Photography Techniques and Equipment

As a photographer, there are few things more satisfying than mastering a new photography technique. Learning new photography techniques can open up new possibilities, and provide endless potential for inspiration.

 

  1. High Speed Photography

    High Speed Photography
    image by Rachel SaraiOne of the things that makes high speed photography most intriguing is that it freezes moments in time that are too fast for the naked eye to see. The trick to high speed photography is a tripod, a narrow aperture, a flash, and lots of patience.

  2. Night Photography

    Night Photography
    image by Jon PhillipsThe fun starts when the sun goes down! There is plenty of life to capture after dark. For high-quality night photography, you will need a super-slow shutter speed, and a tripod or solid surface to steady your camera for long exposures. Don’t forget to experiment with the rule of thirds as well, good old composition techniques are still valid here.

  3. Motion Blur

    Motion Blur
    image by Geraint RowlandMotion blur is the art of capturing a moving subject. This technique is often used in sports photography, but can also be used to create interesting images with light or fast moving objects. To effectively capture motion blur, slow down your shutter speed, and hold your camera still as your subject moves. You can also “pan” with the camera, moving it along to follow the subject before releasing the shutter. This will keep your subject in focus while blurring out the background.

  4. Black and White Photography

    Black and White Photography
    image by Pier-Luc BergeronBlack and white photography, when done effectively – conveys deep emotion or drama. But there’s more to black and white photography than just hitting the black and white filter in Photoshop. Effective B&W photography starts with the composition, making use of shadows, lighting, and strong subjects to create powerful imagery.

  5. Monochromatic Color Photography

    Monochromatic Color Photography
    image by AlexMonochromatic color photography captures images in a single hue or color. Much like black and white photography, monochromatic photography has a powerful way of conveying a message without much detail.

  6. Smoke Art Photography

    Smoke Art Photography
    image by Vanessa Pike-RussellSmoke art photography can be a challenging, yet extremely rewarding technique. Smoke trails create mysterious and captivating images that are intriguing, fascinating, and fun to capture.

  7. Macro Photography

    Macro Photography
    image by Ramón PortellanoMacro photography is rewarding and unique. It’s exciting to make huge images of subjects that are tiny, capturing minute details that are invisible to the human eye. The best way to make your macro photography stand out is to find subjects that are interesting and detailed. You can accomplish macro photography with just about any camera any lens, though the quality of the resulting images will vary depending on the equipment you use.

  8. Long Exposure Photography

    Long Exposure Photography
    image by Ben MortimerLong exposure photography can be used to achieve all kinds of interesting results, but it’s particularly popular when it comes to landscapes. A longer exposure effectively blurs movement, resulting in silky smooth water or soft, streaking clouds.

  9. Forced Perspective Photography

    Forced Perspective Photography
    image by Christiaan TriebertForced perspective is a fun, visual play on depth perception – with sometimes hilarious results! When composing a forced perspective image, make sure your main subject is either larger or smaller than everything else. This involves experimenting with interesting angles, and positions for your subjects. Have fun!

  10. Panoramic Photography

    Panoramic Photography
    image by Thomas BressonEven if you don’t have an expensive camera, you can capture panoramic photographs through a technique known as “panorama stitching”. This technique involves using a tripod, and taking a series of side-by-side photographs, and merging them together later on.

  11. Traffic Light Trails

    Traffic Light Trails
    image by peddhapatiTraffic light trails are a popular subject, and a great way to gets started with long exposure photography. To capture light trails, find a high traffic area in an otherwise dark location, set your tripod up, and use a slow shutter speed to blur the motion of the lights.

  12. Painting with Light

    Painting with Light
    image by Brian TomlinsonSimilar to traffic light trails, painting with light uses a long exposure to create illuminated “trails of light”. This fun technique can be used to create artistic images, or to add a creative spin to a photoshoot. All you need is a dark location, a slow shutter speed, and a source of moving light such as a flashlight or sparkler.

  13. Silhouettes

    Silhouettes
    image by Sascha KohlmannSilhouette photography is a fun and unique way to create dramatic photos. The best time for silhouettes is sunset or sunrise. To create the silhouette effect, position your subject in front of the sun, and shoot into the sun. A faster shutter speed will result in darker exposure, and a slower shutter speed will create a brighter image.

  14. Vintage Photography

    Vintage Photography
    image by sorenlyA cheap UV filter, and a dab of Vaseline is all you need to create slightly distorted, vintage-style photographs.

  15. Pinhole Photography

    Pinhole Photography
    image by Peter ManktelowPinhole photography is actually the foundation of modern photography. A pinhole camera is a simple camera with no lens, and a single small aperture. Light passes in through this single point, and produces images. You can make a pinhole lens for your camera by drilling a small hole in a body cap. Have fun taking beautiful, motion blurred photos.

