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Photography Chronicles: 3 Camera Tips for beginners

Charlene is a passionate photographer who loves occasionally sharing experiences of her photographic journey.

Using a higher f-stop is perfect for landscapes.

Using a higher f-stop is perfect for landscapes.

Introduction

I consider myself a student of the art of Photography, not a pro as such. So, I feel quite overwhelmed sometimes when I am asked advice or tips on Photography but I know how frustrating learning this art can be, that is why I am always willing to share what I have learned in my many years of taking pics.

Photography is an ever-evolving and ever-learning art form. You will not immediately be able to nail all niches or aspects of this complex skill set that is photography, not without lots of practicing and studying (even if you do it on your own as I did). Just like everything in life, if you put in the work then you will see the results manifest.

To get better at taking pics, you need to realize that you ARE going to make lots of mistakes, yes you heard me. It’s not you MAY make mistakes, it is you ARE going to make mistakes because those mistakes are what is going to push your knowledge and skillset to the next level.

To Focus on the subject and blur the background, use a low f-stop.

To Focus on the subject and blur the background, use a low f-stop.

“If you have the guts to keep making mistakes, your wisdom and intelligence leap forward with huge momentum.” - Holly Near

To freeze motion, use a fast shutter  speed

To freeze motion, use a fast shutter speed

You will take the same picture a dozen times, different ways to get it the way you were meant to, trust me. Explore yourself and your camera, you won't be disappointed in the effort spent learning both. Okay, I will be honest, you WILL get very frustrated maybe cry, throw a tantrum or three and probably want to give up but perseverance is key here, these are pivotal moments that transcend the barriers you’ve set for yourself. Often pushing boundaries tend to be met with lots of resistance and much of that resistance stems from ourselves, our own insecurities, fears, and years of self- destructive conditioning.

Here are 3 Camera tips for beginners:

  1. Practice proper camera holding
  2. Understand your camera exposure trio
  3. Do not be afraid of your camera modes
Hold your camera properly

Hold your camera properly

Practice proper camera holding

This seems a bit redundant to point out but Practice proper camera holding does not mean treating your camera like a live grenade. It simply means learning to hold your camera properly so your pictures don’t have a camera shake blur. The sudden movements or even slight movement of your camera can cause sudden camera blur in low light conditions so practice your camera holding. Hold your camera with both hands, place your right hand on the right side of your camera and your left hand should support your lens. Keep your arms close and tighter to your body so that your body can act as a natural ‘tripod’ also stand with a wider stance for balance. However, if you do want to get an extra brace for a shot then find a place to support your elbows or crouch low and use your knee/s.

Blurring background is perfect for portraits

Blurring background is perfect for portraits

Sometimes the blur can be used to bring attention to details

Sometimes the blur can be used to bring attention to details

Understand your exposure trio

Okay, don’t panic. Understanding exposure is important to navigate your camera, the important exposure trio:

ISO

The ISO controls your camera’s sensitivity to light- low ISO means the camera is less sensitive to light and high OSO means it is more sensitive to light. Ever heard the word ‘noise’ to describe a picture? Well, this is the decrease in the quality of the image so the higher the ISO means more light gets through making the pixel grain of the image more prominent causing a grainy look (the ‘noise). So make sure to prevent this effect, set your ISO to maybe 400 when shooting in low light outside and maybe higher inside (especially if the light is bad). Daylight usually provides good lighting conditions so an ISO of 200 should be okay most of the time, for outdoor shoots.

Aperture

Aperture controls how much light comes through onto your camera sensor and it is found at the opening of your lens. The depth of field is also control with your aperture and more specifically it is the number f on your camera settings. This means that when the opening is wide (lower f-stop number)then there is more light getting through and the focus will be on your subject and the subject alone will be sharp while blurring the background which is perfect for portraits or bringing attention to subject details. When the opening is narrow (higher f-stop number) then there is less light getting through and the entire picture(subject and background) is in sharp focus which is perfect for landscapes or group shots.

Shutter speed

There is a shutter that opens and closes when allowing light onto the camera sensor, the shutter speed is the length of time that shutter remains open. The gist of it is: the longer shutter is open: more light and the shorter shutter is open: less light. Fast shutter speeds are used to freeze actions and longer shutter speeds are for the intentional motion blur.

Play around with camera modes so you can focus on composition and lighting

Play around with camera modes so you can focus on composition and lighting

Practicing will make you better able to judge what you may need when the time comes... so don't be afraid to PRACTICE.

Practicing will make you better able to judge what you may need when the time comes... so don't be afraid to PRACTICE.

Do not be afraid of your camera modes

You don’t want to use automatic because let’s face it, your pics don’t have any popping moments on that mode. The camera is an intelligent piece of equipment but it isn’t an artificially intelligent life form ( although that would be cool) so it does not know how to create a scene as you do that is why the automatic mode has its limits. However, I also understand Manual mode is daunting for beginners which is why I suggest you practice on the other modes like Aperture Priority and Shutter priority modes. It doesn’t make you any less of a photographer, it just gives you breathing space. There are so many factors to remember when shooting: composition, lighting, and settings too so if you can take a load off with some of the settings then you can concentrate on practicing the other two.

Modes:

Aperture Priority Mode allows you to pick an aperture(low f-stop or high f-stop) and your camera will pick the best shutter speed for your shot.

In Shutter Priority Mode, you pick the shutter speed and your camera picks the best aperture for your shot. This will allow you to better practice your composition and your lighting. That is essentially what makes a good photographer, it is being willing to practice…practice…practice.

Pictures source: Charlie's Photography (they were all taken by me.)

Do not be afraid of your ISO, a little grain/noise makes for very interesting pics

Do not be afraid of your ISO, a little grain/noise makes for very interesting pics

“Photography is the story I fail to put into words.” — Destin Sparks