Lesson 2- Know Your Camera

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I start this off with one assumption, that is you already have a camera. It does not matter what make it is (it can be a Canon DSLR or it can be a Polaroid Point & Shoot) as long as its capable of taking photos.

Most digital cameras today have different modes which you can access by turning a dial wheel

A typical Mode Dial on a camera

The most common modes are
  1. Auto - here the camera selects the settings which it thinks is the best. I have seen that most of the people use this setting and while it's definitely less work to take pics using Auto, you will always be constrained by the choices the camera makes on your behalf. 
  2. Night/Beach/Portrait/Sports/Profiles/Etc - these are pre-programmed settings which are designed for different light conditions and different types of subjects. Generally, you can get better results than Auto if you select the correct profile.
  3. Macro Mode - if you want to photograph an object which is very small you need to switch to the macro mode. Macro mode will automatically select aperture settings that will make you focus on objects quite close to the lense so that you can get quite close to the object and snap it up.
  4. Programmed Mode - this is quite similar to Auto mode, but the difference is that you have some control over some of the settings (eg: flash,white balance etc). 
  5. Aperture Control - here you get to select the size of the aperture and the camera selects the rest of the settings. Generally aperture sizes change from f-2.6 to f-22, depending on your camera model you will have a certain range available. We will discuss this in more detail later, but simply put, the aperture controls how much light get in to the camera. Larger f numbers result in a smaller amount of light and vice versa.
  6. Shutter Speed Control - in this mode you control the speed of the shutter. Faster speeds (eg:1/200 s, 1/1000 s) enable you to freeze action  while longer speeds (eg:5 s, 10 s ) give the photo a sense of movement.
  7. Manual Control - this mode gives you the most flexibility. You have access to most of the settings and on most camera models you can change the aperture and the shutter speed independent of each other. Manual mode is the hardest to master but once you master it, it will give you the best results.

So go ahead and experiment with the different settings on your camera. Remember, a camera with its different modes is like a swiss army knife. It can do so many different tasks, but you need to know what each mode is good for.

Man and the Mist

Lesson 1- IMAGINATION, Your Most Important Piece Of Kit.

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The Lonely Crow

"What is the most important thing you need to have, to become a good photographer", I have seen people ask this question so many times, most of the times enthusiastic beginners. And I too
have wondered about this very same question on more than one occasion. What could it be, the camera (maybe you need an expensive camera, one which is bulky and dangerous looking and which shouts "photographer" all the way), maybe its the lenses (surely a 2000 dollar AF/IS zoom lense will make one a better photographer) or maybe its extensive knowledge of photo editing software like Adobe Photoshop or LightRoom. I have seen people who aspire to learn photography start off with buying an expensive camera kit (with add-on lenses and even with an add on flash) and then wondering why the photos they take don't look atleast half as good as those taken by a 3 year old.

But after some time I realized the answer to the question. The most important thing you need to be a good photographer, is something that almost all of us are blessed with naturally. Its IMAGINATION. Yes, that's the one thing that is most important, the one thing that will make you capable of taking breathtaking pictures even with a disposable camera .

The first step should be the ability to imagine a viewfinder in front of you so that you see "a scene" before even taking your camera out. Once you start to see the way a camera will see a scene that means that 50% of the task is over and only the task of getting that scene on to the image remains.

Ofcourse, a good camera and a set of lenses will help, and ofcourse knowing Photoshop will help you spice up your photos (we will talk about both of them in a later lesson), but like a pen to a writer, they are only tools.

So, let your imagination run free and never be afraid to snap up those scenes, you will be surprised by how good they later turn out to be,