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How to take better photos?

7 min to read

In this article, you’ll find basic camera settings that an amateur photographer is good to explore in order to make full use of them and take better pictures.

Looking at social networks, we come across unique shots and think to ourselves – I want to take such a picture. Grab my phone or camera and … click. Alas, our expectations are not always justified by the end result. What is the problem? How is it photographed? Isn’t it the same landscape, kind of portrait or food… Why doesn’t it look like the picture I saw ?! Maybe it’s Photoshop! Yes… must be with Photoshop in order to look so good!

I can’t describe to you how many times this scene has played out in my mind and discouraged me. My secret – I still haven’t sat down to learn Photoshop. On the other hand, I sat down to learn a little more about the shooting itself – techniques, tricks, basic principles. Did I learn them? No, because there is always something new to learn and upgrade. Did I learn anything? Yes, photography is an art and like any other, relying on your creativity with no technical knowledge and training is like going to a sports dance competition, but never taking any lessons in your life. At least in my opinion… 🙂

I decided to write this article at the request of my loved ones, who would be happy to read a little more about the basics of photography. (I certainly won’t describe them professionally, but I hope at least it will be useful.)

Aperture. Depth of field. Shutter speed. ISO.

Let’s look at the basic concepts that would change and improve our photos when we learn to adjust them in our favor.

Aperture.

Aperture, f-stop – this can be one of the easiest, but also the most confusing settings. In essence, the aperture expresses how large the ‘hole’ in the lens is through which light enters. The smaller the hole, the less light is allowed, the larger it is, the more light passes through. What often confuses people is the measurement system: the smaller the number, the bigger the hole. Thus f / 1.4 is a larger aperture than f / 4, f / 5.6, f / 8, f / 11 and so on. Lenses with a wide maximum aperture (such as the Sigma 30mm f / 1.4) are considered “fast”, meaning they are able to allow more light for short time.

f 2.8

The aperture is responsible not only for the amount of light that passes through it, but also for the sharpness of the image – how good quality will be what is actually the focus of our photo. Mentioning this, we inevitably move on to the next concept – Depth of field.

Depth of field.

As it turned out, the aperture controls the depth of field (DoF). When the lens is wide open, for example f / 1.4, it will have less DoF than when the same lens is set to f / 11. In short, if you shoot with a small f-stop, you get that blurry effect behind the subject you are on. focused, but if you are shooting a landscape, for example, and you want the whole frame to be in focus, you need to increase the f-stop value.

The opening, or the so-called the aperture directly affects not only the DoF but also the shutter speed.

Shutter speed.

The time the camera’s sensor is exposed to light is the shutter speed. The long shutter speed will create blur when moving subjects. This technique is most often used when capturing landscapes – the water is blurred, traces of car lights turn into light paths.

The short or so-called fast shutter speeds have a stopping effect. Use a shutter speed of 1/2000 of a second and the movement of a car or cyclist will be ‘frozen’ in the photo. The fastest shots are usually taken when shooting sports, wildlife, animals, reports, etc. Here’s how the aperture interacts with the shutter speed: A large f-stop (for example, f / 8, f / 11) will require you to use a longer shutter speed to achieve proper lighting of your frame. Conversely, a lower f-stop will allow you to use a high shutter speed.

These two variables (aperture and shutter speed) are extremely interconnected, you can’t avoid them, so it’s better to know them well so you can control them properly.

Using the shutter should also involve your imagination to create a good image. Think about the final image you want to create. Do you want the motion blur, or do you prefer the photo to be crystal clear? Do you want to stop or convey the feeling of movement? Think, experiment and decide the shutter speed.

ISO.

What is this ?! Simply put, ISO is a measure of the sensitivity of a camera’s digital sensor to light.

Practically how is it applied ?! The lower the number (eg ISO 100), the lower the sensitivity, the higher the number (eg ISO 6400), the more sensitive the sensor. If you are shooting in low light conditions, such as a dimly lit room or a dark evening, the ISO setting of 100 will not be useful and you will need to increase the sensor’s sensitivity to light to capture even a small amount of it. That is, you will need to raise the ISO value.

Something good to know: High ISO values ​​often create digital image noise and it becomes granular. The extent to which high ISO image quality will be affected depends strictly on your camera’s sensor. The trend is that the new cameras allow you to shoot at high ISO without the appearance of ‘noise’ in the photos. But even if it does occur, why not turn the defect into an effect? 🙂

These were the basic concepts and settings, in my opinion, that every amateur photographer should get acquainted with in order to start manipulating his shots and to be able to capture the moments as they imagine them.

Of course, there are many subtleties, many techniques, tricks, and countless photos experience before you achieve the result you want to see in the end. The important thing is to shoot! I hope I have been useful in some way with the information and if there are additional wishes for such articles, I will gladly try to write more about what I have learned about Photography.

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