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Five Tips for Beginner Photographers

Posted by Jacob Hawthorne on

So, you just got your first ‘real camera’. Now you need to learn how to use it.

Photography is a work in progress, and you may never stop learning about the many tips and tricks involved in the process. But there are a few basics you should be familiar with before you do your first few shoots. This article will review these basics, so you know what to expect.

Hold Your Camera Properly

Camera shake can cause photos to blur. While a tripod may be the best thing for eliminating camera shake, it’s also important to hold your camera properly.

The camera should always be held with both hands. Grip the right side of the camera with your right hand while placing the left hand beneath the lens to support the camera’s weight.

Holding the camera close to your body will provide stability. For even more support, you can lean against a wall, crouch on your knees, or adopt a wider stance.

Shoot in RAW

RAW is a file format. It is preferable to shoot in RAW as opposed to JPEG. Doing so will capture all the image data rather than compress it. It will provide higher quality images and more control in post-processing.

On the downside, RAW formats take up more space. They also almost always need some sort of post-processing, so you’ll need to invest in photo editing software when you go this route.

Understand the Exposure Triangle

The exposure triangle consists of three important elements: ISO, shutter speed, and aperture. Here’s how each plays their part:

  • The ISO controls the camera’s sensitivity to light. A low ISO means it will be less sensitive to light while a high ISO will be more sensitive to light. An ISO between 100 and 200 will be ideal for daytime shooting while a setting of 400 to 800 will be better in low light situations.

  • Aperture is the opening of your camera lens. It controls how much light gets to your camera sensor. A wide aperture, indicated by a low f-stop number, lets in more light. A narrow aperture, indicated by a high f-stop number, will let in less light. Wide apertures are good for isolating the subject but if you need the whole picture to be in focus, a narrow aperture is best.

  • Shutter speed refers to how long the shutter stays open when you’re taking a picture. The longer the shutter stays open, the more light will get through. A fast shutter is good for freezing action while a longer shutter speed will blur motion.

Learn to Adjust White Balance

White balance will help you capture colors more accurately. If you don’t adjust the white balance, the colors may look slightly blue, yellow, or green.

Standard white balance settings on your camera include Automatic White Balance, Daylight, Cloudy, Flash, Shade, Fluorescent, and Tungsten. Each will be symbolized by a different icon. If you’re not sure which is which, check your camera manual.

Be Careful with Your Flash

Using flash in low-light environments may seem like a no-brainer. But it can result in red-eye, harsh shadows, and more. Generally, it's better to crank up your ISO which will get you noisier photos but won’t ruin the shot.

However, if there’s not enough light and you don’t have off-camera lighting, you may be forced to use the flash. If this is your only option, find the flash settings on your camera menu and reduce the brightness as much as you can.

You can also diffuse light from the flash by putting something over it such as a piece of paper or opaque scotch tape. Another idea is to bounce the light off the ceiling by holding white cardboard in front of the flash at an angle.

Getting great shots is not always easy. The tips in this article will get you off on the right foot when it comes to starting your hobby or career. What beginner photography advice do you have to share?

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