Table of contents

Chapter 1 Definitions and terminology            

Chapter 2   Purchasing equipment

Chapter 3   The sensor and pixels

Chapter 4   White balance

Chapter 5   ISO and its uses

Chapter 6   Focus

Chapter 7   Depth of Field (DOF)

Chapter 8   Exposure, (Aperture and Shutter Speed)

Chapter 9   Exposure compensation

Chapter 10  The exposure triangle

Chapter 11   Light

Chapter 12  Light metering

Chapter 13  Photographic composition and design

Chapter 14  Special aspects of design

Chapter 15  Macro photography

Chapter 16  Flower Photography

Chapter 17  Landscape photography

Chapter 18  Wild life photography

Chapter 19  Portrait Photography

Chapter 20  Tack sharp photos

Chapter 21  The photo has been taken. What now?

Chapter 22  Image size and quality.


The aim of this book

Motivation to compile this book started from the time I had to sharpen up my own knowledge around new developments in the area of photography.

In my quest to achieve this I agreed to work in collaboration with my co-author Hennie Cronjé, to compile this comprehensive guide on the full spectrum

of the basic principles of photography and their applications.


This book is meant as a teaching manual for:

·         photographers who have just bought their first camera and need to understand the basic principles of photography and how to apply them.

·         photographers with a bit more experience but who want more detailed knowledge on design and composition of photos and how to apply it in the

more common types of photography,

·         more experienced photographers who are ready to push the boundaries of design, composition and execution in the fields of i.e. photographic art

and flower photography.

The book contains more than 400 photographs but it is more than just a book of beautiful photos. The text is very important and as a reader you are

encouraged to pay particular attention to it to get maximum benefit from this book.

Perseverance leads to success. Hennie Cronjé

Basic Principles

The first 8 chapters describes the basic principles and how to use them

Understand ISO and use it as part of your exposure

The functions, ISO, aperture and shutter speed were all designed to use the same rule when their scales were calibrated – so that if for example

the aperture setting is kept constant, and you move a stop up or down any of the other two scales, the exposure of the photo will either double or

be reduced by half. The figure below illustrate the three scales.


ISO, aperture and shutter speed


If you were to take a picture using the same aperture throughout, (i.e. f16), something that took 1/125 second to be photographed at ISO100  (the green figures)

would take only 1/250 second at ISO 200 because ISO 200 is twice as fast. (The red figures). If you then use ISO 400, it would be twice as fast again, so it

would only take 1/500 second to photograph. This ability to interchange values off one scale for another gives an incredible flexibility in the exposure of your

photographs, and you can start to take more control over the way you capture your pictures.


 Principles of focus

For a camera to capture a sharply focused image the lens, which is used to capture the light rays reflected from the image, must be able to concentrate light

 originating from the object to a sharp single point on the sensor. This principle is illustrated in the figure below:


Principle of focus


What is illustrated above for a single point holds also for all other points in the object. It is however important to take note of the fact that only points in the

object in the same plane as the focused point will be in sharp focus This is called the focal plane (Figure below). Points closer to the lens than the point of

focus as well as points further away will be less sharply focused.


Focal plane


Only points on the focal plane FP, connecting the points X and Y will be in sharp focus.


How to focus

Modern cameras offer a variety of focusing options.

Chapters 9 – 12 describe some other aspects of importance in photography.


The histogram

Another very important tool which can be used to make sure your exposure is correct, is the histogram because the influence of the exposure compensation

which is applied is portrayed in the histogram. Most cameras these days offer the function of having the histogram of your photo instantly available. Making

use of the histogram can be a very valuable tool in getting your exposure just right.

Chapters 13 and 14 covers important aspects of composition and design.


Chapter 13

Photographic composition and design


Well-designed macro. Hennie Cronjé

Visual Design Photography


  There is no order in this scene. Many elements are present but in no specific order. Chaos reigns

  If, however, we were to look closely at the scene we will recognise a variety of different elements present in the

 scene which can be used in design. In the chaotic mix in the photo above, many different shapes, forms and textures are apparent. We can recognise triangles,

 rectangles, squares, circles and different textures, all of which are design elements.


  The Lego shapes in the photo above can be seen as the building blocks to create the pleasing design seen

 in this photo. The elements of visual design (see below), can be seen as the building blocks for the design of a successful photograph

Elements of importance in visual-design photography

·         Contrast: in light, colour and tone

·         Lines: Vertical, horizontal, diagonal

·         Shapes: Rectangles, squares, triangles, circles

·         Other: Texture, repetition (rhythm), perspective in size and depth

 Chapters 15 – 19 introduces the reader to five commonly practised photographic genres.

Chapter 15

Macro photography


Super macro photo. Simon Joubert

A first instar larva of the Blue Pansy Butterfly shedding its skin. The larva is approximately 3mm long. Canon MPE 65 and MT-24EX flash.


Macro awareness

The genre of macro photography introduces one to a world generally unseen. From relatively large subjects such as flies, spiders, butterflies and flowers to butterfly eggs and the structure on them, we enter a world that most of us are totally unaware of.

In addition to equipment with the ability to focus in tight, you also need a different visual sense when undertaking macro photography. When landscape photographers walk through a garden, they tend to see the big picture. When doing macro photography you need to focus on the details and it is these small details which become the subject of attention.

