This might be VERY basic and old school for some of us, but for those of you new to the world of photography I will share some of the things I learned during my photography classes.
Basically there will be a lesson 1 to lesson 8 going through some of the general functions of taking better photos.
Here's lesson 1 - CAMERA BASICS:
Each camera on the market today is somewhat unique, but all are designed with similar concepts and controls. Some allow the user a lot of manual control, others very little. Unless you pick your camera up the first time with a wealth of previous experience, the best way to learn its controls is to sit down with both the camera and the user manual and go through it page by page. I know this sounds mundane and boring, but doing this will save you a lot of time and headache (and possibly missed shots!) in the future.
There are many different pre-set exposure (picture) modes available on cameras today. In parenthesis next to the mode name, I have included what the image or letters used to represent it on your camera may be. These are Basic (green square or small camera), Portrait (head), Sports (man running), Landscape (mountain), Night Scene (man with star), Macro (flower), Aperture Priority (AV), Shutter Priority (TV), and Manual (M) Mode. Basic mode is often identified on your camera as with a small picture of a camera, the word "auto", a "P" or a green square. This mode is auto everything (other than focus) and the easiest choice. Unless you already have an understanding of the other modes, this is where you should start.
In addition to exposure modes you may also have control of the camera's drive modes. Drive mode refers to what will happen after you take a picture. A long time ago photographers had to manually advance the film for the next exposure. Today nearly all cameras do this for you (if you are using film at all!). Usually the default is single frame advance, which means that when you press the shutter button, one photograph is exposed and the film is advanced for the next.
Continuous Drive Mode will take several photos in a row, so long as you keep the shutter button depressed (good for sports and fast action). Some cameras also have a timer setting that will allow a lapse of time to pass after the shutter button has been pressed before taking the photograph. This is particularly nice if you would like to include yourself in the picture you are taking.
Example With Timer Setting:
Focus Targets or Autofocus (AF) Points
Focus targets are small hollow points or brackets that you see through your viewfinder (but are not on your printed picture). These targets are used to select what you want focused in your photograph. Mis-use or non-use can result in the wrong parts of your image being clear or blurry. You wouldn't want to take a photo of your first LIT only to discover that you have it completely blurry and the background in crisp focus. Some cameras give you several focus targets and the ability to select which one you would like to use. While not necessary, this can help make composing your photos easier. Other cameras focus only on the center portion of what you see in the viewfinder. If this is the case with your camera, it is important to remember when taking your pictures because while focusing, your subject will need to be centered.
At minimum you should know this:
1. How to turn your camera on and off.
2. How to load the film or memory card.
3. Where the shutter button is.
4. How to choose a focus target if you have multiple targets available.
5. How to zoom in and out.
6. If your camera is digital, how to review and delete your pictures.
7. How to set the picture (exposure) modes.
8. How to change the drive mode.
9. How to turn the flash on and off.