FREE E-Book: Comprehensive Guide to Photography

Mastering camera exposure in photography and videography necessitates a solid understanding of the Exposure Triangle, comprising three essential elements: aperture, shutter speed, and ISO.

Explore this comprehensive guide, which will lead you through essential techniques, empowering you with the expertise and assurance to enhance your visual creations.

Read the full E-book below or you can download and take it with you here.

Comprehensive Guide to Photography


To fully benefit from this E- Book, it is advised to practice each fundamental component after completing each section. Take dedicated time each week to focus on one aspect until you feel confident before progressing to the next chapter. If you have any inquiries or require further information, please visit my website www.briandoylephoto.com and contact me. Additionally, I have provided gear recommendations and helpful tips in this linked E-Book. I am excited to have you join me on a workshop and witness your growth behind the lens.

Important factors when choosing a new camera

Choosing the Best Camera Company:

Each camera company brings something unique to the table. Canon, Sony, and Nikon are considered leaders in the market, leading in terms of sales and market share. However, the collaboration between Panasonic and Olympus in developing the Micro Four Thirds mount made mirrorless photography accessible to many. Olympus pioneered in-body image stabilization, while Fujifilm introduced innovative medium format and APS-C cameras. Every brand has made its mark, and the best camera company depends on the features that matter most to you and the type of photography you do.

DSLR vs. Mirrorless:

The debate between DSLR and mirrorless cameras used to be intense, but now it's clear that mirrorless cameras offer a better overall experience. They are smaller, more portable, have improved autofocus performance, faster shutter speeds, and are great for shooting videos. While DSLRs may have more lens options and longer battery life, they have been overtaken by mirrorless cameras and their innovative technology.

Finding the Right Price:

You don't have to spend a fortune to find the right camera, but remember that you get what you pay for. Consider your needs carefully. Higher-priced models often come with features you may not use immediately but can grow into if you plan to pursue photography seriously. While entry-level point-and-shoot cameras may be disappointing due to the excellent photo quality of smartphones, spending at least $500 will give you better image quality and versatility. However, keep in mind that an expensive camera won't automatically make you a better photographer.

The Megapixel Myth:

Don't be fooled by megapixel counts alone. Point-and-shoots and DSLRs may have similar megapixel numbers, but the physical size of the sensor matters more for image quality. A larger sensor, like those in mirrorless & DSLRs, gather more light, resulting in less noise in low-light situations, better color reproduction, and improved contrast. While high-resolution cameras are great for cropping and large prints, a point-and-shoot with more megapixels can't match the quality of a mirrorless due to its smaller sensor.

Interchangeable Lenses:

The lens is a vital factor in differentiating a good camera from a great one. Cameras that allow lens swapping offer diverse creative options. While high-end point-and-shoot cameras have good optics, they can't match the versatility of interchangeable lenses. Most DSLRs and mirrorless cameras come with a basic kit lens, but investing in additional lenses expands your possibilities. Note that lenses are usually brand-specific, but Micro Four Thirds is an exception, allowing Panasonic and Olympus lenses to be mounted on either brand's cameras. Third-party manufacturers like Sigma and Tamron also make lenses for various camera mounts.

Speed and Performance:

Most cameras today are fast enough for casual use. Interchangeable lens cameras, whether mirrorless or DSLR, generally offer better performance than compact cameras. They focus faster, track subjects more accurately, and have a higher frames-per-second rate. Look for a camera with at least 5 frames per second (fps), unless you need faster shooting for activities like sports photography. Beware of marketing claims of extremely high fps unless you have a genuine need for that level of speed.


Camera ergonomics are often overlooked but play a crucial role. If possible, try the camera before purchasing it to ensure it feels comfortable in your hand and isn't too heavy to carry around. Quick access to commonly used functions and logically structured menus are important considerations. Touchscreen models can provide a familiar user experience but ensure that the controls and menus are well-organized and responsive to your touch. Personal preferences vary, so get hands-on with different models if you can.

Video Capabilities:

Almost all cameras can shoot video now, with many even recording in 4K Ultra HD resolution. High-end mirrorless and DSLR cameras offer features suitable for cinematic filmmaking and a wide lens selection. Pay attention to the framerate, as some cameras advertise 4K video but only record at a low framerate, which can limit the quality. Stabilization is crucial for smooth video footage, so choose a camera with in-body image stabilization or a lens with optical image stabilization (OIS) if you want handheld shots without the shakiness.

