Introduction To Photography & Camera Basics For Beginners

Photography is not a new industry, however, not so long ago, professional cameras were available only to a very limited number of people like movie makers and media because cameras were very expensive for an average person to afford and very big to carry for personal use. So thanks to the huge revolution made by electronics that made it possible for the average person to have a professional camera at a decent price and portable size with the ability to take very high detailed images, switch between different lenses, and have more advanced control over the camera which is a lot more fun and open an endless number of possibilities to capture great images. Therefore, Photography became one of the most interesting hobbies nowadays with lots of fun whether you’re an amateur or looking for a career with a good salary, it also teaches you how to look at your surroundings through a new different creative way.

What Is Photography?

Photography is the art of creating images from the environment around us by capturing the light and colors using cameras.

Photography is all about light and colors, the quality of light, the color of light, the direction of light, and a lot more to learn about light, with cameras, you will be able to capture light, process it, and save it for later use.

When Was Photography Invented?

  • 1826 – The first photograph formed by a camera created by Niépce.
  • 1888 – The first film-based camera (Kodac) invented by George Eastman.
  • 1991 – The first digital camera created by Steve Sasson.

How Does A Camera Work?

The idea behind all cameras including old film cameras is very simple which is capturing the light at a specific moment and saving it on a light-sensitive material. The main difference between old film cameras and digital cameras is the sensor which developed from chemical to digital, and that change made a huge difference in many aspects including performance and the ease of use as many other industries in which digital technology is involved.

1- Ready Mode

As you probably know the light enters the camera through the lens passing multiple glass elements then it hits a mirror, bounces up into a prism then goes out through the viewfinder, so because of this reflex, it allows you to look directly through the lens from the viewfinder. Most lenses have multiple glass elements that can Focus the light and beam on the camera sensor which is located inside the camera itself. Some lenses are Zoom lenses and if you turn the zoom ring you’re gonna be moving certain elements forward and backward, and that’s going to change the magnification of what you actually capture of that sensor. There are other elements as well, of course, all lenses have a Focus frame, and moving that part will determine what part of the scene is actually in focus which can be something very close or far away from the camera. In the middle of these lenses is an Aperture, it has multiple blades and it can be wide open or very narrow to control how much light you want to capture.
Light Path In DSLR Cameras
Light Path In DSLR Cameras

2. Shooting Mode

Once you take a shot, few things are happening. First the mirror will pop up so if you look through the viewfinder you will notice that as you take the picture it goes black and comes back to allow the light to go directly to the shutter and the sensor behind it. The shutter has two separate leafs, one is open up that reveals the sensor behind it, that begins the exposure and the camera starts to capture the image and collect the light information from the sensor then the second leaf is closing off the shutter so the camera is not receiving any more light and the exposure is over. The camera then takes all of this information, breaks it down then creates a file that is made of millions of pixels. If the camera is able to capture a 10 megapixel image that means that the camera is able to write 10 million pixels in the file to create that image and each individual pixel has its own separate color.
Light Path In DSLR Cameras

Note: The digital sensor alone is a complicated piece of technology that needs advanced explanations and time in order to completely understand the very low-level details of how exactly it can convert the light into a digital image or a video, also you will need a basic background in electronics and computer theory. However, it’s very interesting to learn these low-level details that can open your mind to many other topics, and there’s no need for a photographer to understand these low-level details.

What Are The Different Types Of Cameras?

