If you're here then you already own a SLR camera and are ready to learn the basics to creating timeless images and using that expensive piece of equipment as more than just a point and shoot camera. Let's dive into the essentials and learn how to turn our camera off auto and into manual mode.
One of the most crucial points to capturing incredible, timeless photos is the ability to completely control your camera by switching the dial to manual mode. In auto, aperture priority, shutter priority or any other not manual mode your camera does it's best as a piece of equipment to asses a certain lighting scenario to create a perfect exposure. In reality having the capability and knowledge to change your settings in a way that creates the final look that you would like to achieve is only able to happen in manual mode. Switching to manual may be scary but once you get the hang of the style images you are trying to create it becomes a breeze to know what factors change and create different types of images. The main factors we will hit on are focus, light, exposure, shutter speed, aperture, ISO, metering and white balance.
There are two main types of focus, manual and auto. In manual focus the lens is manually shifted by the photographer. In auto focus the lens shifts automatically by the power invested in the camera with the push of the shutter button. Diving deeper into focus we can look at the difference of composing the image through the view finder and then clicking the shutter to the take the picture to focus and recompose. Focus and recompose means you hold the shutter half way and allow the camera to focus on your point then shift your composition click the shutter the rest of the way to capture the image. This is a great start to learning focus. I prefer auto focus with full control over the focus grid. Meaning, I use my camera settings to adjust my main focal point for every image that I capture.
Focus tip: Your camera will automatically want to focus on two main things, what has the most contrast and what is closest to the camera, or a combination of the two. That is why fully auto focus will leave you with no control over what the camera chooses to focus on.
True story, auto-focus days, imagine a gorgeous model with bright blue eyes that the camera just can't focus on because said model was also well endowed and her chest being closer to the camera with contrast between skin and dress made a "better" focus point for the camera brain. Leaving a great majority of the images with her face out of focus. I'm telling this super embarrassing story because nailing focus is one of the key properties to take your photography to the next level and being the master of your craft.
Something to keep in mind is that your camera determines how many focus points you have. Introductory cameras may have 9 points while more professional cameras may have 64.
I could go on and on about light, and I will further below, but for now I want to hit on the key point, that nothing beats natural, soft light. Every image can be made or broken by the light choices and available when that shutter clicks. Good, clean light is key to creating a light and bright image. If you're looking for dark, moody, muddy and grainy images that can be found in most poor lighting situations. Natural soft light can best be described as open shade or light from a window. Not all shades are created equal, my favorite shade to photograph in is open shade where my subject is close to the edge of the shade and the light and when I look up I can see the sky. Bonus, a white natural wall reflector or path is casting more gorgeous light on my subject. In the next section I will talk more about In-Direct and Direct sun and why I decide what light to photograph in.
Indoor lighting tip: Turn off the overhead lights! They cast yellow colors and overhead shadows (bags under eyes) on faces and can make editing a nightmare. Instead look for the biggest window and find where the "hot" light falls off. That is where you want to photograph a subject. A person I may have looking at the window light or 45% to the window so there are not as many harsh shadows on half the face. An object I will photograph at 90% from window light so I can capture gorgeous, dramatic shadows.
Exposure forms a triangle, called the exposure triangle, it is made up of three points - shutter speed, aperture and ISO. Whenever one of these settings is changed the whole exposure triangle shifts. Either shifting closer to perfect exposure or further away. When you put the view finder piece to your eye and peer through to compose your image you should see a little bar (image below) that shows where your exposure is falling on the scale. I prefer to capture my images at one stop above perfect exposure and then create my brighter style in post-processing so I can keep many of the highlights without blowing them out. Exposure is very important because images that are too over-exposed will blow out the highlights and even mid tones if it is excessive causing any of that information to not be retrievable. An example, a white building with texture over exposed will turn into a glowing white block. The opposite, under-exposing, can cause an image to lose all information in the shadows or mid tones. An example, an under exposed image can make eyes look like shark eyes (we'll touch on this later) but essentially lose all detail in the eyes and any shadows not able to be brought back or lightened in post because the image has lost all information in that area. The term for evaluation your lighting scenario for exposure is called metering and there are three different ways a camera can meter that we will touch on the metering section.
Shutter Speed info
One thing to not about poor light inside is that if you up your ISO too high your images will be grainy. The amount of grain depends on camera but all cameras have a grainy point
lighting - a deeper look
RULE OF THIRDS
RULE OF THIRDS