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Learn Photography for Beginners

Discovering North Yorkshire through Photography and Video

Learn Photography for Beginners

Learn Photography for Beginners

Learn photography for beginners. Hello and welcome to the first episode of Phovlography! where we learn photography on YouTube in a series of video diaries, practicing our skills in North Yorkshire locations. However, this is not intended to be a masterclass, but rather for those who are complete beginners or perhaps at an intermediate level. Even if you are a photography guru, you may find the video diaries appealing. Our first episode however is going to be an instructional video discussing the basics of photography such as Exposure, Shutter Priority, Aperture Value and Depth of Field, White Balance, Flash, ISO, Metering, Exposure, composition, Focus and using a self-timer, high speed continuous shooting and more. We will also talk about recording formats such as jpeg and raw. So yes, our first video is a quick course in photography basics. However, do not worry if you don’t remember it all at the end of the video, because these basic lessons will be covered further out in the field being North Yorkshire. In each video, we will take a photos such as landscapes, abstract, seascapes, street life if applicable to the area so we can cover a wide range of topics.

Baring in mind these video diaries are for those who are new to photography, we are using an entry level Canon camera with two lenses. The first lens is wide angle, and the second is a long lens. However, don’t be mislead by the term entry level because this camera has been tried and tested and takes some good quality photos. 

Watch the Learn Photography on YouTube Video


Learn Photography for Beginners

What is exposure? Well, it is about how much light reaches your cameras sensor that records the image you are taking. Have you ever seen a photograph that has come out really dark and the subject is hard to make out? Well, this is because too little light has been allowed to reach the sensor. On the flip side of the coin, have you seen a photograph that has been returned to white and glarey? This is because too much light has been allowed to reach the sensor. So a dark photo is underexposed, and a photo that is too bright and glarey, looking whitish is over exposure. Therefore you’re required to allow the right amount of light in to reach the cameras sensor, to return the correct results. How do we achieve this?

The Exposure Triangle

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Have you ever heard of the exposure triangle? There are three main methods of allowing enough light to reach the cameras sensor and they all correspond with each other. If you increase or decrease the one, the others will be adjusted. These three elements of exposure consist of shutter speed, aperture value and ISO, the cameras sensitivity to light. If you adjust the shutter speed, then the aperture value and the ISO need to be adjusted so that you receive the right amount of light into the camera. Alternatively, if you adjust the aperture (this being the size of the hole inside the lens that can be regulated) then the shutter speed will be effected as well as the ISO to return the correct results. But why would you need to adjust the shutter speed, aperture value or even the ISO in the first place? Well, here is why.

Exposure Summary

  • Shutter speed, aperture size and ISO all work in unison with each other to return the correct exposure
  • Allowing too much light through to the sensor will create an overexposed photograph (too bright)
  • Allowing too little light through to the sensor will create an underexposed photograph (dark)
  • Shutter Speed and Aperture Value priority modes are found on your camera’s main dial. However, ISO does not have a priority mode as it is adjusted automatically or manually to marry up with the shutter speed and aperture value. 
  • ISO is the camera’s sensitivity to light ranging from 80 to 6400 for example. 
  • Never use a high ISO in low light or dark scenes as it will over pixelate and produce noise or grain 

Aperture Value

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To adjust your aperture value, set the camera dial to A or Av depending on your camera’s manufacturer.

So why would you need to adjust the circular hole inside the lens? This is all down to depth of field or DOF for short if you prefer. Depth of Field is when you keep your subject in focus but blur the background. However, in a landscape photo, you want all of the image to be sharp throughout. Keeping your subject sharp and blurring the background is referred to as a shallow depth of field. However, returning an image where the scene is in focus throughout is referred to as a deep depth of field. 

Goathland Moor
Goathland LandscapeThis photo was taken with an f-stop of f/8 and has been rendered sharp throughout. 

