Photography is a very interesting activity, whether pursued professionally or as a hobby. With the advent of digital cameras, photography has become a very easy subject to be learned. The biggest advantage of digital over film camera is that it allows the user to click as many pictures as they want, while in film photography the film allows limited number of pictures to be taken. With digital cameras one can also have a quick preview of the shots taken, and check the output to review and improve their work. But, whether learning photography using digital camera or a film-based one, learning the basics will greatly help while shooting different subjects.
Whether it comes to basics of film or digital photography, understanding the exposure triangle is imperative. The exposure triangle constitute the ISO, the shutter speed, and the aperture. Play with the different settings of these three elements and review your shots. Many digital cameras have the option that shows the exposure as 0 (zero), which means the scene is properly exposed, underexposed setting is displayed with the minus sign, and overexposed with a plus. So, always frame your shots that have a zero exposure setting to click well-lit shots by adjusting the below basic elements and their settings.
ISO: The ISO is the measure of a digital camera's sensor's sensitivity to light. The figures like 100, 200, 400, etc., are the settings used to display ISO in a camera. Keep the ISO higher when there is less light or when the subject is moving; and maintain a high ISO to get more sharpness and less noise in your shots and when there is sufficient light to expose your subject.
Shutter Speed: Shutter speed is defined as the amount of times the shutter of the camera is left open. Shutter speed is measured in fractions and figures like 1/1500,1/250,1/60, 1/8, etc. Some cameras even allow slow shutter speeds of 1 second to 30 seconds, and few digital cameras shutter speed setting have 'bulb' setting that allows the user to keep the shutter open for as long as the user wants. For shutter speeds higher than 1/8 you will need a tripod or the image stabilizer option. Faster shutter speed will allow you to capture the motion lines like the traffic lines. Slower shutter speeds will allow you to freeze motion like water droplets falling.
Aperture: This is the size of the opening in the lens of the camera. It is measured in f-stops and you will see setting like f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, f/22, etc. One important point to remember is that f/22 is actually smaller than the setting of f/2.8, which means that when there are smaller denominators there is larger f-stops and vice versa. Keeping the aperture small will help you to create a depth of field. Keeping a large aperture will help to focus on the complete scene.
Basics of Composition
Understanding the basics of composition will greatly help to shoot better pictures. One way to compose your picture is to fill the frame, second way is to understand the rule of thirds. To understand the rule of thirds imagine two equally spaced vertical lines and two equally spaced horizontal lines in a rectangle. The four areas where the lines intersect with each other are the points where one should try to place their subject. As these are the areas where the eye is first compelled to look at.
Basics Controls of Digital Cameras
There are many auto modes on the camera, that allow the user to just point and shoot, without changing any exposure setting. Some of the modes are landscape, sports, night landscape, night portrait, party, sunset, etc. Another mode is macro, which allows you to take macro shots that let you capture the details and texture in close-up shots. You can switch to manual mode and play around with the ISO, aperture, and shutter speed settings to control the exposure. There are controls in digital camera that allow you to shoot in sepia, black and white, and other modes, than the usual color pictures mode. Certain cameras for digital photography even offer the image stabilization option, which should be always kept on as it reduces the chance of blurring the shot.
So, practice with different exposure settings in your camera and remember to follow the rule of thirds to compose your shots better. Good luck!