Your camera is a tricky piece of equipment to master!

The Starters Guide to Photography will help answer some of those tricky bits!

When I first started photography the cameras’ used film, I had to get it right when I took the picture, post processing was virtually non-existant! This led to me learning about my camera and how it worked – something that proved invaluable throughout my career, film and digital!

In my teaching I’ll share everything I’ve learned with you, so that you can learn from my mistakes and save a lot of money, instead of spending your hard-earned wages needlessly.

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Using your camera in Auto modes allows your camera to control itself – it’s not so smart as you think and this is easily proven – have you ever taken a picture of something against a bright background and your subject has come out dark?

Learning how exposure works will help you to take control of your camera, and take better photos.

We’ll combine aperture, shutter speed and ISO (the same as film speed) to work together to control exposure.

These settings affect more than just the exposure, they control such things as depth of field, motion blur, freezing action and digital noise.

Once you understand how these  work, then you can start using manual mode to really take control of your camera.

Exposure is controlled in three ways :

Aperture : which is the size of the hole inside the lens which the light passes through.

Like the pupil of your eye, the wider it is, the more light it allows in, and the narrower it is, the less light it allows in.

As the aperture widens, the f/number gets lower, and it allows more light into the camera.

Great for low light, but you have to be aware that it’s going to make the depth of field (the length of distance that’s in focus) very shallow, not good when taking landscapes.

We go into this in detail on the courses.

Shutter speed :  The shutter is a slide that covers the part that records the image (film or digital sensor) usually at the back of the camera. You can control how fast it moves and therefore how much light is let through.

Usually a fast shutter speed is advisable to prevent camera shake (this happens when your hands shake and makes the picture appear blurred) usually around 1/200sec will do.

There are different shutter speed for different situations, anything from really fast (1/4000) for sports photography to really slow (30 seconds) for night photography.

It all depends on what you’re shooting and how much light you have available to you.

ISO : ISO Once the light has passed through the aperture and been affected by the shutter speed, it will reach the sensor, where the 3rd item is applied – the ISO.

As you increase the ISO number, this makes the sensor more sensitive to light thereby increasing the exposure, but at the same time, the image quality goes down because there will be more digital noise.

So you have to decide how you want to prioritise the exposure.

For example, I would reduce the image quality if it meant that I could prevent motion blur from appearing in my photo, as there’s no possible way to fix that in photoshop.

So, to sum it up :

Once you’ve understood aperture, shutter speed and ISO, it’s time to learn how to blend these factors together to achieve you desired result.

But more importantly, how to prioritise the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO for the best photo, every time.

Understanding Your Camera :

Metering Modes :

Exposure isn’t as simple as learning about aperture, shutter speed and ISO. You also have to learn about how your camera understands light.

Metering modes are there for telling your camera how you want it to look at a scene – but not to be depended on!

If you take a photo on spot metering mode, you would likely end up with a completely different exposure using a different mode ie. evaluative.

Understanding why is the answer to getting exposure spot-on, a spot-on exposure allows you to make the most of the information that the image file contains.

Histogram :

The histogram shows you a mathematical review of an exposure after you’ve taken it. It essentially tells you how evenly exposed a photo is -it is by far the most important – and most overlooked – tool in the box!

LCD screens aren’t very good at telling you this information by looking at the actual picture because their effects are largely based on the ambient lighting conditions you’re in and the brightness of the screen itself.

Shooting Modes

Full-Auto, Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Speed Prioirty, Manual Mode… how do you know which one you should use?

There’s lots of misconceptions about which mode you should be using, for when, as well as a lot of bias towards people not using manual mode. When you understand what exactly each mode does, then it becomes a lot clearer which one you should be using.

Depth of Field

When you’re shooting in low light, you invariably have to widen your aperture to allow enough light into the lens, but this has one rather major side effect – shallow depth of field.

This can be used very creatively, but it’s not always good. There are many situations, such as landscapes, where you’ll want to have an aperture so that the whole scene is in focus.

The course will teach you what you need to know to choose the right aperture – and therefore depth of field – for each situation.

Lens Choice

White Balance

White balance is something I wish I’d learnt more about much sooner than I did, because I look back on some photos now and wonder what I was thinking.

The white balance changes the colour cast of the entire photo, and is responsible for the warmth of a photo.

It controls the colour cast, which can change your photo from looking blue to looking orange, from cold to warm.

Auto white balance doesn’t tend to do a particularly good job, particularly with tungsten light, so the sooner you learn how to control it yourself, the more accurate your photos will look.

Crop Sensors :

A lot of you may not realise it, but unless you spend about $2000 on your camera, then you’re more than likely going to be shooting on a crop sensor.

What the means is that your sensor is much smaller than professional SLR cameras, and that essentially crops the image.

This has a range of affects on your photos, as it’ll create a narrower viewing angle, and will influence your choice of lens purchases in the future.


It’s important to understand exposure, but if you can’t get to grips with basic composition, then you’ll struggle to take really good photos.

I’m not saying that you have to follow every compositional rule, but it helps to learn these rules so they can help guide you to take better photos.

Rule of Thirds

This is probably the first compositional rule that any photographer comes across, and that’s for a very good reason – it’s simple and it works – remember it’s a guide not a commandment, don’t overdo it! This is one of the points that our courses will help with.

The basic premise is that you divide your camera’s frame up into thirds and plant key objects in these lines, and the composition will work better.


Visual Priority :

Visual Priority is the point we’re drawn to when we look at a photo. With pictures of people, the psychological priority is the eyes,

When you understand visual priority, you’ll start to understand how people look at photos, and how you can position certain elements in a frame to direct the viewers attention to where you want them to look.

Triangles :

Triangles are in almost everything we see, in one way or another, it’s just a case of distinguishing them and knowing what to do with them.

They make great compositional tools as they’re easy to make, manipulate, and are remarkably common.

They are also a great way of combining different compositional techniques such as lines and paths and using them to create a more interesting part of a photograph.

All this and more is addressed on our workshops – plus :

Only our workshops cover in depth :

By far the most important part of an image is the story that it tells, if there’s no story then what is there? You need atmosphere, emotion and communication, my images have a reputation for these factors – which is why they sell.

The above information has been adopted, re-written, added to etc., by myself, to make the information easier to understand (In my opinion that is!) Some of it has been taken, in part from books, websites and magazines etc. and I thank the originators of those parts for making the information available. I would like to be able to credit them in person but the origins have been lost through many times sharing.