When you increase the size of the aperture in your lens, you are actually going to return a shallow depth of field, in other words returning a blurred background but keeping your subject sharp. If you decrease the aperture in your lens, then your image is going to be sharp throughout with no blurred background. The aperture value is measured in F Stops or sometimes referred to as F number. However, it might not work the way you think because a low number will actually return a shallow depth of field and a high number will return a deep depth of field, with no blurred background. Therefore a high F-Stop number is a smaller aperture, and a low number will return a wider aperture. The f-stop doesn’t measure the size of the aperture but rather the size of the depth of field instead, thus a higher f-stop will increase the focus area in the shot whereas a lower f-stop will return a limited focus area blurring the background.

Another point to consider when blurring the background is that when you extend your lens to its fullest, the depth of field is decreased. In other words, to take a shot of a birds head for example and blur the background, it is often a good idea to extend your lens right out which in turn will bring about a shallow depth of field. To emphasise this further, on your own camera, watch what happens to the f-number on the view screen when you extend the lens in and out, especially on a long lens. This is why it is recommended to use a wide angle lens, the small lens, to take photos of landscapes as the image is more likely to be returned sharp. F8 and above are generally useful for landscape photography and much smaller f numbers to blur your background but keep your subject in sharp focus. 

Canada goose
Canada goose. This creature has been captured with a shallow depth of field, blurring the background returning a more pleasing photo and emphasising the subject.

So you could say that aperture value and focus are linked albeit not the same. This is because the focus area is either increased or decreased in your image depending on the size of aperture. We talk more about focus later, but lets summarise what we have learned about Aperture Value.

Aperture Value Summary

  • A large aperture allows in more light but decreases the focus area, returning a blurred background and a sharp subject.
  • A small aperture allows in less light but increases the focus area, returning a sharp image throughout the scene.
  • A shallow depth of field is a sharp subject with a blurred background.
  • A deep depth of field is a sharp scene throughout
  • Smaller f-stops return a sharp subject and a blurred background
  • Higher f-stops return a sharp image throughout the scene
  • Extending your lens right out can help to return a blurred background as it reduces the focus area and only smaller f-stops are available. 
  • For landscapes use a f-stop above f8
  • For a subject use a low f-stop number if you require background blur.
  • Remember! a high aperture value or f-stop will extend your shutter speed especially in low light which means you may require a tripod and a self-timer to keep your camera steady. If the shutter speed is extended, camera shake will return a blurred photo throughout.

Shutter Speed

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To adjust your cameras shutter speed turn the dial to either S or Tv depending on the manufacturer. Tv stands of Time Value.

Why would you need to adjust the shutter speed? Well, there is a variety of reasons and scenarios where you will be required to adjust the shutter speed or time value. For instance, if you were taking a photo of a wild bird or animal or perhaps even a pet you may want to use a very fast shutter speed. This is because using a slower shutter speed would return motion blur from the moving creature. The same would be true for a speeding vehicle such as a sports car or train or even someone running. If you want to freeze frame a fast moving object then you require a fast shutter speed. However, there is a danger here. 

Tufted Duck
Tufted DuckThis tufted duck was moving constantly across the water and using a fast shutter speed of 1/2000 of a second.

If you allow less time for light to enter, your photo could become under exposed returning a dark image. Therefore, the camera in shutter speed priority mode would automatically adjust the aperture and ISO to allow in more light. The problem is, if you want your focus area to be sharp throughout the scene, the camera may automatically widen the aperture reducing the focus area. To counter this, you will need to use a very high ISO instead. This too poses a danger because a high ISO can return noise or in other words a grainy photo. Every camera is different, so it is good practice to check how high your ISO can be set without returning a lot of noise. This requires getting acquainted with your cameras capabilities. In any case, in such circumstances it is best to use a higher ISO rather than a wider aperture unless you particularly want to blur the background and keep your subject sharp.

Preventing Camera Shake 

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When hand held, the longer the shutter speed the more likely camera shake will show on your photographs. Therefore, the quicker the shutter speed when you camera is being hand held, the less blur is present in your shot. Before jumping to the fastest speed your camera can handle, its good to note the following rule of thumb. 

 focal length number = shutter speed 1/number 

 In other words, if you have a 100mm focal length, then you should use at the very least 1/100th second shutter speed. A focal length of 300mm should at the very least have a shutter speed of 1/300th second. However, you might want to experiment and there may be occasions when you need a super fast shutter speed such as a speeding train or a sports shot. Remember, fast shutter speeds can be more difficult to achieve to prevent camera shake in situations with low light. In which case you are more likely to need a tripod to hold the camera steady.  In any case, it is a good idea to know the focal length you are using and make the calculation.

