In light of a discussion on facebook, the subject of what is important when it comes to what one should learn about cameras that’s important to take good photographs. And I would like to share with you reads what I think is the most important things to learn.
1. Aperture. This controlls the sharpness of the depth of the light that fall on the CCD/CMOS-chip or film. Without the knowlegde to control your depth of field, you will not have the creative control to do the most important part in photography, namely eliminating parts that’s not telling your story. A portrait with sharp background will in most cases only be a photo of a person and a background, but with control of apeture, you can creatively blur the background so that the person you’re doing a photo of stand out and the viewers first point of interest will be the person. On the other part, a landscape with narrow depth of field will in best part be a visual capture of your surrounding. This is ok if you’re just shooting snapshots for the familyalbum to show old aunt Edna, but has nothing to do with any serious photography.
2. Shutterspeed. This controlls the motion in your photographs. With shutterspeed you gain the opportunity to either blur the motion or freeze you subject. With no knowlegde og shutterpeed you will not be able to freeze a person jumping mid air or make water blury to give the notion of motion.
These two components is a photographer main tools of trade along with the lens. Everything that’s labled auto on a camera is just put there to ease the job for those of us who have the knowledge of aperture and shutterspeed. For a beginner to have any advantage of using any of auto-programs on offer on d-SLRs today, they need to know what these programs control. A-program sets the shutterspeed automaticly, and let the user set the aperture, but what use does this have when you don’t know what the aperture does. The same goes for S-program. Fully automatic is in my eyes, just those times when you’re dangling at the back of a speeding motorcycle and don’t have the time to think of aperture or shutterspeed.
It’s really a shame that the generation now learning photography is missing out on learning on a fully manual camera like I and countless other before me did. Because that learned us to use the camera in general, not just the make we had, but any camera.
So what shall one do to learn to take good photographs?
You should study composition of the grand masters of the art, both painting and photography, study lighting, and the storytelling. These are what makes up a great picture. Set your camera to manual and turn of the auto-focus. Experiment with different setting on the camera. Get to know what makes a correct exposure. Get to know your way around your in-camera lightmeters. And when you have it in your fingertips, then put your camera on auto.