Photography Basics – Free Photography Tutorials for Beginners

If I told you that learning the photography basics is not rocket science, you would likely agree with me.

However, mastering photography is not always an easy process because it takes systematic approach and sustained effort.

Photography Basics – Free Photography Tutorials for Beginners

It’s been over 12 years since I first seriously got involved in photography.

Now, after looking back and analyzing my journey, I see that the first few years of the learning process was far from a straight progression. It looked more like I was blindfolded and navigating an elaborate maze as I received contradicting directions from strangers yelling out “go right,” “go left” or “turn around!”

If someone could have simply pointed me in the right direction, I would have saved two years of wasted time.

What I also realized is that the process of learning photography is not that different from learning graphic design, a new language, computer programming or how to play a musical instrument. It is a multi-step process where each step is not difficult, and if you take the steps in the right order, learning becomes both easy and fun.

The key here is knowing the right order. Looking back, I clearly see that my problem was not taking the steps in the right order but in my own need to run ahead of myself to learn more advanced steps before mastering the basics first.

Another problem was that I tried to learn too much stuff at once, biting off more than I could chew.

The Photography Basics section on PhotoTraces.com is my attempt to create a single resource for learning the basics of photography in the right order, tackling it one step at a time.

Photography Basic – Free Tutorials for Beginners

Long Exposure Photography: In-Depth Guide

Are you struggling to do stunning long exposure photography? While long exposure techniques can get you ultra-powerful results, capturing beautiful long exposure images can seem difficult, if not downright impossible. Fortunately, creating long exposure photos isn’t as hard as you think. In fact, in this guide, I’m going to tell you everything you need to know about long exposure photography–so that, by the time you finish, you’ll be able to capture long exposure shots like a pro!…

Photography Cheat Sheet Selection [Top Infographics]

A photography cheat sheet is a graphical representation of one of the concepts of photography. As a visual person myself, I find that visual learning is the most effective method of absorbing and retaining complex information. Photography Cheat Sheets Below is the collection of cheat sheets and infographics I use on my website to accompany written articles and tutorials. Feel free to download the cheat sheets, printing them out and using them when you are out exploring…

RAW vs JPEG – The Ultimate Guide

I did not plan on writing a dedicated article on RAW vs JPEG. Why? I thought this ship had sailed long ago, and the time of heated debates over which format is better was well into the past. But, what I realized in teaching photography is that this topic is still confusing and unclear for every generation of newcomers who decide to join the exciting and wonderful photography realm. Here is my attempt to write the only…

Auto ISO in Photography: When to Use it and When to Avoid it

Auto ISO is a camera feature that beginners tend to ignore–but this is a mistake. Why? Because Auto ISO is one of the most useful methods for exposing images correctly while also achieving photos that are tack-sharp. In this article, I aim to explain everything you need to know about Auto ISO. By the time you’re finished, you’ll be able to use Auto ISO with ease, and you’ll know when it should be implemented for the best…

What Does It Mean to Shoot Wide Open?

If you’re interested in photography, then you’ve probably come across articles that talk about “shooting wide open.” But what does it mean to shoot wide open? What does “wide open” actually refer to? And when should you even try shooting wide open? In this article, I’m going to take you through everything you need to know about wide open photography. And by the time you’ve finished, you’ll know when and how to shoot wide open (for the…

How to Take Pictures of Stars: A Beginner’s Guide to Astrophotography

The How to Take Pictures of Stars Guide is the product of collaboration between Kevin Choi from CapturetheMoment.pics and Viktor Elizarov from PhotoTraces.com. At some point in the photography journey, every photographer entertains the possibility of getting into astrophotography. But, for many beginners, it is a scary proposition because of two major misconceptions. Misconception One The equipment for astrophotography is prohibitively expensive and, as a result, is out of reach for most beginners and hobbyists. This was true even five to seven years ago…

