How to Achieve Your Desired Photography Image Results – A Comprehensive Guide For Beginners

Achieving your desired photography image results requires combining technical skills, creativity, and practice.

Not getting the results you intended with your photograph is frustrating.

Remember, photography is both an art and a science and involves mastering photographic elements such as exposure, composition, framing and editing.

Additionally, an aspiring photographer can achieve your desired photography image results by mastering the technical aspects and developing his/her creative eye.

Every Photographer Should Know The Exposure Triangle

In photography, a technical relationship exists between aperture, ISO, and shutter speed. The triangle makes up the cornerstones of exposure.

Exposure refers to capturing the ambient light in the scene we photograph onto the camera sensor.

alt="The exposure triangle"
The exposure triangle.

A photographer primarily aims to capture the most accurate exposure during shooting. Getting your exposure as accurate as possible is vital to delivering a masterful image.

The correct manipulation of aperture, ISO, and shutter speed will ensure image excellence.

Using the Program or Automatic modes when starting out is acceptable, but in the long run, a photographer should learn to use the Manual mode for the best results.

Together, these three elements determine the overall exposure of a photograph.

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Adjusting one element can impact the other two, so they are often called the “exposure triangle.”

By understanding how these elements work together, photographers can control the exposure of their photographs and create the desired effect.

The three components of the aperture triangle are further explained below.

1 Aperture

Aperture is the physical opening and closing of the “aperture ring.”

The aperture ring regulates the amount of light captured through the lens. You can compare it to opening and closing a door.

A door allows light in or keeps light out, depending on the degree to which the door is opened or shut.

Aperture is usually measured in f-stops, represented by numbers like f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, f/8, f/11, f/16, etc.

The aperture controls the amount of light and affects the depth of field in a photograph. A large aperture (small f-stop number) creates a shallow depth of field, which means that only a tiny area in the picture will be in sharp focus while the rest is blurred and is known as the bokeh effect.

Bokeh is beneficial for portraits, where you want to blur the background and keep the subject in focus.

A small aperture (large f-stop number) creates a deep depth of field, which means that more of the scene will be in focus. Depth of field is useful for landscape photography, where you want to capture a wide scene with everything in focus.

Aperture is one of the three main elements of exposure, along with shutter speed and ISO.

These three elements determine how much light enters the camera and how bright or dark the photograph will be.

Aperture settings are standard across all camera types and lenses. The diagram below illustrates the apertures of a camera.

alt="apertures photography"
A diagram showing the size of different apertures.

A converse relationship exists with the aperture. The larger the aperture number, the smaller the hole, Ex. f/22. The smaller the aperture number, the larger the aperture hole, Ex. f/2.8

F/8 is an ideal default aperture when unsure if applicable to the scene and your photographic intention.

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The ISO setting on a camera controls the camera’s sensitivity to light.

A higher ISO number makes the camera sensor more sensitive to light, which means it can capture images in low-light situations without needing a longer exposure time.

However, higher ISO settings can also introduce digital noise or grain, reducing the overall image quality.

ISO is one of the three elements of the exposure triangle in photography, along with shutter speed and aperture.

alt="ISO photography"

Adjusting the ISO setting can help you achieve the correct exposure in various lighting conditions, and it can also be used creatively to achieve specific effects in your photos.

The ISO equation is straightforward – the darker the ambient light, the higher the ISO number, Ex. ISO800. The brighter the ambient light, the lower the ISO number, Ex. ISO100.

Apply the lowest ISO number possible to your photographic scene or subject. The overall photo quality will incrementally decrease the higher the ISO number is dialled.

The photo will show image grain at higher ISO settings typically used in lower light shooting scenarios.

3 Shutter Speed

Shutter speed is a vital element of the exposure triangle.

Shutter speed is when the camera’s shutter remains open, allowing light to enter and hit the camera’s image sensor or film.

Shutter speed is typically measured in seconds or fractions of seconds, such as 1/500, 1/250, 1/125, 1/60, 1/30, and so on.

A faster shutter speed means the shutter is open for a shorter time, allowing less light to enter.

A slower shutter speed means the shutter is available for a more extended time, allowing more light to enter.

Shutter speed can be used creatively to control an image’s motion blur.

A fast shutter speed can freeze motion, such as capturing a flying bird in sharp focus, while a slow shutter speed can create intentional blurs, such as capturing the motion of a waterfall or a moving car.

alt="A fast shutter speed can freeze motion, such as capturing a flying bird pictured above"
A fast shutter speed can freeze motion, such as capturing a flying bird pictured above. Photo by Crowpix Media.

It’s important to note that using a slow shutter speed without a tripod can result in a camera shake and a blurry image.

