In almost every industry there is a need to capture records and moments. Are you interested in taking better pictures or becoming a serious photographer? There are things you want to understand before you get too serious. The fundamentals of photography aren't just mere rules, but are foundations which determine how your photos will turn out.
Photography is the process of making pictures by using light. Light is one of the most important aspects of this art, because it determines color, brightness and shutter speed. The distance from the lens to the focal point is called the focal length. These lengths are measured in millimeters and will help in your choice of lens in the future. Longer focal lengths allow greater magnifications. If you want to take a picture of an object that is 40 feet away then you will need a large focal length. 50mm lenses see things normally and can be considered the view from your eyes. If the focal length is above 50mm it is known as a telephoto lens, while a focal length less than 50mm is a wide angle lens.
Focal length divided by the diameter of the aperture is called an F stop. This has an impact on how much light reaches your negative. If you are dealing with digital then you won't have a negative, but the same rules apply here. F stops range from 1.4 -22 and vary on cameras. The cameras that offer the highest ranges offer more flexibility and options. These are usually pro models. Lower numbers have wider apertures and produce more light.
Shutter speeds are the length of the exposure or how long the shutter stays open. Once again this is a very important part of how light will be recorded. Shorter shutter speeds are needed for photos taken in bright sunlight, while longer shutter speeds are needed for night photos. Shutter speeds usually can be kept at around 1/250 of a second and will need to be adjusted accordingly. When deciding to take night photos you will need a tripod. Tripods are made in different sizes and vary in quality. A very sturdy tripod will be needed that can support your camera.
The resolution is digital cameras is measured in pixels. Although not found on film cameras, there is no need to worry because the image quality will be the same or greater. Digital cameras can be found with at least 12 megapixels today, but pixels that high would be on Pro models. Never buy a camera based on its pixel count, because that isn't the deciding factor on the quality. Quality is determined by lens, sensor size, pixel count and quality of the camera itself.
Understanding these basic fundamentals will allow you to make better choices when taking photos in the future. When in doubt simply turn on your camera and take many pictures. Practice may not make perfect, but in photography the time you put into it will show. Just remember that when there isn't enough light adjust your camera, which is the rule of thumb.
Michael Russell Your Independent guide to Photography
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