While playing around with your camera, oblivious to the intricacies of photography, can be fun, it's good to step back and learn the fundamentals. You may have picked up bits and pieces about aperture, shutter speed and exposure, but how do these elements work together to create a great photo?
Photographer Barry O'Carroll has penned an extremely thorough guide on what he describes as the "Exposure Triangle":
I want you take control of your camera. In order to do this, it's essential to understand the 3 components of what we call "The Exposure Triangle". These are: aperture, shutter speed and ISO. By the end of this tutorial, you should understand what these 3 components are and how they affect the final photograph.
Along with a breakdown on the three elements, he also provides handy tips, such as figuring out the minimum shutter speed for handheld shooting:
...I simply multiply the focal length by 2 and divide it into 1 to get the minimum shutter speed required to shoot hand held. [For a 30mm focal length] 30 x 2 is 60 therefore the minimum shutter speed required to shoot hand held is 1/60 of a second.
In addition, O'Carroll explains that to get the perfect photo, you may have to take several shots and combine them, especially if you're having trouble capturing highlights or shadows:
Sometimes the contrast in a scene is simply too much for your camera to handle no matter which combination of aperture and shutter speed you use. In this case, bracketing can be used to solve the problem ... I usually take 3 photos of the same scene, one with the exposure set to "0", another deliberately underexposed by 2 stops and a final one deliberately overexposed by 2 stops.
Hit up his article below for the full details on the triangle.
Guide to Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO — Exposure Triangle [BOC Photography, via PetaPixel]