A tripod or other stabilization method assists when using slower shutter speeds.

The function of the camera shutter is to protect the camera sensor from light exposure and to regulate light exposure.

Shutter speed is when the shutter opens and closes to allow light onto the sensor during exposure. And is what is referred to as “releasing the shutter.”

In different photographic scenarios, you need to contemplate the shutter speed.

For example, in the case of photographing fast-moving subjects such as in sports photography or action scenes.

Fast-moving subjects are suited to a higher ISO, like ISO400 or above.

Still, subjects with lots of ambient light can allow for low ISO, such as ISO100 for example.

In the exposure triangle equation, the ISO would be the next consideration. Next, dial in the most appropriate F-stop for those shutter speeds and ISO settings.

Shutter speed is also an essential consideration for camera shake.

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Avoid Camera Shake in Your Images

Camera shake is a common problem when taking photos, especially in low-light situations or when using a slow shutter speed.

alt="A photo from Venice that shows camera shake"
The image above shows the effect known as camera shake. Photo by Crowpix Media.

Here are some tips to help you avoid camera shake and capture sharp, clear images:

  1. Use a tripod: A tripod is the best way to ensure your camera remains steady while taking photos. It will eliminate any shake caused by hand-holding the camera.
  2. Use image stabilisation: Many modern cameras and lenses have image stabilisation technology. Stabilisation helps to counter any minor movements or vibrations that can cause camera shake.
  3. Use a faster shutter speed: When taking photos in low light, try using a faster shutter speed. A fast shutter speed will reduce the time your camera’s shutter is open, helping to eliminate camera shake.
  4. Use a remote shutter release: If your camera supports it, it can help eliminate camera shake caused by pressing the shutter button.
  5. Brace yourself: When hand-holding the camera, brace yourself against a stable object, such as a wall or a tree, to help steady your body and reduce any movements that could cause camera shake.
  6. Use burst mode: If you struggle to keep the camera steady, try using burst mode. Burst mode will take multiple photos quickly, increasing the chances of getting a sharp image.
  7. Practice proper breathing techniques: When taking photos, try to take deep breaths and exhale slowly. Breathing techniques will help you remain calm and reduce any shakiness caused by nerves or excitement.
  8. Hand-held photography: For example, if your lens’s focal length is 50mm, your most minor shutter speed should be 1/50th or more. If your focal length is 200mm, then your shutter should be 1/200th or more, and so on.

By following these tips, you should be able to minimise camera shake and capture clear, sharp images.

Focus is a Challenge For All Levels of Photographers

Focus is one of the most important aspects of photography, as it directly impacts the quality of the final image.

A photograph can appear clear and focused correctly, ensuring the image’s overall impact is maintained.

alt="An example of a sharply focused image"
An example of a sharply focused image. Photo by Crowpix Media.

There are a few key reasons why focus is so important in photography:

  1. Sharpness: The primary goal of focus is to make sure the photograph’s subject is sharp and in focus. A sharp image can be more visually appealing and convey a sense of detail and clarity.
  2. Composition: By focusing on a specific part of the image, you can draw the viewer’s attention to that particular area, emphasizing it and creating a sense of depth and dimensionality.
  3. Depth of Field: The focus can also be used to control the depth of field in a photograph. By adjusting the focus, you can blur the background or foreground of the image, creating a sense of depth and dimensionality.
  4. Emotion: Proper focus can also help to convey emotion within an image. By focusing on a subject’s eyes, for example, you can create a more intimate and emotional connection between the subject and the viewer.

Overall, focus is an essential tool for any photographer to master, as it can significantly impact the final image and the story it tells.

A sharp image has precise detail and no visible blurring.

You may desire a blurred-out background or motion blur for effect in specific images.

alt="Handheld photography and the Bokeh effect"
Handheld photography and the Bokeh effect.

Your composition needs to be sharp and in focus to please the viewer’s eye and deliver a message successfully.

Modern digital cameras have very sophisticated focus functions.

Take the time to learn your digital camera’s various focus modes, then practice which focus modes work best under different demands.

Composition is Key to Impactful Photographs

Composition is one of the fundamental elements of photography and plays a critical role in the overall impact of an image. How elements are arranged in a photograph can significantly affect how the viewer perceives and interprets the image.

alt="Composition is vital to create a successful image that attracts and impresses viewers"
Composition is vital to create a successful image that attracts and impresses viewers. Photo by Crowpix Media.

