’ll like it… AND you’ll be head and shoulders above all the other shooters in the area.

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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