You’ve spent your hard earned money on your first digital camera or perhaps your first digital SLR and you want to do more than just take photos on automatic. Do you start reading your manual, should you take a course or perhaps buy some digital photography books? The big question is where and how do you get started? I have some great digital photography tips to help you on the road to becoming a real photographer.
Just because you aren’t going down the route of professional photography it doesn’t mean that you can’t take top photos like the pros. Any new piece of technology can be quite daunting to the newbie or amateur, but, not worry as there are a few simple steps that will get you going.
1. Get the feel of your camera
Before you open the manual or read any quick start guides play with the camera. Make sure that it is on automatic and shoot some photos. Get the feel of the camera. How the shutter button feels and how the camera sits in your hand. It’s going to be your photography companion for a while. Most of all get to know the various buttons, NOT what they mean or what their functions are, but where they are situated. Carefully press any buttons and see what happens. The reason you want to familiarise yourself with the camera is that when you read the manual and it refers to a button with a star and moon you will know where it is. Once you know where all the buttons are you will be able to follow the manual.
2. Read your manual
What you need to do is take a highlighter pen and start at the beginning of the manual and highlight all the section or chapter headings that you know and are competent with. Once you’ve done this you can start working through all the un-highlighted sections in order to understand the features or settings mentioned in those chapters. If it gets too technical go on to the next section and once you are familiar with that part of your camera highlight the section in the manual. When you have finished this exercise you will know what you need to get help with or read up about.
This is a logical exercise as you need to start at the beginning of the manual and try the different settings and work out how they affect the final image. Take for example white balance. This has no meaning to a non-photographer as it is something unique to digital and needs to be mastered. Shoot an image then change the various white balance settings and see what happens. Try this on all the different features on your camera. What you want achieve is an understanding of all the buttons, menus and knobs on the camera. Only then will you get creative with your compositions and final images. By understanding your camera’s controls you will understand what effect they will have on your compositions.
Unless an artist or a workman has an intimate knowledge of the tools of their trade they will never rise to a level of competence necessary to be skilled at what they do. You need to get to a level of being able to change settings with your eye glued to the viewfinder of your camera. Operate it in the dark. This may seem weird but photography is all about capturing a moment in a sliver of time and sometimes there just isn’t the time to think before changing a setting. It may seem a big task at first getting to know your camera, but as you learn digital photography it will form the foundation of all great images in your future. Practise makes perfect as the old adage goes so take the time and make the effort to practise. Happy shooting!