Chapter 1: Introduction To Photography – The Ultimate Beginners Photography Guide

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The Black Light Studios

Welcome to my Free Online Photography Course: The Ultimate Beginners Photography Guide. This is the first chapter of “The Ultimate Beginners Photography Guide”.

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Table Of Contents For Chapter:1

  • What Is Photography?
  • A Brief History Of Photography.
  • What Are The Things You Need For Photography?
  • Three Fundamental Camera Settings You Need To Know.
  • Self assesment Questions (SAQ’s) On Photography.
  • Most Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) On Photography.
Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

What Is Photography?

Photography is the art, application, and practice of creating durable images by recording light, either electronically by means of an image sensor, or chemically by means of a light-sensitive material such as photographic film.

In simple words it is the art of capturing light with a camera, usually via a digital sensor or film, to create an image. With the right camera equipment, you can even photograph wavelengths of light invisible to the human eye, including UV, infrared, and radio.

It is employed in many fields of science, manufacturing, and business, as well as its more direct uses for art, film and video production, recreational purposes, hobby, and mass communication.

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Photography can be thought of as two pursuits:

  1. Technical: The science of setting up the camera and the recording medium to take images in a controlled way.
  2. Creative: The art of composing good images to capture.

Traditional photography uses film as the recording medium, which is a chemical process. Modern photography is heavily geared towards digital photography, which is an electronic process. In either type of photography the basic process is the same as shown in the below diagram (Illistration):

Illustration of capturing light via digital sensor in camera through lens (optical element).

A Brief History Of Photography

Color photography started to become popular and accessible with the release of Eastman Kodak’s “Kodachrome” film in the 1930s. Before that, almost all photos were monochromatic – although a handful of photographers, toeing the line between chemists and alchemists, had been using specialized techniques to capture color imagesfor decades before. You’ll find some fascinating galleries of photos from the 1800s or early 1900s captured in full color, worth exploring if you have not seen them already.

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These scientist-magicians, the first color photographers, are hardly alone in pushing the boundaries of one of the world’s newest art forms. The history of photography has always been a history of people – artists and inventors who steered the field into the modern era.

Below is the list of few of the most important names for contributuing, inventions, etc. in the world of photography.[1][2]

1. Joseph Nicéphore Niépce

The first permanent photograph was captured in 1826 (some sources say 1827) by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce in France. It shows the roof of a building lit by the sun. You can see it reproduced below:

First Photograph by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce in 1826 (or 1827) – “View from the Window at Le Gras”.

The above mentioned first permanent photograph is well known as “View from the Window at Le Gras”.

Cameras had already existed for centuries before this, but they had one major flaw: You couldn’t record a photo with them! They simply projected light onto a separate surface – one which artists used to create realistic paintings, but not strictly photographs. Niépce solved this problem by coating a pewter plate with, essentially, asphalt, which grew harder when exposed to light. By washing the plate with lavender oil, he was able to fix the hardened substance permanently to the plate.

“The discovery I have made, and which I call Heliography, consists in reproducing spontaneously, by the action of light, with gradations of tints from black to white, the images received in the camera obscura.”

Joseph Nicéphore Niépce
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2. Louis Daguerre

Louis Daguerre created the first commercial photographic material well know as “The Daguerreotype” also at France in 1839. Daguerreotypes are images fixed directly to a heavily polished sheet of silver-plated copper. This invention is what really made photography a practical reality – although it was still just an expensive curiosity to many people at this point.

He became known as one of the fathers of photography. Though he is most famous for his contributions to photography, he was also an accomplished painter and a developer of the diorama theatre.

“I have seized the light. I have arrested its flight.”

Louis Daguerre
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3. Alfred Stieglitz

Alfred Stieglitz was a photographer, but, more importantly, he was one of the first influential members of the art community to take photography seriously as a creative medium. He believed that photographs could express the artist’s vision just as well as paintings or music – in other words, that photographers could be artists. Today’s perception of photography as an art form owes a lot to Stieglitz.

Alfred Stiglitz was from United States and his contribution period was from late 1800s through mid 1900s.

