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Photography for Beginners

Updated: Sep 2, 2021

As beginner photographers, we tend to be visual learners. And in this blog, we try to make beginning photography as easy as possible for you.

What better way to help beginner photographers learn how to use their cameras, than by creating an infographic?” And that’s exactly what this blog is about.

The following are something that will make understanding exposure, and how cameras work, a whole lot easier!

⦁ How cameras work?

In simple 3 steps:

Follow these simple 3 steps and practice as much as you can because, practice makes a man perfect.

⦁ Exposure

For those beginning photography, exposure is key to capturing a great image.

The elements that combine to create an Exposure are Aperture, Shutter, ISO.

As you’ll soon learn, these elements have an effect on more than just the exposure. They also cause alterations in depth of field, motion blur, and digital noise. Once you understand how each one works, you can start diving into manual mode. This is where you take control back from your camera.

The exposure triangle is a great way to remember the three settings. When combined, they control the amount of light captured from any given scene. This will help you to understand that changing one setting will necessitate a change in the others. That is if you are photographing the same scene with the same exact lighting conditions.

Apperture: Exposure happens in three steps. We will start with the aperture. This is the hole inside the lens, through which the light passes.

It’s similar to the pupil of your eye: the wider the aperture, more light is allowed in and vice versa. Simple? Not quite. As the aperture widens, the f/number gets lower and more light is allowed into the camera. This is great for low light but be aware that it’s going to make the depth of field very shallow – not ideal when taking landscapes.

The aperture is the preferred setting to set first, as it directly influences how much of your scene is in focus. But, if you are looking to create motion blur, then it is second to the shutter speed.

The scale is as follows: f/1.4, f/2, f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, f/8, f/11, f/16, f/22.

Shutter Speed

Once the light has passed through the aperture of the lens, it reaches the shutter. Now you need to decide how much of that light you’re going to allow into the camera.

Ordinarily, you only want a very small fraction of a second (for example 1/250) to prevent motion blur. However, different shutter speeds complement different situations.

Knowing how your shutter speed works is a key element in the basics of photography.


Once the light has passed through the aperture and been filtered by the shutter speed, it reaches the sensor. This is where we decide how to set the ISO. As you turn the ISO number up, you increase the exposure. But, at the same time, the image quality decreases. There will be more digital noise or “grain”.

So, you have to decide your priorities in terms of exposure vs grain.

For example, I would reduce the image quality if it meant that I could prevent motion blur in my photo. There’s no possible way to fix that in post-production (yet, at least).

Exposure Summary

Once you’ve understood aperture, shutter speed and ISO, you need to learn how each of these elements of exposure work together.

For all those basics of photography, exposure is the most important.

If you don’t have this down, composition and framing become a moot point in beginner photography.

In this post, you will learn about the ‘stop’ based system for measuring exposure. But, more importantly, how to prioritize the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO for the best photo.

Understanding Your Camera


The histogram shows you a mathematical review of an exposure after the photo has been taken. It essentially tells you how evenly exposed a photo is. LCD screens aren’t very good at showing you this information through their display of the image. This is because they are affected by the ambient lighting conditions, you’re in and the brightness of the screen itself.

That’s why the histogram is such a powerful tool to utilize in beginning photography correctly.

Shooting Modes

Full-Auto, Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Speed Priority or Manual Mode. How do you work out which one you should be using? There’s also a lot of misconceptions about which mode to use under which conditions. On top of a lot of bias towards not using manual mode.

When you understand what exactly each mode does, the one that will be suitable for your situation becomes a lot clearer.

Depth of Field

When you’re shooting in low light, you invariably have to widen your aperture to allow enough light into the lens. But this has one major drawback i.e., a shallow depth of field. This can be used very creatively (often to excess) but it’s not the only possibility. There are many situations, such as landscapes, where you’ll want to be using a narrower aperture so that the whole scene remains in focus. This tutorial walks you through everything you need to know about choosing the right aperture (and therefore the depth of field) for the right situation.

When it comes to covering all of the basics of photography, depth of field is very important.

White Balance

The white balance changes the color cast of the entire photo. It is responsible for the overall warmth. It can determine whether your photo appears blue or orange, cold or warm.

Auto white balance doesn’t tend to do a particularly good job, particularly with tungsten light. The sooner you learn about this basic photography idea, the more accurate your photos will look. Here, a link from where you can get more information about it:

Focal Length

Have you ever wondered what the ‘mm’ on your lens actually means? Or why people use longer focal lengths for portraits? The focal length affects more than just the ‘zoom’. It also influences the perspective.

