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I've never tried photography before in any serious way. To me, taking photographs would take away from the moment, not add anything to it. But my best friend bought a great camera and started to talk about it as an art form, so maybe I should learn the basics and borrow his camera. I've had lots of friends in Australia and even my stepdad take up photography, and one of my cousins does it professionally. I love to see patterns in things, so my real question was this:

Is it easy for a newbie to pick up photography, and take incredible powerful photographs with a simple cheatsheet of tips?

I don't yet have that cheatsheet ready, but I'm working on it.

Top 10 Cheatsheet

  1. Story / Focus - pick your subject to tell a story (examples: enchanting cobblestone street, earthy produce, empowered woman, majestic sunset etc). It must be powerful.
  2. Lighting - good lighting makes a photo... know what weather conditions make good photos - shadows can ruin a photo (think: distracting shadows on a face), or make it (think: sunsets shadows). Go outside when the conditions are right. Shoot with light behind you (for front lit subject and hopefully not squinting), watch your shadow, or for adventurous try with the sun behind the subject for a silhouette or glow.
  3. Simplify the shot - it's about what you cut out of your photo... remove anything that is distracting from the subject. Do you want whole mountain, or just an elegant tree with it's reflection.

Demo of ISO.

Photography Basics

  • Shutter Speed: How long camera shutter is open to expose the camera sensor to light and typically measured in fractions of a second. Slow shutter speeds allow more light in and are used for low-light and night photography, while fast shutter speeds help to freeze motion. Examples of shutter speeds: 1/15 (1/15th of a second), 1/30, 1/60, 1/125.
  • Aperture: A hole within a lens, through which light travels into the camera body. The larger the hole, the more light passes to the camera sensor. Aperture also controls the depth of field, which is the portion of a scene that appears to be sharp. If the aperture is very small, the depth of field is large, while if the aperture is large, the depth of field is small. In photography, aperture is typically expressed in “f” numbers (also known as “focal ratio”, since the f-number is the ratio of the diameter of the lens aperture to the length of the lens). Examples of f-numbers are: f/1.4, f/2.0, f/2.8, f/4.0, f/5.6, f/8.0.
  • ISO – a way to brighten your photos if you can’t use a longer shutter speed or a wider aperture. It is typically measured in numbers, a lower number representing a darker image, while higher numbers mean a brighter image. However, raising your ISO comes at a cost. As the ISO rises, so does the visibility of graininess/noise in your images. Examples of ISO: 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600.


  • Photography Tutorial: ISO, Aperture, Shutter Speed - Nice examples of changing these 3 properties.
  • 7 SIMPLE photography TIPS I wish I knew EARLIER - Spoiler: (1) Use aperture priority. (2) Use histogram for exposure, understand how it works. Non exposed to RHS, low light photography will be having noise after photoshop. (3) Focus! Learn how to manage your camera and lenses. (4) Simplify your images. Be minimalistic, choose wisely what you put into your scene, make it an art painting (eg street photographer, Sean Tuck). Zoom in elements to simplify. (5) Keep your DSLR, get some fresh lenses. He likes 10mil on his xd2 or 60mil on Nikon. Don't only use zoom lenses but also prime lenses. Get creative. (6) Think about where you stand. Change your position, you are not a corpse. Find the best angle. (7) Lighting (duh!).


  • Instagram, cameron_hammond - Amra recommended for inspiration (her favorite style), Cameron takes lots of photos of models, but a few of nature too.


Acknowledgements: Adam Morrison for letting me borrow his camera. Amra for giving me a little nudge - and yes, this page is just started, but hopefully it will turn into something useful soon.