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10 tips for beginner photographers

The most important task to become a better photographer is to learn the basics of photography, how a photograph is captured, and connect with your subject the first necessary step. Will be covering the basic elements of photography in this article. This article offers some insights you may find helpful to expand your knowledge if you want to know about photography. This information will help to address techniques, creativity, and composition.

Without trying to be too technical, this article will explain some of the components that you may want to learn and use in your photography with some examples.

So let's dig in!

Master the camera you have

Use the camera or phone you already have. You take better pictures if you master the camera you have. All DSR cameras developed in the last ten years are already of excellent quality and perfect for beginner photographers. Spending more money doesn't improve your photography.
If you are not taking the images you want, maybe your camera settings are wrong or need to put more time into photography's creative side.

1. The emotional side of photography.

On the creative side, let's look at the light. Light is never natural and shows emotions. Bright, harsh light shows strong emotions; soft, delicate light convey gentle emotions. Think about how it would match the feeling of your subject.

The two images below have a very different emotion. The girl in the image is wrapped in sunshine, and her wandering gaze a perfect match to a soft, calm, gentle feeling.
On the other hand, the other image below with the early morning sun and its harsh sunrise evoke a more dynamic, intense sensation.


Hot Sun Lightroom Preset



Bright Lightroom Preset

2. The technical side of photography.

Don't overexpose your highlight; rather, underexpose your shadows. Burned out highlights are harder to recover to bring out colors. Yet underexposed shadows are much easier to recover well. Base your exposer mainly to recover highlights.

There are two similar images. As you note, the overexposed image is very bright, and the sky's color is lost. It isn't easy to recover overexposed highlights. The other photo was purposefully underexposed to keep as much of the sky's color and characters in the sunset.


Overexposed: 13.0 sec @ f/11


Underexposed: 1/60 sec @ f/11


Edited Underexposed image - Sunset Lightroom Preset

3. When is the best time to use a flashlight?

Do Not use flash dark evening if you want the background to show. Unless there is enough light in the background like a fabulous sunset and you want your object to be the focal of your image. Flashlight in the evening could produce sharp shadows and makes your scene behind your subject disappear in the dark.
The better time to use it on a bright and sunny day. Especially if your subject is facing away from sun or light. It is called a fill flash. It will diminish the dark shadow. Great use in macro photography and outdoor portrait photography.

There is good and bad things about using the built-in camera flash. If you are too close to the subject the image will look unnatural and the background disappears in the darkness.

For example, the first image show how the built-in flash created an unnatural look. It took me some creative editing to compensate for the harsh fill flash. You can download this preset and try it on your images.


Fill Flash Lightroom Preset

The young girl was sitting in the shadows, and the sun behind is caressing her hair. Without a fill-flash, she would be pretty dark, and her face would be in the shadows. I used the built-in flash but added a soft cover to settle the intense flashlight to a subtle light.


Cinnamon Lightroom Preset

4. Move your feet

As a landscape photographer, often awed by the view in front of me and forgetting what is behind. Always turn around and look where you arrived from. You might be surprised by what you see or could have missed.
Move your feet. Standing still is bad for you and your photography. Move your camera in different positions. Get lower to the ground or step on something higher to change the point of view.

See below. How a few feet makes a difference.


Pinnacle Lightroom Preset

5. organize and backup your photos

Look back through your old photos and check why you think they are not acceptable. You might also find some that you didn't  like and disregarded before but now has a different meaning to you. The more you practice, the better you become. Especially repeat the things you don't understand—That's how you get better at photography.


Retro Bus Lightroom Preset

6. Can you take great photos with any camera?

Yes, you can.
We all like balance. A balanced image makes us feel comfortable. One of the most used ways to compose a shot, but why? Balance feels peaceful, harmonious, stable; it comes down to emotions. Compose your photos from left to right, so both sides are equally weighted.
What about the opposite of balance? Imbalance feels more dynamic, more intense. It would be rare, but the effect is more energetic.

Take a look at the next image. The intense texture of the rocks balances the busy clouds without overpowering it. With a clear sky without clouds, the rocks would overwhelm the image and would feel unbalanced—as a beginner photographer aim for balance in your photographs.


B&W Textured Lightroom Preset

This image below feels out of proportion. The weight is on the left side of the photograph, yet you can't help but look toward the right, following the open mouth of the giant stump—this technique called a line of site, or  Implied Lines relating to leading lines.


B&W Classic Matte Lightroom Preset

7. Simplification.

Simplifying in photography means to refine your message.
Everything in your photo should be there and have meaning. Busy images create a distraction to your the viewer, and miss the focal point unless your message conveys crowdedness. Don't mistake simplifying with empty. Exclude part of the scene that makes your photo diluted.

The next images are an excellent example of re-thinking what the message you want to portray. The importance got lost in the first image, but moving a little closer removing the window made it clear it is all about the vintage clothing hung out to dry.