  16. Reflection and Mirror Photography

    Reflection and Mirror Photography
    image by SwaminathanReflections can add a powerful sense of depth to a composition. While the most common reflective photographs take place over a body of water, reflections can be effective for many different settings. Try to use a small aperture such as f/11 or higher to help even out the subjects in the shot, enhancing the reflective effect.

  17. Water Drop Photography

    Water Drop Photography
    image by CrunchyLensWater drop photography freezes the action of a drop of water, creating interesting and artistic images. With water drop photography, you will want a small aperture, something like f/11 or f/14, to keep the surface of the water in focus. Use a flash, or a fast shutter speed such as 1/160 or faster to freeze the action.

  18. Zoom Blur Effect

    Zoom Blur Effect
    image by Balamurugan NatarajanThe zoom blur effect is a simple way to add some creative looking “fractured-blur” effects to your photographs. To achieve the zoom blur effect, set a slow shutter speed and zoom in or out while releasing the shutter.

  19. Lens Flare Effects

    Lens Flare Effects
    image by John LodderGetting lens flare into your photographs can be an unhappy accident if it’s unplanned. But learning to manipulate light bursts is a great way to add an interesting bit of flair to your photographs. You can achieve this effect by shooting towards the sun, and using different angles to manipulate the light and create a burst of light around your subjects.

  20. Kinetic Photography

    Kinetic Photography
    image by William ChoKinetic photography, also known as “camera toss photography”, is the art of capturing a photograph – while your camera is airborne! While this technique is a bit risky, it can result in some amazing photographs. Ideally, you only want to toss your camera a few inches in the air, and of course, ideally you will want to catch your camera on the way back down!

One of the great things about mastering different photography tips and techniques is finding new ways to incorporate them into everyday compositions. Using the techniques that we mentioned above, you can enhance everyday subjects, and turn ordinary opportunities into creative and artistic images that really stand out.

To become a photographer, we need several equipment.

1) The Camera

Nikon-D7000

The core of photography is a camera, or at least the sensor of a camera. At the moment, one of the biggest debates in the photography world is between two different types of cameras: mirrorless and DSLR cameras. Both have their merits, but a beginning photographer on a tight budget should be looking more closely at DSLRs. With entry-level models, new mirrorless cameras cost about the same as new DSLRs, and sometimes less. However, you can still buy older, high-quality DSLR equipment (including lenses) for a lower price than similar mirrorless gear. Mirrorless cameras are filling this gap quickly, but the best camera for a beginner on a budget is almost certainly a DSLR.

2) Lenses

Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G

Whereas a camera sensor will record the light that it receives, a lens’s job is arguably even more important: help the light get to the sensor in the first place.

Lenses range from the “free” — those which come in a kit with the camera — to the unbelievably expensive. As a beginner, it can be tough to determine which lenses are worth their asking price, especially if you have no prior knowledge of which lenses even exist in the first place.

If you want a high-quality beginning lens for the lowest possible price, you should look at prime lenses (those which do not zoom) or third-party lenses. I do not recommend starting with the kit lens that comes with some cameras (usually an 18-55mm zoom), since you will soon realize that you want something better.

My first recommendation, if you use a Nikon camera like the D7000, is to buy the wonderful Nikon 35mm f/1.8 DX lens. This tiny gem is sharp and it costs just under $200.

To add to the 35mm f/1.8, you will probably want a wide-to-telephoto zoom, and a good choice is the Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 OS lens. This is a particularly useful lens because it not only has a wide aperture of f/2.8 (which lets it work well in dark scenes), but it also has image stabilization to help make your handheld images sharper.

Or, if you would rather stick to a single lens, the revolutionary Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 is $800, and it would replace both the lenses above. It is a heavy lens, but it is amazingly high-quality.

Lenses are an individual decision, and these three are nothing more than my own recommendations. If you practice a more specific type of photography (such as wildlife), you could prefer completely different lenses. However, for a typical beginner, these lenses are a great way to find out what type of photography you like the most. Plus, they are good enough to keep even as you grow more specialized.

Total: $720 or $800, depending upon the lenses you choose

3) The Tripod

Manfrotto Tripod

Often overlooked and undervalued, a tripod doesn’t seem nearly as important as it really is. After all, three aluminum sticks glued together are no more complex than three sticks glued together. Right? Unfortunately, that logic is why many photographers choose to buy the least expensive tripod they can find, then leave it at home all the time because it’s cheaply-made and hard to use. A tripod should be as popular as its buddies Camera and Lens, but somewhere along the way it got the short end of the stick.

