Just like a construction project, the first step to better photography is to have a plan. Without plans, you can wander aimlessly and have a building that is not structurally sound. When constructing a building we need to first ensure we have a solid stable foundation. Taking this into photography, ensure you have a solid stable photographic foundation.
What is a stable solid photographic foundation?
To establish a stable solid photographic foundation it is vitally important to understand and execute the basic principles of photography, which are exposure, focus, and composition. Once these concepts are understood and can be executed we can then begin to build upon our foundation.
Exposure is controlled by three settings or adjustments, each has a unique role. These three settings are shutter speed, aperture, and film speed (often referred to as ISO). An overly simplistic explanation of these three components is; shutter speed controls the time light is allowed to strike our film, the aperture is how much light is allowed to strike our film, and ISO is how sensitive our film is to the light. Shutter speed and aperture also have additional “features”. Shutter speed will also allow us to freeze or blur motion and aperture will allow us to determine how much of a particular scene is in sharp focus, often referred to as “depth of field”.
Each of these three elements has been referred to as the “exposure triangle” because each of these has an effect upon one another. If I change one, I must change another to maintain the same exposure. In other words, to maintain the triangle.
A good source for understanding the exposure triangle is an article on FStoppers, found here. For now, read the aforementioned article and I will discuss exposure and the exposure triangle in a future article,
Today’s cameras have a great auto-focus system, even the beginner models. While today’s auto-focus system is great there are limitations. If we leave our camera to make all the focus decisions for us we may not achieve the look we intended. Learn to control how auto-focus works and how you can determine what is in focus. The best source for this information is often found in your camera’s owner’s manual, however, I will again over simply by saying that it is important to learn how to control the various focus points of your camera.
As a side note, I often hear many complain or speak poorly of kit lenses. Today’s kit lenses often exceed the optical qualities of higher-end lenses from the past. I have shown in a previous article. While today’s kit lenses are fairly good their build quality is often lacking and may not withstand everyday professional level use. Why do I mention this? Don’t go buying expensive lenses until you have the ability to attain sharp focus with your starter lenses unless you just have a lot of money laying around burning a hole in your pocket and if that is the case consider sending some of it to me so I can add more features to bring you other types of education, better videos, more features, etc.
This is often one of the most elusive of the three basic components of photography. Its elusiveness is due to the subjectivity of good composition. There are so-called rules of composition which include the rule of thirds, the golden ratio, golden triangles and spirals, the rule of odds, leading lines, leaving space, filling the frame, simplification, balance, and more. To me, these so-called rules are merely guidelines and can be broken. I do caution you to not consider breaking the rules until you can follow the rules. Once you understand and can execute a few of these rules you can then begin to break them with intent which is adding another level to your established stable solid foundation.
Here are some links to some of my previous articles. Exposure and Focus. It has been a while since I have written about composition and I will add a new article in the near future. For now, read about exposure and focus. If you have any questions or comments you can add them in the comments section where I will write my responses. This will help others who may have the same question as well.