“In photography, there is a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality.”

Alfred Stieglitz
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4. Dorothea Lange

One of the most prominent documentary photographers of all time, and the photographer behind one of the most influential images of all time (shown below), is Dorothea Lange. If you’ve ever seen photos from the Great Depression, you most likely have seen some of her work. Her photos shaped the field of documentary photography and showed the camera’s potential for power more than almost anyone else in history.

Dorothea Lange’s world famous documentary photo well known as “Migrant Mother“.

She was from United States and her contribution period was in 1930s.

“The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.”

Dorothea Lange
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5. Ansel Adams

Ansel Adams is perhaps the most famous photographer in history, which is remarkable because he mainly took pictures of landscapes and natural scenes. (Typically, famous photographers have tended to photograph people instead.) Ansel Adams helped usher in an era of realism in landscape photography, and he was an early champion of the environmentalism and preservation movements in the United States.

Ansel Adams Photography “The Tetons and the Snake River”

Ansel Adams was from United States and his contribution period was around 1920s to 1960s. The above image is well known as “The Tetons and the Snake River” by Ansel Adams.

“There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept.”

Ansel Adams

Since then we have came a long way. There is always something new coming up in this digital world of photography. Below is an example of how advanced we are now and we are still getting better technologies everyday.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Now that we have covered the history of photography, let’s get to the next topic of our Chapter:1 – Introduction To Photography: The Universal Language.

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What Are The Things You Need For Photography?

In this topic we will take a look at the things you need for photography. I will start with the most important and basic things and as we go on I will list few more things which are not necessary for you as a beginner but also could be very helpful to you as a beginner photographer.

Basic And Important Things You Need For Photography:

There are only three most important things you need as a photographer. They are, a camera, lens (or lenses) and post processing software. Now let’s elaborate those three things:

Camera

A camera could be anything, it also be your smartphone which is one of the cheapest camera available to you. If you choose a dedicated camera (rather than a phone) pick the one with interchangeable lenses so that you can try out different types of photography more easily.

While choosing your first camera you need to keep few things in mind like, the reason you are buying a camera (of course) but what do I mean by that. You can refer my article on Ultimate Guide On Buying Your First Camera, Lens And Accessories – Photography And Cinematography 2021 for detailed information on choosing your first camera.

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Lens (or Lenses)

The most important thing in photography is a lens. If you want to invest in something I would say invest in better glass which means invest in good and high quality lenses. As a beginner my recommendation for you would be start with a zoom lens which you usually get as a kit lens while buying a camera. If you want to do potrait photography you can choose 50mm and 85mm prime lens, if you want to do landscape photography you can choose 12mm, 16mm, 25mm and 35mm prime lenses.

Note: Stay tuned for article version of my free online photography course to know more about different types of photography and zoom lenses and prime lenses.

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Post-processing Software

You will need to edit your photos one way or another for start you can just use the apps available to you in your phones and desktop but my recommendation would be to get a good software like Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop. As you go along the way you will learn a lot with your own experience how important is post-processing your photos and how to do it perfectly.

Now, that we have seen the three important things let’s take a look at other things which are not necessary but could be very helpful to you as a beginner:

  1. Tripod: You can use your tripod for avoiding camera shake and tripods are a good friend of a landscape photographer.
  2. Extra Batteries: Having an extra set of batteries always comes in handy. We never know how long your camera will perform on a single charge especially as a beginner also it is helpful especially for travel photographers. You won’t have to worry if you are on a long duration of a photoshoot.
  3. Cleaning Kit: Having a cleaning helps you keep your camera and especially your lens. You do not want any dust particle getting stuck in to your camera sensor when you don’t have a lens mounted on your camera and you also don’t want your finger prints on lens as it will ruin your perfect photo.
  4. UV/ND/Circular Polarizing Filters: Having a lens filter helps you protect your lens and get a good photo. Each and every filter have a different use so stay tuned to The Black Light Studios for more information on Lens Filters.
  5. Flash Or Lighting Equipments: Lighting is also one of the important factor for photography but it can also be expensive sometimes. Lighting sets the mood of your image. As a beginner my recommendation would be to choose a camera with built in flash.
  6. Storage Device: By storage device I mean always having an extra set of SDHC, SDXC and micro SD cards is helpful.
  7. Camera Bag: Having a good quality camera bag will help you carry your camera and other equipments you will need.
  8. There are many several other equipments like remote shutter releases but don’t worry about those as you won’t really be needing as a beginner and as you go on improving and learning skills you will automatically know what you will need in future.

