Getting into photography – tips, terms and where to learn

I love photography. It’s something that I have been in love with since as long as I can remember. One question I get all the time is about getting into photography, where to start, what equipment to buy and where to learn.

In this blog post, I want to cover a few of my thoughts and experiences. Living in Canberra I’ve been fortunate to shoot all around the capital, do a lot of photography while travelling, and will soon be opening my own photography studio in Canberra!

What gear to start with

The sooner you can start shooting with a camera that can give you manual controls the better – yes, even using your smartphone with manual controls is a great start. Otherwise, heading to Gumtree (this search) and buying a Canon or Nikon DSLR is good too, just make sure to check that it has the features you are after.

Personally, I’m a Canon fan, their colour science is amazing and I’ve trusted their cameras ever since I started shooting. This post here covers my personal picks if you’re shooting video and my photography pick doesn’t really change but heading to Amazon and checking out the cheapest Canon DSLR for sale is excellent as well.

How do I learn to use the camera

If you ask me, the best way to learn how to use the camera is to go out there and shoot. Watch YouTube tutorials as well, but put them to practice. Learn the limits of your camera, what it can do and what it can’t do, how high you can turn the ISO up to etc. You’re always welcome to reach out if you would like a one-on-one lesson as well!

What do all these terms mean

This section is an extension on the point above. The camera world is full of terminology – the deeper you go the more terminology you hear about. There are a few terms and phrases that I think would be extremely helpful even before you go out and buy a camera.

Clicking the image above will take you to my personal website – https://germaine.me and more photos from the shoot with model Claire (https://www.instagram.com/claireemilym/)

Megapixels

This term related to the number of pixels on the sensor. Higher is better, but past around 12 megapixels, the difference isn’t noticeable. What you are better off focusing on is the sensor itself.

Sensor

Generally speaking the term sensor is talking about the most important part of the camera – the part that captures the image. Every camera, even the one in your phone, has a sensor. While the megapixels of the sensor matter, ultimately, the overall performance of the sensor is even more important. Things like how it performs in low light settings, and its dynamic range.

There are different sensors sizes, but the most common are Four Thirds, APS-C (common is cheaper DSLRs) and Full Frame. You can read more about the sensor sizes here:

Dynamic Range

Dynamic range refers to the difference between the darkest point and the brightest point within a single image. A higher dynamic range is desirable as this means that in a sunset photo for example, the foreground doesn’t end up as a silhouette. A high dynamic range means that you can capture the foreground and the detail in the foreground, as well as capturing the sunset and the colours in the sky. If dynamic range was low you might capture the foreground but the sky might be completely bright and overexposed.

In the image above, while the sun itself is very bright, you can see the camera has captured some detail in the sky. At the same time, the model and the foreground are still well-lit.

Aperture (F-Stop)

Aperture refers to how wide open the camera gets and ultimately refers to how much light is let to the sensor. Aperture is controlled and limited by the lens and has little to do with the sensor.

ISO

The ISO setting determines how dark or bright a scene is. Better sensors can go to higher ISOs and the higher the ISO the more light the lens can collect even in a dark scene. Be mindful, however, as the higher the ISO the more ‘grain’ or ‘noise’ that can be introduced to the image!

There are of course, many more terms, feel free to reach out if I can clarify anything for you. I will continue to add to this list as well.

Canberra is too boring

I had to include this! I hear it so much, especially when it comes to photography – Canberra is so boring and there is nowhere to shoot. The logic follows that since Canberra is so boring, there is less opportunity to learn. But, I’m here to tell you that you are wrong! Get out and shoot, put yourself in interesting environments and you’ll find out new and exciting things about your camera and your capabilities!

An extra skill to have

Photography is a great skill to have (one that will never be replaced by robots, either!). In this post we covered what gear to start with (hint, Canon’s cheapest DSLR), how to learn photography and a few terms that you should know when getting into photography.

Reach out to me once you’ve put your skills into practice and show me what you’ve been able to capture!