Point and Shoot Cameras

Point And Shoot is the most basic and compact standalone camera. It has a fixed-lens so you can’t switch between different lenses and don’t offer many manual control options like DSLRs so it’s very simple to use and automatically adjust focus and exposure settings so you can directly point and shoot. Also, it is characterized by its budget-friendly prices and one of the best-selling types of cameras, very compact and light weight that can fit directly into your pocket.
point and shoot camera

Bridge Cameras

Bridge cameras are so called because they offer a link between basic point-and-shoot compacts and more fully featured DSLRs, offering a greater degree of creative control than a compact, while generally being more portable than a DSLR. Unlike a DSLR you can’t swap the lens in use, but its broad focal range ensures that bridge models are ideal for the vast majority of photographic subjects and opportunities. The similarities between the two mean the way you set the shutter speed on a DSLR for instance will follow the same principles on a bridge camera. The information that follows is aimed at helping you quickly familiarise yourself with such features and getting you out and taking better pictures as soon as possible.
bridge camera

DSLR Cameras

DSLR (Digital Single-Lens Reflex) camera has a mirror-based reflex design that makes it has bulkier and heavier compared to mirrorless cameras, however, DSLR cameras are still the model of choice for most professional and serious amateur photographers because they produce high performances and high-quality images at affordable prices. Typically, DSLRs sport larger sensors than bridge cameras; a feature that allows them to be more light-sensitive and so help reduce problems associated with image noise at high sensitivity settings, such as those needed for low light photography.
dslr camera

Mirrorless Cameras

This type of camera emerged onto the scene in 2008 and has recently surged in popularity. Like an SLR camera, it has interchangeable lenses and sensors that produce high-quality images. But it doesn’t have a mirror-based viewfinder so the light passes through the lens directly to the image sensor which shortens the distance between the lens and the sensor giving the body a slimmer look and lighter feel.
mirrorless camera

Understanding The Exposure Triangle (The Key To The Better Shots)

The exposure triangle consists of three main elements (shutter speed, aperture, and ISO). The choice of these three elements has a significant impact on the look and feel of your pictures. Different settings are needed in different situations based on the desired results. There Are other elements as well but most of them are editable through photo editing softwares. Luckily, most cameras have smart electronics and light meters in them, which with the auto mode the camera will take all the guesswork out of this for you, and hopefully, you’ll get correctly exposed pictures all the time. But to get really creative, you need to take control.

 

Shutter Speed

The shutter speed is the number of seconds that the shutter will stay open to capture the image, slow shutter speed means a higher number of seconds the shutter will stay open, therefore, more amount of light enters the camera. Most cameras have a shutter speed range from 1/4000 to 30 sec which is enough for most users to get sharp images from fast-moving objects or longer shutter speeds for certain types of low-light / night photography or fancy-looking images
Efffect of shutter speed
Efffect of shutter speed

Aperture

The Aperture is the opening size of the hole inside the lens when a picture is taken. The smaller the aperture number, the wider the opening will be. So low aperture values like 2.8 will let a lot more light in than aperture values of 11 or 18. Also when the aperture is wide open, light is able to enter the lens and hit the sensor from multiple different angles, this creates a shallow depth of field. Your subject may be in focus but the background will quickly get out of focus and It is widely used in certain portrait photography. On the other hand, when the aperture is very narrow, it will allow the light to enter directly from one direction and therefore, you will get a deeper depth of field meaning that your subject and the background can be more in focus at the exact same time and that is mainly used in landscape photography.
The larger f-stop means smaller aperture
The larger f-stop means smaller aperture

ISO

Your camera uses its sensor to capture light and forms an image made of many millions of tiny light-sensitive wells, called ‘photosites’. Each of these is sat below a microlens to help direct light and a Bayer Colour filter (a matrix of red, green, and blue squares) that helps reproduce the colours within the shot. You can control the sensor’s sensitivity to the amount of light available by adjusting the ISO setting. The higher the ISO, the more sensitive to light it will be. The typical range of sensitivities runs from ISO 100, through 200, 400, 800, 1600, and sometimes up to 3200 and 6400. Some Of the more advanced models have even higher sensitivities at their disposal. Some Nikon’s Pro-end cameras offer the ability to extend its range to the equivalent of ISO 24600. The lower sensitivities such as ISO 100 are ideal for bright conditions but as the light drops or you use longer focal lengths, slower shutter speeds are needed to get a properly exposed picture. Increasing the ISO can bring you faster shutter speeds and a broader range of apertures into play, the downside is that image ‘noise’ can creep into the pictures. Think of increased ISO as the camera’s volume. This makes noise more obvious, which is akin to static on a poorly tuned TV.
Different ISO Settings

Typically, DSLRs sport larger sensors than bridge cameras; a feature that allows them to be more light sensitive and so help reduce problems associate with image noise at high sensetivity settings, such as those needed for low light photography.

