It’s pretty much the norm these days to have professional photography on a blog. When we all started out, we could get away with some iPhone snaps and photos that were perfectly imperfect. Then more and more of us started investing in DSLR cameras and shooting auto mode. The next step to take to improve your photography is shooting manual on your DSLR.
A lot of bloggers opt to work with photographers and leave the control in their hands. Still, understanding how they’re shooting will also help you create a mood for your photos. Understanding the relationship between your aperture setting and shutter speed, for example, will make it easier to communicate with your photographer and let him/her know what you want from the photos.
The added benefit of understanding manual settings is the ultimate control over your own photography. If you do a lot of self-portraits like me, being able to manipulate the settings quickly saves a lot of time. Also, if you’re with someone who might not understand photography as well (i.e. significant other), you can make all the adjustments for him/her and just have them push the button. Easy, peasy.
Truth: Having a camera doesn’t make you a photographer
The important thing to understand is that just because someone has a really expensive DSLR, they’re not necessarily a photographer. Use this guide as your starting point in learning photography (which is ultimately light manipulation). This is your first stepping stone. Before long, you’ll start being able to identify specific lenses and how well they fit your camera. This is a whole other topic: not all lenses are created equally, and most importantly, some lenses that are BRILLIANT on one camera body might not work as well on a different camera body. That topic is for another day, though.
If you have a lovely DSLR that you dropped several hundred (or several thousand) on, it’s best to treat it as a tool that gives you ultimate flexibility. If you don’t want to use manual mode, it might be best to get a smaller and simpler point-and-shoot camera with a fixed zoom lens. They’re still amazing at what they do, and will ultimately save you a lot of money. They’re also a lot lighter! Nothing wrong with them if that’s your shooting style. Plenty of photographers use point-and-shoot cams (or even their phones!) for certain photos.
Improve Your Photography: Basic Photography Terms
What happens when you press the button to capture a photograph?
Basically, the shutter curtain opens (it’s located inside the body, behind the lens) and the sensor is exposed, with the light entering through the lens. The image is then “burned” onto the sensor based on how much light comes in. The shutter curtain closes, and your image is now available!
The right exposure is based on the balance of three elements. Let’s start with one of them today and fill in the other two in part II.
This is located within your lens. The aperture is the hole that the light travels through to reach your sensor. The smaller the hole, the less light enters and burns onto the sensor to create the image. The larger the hole, the more light will enter. The aperture also controls the depth-of-field. When the aperture is reduced (the f-stop is made bigger), the depth-of-field increases and more objects are in focus. When the aperture is increased (the f-stop is smaller), the depth-of-field is decreased, and you create situations like the bokeh effect where the subject is in focus. Meanwhile, the background is blurred.
When you’re in low-light situations (such as in the evening, when the sun starts going down), you can open up the aperture to let more light in. The aperture is also called the f-stop and is denoted by the letter f/. The smaller the f-stop number, the larger the aperture hole. So, a f/1.4 will be bigger and let more light in than f/8.