Virtual Photography Learning Guide
With cell phone cameras taking astronomically better pictures than they did just a few years ago, more people than ever have been trying their hand at photography as a hobby. Whether you have a professional-grade camera or just the phone in your pocket, the principles and techniques of photography are largely the same, and by learning a bit about them, even amateur photographers can capture life's moments in a brighter light. Capturing the ideal photos involves more than just pointing and shooting, but with a little effort, you'll soon be able to create shots that are Instagram-worthy.
How Do Cameras Work?
The first step in learning to use a camera well is learning the different parts of a camera and what each of them does.
- Some of the parts of a camera work to regulate the amount of light that's let in to create the image.
- Other parts of a camera determine how blurry or sharp your image is or how wide or narrow your point of view will be.
Exposure is the term for how much light gets into the camera when taking a picture. Three elements combine to regulate exposure, which are known as the exposure triangle.
- The exposure triangle is made up of aperture, shutter speed, and ISO.
Like the pupil of an eye, the aperture allows in more or less light depending on how wide it opens.
- Aperture is indicated by an f-number. The smaller this number is, the more light that comes into the lens.
- A smaller f-number is good for low-light pictures, but it can drastically reduce the depth of field. This means that it's not a great option if you want to capture a landscape.
Shutter speed determines how long the aperture is left open to create the photo.
- If you want to cut down on motion blur while photographing quick movements, such as sports, the shutter speed needs to be set faster.
- A slower shutter speed is good for taking pictures in low-light situations.
ISO is a setting that influences how sensitive the camera's light sensor is. The higher the ISO is, the higher the sensitivity is.
- ISO typically ranges from 100 to more than 1600.
- A higher ISO can help to capture more details in low-light situations, but it can also capture more digital noise, reducing picture quality.
Getting to Know Settings and Terms
- Depth of Field: Depth of field is the distance between the farthest and closest objects that are in focus.
- White Balance: White balance determines the warmth or coolness of the color in a photo.
- Focal Length: Focal length is a lens measurement that affects magnification and the angle of view. A lens with a longer focal length will have a higher magnification and a narrower angle of view, and vice versa.
- Polarizing Filter: A polarizing filter filters out light from one direction, reducing glare and dimming colors in a scene that would otherwise look washed-out.
Elements of Composition
Composition is how the elements in the scene you're photographing are arranged. There are certain composition rules that can help you to create visually appealing images, but breaking these rules can also help you achieve an interesting effect.
- Rule of Thirds: The rule of thirds is the most commonly known rule of composition, and it simply states that the objects in photos should be placed on invisible lines that divide a picture into thirds. Imagine that the scene is divided into a three-by-three grid of boxes. The main visual elements should be placed along the lines that run both ways to create this grid.
- Visual Weight: A part of a photo that the eye is automatically drawn to has more visual weight.
- Eye Line: Another invisible line that you can use to place parts of your image is the eye line, which follows a person's gaze across the frame.
- Exposing Digital Photography: Learn everything you need to know about the principles and techniques of good digital photography with this series of video lectures from a college course.
- Photo Assignments for Remote Classrooms or Self-Motivated Learners: Try these assignments for a remote classroom to practice what you're learning about photography.
- 20 Photography Projects to Do at Home: Experiment with photography by completing these 20 projects.
- Eight DIY Smartphone Photography Projects to Try: Use your smartphone to complete these photography challenges.
- Five Stay-at-Home Mobile Phone Photography Ideas: You can still get creative without fancy equipment or exotic locations with these photography ideas using your mobile phone.
- Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Tutorials: Learn how to edit photos with Lightroom.
- 101 Photography Projects: Challenge yourself with a wide variety of photo projects.
- A Complete Guide to the Basics of Photography: Read and learn about all the basics of photography.
- How to Make Your Own Photographic Salt Print at Home: Create a unique work of art by making your own salt print.
- Using Layer Masks in Photoshop: Become proficient or better at using layer masks when editing your photos.
- Smartphone Photography 101: Learn why you shouldn't feel limited if you don't have a high-end camera, then explore what you can do with just a smartphone.
- Seven At-Home Photography Ideas to Ignite Your Creativity: Take advantage of being stuck at home and let your creative juices flow with these ideas.
- Lectures on Digital Photography: Learn all of the aspects to consider when becoming a digital photographer from a professional instructor.
- An Introduction to Lighting: The most basic but important way to use lighting is to make sure that your subject is visible, but you can also try different lighting techniques for artistic effect.
- How to Capture Great Wildlife Photography: Even in your backyard, you may find that there's plenty of interesting wildlife to photograph.
- Understanding Exposure, Aperture, and Shutter Speed: Master these basic concepts to improve your photography.
- 20 Ways to Learn Photography Without Going to Photography School: Try these strategies to expand your skills without paying tuition.
- Take Your Own Professional Family Portraits: If a professional photographer is not a good option for you, you can use these tips to take professional-looking family portraits at home.
- How to Start Miniature Photography: Learn the unique and fun skill of photographing miniatures to bring a whole other creative aspect to your work.
- 20 Cool Self-Portrait Ideas: You don't need a subject to get creative with these self-portrait project ideas.
- What Is Exposure in Photography? Exposure is an essential concept for any photographer, and this video can teach you in detail how to use it to your advantage.
- 12 Photo Projects You Can Do From Home: If you find yourself stuck at home, these ideas can keep you entertained.
- Seven Great Photography Projects to Keep You Occupied at Home: Just because you can't go out doesn't mean you can't work on your photography skills.
- Composite Portraits for Beginners: Learn about creating photos with a surreal effect similar to a double exposure in this beginner course.
- 100+ Creative Photography Ideas: Flip through dozens of ideas to inspire your next project.
- How to Improve Your Photography in Isolation: There's no reason to sit around the house bored when you could be making the most of your surroundings to create something unexpected.
- Ten Photography Tips From a Self-Taught Photographer: Start with the basics and follow this list of tips to take better photos.
- Creative Indoor Photography Ideas: Use indoor lighting and objects to create unique portraits.