Shooting Modes

Manual Modes As an alternative to all-auto subject or scene modes, DSLR cameras have a set of manual controls that allow you to creatively control the way the camera can be set up. Typically these are Program, Aperture, and Shutter Priority plus Manual control. Program is similar to an all auto mode but retains an element of control over the shutter speeds and apertures (see below). These can be altered individually, depending on the camera and how it is set up, and, as you adjust the settings, the camera will alter Other exposure controls to ensure a correctly metered shot. Aperture Priority lets you control the lens’s aperture settings if, say, you want to control the depth Of field (the amount of the image that’s sharply in focus). As you adjust the apertures, the camera automatically adjusts the shutter speed to retain a correctly — as metered – exposure. Shutter Priority is similar to the Aperture Priority mode. Here you adjust the shutter speeds and the camera adjusts the aperture to ensure a correctly metered shot. Use shutter priority when controlling the shutter speed for a particular effect, such as creative blur, or to ensure you freeze a fast moving subject. Manual, as the name suggests, lets you control both aperture and shutter speeds. This allows you to override the camera’s metering (though you’ll get an indication if things are under or overexposed as a result Of your adjustments) and as such allows full creative control of the camera. So if you want to take charge, then this is the mode to select.

Subject Or Scene Mode

All digital cameras – all that is except the top-end professional DSLRs — have scene or subject modes, accessed via the camera’s mode dial or via an on-screen menu, that will quickly and automatically set the camera to a specific subject, be it a landscape, macro (close up) or portrait. In each case the camera’s settings will be set to those recommended to get the best from the relevant subject and, as such, it takes some of the headaches out of the “what do I set my camera to?” question. Alternatively, using these scene modes provides a fast way for you to ensure controls, such as white balance and ISO sensitivity, are correct for the shot without you having to spend time making manual adjustments that might mean you miss the picture opportunity entirely. But in either case, they’re great for those still getting used to their camera.

AF and Face Detection AF

Today’s digital cameras have advanced autofocusing (AF) systems that can quickly “see” your subject and (hopefully) achieve pin-sharp focus. Typical AF systems provide multiple focus points that can be used together or individually, depending on the subject or your preference. The focus zones used will normally be highlighted in the viewfinder, or on the camera’s LCD screen so that you can check the camera has correctly focused on what you wanted it to. An alternative is to lock the focus zone to a central AF point and use that for everything. Additionally, Face Detection AF is now a common feature on bridge and (usually) consumer-oriented DSLRs, where you can set the focusing system to recognize faces within the scene and prioritize them. Some cameras can be programmed with particular faces, such as close family members which it can recognize and focus upon even in a crowd. Use Face Detection AF to help get your people’s pictures pin sharp.

Image Stabilization

To ensure sharper shots when using maximum zoom or shooting in low light without a flash or a tripod, both DSLRs and bridge cameras have built-in – or access to — lenses with image stabilization. The alternative is CCD shift anti-shake, whereby the camera’s internal sensor adjusts to counterbalance any external wobble and avoid image blur; it’s common on bridge cameras and, with the notable exception of Canon and Nikon, most modern DSLRs. Here the sensor is attached to a platform that can be moved to compensate for your handshaking at low shutter speeds. The obvious advantage of DSLRs fitted with the CCD shift system is that any lens fitted, image-stabilized or not, can automatically take advantage of anti-shake. Such cameras also employ their system as a defense against dust adhering to the sensor, the result of undesirables intruding when changing lenses. As part of a sensor cleaning procedure, it is given a vigorous shake, a process normally taking place when the camera is turned on and/or off. Camera systems meanwhile that build anti-shake into their lenses, such as Canon’s EOS DSLRs, use active optics within the lens to compensate for any handshake. The downside here is it can make the lenses more expensive, though buying one as part of a bundle deal at the same time as the camera can prove more cost-effective. On both a bridge camera and a DSLR, using image stabilization also means you can avoid some of the higher ISO light sensitivity settings on your camera; a route to getting faster shutter speeds, but one that can introduce unwanted image noise at very high ISOs. Our advice then is to leave image stabilization switched on, even for general shooting. Even though it saps a tad more power from your camera’s battery, it helps keep shots pin-sharp no matter what type of image you’re photographing.

