8 Simple & Basic Photography Tips For Beginners

Start Your Adventure Photographic Journey With These Basic Photography Tips

Starting out in photography is a wonderful time filled with creativity & discovery. Sadly, a lot of inexperienced photographers experience nervous breakdowns, unclear friend advice, and frustration when learning a new camera and trying to capture on Camera or Digital Media what you saw with your eyes.

Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be a horrible experience. All you need is some guidance to get going, and the best place to start is with understanding the fundamental ideas behind taking excellent photos.

After finishing this lesson, you should be prepared to move on to more advanced photography techniques with as few errors as possible.

Think About the Composition of a Photography

Composition is defined as “something that is created by arranging several things to form a unified whole” by Princeton University’s Word Net Search. That’s precisely it: the way the various components come together to form the overall image is your photograph’s composition.

Any photograph’s composition is its foundation. It is made up of the shapes, lines, and forms that make up an image. It also entails positioning subjects—whether they be people, animals, or objects—in respect to other elements of the scene.

In a way, taking a photograph is composition, much like when a painter creates a new work of art. If you focus on the composition of each shot you take, you will quickly notice a noticeable improvement.

Wood railings on each side facing toward beach with blue and pink sunrise
 The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

Include a Subject in Every Photograph

What is your photograph about? Your image will never be successful if you don’t know the answer to this question.

Your subject is what you want the viewer to see 1st when they look at the image. It can be big or small; for example, your subject might be a massive mountain at times, or it might be a tiny garden spider.

No matter what your subject is, but you must consciously choose a subject.

Honeybee climbing yellow pollen cluster in flower closeup
 The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

Use the Rule of Thirds

The rule of thirds explains where to place your subject in the image.It is a fundamental ‘rule’ that you will apply to nearly every shot you take.

Consider that your image is divided into nine equal squares (basically a tic-tac-toe board) with the lines equally spaced.

  1. The strongest focal points in your image are the four distinct points where the lines intersect.
  2. The squares’ constituent lines serve as backup strong points.

Rather than the frame’s centre, the human eye is naturally drawn to these areas inside frames. Utilise this by positioning your subject along one of these lines or at the intersections to enhance the impact of your photos.

For example, if you are taking a portrait ‘headshot’ of the subject, line up their eyes with these lines and points. Similarly, plant a tree at one of these locations for best results in a landscape.

Large sunflower with bright yellow petals covering a third of photo
 The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

Watch the Background and Foreground

The photograph is a two dimensional representation of a three dimensional scene. This means that the scene is “flattened” by the camera. That is why it is critical to pay attention to the background & foreground of every photograph.

  • The background is anything on your subject: A person will appear to have a tree growing out of their head if there is one right behind them. Similarly, a fence might appear to sprout from a person’s side.
  • The foreground is anything in front of your subject: What is in your foreground is just as important as the background. If you are shooting a beautiful lake sunset but there is an ugly tire on the water’s edge, the photograph can be ruined (unless your point is a commentary on pollution).
Tall mountain with snow behind small log cabin viewed between open window
 The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

Learn How to Use Focus to Your Advantage

Will your’ subject be sprucely focused or allowed to be blurry? Will you have the focus & the subject in focus but the background fuzzy? How soft will the background be ? The focus will make or break your image & as you can see, there are Number of options.

This is where aperture, f-stop & depth of field come into the play.

  • Aperture is the size of the opening inside your lens that allows light into the film or digital surface.
  • F-Stop is the measurement of the aperture.
  • You can tell The depth of field is a term telling you how much of your scene will be in or out of focus.

By understanding how to utilise these concepts to your advantage, you can begin to control how your camera flattens the scene.

In general, you want the subject & a small part of the foreground in focus while the background is blurry. This helps avoid distracting lines around your subject & draws the viewer’s eyes attention to your subject.

However, there will be times when you want the entire scene to be in focus. Landscape scenes are a perfect example because you may want both the mountain range in the background & the tree in the foreground in focus.

Remember this : A good rule of thumb regarding your f-stop choices.

  • The larger the f-stop number, the more of the scene will be in focus & the more light you need to record the image.
  • The smaller the f-stop number, the less of the scene will be in focus & the less light you need to record the image.
Thin wheat stalks focused in front of mountain with snowcaps
 The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

Lighting Is Photography

Photography is the art of capturing light reflected from subjects on film or a digital surface. Always be aware of your lighting. If your subject is a child but their face is too dark to see, the image will not work.

When you look at a scene, your eyes are constantly adjusting to the different lighting situation’s. When you take a photograph, the camera only records one light situation because it does not have our brains ability to interpret & adjust to the scene.

Every camera is slightly different in how it “meters” or reads the amount of light in a scene. This is one reason why you must know your camera & should practice with it in a variety of lighting.

Some general rules of thumb are:

  • Avoid harsh light behind your subject.
  • Watch out for dark shadows.
  • Keep an eye out for whites that glare in the light.
  • Avoid shooting at high noon when the light is harshest (mornings & evenings have the most appealing light).
Gray skies over pond and sloping mountain with yellow leaved trees
 The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

Always Consider Color 

The world is in color. Sometimes the colors are white & black, or gray, but it is still color. While your subject will already have a color of it’s own, pay attention to how that color interacts with your background & foreground.

If your subject and background are both green, your subject may be difficult to see in the image. In contrast, if your subject is red & the background purple, you may be able to see the subject very well but the clashing colors can distract from the subject.

In contrast, if your subject is red and the background is purple, you may be able to see the subject clearly, but the clashing colors may draw your attention away from it.

Tall Aspen trees with white and thin trunks and yellow tree canopies against blue sky
 The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

How to Handle Motion

There are 2 choices with motion in a scene: freeze it with a fast shutter speed or let it appear as a blur on the image by using a slower shutter speed. Either choice is just that, a choice.

  • A waterfall can be a beautiful image with the water blurred & showing motion or with the water frozen in midair.
  • A baseball player hitting the ball can be a great image with the bat & ball blurred or with them frozen in time.

You have the final say in the matter, but you should always choose your motion style carefully.

Remembering that ; It is important to remember that you may not always, be able to see the exact moment a photograph is taken. This is particularly true if you have a TTL camera & your viewfinder shows the actual view through the lens.

For a brief moment ; As camera record’s the image by tripping the shutter, your view will be blocked for a fraction of a second. It is in that fraction of a second that your camera captures. The best advice we ever received with sports photography was to remember that if you see it in your viewfinder, you missed it.

Elk standing and feeding in middle of open pasture in front of snowcapped mountain
 The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

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