Learning photography starts with knowing the gadget with which you can freeze and capture that moment in time—your camera. But before that, you have to understand the fundamentals of photography; aspects such as focal length, shutter speed, aperture, ISO, etc. Wikipedia is one of the best resources to learn about these terminologies. Knowing what they mean will give you a better understanding of exposure control, and will allow you to move away from the basic Auto mode and scene presets in favor of Program and Manual modes with which you can get more creative.
After you’ve got your basics clear or if you’re already a level up from a beginner, move on to learning the art of composition and framing subjects. It’s the composition that makes photos stand out. If composed well, even a photo taken with a simple point-and-shoot camera can look outstanding.
Composition is a vast subject and can’t be learnt in a day; it’s an on-going process that you have to keep developing and improving. Websites like ‘www.digital-photographyschool.com’ and ‘www.all-things-photography.com’ have excellent articles and tips on photography techniques and composition. You’ll find articles on how to photograph fi reworks, waterfalls, beaches, children, pets, water drops, silhouettes, etc. with examples. There are also some specifi c topics such as how to photograph a spider’s web, mushrooms and subjects in candle light. These aren’t rules that you have to follow, but some useful tips from experts that will help you capture better photos.
Black and white, food, wildlife, wedding, sports, interiors and glamour are some of the vast areas of photography that you can pursue as a career. There aren’t many dedicated websites that will give you a detailed insight into these subjects, but you can fi nd articles on these subjects on various websites. For example, an article on wedding photography at ‘www.digitalphotography-school.com’ talks about the equipment required, the most precious moments during the wedding, checklist of what you need to arrange for, etc. But on a broader level, you need to learn about flashguns and lighting, lenses suitable for wedding photography, customs and traditions of various religions, wedding rituals, studying the venue, black and white conversion, photo retouching, and soon. We suggest you join a reputed institute, read books and train under a professional to hone your skills. If you’re an amateur looking out for a good online resource, you can take up online courses at websites such as ‘www.schoolofphotography.com’ and ‘www.betterphoto.com’, which have excellent lessons on diverse subjects.
Online Web albums like Picasa and Flickr are excellent platforms for showcasing your talent. Put up your best work on these websites and post your images to groups that interest you. Make sure you copyright and watermark your photos and add as many tags as possible to describe your photo. This will increase the probability of people coming across your photos when they use search engines. You’ll fi nd people appreciating your work by the number of votes and comments your photos get. The search tool on Flickr and Picasa can also be a good resource to improve your composition. For instance, you can search for ‘bird in flight’ and see what kind of photos others have shot and find out the exposure settings they have utlized.
Some photos come out great and can be used as is straight off the camera, but certain photos have to be cropped and enhanced so that the colors and details stand out. You may want to remove blemishes from the skin, make teeth appear whiter, or make skin appear smoother. You don’t need to be a Photoshop guru, but you should have basic skills and know-how to use Adobe Photoshop Lightroom or Apple Aperture for enhancing photos and managing digital assets. Lightroom is a very powerful tool for photographers and it doesn’t take too long to master. ‘www.lightroomkillertips.com’ has some very good tips and articles, and is a great site for both beginners and advanced Lightroom users. Photography is an expensive hobby, and if you’re planning to take it up as a profession, the initial investment is high. DSLR cameras, lenses, fl ash guns and studio lighting equipment don’t come cheap. If you’re a hobbyist or an amateur, you can start off with a basic model like the Canon EOS 1000D or Nikon D3100 and invest in a decent zoom lens with image stabilization (55-250 mm), but if you’re planning to invest in high-end cameras, lenses or flashguns, read detailed reviews on websites like ‘www.dpreview.com’ or ‘www.kenrockwell.com’ before buying anything. DPReview has very good comparisons and buying guides, which are good references for all types of users. We all see things from a different perspective and there’s a unique artist in each one of us. Keep enhancing your skills, develop your own style and you’ll soon get there.