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Circular ND filters vs square ND filters

Good quality digital photography accessories can easily make a photograph look different. After tripods and flash units, one common accessory that can completely change the look of a DSLR photo is filters. Filters can be considered as a fairly good option if you are looking to improve your photography skills. Various types of photography filters include polarizers, infrared, neutral density and UV filters. To maintain the simplicity of this post, we will focus on neutral density filters only.

A neutral density filter is nothing but a piece of dark glass. The purpose of a neutral density filter is to reduce the amount of light entering the camera lens and thus hitting the sensor. ND filters with a constant density of darkness throughout are known as constant ND filters whereas ND filters with variable density of darkness are known as variable density ND filters. The density of darkness offered by a variable ND filter can either be smooth or hard. 

Let's focus on the shapes of ND f…

Aperture priority vs shutter priority vs manual mode

Coming out of auto mode shooting is the first step of success for a beginner when it comes to digital photography. Auto mode takes fine photos in normal lighting conditions but creates a big limitation on being creative, as the camera is making choices on behalf of the user. Telling a digital camera what to do is the best way to evolve and grow your skills as a hobbyist or professional photographer. But with so many shooting modes offered by current DSLR and mirror less cameras, it can be confusing to choose one shooting mode over the other. Frankly, all the major photo-taking modes on a digital camera have their own place depending on what you want to photograph.  The three main shooting modes on a digital camera include aperture priority, shutter priority, and manual. There are various other creative modes as well, but those don't do much justice to someone who is looking to learn and improve their photography skills. In this post, I won't go into in-depth detail about how …

What is Auto-ISO and how to use it?

Shutter speed, aperture and ISO are the three main variables for getting a properly exposed photograph. Digital camera manufacturers provide the freedom to adjust the value of ISO, shutter speed and aperture easily on the fly. In situations where aperture and shutter speed aren't enough to give a good exposure photograph, ISO helps a lot. Though with tremendous advancements in digital sensor technology and noise reduction algorithms, shutter speed and aperture have become more crucial factors than the value of ISO in digital photography. If you are a total beginner and want to learn the basics about ISO first, here is my post about how ISO works


What is Auto-ISO?
Both aperture and shutter speed can affect a digital photograph in a way that it can be impossible to salvage a photograph. Example: Depth of field cannot be fixed later, neither motion blur. Keeping these two problems in mind for a fast-paced environment, it is preferable to fiddle around with ISO. Extending the ISO co…

DSLR camera working principle explained

Getting better at photography involves knowing your camera gear in and out. Ever wondered what happens inside your DSLR camera as soon as the shutter button is pressed? What all steps are involved and how the final image is captured?  As a photography beginner,  it is completely normal to feel curious about what's inside your digital camera. Even as a professional, it is always great to see all the fascinating stuff that happens inside a digital camera. A few very similar questions related to the working of a DSLR camera include:  How does a DSLR camera work? DSLR camera working principle. DSLR camera working procedure. How does DSLR shutter work?
In this post, I will talk about various architectural parts of a DSLR camera and how they work together in sync with each other to produce beautiful photos. Without much delay, let's focus on the path travelled by the light inside a digital camera in default non-operational state. At the very first step, it passes through the lens o…

Pentaprism vs Pentamirror optical viewfinder

A digital single lens reflex camera consists of many mechanical and electronic parts working in parallel to produce a digital photograph. One such part is the viewfinder, which allows the human eye to view the scene and decide on composition and focusing. Taking into account the latest development in electronics, the viewfinder can be either electronic or optical. An optical viewfinder (also called as OVF), as the name suggests, shows an optical representation of what the scene looks like. The view offered by an optical viewfinder does not change when shutter speed, aperture or ISO is changed. If it is a dark environment (night photography), it will show darkness.  Let's talk a little bit about how light travels inside a digital camera.