Here are some reasons why composition is vital in photography:

  1. It creates visual interest: A well-composed photograph is visually compelling and can capture the viewer’s attention. A good composition draws the viewer’s eye into the picture and makes them want to explore it further.
  2. It helps to tell a story: Composition can convey meaning and emotion in a photograph. A photographer can create a narrative and communicate a message by arranging the elements in a certain way.
  3. It creates a sense of balance: The placement of elements in a photograph can create a sense of balance or imbalance. A balanced composition can make an image feel harmonious, while an unbalanced composition can create tension or a feeling of unease.
  4. It highlights the subject: Composition highlights the subject of a photograph and draws attention to it. By placing the subject in a strategic location within the frame, a photographer can make it stand out and emphasize its importance.
  5. It adds depth and dimension: Composition can also create a sense of depth and dimensionality in a photograph. Using techniques like leading lines and foreground/background relationships, a photographer can make a three-dimensional feel in a two-dimensional medium.

Overall, composition is an essential aspect of photography and can significantly impact the success of an image.

By understanding and using the principles of composition effectively, a photographer can create visually stunning and emotionally impactful photos.

alt="composition rules"
By understanding and using the principles of composition effectively, a photographer can create visually stunning and emotionally impactful photos. Photo by Crowpix Media.

Elements of composition include:

  • The rule of thirds: The rule of thirds is a fundamental principle in photography and other visual arts that involves dividing an image into thirds, both vertically and horizontally, to create a sense of balance and visual interest.
  • The resulting grid has nine equal parts, with four intersection points where the lines meet. The rule of thirds suggests placing the critical elements of an image along these lines or at the intersection points to create a more dynamic and visually pleasing composition.
  • For example, when taking a portrait, you might position the subject’s eyes at one of the intersection points. When photographing a landscape, you might place the horizon line along one of the horizontal lines.
  • Leading lines: In photography, “leading lines” refers to using lines in an image that leads the viewer’s eye towards the photograph’s main subject. Leading lines can be found in many different environments and created by natural elements such as trees or artificial features such as roads or buildings.
  • The purpose of using leading lines in photography is to create a sense of depth and perspective and to guide the viewer’s eye to the image’s focal point. The photographer can create a more visually compelling and engaging photograph using leading lines.
  • Diagonal lines create a sense of movement and dynamism in an image, while converging lines draw the viewer’s eye towards a vanishing point in the distance. Curved lines create a more organic and natural feeling in an image.
  • The golden ratio: The golden ratio, also known as the golden mean or divine proportion, is a mathematical concept used in art and design for centuries. Photography often uses it as a compositional tool to create visually pleasing images.
  • The golden ratio is a ratio of approximately 1:1.618 and is found in many natural forms, such as the spiral of a seashell, the branching of trees, and the proportions of the human body.
  • In photography, the golden rule is often used to create a sense of balance and harmony in an image. One way to incorporate the golden ratio into your photography is by using the rule of thirds, which divides the frame into thirds both horizontally and vertically. The point where the lines intersect is where you would place your subject or point of interest, using the golden ratio as a guide.
  • Another way to use the golden ratio in photography is to use leading lines, such as a road or a path, to draw the viewer’s eye towards the subject. By placing the subject at the point where the leading lines intersect, you can create a sense of balance and harmony in the image.
  • Diagonals and patterns: Diagonals and patterns are common compositional elements in photography used to create dynamic and exciting images. Diagonals are lines that run at an angle across the frame rather than horizontally or vertically and create a sense of movement or energy in an image and lead the viewer’s eye through the frame. For example, a diagonal line running from the bottom left corner of an image to the top right can create a feeling of upward movement and draw the viewer’s eye upward.
  • On the other hand, patterns are repeating shapes, lines, or colours that can create a sense of rhythm or harmony in an image and exist in nature, architecture, and many other subjects. Patterns develop an understanding of order or symmetry in a picture or can be used to create a sense of chaos or disorder.
  • When photographing diagonals and patterns, paying attention to the placement of these elements in the frame is essential. Placing a diagonal line or pattern off-centre can create a sense of tension or imbalance, while placing it near the centre of the frame can create a more balanced composition. Different angles or perspectives can also help emphasize the diagonal or pattern and create a more dynamic image.
  • Repetition: Repetition photography is a technique in which the same subject or pattern is photographed multiple times. The resulting images are arranged together to create a visual sequence or pattern. This technique creates abstract or geometric compositions, highlights patterns or textures, or emphasizes the rhythm or movement of a subject.
  • Repetition in photography is achieved in different ways, such as by photographing the same subject from different angles, using a zoom lens to capture multiple variations of the same object, or intentionally creating patterns or repeating elements in the composition.
  • Some famous photographers who have used repetition photography include Edward Weston, Bernd and Hilla Becher, and Andreas Gursky.
  • Use natural light: Natural light photography is a popular technique that uses natural light sources such as the sun and moon or artificial light sources such as lamps or candles to illuminate a subject or scene. This technique can be used in a variety of settings and can create beautiful, natural-looking images. Here are some tips for using natural light photography:
  • Know the time of day: The best time to take natural light photographs is during the golden hour, the hour after sunrise or before sunset. The light is soft and warm during this time, creating a beautiful golden glow on your subject.
  • Use a reflector: A reflector is a simple tool that can help you control the light in your shot. It reflects the natural light onto your subject, creating a more even and balanced exposure.
  • Shoot in the shade: Direct sunlight can create harsh shadows and overexposed highlights. Shooting in the shade or a diffused light source can create softer, more flattering light for your subject.
  • Use windows: When shooting indoors, use windows to your advantage. Position your subject near a window and use the natural light to create a soft, natural-looking portrait.
  • Avoid using flash: Flash can create an artificial look in your photographs. Use natural light sources instead to create a more natural and organic feel to your images.
  • Natural light photography can be a fun and creative way to capture beautiful, authentic images. By following these tips, you can create stunning photographs that showcase the beauty of natural light.

