Whether you are an amateur or professional photographer, composition is what brings your image altogether. There’s no need and worrying about your gear if you don’t understand the concept of composition. A better understanding of composition can take your photo from being a simple snapshot to a work of art.

There are some basic concepts you need to understand to help you with your composition. As you photograph more, the concepts will become second nature to you. You will simply shoot a quality photo without even thinking about composition.

You can boost the interest level of your photograph by changing around the composition. Many people struggle with knowing when to use which warmer composition, though. There are other compositions that are overused because the possibilities are unknown. One of the most overused composition rules is the rule of thirds.

The rule of thirds is a concept where you break up the photo into nine equal sections. The main subject of your photo and fall on one of the lines that makes up the grid. To properly use the rule of thirds, though, you need to keep in mind your content and style. Does the rule of thirds help you portray your message? If not, don’t use it.

In fact, considering the concept you want to portray should guide your composition. The composition is how you arrange each of the visual elements within your image. How do they relate to one another? If you simply change your physical location and perspective, everything about your photo changes.

There are many other composition concepts, such as using lead lines and triangles in photos. The best way to learn more about the different concepts is by trying them out. What about photo draws your eye to a specific spot? Is the photo giving you a certain feeling? If so, why? It likely has a lot to do with the composition of the photo.

If you have ever investigated buying a new lens for your camera, you have likely entertained the concept of the focal length. The focal length is what tells you how close should be to the subject you are capturing for the best result. In other words, it’s how much zoom you need for your photos. The higher your focal length number, the more you will be zoomed in.

Many tend to think that the focal length is the measurement from the front or back of the lens. It is actually the distance between the sensor in your camera to the point of convergence in your lens. When an object is farther away, if you require longer focal length. If the object you are photographing is directly in front of you, you use a smaller focal length.

When it is time to purchase a new lens, knowing the lenses focal length in relation to your camera is imperative. In this article, we will discuss the importance of focal length and what you need to look for when purchasing a new lens.

In relation to lenses, there are two possibilities. You can use a prime lens with a fixed focal length or a zoom lens with a variable focal length. Those with a fixed focal length will typically have a wider aperture and are sharper, best for conditions with low light. A zoom lens will allow you to photograph a wide range of subjects at different lengths. Using a single zoom lens will also make things easier when it comes to changing your lens to adjust for a different type of photograph. Your best bet is to have a mixture of prime and zoom lenses for versatility.

When purchasing a new lens, keep in mind what you will be primarily shooting with that lens. Understanding the pros and cons of each type of lens will help you determine what will work best for you.

If you’re trying to take your photography to another level by making your images see more interesting and powerful, one tool you need to have in your toolbox is the understanding of depth of field. The depth of field is easy to understand as a concept and simple to use. In fact, even a novice photographer can begin using depth of field immediately. It’s likely you have been using depth of field in your photography already without realizing it.

Perhaps you are wondering what depth of field actually is. Well, in the most basic sense, it simply refers to how much of your scene is in focus.

Imagine yourself out in nature wanting to photograph a gorgeous landscape. You want your photograph to encompass the entire scene. To do so, you will want your depth of field to the so both your foreground and background will be in focus.

Now, imagine yourself walking around a busy city. You are wanting to capture individual pictures of the animals around you without the background to distract from your subject. To do this, you will want to use a shallow depth of field. That will allow your foreground to be in focus while the background is blurry. You won’t be capturing the bystanders, cars, and lawn sprinklers that will simply distract from your photo.

The depth of field is indicated on your camera by the f-stop or aperture. You should have a basic understanding of aperture now that we have discussed in an earlier article. When you use a wide aperture, the depth of field is shallow. Using a more narrow aperture, the depth of field is deeper.

When you are using a small depth of field, your focus area will be smaller. That focal point can be anywhere within your image. You can choose to have your focal point in the foreground, middle ground, or background. When using a small aperture, you can get as detailed as taking a photo where your subject’s eyes are focused but their ears and nose are blurry.

Try playing around with your aperture on your camera to see how adjusting it affects your photos.

White balance is a topic that doesn’t get a lot of attention in photography. Years ago, the film purchased for your camera controlled the white balance. You would simply purchase the film based on what you plan to photograph and how the lighting would be. These days, the white balance is controlled in digital photography through your camera’s settings.

The way the human eye color differs greatly from how it is decoded by our digital devices. Even individual digital devices interpret color differently. That can create a situation where your final images look much different when printed. There is a way to get the correct color, though, known as color management. To properly manage color, there are several things you must learn to work with such as your monitor calibration, the postproduction software you use, and your camera settings.

All forms of white have a color. Each color has a temperature. Different temperatures of light create different hues within your image. The Kelvin scale measures the color temperature scale of light. When looking at the lower end of the scale, you have more reds and yellows at around 2000 to 4000 Kelvin. When you get close to 5500 Kelvin, everything becomes brighter, sort of like the light you see on a sunny day at noon. As the Kelvin increases, everything becomes bluer.

Every camera comes with a sensor that will determine the color of the light. This is typically done with the AWB, or auto white balance, setting that sets the sensor to the correct white balance on the camera. The AWB sensor tends to be quite accurate but can be fooled when presented with a large single color, such as a child wearing a bright red outfit. In that case, the sensor may be fooled into seeing the image as redder than it truly is an overcompensate by adding more blue to the image.

The white balance is generally managed through the camera itself, it is important to understand the basics of white balance so you can manually adjust when needed to get the pictures you desire.

Aperture is a part of photography that many amateurs lack understanding of. It is a simple concept, though, and one that is important if you want to grow in your photography.

