In its barest essence, photography is all about understanding and using light. An outstanding photograph, whether it be of a scene, or an event, or a portrait, is very much defined by the quality of light present, and how it's utilized. Certainly the opposite is true also; images that are too bright or dark, or marred by reflection, graininess, or lack of detail, are the result of the photographer not managing the light in the scene very well. So if photography is your passion, the more you learn about light and become attuned to its characteristics, the better your images will become.
For the beginning photographer, perhaps the easiest thing to learn first is when there is adequate light to take well-exposed picture. Shooting out-of-doors for example is much easier than shooting inside a home or building, and therefore it's a better place to start learning how to use a camera simply because of the increased likelihood of a well-exposed image. In fact, there are times of day and types of days that are better suited for picture-taking. Softer light, characteristic of the morning or late afternoon, lends itself to better photographs than those shot a midday when light is harsh and shadows most defined. It may surprise you also to learn that cloudy days can be terrific days to take great photographs simply because shadows tend to be much more diffuse.
While camera technology is terrific these days, even the best and most expensive camera's can't see into the light or darkness the way your eye can. Maybe that's why folks make the mistake of thinking they can hand-hold a camera in low light conditions and get a well-exposed shot ... since it looked OK to their eye. But beware, when your shutter speed falls below 1/30 of a second, chances are you won't be able to hold the camera steadily enough to get a sharp image that you will be pleased with.
As you progress outdoors, come inside and take advantage of indirect window light to give you the brightness you need for an adequate exposure. I have taken some of my most beautiful images simply with existing light coming through a window.
OK, remember ... you need adequate light for a good exposure; therefore start your learning curve where it is sure to be present. Diffuse light outdoors, or through a window can create beautiful photographs with relative ease when compared with the tools needed to add, shape or modify light when you can't get it naturally. We'll talk about all those things in future blogs.