How To Get Into Photography

Photo by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash

Since lockdown has started, I started to try new hobbies, from a YouTube channel up to Chess, there’s one that I’m enjoying the most, which is Photography. I bought the Canon 250D, initially for my YouTube channel, then I thought, why not start shooting too? And to be honest, it’s an expensive hobby, especially if you want to try different types of photography.

But here I am to share how you can start in this wonderful world of Photography and some basics for you to understand.

What I like the most about photography, it’s there are so many types of photography:

  • Street photography
  • Landscapes photography
  • Portraits photography
  • Astro-photography
  • Wild photography
  • Sports photography
  • Architectural photography
  • And many more

Then I decided which ones I want to learn more about, sometimes I try new ones, but Street and Landscapes photographies are the ones that I like the most. And remember that this hobby is expensive? Yes, it is and depending on the type of photography you want to master, it becomes even more expensive. Why?

To start in this it’s necessary to learn some stuff first, like Shutter speed, Aperture, ISO, and how they relate to each other. Then I had to choose one or two types of photographs to dive into.

ISO

The ISO is how sensitive you want your sensor to be, the higher the ISO more sensitive it is, but with bigger sensitivity, we have a more noisy photo.

Shutter Speed

This is pretty simple, it’s the velocity of the shutter indicating for how long you want the sensor to receive the light, this means that if you want to “freeze” an image in time, it should be fast, but if you want long exposure, you want to make it slower.

Aperture

I like to compare the Aperture as our eyes iris, having the same behavior, the aperture is indicated by an F-stop, which means that the smaller the number, the more open it is, or the bigger the number tighter it is. If you want to have more light coming through the lenses you want to open more and more.

The combination of ISO, Shutter Speed, and Aperture is what we call Trinity of Photography, one depends on the other, if we change one we have to balance the other variables, but one is almost "constant", the ISO should be the smaller as possible, because then we won't have noise in our photos.

The gear’s path

Now it comes the expensive part, but if you want to continue in this hobby, then you have to put money into it.

Camera body

Here you have one of the most expensive and by far the most important thing you need, without a camera you can’t shoot right? And then you have to consider some information to buy a camera. If you want a Crop Sensor or a Full Frame Sensor. I will not spend time explaining the difference, you can check here. But it’s important to notice that Crop Sensor has a 1.6 factor (for cannon), which means that if you are shooting with a 10mm focal length in Crop will have the same angle as 16mm in Full Frame.

Usually, we start with a Crop sensor and then later we upgrade to a Full Frame sensor. It’s ok for you to go directly to Full Frame, but have in mind that Full Frame is more expensive (considerably). But it does not mean that Full Frame is 100% better than Crop, that’s why I think it’s nice to have both overtime.

Here’s a tip, it does not matter the camera you buy, always shoot in RAW.

Lens

This is the most important gear you must have, and trust me, you won’t have only one. After the body, the lens is the most expensive, actually, depending on the lens you want, it’s more expensive than some camera bodies out there. But let’s talk about the basics first.

If you have a DSLR camera, it means that you can change the lens in your camera, usually, when you buy a new camera, it comes with kit lens that that is ok for beginners such as me, but it does not bring the greatest quality. Be careful to think that the most expensive lens will bring you better quality, if you don't know how to work with it, it does not matter.

But the most important thing you need to understand is the different types of lenses you have, from wide lenses to super-telephoto lenses. Each one of those has different purposes. I can’t tell you all of them, because it’s too much to put in one article, but here it goes.

  • Wide lens
  • Normal lens
  • Zoom lens
  • Prime lens
  • Telephoto lens
  • Super-Duper Zoom lens

As I said above, each lens has its “purpose”, but it does not mean that you can’t use one lens for “everything”, there are some exceptions actually.

We have this Trinity of Lenses that supports you in 90% of the cases you might need, but for the other 10%, you might need a specific lens for that. Also, one thing it's important you will discover about yourself over time is this, if you are a prime lens or a zoom lens photographer. I am a zoom lens photographer.

