If you just bought your first DSLR and want to learn the basics. If you want to improve your photography skills in a simple way. The following advice should help you build a solid foundation.
Naturally, learning photography is an art that never really ends. The best way to keep getting better is to practice a lot. Make mistakes, and be willing to learn from other photographers, whether they are experienced photographers or just starting out.
1. Learn to hold your camera properly
It may seem obvious, but many new photographers don’t hold their cameras in the right way. Which results in camera shake and blurry images. Since you won’t be using a tripod unless you’re shooting in low light. It’s important to hold your camera properly to avoid unnecessary movement. Of course, tripods are the best way to prevent camera shake.
You should always hold the camera with both hands, even if you eventually come up with your own method. To support the camera’s weight, place your left hand underneath the lens. Grip the right side of the camera with your right hand.
You’ll be able to hold the camera stiller the closer it is to your body. You can crouch down on your knees or lean up against a wall for extra stability. However, if there is nothing to lean on, taking a wider stance can also be helpful.
2. Start shooting in RAW
RAW is a file format that captures all of the image data recorded by your camera’s sensor instead of compressing it. You will not only get images of a higher quality if you shoot in RAW, but you will also have significantly more control over post-processing. You will be able to correct issues like over or underexposure and adjust things like contrast, white balance, and color temperature, for example.
The fact that the files take up more space is one disadvantage of shooting in RAW. Additionally, you will need to purchase photo editing software because RAW images always require post-processing.
However, if you have the time and space, shooting in RAW can significantly improve the quality of your images. Check the manual for your camera for specific instructions. Know how to convert from jpeg to RAW if you are unsure how to do so.
3. Understand the exposure triangle
The term “exposure triangle” simply refers to the three most significant aspects of exposure. Despite the fact that it may initially appear somewhat intimidating. Aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. For sharp, well-lit photos, you’ll need to be able to balance all three of these things when shooting in manual mode.
The camera’s sensitivity to light is controlled by ISO. The camera will be less sensitive to light at a low ISO setting. Whereas it will be more sensitive at a higher ISO. When shooting outdoors during the day, an ISO setting of 100 to 200 is typically preferable. However, when shooting indoors or at night in low light, an ISO setting of 400 to 800 or higher may be required.
The opening in your lens that controls how much light reaches the camera’s sensor is called the aperture. A lower f-number indicates a wider aperture, while a higher f-number indicates a narrower aperture, which lets less light through. When you want to focus on a single subject, a wide aperture is ideal. However, when you want the entire scene to be in focus, as in group shots, a narrow aperture is required.
Speed of shutter:
When you take a picture, the shutter speed determines how long the shutter stays open. More light reaches the camera’s sensor the longer the shutter is open. A longer shutter speed will blur motion, whereas a quick shutter speed freezes action.
4. Wide aperture is best for portraits
Using a wider aperture is the best way to make your subject the center of attention when taking portraits, whether of people or animals. This will blur out any background distractions while maintaining the sharpness of your subject.
Keep in mind that a smaller f/ number indicates a wider aperture, and this effect will be more prominent the wider the aperture. Apertures as low as f/5.6 can be used, but some lenses can go as low as f/1.2. Try shooting at various apertures in Aperture Priority Mode (Av or A) to gain a better understanding of how the aperture affects your images.
5. Narrow aperture is best for landscapes
Photographing a landscape necessitates a different approach due to the need for precise focus on everything, from the rocks in the foreground to the mountains in the background. Therefore, you should choose a narrow aperture rather than a wide one. whenever you are photographing a scene where you want everything to be fully in focus.
If your lens allows it, aim for f/22 or higher because a larger number means a smaller aperture. Again, if you use Aperture Priority Mode (Av or A). You can play around with various apertures without worrying about changing the shutter speed each time.
6. Learn to use Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority modes
Aperture Priority Mode (A or Av) and Shutter Priority Mode (S or Tv)
Aperture Priority Mode (A or Av) and Shutter Priority Mode (S or Tv) are two very useful options. That are available on most cameras and will give you more control without being overly complicated. If you want to venture out of automatic mode but don’t feel confident enough to switch to manual yet.
Adjusting Aperture Priority Mode
You can select the aperture you want to use in Aperture Priority Mode. The camera will then adjust the shutter speed accordingly. For instance, if you want to blur the background in a portrait. You could simply use a wide aperture and let the camera determine the appropriate shutter speed.