To explain the path traveled by light rays inside a camera, I made a simple diagram to make it easy to understand. Skipping over other parts, let's look closer to what's happening just before the viewfinder. The light rays have to pass thr…

Depth of field photography guide for beginners

Depth of field in photography is essentially what's in focus. It could be +/- "y" feet from point of focus. There are a lot of discussions on the internet about bokeh vs background blur which makes depth of field a confusing topic for beginners. Terminologies such as bokeh, background blur, shallow depth of field and deep depth of field are all interlinked with the concept of depth of field. Commonly abbreviated as DOF, depth of field forms a very important part of modern-day digital photography. It can tremendously help to achieve creative shots in literally any field of photography. In the next section, I will describe the above terms in simple words skipping any involvement of physics.
Shallow depth of field means everything except the focused subject is blurred out. This can include an object either from foreground or background. A deeper depth of field means everything is sharp and in focus. A good example of deep depth of field photographs would be landscape photo…

Is lower ISO always better?

Confusion about the impact of ISO on an image is a very common question that comes into every photographer's mind when learning photography. ISO is often referred to as the bad guy of photography, introducing noise and grain in digital images. In contrast to this, ISO also comes to rescue when shutter speed and aperture reaches limitations to achieve a shot. I have been to that scary place of "Do not increase ISO, it causes noise" as a beginner, never went above 200 ISO for the first 3-4 months of manual mode shooting. The struggle to take handheld landscape shots at 1/10 second because ISO should stay at 100. Outcome? Blurred shots due to handshake.

What does ISO do?
Yes, it makes the image appear brighter and helps to achieve proper exposure by increasing the sensitivity of the sensor towards light. What happens in the background? By increasing ISO value inside the camera, the gain could happen in any of the three ways:  -> In the sensor, by increasing voltage. ->…

Exposing to the right (ETTR) technique explained

If you are a total beginner to setting exposure in the camera, I would highly recommend reading my previous post about how the exposure triangle works and then continuing with this post to have a better understanding. For those who are familiar with exposure settings and what highlight or shadows refer to, let's begin. There are two commonly known quirks in the digital photo editing world:
1) Blown or clipped highlights cannot be recovered.  2) Shadow recovery is noisy. Recent cameras have improved this a lot but still, it can be painful to recover dark shadows without introducing noise. In order to get an optimized exposure keeping in mind the above two points, a technique known as ETTR was developed. It is a helpful but very controversial technique. Some photographers intentionally overexpose or underexpose certain parts of an image as a part of their creative arsenal, but ETTR is more than just increasing the exposure of an image.  What is ETTR?
ETTR stands for expose to the ri…

HDR photography guide for beginners

HDR basically stands for high dynamic range. As a beginner, you must have heard the term "HDR" being thrown around everywhere on the photography forums. With recent advancements in technology, HDR games and HDR TV units are also into the digital market now. HDR may sound complicated from the name itself, but to be honest it is a very straightforward and simple technique. Let's start with an introduction of dynamic range and why do we even need HDR photos.
Dynamic range Dynamic range in photography is the difference between the brightest and darkest part of a scene that a camera sensor can capture. Let's keep it simple silly as the whole purpose of this post is beginner focused. The dynamic range of a given camera sensor becomes important when the photo has a major difference between the dark and bright parts. Example: A room with a window during the daytime. When trying to take an indoor space shot, it would be super hard for the camera to capture everything in one s…

sRGB vs Adobe RGB colour space explained

Digital images are everywhere, both offline and online. Each digital image is made up of a large number of square sized individual pixels. Zoom into an image at 2000 % or more in any of the viewers, you will see these pixels. Here is an example:


In order to categorize pixel colours, RGB and CMYK are the two widely used colour models. According to the RGB colour model, each pixel colour can be considered as an addition of different shades of red/green/blue light. These light shades are calculated according to the bit depth of the image. Jpeg images are usually 8 bits per colour channel (red, blue or green), which means 2^8 ( 256) different shades of each red/blue/green colour are possible. Few examples to make it clear how different colours shades are represented:
Red: (255, 0, 0)
Green: (0,255,0)
Blue: (0,0,255)
White: (255, 255, 255)
Black:  (0,0,0)



What does CMYK do? It is a subtractive colour model for printing purposes and stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. According to …