Beginners Guide to Photography: Camera Basics

Beginners Guide to Photography: Camera Basics

Photography on the technical side is defined as the process of recording images in a controlled way. On the creative side, it is the art of capturing light and composing good images. Our own definition? Simple, it is how we keep those precious moments alive.

Beginners Guide Photography Camera Basics

Beginners Guide Photography Camera Basics

How to be a good photographer?

There are a lot of people out there (including me) who really wants to be good and improve their shooting skills. I can also say that photography is a continuous learning process so I always find time to improve my craft. I often watch videos, ask friends, read articles online, and other stuff where I can gain knowledge. Below are some helpful tips that an amateur/enthusiast like me can use as a guide:

  • Learn the Photography basics – Shutter Speed, ISO, and Aperture
  • Know your Camera – you need to know how to operate your camera.
  • Practice your “eye” – you should learn how to see like a photographer.
  • Keep Shooting!

Let me give you a brief introduction to Photography basics based on my understanding and my experience. Mind you, I am just an enthusiast and not a professional photographer 🙂 Let us jump right in.

For you to have a decent capture, you should consider two things, Exposure (how bright or dark your photo is) and Focus (how great or shallow the depth of field – blurriness of background from the subject) and this involves the Shutter Speed, ISO, and Aperture. 

1. Shutter Speed

This is considered as the “Heart and Soul of Photography” which is “Capturing the Moment”. It defines how fast the shutter curtain of your camera opens and closes to gather light.

Faster shutter speeds are often used to capture fast moving subjects and freeze the action. On the technical side, this will allow less light to be captured by your camera. It is commonly used by Sports Photographers and Wildlife Photographers.  Slow Shutter speeds on the other hand are used to express motion with the blur effect, this will also allow more light to be captured by your camera.

Fast Shutter Speed

Fast Shutter Speed

Fast Shutter Speed – ISO 100, 35mm, f/2.2, 1/4000sec

Slow Shutter Speed

Slow Shutter Speed

Slow Shutter Speed – ISO 1000, 35mm, f/1.8, 1/40sec

2. ISO

This is defined as the camera sensor’s sensitivity to light. The lower the value of the ISO, the less sensitive the sensor is thus allowing less light to be recorded into your camera. Conversely, a higher ISO value will create brighter capture but with more image noise. Wait, let us not be too technical, can we?

The best way to understand ISO is to think of it as the honey bees (ISO value) and how fast they can bring flower nectar (as the light) to the honey comb (as the image sensor). 50 honey bees will bring less nectar than 500 honey bees in a given amount of time with less buzzing noise. On the opposite, 500 bees will have no sweat in filling the honey comb with nectar but you’ll hear more buzzing noise.



Low ISO – ISO 100, 11mm, f/2.8, 1/125sec

High ISO

high ISO

High ISO – ISO 1000, 11mm, f/2.8, 1/1250sec

ISO photo

Something to remember

3. Aperture

The pupil of our eyes best represents the aperture. It controls the size of the opening in our eyes. Bigger opening will allow more light to go through our retina. Whereas, smaller opening will allow less light thus providing a darker image. Additionally, controlling the aperture also provides a creative effect on our composition. Bigger aperture opening will result to a more blurred background or shallow depth of field thus bringing more emphasis on the subject. On the contrary, smaller aperture opening will bring everything (foreground and background) in focus but you will need some help from the ISO and Shutter speed for you to have a brighter composition.

Wider Aperture

Wider Aperture Photo

Wider Aperture – ISO 200, 35mm, f/1.8, 1/250sec

Smaller Aperture

Smaller Aperture Photo

Smaller Aperture – ISO 100, 18mm, f/11, 6.0sec


Something to remember

I have downloaded a little cheat sheet that you might find handy during your photo adventures.

photoraphy cheat sheet

source: google images

Photography is really exciting! A vast field where we can explore cultivate and express our creative imagination. So let us not stop learning, go out there and keep shooting!

The Gear

For all our previous travels, we used a Nikon D7100 with lenses  18-140mm F/3.5-5.6G Ed Vr,  35mm f/1.8 DX. Last May 2017 before our month long European trip, we decided to change it to Nikon D810 with lenses 24-70mm, F/2.8 FX.

Beginners Guide Photography Camera Basics

Did we miss something? Do you want to add more helpful tips? Please comment below and we’d love to hear from you! 🙂

Are you a photographer too (amateur or pro) and interested to be featured? Please check this post for details.
Beginners Guide Photography Camera Basics

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Diya January 25, 2017 - 10:47 am

This is such a helpful article that even a complete beginner like me could understand. This is inspiring me to start playing around with manual settings too. Thank you for sharing your knowledge!

Jeremiah Villanueva January 28, 2017 - 5:29 am

Most people use automatic settings and I cant blame them as it also produce good output. It’s so cool to know that we somehow help you to play around with the manual settings. Trust us, it will be awesome! have a great day Diya 🙂

Rob Hirsh January 13, 2017 - 5:08 am

I have three or four books on this topic ( even a dummies guide to photography! ) and just in this little article I feel like I’m ready to try out the manual aspects of my camera. Been an automatic guy all my life. Thanks for such great tips!

Jeremiah Villanueva January 17, 2017 - 6:21 am

Hey Rob! Great to see you here too 🙂 Glad you like this photography article. There’s more to explore with the manual settings and you’ll be surprise on what your camera can do 🙂

Sony Fugaban December 30, 2016 - 11:05 am

Reading this now…so happy to have landed here

Jeremiah Villanueva December 30, 2016 - 11:19 am

Thanks Sony! Were so glad to be connected with you for real We’ll be following your travel stories and adventures

Bea De Guzman November 30, 2016 - 12:53 am

This is what I needed! I’m just a beginner and it’s hard for me to understand the super technical stuff of photography. Super beginner friendly nitong post na to! I’m try to understand each muna (ISO, Aperture & SP) before I proceed with the photography triangle something (I forgot what it’s called). I need more practice to be like youuu.

P.S. Such a proud wifey there for husband’s first article.

Jeremiah Villanueva December 10, 2016 - 10:04 am

Hi Bea, great to see you again here! I agree! his article made us understand the not-so-techy stuff, i’ll be asking him what it’s called because i really don’t know too, haha.. enjoy your Thailand trip! can’t wait to see your photos and hear your stories:)

– Joanna

BBQboy November 20, 2016 - 9:18 am

Informative post, you summed it up nicely for non-professional photographers like me.
I’ll be honest – I have an automatic camera and don’t use the manual functions. 95% of the time that’s fine, it’s only when taking nighttime shots that I wish I had better technical knowledge,I usually put it on “scene” mode and use “Night landscape” on my Nikon. Usually disappointing results though. Spanky does a lot better doing the same with her Cannon Powershot.

Frank (bbqboy)

Jeremiah Villanueva November 22, 2016 - 9:41 am

Glad you found it useful Frank.
We all started by using the Auto setting right?
Scene modes of a camera is also useful but not everytime. Also results may not that be good as when you composed the shot manually.
Hope you have learned something from our article. Keep Shooting!

filmansantiago November 19, 2016 - 7:50 am

Wow! Great article. I’ve learned a lot from this. I am still in the learning process of soaking myself into real and serious photography and this article is a good start for me. Found you on IG by the way. @santiagofilman is my handle. Cheers!

The Moment Keepers November 19, 2016 - 8:36 am

Hey man! thanks for your comment, glad you like this article, hope it help you somehow
in your aim of getting serious with photography, we are also learning and we’re happy to share what we learned so far 🙂
followed you on IG, we’re happy to connect!


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