You will realize over time whether or not you need a tripod for your photography (and if you do, you will want a more expensive model at some point in the future), but it is important for a beginner to have a solid model as well. With that in mind, my recommendation is to get the Manfrotto MT190X3 tripod. It is not a perfect tripod, but I can say (having used the older version of this tripod extensively) that it should be more than enough for most beginners. Plus, at $150, it is pretty inexpensive (as far as good tripods go).

However, a tripod is not enough — you still need a ballhead so that you can adjust the position of the camera. I have tried a handful of ballheads in the $100 range, and I can say that the best (by far) that I have used is the Oben BE-126 ballhead. Even with my heaviest camera and longest telephoto lens, this ballhead has never slipped out of position, and it always locks tightly. This head isn’t quite as good as the most expensive ballheads from companies like Really Right Stuff or Arca Swiss, but it is fantastic for the price.

Total: $260

4) Software

Adobe-Photoshop-Lightroom-6-and-CC

There is a lot of competition for software that processes images, with the two most popular options being Capture One Pro and Adobe Lightroom. These two programs are similar — they both allow you to organize and edit your photos — but Lightroom is far less expensive. Some argue that Capture One Pro is better (whereas some argue the opposite), but Lightroom will is ideal for those on a budget, since it costs half the price. For what it’s worth, I only ever use Lightroom, and I find it to be wonderful.

Also, don’t give into the temptation to buy Photoshop just because it is so popular — most photographers will not actually need its features, since it is more of a graphics-oriented specialist program than something like Lightroom. Plus, it is far more expensive.

Total: $140, but $100 when you bundle Lightroom with a lens.

5) Lighting

Yongnuo Flash

Disclaimer: I don’t use much external lighting for my photos, mainly because I do not take many images of people. That said, most photographers will need a flash at some time or another, whether for portraits or for creative still-life photography.

Nikon brand flashes cost hundreds of dollars, assuming that you want a flash that can function off-camera in an automatic (TTL) mode. However, third-party flashes with those features can be fairly cheap — check out the Yongnuo YN-568EX, an extremely well-specified flash for the price of $105. Depending upon the genre of photography you practice most, this may be the only flash you need.

You may also want some light modifiers (such as reflectors), but I don’t recommend getting anything more until you are sure that you want to do portrait photography. There is no end to the world of light modifiers, and a beginner should learn the basics before deciding which complex lighting setups to buy.

Total: $105

7) Filters

Hoya

Filters are another essential element of a photographer’s toolbox. With digital cameras, only a few filters are even necessary in the first place (the old color-correction filters for film can be replicated using software like Adobe Lightroom) — but some filters cannot be replicated in post-processing. The single most useful filter for digital photography is a polarizer. Just like polarized sunglasses, these filters cut glare from shiny surfaces (other than metal), they darken skies, and they reduce haze. Plus, they make images look more vibrant and saturated.

If you are not a landscape photographer, you will want a polarizer because of these benefits — and if you are a landscape photographer, you will probably never remove the polarizer from your lens! Depending upon the lens or lenses that you use, you will need to get a polarizer of a specific size. Polarizing filters (and filters in general) are sized in millimeters — just like the front rings on a lens. For a lens with a 72mm ring (like the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 that I suggested above), you would need a 72mm filter.

If you are on a budget, buy a polarizer that is the same size as the filter ring of your largest lens. For example, you may choose to go with my suggestion to buy both the Nikon 35mm f/1.8 DX and the Sigma 17-55mm f/2.8 OS. If you do, these lenses have different filter ring sizes — the Nikon is 52mm, whereas the Sigma is 77mm. To use the same filter on both lenses, get a 77mm filter a plus a 52mm-to-77mm step-up ring. This is a lot less expensive than buying two filters!

Filters can be expensive, and with good reason — a bad filter will harm the image quality of every image you take. So, don’t skimp on a filter! One brand known for a good balance of price and quality is Hoya, which is my first recommendation for a beginning photographer.

 

If you decide that landscape photography is your favorite type, you will probably need two additional filters: a graduated neutral density filter to darken skies (get a rectangular graduated filter, not a circular one) and a regular neutral density filter to blur moving water. However, both of these are specialist filters, and I recommend waiting until you know what you want before buying either. For now, a high-quality polarizing filter should be more than enough.

Total: $60 if you bought the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8, a bit over $90 if you bought the Nikon 35mm f/1.8 and Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 OS. 

Ok, so that’s a bit over $2000. If you get the items above, you truly could go for years without needing any more photography equipment. And, when you do decide to buy more specialized gear, all of these items are high-quality enough that you can keep them around for a long time.

I hope this article has helped you see what you need to put together a camera system for a moderate budget.

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