Where do you begin on your journey to become a photographer? The amount of information about photography out there is overwhelming! Most photographers today piecemeal their education. Without a specific plan, it can take years of study and practice to really know what you are doing and feel confident in your photography skills.
That’s exactly what I did. I literally struggled with the technical side of photography for years. There were several times in the first couple of years as a photography assistant, where I wanted to give up. I truly thought photography was too technical.
I hope to save you from the frustrations I felt while learning both photography and the business of photography. Let’s start with what you need to know as a photographer.
Exposure is the foundation of photography. The very first thing you need to do is to learn to shoot in the manual setting. You will truly feel lost for a long time if you don’t master exposure. Many of the internet instructors teach to shoot in Aperture Priority. While there is nothing wrong with this mode, it’s an automatic mode so you will have too many limitations and you probably won’t be thinking about the settings for each shot.
Fortunately, shooting in the manual setting is pretty easy.
Find the meter inside your camera. Turn the dial to put your camera in the manual mode. If you are in Live View, turn it off and look through the eyepiece (the viewfinder). On most cameras, along the bottom you’ll see something like this:
It may be along the side or look a little different, but if your camera can go into the manual mode, you have a light meter built in.
Your camera’s meter measures the light wherever you are pointing your camera. If the meter is registering on zero, your camera thinks you have a good exposure. If the meter is on the negative side, your exposure will be too dark. If the meter registers on the positive side, your picture will be too bright.
When your meter is on zero, you have the proper amount of light on whatever you are pointing at to get a good exposure.
Remember: Your meter needs to be on zero.
There are only three components to getting a good exposure: ISO, Aperture (also known as Fstop) and shutter speed. How do you know whether you have a good exposure? Your meter will be on zero!
Change one of the three components or all of them until your meter gets to zero. Each component will either let a certain amount of light in, or stop a certain amount from coming in to your camera. And each component will give you a different effect.
Which component should you change? That depends on two things:
- The effect you are trying to achieve.
- Your limitations.
Different effects you will learn just by understanding exposure and shooting in manual:
Blurring backgrounds (Shallow Depth of Field) and the opposite – make sure everything in the picture is sharp (Great Depth of Field), starburst effect, panning, zoom blur, silky water.
Limitations you may come across: Your lens isn’t capable of certain effects, shutter too slow for what you want to achieve causing blur in a bad way, flash can’t synchronize for you to have a fast enough shutter speed, high ISO causes “noise” in your picture.
So step one and the most important step is to really understand exposure and how to achieve all the effects you hope for! You will feel so empowered when you really understand exposure!
Watch our free webinar for a more complete overview of what you need to learn to become a strong photographer. https://understandphotography.leadpages.co/4weeksphotography/
Photographer, instructor and speaker.
Peggy Farren is an award winning, professional photographer, author, instructor and speaker. She’s been interviewed and featured on TV and in many national and local publications.
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