Weatherproofing and Durability:

It's important to understand the distinction between weatherproof and waterproof cameras. Weatherproof cameras are designed to withstand rain, mist, and light splashes but cannot be submerged in water. Waterproof cameras, on the other hand, are suitable for underwater photography. If you often shoot in rainy conditions, a weatherproof camera is ideal. If you want to take pictures while snorkeling or diving, you need a waterproof camera.

Big Picture:

You have the freedom to choose the camera that fits your needs, budget, capabilities, and desired features. Brian has put together a list of beginner and professional options on his website, along with optional equipment, to assist you in taking your photography to the next level. You can find the list here. The gear featured are all tried and tested! If you have any questions, please reach out to Brian via email: briandoylephoto@gmail.com

What is Auto and Program Mode?

Auto Mode: 

This allows the camera to intelligently determine the optimal settings for your shot, including shutter speed, aperture, ISO, and flash. Simply aim the camera and capture the image effortlessly.

Program mode: 

This allows you to control the ISO setting while letting the camera handle the aperture and shutter speed. By using Program mode, you can focus on composing your shots without worrying about adjusting aperture, shutter speed, and overall exposure. It serves as a useful transition mode for photographers who want to enhance their skills, offering a stepping-stone fromAuto mode to more advanced modes like Aperture and Shutter Priority.



files consist of unprocessed and uncompressed data that encompass all the available "image information" captured by the camera sensor. Due to their unprocessed nature, RAW files appear flat and dark initially, as demonstrated in the above example. To make RAW images suitable for display or printing, they must be viewed and processed using dedicated camera software or widely used, powerful software applications like Adobe Products. This process is essential to unlock the full potential of the RAW file.


files undergo in-camera processing, with specific procedures varying across camera models. While the camera's color temperature and exposure settings are applied during image capture, additional enhancements such as black levels, contrast, brightness, noise reduction, and sharpening are also processed. Subsequently, the file is rendered as a compressed JPEG format, allowing immediate viewing and printing. However, it's crucial to bear in mind that JPEG compression entails a loss of initial image information and detail, rendering them irretrievable. The term "Dynamic Range" is frequently mentioned in discussions comparing RAW and JPEG files. Dynamic Range refers to the extent of tonal detail encompassing the darkest shadows to the brightest highlights.

What is an Exposure Triangle?

The Exposure Triangle encompasses three essential elements: aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. These three camera and lens controls collaboratively govern the quantity of light reaching the light-sensitive surface (aperture and shutter speed) and the sensitivity of that surface (film or digital ISO). By adjusting these parameters, photographers can effectively manage the exposure and achieve desired lighting outcomes in their images.

What is a Histogram?

A histogram serves as a visual representation of the tonal values present in an image. It effectively illustrates the distribution of brightness levels, ranging from black (0% brightness) to white (100% brightness). As depicted in the accompanying image, darker tones are positioned on the left side of the histogram, while progressively lighter tones are found towards the right. The middle section of the histogram corresponds to midtones, which possess neither extreme darkness nor extreme lightness. The vertical axis of the histogram indicates the quantity of tones at each specific level of brightness. Although the histogram is primarily influenced by exposure settings, it can also be affected by factors such as the tone curve and other adjustments.

What is Shadow and Highlight Clipping?

If a part of the histogram is touching either edge, it means some details are lost, which is called clipping. When the graph touches the right side of the histogram, it indicates highlight clipping, where areas become completely white and lose detail. On the other hand, when the graph touches the left side of the histogram, it indicates shadow clipping, where areas become completely black and lose detail. In most cases, you can fix this issue by adjusting the exposure settings. However, keep in mind that the solution depends on the specific scene. For example, if your image has direct sunlight, it's natural for it to appear very bright, even completely white, leading to highlight clipping.

What is White Balance?

White balance is an important camera setting that helps determine the accurate color of white. It serves as a reference point for all other colors. Sometimes, white doesn't look truly white due to varying lighting conditions. To fix this, white balance adjusts the color temperature. Color temperature is measured in Kelvin (K) and represents a physical characteristic of light. Different light sources can have significant variations in color temperature, even if they seem identical. For instance, you might have noticed in a room with rows of overhead fluorescent lights that some bulbs appeared slightly different in color. They could be older or from a different brand, resulting in a distinct color temperature compared to the rest. Similarly, sunlight can have different color temperatures depending on whether it's noon or sunset. A neutral color temperature, like sunlight at noon, typically falls between 5200-6000 K.