Chapter 16

Flower Photography


Flower photography is one of the most rewarding forms of photography. There is an almost endless variety of shapes, forms, lines and colours available

 and the beauty of it all is that there is no limit to the possibilities close to home. You don’t need to worry about what equipment to take with you, what

the weather may be like when you arrive at your destination or any of the other details associated with travelling, because it may not be necessary to

 venture beyond your own back yard! If you do not have a garden you can even buy your subject material at a florist and take it home!!


However, having said that, flower photography is more than just pointing your camera and pressing the shutter button. To capture a beautiful, artful,

 unique and striking image of a flower takes a bit more work and planning. Sometimes you will take a photograph of a flower that has the proper

exposure and composition and you may consider it a good photograph and maybe it is just that. But you must always remember though that ‘good’ is the

 enemy of ‘great’. Don’t settle for ‘good’, go for ‘great’. If you know your camera, have the desire to learn from the pages to follow, be willing to

 experiment with the various techniques and to apply them to your photography, you should be able to elevate your flower photography from

‘good’ to ‘great’.


Chapter 17

Landscape photography


Magnificent landscape. Hennie Cronjé.



Landscape photography’s golden rule

If you want to do landscape photography with the ‘wow’ factor it is imperative to stringently follow this rule. If you do not follow this rule, it

would possibly be better to sell your equipment and buy a postcard in the curio shop!!!


The rule

There are two, and only two, times during the day to capture stunning landscape images: Dawn and Dusk. You can shoot from about 30 minutes

before sunrise to about 30 minutes past sunrise and from about 30 minutes before sunset to about 30 minutes after sunset.


Why only these times?

During these times the light is at its very best. You get soft warm colours because the light from the sun strikes the earth’s atmosphere at an

oblique angle and all the cold harsh colours are filtered out, leaving only the soft, warm yellow/orange and red hues which will turn an ordinary

scene into something quite magical! For this reason photographers call these times ‘the golden hours’.


Composing landscapes


A good landscape is either of a large panoramic scene, or of a beautiful part of a scene, or both. Good landscapes have an essential unity, a clear

subject, and the composition harmonizes well with the subject, enhancing and directing attention towards it. Good landscapes are considerably

more abstract than ordinary snapshots. The viewer must immediately know what you are photographing and what the story is you want to tell.

In order to create an eye catching landscape photograph you would need to take the following aspects into consideration:

HDR (High Dynamic Range)

Any scene or object to be photographed contains a range of colour tones ranging from lighter tones to darker tones. The term dynamic range

is used to describe the range of tones in the image. Some scenes contain a wider range than others, in other words, one scene contains darker

dark tones and lighter light tones than another scene and its dynamic range is therefore greater. The greater the difference between the darkest

dark and lightest light tone, the higher the dynamic range of the scene.

A digital camera’s sensor does also have a dynamic range, meaning that it can only capture a limited range of light to dark tones. The dynamic

range of sensors differs between cameras. The sensors of the newer model cameras have in general a wider dynamic range than the older cameras.

 In addition, the dynamic range of the top model of any manufacturer is higher than that of the cheaper models.


Chapter 18

Wild life photography

Flamingos in flight. Hennie Cronjé


In South Africa, we are richly endowed with a wide variety of wild life. All photographers dream of shooting a beautiful bird in flight, a roaring

lion or even a unique insect on a leaf or flower. Getting a good wild life shot is not easy and photographers aspiring towards this photographic

genre must acquaint themselves with its requirements and guidelines.


In wild life photography equipment is of utmost importance. You will require the following:


The x-factor

Something else you will have to be ready for is that unique event which you may experience only once in your life time. These events are not

predictable and may arrive out of the blue. However, if you have good knowledge of animals and their behaviour you can make arrangements

 in advance just in case something like that may happen.


Being prepared will increase the chances of you capturing that unique event. Being with an experienced photographer or wild life expert will

of course assist greatly


Chapters 20 – 22 includes aspects of general interest, including basic advice on

editing procedures and how to prepare photos for printing and viewing. 


Chapter 20

Tack sharp photos


If your photo, or at least the important part of your photo, is not sharp, nothing else matters

These are harsh words, but very true. You may have a beautiful scene with beautiful light and a perfect composition but if the photo is not sharp,

you will get remarks like: “beautiful scene – pity though that it is not in focus” One would rather want to avoid remarks like that and the only way

to do that, is to do everything in your power to get your images ‘tack sharp’

There are several detailed description on how to use the camera and Photoshop to achieve certain results

To conclude:

Photography is a journey with many destinations and like all journeys it starts with the first step. Pack your camera bag, fit yourself out

with adequate knowledge, start walking and enjoy the journey.


Photography is a journey. Hennie Cronjé



Who will benefit?

Photographers who have just bought their first camera and who want to gain greater insight into the basic principles of photography and their application.

Photographers well versed in the basic principles who require more information on design and composition.

 Photographers who wish to expand their horizon, test the boundaries of design and composition and gain insight into some of digital photography’s more advanced techniques and their application.


To obtain any of the  e-books, e-mail me  and indicate in which country you reside (South Africa or another country.)

Arrangements for payment and delivery will follow by return e-mail.


Price: South African customers, or customers from a country using the South African Rand as currency, R300 per copy. Any banking costs will be for the clients account. E-transfers within South Africa are free of charge.

                Overseas customers, or customers wishing to pay via PayPal, US$30 per copy.