Nuts and bolts of Photography


When you click the right picture, do you feel a sudden stroke of ecstasy? Like something struck you in the head and you just can’t wait till you get back home, download the picture and see it on the big screen of your pc or even the TV? Well, I’ve had my moments of bliss, more often now than earlier.

I love photography and it is not until recently that I came to realize it. I have the least idea about its technical side and have so far been clicking only on instincts. I did put some effort into reading a document about ‘photography as a science’ and have so far managed to finish only three pages out of fifty eight. (science is just not my cuppa!) J

One day, a co-blogger and friend mentioned about four basic principles of photography.

He just gave me four phrases – golden hour, depth of field, soft lighting and high key/low key lighting and left it to me to find out what they meant. So I went to good ol’ wikipedia and found some very simple explanations. It made a lot of sense and I could relate it to my thought process while clicking.

I then went back to my collection and checked if some of my earlier photos reflected these concepts. So here for record and my own reference, I am putting down what I read, along with illustrations from some photos I clicked.

  • Golden Hour – The golden hour is defined as the first and last hour of sunlight during the day when a specific photographic effect is achieved with the quality of the light during these hours.



  • Key Lighting – Lighting for total illumination of the photo requires 3 points – key lighting, fill lighting and back lighting.

 In key lighting, low-key lighting is a style where the light is focused on certain parts of the object (which is being photographed) in such a way that it enhances the features that make up the outline of the object and leaves the rest in shadows.

Alternatively, high-key lighting is a style that has very little dark areas or shadows.

(I do not have photos to illustrate this; will update as and when I click some.)

Back lighting – Lighting that is used to illuminate the subject from the back. The camera and the light are facing each other.





When the backlight is very intense

(precisely 16 times more than the key light)

it produces a silhouette.





Fill lighting – Lighting that may be used to reduce the contrast of a scene and provide some illumination for the areas of the image that are in shadow.  


  • Soft lighting – Soft light refers to light that tends to “wrap” around objects, casting shadows with soft edges. The softness of the light depends mostly on the following two factors:

              o Distance- The closer the light source, the softer it becomes.

              o Size of light source- The larger the source, the softer it becomes.

The softness of a light source can also be determined by the angle between the illuminated object and the ‘length’ of the light source (the longest dimension that is perpendicular to the object being lit). The larger this angle is, the softer the light source.

  • Depth of field – This refers to the part of an image that appears sharper than the rest of it showing that the focus of the lens is on that particular portion of the image. This makes the rest of the image a bit blurred. Mathematically, the depth of field is determined by the distance between and camera and the object, the focal length of the lens and what is called the f-number of the lens. In digital cameras, the dof is determined after the image is made.





 Each of these fundas is a vast field of study in itself and cannot be mastered in a day. But understanding the basics adds so much more to the whole experience of clicking.

Thanks a ton to Twisted Dna and Wikipedia.




11 thoughts on “Nuts and bolts of Photography

  1. Well written – what I enjoyed is that 3 of the tips are essentially about recognizing light. Light is the master of the landscape and the more you can appreciate and anticipate what it might do, the more light magic you can add to your work.

  2. I am rushing with a “yes yes I agree” here. My circle tends to focus a lot on the technical aspect and take the joy out of photography. I am going to recommend your approach to them and see if we can take more photographs. We tend to spend more time in ‘setting up the shot’. Sunset and Radj, are you listening?

  3. I have a minimum know how about photography…but these wonderful, breathtaking pictures I find on every site I go to is kindling an interest to try to learn some tips and tricks and delve into the art with some seriousness!! Your post was very interesting and infomative!

  4. Thanks for the mention 🙂 I am glad you are exploring, because given your innate talent for photography, a bit of technique will produce breathtaking photographs!

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