A simple way to better understand aperture is by thinking of it as your eye pupil. As more light comes in, the wider your pupil becomes. And exposure is produced by the combination of ISO, shutter speed, and aperture settings. As the size of the aperture diameter change, less or more light is allowed into the sensor. The aperture should be determined based upon the situation you are photographing. In general, though, the wider the aperture, the more light while the narrower the aperture, the less light allowed into the sensor.

Many beginning photographers are confused by aperture. Part of this is because of the language surrounding aperture. Some will refer to aperture as wide or narrow, while others refer to it as small or large. It can refer to either considering a wide aperture is referring to the opening of the lens being wide, while a large aperture is referring to the f-stop.

The size of the aperture is measured using the f-stop scale. The f-number refers to how wide the aperture is open. The size of that opening will affect the depth of field and the exposure in the final product. It is important to remember that the lower the f-stop, the wider the aperture is open. If the aperture settings on your camera are set to a small f-stop number, your aperture is wide open. When you have a higher f-stop, your aperture is narrow.

The f-stop numbers can be difficult to understand fully, but to help you better understand them, remember that as the numbers rise, the settings on aperture decrease to half its size. In other words, each f-stop will allow 50% less or more light through your lens.

Aperture can be a difficult topic to learn, making it even more important get out and practice your photography at different f-stops to see what happens.

This week, we will be discussing one of the most obvious factors that contribute to exposure, the shutter speed. Shutter speed tends to have a huge effect on your photos. When you don’t know how to use shutter speed correctly, you tend to have photos that are blurred. Continue reading below for a better idea on how to use shutter speed for your photos, whether you want sharp photos or prefer something more artistic.

First, we will discuss what shutter speed is. To summarize, shutter speed is the precise amount of time your camera will use to record an image. The camera’s shutter is how this is done. When the shutter opens, it allows light to hit the digital sensor or film plane.

Generally speaking, you will have camera shake if the shutter speed value is shorter than the focal length of your lens. For example, you will want at least 1/60 of a second for a 50 mm lens. You will need a tripod if you attempt anything slower. Another option is to have image stabilization on your camera.

Most times, it is best to snap your photo quickly, around 1/1000 of a second preferably. At this speed, the movement of the object will be frozen. Of course, you must take into consideration the speed your subject is moving and how far you are from your subject. For the most part, though, you will have blurred images if you use a slow shutter speed.

Just like aperture, stops are used in photography in relation to shutter speed. It seems to be an easier concept to learn, though. For example, understanding the concept of using half of an exposure in relation to shutter speed is simpler than understanding that same concept with aperture. You simply must remember that a full step down doubles the amount of light and a full step up will half it.

Once you understand the basics of shutter speed, you will be able to enjoy sharp images through your photography.

In our last article, we discussed the importance of learning exposure. Once you learn the basics of exposure, it’s time to begin learning other parts of the camera such as the ISO.

It is unknown exactly what ISO, but it is a very important part of manual photography. The ISO of the camera determines the light sensitivity. In order to use it effectively, you must determine how much light you need, then set the digital sensors to that sensitivity. For example, if your photography set up has plenty of light, you may choose to set your camera to an ISO of 100, which is the lowest setting. If you are in a dark surrounding, such as outside in the middle of the night, you will need to set your ISO much higher. Many cameras will allow you to set your ISO as high as 6400. That does require you to make a sacrifice, though. When you have your ISO set high, you will find a lot more noise in your finished product. That is simply because the camera is compensating for the low amount of light in your environment.

Some of the newer, more expensive cameras may have less grain with a high ISO, though. Those cameras’ have an improved ability to pick up light in a dark scene, making the overall picture look much better.

One of the best ways to learn about your cameras ISO abilities is to play around with it. Try different settings in the middle of the day and late at night. Also try different ISO settings at other times throughout the day. Look at the final product to determine what settings are best on your camera for each scene. Once you play around with it enough, you will understand the role that ISO plays in your photography.

If you would like more information and hands on learning when it comes to ISO settings, be sure to come to our next meeting. We would love to have you.

Here at Flat Irons Photo Club, encourage our members to pick up their cameras regularly, even if they don’t understand the functions of the camera. Once you get a better feel for your camera, though, it is good to start learning the different basics. That is where these articles come in, to help you learn more about your camera and how to use it.

If you have just started photography, you may have a basic camera that you are unable to modify much. If you are more serious, though, you likely have a DSLR camera where you can adjust ISO, shutter speed, aperture, and more. If so, we are here to help you get started learning how to use those functions.

The first function we will be exploring is exposure. Exposure is basically the brightness or darkness of a photo. Getting a properly exposed photo may seem easy, but it isn’t always as simple as it seems for beginning photographers. Luckily, until you learn how to adjust exposure yourself, your camera will control that function under the automatic selection. Though photographing on auto can be useful, it tends to limit your control and creativity.

There are times when you may want to purposefully create a darker photo, depending on your desired effect. A darker photo tends to bring along with it a darker mood. It can also bring out more color in your photo. For example, if you are photographing a colorful sunset, creatively darkening the exposure can help bring out the colors. Though the photo is not technically correct in its exposure, if it portrays the mood you are looking for, then the photo is a success. Just keeping your camera on the auto selection, it will always choose the middle ground between light and dark exposure, losing the creative aspect.

Now that you understand the importance of learning exposure, you may be interested in learning more about how to get the effects you are looking for. If so, join us at our next club meeting. We will go over the basics of exposure and give you some practice using what you learn.