The Beginners Guide to Photography

I have always been someone that wanted to try and capture every moment possible. Memories to look back was what drove the passion to take more photo and video. This was the start to a slow process.

At first, the GoPro came along and started the slight beginning of “creating”, but it was never something I took seriously, just a fun pocket tool to bring on the lake.

Any photo taking was primarily done with a phone and then trying to edit them in a “professional” manner. To do this I would use photo apps, Instagram photo editor, or the VSCO photo app. Using your phone is a great way to capture and edit photos on the go, but it was until I picked up my first DSLR camera, that I found I have no idea WHAT THE HELL I am doing.

1.5 years later, I still don’t.


I wanted to write a TRUE story about someone that liked to take and edit photos/videos, yet knew nothing technical about it. Later becoming a guy that takes and edits photos/videos and still knows nothing…..

Ahhh I know a bit more from when I started, but the moral of this story is how dedication and applying yourself can turn an idea and hobby into something you can take credit for.

Disclaimer: knowing the technicalities of photography doesn’t make you a great “photographer”, you may be able to create more efficiently (speed kills), but this is why it is a beautiful hobby. You are allowed to admire and appreciate your work because you like it, through your eyes, “through your lens”, you dont need validation from others (applies to everything).

Nostalgia plays a huge part in this hobby. The real life moments you capture takes you back to a special place at a special time.  By no means am I saying I have become a content creator that can deliver tips and how to’s, nonetheless a photographer, but I have received questions and have had friends and family reach out in regard to my photos and video work. They are very much short of anything called “work”, but I enjoy doing it. Curious and ambitious.

Everything I have ever done from taking photo, video and the post process (editing) has all been self taught. Consisted of reaching out to people, watching videos, and most importantly actually going out and trying. THAT IS THE MOST IMPACTFUL THING I HAVE DONE.

Going out and shooting. As it sounds cliche, this part of the process will always be the most beneficial. There is no better way to learn and grow. Take my advice with a grain of salt, this is primarily for those who are curious to pick up a camera or have one that has collected dust. We have all been there.

The incentive to write this came from when I first started. I wish I would have come across a read like this, something to dumb down all the shit you read online. I needed the big data online condensed into a small HOW TO and ultimately was waiting for someone to tell me what to do.

My first among many mistakes…


There are 3 things I would have liked to know before I started shooting…

1. You will learn faster and grow stronger if you shoot on Manual (M) mode. You can find this on your dial. You will learn what needs to be changed to achieve the look you are going for.

2. When looking to buy gear, or when you get the itch to buy more lenses, make National Camera Exchange your last stop. Buy used gear, go on Craigslist/eBay/Adorama. Always remember It’s not about the gear, it’s ALL about who is using it. But you have to buy to start and will want to upgrade in the future.

I say this because cameras are always upgrading, used cameras rarely have any drastic effect on performance, from a beginner level standpoint. Some people are snobs and need the new fancy gear and will not except previous shutter counts (the number of photos taken), or they may not be concerned with the money part. All in all, buy used gear, you can find it anywhere!

3. There are THREE settings you will be working with:

  • Aperture (F)
  • ISO
  • Shutter Speed

Aperture:

This is how large or how small your hole or gap is that lets the light through when you take a photo. Every lens has an f stop. For example, I have a 24-70mm lens with a 2.8 F stop. Which means the aperture can open up to 2.8 F.

The lower the number the wider the hole gets.

The lower the number = the larger the hole = more light will pass through –> great in low light situations.

The larger the number = the smaller the hole = less light will pass through

Ideally, you would want to turn your aperture down (ex. 2.8, open) when you are shooting with less light/ low-night (nighttime, sunset) or you want to create more depth of field, this has to do with the subject and background.

Bokeh = the amount of blurriness in the backdrop


ISO:

This measures the sensitivity of the image sensor. The lower the number (200) the less sensitive your camera is to light and the finer the grain. Higher ISO settings (5400) are generally used in darker situations to get faster shutter speeds, this will incorporate more grain. I tend to stay around 200 in your typical situation.

Ideally, you do not want to mess around with the ISO while shooting in the day time. I know a lot of people that rarely change their ISO setting and keep it within 200-500. When it is brought to a higher setting the image sensor can not withstand and brings down the quality of the image. But on the other hand, cameras are so advanced, don’t feel uncomfortable messing with the ISO, do what you think looks good.


Shutter Speed: 

When you take a picture you hear the sound of your shutter opening and closing. The shutter speed is simply how fast your shutter opens and closes, based on the speed you set it.  Shutter speed is the amount of time it takes for light to enter your camera, how long it takes to let light through the camera.

The BIGGER the number, the FASTER the shutter speed, the LESS light enters your camera. For example; the faster the shutter opens and closes, this means the less light you are letting in.

Fast = less light = big number

REMEMBER: This is a very very very broad and, well we will call it to dummy down way of explaining these things. I didn’t want to get too specific with what these settings can do, (truthfully I don’t know much more) I wanted you all to simply understand the basics.

We could go on and on and on about the three base settings, yet I do not understand them all on a professional level, I know enough to make my photos the way I want them to look. I HAVE A LOT YET TO LEARN. And so do you, so go out there and start shooting.