6 Free Tutorials to Learn Essential Photography Skills in 20 Minutes
Master basic photography concepts and techniques with the help of Domestika teachers
Photography is an art of infinite possibilities that, despite its almost 200-year existence, is becoming increasingly popular thanks to digital technology and social networks.
According to Rise Above Research, a company that provides marketing services for digital imaging professionals, in 2021 we will take close to 1.4 trillion photos worldwide - a figure that shows the extent to which photography now plays a fundamental role in our lives.
Although this year there will be more photos snapped than ever throughout history, the distance between a filtered duckface selfie and a great photo that moves millions remains significant. So, if you want to venture into this art, it's time to explore some visual techniques and broaden your knowledge of photographic equipment. Here, we share a few basic tutorials to get you on your way.
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Photography Tutorial: How to Set up a Self-Portrait
While taking a selfie is probably what best demonstrates how we relate to the image in the contemporary world, taking a self-portrait is as old as photography itself.
As far as we know, the first photographic self-portrait was captured in 1839 by Robert Cornelius, an American businessman who posed for 15 minutes so that his face was imprinted on a silver plate with iodine and mercury salts. This method of capturing images is known as a daguerreotype, invented by the French Louis Daguerre, who is considered the forerunner of modern analog photography. He presented his innovative method to the French Academy of Sciences on August 19, 1839 - and that is why we celebrate World Photography Day on that date.
This very early selfie has survived the test of time thanks to the technical prowess shown by Cornelius. If you also want to dabble in self-portraiture and make memorable images with today’s more advanced tools, check out this tutorial by Laura Zalenga (@laurazalenga). The photographer, who has collaborated with companies such as Adobe, Disney, and Mercedes-Benz, teaches you how to use the timer on your mobile phone or the app of your digital SLR camera to take self-portraits that express your individuality.
Nature Photography Tutorial: Key Tips for Beginners
Camera lenses are designed to mimic the human eye in how they operate. The clearest example of this is the diaphragm, a mechanical device with blades that open and close in order to regulate the entry of light into the system of mirrors and lenses. As you may know, this is also how the iris works in the human eye, adapting to different light conditions to allow us to see clearly.
To find out how open or closed your lens' diaphragm is, all you have to do is check what you've got the f-number set to, which changes the size of the aperture.
The lower the f value (f/1.4, f/1.8, f/2.2, etc), the larger the aperture, which means that you are letting more light into your lens. On the contrary, if your f-number has a value higher than f/5, your diaphragm aperture is small, so you'll be allowing minimal light to enter.
Quick tip: to check and control the value of the f-number, you can twist the rotary wheel at the base of your lens or alter it through the settings on your digital camera.
Nature photography is an excellent opportunity to put everything related to the aperture of the diaphragm into practice. And, for Spanish photographer and videographer Álvaro Valiente (@alvarovaliente_), patience is one of the most important non-technical elements to consider when taking nature and landscape photography.
In addition to waiting for the right moment to shoot (after sunrise, for example) or adapting to the weather, Álvaro also recommends that you know your photographic equipment thoroughly before going out into nature. Learn more basic tips in this tutorial.
Photography Tutorial: Lenses for Beginners
Another essential element to take amazing photos is the focal length, a value that you should know before you start shooting or buying new lenses.
The focal length determines what the angle of view of your shot will be - as in, how much magnification there will be in your frame and what elements will appear in the final photo. For example, if you are using an 18mm lens to photograph a tree, your frame will be more open, and the surrounding background elements (mountains, houses, the sky, etc.) will be visible; while with a 90mm lens, you will have a great close-up and you might just see the branches or the leaves.
To learn more about the focal length and its application, take a look at this tutorial from Brazilian photographer Gustavo Minas (@gustavominas). The street photography expert explains the main characteristics of three different types of lenses: the wide-angle, the telephoto lens, and the 50mm. You will also find out why that last lens is a favorite among many masters of street and documentary photography.
Photography Tutorial: Tips for Portrait Photography
Lighting, which can come from different sources, is one of the most important external elements when taking photographs. Whether you prefer to use sunlight or to work with artificial studio lighting, you should know how to identify the effects that soft and hard light generate on your model.
Once you have learned how to use hard and soft light to produce visual effects, the next step is to connect with your model to achieve photographs that impact the viewer. Building a bond of trust with the person you are going to portray will allow you to get the best from them as a model and from yourself as a photographer, something photographer Emilia Brandão (@emiliabrandao) knows very well.
With experience working for fashion and beauty magazines such as Vogue and GQ, she will be your guide in this tutorial. She will explain that, as a photoshoot can often be uncomfortable for a model, it's essential to always put yourself in their shoes.
She will tell you how to make them feel at ease and give you tips for best relating to your model and be able to communicate in your final take.
Photography Tutorial: How to Photograph a Sunset
As mentioned earlier, analog photography is based on the advances and principles of the daguerreotype, a technique that used light-sensitive chemicals to give life to the first photographic images.
Over the years and when the film roll was introduced, the term ISO became popular to define the sensitivity to light of the film used by traditional analog cameras. Today, the ISO value is also used in digital photography as a variable that determines how much light the electronic sensor of your DSLR (digital SLR) camera will be able to capture.
If your favorite time of day to take photos is when the sun goes down, you will need to master the suitable ISO setting, as shown in this tutorial by Argentine photographer Nico Ferreyra (@ nicoferreyra6) on photographing sunsets.
See how the low light and the short action time of sunsets make it essential to know how to handle the ISO of your camera and how, in certain circumstances, you will have to keep the camera at a low level to achieve better results. Similarly, Nico shares planning tips to help you capture all the colors and textures of this stunning time of day.
What did you think of these quick photography tips? If you're looking to deepen your knowledge of photo art, check out Domestika's digital photography courses.
You may also like:
- What Is Focus in Photography?
- In Pictures: 10 Winners of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Awards 2021
- Top Tips for Mastering Night Photography
- Directing People for Portrait Photography, a course by Emilia Brandão
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