Urban Landscape Photography: Definition, Tips & Examples

How do you create gorgeous urban landscape photography? In this article, I’m going to take you through everything you need to know about urban landscapes. And by the time you’ve finished, you’ll be able to capture stunning urban landscape photos consistently. Let’s get started. Defining Urban Landscape Photography As you’re probably aware, landscape photography is a genre that’s dedicated to capturing nature and outdoor scenes. The best landscape photography allows viewers to connect with nature and experience…

Hyperfocal Distance In-Depth: Free Calculator & Charts

If you’re struggling to understand hyperfocal distance in photography, then you’ve come to the right place. In this article, I’m going to explain everything you need to know about hyperfocal distance, and how you can use it for photos that are sharp from front to back. In fact, if you desire the sharpest possible landscape photos, you must master hyperfocal distance–because without accurately estimating it, you’ll  often end up with blurry foregrounds and/or backgrounds. Let’s get started….

Best Time to Take Pictures Outside: In-Depth Gude (Infographics)

If you want gorgeous natural light photos, you have to understand the best time to take pictures outside. Why? Because the quality of light is key in photography–and the quality of the light changes, depending on the time of the day. In this article, I’m going to share with you exactly what you need to know, so that you can consistently pinpoint the times of day when you want to be shooting. When Is the Best Time…

Back Button Focus: Why and How You Should Be Using It

With every new generation, a camera’s autofocusing system becomes more sophisticated, more precise and more capable. But, even the most advanced autofocusing system can be fooled in difficult shooting conditions.

This is when we usually switch to manual focus, which allows a photographer to take full control over the camera’s focusing system.

Although manual focusing is precise, it is also complicated, inconvenient and time-consuming. The Back Button Focusing technique is a great alternative to manual focus because it allows a photographer to use the camera’s autofocusing system with the precision of manual focusing. It’s the best of both worlds.

F-Stop Chart Infographic – Aperture in Photography CheatSheet

If you’re looking to understand aperture in photography, then you’ve come to the right place. F-Stop Chart infographic graphically illustrates the different features of aperture and its relationship to the lens, F-stop, depth of field and light In this article, I’m going to cover the ins-and-outs of aperture in photography–so that by the time you’ve finished, you’ll know: F-Stop Chart Infographic as a CheatSheet for photographers What f-stop is Why f/1.8 is bigger than 1/22 Relationship between…

Focus Stacking: the Ultimate Guide (When, Why, How)

Do you want to know how to do high-quality focus stacking? Are you interested in creating amazing focus-stacked images? You’ve come to the right place. Because in this article, I’m going to tell you everything you need to know about focus stacking. I’ll explain what it is, how to do it, and software recommendations for pulling off incredible focus stacks. Now, focus stacking is an advanced photographic technique, one that intimidates a lot of beginners. But it’s…

Night Photography Settings – Set and Forget Method

Do you want to know the best night photography settings for amazing images? Do you want to capture stunning photographs at night? You’ve come to the right place. In this article, I’m going to tell you everything you need to know about settings for night photography: What settings to choose, why you should choose them, and how you can use the same settings to consistently capture gorgeous night photos. Because here’s the thing: Selecting the right settings…

Standard Photo Sizes: Making Sense of Photograph Print Sizes

Are you confused about standard photo sizes? Do you struggle to determine what typical photo sizes are used by printing companies or (even more confusing!) social media? Unfortunately, there are a whole lot of different photo sizes, and they’re not always easy to understand. Fortunately, we’ve got you covered. Because this article tells you everything you need to know about standard photo sizes, and how you should apply them to your own photography. Let’s get started. Two…

Fast Shutter Speed Explained: Capturing Sharp Photos, Repeatedly

Do you struggle to understand when and how you should use fast shutter speed? It’s a common problem. Shutter speed can be a tough concept to grasp, especially when you’re faced with choosing a shutter speed in the field. Fortunately, as long as it’s presented in the right way, shutter speed can actually be quite simple. That’s what this article is about–explaining fast shutter speeds in a way that makes it accessible to all. Let’s get started.

