Photography Basics

You have a choice: Take photographs using your camera's fully automatic-mode OR do things yourself and get the kind of photographs you want.

Even if you are only using a smartphone, there are apps out there that can give you at least some measure of control.


Photography is NOT hard to learn.

We just need to understand some basic principles and apply them. Over and over, and over again.

Auto-mode can take a good photograph, no doubt about that, but it probably won't be the BEST IMAGE we can get. Look at this example. Here are 15 images, all visually different from each other in how the water looks. Go back and forth between them, which do you like best?

For whatever reason, out of all those images, only ONE will look the absolute best to us, and there's only a 1-in-15 chance our camera's auto-mode will pick THAT image for us.

The camera's computer tries to compensate for any potential camera shake so we won't get any blurry pictures. That usually means a nice short-exposure.

I prefer the long-exposure.

I like that soft "angel-hair" effect when photographing a waterfall. With flowing water, reflected light can give off an explosion of colors. 

That's why people get into photography. To get the best image possible, the one that matches what they are picturing in their mind's eye.


A photograph is a combination of 3 very distinct properties:

1) There is the ISO, which refers to the SENSITIVITY of light being recorded by our digital sensor or analog film. We can have a little sensitivity or a whole lot of it.

2) The Shutter-Speed represents the amount of TIME our sensor/film is being exposed to the light. A light-proof curtain opens and closes again, so if ANYTHING moves between that time, it will blur, giving a nice visual effect.

3) Aperture is a THROTTLE, controlling the amount of light being passed through a lens. A side-effect of which can also provide a visual effect by limiting the area of focus (portraits).


That's what photography is.

Using a camera to capture light and using these 3 properties to get us the best image possible.

No one is born knowing this stuff.

We slowly learn what each of these properties do, to the point that they become second-nature to us. It's not hard, but it does take time and practice.

Sure, you'll make mistakes, we all did and we all still do. Just learn from them and move on to your next photograph...

"Which of my photographs is my favorite? The one I'm going to take tomorrow."

Imogen Cunningham

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