Why would you need to extend the shutter speed? Well, this can be a very creative aspect of photography. For example, you may want to bur the motion of a waterfall. Have you seen photos where waterfalls look really smooth, soft and mist-like? Well, this is done by a process known as long exposure. We consider photography to be all about light which it is, but it is also about how much time we allow in through the lens to the sensor as well. A long exposure is a certain amount of time allowed in through the lens which can achieve some interesting results, such as a softened waterfall. However, when taking shots like this, you require a tripod as well as either a remote control device or a self-timer function. Most cameras can have a self-timer of around 2 seconds. The reason you would use it is because pressing the shutter button will wobble the tripod, but if a timer is used, it will eliminate this problem and return a sharp photo. 

Thomason Foss Waterfall
Thomason Foss Waterfall has been captured here using a 30 second timer as well as using a ND Filter.

Another use for a longer shutter duration, or long exposure if you prefer, is at nighttime. Obviously, at night there is very little light available other than light sources such as moonlight, street lighting, flames and fireworks and other sources. Again, with a long exposure we can be creative. Have you ever seen photos with car headlamps and taillamps blurred along a busy road? Like the waterfall mentioned, this is achieved through long exposure. In fact, extending night time scenes is best using a slightly longer exposure than normal so that the aperture is not widened instead that would reduce focus area. In fact, some photographers use the aperture value priority set to a deep depth of field which forces the camera to regulate the shutter speed automatically to produce the correct results. Of course, long exposure of nighttime scenes require a timer and and tripod too and cannot be taken handheld. 

This Frosty nighttime shot was taken with a very narrow aperture to return a star effect with the street lighting.
This Frosty nighttime shot was taken with a very narrow aperture to return a star effect with the street lighting.

Another reason you might want to to use a slow shutter is to eradicate any people from a scene. This is done by setting the shutter speed to something really slow such as 30 seconds as an example. However, when taking photos with a slow shutter speed in daylight, you will need an ND Filter which can be either a square plate or just a filter that screws on the end of the lens. When it is dark you do not require an ND Filter. 

Shutter Speed Summary

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  • Use a fast shutter speed to prevent motion blur from a fast moving object
  • Use a slow shutter speed to incur motion blur from a moving object such as waterfall and headlamps
  • Using a very slow motion speed can make moving objects disappear 
  • Use a tripod with a remote control or timer when using a slow shutter speed 
  • Be creative with shutter speed – freeze framing a dog shaking water off its back or perhaps shooting a waterfall to create a soft-mist effect. Experiment! You can delete the image if it didn’t work the way you intended.
  • When using a slow shutter In the day time however, you will need an ND Filter to limit the amount of light coming through the lens otherwise your shot will be over-exposed. The filter simply screws on to the lens on a DSLR and many models of bridge camera. It is equivalent to wearing a pair of sunglasses that reduce the amount of light hitting the retina. 

ISO – What is it?

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ISO is the camera’s sensitivity to light. The higher that the ISO is set to, the brighter the image will become. ISO is part of the exposure triangle, however, unlike shutter speed and aperture value, it doesn’t have a setting of its own on the dial. This is because it is set automatically by the camera or manually. Adjusting the shutter speed and aperture has a purpose where ISO doesn’t in particular. 
If you use a high ISO in dark scenes such as indoors or at nighttime, it can render a grainy or noisy photograph. In low light conditions such as these, there is typically a setting on your camera where you can ensure the ISO isn’t automatically adjusted above a certain level such as 400. In the dark however, it is best to aim no higher than 200 ISO. However, if you can lower it to 100 then this is perfect! The only time I would raise the ISO to something much greater is when you are taking a photo using a very fast shutter speed to capture a fast moving subject. As mentioned, see how far you can go without receiving a lot of noise or grain. The reason noise results is to do with cramming too many megapixels in the shot owing to the high ISO. 

