Some Useful Tips For Getting Started in Digital Photography

Remember times when you’d need a roll of film, film camera, and darkroom with solvents for developing pictures? Seems like a long time ago. Some photographers still prefer to work with these techniques. Even though they are considered now, well, rather archaic. Most people prefer to utilize digital cameras nowadays. And professional photographers are no exception.

Today, digital photography has a much lower barrier of entry providing many options for learning the field from scratch. Digital cameras work great for learning photography from ground zero. Beginners love to play with different settings and adjust them to their own preferences.

Digital cameras let you examine your immediate results and see whether you do things correctly. And with enough practice taking lots of shots, you’ll create a nice portfolio that will hopefully set you up for paid projects. However, among many other things, taking pictures is only half of the process. What else is there?

Read this post and learn some photography 101 tips. We’ll tell you some useful stuff on where to start in photography if you’re an absolute beginner.

Tip 1. Start learning photography by practicing with your phone’s camera

Treat your phone as a camera and start looking for the light that creates good photos. Start composing instead of clicking mindlessly. Really concentrate on creating images instead of recording them. The flexible little tripod can be set up or wrapped around something so you will be learning basic physical photography ergonomics. While in the process, try not to smash the shutter but gently press it. Crop all bright areas around the parameter of a shot to start to learn composition.

iPhone Filmmaking – How to make cinematic films on your phone

In case you don’t really believe that it’s possible to produce professional-quality shots with just an iPhone, take an online course “iPhone Filmmaking – How to make cinematic films on your phone”. This course provides useful info with step-by-step instructions on creating cinematic content that would be good enough for a big screen. Wayne Sables, a professional photographer/filmmaker set up this awesome masterclass for everybody wanting to get practical tips and hints that work great.

In this course, Wayne teaches all the secrets of framing a shot to make it look perfect, color grade, ISO shutter speed aperture, 360 filmings, portrait vs. landscape techniques, slow motion, and more! Wayne provides many tips on editing with different iPhone apps, planning content, recording audio, and tracking shots. After taking this course, you’ll know how to create a true masterpiece.

Tip 2. Learn photography software for effective image processing

Today, with the advent of modern days photography, you still need a photo camera, indeed. But a darkroom was replaced by software. Realize that shooting great-looking photographs is just half of the whole process. What really finishes the job is knowing how to handle the digital processing of imaging software. And preparing everything you filmed for either digital display or printing. So, to become an effective digital photographer, you’ll need to master both sides of the process.

To master digital photography image-processing, you need two essentials: a digital camera and software to manipulate these images. The great advantage of digital photography is that once you’ve bought these basic elements, the actual process is fairly inexpensive. You can take many thousands of images, experimenting with a host of different techniques and processes at a fraction of what it used to cost and nearly instant results.

Photoshop Basics Series Class 1: Navigating Photoshop

By the way, look into a very useful series of courses on Grinfer that covers everything on the topic of image processing in Photoshop software. If you’re an absolute newbie, start with a Class 1 – “Photoshop Basics Series Class 1: Navigating Photoshop” and get all these basics straightened out for easy navigation around Photoshop.

An awesome series of 5 classes in total were created by a professional digital artist, Dan LeFebvre. Dan has been teaching creative folks all over the world for many years now. His online courses already helped lots of people to unleash art potential and eliminate any kinds of technical hurdles that they experience during the process.

After taking Class 1, you’ll move around Photoshop’s interface confidently. Learn many tech terms and concepts of Photoshop easily with this course and get many tips/hints on such powerful software and its capabilities

Tip 3. Pick a digital camera that is right for you

How to pick a first digital camera? Well, it somewhat depends on your actual intentions for learning. Also, think about the amount of time/money that you’re willing to invest. Most people believe that for starting out with digital photography, they need the best digital camera out there available on the market. 

The truth is, cameras do not take pictures, people do. The quality of your images will not be limited as much by the tools you use as by your ability to see. So, invest in your efforts of building knowledge of interpreting and processing the images you create.

In reality, it doesn’t really matter whether you own the most expensive camera or just go with the reasonably priced one. Make sure that your camera is most suited to your level of expertise. This will be helpful for guiding you further along the way as you make your way through. And will help to develop a true appreciation for the art of photography. And if you use a camera that is too advanced for you, you’d only end up being frustrated and discouraged feeling like you want to give up on photography completely. Not good.

Now, pick through quick bullet points with some tips on how to get the best results:

  • Always use the manual mode in your photo camera;
  • Never use the flash unless it’s an absolute necessity;
  • Keep high aperture for portraits and low for landscapes;
  • ISO should be kept as low as possible;
  • Low shutter speed during night shots and high shutter speed when clicking pictures of moving objects;
  • Always carry a tripod for landscapes and sunset/sunrise shots;
  • Less focal length for landscapes and high for portraits;
  • Use Photoshop rather than using Picasa for editing;
  • Best macro shots are clicked by point-and-shoot cameras (or go with the expensive macro lens).
  • If your ISO is less than the focal length of your lens IE: ISO is 100 and your lens is 300mm, then you’ll need a tripod.

