5 Elements of Photography That A Beginning Photographer Should Know

“ You don’t take a photograph, you make it.”

Ansel Adams

Someone who is serious about getting into photography shouldn’t jump into the hobby blindly. There are so many technical and stylistic considerations that could cause an unprepared aspiring photographer to drown in all of the terms and options, to the point that he might just end up dropping his photography aspirations altogether.

Fortunately, a careful review of the most important aspects of photography will contribute a lot in preparing a beginner for his new pastime.

Here are 5 elements of photography that a beginning photographer ought to know about photography:

1)   Types of Cameras

film camera

Let us start with two types of cameras a photographer can choose from: the Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) camera and the Film Single Lens Reflex (SLR) camera often referred to as a “film camera”. The real main difference between the two is the method by which they capture their images. The DSLR uses a digital sensor to record its images, while a film camera uses a film sensor.

In the past, film cameras used to be able to capture more detail than DSLRs, but recent advances in technology have now made DSLRs even more powerful than film cameras. Furthermore,

dslr camera

DSLRs are easier to work with in the sense that they allow previews of shots to be viewed instantly, and allow a photographer to take as many pictures as he wants without worrying about the additional costs of doing so. This is a big advantage because with film cameras, the number of shots that can be taken is limited by the amount of film a photographer has. Furthermore, with a film camera, how a shot looks can only be viewed when the film has been developed, which also brings an additional cost.

However, in general, most DSLRs are considerably more expensive than film cameras.

2) Types of Lenses

There are three basic types of lenses, which are used for varied photography purposes.

The first type, standard zoom lenses, are the most common and can be used for general purposes. However, they are not ideal for photography under special conditions, such as in areas with very little light or where the subjects of the shoot are moving quickly.

Wide-angle lenses, on the other hand, are suited for taking photos of large areas, such as landscapes, nature, outdoor scenes, and large groups of people, such as when taking a photo of an entire graduating class.
wide angle lens

The last type, the telephoto lens, is the opposite of the wide angle lens in the sense that it is ideal for capturing an object that is far away and bringing it to close view, making it ideal for photography during sports events and bird photography.

Telephoto Lens

3) Techniques in Manipulation

Exposure, focusing, and flash are three elements of photography that can be manipulated automatically or manually to create different effects in a photograph.

Exposure, which is measured in lux seconds, refers to the amount of light that is allowed to enter the camera for each shot. Basically, exposure must be increased when it’s dark, and decreased when it’s bright. However, with digital photography, it’s better to err on the side of underexposure because overexposure causes the loss of information. This means that an underexposed digital shot is more possibly fixed than an overexposed digital shot.

exposure example

Focusing, on the other hand, refers to the adjustment of the position of a camera’s lenses to reproduce an image and its elements more or less clearly. Adjustments on a camera’s focus can make near objects clear while blurring farther objects, or the opposite effect can also be created with farther objects appearing clear and nearer objects appearing blurred.

Lastly, flash, mainly used to illuminate dark scenes, refers the device that produces artificial light for photography; however, the term “flash” is also used to refer to the light given off by its source. Flash can also be used to capture fast-moving objects or changing the quality of light in photography.

Flash Photography Example

4) Composition in Photography

Composition in photography refers to various elements (such as framing, focal point, and depth of field) that can be manipulated when taking a photograph. Framing refers to the use of objects in a photograph to bring attention to the main subject, the focal point of a picture, which is in turn enhanced through its position, focus, size, shape, or color. The depth of field, on the other hand, refers to the range of distance that appears sharp in a photograph.
Composition Example

5) Lighting in Photography

Lighting in photography, which can affect a picture’s color and clarity, depends largely on the conditions under which the photograph is taken. Shooting in daylight usually means that there is a lot of natural light available, lessening or eliminating the need for artificial light and high exposure levels. In contrast, shooting in low light usually requires greater exposure or the addition of artificial light, while shooting at night necessitates high exposure levels or the use of a strong source of artificial light.
Lighting Example

The best way for a beginning photographer to gain mastery of these 5 elements of photography is by experimenting with them and viewing exemplars in the use of these various elements. Besides, while taking up photography as a hobby may seem daunting, with the right combination of practice, exposure and critique, a beginning photographer can quickly find himself an expert without even noticing the time that has passed as he enjoyed his wonderful new hobby.

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Mark Anthony

Photographer & Media Designer