Photography Short Course

On Wednesday evening I met up with a very popular photographer up in Darwin who is well known for photographing the Nightcliff Foreshore (see some of my Nightcliff pics HERE) for an afternoon photography session at the Nightcliff Jetty.

I arrived expecting to learn a lot of valuable information about lighting and what my Nikon D3300 camera could do – but I was not expecting to learn quite as much as I did! And not only that, I can see the improvement in the photos I have been taking almost immediately.

So, here is a quick breakdown of what I can remember and some of the photos I took (with assistance from my teacher).



  • Using Aperture Priority Mode is something that you should get used to – that’s what most photographers use.
  • f11-36 aperture (big number, little hole) is used for landscapes and deep depth to focus on the whole picture.
  • f7.1-11 aperture is good for most images.
  • f3-6 aperture is good for blurry backgrounds (eg. focused on a flower with blurred background).

Shutter Speed: 

  • The length of time the photo is being taken.
  • Lighting and also to add depth and also to focus on moving subjects.
  • 1/1000s will freeze fast moving subjects (eg. sports) without much blur.
  • 1/250s normal shooting. Good for letting light in too.
  • 1/30s blurred motion
  • 1s or longer is long exposure and can give the effect of smoothness on water or clouds.


  • The sensitivity of the camera. How it was explained to me was that the bigger the number the more little people there are in the camera to collect the light and data. However, this can backfire if the number gets too large, causing the image to be grainy.
  • Ideally, in okay lighting, leave ISO on 100-200.


Image Quality: 

  • NORM and FINE both create a JPEG file which the camera automatically cleans up and edits. FINE creates a larger image (meaning you can blow up the image with a better, clearer result) than NORM.
  • RAW just takes the picture – without editing – leaving you to do all of the Photoshop stuff yourself. RAW is also much easier to edit than NORM and FINE because it is JUST the raw image. Don’t worry too much about this unless you want to get serious about editing and creatively controlling the image.
  • Basically, leave it on FINE. It does take up slightly more space on your camera, and may use battery and take milliseconds longer for the photo to be written to the SD card, but it’s worth it.

White Balance (Light Balance): 

  • Pretty easy to follow on my Nikon – select the setting which applies best for your photograph. For landscapes and nature photography pretty well leave it on the “Direct Sunlight” setting. AUTO is the standard setting, but don’t be afraid to change it around.
  • This is especially useful for taking photos in florescent or yellow-ish lighting to fix up the lighting balance so things don’t look too yellow or too white and washed out.

Exposure Compensation: 

  • This was easily the most important thing I learned. Basically, this automatically makes a photo brighter or darker depending upon your preferences and the amount of light available to you (remember taking photos at sunrise and sunset are best).


  • More magical photography info that I had no idea about. Definitely find your cameras histogram setting so that it will tell you the statistics after every photo you take and give it a glance.
  • What you want of your histogram is to not have the spikes piled up at the edges of the graph. Too far to the left means the image is too dark, and too far to the right means it is too bright and will look very white when you look at it on your computer.


Manual Focus: 

  • Using manual focus to stop just focusing on the center of the photo makes a huge difference!
  • It can also be used creatively to select the “focus point” of the image – the place where you want the viewers eye to be drawn to.
  • AND it’s also good for adding depth to the image.

Composition of the Photo: 

  • The Rule of Thirds.
  • Having a front, middle and background.
  • Being more aware of the “focus” of the photo.
  • Getting rid of unnecessary space (eg. sky, water, grass) unless there is something being “focused” on in the sky like some interesting clouds.



  • Play around with different heights and angles! It could be low to the ground like from the perspective of a cat or high up like a giraffe.

Finally, BUY A TRIPOD! Tripods are magical. They make it much easier to get different perspectives and angles, and are vital to take long exposure pics and remove any noise from moving the camera. They can be expensive so perhaps keep it cheap to begin with until you find out if you want to pursue photography more seriously – that’s what I will be doing.


Okay, so this is reading mostly as a brain dump (apologies). After some more practice I will go into some more detail on each of these headings. I am probably not qualified or experienced enough to go into too much depth yet – but I’m excited to work my way there!

If you want to keep an eye on my photography check out my Photography Page – Gem Photography.

Hope you are having a wonderful week!








2 thoughts on “Photography Short Course

  1. Pingback: Positivity Post #3 – alittlegemblog

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