30 Photography Abbreviations and Acronyms. Do You Know All of Them?

Are you confused with all the photography abbreviations and terminology? Photography can be challenging when you’re just starting out or even if you have a few years of practice under your belt.  Learning all the photography abbreviations can be difficult. We get it. That’s why we’ve put together this helpful list of 30 of the most used photography abbreviations in the photography world. Photography Abbreviations and Acronyms How many do you know? Pretty sure you’ll learn some…

Matte vs Glossy Photos: When, Why and How

Would you like to know the difference between matte vs glossy photos? There seems to be a confusing array of photographic finishes available these days, and this article aims to help you decide which is right for you – glossy vs matte? Printed photos are making a bit of a comeback after being banished to the wilderness for 10-15 years by digital photography. Take the growing popularity of Instax cameras from Fujifilm, which are breaking all holiday…

Most Expensive Camera Today? Top 12 List

Have you ever wondered what the most expensive camera in the world is? We know, we often hear that the gear doesn’t make the photographer, right? A good photographer with excellent skills will take amazing photographs no matter what types of camera they use. But it’s always nice to dream and want to put our hands on the best camera possible. Wouldn’t it be great to shoot with a camera that has all the best features and…

Photography Terms: Top 45 Photography Slang Phrases You MUST KNOW

Any new skill can be confusing when getting started, especially something like photography. Photography is full of photography terms and lingo and can be overwhelming for any beginner. How do you know all of the most important photography terms? Do you want to know all of the basic photography terms that every beginner should know? There is a lot to cover when it comes to photography terminology, but we have you covered! Here are some of the…

Sunny 16 Rule. How & Why to Use It in Modern Photography

There are a lot of different rules and guidelines in photography to help make the photographer’s job easier. The Sunny 16 Rule is one such suggestion, intended to make reaching perfect exposure in bright conditions easier. If you do a lot of outdoor photography, you’ll often find that shooting at high sun times (like noon, for example) is particularly difficult and harsh- but Sunny 16 is here to help! What is the Sunny 16 Rule? The Sunny…

10 Crazy Photography Facts You Probably Didn’t Know

Photography is a great pastime and passion for many people, and it has a rich history and a bright future. Here are some of the most interesting photography facts that you may not know.  10. Kodak Doesn’t Mean Anything Whether you are into the photography world or not, most everyone has heard the name Kodak and knows its relation to photography. Little to most people know, the actual word doesn’t mean anything. This is quite the opposite…

Why Are My Photos Grainy and How to Fix Grainy Photos

There are a lot of different rules and guidelines in photography to help make the photographer’s job easier. The Sunny 16 Rule is one such suggestion, intended to make reaching perfect exposure in bright conditions easier.

If you do a lot of outdoor photography, you’ll often find that shooting at high sun times (like noon, for example) is particularly difficult and harsh- but Sunny 16 is here to help!

Top 10 Most Expensive Photographs Ever Sold

Have you ever wondered what the most expensive photograph ever sold was? How about how much it brought at auction? Most photographers that have ever sold a picture, or even though about selling a photo, has pondered. While photos from all different disciplines of photography have sold successfully, if we are talking about the most expensive photo ever sold, we are going to be talking about “fine art” photography.

What is EXIF Data? When to Keep it and When to Remove it

We have all heard the term, but what is EXIF data? What should we be doing with this data, and can it be dangerous? In this article, we will look at what EXIF data is, how we can read and manipulate it, and discuss what we should be doing with it, and why some feel it could be dangerous. Table of Contents What is EXIF DataHow can we read EXIF Data?How can we modify EXIF data?Should we…

What Is Chromatic Aberration? How to Avoid or Fix It

Do your images show signs of chromatic aberration, also known as color fringing or purple fringing? It’s a common problem. And it can easily reduce the quality of your images. Fortunately, there are a few simple ways to deal with chromatic aberration so that your images are free from color fringing. In this article, I’m going to explain how chromatic aberration occurs. And then I’m going to show you several easy ways to get rid of it….