This picture of the Samuel Beckett Bridge in Dublin incorporates plenty of triangles and diagonals into the scene. The bridge itself is an actual triangle (It’s actually supposed to represent a Celtic Harp on its side). There are also several ‘implied’ triangles in the scene. Notice how the leading lines on the right of the frame are all diagonal and form triangles that all meet at the same point. These are ‘implied triangles’. Having diagonals going off in different direction adds a lot of ‘dynamic tension’ to the scene. Once again you can see how photographer has combined two techniques to compose the image: leading lines and diagonals.

⦁ Patterns and Textures

Human beings are naturally attracted to patterns. They are visually attractive and suggest harmony. Patterns can be man-made like a series of arches or natural like the petals on a flower. Incorporating patterns into your photographs is always a good way to create a pleasing composition. Less regular textures can also be very pleasing on the eye.

The photo above was taken in Tunisia. Here the pattern in the paving stones to lead the eye to the domed building. The building itself incorporates a pattern in the form of a series of arches. The domed roof also compliments the rounded arches below.

⦁ Fill the Frame

Filling the frame with your subject, leaving little or no space around it can be very effective in certain situations. It helps focus the viewer completely on the main subject without any distractions. It also allows the viewer to explore the detail of the subject that wouldn’t be possible if photographed from further away. Filling the frame often involves getting in so close that you may actually crop out elements of your subject. In many cases, this can lead to a very original and interesting composition.

In the photo of lion, you’ll notice that it filled the frame completely with his face, even cropping out the edges of his head and mane. This allows the viewer to really focus on details such as the eyes or the textures in his fur. You may also notice that here we used the rule of thirds in this composition.

Simplicity and Minimalism

In the last guideline, we saw how leaving negative space around the main subject can create a sense of simplicity and minimalism. Simplicity itself can be a powerful compositional tool. It is often said that ‘less is more’. Simplicity often means taking photos with uncomplicated backgrounds that don’t distract from the main subject. You can also create a simple composition by zooming in on part of your subject and focusing on a particular detail.

⦁ Isolate the Subject

Using a shallow depth of field to isolate your subject is a very effective way of simplifying your composition. By using a wide aperture, you can blur the background that might otherwise distract from your main subject. This is a particularly useful technique for shooting portraits.

In this photo of a cat hiding in a box, photographer set an aperture of f3.5 which is very wide and results in very blurred background. This focuses attention on the cat as the blurred background is now less distracting. This technique is an excellent way to simplify a composition.

⦁ Change your Point of View

Most photos are taken from eye level. In my case, that’s barely 5 feet! Getting high up or low down can be a way of creating a more interesting and original composition of a familiar

Look for Particular Color Combinations

Take a look at the color wheel below. You can see that the colors are arranged logically in the segments of a circle. Colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel are said to be ‘complimentary colors’. As photographers, we can look for scenes that incorporate complimentary colors as a way of creating attractive and striking compositions.

⦁ Rule of Space

The rule of space relates to the direction the subject(s) in your photo are facing or moving towards. If you are taking a photo of a moving car for example, there should be more space left in the frame in front of the car than behind it. This implies that there is space in the frame for the car to move into. Take a look at the example of the boat below.

In this photo, the boat is placed on the left-hand side of the frame as it moves from left to right

We can mentally imagine the boat moving into this space as it sails along the river. We also have a subconscious tenancy to look forward to where an object is heading. If the boat was right up at the right-hand side of the frame, this would lead us out of the photograph!

Left to Right Rule

There is theory that says we ‘read’ an image from left to right in the same way we would read text. For this reason, it is suggested that any motion portrayed in a photograph should flow from left to right. This is all very well but it assumes the viewer is from a country where text is read from left to right. Many languages are read from right to left such as Arabic for example. There are some fantastic photographs that ‘flow’ from right to left.

The photo above follows the ‘left to right’ rule. The woman walking her dog in the Tuileries Garden in Paris is walking from the left to the right of the frame. This photo also adheres to the ‘rule of space’.

Balance Elements in the Scene

The first compositional guideline we looked at in this tutorial was the ‘rule of thirds’. This of course means that we often place the main subject of the photo to the side of the frame along one of the vertical grid lines. Sometimes this can lead to a lack of balance in the scene. It can leave a sort of ‘void’ in the rest of the frame. To overcome this, you can compose your shot to include a secondary subject of lesser importance or size on the other side of the frame. This balances out the composition without taking too much focus off the main subject of the photograph.

In picture below the lamppost itself fills the left side of the frame. The Eiffel Tower in the distance counter balances this on the other side of the frame.

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