ISO Summary

  • ISO is the cameras sensitivity to light which can be adjusted automatically or manually
  • You should aim to keep your ISO as low as possible, below 400
  • When using an extremely fast shutter speed you can increase ISO to a much higher setting. Test your camera first to see how high you can go without the image becoming grainy or noisy. 
  • Never use anything higher than 100 or 200 when taking night time or low light shots to prevent noise.
  • There isn’t an ISO Priority mode on your camera because it wouldn’t serve any purpose. Aperture Value and Shutter Speed have priority modes so that they can be tuned to a particular scene or scenario. 

White Balance – What is It?

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Have you ever looked at a light bulb and noticed that it emanates a gold colour when it is lit? It can make the entire room look a gold tungsten colour. Today, lighting at home has changed a little with halogen and LED lighting. A bonfire will also have a similar effect, as would a candle. On your camera, you can counteract this by selecting Tungsten from the white balance settings and this will reduce the tungsten look of the photo as it adds a filter of blue. Try taking a photo outdoors with the tungsten setting selected and notice what happens. Your photo will look bluer as a result and reduce the temperature as it were to something more cooler looking. 
However, there are more settings than just tungsten. By default white balance will be set to automatic but this setting lacks creativity and control over your photos. Sometimes I use tungsten at the seaside to make the sea and sky more bluer. However, generally the options for white balance are sunny/daylight, cloudy, shady, tungsten, fluorescent (for fluorescent lighting), flash (for when you are using a flash), and sometimes there is a manual setting. 

White Balance in a nutshell is really to do with temperature but not a physical hot or cold. Rather it is to do with the appearance of a photo. Light is not simply white in colour, it has many colours and they have a knock on effect with how your photos render. These colours are measured in kelvin and for example, daylight is often between 10000 and 15000 kelvin on a clear day. Candles are often between 10000 and 20000 kelvin. In editing software, you can often change the white balance but it is best to do this while you are taking the shot. Don’t always rely on the automatic setting, but use white balance creatively and accurately for the conditions you find yourself in. Experiment with different settings and see what results as this will give you are better feel and understanding of the function.

White Balance Summary

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  • Don’t simply rely on automatic white balance – be creative!
  • Light colours are measured in kelvin and often abbreviated with a ‘k’
  • White Balance is about temperature – how warm or cold it appears.
  • Try using the correct setting appropriate for the scene and check to see how the end result appears.
  • You can oftentimes change the white balance in editing software but it is best to set this correctly at the time of shooting. 

What is Metering and how does it effect the photo?

Learn Photography for Beginners
Metering is very much connected with exposure because your camera will scan the scene and decide what settings will produce the best exposure for your photo. Every camera model and manufacturer is different and there are several different metering modes. The three most common are as follows.


The matrix setting will split the scene into various sections and meters on the average tonal range of each section. It will also place more emphasis on the area of focus in the shot too to render the best image. It is best to use this when the scene is balanced throughout.


This mode is completely different to the matrix mode as it calculates the best exposure from the centre of the screen. Therefore if you subject is situated in the centre of the screen and you recompose the shot, this is the best to use. 


This is similar to centre-weighted except it meters on a very small area of the screen rather than a larger area in the middle of the frame. The only time you should use this is when you want to meter off a small area or specific part of the screen. 

Exposure Compensation

This isn’t a metering mode of such but sometimes the camera can be fooled and not get the exposure exactly right. Therefore, in the manual modes on your camera, you can adjust or compensate for poor metering. Snow is an example of this because of it being a brilliant white colour. The camera thinks it is bright when it actual fact it isn’t. Therefore you can use exposure compensation to manual adjust or fine tune the exposure to what works best. 
This is measured in stops. Exposure compensation is typically adjusted in 1/3 increments. If you increase the exposure by +1 stop, then it will double the exposure. However, if you use +2 stop it will quadruple the exposure. It also works the same way with negative numbers too so if you reduce exposure by -1 stop then you are halving the exposure. 

Metering Summary

  • Metering is when your camera scans the scene of your photo and best decides the exposure required
  • Matrix metering is best as it calculates the average throughout the scene where it bases its decision
  • Centre-Weighted metering analyses the middle of the scene and bases its decision here.
  • Spot metering is similar to centre weighted except it calculates on a small spot rather than a middle section.
  • Exposure compensation can be used to fine tune exposure especially when the camera has been fooled such as in bright snow conditions. 