What is ISO?

In digital photography, ISO refers to how sensitive the camera's sensor is to light. A lower ISO value means the sensor is less sensitive, so it requires more light to capture a well-exposed image. On the other hand, a higher ISO value means the sensor is more sensitive, requiring less light to capture a well-exposed image. However, ISO doesn't just affect brightness. When using low ISO values, the image will have a wider range of light intensities, resulting in better contrast and a greater difference between the brightest and darkest areas. It will also have less noise, which is the unwanted grainy or speckled effect in the photo. However, when using high ISO values, the amount of noise in the image significantly increases, making it appear grainier.

What is Aperture?


It is the opening in a camera lens that controls the amount of light entering the camera. It functions similarly to the iris in our eyes, adjusting the size of the pupil. By adjusting the aperture, you can control the depth of field in your photos. A wide aperture creates a blurred background, great for portraits, while a narrow aperture ensures sharp focus from the foreground to the background, ideal for landscape photography. Additionally, the chosen aperture also affects the overall brightness of your images.

How Aperture affects Exposure:

Aperture plays a significant role in determining the exposure, or brightness, of your photographs. The size of the aperture directly affects the amount of light that reaches the camera sensor. A wider aperture allows more light to pass through, resulting in a brighter image. Conversely, a narrower aperture reduces the amount of light, leading to a darker photo. In low-light situations, it is beneficial to choose a larger aperture to capture as much light as possible, similar to how our pupils dilate in the dark.

How Aperture affects Depth of Field:

Aperture has a significant impact on the depth of field in your photos. Depth of field refers to how much of the image appears sharp from the front to the back. A wide aperture creates a shallow depth of field, blurring the background and isolating the subject, often used in portraits. Conversely, a small aperture results in a larger depth of field, keeping both the foreground and background sharp, ideal for landscape and architectural photography. The chosen aperture determines the amount of background blur and the overall sharpness of the image.

What is Shutter Speed?

Shutter speed:

It determines the length of time the camera's shutter remains open during a photo. It has significant effects on the resulting image. A long or slow shutter speed introduces motion blur, capturing the movement of subjects and creating a sense of speed. This technique is commonly used in advertisements and night photography. Conversely, a fast shutter speed freezes motion, allowing for crisp and sharp images even with fast-moving objects. It can capture intricate details, such as individual droplets of water or birds in flight. Shutter speed provides creative control over capturing motion or freezing it for different visual effects.

How Shutter Speed affects Exposure:

Shutter speed has a significant impact on the exposure and brightness of an image. A longer shutter speed allows more light to reach the camera sensor, resulting in a brighter photo, while a quicker shutter speed limits the amount of light, resulting in a darker image. However, exposure is influenced by other factors like aperture, ISO, and the scene's actual brightness. Choosing the right shutter speed is crucial for achieving the desired brightness. For bright conditions, a fast shutter speed may be needed to prevent overexposure, while in low light situations, a longer shutter speed may be necessary (potentially requiring a tripod to avoid hand-induced motion blur). Balancing proper exposure and managing motion blur are both important considerations when adjusting shutter speed.

How Shutter Speed affects Exposure:

Shutter speeds are expressed as fractions of a second, indicating the length of time the camera shutter remains open. Common examples include 1/4 (a quarter of a second) and 1/250 (one-two-hundred-and-fiftieth of a second or four milliseconds). Modern DSLRs and mirrorless cameras usually offer shutter speeds up to 1/4000th of a second, with some capable of even faster speeds like 1/8000th of a second. The longest available shutter speed is typically 30 seconds, but external remote triggers can be used to extend this duration if needed.

What are Drive Modes?

Drive modes:

It determines how many pictures are captured with a single press of the shutter button. There are five main modes to choose from: single shot, continuous shooting, self-timer, remote, and mirror lock-up. Each mode is designed for specific situations. While not every camera offers all of these functions, these are the commonly found options on most cameras.

Single Shot:

This mode is the one you'll use most frequently. It's simple and straightforward: when you press the shutter button, it takes a single shot, captures the image, and prepares itself for the next shot. This mode is versatile and suitable for a wide range of subjects, whether you're taking indoor portraits or beautiful landscapes. It's the go-to mode for capturing various types of scenes.