In Shutter Priority Mode, you choose the shutter speed, and the camera will automatically choose the aperture. So, for instance, if you want a clear shot of your dog racing toward you. You could choose a fast shutter speed and let the camera choose the aperture.
7. Don’t be afraid to raise the ISO
Fearing that high ISO will result in photos with a grainy appearance or “noise,”. Many photographers try to avoid using it at all costs. However, there is a time and place for everything, and it is true that using a higher ISO can result in lower image quality.
Sharp photo with a little noise
It’s better to get a sharp photo with a little noise than no photo at all. You’ll be able to remove a lot of noise in post processing anyway. If you can’t lower your shutter speed due to motion blur and a tripod isn’t an option. In addition, camera technology has advanced so much in recent years that even at ISO 1600, 3200, or 6400, you can still capture stunning images.
Use a wider aperture to reduce noise
When possible, use a wider aperture to reduce noise when shooting at higher ISOs. A slight overexposure of your image can also help. As darkening areas in post processing won’t make noise worse, but lightening dark areas will.
8. Make a habit of checking the ISO before you start shooting
It can be extremely frustrating to discover that you have accidentally taken a number of pictures at ISO 800 on a bright sunny day. This is especially true if the pictures were taken to remember a special occasion like a birthday, anniversary, or other event that cannot be replicated.
However, since it is a mistake that can be easily made, you should make it a habit to check and reset your ISO settings before beginning any photography in order to avoid this unpleasant surprise. Alternately, whenever you are prepared to return your camera to its bag, make it a habit to reset it.
9. Be careful with your on-camera flash
Utilizing the built-in flash of your camera at night or in low light can result in undesirable effects. This can result in red eyes and harsh shadows if you are not careful. In general, using the on-camera flash and running the risk of ruining the shot completely is preferable to increasing the ISO and producing noisy images.
However, there are times when there simply isn’t enough light. So if you don’t have off-camera lighting, you’ll have to use the built-in flash. There are a few things you can do if you find yourself in this situation. Also if you do not want to miss the opportunity. First and foremost, locate the flash settings in the menu of your camera and minimize brightness as much as possible.
Second, you can try covering the flash with something to diffuse the light. For instance, putting opaque scotch tape or a piece of paper over the flash can help soften and diffuse the light. Alternately, you could hold a piece of white cardboard at an angle in front of the light to bounce it off the ceiling.
10. Learn to adjust white balance
You can get a better picture of colors with the help of white balance. The colors in your photographs may take on a slight blue, orange, or green hue or “temperature” if you don’t adjust the white balance because different types of light have different characteristics.
Of course, you can adjust the white balance in post processing, but if you have hundreds of photos that need minor adjustments, it can get a little tedious, so it’s better to get this right in the camera. Automatic White Balance, Daylight, Cloudy, Flash, Shade, Fluorescent, and Tungsten are among the most common white balance settings on your camera.
Check the instruction manual for your camera to determine which of these are represented by which icon. In some situations, the automatic white balance works well, but it’s usually best to adjust it for the type of light you’re shooting in.
11. Learn to read the histogram
Although you might check an image’s exposure on the LCD screen of your camera. This is not a reliable method because images may appear brighter or darker than they actually are on the screen. Utilizing your camera’s histogram, which is the small graph that appears next to your images. This is the most effective method for accurately determining exposure during the shooting process.
It will take some time and practice to learn to interpret the histogram, but in a nutshell, it provides information about the image’s tonal range. The blacks, or shadows, are depicted on the graph’s left side, while the whites, or highlights, are depicted on the right.
If the graph is skewed to the right, your image may be overexposed, resulting in a loss of significant detail in the photo’s lighter areas. It is likely underexposed and will be too dark if it is tilted to the left.
12. Play with perspective
Experimenting with perspective is the most effective method for expanding your creative potential in photography. When taken from a different angle, even the same scene can often look very different, and taking a picture of your subject from above or below can change the whole way it looks.
Try Different Angles
Of course, not every angle will work in every photograph, but if you don’t try different angles, you’ll never know what works and what doesn’t. Try getting down to their level and looking at the world through their eyes when shooting children or animals. Why not stand on a bench and photograph your subject from above when taking a portrait?
