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Photography Tips for Beginners - Know Your Camera

Updated on December 21, 2016
LuisEGonzalez profile image

I enjoy photography and have been doing so professionally and independently for over 30 years.

This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 France license.
This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 France license. | Source

The photographer can see the subject before taking an image by the mirror. When taking an image the mirror will swing up and light will go to the sensor instead.

  1. Camera lens
  2. Reflex mirror
  3. Focal-plane shutter
  4. Image sensor
  5. Matte focusing screen
  6. Condenser lens
  7. Pentaprism/pentamirror
  8. Viewfinder eyepiece | Source

Photography is an art, no doubt, in most photos the photographer has to plan, and decide how the finished product will look. Therefore some basic photo tips and knowledge of your camera's functions is essential.

I am very particular as to how I want my subject to be represented, I want my subject to be the focus or centerpiece of each of my shots. I most always use the aperture priority setting on my shots(Canon calls it AV) and I most always set the aperture to its widest setting.

Granted, the backgrounds are most often out of focus but this fits my style.

You may decide that you want to include more of the background and that is your choice, what sets you apart from others.

  • By using the widest aperture(smallest number, usually 1.4 or 2) I allow plenty of light to enter the camera, thus more light to reach the film, and I let the camera choose the correct speed.

I normally shoot animals which are not going to sit and pose for me so I need a fast aperture. Others like to have control of shutter speed so they set the speed themselves(Canon calls it TV) and the camera chooses the appropriate aperture.

I also never use the automatic mode since I like to have some control. However if you are learning photography, this may be the setting for you. It is usually denoted as "P" or with a green square (Canon).

There are more settings in your camera that are useful for other particular types of shots: a face for close ups or shots of people/portraits, a running figure for moving subjects, a flower for stills, a mountain for scenes.

  • Another useful mode that is best used once you have mastered your photo techniques and camera know-hows is the "M" for manual which is the choice of most professionals. Here you control the aperture and shutter speed.
  • Other settings are DEP which is the depth of field that you want to allow(Exclusive to Canon) and "B" for bulb, in which you allow the camera aperture to remain open for as long as you depress the shutter button. Very useful for night photography such as for fireworks, lighting strikes etc.

You should also research any lens that you are going to buy, longer lenses (200m and above) have a limit in the aperture that can be used for them, and if you use extenders(they look like lenses and give you 1.4 X or 2x more reach) limit the aperture that can be used with your primary lens(the lens to which you attach the extender).

I have been using Canon for well over 20 years. It was not the first camera that I owned, in fact it was a Minolta, but with a fixed lens. I soon wanted to experiment, so I bought a Canon. It has now become my staple.

The choice of lens is large and I can always find adapters, parts, used lenses, but above all , Canon lenses easily interchange with all Canon cameras. I currently use my film lenses on my digital body, they work great.

However, Nikon makes excellent systems as well, and the sames attributes mentioned for Canon hold true for Nikon. Which one to choose is completely up to you and your style of photography.

CC0 1.0
CC0 1.0 | Source

For further reading

Several books have been written about photography which I have found to be good and which can offer advice on everything dealing with photography: John Edgecoes-Photography Basics- Sterling Press 1993, Daniel Lezano-The Photography Bible- David & Charles 2006, Moose Peterson-Wildlife Photography -Lark Books 2003,Alisa Mc Whinnie/ Philia Andrews-Photography: A Practical Guide- Carlton's Books 2004, John Freeman-The Photographer's Manual -Hermes House 2004, John Shaws-Business of Nature Photography- Amphoto Books 1996, and Reader's Digest/Alisa Mc Whinnie-Complete Photography Manual- Carlton's Books 2000.

Any of these amongst many other can be very useful in maximizing your photography knowledge as are many of today's photography magazines.

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© 2011 Luis E Gonzalez


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    • LuisEGonzalez profile imageAUTHOR

      Luis E Gonzalez 

      8 years ago from Miami, Florida

      You got it.The wider the aperture, the more light that is allowed to reach the film, but the less background detail that will show on the photo.

      Thanks, glad to help

    • WhiteOak profile image

      Eva Thomas 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      I learned something interesting just yesterday about setting my aperture. Where I had it set at 14 I closed it down to 11 to get a clearer close up shot of some of the flowers I was taking pictures of. So if I am understanding this right, the wider I have my aperture set, the more light comes for a crisper photo? I like my photos to have that faded background look also.

      Good tips, thanks!!

    • MikeNV profile image


      9 years ago from Henderson, NV

      While the fundamentals of exposure has not changed with the new Digital Cameras the ability for software to appropriately check exposure is a huge benefit to the average shooter. There is just so much more to digital photography than film. Cameras are now evaluating the entire frame and can compare it to programmed modes based on the desired outcome. So for newbies it's probably best to choose a program mode and let the camera do it's magic.

      When you completely open up a lens or close down a lens you are working on the fringes of it's ability. Most lenses perform best in between the extremes. I've been shooting since 1981 and own a dozen cameras. Honestly I seldom use any of the program modes on anything but my point and shoot. In someways all the new features are a burden and in the way most of the time. But there are those times when speed is important that I will let the camera do it's job and just pick the exposure for me. With high speed exposure bracketing it's and the near zero cost of shooting multiple images it just doesn't make sense not too. Back in the day of $3 film and $8 processing it mattered. But in today's climate you can fire off 200 shots and not worry if only 10 of them are good because it's not costing you much.


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