The Basics of Photography

Getting to Know Your Camera

First things first: Get to know your camera. If you don't know where the viewfinder, the shutter release button or the on/off button is on your camera that is the very first thing you need to find. Get familiar with your camera. Learn how to turn it off and on, where to look to snap a picture and what button to push to capture the image. It's also good to find out what kind of memory your camera uses. A digital camera will most likely take an SD or CF card. Make sure you know how many megapixels your camera has in order to get a card with sufficient memory because more megapixels means more storage space your camera will need. For instance, my Canon 7D has 18 megapixels and it stores the pictures on compact flash cards; so on a two gigabyte card it can hold almost 300 pictures. Once you know the basics of your camera you can start playing with the settings and other camera modes. After you're comfortable with your settings then it's time to start shooting!

Me taking a self-portrait of myself.

Shooting a Basic Picture

Auto VS. Manual Mode

Most point-and-shoot digital cameras, ones without interchangeable lenses, have at least one automatic mode of shooting a picture. Most people probably use the automatic mode to snap a picture with their camera, but I prefer the manual mode of shooting. I will explain my tips through manual mode. So, to shoot a basic picture in manual mode, like a portrait of a friend, you will need to adjust your ISO, aperture and shutter speed according to the lighting situation. If your friend is standing by a pool on a sunny day you will need to close your aperture down to about f/13 or all the way to f/22. Since your friend is standing still your shutter speed doesn't need to be on 1,000 or 800. A shutter speed of 350, or 400, will probably work if it's really sunny. Once your settings are good to go, snap your picture and review it afterwards. If the photo is too bright, where there's too much light coming in, close the aperture down more or increase the shutter speed. If the photo is too dark open the aperture or decrease the shutter speed. Keep taking pictures until you get your desired image.

Get Creative

Shooting Beyond Portraits

When you get comfortable with your camera, it's a lot of fun taking pictures of other things like flowers, animals, sun sets, butterflies or whatever your heart desires. It's also fun to play with lighting, especially at night, because the images can get very creative. For example, taking a photo of a busy street downtown at night with the headlights from a car blurring past you makes an interesting image. For certain situations try to take different approaches - get down low, up high and up close. A different angle on an object or person can truly make a picture worth a thousand words.