Good day there everybody! When I shot my first photograph with a proper DSLR camera I expected it to be perfect like you see in the magazines - and when I looked at the little screen I was so disappointed: it turned out to be all black and blurry. I kept on trying but I couldn't manage to take a decent photograph. I started searching the web and I taught myself how to take photographs with the manual mode of the camera, but I always wished to find a guide - of not too many words - explaining the extreme basics of a DSLR (or system camera). I'm sure there are a thousand posts about this subject on the web nowadays but I still wanted to write what I wished to find back then!
BASIC GUIDE TO DSLR PHOTOGRAPHY
I am not going to explain extremely complicated details to you - I wanted to make this a basic guide. Every camera is different, but DSLR cameras mostly have the same 'characteristics' and basics you can adjust. You can adjust these characteristics in a few different modes and the modes that are available at every DSLR camera are the aperture mode (A), the shutter speed mode (S) and the manual mode (M). The aperture mode enables you to adjust the aperture, the shutter speed mode the shutter speed and the manual mode lets you adjust both. If you choose to go with the A mode, the camera will adjust the shutter speed. The same goes for the shutter speed mode.
The aperture is the 'opening' of the camera. When changing the aperture you basically change how much light is coming into your camera. When you have a big aperture (the hole is large), a lot of light is coming in. The bigger the 'hole' of your lense - the smaller the number.
A large aperture (a small number) creates a blurry background. That is why everybody loves the 50mm lens so much: the aperture is huge so it creates nice blurry backgrounds, it allows you to shoot in low light (and it's cheap). Being able to shoot in low light has something to do with the shutter speed - which I'm going to explain now.
The shutter speed is, in simple words, how long the camera takes to take a picture. A shutter speed written like '30' means that the camera takes 1/30th of a second to take a photograph. This might not seem too long to you but it's actually pretty slowly, camera-wise: you have to keep your camera still in order to take a sharp picture, or you need to adjust your aperture (make it bigger - make the number smaller!). If you can't adjust the aperture anymore (every lens has a limit), you can change something else.. the ISO.
ISO basically is how sensible your camera is for the light. The higher the ISO, the more sensitive your camera is - the bigger your aperture can be/the faster your shutter speed. The downside of raising your ISO: the higher your ISO, the grainier your photograph.
I think these three things are the absolute basics of operating your DSLR camera: once you've got the hang of the aperture mode (what I started with)/shutter speed mode you can slowly start trying to shoot with the manual mode. I now am used to using the manual mode on my camera but I wasn't at first: I knew how it worked but I had a little difficulty with adjusting the camera in such a way that I liked how the photographs were turning out. This is something that grows: you have to know the basics but you'll learn through time, once your experience starts growing. I hope this little guide helped you a bit: I know it is extremely simple but I tried to keep the language as basic and as understandable for everyone as possible. Have a lovely day!