Top 10 Photography Tips For Digital Photography Beginners

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tips for digital photography beginners So you just bought a new DSLR and don’t know where to begin? Don’t worry, you’re one of many, and trust me, you have nothing to fear. Yes it can all seem a bit too technical, but you are a beginner after all and you will slowly learn the tricks of the trade and take awesome photos, but for now we have a few tips for you to safely dabble your feet in the world of digital photography.

DSLRs make life a lot easier for most beginners, with the amount of functionality they come with and all the various shooting modes they offer and automatic setting for exposure and focus. However, if you want to take up photography seriously, you need to delve a bit deeper. Read on to find out how:

Read The Manual

This may seem annoying and boring, but I feel even professionals should do this. This does not confuse you, but on the contrary acquaints you with your new camera. This was the first bit of reading our photography teacher assigned us at school, and it went a long way in teaching us about the workings of a camera. You need to keep your camera with you and go through the manual while inspecting it and trying out the various functions mentioned here.

Check out all the auto shooting modes you have, the semi-auto AV and TV modes and how to use them, the manual mode and how your meter works, auto and manual focusing functions, using the flash and changing various camera settings such as the ISO and white balance, and even charging the battery and transferring pictures. Once you have a thorough know-how of your camera, you will be more confident when you shoot and it will all go much more smoothly.

Acquaint Yourself With The Basics Of Exposure

You are at beginner level and will learn as you go, but this is a good time to learn a bit about exposure. Photography is all about manipulating light to record an image after all. Exposure is basically an interplay of three factors, ISO, aperture, and shutter speed. Your cameras ISO is the sensitivity level of your camera sensor; the higher the ISO number, the more sensitive it is the brighter the image will be.

The aperture is how wide the lens is open to let light in and is measured in f-stops. A higher f-stop means the aperture is narrow and will let less light in, and vice versa. Aperture also controls the depth of field of an image.

The shutter speed is the amount of time the shutter, a small curtain in your camera blocking the light, stays open to allow the light to hit the sensor. A faster shutter speed means the shutter only opens for fractions of a second and less light will enter, and vice versa.

Shoot On Manual Mode

You may be tempted to just put your camera on auto and let it work its magic, but if you’re serious about learning photography, you should always shoot on manual mode. Once you have a basic know-how of exposure, you will be able to use the meter on your manual mode to find the correct exposure by moving the aperture and shutter speed around. You might want to choose a certain ISO, higher for low light and higher for outdoor settings, and then play around with shutter speed and aperture. This gives you a lot more freedom to take a good picture while at the same time teaching you a lot about photography itself.

Shoot A Lot

With a DSLR you have ample amount of space, unlike limited exposures on film, so it is a good idea to use these freedom to shoot a lot. This helps you shake your fear and get to know how your camera performs. It also lets you know how much you know and how your knowledge of exposure translates to real life. This was another photography assignment we had at school, without any specifications to restrict us.

Try not to shoot precious moments or try too hard to do well. You’re just beginning and it’s better to shoot stuff that won’t get you all uptight and will allow you to figure stuff out for yourself.

Check Your White Balance

Another thing to think about with digital photography is white balance. This is a setting in your camera which lets you choose what kind of tones you want in your photos depending on what kind of light you’re shooting in. Different lights have different temperatures, and the camera sensor reads these in different ways. While tungsten bulbs will you lightly yellow light, fluorescent lights are usually more bluish white, while daylight is more towards yellow. You can always set this to auto and let your camera adjust it according to the scenario, but the camera doesn’t have your eye, and it’s good to test out all the settings in case you want a certain kind of look for certain photos.

Learn To Focus

Most digital lenses have auto-focus modes, which are perfectly fine for beginners to use. However, this can result in shutter lag which is when you press your shutter release bottom and the shutter doesn’t go off instantaneously but waits for the camera to find and focus on your subject. You may miss a good shot in this time, and to get rid of this you can press your shutter button halfway which causes it to focus, and then once you’re ready you can press it all the way and instantly take a picture. Of course, you could also practice with manual focus if your subject is stationary, which is always a handy skill for any photographer to have.

Seek Out The Best Light

photography tips for dslr beginners As I mentioned before, photography is all about the play of light, so you need the best kind to take a good picture. The best time to shoot outdoors is not during the afternoon when the sun is harsh and everywhere and the shadows are sharp, but during the early morn or evening hours when light is much softer and you find some delicious mid tones and subtle shadows. This is normally referred to as the Golden Hour. In other settings, you will get fairly nice shots if you find subjects with a lot of contrast. Uniform light can get a bit boring and contrast usually helps spice things up a bit.

Mind The Rule Of Thirds

When framing a shot, composition is extremely important. Your subject should not look awkward in the frame; any amount of good light can’t fix that. The best way to place your subject is using the rule of thirds, which basically places your subject a little to the side in the right or left 1/3rd of the frame instead of dead centre or too close to the edges. With anything as subjective, there are exceptions, but for starters, this rules works well in achieving a good composition.

Don’t Be Afraid To Make Mistakes

The biggest killer of creativity is fear, and you need to eliminate this from the equation. You will definitely make mistakes as a beginner and this is only natural; embrace it. Mistakes are how you learn in photography. You take a bad picture, you look at it, you point out your mistakes and figure out a way to fix them, counter them, or compensate for them. That’s how the professionals learn to take awesome pictures, by establishing where they stand and working up from there.

Learn A Few Post-Processing Tricks

Post-processing is to digital what developing is to film. For those who aren’t familiar with film development, it is half the fun (and work). Image editing and enhancement does not mean fixing your mistakes, it means adding affects that bring out the strengths and enhance your image to make it look much better and more professional. Here you can play around with your photograph, manipulate it and add a bunch of affects. Digital photography gives you so much freedom and options in post-processing that you could produce multiple versions of the same image within a few minutes and with ease, and this is definitely something you should start dabbling in from the start.

Shooting with DSLRs is a lot of fun, and it is much simpler than it looks. You can always play around with the various functions and settings of your camera and get great pictures, but for learning purposes and to get the most out of your camera in the long run, you should try out some of the manual functions and delve into its inner workings. Plus, you need to remember this is a tool after all, you are the photographer and you should have enough control over your medium to not be dependent on it. A great DSLR helps but is not a necessity to get quality photos, and with these tips, you will be able to hone your skills and use the equipment you have to its fullest.

Robert Alexander
 

A camera geek and freelance photographer, Robert (Aka "Rob" or "Bob") spends way too much time examining the finer points of cameras.

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