Basic Digital Photography: Tips For Easily Getting The Most From Your Camera

Posted by Gary Ramey on June 14th, 2011
My Take: Repeat this mantra after me, “Aperture, Speed, ISO.” Mia Rose does a good job of explaining all three.

Although technology is constantly advancing, the principles of basic digital photography stay the same, and knowing these fundamentals will help you improve your skills so you will be more satisfied with your photos.

Photographs help us capture moments and freeze them in time. Memories are built on them, scrapbooks are filled with them, and our walls are covered with them. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then the perfect photo can express emotion, convey a thought, and tell an amazing story.

And with the technology available today, it has never been easier to preserve moments through great pictures that will help keep those memories alive. From point-and-shoots to cell phones, everyone can take photos and share them with family or friends, but simply snapping a picture is far different from understanding what it takes to create a stunning photograph.

To become a skilled photographer, you must understand the basics of digital photography and how you can use your equipment to gain the best possible results.

What is Digital Photography?

Basically, a digital camera is like a miniature computer that records images electronically. A sensor within the camera captures incoming light rays from the object you are photographing and breaks them into pixels, which are the individual units that make up the digital image.

Each pixel is a tiny square or dot that represents a unit of the photograph, and when put together, they collectively make up the image you have captured. Since a digital picture is composed of pixels, it is possible to use software to edit images or enhance photos, and then to use these to create such things as cards, posters, or invitations.

What is Exposure?

Exposure is the most important factor is determining the quality of your pictures. Photography is all about light, and exposure refers to the amount of light collected by your camera’s sensor when a picture is taken. If a photo is underexposed the image will be too dark, but if it is overexposed, the picture will be too light. When talking about exposure, there are three main elements to consider:

1. Aperture: This refers to the size of the lens opening that allows the light into the camera. Aperture is measured in units called f/steps.

2. Shutter speed: This refers to the amount of time that the shutter is open, or how long the sensor is exposed to light. Shutter speed is measured in seconds or fractions of a second.

3. ISO speed: This is a measure of your camera’s sensitivity to light.

All three of these factors work together to determine exposure, and since they impact each other, you must consider all three when making changes. To take a good photo, you must know the amount of light necessary to achieve your desired result so you can choose these settings accordingly.

Most cameras have automatic settings, but the photos can often be rather boring, especially if you are looking for something a little more creative. If you know how to control the exposure settings yourself, you can experiment until you learn how to create interesting and intriguing pictures.
What is Aperture?

Aperture is one of the elements in determining how your camera captures light. Basically, it is the hole in the front that allows the light to reach the sensor, and by adjusting the size of this hole you can change the quality of your photos. Aperture actually controls how wide the lens shutter opens, which means it also determines how much light reaches the sensor.

Aperture is also used to control what is referred to as ‘depth of field’, or how much of the picture is in focus. A small aperture means everything in the field will be in focus, whereas a larger aperture will result in the foreground being sharper while the background will be blurred. By learning how to use this setting you can create interesting photos by focusing on everything or drawing attention to one subject by blurring other objects or backgrounds.

What is Shutter Speed?

The shutter is the part of the camera that opens up, allowing light to reach the sensor so a digital image can be recorded. The amount of time that this shutter remains open is referred to as shutter speed. A faster speed means the shutter is open for a shorter time and less light will reach the sensor.

With a slower speed, the opposite applies. Knowing how to adjust the shutter speed and the affect it will have on your pictures is an important part of photography. For example, if you want to capture a moving object or freeze something in motion, a faster shutter speed will result in a sharper image, whereas a slower shutter speed will give you a blurred effect.

What is ISO speed?

ISO speed refers to the sensitivity of your camera’s sensor to incoming light, and you can make adjustments so that you can still take photos in situations where proper exposure would be difficult, such as a dark room or extremely bright sunshine.

By changing the sensitivity, you are less limited and can capture those special moments regardless of lighting conditions. The higher the ISO speed the faster the camera will collect light, therefore you will want to increase the speed when in dimmer light, at dawn or dusk, or when photographing moving objects in extreme lighting. In sun or bright lighting, you will want to lower the ISO speed for better quality photos.

As with anything, the best way to learn is to experiment. Be creative, try new things, and learn how your equipment will respond in certain situations. By understanding basic digital photography, you will be equipped with the knowledge necessary to begin taking great photos that will encapsulate your memories for years to come.

Article Source:

About the Author

Mia Rose is a photographer and the creator of and has been creating stunning photo art for the past ten years. Get hundreds more tips and tricks on basic photography at her Web site.


Leave a Comment