AmSnaps - Digital Photography Basics For Amateur Snappers

Your Easy-To-Understand Guide to Learning Digital Photography Basics and Achieving Digital Photography Success

These digital photography basics will help you if you plan to purchase or have already purchased a digital SLR camera and want to be able to use it effectively, beyond utilizing it as a point and shoot.

As you probably already know, digital photography does not use film to capture the images you photograph.

Rather, digital photography captures electronic or digital files on a memory device such as a memory stick or a compact disk. We could start by asking the question, "What is digital photography"?

What Are The Basics Of Digital Photography?

Such data is captured in tiny little bits of information called megapixels. Each megapixel makes up one dot of color in an image and together all of these dots of color, when arranged properly, reproduce the image you photographed to create a complete picture.

It's a little more complicated than all that, but for digital photography basics, that pretty much covers it.

The more megapixels, or the higher the number of megapixels you have, the more data you have available to recreate the image.

So as a rule, higher megapixels equals a higher quality photograph, particularly when rendered or printed at a very large size.

While many digital cameras today boast resolutions of 8 megapixels per inch or higher, this is actually more than necessary to create most common portrait prints.

For instance, to create a high quality print photograph in an 8"x10" size, you really only require 3 to 5 megapixels per inch if the camera and the camera sensor itself are high quality.

Rather than going into exactly how a digital camera operates behind the scenes, most of which is entirely invisible to you, I will help you learn to operate your DSLR camera more effectively by covering some of the most common digital photography basics.

Once you have a grip on the basics, you should see a nice improvement on your pictures. A company like LuLu give you the options to design and create your own photo books with all of your favorite pictures.

Digital Photography Basics -ISO

With film cameras, you selected the ISO when you purchased the film, typically buying 100 ISO, 200 ISO, 400 ISO, or 800 ISO film.

You had to shoot in this ISO (sensitivity level) until that roll of film was gone and you replaced it with another roll, perhaps in a different ISO.

With most DSLR cameras today, you can select the ISO you want to photograph in on pretty much an image-by-image basis.

In other words, you could shoot a photograph in 100 ISO, change the setting to 800 ISO and shoot another photograph and then change the ISO to 200 and shoot another photograph.

Take all these shots sequentially without changing anything except the setting on the camera. This is a great advantage if you shoot photos in rapidly changing conditions or simply want to keep your options open and photograph the same scene in several different ISOs for perfect lighting, color and exposure.

Just like with film, you will typically use a lower ISO setting outdoors and in well-lit situations and you'll use a higher ISO selection in darker settings.

With digital cameras, you may get more noise in your photos with the higher ISO settings, usually anything above 400 depending on the camera. So as a rule you'll want to opt for the lower ISO range.

However, some cameras do offer the option to turn the ISO up to 800, 1600, or even 3200 ISO when shooting in darker conditions. You can usually also set your camera to Auto and let the camera select the best ISO for the light conditions.

Digital Photography Basics - Camera Modes

Most digital cameras come with some pre-programmed modes or settings designed to make it easier to photograph specific types of subjects.

For example, many will have a portrait and landscape mode, a macro mode, an action mode, and a night-time mode. Each of these modes works best for photographing those specific subjects or in these specific conditions.

However, good DSLR cameras will also allow you to change to shutter priority mode, aperture priority mode and entirely manual mode. This is great for when you want to:
  • take total creative control of your photographs
  • learn more about the photography process itself instead of relying on automatic programming to do the work.
For example, when you shoot in manual, you can select all of the settings. If you choose the shutter priority mode, this will enable you to select the shutter speed desired while the camera selects all of the other settings.

Likewise, if you choose the aperture priority, you will be able to select the aperture settings desired while everything else is automatic.

Digital Photography Basics - White Balance

Good digital SLR cameras will also let you change the white balance according to your needs.

There is usually an automatic setting and also a place where you can change the white balance according to whether you are shooting in daylight, tungsten lighting, fluorescent lighting, or other lighting conditions.

If you're not already familiar with what white balance does, it basically adjusts the way the camera "sees" all colors based on how it "sees" white.

For instance, if a subject is wearing a white shirt, our eyes simply perceive that shirt as white. But if we look a little closer and study it harder, we can see what the camera "sees" and that is subtle color changes based on the lighting.

Some types of lighting cast white so that it actually looks more yellow or golden while other lighting creates a bluish cast. If you want your whites to look white, you will sometimes need to make a compensation adjustment by setting the white balance accordingly.

Digital Photography Basics - Flash

Another thing you should be able to do with an SLR camera is turn the flash on and off according to your preferences. You should also be able to select from different types of flash, such as fill lighting or rear flash, so that you have better control over the intensity and direction of the lighting in your photographs.

Many professionals learn to photograph completely without flash utilizing only natural or continuous lighting sources.

Digital Photography Basics - Exposure Compensation

To be truly beneficial and to allow you to learn as much about the process and concepts behind photography, a DSLR camera should allow you to make incremental adjustments that will allow you to adjust the exposure as needed even in the Auto mode.

Sometimes you'll want to shoot in Auto, perhaps as you're first learning about your camera and how photography works, yet the camera will expose the lighting for one area of your photograph when you need it to set the exposure differently to achieve the effect you desire.

For instance, if you are photographing a person against a bright backlit sky, the camera may expose the image for the brightness of the sky, leaving the person's face in shadow.

But if you want to be able to see the detail in the person's face and you don't want to use flash for lighting or due to getting potential red eyes, you need to be able to adjust the overall exposure.

Use Amy Renfrey's Digital Photography Success Ebook To Master The Digital Photography Basics

When you begin working with a digital SLR camera, you'll discover there is much to learn!

You can simply use the camera on Auto mode most of the time and you'll typically get some pretty darn good photos. But doing this really negates the benefits of having an SLR because you could probably achieve similar results with a less expensive point and shoot model.

To fully appreciate owning a digital SLR camera, you want to learn as much as you can about photography and how your specific camera operates.

Digital Photography Success is an excellent ebook for intermediate photographers. Amateurs who want to take their photography to the next level.

It's 175 pages and 11 chapters of pure digital photography basics, tips and techniques on how to take stunning photographs.

Not only does the author Amy Renfrey show you exactly how to take the best photographs, she also explains to you how digital cameras work and the best digital camera to buy.

Amy is a professional photographer and photography tutor, which makes her a very credible source on the subject. I also like the way she gives customers her email address and lets you contact her for unlimited help and personal support.

Click here to find out more about Digital Photography Success.

She seems to genuinely want to help people improve their digital photography skills and isn't just concerned with selling her book.

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