Almost everybody has got a digital camera and most even have a digital camera in their phone, so taking photos have never been easier. You can take a ton of photos, within a few moments share them with your friends and families on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Once in a while, you get a shot, that you like better than the rest, maybe the scene or the light or even both makes it into something special. And more important, when you show it to others, they also think it looks good. And if you’re reading this, it is because taking the good photos fascinates you and you would like to improve your skills.
To be a good photographer requires a lot of different skills, a lot of practice and some gear. You don’t need a professional camera to take good pictures, but if you want to be more serious about photography, you have to move out of the snapshot camera league. And the camera in your iPhone is only a snapshot camera.
Here you will find basic camera knowledge that is good to know or even necessary to know.
Get the shot
Getting the shot into the camera is the first step. There are a number of key elements that are important in order to get a good photograph. Some of the most important are:
- What’s in focus must be sharp.
- You have to take the photo in good light
- You have to use a good composition
- You have to use the correct exposure
If one of these things is not present the photo will most likely fail. Each of the components needs to be payed attention to. It requires both understanding, skills and a lot of practice to get all of them right.
If you succeed in keeping focus, in the right light, with a good composition and correct exposure, you will most likely get a successful photo. Then you did get the shot – congratulations!
But that’s not all and this is what came as a surprise to me, when I started out to improve my photo skills. You have to do some post-processing of your photos before you get a great photo. By post-processing I mean that you at least have to do some contrast and sharpening of your image. And probably also some adjustments to the colors to make your photo pop a little more.
Each of these subjects is huge, and you can find many books on each subject. This is an overview.
If you take the photo in a bad light, you will either have a hard time to recover it in the post-processing or you will get an unsuccessful photo. A poorly lit photo can be overexposed (too light) as well as underexposed (too dark), but it can also be taken in the hard light during the day. Some scenes have so much difference in the dark parts and the light parts, that the camera can’t capture both the light and the dark parts. Depending on the situation, you have a couple of options. You can use Neutral Density gradient filters (ND grad filter) or you can take 2, 3 or more shots with different exposures. The latter technique is called High Dynamic Range or just HDR photography.
You can read more about HDR photography here.
You can read more about light read more about light here.
The composition is a lot of things, but it includes the placement of objects with in the frame and how the light falls upon the objects. There is a lot of talk about the rules of composition and how to break the rules. The rules are not rules in that respect, but more like guidelines, at least to get you started on composing successful photos. Some of the best known rules are the Rule of Thirds and the Leading Lines, but there are a lot more. As you will quickly find out, the Rule of Third is really a poor mans version of something else, called the Golden Ratio.
You can read more about composition here.
Of course you can put your camera on automatic, perhaps use a ‘scene’ selection and then fire away. This is what most people do and that is fine for many things, but if you want to get a little more out of your camera, this is not right the way. You need to know your way around the basic settings of your camera and you need to understand what a histogram is. The good news is, that you don’t need to learn the instructional manual for you camera by heart. Far from it. But you do need to learn some of the things the manual says. And when you have learned one camera, it is much easier to pick up the next. Then you just have to figure out where the buttons are placed.