Learn the Basics of Photography

by Alex W.

So, I'm assuming you're here because you're interested in learning photography? I went through exactly the same process in the past, and while I found plenty of information that helped enormously there are many things I wished I'd learned sooner. I also spent a lot of time flitting between different websites because nothing had everything I wanted on it. That's why you're reading this now, and hopefully I can start you off on the right path in your photography.

So here it is - Your photographic journey starts right here, and who knows where it may take you?

Basic Photography Equipment

Beginner Learning Photography
Beginner Learning Photography

I'm willing to bet that you've already researched this a bit and many of the articles you've read demand a top of the range DSLR camera with a host of expensive lenses, right? I fell into the same trap. But the truth of the matter is this: All you need is a camera to get started. Any camera, so just pick it up and start.

Obviously if you decide you want to continue on the photography path you'll want an upgrade, but for now that smartphone you carry around all day can do a lot more than many give it credit for!

If you have already decided that photography is for you, check out our various buying guides for cameras and lenses below:

Mirrorless or DSLR - Which Camera System is Best for You?

Best DSLR Cameras for Beginners

Best Mirrorless Cameras for Beginners

5 Must Buy Lenses for your Nikon DSLR

6 Reasons to Start Using Prime Lenses

Camera Buying Guide - Landscape Photography

Lens Buying Guide - Landscape Photography

Now the fear of the gear is out of the way, it's time to move on to the most important part of photography - The exposure.


The most important aspect of every photograph is light. Without light there is no photograph, and as such we need to learn how to use the available light to our advantage. The first thing we need to learn is how to take a correctly exposed photograph.

Exposure is simply a term used to describe the brightness of a photograph. When you press the shutter button on your camera the camera's sensor is exposed to light, subsequently recording the image and displaying it on your screen. Sometimes things can go wrong though.

Have you ever taken a photo and it's turned out completely white or black? I definitely did, and that's simply a case of something going wrong during the exposure. There are only three things that can go wrong here: Shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. This is referred to as the Exposure Triangle .

The Exposure Triangle

Shutter Speed - Every camera has a shutter. It's the mechanism that blocks the digital sensor from light until the moment we decide to press the shutter. The speed with which it opens and closes unsurprisingly effects the amount of light that passes through, therefore affecting the brightness of your photograph. Too fast and not enough light passes and makes your image dark, whereas too slow and too much light hits the sensor and renders some or all of your image completely white.

Aperture - All camera lenses have an aperture inside them, which is a small opening that directs light towards the sensor. On most cameras the aperture can be made wider or narrower, therefore altering the amount of light passing through and effecting the final image's brightness.

You can find out more about apertures and f-stops with our handy F-Stop Chart Infographic.

ISO - The term ISO has it's origins back in the days of film photography, when it was used to describe a certain film's sensitivity to light. Now, it's used in similar circumstances on digital sensors, whereby adjusting the ISO changes how sensitive your sensor is to the light hitting it. A higher ISO means more sensitivity, resulting in a brighter image. However, the higher ISO you use the more digital noise you introduce to the image.

How Does All This Tie Together?

This is something a lot of newcomers to photography struggle with, and it results in a lot of frustrated amateur photographers wondering why their images keep coming out too dark and how they can fix it. I usually find that it's because they were taught in over complicated terms, when in actual fact it's very simple:

If one of your three variables (shutter speed, aperture, or ISO) changes, then in order to keep the same brightness another must change an equal amount in the opposite direction.

Changing just one of your variables alters the brightness of the final image, so if you find that your image is too dark just try changing one of these three things until it's correctly exposed.

The story doesn't end there though. Altering the shutter speed, aperture, and ISO does have other effects besides changing the brightness. Don't worry about that though, we've got that covered in the article below:

The Exposure Triangle Explained

Read More…

So now you've got the basics pinned down on what effects an image's brightness. Now it's time to delve a little further and expand your photographic knowledge. Take a look below, choose your starting point, and have fun!

  1. Best Entry-Level DSLR Cameras
  2. The Exposure Triangle Explained
  3. Getting Out of Autopilot - Shooting in Manual
  4. Ditch the JPEGS - Why You Should Always Shoot RAW
  5. A Starter Guide to Composition

About Alex W.

Alex is the owner and lead writer for Click and Learn Photography. An avid landscape, equine, and pet photographer living and working in the beautiful Lake District, UK, Alex has had his work featured in a number of high profile publications, including the Take a View Landscape Photographer of the Year, Outdoor Photographer of the Year, and Amateur Photographer Magazine.

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