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Basics of Photography

Learn about the basic techniques of photography and how to master them


Photography is all about the art of capturing light falling into your camera. Photographs are moments frozen in time, preserved to be relished forever.


But what exactly goes behind the scenes in a camera? Ever wondered how a camera manages to blur the background in a portrait or how does it capture a crisp photo of an F1 car racing at over 300 kmph? Well here are the basics of photography decoded for you!


Let’s start with the basic question - “How is a photograph created?


A photograph is created when light falls onto a photosensitive surface. In modern day cameras, we have an electronic image sensor which captures the light falling on it when the button is pressed.


Okay, but then how do I control how my photograph looks?


Well, for that, cameras have got a wide range of settings! The most important ones are-

  1. Shutter Speed

  2. Aperture

  3. ISO


Now DSLRs offer control over all three of these. While in phone cameras, we only have a control over ISO. Some high-end phones like OnePlus and Samsung S series also offer control over the shutter speed!


What is Shutter Speed?


Remember we talked about light falling on the sensor? The amount of time for which light falls on the sensor is known as “Shutter Speed”.


Basically, when you click a photograph, the shutter of the camera lifts up, exposing the sensor. The duration for which the sensor is exposed to the light, that, is Shutter Speed.


Shutter Speed can range from 1/8000th of a second to more than 30 seconds. Sounds crazy, right?


Let’s take an example


Fast Shutter Speed - 1/500th of a second

Having a high shutter speed literally means freezing everything in the frame! You can even capture a lightning bolt in all its glory, have a look for yourself -


Capturing Lightning - 1/1250th of a second

But it doesn’t end there. There are even more possibilities with a slow shutter speed! Look for yourself! -


Long Exposure inside a tunnel - 3 seconds

Light trail of vehicles - 10 seconds

So, shutter speed is most useful when you want to capture a fast moving object or when you want to photograph a long exposure shot. Here are some more comparisons -


12 seconds 1/20 seconds

That brings us to our next setting, Aperture!


What is Aperture?


Aperture refers to the hole of the lens through which light passes. Here’s a more visual representation of it -



Aperture is calibrated in f/stops and is written in numbers such as f/2, f/5.6, f/22.


Alright, time for an important fact! Larger the f number, smaller is the opening of the hole


Oka-ay, but how does the size of the hole affect my photograph?


Good question! Smaller the hole, more is the depth of field in your photograph. Wondering what is “depth of field”? We’ve got you covered :)


Depth of field refers to the range of objects in focus in your photograph. For example, the landscape photograph has a higher depth of field since it has got the foreground as well as the background in focus.


Landscape Photograph - Aperture f/12

While the portrait below has a shallow (low) depth of field since the background is blurred and only the foreground is in focus.


Portrait Photograph - Aperture f/1.8

So, higher your f number, more is the focus range of your photograph!


Quick Tip : Adjusting your shutter speed and aperture also alters the amount of light captured by your camera which changes the overall brightness of your photograph!


For example, a fast shutter speed photograph will capture less light as compared to a low shutter speed photo.


And a high f number would mean less light being captured as compared to a low f number, due to a difference in the size of the hole, meaning a difference in the amount of light coming in.


Now that brings us to our last major setting, ISO speed.


What is ISO speed?


ISO Speed refers to the sensitivity of the camera sensor to the light falling on it. In simple words, higher the ISO number, more brighter will be your photograph since the sensor is behaving more sensitively.


Here are some examples -



But having a high ISO number isn’t preferred generally. Since, high ISO number also adds a lot of noise to your photograph.



So, these 3 settings together form the exposure triangle! It’s represented as a

triangle because if you change 1 setting, the others will need to be compensated.



Phew, that’s quite a lot of theory now, isn’t it? Well time to experiment on your own and play with these settings! Ping us at facebook.com/pixelsiitb for any queries or suggestions!


Happy clicking :)


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