I believe that Photography is a skill, learning the basics is absolutely necessary if you want to produce incredible images. When you understand the basics you can begin to manipulate the settings in order to capture photographs as they appear or alter settings to produce the image in your minds eye so to speak!
Photography is similar to a chef creating a recipe, once you understand how minor adjustments in aperture, shutter speed, focus or ISO affects the light hitting the sensor you can begin to alter the "recipe" to taste!
There really aren't any hard and fast rules, it simply is all about light and artistic flare.
Whether you're taking a photo of a landscape, building, wildlife, portraiture or a Bride in her wedding dress, its down to how you perceive the image.
One of my favorite types of photography when I'm not working professionally at a wedding is long exposure photography.
I thought I would give a brief article on how I go about setting up the camera and to let you experience for yourself how easy it is, then when you understand the basics you can produce imaginary images as this image attached with this blog which was taken in Bath on a pre-wedding photo shoot.
The kit you require is a good neutral density filter (this will allow you to reduce the shutter speed, it depends on how bright the ambient light is however 1/4 is a good starting point, this will slow water and is great for blurring people or vehicles) a tripod (you need the camera perfectly steady as you don't want to create camera movement) shutter release cable (I have released the shutter manually many times however for a perfect image I recommend getting one of these) and lastly a camera that offers manual settings.
Ok; I find that setting the aperture to f.11 is a good aperture to start with, set your ISO to 100, ensure you have the neutural density filter attached, if your camera lets you view the scene with an electronic view finder it will brighten the image in the view finder for you to focus, if not you can set the focus manually with the distance scale or if none of these options are available to you, set the focus using the focus scale and then attach the N/D filter.
Now, look at the cameras meter and set the exposure using the metering scale and take the shot, this is where the fun starts because you can then begin making changes to the settings to provide you with the exposure effect you want.
I quite often switch the camera to bulb which lets me slow the shutter based on seconds therefore I can watch the counter and decide when I'm going to close the shutter.
This image was taken using a shutter speed of 1/8, I focused perfectly on Becci and Jamie, asked them to stand perfectly still and took the photo, the effect was just as i imagined.
I have used this effect at weddings in the past, when you have time to play, it produces brilliant images, I just focus on a guest or the Bride and Groom and let the other guests become a blur, practice practice practice and you too will produce incredible, imaginary and artistic photography.