3 cruicial lessons every photography beginner needs

I've been exploring the world of photography since three years and to tell you the truth - there is no more beautiful thing than capturing any object of attraction with absolute perfection. Photography is magical...buutt it takes several trial and error to master the art. It's always good to consult someone who has an exposure in this field as a head start -- it helps you avoid mistakes you wish you had.

LESSON NO#1 - Always Shoot RAW
This is exclusively for the lot that is going to take photography very seriously and is not going to restrict it's value to better facebook displays - for the later lot, I would recommend JPEG.

So what exactly is RAW and JPEG?
You see, our photographs have a certain file type aka format. A DSLR allows you to take your photo in either RAW or JPEG(high or low) or JPEG+RAW (basically two files, simultaneously). 

Via Digital Photography School 

Now both formats greatly define your photographs. If you take a photograph in JPEG, you will get a very neat and slightly adjusted version of your photograph i.e. the camera makes certain auto fixes to your photographs and mind you -- these adjustments are irreversible.
However, RAW photos are basically exactly what your eyes see through your camera lens. As the name suggests - RAW version of photos is literally a raw, unadjusted and unaltered version of a photograph.

What choice does most professionals go with?
Not surprisingly, RAW has been the choice of most professionals. This is for a very important and simple reason, a RAW photographs are better with post-processing. JPEG files are already altered at some level so they lose certain compatibility with lightroom adjustments. That is an inborn disadvantage of JPEG files. Whilst, this disadvantage may just be non existent to a non-professional, a professional eye could be fussing all over it.

IMPORTANT: RAW photographs are usually not previewable on computer, they are however on adobe softwares provided the software is updated if your camera is a new model. If the the version of software is not up-to-date or if you want to just generally view your photo -- use RAW converter (adobe has one and its absolutely free). The converter will convert RAW photographs into post-processing ready DNG files. 

You should also consider shooting in RAW+JPEG as per your requirement. You can view JPEG on your desktop and share readily unlike RAWs.  

LESSON#2 Learn Basic DSLR's Terminologies
No, I'm not saying you need to take photography as your college major, I am just saying you need to learn the basic components of digital photography - Dedicated google search will do, or just read this instead (that will do too).
So, photography has three most essential components - these components decide how your photograph is going to really look like.
•Shutter Speed

Now these three give the visual description of your photograph.  
How do these effect your photograph?

•Aperture, it basically functions as an eye lid. Or to be more precise - have you heard about how pupils dilate in low light conditions and how they retract is day light? Well pupils adjust the focal length of vision like that. The same ideology is followed by the camera. Highest aperture or F/(focal length stops) is achieved when your lens' pupils are at the maximum limit of dilation. Every lens have different max focal point - most standard lens have F/3.5 as the highest achieved aperture. Most professional go as high as F/1.5 (note that the value of focal length goes down as aperture increases). Now the purpose of this phenomenon is to decide how much light your lens will allow in. Highest apertures take maximum light so they are ideal in low light condition. Whilst the lowest apertures take in minimum light, important for daylight condition -- or when you want more depth in your photograph (ideal of landscape photography). Your camera's manual will guide you on how to adjust this. Every camera has different modes of adjustments (it's easy don't worry).
Note: less focal length, more aperture gives a better bokeh and vice verca.

•Shutter speed, is basically the speed of click or the amount of time your camera takes to capture a photographs. Now you must be wondering, what's so great about that? Crazy enough, shutter speed has a huge say in your photographs dynamics. Photographers have been using shutter speed, solely to create mind blowing and masterful photographs. You use this element to decide how long you allow the light to pass through the lens. Lowest shutter speeds are usually for the outdoor, daylight conditions but that of course also relies on your previous aperture settings. Low shutter speed means that camera will permit light to enter inside the lens for the minimal time period (usually milliseconds). High shutter means the same time period will enhance to about a second or maybe a minute as per your requirement.

Low shutter means low exposure, high shutter means high exposure. Now, you must be wondering that this and aperture are practically doing the same task - managing exposure. But not exactly, aperture manages light's intensity while shutter speed manages light's quantity.
Camera's have two form of professional settings: A and S -- these both adjust either aperture or shutter for you as you adjust the second one yourself. However, shooting manual -- you need to adjust both yourself, that's where the fun begins.
IMPORTANT: high shutter speed is used primarily for high exposure shootings during nighttime conditions. Find more about high exposure photographs here.
•ISO is basically how sensitive your lens is to light. It's the easiest to adjust. I usually go with the lowest in daytime and about 1000 during night time. However, when shooting at high shutter speed (during night time), I lower it all the way down to 100 since the opening time for a photograph would be enough to make a photo bright. ISO's are also what makes your picture grainy or smooth. Some new professional lens have ISO lower than 100 -- best for outdoor, daylight conditions.

LESSON #3 Never, I repeat, NEVER shoot Auto
If you want to take brilliant photographs - you need to forget your camera ever had an auto option. It's for people who basically want to take photographs for fun. But you, you the serious-want-to-master photography guy, you need to take some controls.

Now camera is a smart machine but it's not as smart as to judge the conditions and make judgements precisely. Camera will only react to the light it's retina captures. The rest is upto you. You know what you want your photograph to look like. Do you want depth? Or do you want a bokeh instead? Do you want to take a long exposure photograph? Do you want the colors to brust? Is it a landscape or a portrait? You make your decision according to your needs. Your camera is just going to follow some sets of guidance pre-adjusted in it's system. It can not give you what you really want. So now you need to make the most important decision and take the wheel in your hands.

Cameras have three modes of settings that allow you to control shutter or aperture or both (A, S and M). Since these two are the biggest elements - learning to control these means brighter future in photography. Manual is the mode I usually go with since I get to control everything. I only tried it with A and S and didn't like the output.

I took the following photos in a year gap. The first one was taken with JPEG, auto settings - this is how it turned out after post-processing. The second one was taken in manual mode, I used lightroom to make certain adjustments to it's RAW file. 

The thing is, it will be scary using these modes at first but once you get sufficient experience you'll 
forget about all the other auto modes your camera has. And it's only for the best.


Nayna Kanabar said...

This is an excellent post I am going to book mark and read and follow it in detail.

jazmin said...

Fantastic post! I need to follow this step by step

Anonymous said...

this post is really helpful. My son is interested in photography - I'm going to show him this