10 TERMS BEGINNER PHOTOGRAPHERS SHOULD KNOW
When you’re just starting out with any new hobby or interest, there’s always an abundance of information to digest and learn. Photography is no different, and learning your way around the camera is only the start — there’s plenty of technical jargon and t
We picked out 10 terms we think all beginner photographers should know
1. Depth of field
Think of depth of field as an area of focus. Depending on what you’re shooting, within your image there will be a specific area that will appear sharp and in focus. Because this differs for each image, some images will be described as having a shallow depth of field or a deep depth of field. Shallow depths of field refer to images which have a small area of focus, and deep depths of field refer to photos with a large area of focus. There are ways to control the size of your depth of field, and that is by adjusting your aperture and adjusting your focusing distance. Experiment with larger apertures and closer focusing distances to see how they affect your depth of field.
Aperture is most easily remembered when associated with an eye. The cornea of your eye lets in light and then passes it through to your iris, which expands or shrinks, affecting the size of your pupil and therefore controlling the amount of light through to your eye. Your camera lens acts in a similar way — the lens collects light, and the hole in your lens can be made bigger or smaller in order to allow a certain amount of light into your camera — a large hole means a large aperture, and a small hole means a small aperture. Adjusting your aperture will affect the depth of field, so a larger aperture
will create shorter depth of field, so your background will be blurrier, while a smaller aperture will create a bigger depth of field, and your background will be sharper.
Exposure in photography is determined by the aperture, ISO, and shutter speed (known as the exposure triangle), and these three elements combine to determine how light or dark your created image will be. Each of the settings needs to be weighed up in order to make sure they all work together to create a good exposure, so the aperture needs to be set to allow the correct amount of light in, while the shutter speed (also known as exposure time) controls the length of the exposure, and the ISO speed determines the camera’s sensitivity to light — and a note to remember: a lower ISO generally creates less image noise.
ISO determines how sensitive your camera is to incoming light — so a higher ISO means your camera will be more sensitive to light, while a lower ISO means it’ll be less sensitive to light. When your camera is more sensitive to light (i.e. you’ve set a higher ISO), you’ll be able to capture quality images in low-light situations. There is also a base ISO to be aware of, which is generally the lowest ISO of your camera’s sensor that will
create images at the highest quality — this is usually around ISO 100 to ISO 200.
Focus generally describes the level of sharpness in your image — if your image is sharp and clear, it’s in focus; if it’s blurry, it’s out of focus. Focus is heavily reliant on your aperture, as it is dependent on how light rays hit the image sensor. With a smaller aperture, light is travelling through a smaller hole towards the image sensor, so the light rays are more concentrated when they hit the sensor, therefore producing a more infocus image. It’s also possible to experiment with your images, as in many situations, having the foreground in focus and the background slightly out of focus can provide your image with a different, interesting dimension.
You know those images where things look a bit grainy and distorted? That’s image noise. Noise can be caused by a number of factors including shooting at a higher ISO, cameras with smaller sensors, and long exposure times. Although you can make adjustments when you are creating an image to limit image noise, such as shooting at a lower ISO, or using a camera with a larger sensor, you can also utilize software when you’re at the post-processing stage to reduce grain in parts of your image.
7. Rule of thirds
The rule of thirds is a common method of composition when it comes to photography. In many shooting situations, it creates a well-composed, well-balanced image. It involves picturing a grid on your viewfinder that is split into nine parts, or cubes. The theory is that lining up points of interest in your scene with the intersecting lines of the grid will make for a more interesting image. Also, typically with the rule of thirds, your subject will take up just two thirds of the grid, leaving room for interesting backgrounds, and making images less awkward by placing everything in the centre of the image.
8. White balance
There’s nothing quite as disheartening as seeing a scene or subject filled with colour that you’d just love to capture, and then looking at your image later to realize that none of the colours came out as they appeared in real life. This is the reason why white balance is important. Adjusting your white balance will enable you to get colours as accurate as possible. Different cameras have different methods of making these adjustments, however, some have preset white balance settings to use in different shooting situations, such as automatic, settings for indoor shooting, settings for shooting in direct sunlight, plus plenty more. There’s always the manual method, which makes use of white or grey cards that you hold up to your camera in different lighting situations to teach the camera what white actually looks like in that scenario, so it will adjust your settings to get the correct colour.
9. Shutter speed
We’ve mentioned shutter speed earlier, and that it is also known as exposure time. In other words, shutter speed refers to the length of time that your camera’s shutter remains open to allow light into the camera. Altering the length of your shutter speed allows you to create different effects in your imagery, for example, a short shutter speed will freeze action in an image, while a longer shutter speed will create a motion blur. Shutter speeds are measured in fractions of a second, such as 1/250s, but you can have extremely long shutter speeds that will be measured in seconds, or even minutes
If you’ve been shooting in JPEG and have wondered what shooting in RAW means, wonder no longer. RAW files give you more wiggle room when it comes to postproduction of your images, and can take the quality of your shots to a whole other level. A RAW image file has minimally processed data, so you can edit it to completion later on. While you do always aim to get it right in camera, shooting in RAW gives you a better chance of perfecting anything you didn’t quite get right, such as the tone of the image, lighting, shadow removal, and anything else you’d like to adjust.
Of course, there’s still plenty out there for you to learn, but if you’ve got these basics down, you’ll find the world of photography a lot less confusing, and you will have built yourself an excellent knowledge base to expand on as you become more and more experienced. Email email@example.com to let us know any tips you found especially useful while learning.