Framing The Photograph Can Make or Break Composition

Framing in photography refers to using elements within the scene to create a frame around the subject. Natural features such as trees, archways, or windows can be created artificially using props or other objects that can make a frame in your composition.

The purpose of framing is to draw the viewer’s attention to the subject and create a sense of depth and context in the photograph.

A well-framed photo can also add a sense of drama and intrigue to the image.

alt="The photograph above demonstrates the use of natural elements such as trees, grass and bush to neatly frame the subject of the composition. Photo by Crowpix Media"
The photograph above demonstrates the use of natural elements such as trees, grass and bush to neatly frame the subject of the composition. Photo by Crowpix Media.

When framing a photograph, it’s essential to consider the placement of the subject within the frame, as well as the shape and size of the frame itself. The frame should complement the subject rather than overpower it.

Some tips for framing in photography include:

  1. Look for natural frames: Use elements within the scene, such as archways, trees, or windows, to create a frame around the subject.
  2. Use props: Experiment with props or objects to create a frame around the subject.
  3. Consider the placement of the subject: Place the subject within the frame in a way that complements the shape and size of the frame.
  4. Pay attention to the background: Make sure the background complements the subject and doesn’t detract from the overall composition.
  5. Experiment with different framing techniques: Try other methods, such as using a shallow depth of field to blur the edges of the frame or using a wide-angle lens to create a sense of depth and perspective.

Edit Your Photos

Editing your photos can be incredibly important for several reasons:

alt="photo editing post process photoshop"
Photo by Caio on
  1. Enhancing the visual appeal: Photo editing can improve the visual appeal of your photos by adjusting the colours, brightness, contrast, and other visual elements. Adjustments in editing can make your photos more eye-catching and attractive to viewers.
  2. Correcting flaws: Photo editing can also help to correct deficiencies in your photos, such as red-eye, blemishes, or other imperfections. Updating flaws can create a more polished and professional look.
  3. Telling a story: Photo editing can help to tell a story or convey a particular mood or emotion. For example, you might use colour grading to create a vintage look or add a filter to create a dreamy, ethereal effect.
  4. Branding and marketing: If you’re using photos for branding or marketing purposes, photo editing can help to ensure that your images are consistent with your brand’s visual style and messaging.
  5. Overall, photo editing can be essential for creating high-quality, visually appealing images that effectively communicate your message to your audience.

Study Other Photographers

Studying other photographers can help you improve your photography skills and inspire you to try new techniques and styles.

You can better understand what makes a great photograph by analyzing its compositions, lighting, subject matter, and overall approach.

To study other photographers, you can start by researching and learning about the most influential and renowned photographers in history, such as Ansel Adams, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Diane Arbus, Annie Leibovitz, and many more.

You can also explore contemporary photographers in your local community or through online resources like Instagram and photography websites.

When studying their work, please pay attention to their details and techniques. Consider the lighting, framing, composition, subject matter, and other elements that catch your eye. Try to understand what makes their photographs stand out and how they convey their message or tell a story.

Another way to study other photographers is to attend exhibitions, galleries, or workshops. These can allow you to see their work in person and learn from them directly.

Remember that studying other photographers is not about copying their work but learning from their techniques and incorporating them into your unique style.

Ultimately, the goal is to develop your voice and vision as a photographer.

In Conclusion

We all start as beginners in whatever we do in life; photography is no different.

Get out and practice, practice, practice.

Then refine your photographic techniques as your eye progresses, and you start to master all the components that make a great image.

The above points will improve image quality and fewer unpleasant surprises.

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All Copyrights Reserved @ Crowpix Media 2023.


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