Photography Basics – Overview

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Photography techniques are a valuable skill to learn. If you are starting out with a new DSLR Camera and want to know what’s what, to help you get started I have put seven things below you should learn.

Through the tutorial sections I will go into more detail and explain how to take specific shots and the settings you should use. You can go through the tutorials one by one or link straight to each section below.

1. Aperture

Aperture is the size of the opening in the lens which lets light in. The wider this is, the more light gets in allowing for faster Shutter speeds. By having a wider Aperture you loose depth of field which is the amount of an image that is in focus when objects are on different focus planes (distances). Learn more about aperture here.

2. Shutter Speed

Shutter Speed controls how long the camera will exposure the image for. A longer Shutter Speed will be needed if there isn’t much light available, such as indoors, low light or night shots. If your Shutter Speed isn’t fast enough then you may get blurry shots, where you can’t hold a camera still enough to prevent handshake. Learn more about shutter speed here.

3. ISO:

This is the amount of gain you give to the sensor (Making it more sensitive to light). By increasing the ISO you can increase the Shutter Speed in low light, without underexposing the image. If you raise the ISO too high though you will often get noise, even with the best sensors out there. To take night or low light shots you could read my cities at night tutorial for help on the settings. Learn more about ISO here.

4. Composition:

Composition is how you frame your image and position all the elements in the scene. There are lots of things to consider such as foreground elements, background elements, how the eye will move around the scene and where it should end up, ie what should be the main focus of the image. To learn more about composition click here.

5. Focus:

Focus is the positioning of the glass elements in your lens, so that the light hits the sensor and the image is sharp. Focus can be manual or automatic and you can also set the focus points in the lens (AF Points), so that the camera will focus on specific parts of the scene.

6. Drive mode:

You can set your camera to take one shot, burst shots, or use a self timer. The self timer is good for night shots and selfies and the burst mode is good for action shots.

7. Metering

The metering mode determines how your camera calculates how much light you need to exposure an image, so that it’s not too light, or to dark. You can change the metering mode so that it does this calculation in different ways such as spot metering for portraits where you want just the subject to be in focus but don’t care about the surroundings, evaluative where it looks at the whole scene, partial and centered. I will go into these in more detail in a future post.


In our next tutorial on photography basics, we will go into more detail on aperture and how it affects you photographs.

Next Tutorial: Aperture

Other photography posts:

Ultimate Tips for Travel Photography
Photography Tips – Techniques for Capturing City Skylines
Photography Tips – Cities at Night