Focusing Your Camera on Your Subject

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Certainly, focusing the camera on your subject or even subjects is a very important aspect of photography. If your subject isn’t sharp then your photo will be unusable. Depending on the manufacturer and model of your camera, there may be several types of focusing available. However the main three autofocusing modes are as follows.  

One Shot/Single Servo

Pressing the shutter button half-way will grab a focus lock and focus once. This is the best type of focus lock to use if you are taking a photo of a still or inanimate subject. 

AI Servo or Auto Servo

This is the best autofocus setting for something that may or may not move (such as a animal or bird for example). It may initially be still but once it starts moving the autofocus will switch to either AI Servo or Continuous-Servo. 

AI Servo or Continuous-Servo 

This setting is best for subjects that move continually and requires a constant lock. It will follow the subject when you press the shutter button half-way until you press the shutter button fully and take the shot.  

Manual Focus

Of course, you don’t have to rely on autofocus at all and rely on a manual focus. Many professional photographers favour manual focus as you can select the area of the frame that you desire to be in sharp focus. The method of doing this varies from camera to camera, but it tends to move a square to any part of the screen to acquire a focus lock. On a autofocus mode, depending on the camera, you may have focus points on the screen or viewfinder the glow red or alternatively could be a square that indicates the section in focus lock. It may be as well to experiment and practice using manual focus and see the results. Do they differ to autofocus? 

One problem with autofocus is that the camera may mistaking lock on the wrong object such as something in front of the subject. Therefore, recomposing the shot will help or perhaps using manual focus instead.

Focusing Summary

  • Typically you can focus automatically and manually and on a DSLR camera this can be set using a switch on the lens itself. 
  • One Shot/Single Servo returns one shot after acquiring focus. Focus is attained by pressing the shutter button half way down. 
  • Ai Servo/Auto Servo works best with a subject that may or may not move. The autofocus determines which autofocus mode to use if the subject moves. 
  • Ai Servo/Continuous Servo will acquire a focus lock on a moving subject such as a bird, a car or a moving person. 
  •  Manual Focus is often used by professional photographers where you can choose which part of the scene should be in focus. 

Shooting Modes

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Cameras typically have a variety of shooting modes to help you capture the perfect shot. One problem I have is capturing wildlife as they tend not to stay in the right place very long. How can you possibly get that perfect shot? 

High-Speed Continuous

In high speed continuous mode, the camera will take a series of images while the shutter is pressed. You then can select one or perhaps several images which have come out the best. The images that you consider to be poor you can delete. This is especially useful for fast moving or continually moving subjects like wildlife and sports too. 

Low Speed Continuous 

This is exactly the same as high-speed continuous except the camera will take less images in the duration you have pressed the shutter button.


The self-timer is pretty obvious to its function. You can set it for a particular duration of time before the camera takes the shot or even series of shots. It is very useful when using a tripod as it prevents camera shake when taking the shot. However, if taking wildlife photos and you require the shutter to act instantly, using the smartphone app or remote control is better. If you are taking a photo of yourself, then a ten second timer would be preferable so that you have time to pose for the photo. For a shot using a tripod, a 2-5 second duration works best and all that is needed. One down side to this is sometimes we forget we have activated the timer, and when we come to take the next photo we have to wait two seconds before shutter activates.

Single Shot

Of course, much of the time we would use the single shot mode where you press the shutter button half way to receive a focus lock then take the single photo by pressing the button to its fullest. The type of shooting mode you use is very much dependent on the type of photography you are engaged in. With wildlife photography you would probably use one of the continuous modes. If you are taking a shot of a landscape then it will be the single shot mode. 

Shooting Modes Summary

  • Single Shot returns one image when you press the shutter button all the way
  • High Continuous returns a high volume of images as long as the shutter button is pressed to its fullest extent. The photographer would then choose the best images and delete the rest.
  • Low Continuous returns a lower volume of images as long as the shutter button is pressed to its fullest extent. The photographer would then choose the best images and delete the rest.
  • Self timer is not only ideal for self portraits or in a group, but also when using a tripod. A 2 second timer will eliminate tripod shake when the shutter button is pressed. A remote control or the camera’s smartphone app will help with this too as alternatives. 