Now you know what you need for photography. So, let’s get started with our next topic on camera settings. I won’t be explaining each and every camera settings to you as it is just our first chapter. I will go in depth on camera settings in my upcoming chapters. For now lets take a look at the important ones.

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Three Fundamental Camera Settings You Need To Know

It doesn’t matter what camera you are using whether it is a Digital SLR (DSLR), Mirrorless Camera’s, point and shoot camera’s or any other camera you will have dozens of buttons, menu sections and camera settings.

If you pick wrong camera settings your image definitely won’t come out as you want. So, How to pick the right settings? and How to do it or learn it quickly? The answer for both of those questions are same, it is hard but not that hard.

There might be many settings in your camera but you will not be using all of them at once or some you might not even touch. So, there are only three fundamental and most important settings which you will be using all the time and it will require adjustments according to the situations.

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The three fundamental and most important settings are as follows:

  1. Shutter speed: Shutter speed is the amount of time your camera sensor is exposed to the light while taking a picture. [Chapter:2 – Shutter speed]
  2. Aperture: Aperture is basically the opening of your lens that can open and close to let in different amounts of light. [Chapter:3 – Aperture]
  3. ISO: Technically a bit more complex, but similar to the sensitivity of film for taking pictures in different lighting conditions. [Chapter:4 – ISO]

This is the end of Chapter:1 – Introduction To Photography: The Universal Language of the Free Online Photography Course Article Version. but before you go here are some Self Assesment Questions (SAQ’s) and most common Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s).

Self Assesment Questions (SAQ’s) On Chapter:1

  1. What is photography?
  2. Who captured the first permanent photograph?
  3. Where was the first permanet photograph taken?
  4. What are three basic and important things you need for photography?
  5. What are the three fundament camera settings?
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Most Common Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) On Photography

  1. What are the different types of photography?

Answer: There are many different types of photography such as street photography, landscape photography, portrait photography, documentary photography, food photography, travel photography and many. Stay tuned for upcoming chapters to get detailed information on different types of photography.

  1. Who took the first selfie?

Answer: The first photographic portrait ever taken was a self-portrait, or a “selfie”. It was captured in 1839 by Robert Cornelius, an amateur chemist and photography enthusiast from Philadelphia.

  1. What do you need for photography?

Answer: To start taking pictures, all you need is a camera, which can be anything from a basic smartphone to an advanced DSLR or a mirrorless camera. However, photography equipment is not all that important – light, subject, emotion and composition are all critical elements of a successful photograph.

  1. What equipment do I need as a beginner photographer?

Answer: If you are just starting out in photography, all you need is a camera that you are comfortable with. The rest of photography equipment is going to be based on your needs. For example, if you want to do landscape photography, you will need a number of different lenses, a tripod and filters. For portrait photography, you will need to invest in a good portrait lens and potentially some lighting equipment.

  1. How can I learn photography?

Answer: You can learn photography from many books and online resources such as this free online course. A lot of information related to photography can be obtained for free in the forms of articles and videos. This article is a part of The Ultimate Beginners Photography Guide, which is provided by The Black Light Studios for free to everyone. Most important tip in learning photography is to take photos and learn through your own experience.

  1. What is the best type of photography?

Answer: Every photography genre has its own appeal. Some people like some genres of photography more than others.

This is it for this post. Thank You! for visiting The Black Light Studios, I hope you find this article helpful to you and got the information you were looking for. Stay tuned for more posts like these by subscribing to The Black Light Studios website. If you have any suggestion or feedback comment down below or contact us through the contact form via contact menu.

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