Photography 101 48 Tips for the Beginning Photographer

I’m not going to sit here and tell you that this list is the only way to shoot a photo, or that you must follow every tip in order to be the next Ansel Adams. Because that’s obviously not true. But I will say that incorporating these tips into your photo taking repertoire will help you to come out with better photos more often than not. Most are pretty basic, but even the most experienced photographers can learn a thing or two from this list. And don’t be afraid to try something new; even if it doesn’t work, it could lead to something interesting!

1. Buy a camera!

2. Read the manual!

3. Shoot in raw!

4. Visit websites like Flickr and look at what other photographers are doing!

5. Know your gear inside and out and know which settings do what in different situations!

6. Don’t be afraid of your camera’s settings!

7. Experiment with different settings (depth of field, white balance, etc.) while you’re out shooting!

8. Take lots of pictures – you never know when you’ll capture a great shot!

9. Have fun! After all, they’re just pictures – nothing serious.

10. Watch movies and take inspiration from them

There’s only so much you can do to make it look like you’re good. You could have the best equipment, but if you don’t have talent, you won’t be a good photographer.

You can learn how to shoot with lighting. You can learn how to use your camera and the basic functions of it. But beyond that, everything is practice and experience. The more photos you take, the better you will get at taking them. The more photos you look at and critique, the better your eye will get at seeing what’s wrong or right in a photograph.

It’s important to remember that there are no “magic tricks” or special effects that will make your photos instantly amazing without any work on your part. There are no secrets to photography beyond just taking many, many photos and studying them.*

1. Buy the right camera for you. No matter how good you are, you can’t take great photos without a decent camera. It doesn’t have to be fancy–most people take great photos with a simple point and shoot–but it does need to have some manual settings that allow you to change things like the ISO (the degree of light sensitivity) and the aperture (the size of the hole that lets in light).

2. Get a separate lens. Even if your camera came with one, get another one. You’ll be able to get more variety in your photos by having different kinds of lenses.

3. Set up a studio at home. At first, I just used my kitchen table for photography, but when I decided to start taking it seriously, I set up an actual studio in my apartment–complete with seamless paper, lights, reflectors and a tripod.

4. Make sure your subject is well lit. Even if you have professional lighting set up, there’s nothing wrong with adding extra lighting from lamps or maybe even a window if there’s enough sunlight coming through on a nice day!

5. Use natural lighting whenever possible. Natural light is always best when shooting outdoors or anywhere where there’s not enough artificial light to create shadows or

1. Don’t take your camera everywhere.

2. Do take a camera everywhere.

3. Always have a camera with you.

4. Don’t photograph people without their permission.

5. Do photograph people without their permission.

6. Ask; don’t assume permission.

7. Ask for forgiveness, not for permission.

8. Keep in mind that no one owns the streets (but everyone owns the sidewalks).

9. Don’t photograph anything military, or anything obviously commercial (like bank lobbies), or anything potentially dangerous (like bridges and tall buildings during storms).

10. Do photograph everything else at least once, because you never know when you’ll see it again (and because history is made of people who broke this rule).

11. Be sensitive to light and composition, and learn to use them to create moods, messages, and meanings in your photographs.*

I shoot in raw format as much as possible. I use manual exposure, manual white balance, manual focus and manual ISO most of the time. I won’t even try to use automatic settings. I always use a tripod if it’s available and will put up with the inconvenience of carrying it around if it’s not.

I try to use a graduated neutral density filter (and sometimes a regular ND filter) whenever I can since it can make my photography more interesting and dynamic. I don’t like using flash but prefer natural light whenever possible.

I always check for noise before making an image too big for medium-sized prints (10×15 or 8×12). I don’t crop my images either; instead, I try to get everything in camera that I want in the final print.

I always focus on the eyes of my subject, which is usually animals (but not always).

I try to capture emotion and action whenever possible, rather than just making pretty pictures.

My favorite lenses are prime (fixed focal length) lenses because I think they give me more control over what I’m capturing in the image, but I also own a couple zoom lenses that are very high quality.

I’m still learning about shutter speed, aperture and ISO so there are

“In a digital world, nothing is free. Get over it.”

There are plenty of reasons to dislike digital photography, but the cost of film and processing isn’t one of them. The reason is Kodak’s near monopoly on the photographic film market in the 20th century. In 1976, Kodak accounted for 88 percent of all film sales in the U.S., and with that much market share, it didn’t need to compete on price. So if you bought a 36-exposure roll of 200-speed color negative film for $6.80 ($0.22 per shot) in 1976, you were going to pay roughly the same price for that same 36-exposure roll when you bought it in 2006 ($4 for a 400-speed print film or $13 for a 200-speed slide film).

With digital photography, there’s no monopoly on the manufacturing side (anyone can make a digital camera) or on the distribution side (anyone can sell digital cameras). On the consumption side there are plenty of people who will be happy to give you their old digital camera when they buy a new one. The result is that just about anyone can afford enough megapixels to print their pictures at sizes suitable for putting on walls or greeting cards


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