ISO in Photography – Breaking Away from the Exposure Triangle

The goal of this photography fundamentals article is to answer the following questions: What is ISO in photography means and how do ISO camera settings affect the way we capture photos? ISO is one of the most misunderstood concepts in digital photography. If you think ISO is an abbreviation for “International Standards Organization” or that it is part of the exposure triangle, then you definitely need to read this article from beginning to end! What is ISO…

Grayscale vs Black and White vs Monochrome: the Difference Explained

If you are starting to take black and white images or are just looking at it as the next step in your photography, you’ve probably come across three terms (grayscale vs black and white vs monochrome) and wondered, “What is the difference?” The quick answer is, “Not very much.” But, let’s take a closer look at the various terms and their differences.

Shutter Speed Chart – Cheat Sheet for Controlling Motion in Photographs

Shutter speed is part of the exposure triangle along with aperture and ISO. Shutter speed doesn’t only control the exposure but also lets the creative photographer to innovate and experiment with the motion. When understood to the core, shutter speed is not a technical but a creative tool. The Shutter as an Essential Part of the Camera The shutter is the part of the camera that remains closed to prevent light from entering and reaching (exposing) the…

Exposure Triangle: Making Sense of Aperture, Shutter Speed & ISO

Exposure is the most critical concept in basic photography. It is a concept you must understand and master in the first few months of the learning process.

In photography, exposure defines how a photo is recorded by a camera and how much light is captured. If you let the camera capture too much light, the picture will be too bright or overexposed. If the camera sensor doesn’t capture enough light, the photo will be too dark or underexposed.

The photographer’s job is to strike a perfect balance by capturing the right amount of light to produce well-balanced images. To control the exposure in photography, you must understand its three main components—aperture, shutter speed and ISO. Together, these form the Exposure Triangle.

How to Know What Aperture to Use

Every starting photographer knows that the aperture of the lens controls the amount of light that enters the camera. The bigger the aperture, the more light reaches the camera sensor. However, the aperture has a second function of equal or even higher importance. The choice of aperture will determine what our image will look like in terms of sharpness. The goal of this article is to help you figure out when to use big or when to…

Why Are My Pictures Blurry or a Beginner’s Guide to Taking Sharp Photos

When we start learning photography and put our newly acquired knowledge into practice, the results are normally not very impressive. The most common problem beginning photographers often face is “soft” or “blurry” photos.

After analyzing thousands of photos taken by beginners, I reached the conclusion that there are 3 common mistakes that cause over 80% of the problems for aspiring photographers.

If you address these three issues, you’ll take perfectly sharp photos on a consistent basis.

Aperture In Photography Fundamentals

The aperture in photography is an opening in the lens of the camera that controls the amount of light that passes through to the digital sensor. The bigger the opening, the more light reaches the sensor. The smaller the opening, the less light that passes through.

By changing the aperture value with the help of the camera’s controls, we can manage the level of exposure in our photos.

The reason the aperture is considered one of the most important elements of the camera is because it also controls how much of the photographic subject is acceptably sharp and in focus. This acceptably sharp zone of focus is called the Depth of Field (DOF). The wider the aperture, the shallower the focus will be.

How to Take Photos with Blurred Background – Step by Step

If you want to know how to take photos with blurred background, you’ve come to the right place. People who are just starting in photography often ask me how they can blur the background in their photos. Many are aware of this effect, possibly having seen it in photos in magazines or on the internet, but don’t know how to achieve it with their own camera. The good news is that almost all cameras can blur the…

Understanding F-Stop In Photography

Beginner photographers are often confused by the term “f-stop”. They know it is somehow related to the concept of aperture and has something to do with depth of field but aren’t sure what exactly it stands for. Do you feel the same? Don’t worry because you’re certainly not alone. F-stop is indeed one of the most complicated concepts for everyone who makes his first steps in photography. It is also a very important one that you can’t…

Mastering Depth of Field (DoF) in Photography

It is a common misconception that professional photographers shoot only in manual mode, that is selecting the three most important settings – aperture, ISO number, and shutter speed – manually. In my experience, the most useful and convenient shooting mode is actually the Aperture Priority mode. With it, you can still control your Aperture and ISO but your camera sets the shutter speed automatically, prioritizing your choice of aperture. Why do I think so? Because the choice…