Learn Photography for Beginners  

You might think that using a flash is just for indoor shots. Well, this is completely wrong. Yes they are useful for indoor locations but also they can help to reduce shadows outdoors too. Let’s take a look at flash and how it can benefit. 
One good use of flash is when your subject, possibly a person, is stood in front of a window or door. You have probably seen those horrible photos where the window is a big white glare and the person stood in front is almost silhouette and you cannot make out the face. This is where your flash comes in. Using the flash in this scenario will light up the face of your subject as well as return what lies outside the window behind instead of it being a large white glowing square or rectangle. 
Of course, its often a good idea to use a flash anyway indoors as it tends to be a lowlight condition. If you are taking a portrait, even in a well lit room it is a good idea to light up the face using the flash. See your cameras manual for different flash settings. Your camera will more than likely have a flash built in but you can also have external flash units that connect to the top of your camera. 
Outdoors you may be in a shady area and your subject may be situated in that shady area. In which case, you can eliminate the problem using the flash. However, be sure that you are not in font of a reflective surface such as a window of a car which will reflect the flash when the shot is taken. 
Sometimes your photos of people or a person will look somewhat scary when their eyes are rendered red. Before passing it off as something sinister or supernatural, it is quite simply the flash reaching the blood vessels at the back of the retina. In which case, some cameras have an anti-redeye feature. This will fire a pre-flash before taking the photos so that aperture in the pupils slightly close before taking the shot. This should eliminate red eye and jumping to conclusions about your subject. 
A flash is also a great idea to use at parties as they tend to be low lit. Using the flash can prevent longer shutter speeds in low lit environments so when handheld, the image is not returned blurred. 

Auto Flash 

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 Most modern cameras will have an auto flash feature that is activated when the cameras metering system will assume it is needed owing to low-light. The flash is certainly useful when you are shooting hand-held because otherwise in low light conditions the shutter speed will need to be increased showing camera shake, or blur, in your photos. The flash of light illuminates the scene increasing the shutter to a much faster speed eliminating blur caused by camera shake. However, there may be occasions you don’t want a flash such as in front of a mirror for example. In which case, you are better off deactivating your flash and using something to stable the camera and use a longer shutter speed. Increasing ISO might be your first idea, but this can return a noisy or grainy photograph if employed. Don’t forget however, that the longer your shutter speed is, and if your subject moves, it’s going to show motion blur in your shot. Therefore, it is wise to experiment with getting the right exposure. One of the problems with the auto flash, or just using a flash in general, is that it can return a rather dull and flat result in your image. Also, flash fall off can result in a well lit subject but a dark surrounding, because the flash doesn’t reach far back enough. In any case, although there are times when auto flash is useful, it is also limiting so it encouraged to explore other options when using the flash. 

 Fill-In Flash 

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 A fill in flash injects light into dark areas of the scene, filling it in as it were with extra light. What scenes would you use the fill in flash? Well, if your subject is a person or otherwise, and is heavily backlit (stood in front of a bright light source such as a window) the fill-in flash is forced to activate and light is injected to illuminate your subject and other surroundings too. It also reveals what is behind the window, or rather what is outside. Try taking a photo of a window in your home, first without the flash and then with the flash activated. Do you see the difference? Another instance where fill-in flash is useful is when the metering system may be mislead by bright surroundings such as is snow scenes or even sunny beaches. It also helps to eliminate or lessen shadows cause by bright light sources creating them. Usually, it is a good idea to have bright lights situated behind you such as the sun or a bright lamp. However, in cases where the sun or other light source is in front of you, then using the flash is recommended. Another use is if your portrait subject is wearing a hat, because this will eliminate the shadow underneath the brim. When shadows exist in a shot, you cannot eliminate them by adjusting the exposure. Why? Because if you do, your shadows may be resolved, but the rest of your photos surroundings will be overexposed. Therefore, either using a fill in flash or have the light source behind you instead of the subject is the best idea. Also, you can also capture reflections in a subjects eyes by using the flash (in the same way as using the flash when shooting a window). Achieving this returns a much more interesting and pleasing photograph. Not every camera has a fill-in flash option, but it will possess the option to force a flash which is tantamount to a fill-in flash. Basically, you are simply forcing the flash to fire even when you are in bright surroundings. Some cameras also have an auto-backlight feature which will also fire the flash when the background is brighter than the subject. 

