February Photo Tips; Beginner Basics

February 10, 2019  •  Leave a Comment

Digital Beginner Photography


Exposure Modes: Exposure modes are the different options of shooting in digital cameras. They are the options on the control dial of your camera. 

  • “Green Mode” is the fully automatic mode. You cannot make adjustments even if you want to.
  • “Scene Modes” based on the subject matter (portrait, landscape, sport, etc) the camera will pick an appropriate exposure setting optimized for that scene. It is still fully automatic.
  • Program Mode (“P”) camera picks proper exposure-you can choose ISO and White Balance.
  • Aperture Priority (“A” or “AV”) you set the aperture and the camera will determine the appropriate shutter speed and ISO. 
  • Shutter Priority (“S” or “TV”) will allow you to choose your desired shutter speed while the camera handles the aperture and ISO. 
  • Manual (“M”) You are responsible for all settings in this mode. 


What format are you shooting in, JPEG or RAW?

  • Jpeg files are smaller, readable on any computer/ phone and are processed by your camera to add sharpness, color, etc.
  • RAW files are much larger as they contain the maximum amount of information, but require a software like Photoshop, Lightroom or Picassa to read them, and are unedited, meaning you HAVE to edit them in post production.
  • If you are not ready to upgrade to RAW files, make sure you are shooting in the largest JPEG format your camera can allow.


Editing programs: You may already have on your computer that are user friendly and help you organize as well as edit are iPhoto on a Mac, Windows Photo Viewer or Picasa; a free download and can be used for Mac or PC. Every camera generally will come with its own image-editing program but these are not widely used or maintained. The state of the art programs for image editing are Adobe Photoshop Elements or Adobe Photoshop, and Adobe Lightroom.


Lenses and Focal Lengths: Here's a quick guide for what lenses to choose and when:

  • 8-15mm: Extreme Wide Angle, also known as Fisheye; These lenses are great for creative image. Warning, the closer you are to your subject, the more distorted it will appear!
  • 15-24mm: Wide Angle; Meant for landscapes and cityscapes, wide angle lenses can capture vast subjects.
  • 35-85mm: Portrait Lenses; Usually prime lenses, or lenses that only have one focal length (35mm, 50mm or 85mm) they tend to have very large apertures. Perfect for not distorting your subject and creating a beautifully blurred background.
  • 100-600mm: Telephoto; Great for wildlife, sports or any far away subjects due to their ability to zoom in. You may notice that these lenses wont allow you to focus on a subject closer than 3-7 feet away from you.


Polarizing filters: Though technically an accessory, Polarizing filters are a must have for outdoor shooters! The best option is the circular polarizing filter; 2 pieces of glass, that when rotated, help to darken blue skies, saturate colors and reduce glare on reflective surfaces. These inexpensive filter can be one of the most effective accessories! Try your circular polarizer on all subjects shot outdoors.
First image w/out polarizer, second image w/ polarizer. (No additional filters or post processing!) This is a must-have accessory for landscape and wildlife shooters as well as anyone who shoots outdoors! NFPG_19NFPG_19


White Balance: White balance is how the camera sees and interprets color of light. All light sources have a different color temperature. This temperature scale is call Kelvin Temperature. White balance has nothing to do with exposure, or how bright/ dark you image is, it refers to if you image is looking too yellow or blue, etc. Cameras can be set to “Auto White Balance" in which the camera will interpret the light and take the exposure as an estimate of color temperature. AWB tends to be too cool or blue in most situations. All cameras have WB settings for; daylight, shade, incandescent, fluorescent and you can choose one based on your lighting situation. Alternatively, you can create an ‘in camera’ Custom White Balance for the most accurate color rendition. Whit balance is especially important for capturing accurate skin tones. 



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