Learn Basic Photography

Edited by Nerissa Avisado, Lynn, Eng, Monica Leslie and 1 other

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If you think taking good photos is just a matter of pointing and shooting a camera, then you need to understand that the camera cannot be smarter than the photographer. Whether you're shooting with film, digital camera, or an iPhone, it's important to learn basic photography to know how you can capture beautiful images. Finding out how doesn't require a bagful of expensive equipment, and learning the finicky tricks will show that you're more clever than the box with a lens.

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Now that you're interested in photography, but don't know where to start, you'll be gratified to know that it's as easy as purchasing any of those advanced and affordable cameras flooding the market today. It may sound simple - and modern cameras can make the life of photo enthusiasts less complex than it was 20 years ago - you can be on your way to becoming a well-sought photographer, whether in the business or just for family gatherings. Still, regardless how far photography has advanced, there are basic elements that have remained pretty much the same since its inception. Here's the essential information you need to learn to record masterful pictures.

Types of Cameras

  • Single Use Cameras.
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    The simplest cameras of all, they can be bought cheaply together with a roll of color film to be developed into pictures. Single use cameras are built with a single shutter speed, fixed-focus lens and flash.
  • Compact Lens-Shutter Cameras.
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    There are three varieties - single focal length, dual focal length, and zoom, along with different features such as fixed focus, infrared auto focusing, red-eye reduction flash and other automatic shooting modes.
  • Bridge Cameras.
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    They are intermediate cameras that bridge the gap between P&S cameras and the highly-complicated models. They can be fitted with different lenses, but mostly with limited range of focal length.
  • Rangefinders.
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    Serious photographers use these compact, lightweight cameras that have interchangeable lenses to control exposure and its basic elements. This type of camera can be expensive and has limited focal length.
  • Twin Lens Reflex.
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    This medium-format camera is fitted with two lenses atop each other. The purpose of the lower lens is to focus the image directly on the film, while the upper viewing lens produces the image as reflected 90 degrees by a mirror. The photographer focuses the image on the film plane to create a sharp scene.
  • Single Lens Reflex.
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    There is only one lens for viewing and creating a photo. The SLR has full manual exposure control and can be fitted with interchangeable attachments, such as lenses, flashes, motor drives, and other accessories. Preferred by professional photographers, SLRs use a mirror and prism system in viewing exactly the image to be captured through the lens.
  • Digital Single Lens Reflex.
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    This type of camera combines the optics and mechanisms of the SLR with a digital imaging sensor. It uses a reflex design, where light travels through the lens and sends the reflected mirror image to the viewfinder or image sensor.

The Difference between Automatic and Manual

Whatever type of camera you prefer to use, they generally have both manual and automatic settings that you need to learn about how they function.

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  • Automatic Settings. They will take care of most of the job for you. The settings will be mechanically set on their own to sense the right amount of light and compute the distance between you and the object. This function reduces your guesswork in making all the adjustments necessary, but do not expect an accurate image as sharp as what you can capture manually.
  • Manual Mode. You set everything yourself before taking a photograph. The camera gives the information whether or not you're over- or under-exposed by looking at the little meter. However, before you can adjust to the right setting, there are basic elements you need to learn when setting the camera on manual mode.

An Introduction to Photography

The word "photography" is derived from the Greek word phos, which means light, and graphê, which means drawing. When combined, "drawing with light" becomes the art, science and practice of creating an image by recording light. Photography is essentially all about seeing and balancing light. Without light, there's no photography, and obviously no picture.


How much light is reflected on the final image, whether on film or digitally, is the amount of exposure it gets when recorded. By means of an analogy, exposure can be better understood as what the eyes can or can't see in a pitch black room. The eyes are not actually seeing objects directly, but they are looking at the light being reflected and bounced off the objects. Without light, the eyes cannot see anything, and too much light can make it difficult for the eyes to focus. The same thing happens in photography. In the absence of light, the image is too dark or underexposed; too much light can create overly bright or overexposed image.

The Essential Camera Functions that Determine Exposure

  1. 1
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    The aperture is located sitting inside the lens. Its primary function is to control the amount of light that passes through the lens and onto the sensor. In a very bright, outdoor setting, a small aperture is what you need to prevent the camera in picking up too much light. During nighttime, or in a dark setting, a large aperture opening lets through the right quantity of light. Knowing how to adjust the aperture setting can affect the quality of your photos. The aperture dictates the depth of field, lens speed, and sharpness, among other things, of a captured image.
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  2. 2
    Shutter Speed
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    The shutter controls the amount of time the sensor is exposed to the light and how long it remains open to capture the image. The longer the shutter is open, the more light is captured, capturing the motion of an object in transit. A fast shutter speed will produce a freezing image of a moving object.
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  3. 3
    ISO (International Organization for Standardization)
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    ISO measures the sensitivity of the film speed to light. This is applicable in film cameras. However, the way ISO measures the sensitivity of the image sensor for digital cameras though the principle is basically the same. A lower ISO requires longer exposure to produce a less sensitive image, while high ISO speed is ideal for darker situations and requires less time for the same exposure.
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These are mainly the important camera functions you need to remember by heart. Knowing them allows you to enjoy the benefits and to smarten from the drawbacks of combining these functions as you deem for any lighted situation.

Ways to Learn Basic Photography

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    Enroll in a short course or seminar that teaches basic photography.
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    Inquire at local universities, community colleges, and vocational schools which may offer such courses.
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  2. 2
    Contact professional photographers
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    This applies most specifically to those whose photographic style you want to learn, and ask if they offer instructional or tutorial classes for beginners like you.
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  3. 3
    Join photography clubs
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    It is likely that they sponsor photo workshops, exhibits, excursions, and forums where you can gain new information.
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  4. 4
    Purchase photography books and magazines
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    Read printed materials to learn the basics through self-study.
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  5. 5
    Practice what you've learned
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    Always bring your camera with you for a spin of what you already know from reading.
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  6. 6
    Log on to photography websites
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    Go to the learning section to read countless articles about basic and advanced photography.
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  7. 7
    Join online forum
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    You can learn from photographers who are happy to help you with their knowledge. Throw out an inquiry and you'll be swamped with generous opinions, all of which provide different views on a similar concern.
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  8. 8
    Study pictures taken by different photographers you admire
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    Your own style will develop as inspired by the foundation of ideas taken from the masters.
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  9. 9
    Post the pictures you've taken using the techniques learned from various sources
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    Don't be embarrassed nor afraid to receive criticisms. These are what will help you improve on your craft. On the other hand, be thankful for the good reviews and use them to further develop your style.
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Tips and Tricks

  • Don't buy expensive and complicated photography equipment if you're just starting. After learning the basics you'll know what kind of camera is best for your needs.
  • Use a tripod to support the camera steadily and to snap a professional-looking photo. While it's not always possible to lug a tripod around, make sure to find a stable surface for the camera so you can avoid taking shaky pictures.

If you have problems with any of the steps in this article, please ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.


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Categories : Hobbies

Recent edits by: Monica Leslie, Eng, Lynn

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