Advice: Don’t try to invest in new equipment until you have mastered what you already have. Even basic shoot cameras often have capabilities that far exceed their owners’ abilities. Yet, that doesn’t stop people from spending thousands of dollars on new tools in hopes of taking better pictures. But before you buy your digital camera, keep in mind – it’s not the equipment that creates art; it’s the artist that creates art.

Tip 4. Master your photography skills by learning the art

Photography is an interesting art. It combines the elements of time, composition, light, mood, gesture, and expression. But it does that through a camera. And maybe photo cameras have changed over the years, but emotions, expressions, and visions are not so much. And the camera just captures the work of an artist as best it can. Want to understand photography better? Learn important aspects of art!

Read through some quick tips that professional photographers have for you:

  • Study the “Masters” of the Renaissance and Romantic periods. Since photography is also art, then it’s all about composition and color relationships. A partial list of more modern masters whose works are also worth studying: Robert Frank, Jay Maisel, Avedon, Josef and Eduard Muench, Irving Penn.
  • Look at, and begin to see light. Light is a substance that is invisible, but what it reflects is quite visible. Look for shadows, highlights. Notice how shadows fall, and how the specular sources react to different subject surfaces. Everything reflects, but some things reflect more than others.
  • Sketch what you see. How does the light affect your personal space, your home, your work? How does light work on faces? Light is high, low, side, front, and what does that do to the face in front of you.

Make photographs of everything you can. Do not just “censor” your vision. Make photographs of light, or shadow, or both. Find textures, colors, compositions, close up. Whatever opportunity you see in front of you, don’t hesitate and make a photograph!

Express course: How to see the right light and take photos beautifully on a phone or camera

Want to exercise a “vision” muscle that should help you to work closely with the camera? Do it with an awesome online course –  “How to see the right light and take photos beautifully on a phone or camera”. Some important aspects that this course covers:

  • Where was the light?
  • How did it strike the subject?
  • What are your expectations for the image you took?
  • What actually happened with the image?
  • Covers everything in terms of camera settings/proper use.

After taking this course, you’ll be able to create excellent quality photos either with pulsed or natural light while working in the interior setup or at the professional photo studio. Info on street photography is also covered with lots of tips and hints on how to work with good light avoiding bad light.

What is especially great about the course is that it teaches both – digital cameras, as well as phone cameras. This 100% practical and straight-the-point online course was created by a professional photographer with extensive experience in teaching beginners. So, go ahead and get your hands on photography and learn it with practical experience!

Tip 5. Learn photography with basic rules of composition

If you want to make great-looking pics, you just have to familiarize yourself with a few basic “rules” of composition. For example, the famous “Rule of Thirds” (not placing the subject in the center of the picture, but at the intersections of the four lines just off-center). The composition is what separates the great photographers from the many. It comes naturally to some and can be learned by some. Every book on photography and art covers the topic of composition in one way or another.

Use linear composition, frame composition, line extension utilization to add a visual lead to the theme. Avoid two-dimensional composition and add a third dimension of depth instead. Just look for something meaningful to include in the foreground. No horizon centered vertically, divide the photo into six boxes and place the object of interest at one of the line intersections, use negative space, and so on.

Don’t be afraid to get close enough to the subject when it makes sense. Seeing a tiny figure in a photo is rarely effective unless the scale is a vital aspect. And notice what is behind the subject matters. A telephone pole from the head is easily avoided by looking at the composed photo in a finder with care and attention to detail. When shooting a portrait (unless you’ve got to get very close and fill the frame or something else “different”) never shoot a portrait at head height. Squat down a bit and frame it from breast height.

All in all, the best advice about being a great photographer came many years ago. A Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist was asked what his secret was. He said he didn’t have any secrets. He added: “All I know is f/11 at a 60th (shutter speed/aperture). And just be there. There’s no substitute for paying attention.”

Bottom-line

Depending on where you live and the skill level you have, certain kinds of photography styles will work out better for you than the others. You just need to figure out which fields of photography are more in demand and focus on those fields. For example, you can do portraits and still life. Or maybe events and/or weddings, etc. The thing is that if you’ll do all sorts of things at first, after a while you’ll become a jack of all trades but master of none. That’s when you might hit a wall in terms of your further growth.

Since photography pretty much requires an equal amount of education and practice, don’t omit the importance of reading articles online created by professional photographers, ebooks, viewing videos online, taking photography courses online. Those are great places to start and accumulate knowledge from. So, find trusted resources, use them wisely, take them forward as a photographer!

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