Photography is an expressive tool for sharing our world and documenting it for posterity. Photography also has numerous practical uses from aerial mapping photos to diagnostic X-rays.
A successful photographer understands the Rule of Thirds and pays careful attention to composition. They focus on finding subjects that relate directly to personal experiences or that challenge one’s perspective.
Good photographers take an expansive world and, using equipment and skills, organize it pleasingly into the frame of a photograph. Whether they specialize in portraiture at human scale, landscape photography on grand vistas or macro shots of tiny worlds – these artist-scientists are masters of composition.
Composition involves looking at an image as a whole and deciding the focal point, whether that is repetition, leading lines, symmetry or using negative space as its focal point.
Leading lines are visual cues that attract viewers into an image or toward its subject matter, such as visible lines such as arms pointing inward or implied ones such as tree branches reaching up into the sky.
Symmetry is visually pleasing and can be found in nature shots, buildings and symmetrical figures. But an asymmetrical balance may also add tension and drama in an image; also look out for contrast, where one element stands out more than another.
Photography literally translates to writing with light, so understanding lighting is crucial to its success. Light can reflect off certain surfaces while passing through others, casting long or short shadows on objects and altering their colors – ultimately shaping your photo as you take it.
Understand how light affects contrast. Dark areas in photos can add drama or become unintended focal points; lighter areas soften details and highlight textures.
Key to effective portrait lighting is using a key light to diffuse shadows on your subject and reduce shadows on them. Photographers frequently utilize reflectors or diffusers in this regard. Other effective portrait lighting includes broad lighting which highlights one side of the face closest to the camera – this technique is popularly used for graduation photos – and Rembrandt lighting, which involves using key lights to highlight cheekbones for three dimensional effects.
Brightness or darkness of a photo is determined by how much light hits its film or sensor. A well-exposed photograph contains highlights and shadows with detail, creating an enjoyable tonal range.
Maintaining correct exposure is one of the key skills for photographers to master. Doing so requires understanding how three camera settings interact: aperture, shutter speed and ISO. Together they form the exposure triangle which must be managed accordingly in order to match available light with image goals.
Understanding how to navigate these settings will allow the photographer to be creative with their images, without being bogged down by technicality. A truly breathtaking image emerges when both elements combine seamlessly – not by either dominating.
ISO is an essential setting when photographing. It determines your camera’s sensitivity to light; the higher your ISO number is, the more sensitive your sensor will be to light. This can come in handy in situations such as shooting action in a dark gymnasium, or creating shallow depth of field photography.
Some may believe that increasing ISO will brighten their photos. Unfortunately, this is an error: shutter speed and aperture actually capture more light for brightening photos; ISO simply amplifies what already captured by the camera – potentially leading to reduced image quality when set too high.
ISO is shorthand for the International Organization for Standardization; more commonly it’s recognized for its role in photography. The ISO system was devised to assist photographers with changing the sensitivity of their cameras; doing so does not affect brightness but may introduce digital noise into images.