Do you want your images to look more professional? Or at least, good enough to post on Facebook, or to illustrate an article? Maybe even win a photo competition? Would you like to impress your friends, or yourself? Feel good about your photography? Record your relationships or your travels.
If so, you’ll need to do something new; something different, to improve your photography and camera craft. Einstein is famous for his definition of insanity: ‘doing the same thing, over and over again, and expecting different results.’
Firstly, a definition of photography will help you to see the big picture. What is photography? Essentially, photography is an art form. The Greek words, photos and graphos literally mean ‘to paint with light’. So, if you take photos, then you are a bonafide artiste!
As Pablo Picasso remarked, “all children are artists. The challenge is to keep them artists once they grow up.”
It is also worth mentioning that light is the essential element needed to create a photograph. A basic understanding of lighting direction and quality will improve your image making.
This book covers eight different topics, covering both the artistic and the technical aspects of photography. The aim is to inspire and educate you, an amateur photographer looking to improve your work. While not comprehensive, there’s enough here to give you a solid introduction, so you have a broader understanding of the topic.
Remember to check out the Appendices at the back, where Hot Pixels Photography has a lot more for you, from free eBooks to video training.
Let’s get started…
The Technical Side of Photography
A wise photographer recently remarked that ‘the best camera is the one that’s with you’.
The camera is merely a tool – the better you understand your camera, the better your photos
will be. Plus, there are other aspects of photography you can learn that will improve your craft. You need to understand how to compose a good photo, how light affects your subject, and how to plan for a shoot. Not to mention post-processing your digital negatives on computer software.
Having said that, there are basically five types of camera readily available on today’s market:
1) Phone camera.
Now universal on every smartphone, the phone camera is making everybody, everywhere aphotographer. The lack of functionality and tiny lens are obvious drawbacks, but having a camera on your person 24/7 is a real game-changer.
2) Compact (point-and-shoot) camera.
This is your standard, run-of-the-mill camera; lighter, cheaper and readily available. The disadvantages are inferior image and build quality, and often the absence of a view-finder. For instance, relying solely on the LCD screen for focussing and framing becomes tricky in strong sunlight. You can find some best lens for canon 80D.
3) Micro Four Thirds (MFT) camera. These are larger and heavier than most compacts, having exchangeable lenses, electronic viewfinders and come with a higher price tag. However, in comparison to DSLRs, the MFTs have inferior image quality, relatively poor ergonomics and are not necessarily more affordable. The ‘Four Thirds’ refers to both the size of the image and the aspect ratio of the sensor, which is 4:3. An example is the Panasonic Lumix series.
4) Bridge camera.
These usually look like a consumer DSLR, with full manual controls, but have a fixed superzoom lens, which offers huge magnification. Examples of Bridge cameras include the Canon Powershot and Fujifilm Finepix. Avoid models without a high quality viewfinder or a decent aperture range.
5) DSLR (digital single lens reflex). Wikipedia has a great description of the DSLR:
‘With the reflex design scheme, light travels through the lens, then to a mirror that alternates to send the image to either the viewfinder or the image sensor. The alternative would be
to have a viewfinder with its own lens, hence the term ‘single lens’ for this design. By using only one lens, the viewfinder presents an image that will not perceptibly differ from what is captured by the camera sensor.’
Basically, this means that what you see, you get (WYSIWYG). DSLRs have a wider aperture control, interchangeable lenses to give a wider angle of view, and large sensors for optimum quality. While heavier, build quality is more solid and handling is better. The top manufacturers are Canon, Nikon and Sony.
If you’re not a professional, and do not need the megapixel count, then carrying a bulky DSLR could prove burdensome. Conversely, compact cameras are cheaper, more portable and sport many useful functions that the pro models don’t, (e.g. a built-in flash). Once you’ve mastered the basics, that’s when upgrading to better equipment will make a significant difference.
The old adage ‘you get what you pay for’ is most certainly true of lens quality. A cheap camera with a fixed lens will not produce pin-sharp images. If you’re lucky enough to own a DSLR (or MFT camera), you can mount a range of different lenses onto the camera body. Each lens has a focal length – this is how much you can zoom into – or out of – a scene.
There are two types of lens. You can buy a prime lens, which has a fixed focal length. These have few moving parts, therefore are cheaper and produce sharper image quality. The downside is that you’ll need to buy a range of prime lenses.
Alternatively, you can buy a zoom lens, which has a varied focal length, giving you more options in framing your subject matter. DSLR cameras usually come bundled with a kit lens, often an i8~55mm tele-zoom. You can try some best slow motion camera with us.
These are the most common types of lens variations:
1) Wide Angle Lens
For landscape photography, the pros
use wide-angle lenses. These range
from io-4omm focal lengths, and are essential for landscapers to capture big panoramas full of foreground detail. They also produce sharper results. An example is Canon’s i7-4omm lens. However, their extreme angle of view distorts buildings and people.
2) Nifty Fifty / 50mm Prime Lens With an angle-of-view matching the human eye, these lenses offer little distortion. Being a prime lens, with few moving parts, they are cheaper and produce sharper image quality.
3) Telephoto Lens
The other common lens is the ubiquitous tele-zoom, which is what’s bundled with entry-level DSLRs, usually an i8~55mm lens. Many portrait and wedding photographers use a zoom lens with a focal length around 70-200mm. Pro sports and wildlife photographers pay big money for long lens that zooms in to 400mm …or beyond.
Telephoto lenses are great for shooting details in the landscape, such as abstracts or wildlife, and are also useful for compressing the perspective of a scene. With wide open apertures
such as f/2 or f/4, a very narrow depth of field can be achieved; perfect for blurring the background of a portrait. A setting of 85mm is considered by many the optimum focal length for compressing facial features in a really flattering way.
Types of DSLRs
There are two types of DSLR cameras, which affect the focal length of their lenses:
Consumer DSLRs have smaller bodies, and therefore smaller image sensors. Named APS-C, or Crop Sensors, the resulting images are cropped smaller. The outside edges of the photo are cut off, creating an artificial zoom effect. The exact ‘crop factor’ varies with each model, but it is usually between 1.5X and 1.6X.
But is this crop factor a bad thing? Not necessarily. It depends on what genre of photography you enjoy. If you shoot animals, people, flowers or sports, then it could be a bonus, as you can zoom in closer!
If you are serious about landscapes or shoot indoors, then yes. Your 28mm
lens will effectively be 42mm – not wide enough to capture the big picture. You would need to purchase a super-wide-angle lens, (e.g. io-2omm) for this purpose.
The second type is the pro-level, full-frame DSLR, where nothing is cropped, because the image sensor is same size as 35mm film. With a 50mm lens, you get a 50mm focal length; there is no crop factor. Simple.