How expensive it can get? Really expensive, like this one I’ve seen on Amazon

Canon Telephoto Zoom Lens, 70–200mm, F2.8 which costs more than 2k euros, it’s a shit load of money for a lens, but the quality it brings is superior compared to other cheap lenses.

Then we have this certain point that you have to choose if we want to have a nice gear that brings quality or save money (as you can see, a lot). As a hobbyist, I don’t need much gear, but as I grow as a photographer I might re-think it if I want to reach another level. But for sure, you don’t need much gear to be a great photographer, but your photos might need if you want to improve them.

Trinity of Lenses

As mentioned before, we have this call Trinity of lenses that goes from 10mm up to 200mm (from wide-angle up to narrow-angle with zoom). This means that with this group of lenses you have the flexibility to shoot in almost any situation, from a nice landscape of mountains up to sports or animals.

For wide lens, it can change a little bit if you have a crop sensor or a full frame sensor. If you have a crop sensor, it's nice to have a wide lens with a 10mm up to 18mm range, which can help you to take some nice landscape photos when you have space for it. But if you have afull frame sensor you can have the 16mm up to 30mm lens (or in this range). Wide-angle are the ones below 18mm.

Now, for you to have the trinity you need:

  • Wide lens, from 16mm or 10mm
  • “Normal” zoom lens, from 24mm up to 70mm or 105mm
  • Telephoto lens, from 70mm up to 200mm or 300mm

With these lenses, you can go out and shoot almost anything, landscapes, portraits, sports, animals, long-distance objects.

But also, bear in mind that, not only those lenses can be expensive, but also can be heavy.

Tripod

It’s possible to shoot without a tripod but without a tripod, you can’t shoot some important things, like sunsets, long exposure, double exposure. Unless you have a robot arm that can freeze for seconds, then it will be a little bit complicated to do without a tripod.

We have some types of tripods but they aren’t rocket science, it depends on how firm you want the camera to be when shooting at some moments, or if the legs are independent of each other, the material. Anyway, it gets expensive but you can find a nice one of good quality at a good price.

Backpack to carry your gear

Now things are getting real, you have a camera with at least 1 lens and a tripod, it is getting heavy and then you need a backpack to carry your things over. To have a photography backpack it’s important, especially when you travel a lot, and depending on the backpack, it gets really expensive, not lens expensive, but you have to spend some money on it.

Image editor

I consider this digital gear, but an important one. Without it, you can’t process your images and bring different visions of your photos. For example, you shoot in color, and then you want to make it Black and White. Or increase the light exposure. And so on.

Image editor can be free, using Gimp or you can pay a monthly fee to use Adobe Lightroom. Or if you want, you can try some editors with nice AI tools, such as Luminar AI. But what I mean is, it's a must-have. Photography starts with looking at the subject to shoot and ends with processing your image. (Of course, we have the print step, more on this later).

What now?

Now you have to shoot, go ahead and shoot, learn about Compositions, how to use light, color’s theory. And shoot everything you see, to learn how to manage your gear and how changing some configuration impacts the end result of your photo. Then put in your computer, and try Lightroom, Photoshop to process your photos, you can learn a lot from YouTube videos, seriously, you can learn almost anything there.

Oh, I don’t want to spend thousands, can I shoot with my phone?

Yes, you can, if your smartphone allows you to configure the ISO, Shutter speed, and Aperture, and most importantly you can shoot in raw, that’s fine, you can do everything with your phone. Nowadays our smartphones have great in-built cameras. It’s always about taste. But remember, your phone only covers the gears part, you still need to learn how to process your images and composition, and color's theory, and many more.

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Igor Carvalho

Igor Carvalho

I’m a tech lover, blogger, YouTuber, Netflix watcher, and on my daily work I’m a software engineer with several years of experience.