Understanding Light in Photography

If you want to learn everything about light in photography, you’ve come to the right place. What is the single most important thing you need to take a photograph? I guess “camera” was the first thing that came to your mind. And yet there are artists out there who create images with photosensitive materials without a camera. So what do they still need? That’s right. They need light. There is no photography without light. And I’ve dedicated…

Golden Ratio in Photography

If want to learn everything about the golden ratio in photography, you’ve come to the right place. Imagine you’re standing at the edge of a rock. There’s an incredible scene under your feet. Even the light is perfect. Yet, you look through the viewfinder and feel lost. How can you capture it? In a situation like this, the characteristics of your camera alone won’t get you a good photograph. You need something to limit your choices and help…

How to Capture Motion with Your Camera

There are three main elements of photography – Aperture, Shutter Speed, and ISO. What is common between these elements is that they allow a photographer to control how bright the captured photo is.  Apart from their shared elements, there are also a few key fundamental differences between them. Aperture controls the depth of field (DoF). ISO affects the level of noise in the digital files. Shutter speed is responsible for how we capture motion. Today, we will…

What Camera Should I Buy & How Much Should I Spend on My First Camera?

Before you can begin learning photography, you must have a camera and lens. There is no way around it. At the very least, you need a smartphone or a point-and-shoot camera to start taking photos.

Choosing the right photography equipment often becomes a major challenge for beginners wanting to learn photography.

I know people who decided to get involved in photography only to spend months, sometimes even years, analyzing equipment in what I call equipment paralysis. They endlessly work to create a list of the perfect camera and lenses. The goal of this article is to help beginners overcome the first stumbling block in the process of learning photography—equipment selection.

How to Get Perfect Exposure With Every Shot You Take

The skill of producing well-exposed photos is one of the most fundamental skills we must learn as photographers.

In digital photography today, besides having instant feedback through LCD screens or electronic view finders (EVF), all digital cameras have one very distinctive feature that helps us evaluate and adjust the exposure level.

What is it? The histogram.

Learning Composition in Photography – Practical Guide

I consider composition to be both the most important and the most complex component of photography. Composition is not easy to learn and takes years to master. The complexity comes from its artistic and subjective nature. Composition is difficult to quantify especially because everything is open to interpretation.

This tutorial from my Photography for Beginners series is my attempt to outline the most basic concepts of composition in photography. I also share simple and practical techniques on how to implement those concepts into your own photography.

Aperture Priority in Photography

One of the most common misconceptions about photography techniques that beginning photographers have is that professional photographers always shoot in Manual Mode.

This is far from the truth.

The most popular exposure mode professional photographers use is Aperture Priority.

In Aperture Priority Mode, the photographer controls the ISO and aperture and lets the camera set the appropriate shutter speed value. This is also known as semi-automatic mode.

Aperture Priority allows photographers to take advantage of the camera’s sophisticated metering system while having full control over the Depth of Field.

In over 90% of cases, I use Aperture Priority mode and am more than thrilled to share with you why and how I use it.

Auto Exposure Bracketing – the Practical Guide

What is exposure bracketing in photography? Why do I need it? How do I bracket photos? These are the most common questions I answer on a daily basis when teaching photography basics, which is why I decided to put together a Bracketing Guide. The Comprehensive Gude to Bracketing in Photography You will learn: What is Bracketing in Photography Types of Bracketing Reasons for Using Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB) How to Bracket the Exposure

What Is Shutter Speed In Photography?

Shutter speed is one of the three elements of the Exposure Triangle (aperture, shutter speed and ISO).

The shutter mechanism is a sophisticated door or curtain that resides in front of the camera’s sensor that is opened and closed with mind-blowing precision.

The shutter speed is not a measurement of speed. Instead, it is a measurement of time. It equals the amount of time the shutter stays open to let the light reach the camera’s sensor. It is measured in seconds or fractions of a second.

Photographers often use shutter speed as a creative tool. By using different shutter speed values, we can achieve stunning visual effects in our photos.