For many years, smartphones have waged war on the traditional digital camera.

As the quality of the cameras integrated into our mobile devices improves and becomes more high-tech, people are asking themselves whether there is any real benefit to investing in a digital camera.

Have smartphones replaced digital cameras? And do they produce the same level of quality as professional photography devices?

The vast majority of professional photographers agree that traditional cameras still have some glorious years ahead of them.

“You don’t take photographs, you make them”,  Ansel Adams

But what is the advantage to investing in a high-quality camera to learn about digital photography if smartphones already allow us to quickly and easily take beautiful photographs?

The answer to this question is that having a good digital camera will allow you to go further in your photography endeavours and open up new opportunities as you take your photography know-how to the next level. Not only will you come to understand the basics and take practical instruction about shooting and editing your photos but you will be be able to develop your own personal technique and style.

Attending photography courses or even a photography class with a good camera will help you learn advanced photography, the right vocabulary and lastly, it will give you the artistic photography skills you need to go it alone.

What Photography Classes Can Teach You

Photography, like many activities, has its own precise and indispensable vocabulary.

Your photography instructor will help you learn new photography terms
Know your aperture from your exposure ¦ source: Visualhunt

Here are a few useful, and easy to understand, terms and their definitions to help you in your introduction to beginner photography courses.

  • Diaphragm/Aperture Stop

This is the part of the camera which controls the view of the lens as well as the amount of light which will enter the shutter.

  • Aperture

Aperture defines the size of the opening in the lens that can is adjusted to control the amount of light reaching the sensor. Changing the aperture can affect detail such as depth of field in your photographs.

  • Focus

The focus of a photograph is about defining the element or elements of the scene which you would like to appear completely clearly. Choosing a point of focus is about capturing the main object in front of a background which is less precisely defined.

  • Shutter Speed

This is the duration of time for which the film or digital sensor will be exposed to the light before the shutter closes. The duration of the exposure time depends on the brightness and movement of the subject being photographed. For example, if you’re photographing something that is moving quickly, you’ll have to use a quick shutter speed so that the image is clear.

  • ISO Sensitivity

ISO sensitivity is about a camera's ability to capture light. If ISO sensitivity is increased, blurriness can be reduced by choosing a faster shutter speed.

  • Noise

In the world of photography, noise describes visual distortion that occurs for a number of reasons. Noise can affect clarity in an image.

  • Exposure

Exposure is about the brightness of a scene to be captured.

Achieving a certain level of exposure can be done by changing aperture, shutter speed and sensitivity.

The exposure of an image ultimately depends on the brightness of a scene, but you can also play around with exposure if there’s a certain mood you wish to create.

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Learn Photography to Think Like a Photographer

If you’re one of those people who enjoys immortalising special moments by capturing them on camera, taking photography courses taught by an experienced instructor can improve your confidence in taking pictures as well as getting better results!

However, if you’re serious about learning more about photography or even considering becoming a professional photographer, you’ll need to use your imagination and branch out.

A good way of doing this is viewing the world from a different perspective.

Why not go for a walk with your camera and try to come up with stories for the people and buildings you see? Explore your hometown with a fresh pair of eyes and pick out the details that interest you.

Photography forces you to pick out the extraordinary
See familiar sights in a new way ¦ source: Visualhunt

Being more attentive to the world around you will multiply your chances of finding something that captures your imagination.

Think about adopting a different point of view.

This may involve pretending to be someone else. For instance, you could view the world as if you were a child, a giant, a dog or a plant.

Changing something as simple as the height from which your photographs are taken can show the world in an unusual and interesting light.

Even if you don’t always have your camera with you, you can always try to think like a photographer.

Whether you’re on your way to work, strolling along the street or doing your weekly shop, choose a subject and try to imagine the sort of photograph you could produce.

Creating and working on an image in your mind’s eye can not only help you to progress as a photographer, but it can also help you to exercise your imagination.

Whether it be a forest or a different area of your city, exploring new places will also give you inspiration and help you to determine your interests as an amateur photographer. This will help you become more advanced in fundamental photography basics and make you feel at ease behind the lense.

Exploring the unknown is a brilliant way to continue your photography training outside of your tutorials and discover what interests you!

Sometimes, a successful day of shooting relies on the photographer adopting awkward stances in public such as laying on the ground, for instance.

However, there’s no reason to worry! This is a common sight, and very few people will be shocked by your positions, meaning that your results will be as natural as possible.

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Ditch the Filters by Learning About Lighting

The filters which are available on many applications and software such as Adobe photoshop lightroom are great for adding a specific ambience to an existing photograph.

But did you know that you can achieve similar results without any of this technology?

You can create moods and enhance the atmosphere in a photography by using the available lighting!

Here are a few basic photography tips and tricks for using lighting:

  • The Colour of the Light

Contrary to what you may believe, light isn’t transparent! It can be made up of a large variety of colours coming from different sources.

The colour of light is discussed in terms of temperature, which is measured in Kelvin (rather than in degrees Celsius or Fahrenheit).

You can control this temperature on your digital camera by altering the white balance. The further you go towards the red and oranges, the warmer the temperature of your photograph will be, and vice versa for blues.

  • Hard and Soft Light

Hard lighting is characterised by the large presence of easily distinguishable shadows. The most obvious example of hard light is the sun.

Soft light comes from a source which is in close proximity to the subject, which therefore creates fewer shadows.

  • Size of Light Source

Adjusting the size of your light source will enable you to change the contrast of your scene. The larger the light source, the lower the level of contrast.

This is because a lot of lighting illuminates every aspect of the scene, making colours appear more uniform.

You can also change the size of your light source by changing the distance between the source and the object of your focus.

  • Know how to Use Natural Light to Your Advantage

If you don’t have any studio lighting equipment, you’ll probably be working almost exclusively with natural light.

Natural light, like any light, comes in many varieties depending on the time of day, climate and weather conditions.

For this reason, budding photographers should learn how to observe these changes and how the colour of light changes over the course of the day, so that they can adapt their work to the lighting, rather than the other way around.

  • The ‘Golden Hours’

In complete opposition to the midday sun, which is hard and therefore creates sharp shadows, the light at the beginning and the end of the day is very soft and features some magnificent colours.

Learning about light and shadow will help you to appreciate the need for light instead of filters
The sun can create a variety of atmospheres depending on the time of day ¦ source: Visualhunt

Find Opportunities to Get Your Work Seen!

Gone are the days when photography galleries and exhibitions where the only way to explore other people’s photography.

The Internet has revolutionised the way in which we express ourselves and show our art to others.

Even though visiting physical exhibitions is an excellent way to get inspired, it demands that you invest your time and money to have the opportunity.

One of the first things many amateur photographers do is start a blog.

There are many simple ways you can create your own platform and increase your visibility on the web without having to call on the expertise of a web designer.

Your blog should be a representation of how you use your camera to create a certain view of the world, not only through your images but through your captions and descriptions, too.

Social media is also a great way to share your photos and create a portfolio of your photography.

In addition to Instagram there is a number of social networks dedicated to photography such as DeviantArt and Flickr.

So, whether you take online photography courses. or you attend a photography school, discovering your true interests as a photographer will guarantee satisfaction in your learning. 

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As an Englishman in Paris, I enjoy growing my knowledge of other languages and cultures. I'm interested in History, Economics, and Sociology and believe in the importance of continuous learning.