13. Understand the rule of thirds
The idea that pictures are generally more interesting and well-balanced when they are not centered is the foundation of the rule of thirds. Imagine your images being divided into nine equal sections by a grid consisting of two horizontal lines and two vertical lines.
If you were following the rule of thirds, you wouldn’t put your subject or important parts of a scene in the middle of the picture. Instead, you would put them along one of the four lines or where the lines meet. If you’re still learning how to put together your pictures, some cameras even come with an option to turn on a grid.
Obviously, photography is all about creativity and personal expression, so you may occasionally decide to break this rule and place the points of interest in a different part of your image. This is perfectly acceptable; however, it is essential that you comprehend the rule and are accustomed to consciously considering the points of interest and their locations prior to breaking it.
14. Eyes should always be in focus
Because you will be focusing on a very small area when photographing portraits, it will be more critical than ever to capture sharp images. Particularly in close-ups and headshots, the eyes are often the first thing people notice about a person because they are an important facial feature.
Keeping this in mind, the eyes of your subject ought to be your primary focus. Pick a single focus point and aim it at one of the eyes to get both eyes sharp. To recompose the image and include the second eye after the first eye is in focus, hold the shutter button halfway down and move the camera slightly.
15. Pay attention to the background
In general, the background should not distract the viewer from the photo’s main subject and should be as simple and uncluttered as possible. Because you don’t want viewers to end up being more interested in the colorful building or church tower in the background than your model, muted colors and plain patterns tend to work well.
Moving your subject or changing your angle can help fix a distracting background, but if that doesn’t work, you might be able to hide it by using a wider aperture and getting as close to your subject as you can. However, if you can, try to keep the background neutral whenever possible, especially if your subject is positioned to the side of the image and the background is very visible.
16. Invest in a tripod
A tripod is an essential accessory if you want to capture sharp images in low light without having to significantly increase the ISO. You will also be able to try out long exposure photography, in which you leave the shutter open for a few seconds or even a few minutes at a time. This can have amazing effects when you are taking pictures of things like cityscapes or rivers and waterfalls.
Weight, stability, and height are all important considerations when purchasing your first tripod. You don’t want the tripod to be too heavy because you’ll be carrying it around, but it also needs to be stable enough to hold your camera and the lenses you plan to use.
17. Shoot in the early morning and evening
A photo’s lighting can make or break it, so the best times of day to take pictures are generally in the early morning and evening. Because the sun is lower in the sky and the light is warmer and softer, the hour immediately after sunrise or sunset is referred to as the “golden hour” in photography.
Whether you’re shooting landscapes, portraits, or still life, the warm glow and long shadows of early morning or evening light can give your photos a peaceful feel. Even though the golden hour isn’t the only time you can take good pictures outside, it is easier.
18. Invest in some good photo editing software
You will need to invest in some photo editing software that will enable you to perform basic editing tasks such as cropping, adjusting exposure, white balance, and contrast, and removing blemishes, among other things, once you start shooting in RAW. Post processing will become a necessity rather than an afterthought once you start shooting in RAW.
Photoshop Elements, Picasa, or Paint Shop Pro are some of the less expensive options for beginning photographers if you’re looking for something less expensive. The majority of professional photographers use Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom.
19. Be selective
Realize that no matter how skilled or experienced a photographer is, they all produce mediocre images. However, the fact that they only display their best work makes their portfolios so impressive; They don’t bore you with ten pictures of the same thing.
Therefore, if you want your work to stand out when you share it on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, or other photo-sharing websites, try to choose just a few very good photos from each shoot. At a friend’s birthday party or your son’s football game, you may have taken hundreds of pictures, but by showing them all, you miss out on five or ten really good ones.
20. Learn from your mistakes
It can be frustrating to take photos that are overexposed, blurry, or poorly composed; however, rather than allowing such photos to discourage you, use them as a learning tool. The next time you take a poor picture, Don’t click the delete button right away. Instead, examine the image carefully to determine what went wrong and how to fix it.
The majority of the time, there will be a straightforward solution, such as trying a different composition or using a faster shutter speed. On the other hand, if you notice any problems that keep coming up, you will have the opportunity to learn more about particular aspects of photography and improve your weaker areas.