B&W Green Lightroom Preset

Three basic photography Components

The three most important and essential photography basics to learn as a beginner photographer are; Exposure (Shutter Speed), ISO, and Aperture. When you analyze a photograph, these are the core elements photographers use when capturing images. All three of these elements play a significant role together. They work together to create a dynamic and creatively captured photo that will attract a viewer's interest in using these elements.

Let's start!

8. What is exposure triangle?

Are you confused? You are not alone.
So What is the exposure triangle? It is a combination of shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. These three elements control the amount of light of how light or dark your image will be.
With too much light, the photo will be overexposed. Too little light then the shot will be too dark and loose details.

Once you understand how each one works, you can start jumping into using manual mode on your camera.
As you learn more about these elements and their effect on your images, you soon realize they also cause changes in depth-of-field, motion blur, sharpness, and digital noise.


Image by: WClarke and Samsara

9. shutter-speed importance

What is Shutter Speed?

The shutter speed refers to the amount of time that the camera's shutter is open. The longer the shutter is t open, the more light passes through to the camera's sensor. The less time the shutter curtain is open, the less light can pass through.

To understand shutter speed is to think of your window curtains. For example, if you close your curtain, then open them for 1, then close them again; you've created a 1-second exposure letting the light entered the room. The same thing happens when you engage the shutter button to take a photo. The settings in your camera will define how long the shutter stays open before it closes.

How shutter speed is measured?

The shutter speed is typically measured in fractions of a second when they are under a second. For example, 1/4 means a quarter of a second, while 1/250 means one-two-hundred-and-fiftieth of a second.

What are the effects of the shutter speed?

The first effect is the brightness or darkness of your image. Just Imagine, the longer the shutter is open, the more light reaches the sensor. Therefore your image appears to be brighter.

Clarity preset Shutter speed

The second effect is sharpness or blurriness - one of the reasons why photographers are using a tripod. The camera needs to stabilize to avoid unnecessary movement; otherwise, the image will be blurry. If you need to shoot hand-held without a tripod, check out the tips below.

Your shutter speed should be at least 2x of the focal length of your lens. For example, let's assume you are zooming in for 200 mm, then your shutter speed is recommended to be at 1/400s. The minimum shutter speed at 50 mm should be about 1/100s.

If you take photos of a moving subject like a car in motion or a runner, you may want to choose a faster shutter speed to freeze the action. Unlike shooting a waterfall to make the water blurry, so the water is cascading over like a light veil.

The difference between the two images below is the shutter speed. The first image; with faster shutter speed, I was able to show the fast-moving water. You may notice the whitecaps on the water
The second photo on below was taken with a much slower shutter speed to create silky, flowing water. However, in this case, you may want to use a tripod to eliminate motion blur, so the entire image is sharp.

Shutter Speed: 1/250 second

Warmer days Preset

Warmer Days Lightroom Preset

Shutter Speed: 1/5 second

Water Flow Preset

Water Flow Lightroom Preset

Stops and Shutter speed

For example, by changing the shutter speed by 1 stop means you are doubling or halving the amount of light entering the camera. Actually you are changing how long the shutter stays open. The diagram below showing the stops most cameras can be changed. Of course there are more setting depending on your camera's make and model.

Exposure-shutter speed

10. Aperture or f/stop

What is Aperture, f/stop, Depth of field?

The aperture controls the brightness or darkness of an image. Aperture is the size of opening of your lens to allow the light to pass through and capture it by the sensor. It is measured by f/stops. The larger the f/stop number, smaller the opening. The smaller the f/stop number the larger the opening. 

The aperture also controls the depth of field (DOF), for the purpose of creating a sharp or blurry backgrounds. The depth of field is the distance between the foreground and background. Some images with a "shallow" depth of field shows an out of focus, blurry background. Unlike, images with a "large" depth of field appear sharp from front all the way to the background.


10. ISO

What is ISO?

After the light has crossed through the aperture and refined by the shutter speed, it contacts the sensor. Here where we choose what is the best ISO setting. ISO settings will change the sensor's sensitivity to light.
As you increase the numbers, you allow the sensor to be more sensitive to light, creating a brighter result. At the same time, you add what we call digital noise resulting in a grainier image.
It is up to you to decide your preference for a sharp, bright image versus the grain.


I took this image in an aquarium in Las Vegas. The place had pretty low lighting, and the water also distorted the light a bit. To see the texture and make the image brighter, the ISO was set to ISO 2000. At the top left corner cropped part of the image to show you the grain caused by the higher ISO setting. Don't be afraid to use higher settings.
There are software's that lets you remove most of the grain in post-processing. But turning the image into a black and white version adds another layer of emotion to a photograph.
Click the image below to enlarge it.


B&W Grainy Lightroom Preset

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