This mode is perfect for capturing fast-moving subjects like sports events or wildlife. In this mode, your camera will continuously capture images as long as you hold down the shutter button. You can then select the best moment from the sequence of photos. Some cameras offer different burst rates or frames-per-second (fps) speeds, while others may have a single burst rate option. There are two variations of Continuous shooting: Low and High. In Low Continuous shooting, the camera takes multiple shots at a slower pace, allowing you to capture different variations of a movement without filling up your memory card too quickly. On the other hand, High Continuous Burst mode is ideal for shooting fast actions, such as a person sprinting or jumping, as it captures the maximum number of images.


The self-timer mode is handy when you need a delay between pressing the shutter button and the actual image capture. For example, if you want to be in a group photo, you can set the camera to a self-timer of 10 seconds, allowing you enough time to join the group before it takes the picture. This mode is also useful for long-exposure shots, where any movement caused by pressing the shutter button can affect the image quality. Most cameras offer a 2-second and a 10-second timer option, and some even allow you to customize the timer duration according to your needs.

Mirror Lock-up:

In SLR-type cameras, there is a mirror that flips up, and when the shutter opens and closes, the mirror comes back down. However, this process can create small vibrations, which is not ideal when working in low light or capturing long-exposure shots. To prevent these vibrations from affecting your photos, you can lock the mirror up. By doing this, you eliminate the potential shaking caused by the mirror movement, ensuring a sharper and steadier shot.

What is Bulb Mode?

Bulb mode is a shutter speed option available in Manual mode on your camera. It gives you the flexibility to choose any length of exposure time you want, whether it's one second, one minute, 17 minutes, or even longer. The unique feature of bulb mode is that the camera's shutter remains open for as long as you keep the shutter release button pressed down. The duration of your bulb exposure depends on the specific camera model. Some cameras have a maximum limit of 30 minutes, while others allow you to keep the shutter open as long as you desire, or battery runs out.

What are Filters and Tripods?

Circular Polarizer Filter:

A polarizing filter, also known as a “polarizer”, is a photographic filter that is typically used in front of a camera lens in
order to reduce reflections, reduce atmospheric haze and increase color saturation in images. It is a popular filter
among landscape, cityscape and architecture photographers, although it is commonly used for other types of photography as well. View my recommendations for filters here.

Neutral Density (ND) filters:

These are used to decrease the intensity of light entering the camera, affecting all colors equally. They do this by reducing the amount of light in a controlled manner. These filters provide photographers with greater control over their camera settings, particularly when it comes to selecting the ideal combination of shutter speed and aperture in different lighting conditions. View my recommendations for filters here.


A tripod is a stand with three legs that is specifically designed to provide support for a camera. It holds the camera steady, ensuring stability during photography. Tripods often come with a fluid head, which enables smooth movements such as panning from side to side or tilting up and down. By using a tripod in still photography, photographers can take advantage of slower shutter speeds for capturing long exposure images while minimizing any unwanted camera shake. View my recommendations for tripods here.

What is Manual Mode?

Manual modeprovides users with complete control over their camera settings, allowing forprecise adjustments to every available setting. Most importantly, shooting inManual mode provides the ability to independently adjust the three fundamentalexposure variables: ISO, aperture, and shutter speed. These three variablescollectively determine the overall brightness, or exposure, of photographs.Additionally, they play a crucial role in influencing other aspects of theimages, such as sharpness, depth of field, and overall image quality. Theversatility of Manual mode empowers photographers to achieve their desiredvisual outcomes. By utilizing Manual mode, photographers can precisely controlthe brightness levels of their images, ensuring optimal sharpness, craftingdistinct depth of field effects, and maintaining superior image quality even inall lighting conditions.

What is Bracketing?

Bracketing is a technique that photographers use to capture the same image with different camera settings. By doing so, they get multiple variations of the image to choose from or combine, ensuring they achieve the perfect shot. The most common type of bracketing is exposure bracketing, where the photographer takes at least three shots: one at the recommended exposure by the camera's meter, one overexposed, and one underexposed. Depending on the scene's dynamic range, some cameras can create 5, 7, or 9 bracketed shots. In landscape photography, we often encounter challenges with exposing small highlights in the sky without overexposing. Bracketing allows me to capture the best possible exposures. If you're interested in learning how to merge these bracketed images, I can guide you through a step-by-step process here.

If you are looking for more information or want to have a one-on-one session, please book a class with me here.

If you have any questions, please reach out to me via email: briandoylephoto@gmail.com