Sorry for the absence, but this pre-summer-vacations time is very complicated at work, specially when people’s holidays are not simultaneous.
Also it’s around the second anniversary of the blog!! Eeeee 🙂
Not long ago a friend asked me for tips to start in photography. I wanted to compile some nice set of tips and started thinking “how did I do it?”. Well my start was a bit chaotic and also I’m always very passionate about all I like to do (photography, cycling, music, astronomy …), so my path went all over. Not a very good tip for a beginner. I’m trying to filter the bad and keep the good then! Maybe I’ll turn this post into a series going deeper in each part. Let’s see 🙂
I would say we have today 4 parts for a beginner to learn, understand and master: camera, exposure, composition and post-processing.
Camera: You have to learn and be familiar with all the buttons, menus, bells and whistles of your camera. Learn how to do each function you’ll need and learn how to do it without thinking about it. You need to change the aperture, it should come naturally and automatically. Also try to get used to customization, that can save you a lot of time if you know how to make the camera be more like you’d like it to be. So read the camera users manual!!! And of course, don’t use the camera in auto-mode!!
Exposure: It has three parts. Shutter speed, aperture (the f/stop) and ISO. They all control the amount of light that ends your sensor (or film for what matters), but they are not equivalent!
Shutter speed controls how much movement you have from your subject, or around it. It’s not the same to shoot a water fall with 1/500s and with 2 seconds. The first will give you a crisp “droppy” water, while the second will give you a silky water fall. There are situation you want one case, situations you want another thing.
Aperture controls the depth of field, i.e. how much of your image is in focus. A big aperture (small number, like f/1.8), will give you a subject in focus with a nicely blurred background (a Bokeh), bringing the attention to the main subject, while a small aperture (large number, like f/22), will give you mostly everything in focus, like for a landscape shot where the foreground and the background are important.
Their use is up to your creative needs.
ISO is the sensitivity of your detector (ISO 100, ISO 200 …), previously known as ASA. The ISO gives you the “scale” for light capture. The higher the ISO the more light your camera will capture, but the noisier the image will be.
Those three form the so called exposure triangle, where each has it’s characteristics.
Composition: Is what you put in your image (also what you leave out of it) and where you put it. It goes from the basic rule of thirds to from which angle you take the shot for each time of subject.
The best way to develop that is to develop a good taste for images. Some photographers say you should not look for inspiration, it’s all inside of you already, other photographers say you should load your mind with good images, not only from photography, but also look into the classic painters.
For good images todays suggestion is 500px, specially since Flickr became the place for a “virtual hug” 🙂 This is a joke you hear a lot today, where people say that no matter what you post nowadays on Flickr, there’s always a bunch of people that is going to love it!!!
Post-processing: Images are digital and they can and should be processed after you take them. There’s a lot of people that say “it should be as it comes from the camera”. Well, for your information, the camera does post-processing internally, so if you don’t do it yourself, you are just accepting that the one done by the camera pleases you. If this is the case, by all means, stick to it. If you want a bit more, than do it yourself.
The best tool to do it, in my opinion is Adobe Lightroom. It allows you to do most of the processing (toning, cropping …) and also organizes your images. Photoshop is also able to do all that, and much more, and for image editors is the king in the market. Another option is Photoshop’s light version “Photoshop Elements”.
Software tools cost money, so do camera parts! It’s all part of the same game.
There are open-source tools but they are not even close to photoshop, though they will do the basics, if that’s what you need.
Where to learn more about it.
The books that give the basic, in my opinion are the four “Digital Photography Book” from Scott Kelby. The books teach you how to do the things without much on why it’s this way. You’ll figure out why, latter when you’re using the techniques.
No, I’m not getting any kick back from Scott Kelby (if he wants to give me something for the advertisement, he’s welcome 🙂 ), but I’m a user of this training services and I can tell how much it did to me.
On the free part of the internet, Kelby TV offers you a lot also in terms of Photography and Photoshop. For photography I suggest “D-Town”, “Photography Tips & Tricks” and “The Grid” and for photoshop “Photoshop User TV”. Totally worth going back and watching the older material also.
While digging for this post (that grew in expectations while being written) I ran into some nice websites.
Basics of Photography: The Complete Guide at Life Hacker.
Photography Basics at Exposure Guide
The Three Basics of Photography at Light and Matter
Photo Basics at Improve Photography
21 Settings, Techniques and Rules All New Camera Owners Should Know at Digital Photography School
I’ll try to expand on each topic in the next weeks, as much as I can (or as much as I know 🙂 ). I hope I succeed!