 The Slow-Sync Flash 

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The term slow-sync sounds rather technical and perhaps complicated, but in fact is really rather easy to understand. A slow-sync flash works in harmony with the shutter speed in order to return ambient lighting. The slower speed of the flash helps to retain the ambient lighting, while at the same time, the flash allows to capture the main subject in a well lit, sharp and clear return. The slower shutter speed however, will help render the more darker background. This certainly helps in restaurants or public houses, flame lit outdoor gatherings and other ambient low-light surroundings. 

Flash Summary

  • Flash is for indoor and outdoor use
  • Fill in Flash Fills in dark areas of the scene adding extra light
  • Slow Sync Flash works in harmony with the shutter speed
  • Auto flash is when the camera recognises the need to use a flash owing to metering the scene.
  • Use a flash when your subject is in front of a window or door in an internal room. This will prevent a dark subject and a glowing, glarey white window. 
  • Flash also helps to eliminate shadows when taking shots outside.
  • Most cameras have a built in flash but you can also purchase more elaborate external flash units that fit on your camera.
  • Flash is ideal for low lit places such as indoors
  • Use anti-redeye in low lit internal rooms. This will prevent your subject or subjects revealing the blood vessels in their retina’s in your shot. Remember, wide, enlarged pupils cause red eye – so try to get the pupils right down to a narrower size! 


Learn Photography for Beginners
 One of the most important aspects of a photograph is the composition of the image. Many people behind a camera struggle with composition, but with a few simple rules of thumb, composition can be improved easily. Composition is very important because if you don’t get it right, your photograph will be considered uninteresting and won’t hold the attention of its viewers. Think creative!  

Subject Framing 

Free Photography Workshop North Yorkshire  Have you looked at a photograph of a person or group people perhaps in a holiday setting and they are so small you can hardly see the faces within the shot? Here is a first lesson of composition. Fill your frame with your subject or subjects, especially when it comes to portraits. However, you may be in beautiful surroundings and you want to incorporate them. In which case, rather than take full body shots, you may need to position the group closer together and focus above the shoulders with your scenery behind. However, don’t forget to use an aperture that won’t blur your background (lower f stops).  

Portrait or Landscape 

Learn Photography for Beginners  Should I use portrait or landscape? This is dependent on your scene. A rule of thumb you could use is portrait for portraits and landscape for landscapes but not every scene would fit this rule. For example, a tall structure would require a portrait shot to incorporate its height. It doesn’t hurt to experiment a little and try a shot both ways. Also, don’t be afraid to go between portrait and landscape, to tilt the image of a building for example. This can lead to a more dramatic photo.  


Learn Photography for Beginners  We are often tempted to take a shot at our eye level or at the level of our tripod. However, you will notice that you can receive a more interesting shot by adjusting your height and shooting upwards slightly. On the other hand, you may need to adjust your level so that you are level with your subject. For example, taking a photograph of a dog or cat may require you to get down to their eye level. When taking a landscape shot, its often a good idea to get out your smartphone and with the camera screen, try viewing certain angles and heights first before taking the shot on your camera. Your phone’s screen is more often than not larger than your camera and gives you a more accurate judgment. Don’t be afraid to try different heights even looking down from a balcony at your subject below. Looking for puddles with reflections of your subject is also a great way to return an interesting photograph. The Diving Belle could have been returned by taking a photo from directly in front of the structure. Instead, however, she has been captured on an angle that returns a more interesting image. Try various angles and see which work best, you can always delete the images you do not like. 

This tower has been captured by emphasising its height by getting low down and looking upwards.
This tower has been captured by emphasising its height by getting low down and looking upwards.

