If you’re still new to photography, you might be asking yourself quite often what kind of technical and artistic skills you need to develop first.
Even though the road to excellent photography is long and unpredictable, there are a couple of skills that can help you understand what lies beneath the magic of many gorgeous photographs. Once you understand these skills thoroughly, you can start applying them to your own photography and keep learning additional tips and tricks.
In order to start taking great photos, you should take some time to learn and understand the rules of correct exposure, depth of field and composition.
1. Conquer Exposure
What is exposure? The simplest way to explain it is that exposure is the amount of light which reaches your camera sensor. How bright or dark your pictures appear depends on exposure.
Once you have a solid understanding of aperture, shutter speed and ISO, you need to put these three factors together and learn how to combine them in order to create a perfect exposure. How light or how dark you want your images to be is up to you because photography is not exactly like mathematics.
The decisions you make regarding exposure can’t absolutely right or wrong – it’s more about understanding the aesthetic potential of a certain scene. However, you certainly need to know how to adjust your settings to get the specific exposure you’re looking for.
2. Master Depth of Field
Depth of field is another crucial factor in photography that any newbie should understand from the very beginning. DOF is the zone of acceptable sharpness within a photo that will appear in focus.
To make it more clear, it is the distance between the nearest and farthest in-focus parts of an image.
Depth of field is one of those things that seems simple when you start learning about it, but it gets more complex the more you learn about it.
However, even the basic level of knowledge about depth of field can improve photos tremendously.
There are a few parameters to have in mind when setting the depth of field, and these are focal length, subject to background distance and camera to subject distance.
A certain combination of these factors will result in the depth of field that you want. It is also important to take into account what kind of subject you shoot (landscapes or portraits) and what kind of lenses you have (primes or zooms) in order to understand what are your options and limitations when it comes to DOF.
3. Learn Composition
Composition is a large and broad topic that is not related only to photography, but to visual arts in general. It is about the proper and impactful arrangement of various visual elements. Composition is a broader term than perspective because it includes many additional factors such as the general organization of lights, lines, shapes, colors, textures, patterns, frames and movements. There are no great photographs without excellent compositions.
There are a few well-known rules of composition as well as the terminology that every photographer has heard about at some point, such as the rule of thirds, negative space, balance or visual paths.
These are actually more guidelines than rules because they can help you organize elements in your frame better, but you don’t have to stick to them blindly. Being able to create something that is truly interesting is far more important than simply following the rules.
For instance, you can follow the rule of thirds by placing your subject along one of those thirds lines, but if you feel that such composition is not enhancing your photographic idea in any way, you could intentionally break this rule. This means that you can put your subject in the dead centre of the frame to highlight the symmetry of your scene or place it close to the edge of the frame to enhance the idea of movement or negative space.
The sense of composition is something you can spontaneously develop. The more you shoot, the better your compositions will be.
If you want to up your game as a photographer, these three rules are an excellent material to start from. Even though every photography enthusiast is different in terms of learning skills, these basic rules can be understood in a relatively short period of time. Why not think about them whenever you grab your camera and improve your skills bit by bit every day?
Also, if you want to learn all of the fundamentals of composition, you should consider Photzy's Advanced Composition guide.