Photography Essentials and Techniques

Hi again!

So I’m going to be giving you the low down on things you will need to take incredible photos. I’m not really a great photographer but I know enough to be able to give you pointers on what you need and different techniques.


First, the best camera for a photographer is a DSLR. I use a Nikon D3000 camera and it is brilliant, I would highly recommend this or just a good quality digital camera. This Nikon has plenty of features on it, including shutter speeds and aperture, you can use this as a point and shoot camera but it is mainly a photographer’s camera.

Also depending on the type of photography you are wanting to do, you should have a dark room or studio. My school literally had a deep cupboard with a table and a couple of chairs and lights. If you want to do portraiture, then a room like this would be useful. Make sure it’s an area with nothing on the walls, as that is picked up in the picture when using the lights in the room or even torch lights or other things like that.

You may also need a light box. This allows you to take still life images like this one, (I didn’t want to use my own photo here because they’re not great but I’m going to have to.) This wasn’t a great light box, you can actually make your own, and the best thing to do to find a tutorial is Google ‘Light box tutorial’ because they can be expensive.

If you plan on doing portraiture, you will need a white background for them, especially for low light photos. Something for low light photos you will need is a light, you can use a lamp, but the best thing would be one of these, I’m not sure what they are called but I’m sure if you search ‘photographer lights for sale’ you should see some on amazon or something. We used these at school, but now I just use a lamp, it’s cheaper and easier.

One absolute essential no matter what type of photography you are doing is a tripod. It’s a must have for a photographer. It basically keeps your camera still and you can level out a landscape by using one. If you’re stood on a hill you can make two legs of the tripod longer and level out the camera to make it easier to take the photo. Tripods are a godsend, make sure you have one. That’s all the equipment I've ever used.


Rule Of Thirds

The rule of thirds is literally a three by three grid on your camera which allows you to position your photo to make it interesting. In this photo, the bee is in the middle third of the photo and the flower is in the end third, this positioning draws your eye to the flower rather than the centre of the photo, and then you catch the bee in the centre.

Another way of using the rule of thirds is to get a good sky/land ratio in your photo. If you have a photograph with an interesting sky, you want to use the top third and the centre third of your photo on sky and the bottom on land, but if the landscape is more interesting than the sky, then you need the top third sky and the centre and bottom thirds land.

You can find a rule of thirds grid on most cameras, there should be settings for them and it’s all about positioning, to get a really good quality photo. The landscape is one of my photos which uses the rule both ways, as the path is slightly positioned to one side, and there is more land that sky. If you imagine a grid on my photo like the one on the bee photograph, then everything becomes a bit clearer.

This is a really easy rule that many photographers rely on and it allows you to take some brilliant photos.

Macro allows you to take extremely close up photos of absolutely anything. You will probably need another lens for this for the zoom but I never used one and mine turned out fine, it depends how close you want to get. I took this from about three metres with a macro lens, because I was worried about scaring the butterfly off. I’m not really sure what else I can say about macro photos except they are fantastic and do make you think.

If you get too close to the object you want to photograph your camera may not take the picture so be careful.

Shutter Speeds

Shutter speeds are one of the most diverse things on your DSLR camera. A shutter speed literally changes the time you have your cameras shutter open, and it allows more light into the lens. You can do so much. I’ll put some examples and explain them. For any of the shutter speed photos you will absolutely need a tripod, or it won’t work at all.

This was taken by photography teacher while I held a small torch covered by pink tissue paper, and walked around my subject pointing it at the floor. The camera takes in all the light it receives, so you get this effect of the light around the subject. This is actually called light painting because you can draw with the light and although it will be gone to your eyes, it’s still in a camera and looks like a painting.

The possibilities are endless with light painting, you can do things with a subject or free hand like the infinity sign. You can write words, you just need to make sure you have a good positioning in your camera and as much space as you can get.
The best shutter speeds to use are between 5-8 seconds for light painting.

I’m sure you’ve all seen the photos of the car headlights on the roads? This also uses shutter speeds! The best place for these is motorways. You need a tripod and a sturdy surface and for it to not be too windy, because if it’s windy you will get shaky lines. Its best if you don’t do this during rush hour as the headlights wont match up and it will have breaks and look weird. Rule of thirds comes into play here, you definitely need more land that sky, or equal if the sky looks great.
The more twisting the road are the more interesting the image, but this was the best I could do in the time I had.
This is also what happens when it goes wrong and the camera moves. I turned to talk to my mum with the camera strap around my neck and it spun, but it was very funny. You need about a 13-15 second shutter for these, or you wont get the effect right and the lights wont meet up.

Steel wool is very dangerous and you need to make sure you have water near by.

For this I will do a separate blog post for but here is the outlines of this because it uses shutter speeds and its my favourite thing ever. 

You definitely need more than one person for this. My dad took me down to his works yard to do these and they make brilliant effects with the sparks flying off the wool as it is spun.

As I said, I will do a separate post for this because it’s a little more complicated than the others.

There is only one more I can think of for shutter speeds, and that’s using glow sticks.I was experimenting with the glow sticks and found that they don’t actually come up on the photo unless they are directly in front of the camera lens.

I thought I’d share this with you guys, holding the glow stick to the lens gives this acid burn effect which hopefully got me some good grades because it was abstract and ‘out of the box’.
This needs shutter speeds about about 5 seconds, because you’re close to the camera and don’t want to over expose the photo.

I hope this helped! There are so many more techniques, and I will keep doing more photography tutorials if you want them.

Until later, ciao! 

TheSkiesTheLimit YouTube
The Consulting Sherlockians YouTube

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