Golden Means/Rule of Thirds 

Learn Photography for Beginners  What is Golden Means? Well, if you can imagine your viewer having a grid of nine equal squares, where the lines intersect, you can place elements of your scene here. It is often very tempting to place your subject in the centre of the image (often referred to as the Bulls eye composition). Placing the subject in the middle of the photograph should be avoided as it results in a flat photo. Placing the subject on one of the intersections however, results in a more dynamic and dramatic photo. However, you might have a particular purpose to employ a bulls eye composition but it should be avoided if possible. Most cameras carry the feature to place a grid on the view screen as a guide. 

Alfie has been captured using golden means or rule of thirds. His head is just off centre to the left.

Lines and Patterns 

Learn Photography for Beginners It’s quite important to take your time when taking a photograph, especially landscapes. Again, you might find it useful to use your smartphone to find a composition appropriate to the scene. Look for lines, shapes and patterns in the scene. We see in 3D but when we take a photograph were turning 3D into a 2D image, so its important to make your photograph look or appear 3D. For example, you may be taking a shot of some mountains in the horizon. Instead of just filling the frame with the mountains, include some of the scenery leading up to the mountains. Perhaps there may be a path creating a line up to the mountains. It is a good idea to add layers before the subject in order to create depth. However, be careful not to focus on the foreground instead of the background otherwise your mountains would be returned out of focus. Ask yourself “Is this shot interesting? Can I make it more interesting?” It is often a good idea to include an item in front of your main subject. This will lead the eye gradually to your subject and make a more intriguing photograph. 

Field with lines
This field has been captured owing to its lines heading out which can often return a feeling of distance and depth.

Look for Interesting Items 

Learn Photography for Beginners  If you are taking a landscape or cityscape look for interesting structures, colours, signs etc. that you can incorporate in your shot. For example, a rail photographer may want to include the sign of the stations name in his shot. Combining an interesting angle and interesting items will result in a far more mind-blowing photograph. Go and have a practice! Experiment, and if it doesn’t work simply delete the photo and try something else. Some scenes look fantastic when they have equal balance, but do not be afraid to try unequal balance too. For example, you might take a photo of an elephant at a zoo but you may want to include the elephants carer working further away in the background.  Incorporating another object in the distance or even in the foreground can lead to a more interesting and artistic photograph. 

Composition Summary

  • Look for interesting items, lines and geometric shapes
  • Place something in front of your subject in the shot to lead the eye towards the subject
  • Try getting down really low or getting higher to take a unique angle of your subject
  • Try to create distance in your photo such as finding a path moving away into infinity
  • Layered photos often make interesting photos but without it being too distracting from the subject
  • Try taking abstract shots, just a portion of the subject that fills the entire image
  • Look for interesting objects but also look for objects such as a overflowing litter bin that would spoil your shot. In which case, you would need to recompose your shot and eliminate the offending item.

JPEG and Raw formats

Learn Photography for Beginners

Your camera will have various settings where you can adjust the both the size and format of your photo stored on your memory card. The size is really a matter of personal preference for the user, but as far as format is concerned it is more useful to use a RAW format, but only if you have photo editing software that is able to modify this format, such as Lightroom for example. If you don’t have any editing software, then you need to use a jpeg format. Why?

RAW format are much larger files in terms of file size because it records all the data your camera has collected when you pressed the shutter button. This raw data is not processed by the camera but is up to the photographer to edit the data in a photo editing app. Jpeg’s are smaller in file size because the camera has taken the raw data and modified it automatically to how it believes the photo should look. You can still modify jpegs in photo editing software, but it is limited in contrast to RAW files. When first beginning a future in photography, you may want to start with simple jpegs. However, when you get to grips with using your camera, you can then advance to processing RAW images by yourself. Most cameras allow you to record two separate files, one in RAW format and the other in jpeg. If you have an app such as Lightroom, you may want to take an image in RAW and play around to get a better understanding on how this works. In any case, we will cover it in the future. 


Learn Photography for Beginners

Learn Photography for Beginners  So we’ve learned quite a lot about the functions of the camera and what they do. If you have not fully comprehend what we have discussed in this video, don’t worry as we will cover these points when appropriate in our forthcoming video diaries. So please like and subscribe to if you have enjoyed this video and found it to be informative. Until next time!

Recommended Photography/Videography Equipment on Amazon for Beginners

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