Shooting In RAW or JPEG?

Shooting RAW

For most enthusiast and professional snappers, there is nothing better than shooting RAW. RAW is simply a capture setting you can use on all DSLRs and some of the more expensive bridge models. It’s a file format that, as an alternative to the more common JPEG, provides the optimum in image quality. RAW files are the best quality digital images available because they have had no camera processing applied, so, unlike JPEGs, have not been compressed – stripped of some detail — to fit onto a memory card. Why is shooting RAW an advantage? Well it means that all the original image information is still held within the file, even if you cannot see it. Once you have your RAW files, you can process them later on a PC either using an image editing package such as Adobe Photoshop or with the dedicated RAW processing software supplied with, or available for, your camera. Key advantages include the ability to tweak almost every element of the shot after the image has been captured, from ISO and white balance to sharpness and even the amount of lens vignetting (an apparent darkening of image corners) can be compensated for. But of particular interest is the greater amount of detail that can be teased out of shadow and highlight areas, which is often missing in a JPEG shot. And that’s the point. If fine detail is the paramount aim, such as when shooting a landscape where the detail is necessarily small, or when snapping a fine portrait, shoot RAW to get the most from your pictures. The disadvantage of shooting RAW however is that the files sizes generated are large, you’ll have to be prepared to get hands-on with your images, and, as noted, will require specialist software with which to do so.

Shooting JPEG

As indicated, shooting JPEGs rather than RAW allows you to control the amount of compression applied to your image, helpful if memory card space is at a premium. The downside is that, as the compression levels increase, the image quality will drop, and JPEG artifacts, such as pixel fringing (a line of different coloured pixels) between areas of high contrast or the individual pixels themselves, will become more evident. But don’t panic, most of these artifacts are only visible if, say, you make a large A3 print at the lowest quality setting, and so if you have no intention of doing larger prints, then it may not matter, particularly if the images are for use on the web (also see image size settings below for more on this) where you need highly compressed images anyway. In terms of quality or compression levels, most cameras have a Good, Better and Best, or Fine, Normal and Basic style array of choices. But whatever the options provided on your camera, each step up reduces the amount of compression and so improves ultimate image quality. Unlike RAW files, JPEGs are also ‘good to go’ straight out of the camera , in most cases you won’t need to apply any image editing or usc specialist software.

Shooting RAW + JPEG

If you have a camera with the ability to simultaneously shoot RAW and JPEG images, you have the best of both worlds in terms of image quality. By capturing both each time you press the shutter, you are provided with a JPEG image to use as a quick proof, say, and a RAW file to tinker with later on and editing software if so desired.

Image Size Settings

This setting provides you with a way to adjust the number of pixels you throw at any image you shoot. If you have a 15-megapixel sensor in your camera, you don’t always have to use all of them. Shooting for a web site will not require such high-resolution images as a shoot for large prints, so you might consider dropping the resolution. Having said that there’s a caveat. If you reduce the resolution, you reduce the amount of detail the camera captures, and this is a problem if later on you decide you want to get a larger image printed of a shot. Our policy is simply this: if in doubt always shoot at the highest possible resolution (and quality, or shoot JPEG plus RAW). That way you can always reduce the image size later on PC; a much better tactic, as you’ll still have the full resolution image at hand if needed.

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