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Author Topic: Looking for pointers....  (Read 3012 times)


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Looking for pointers....
« on: July 28, 2016, 02:38:09 PM »
In 2009 I purchased a Canon EOS Rebel XSI.  Came with 2 lenses: EF 18-55mm and EF 75-300.  Later purchased a flash: Speedlite 430 EX 11.  In 2013 I upgraded camera to Canon EOS 60D Digital SLR.  I love taking all kinds of pictures: people, pets, architectural, nature.  My pictures are good.  But I know they could be better.  I have searched and read all kinds of websites about learning how to shoot out of auto and me be in control of the photo.  For some reason, I just can not find the "perfect" website to help me with this.  As you can tell, I've been trying for many years.  So, how did YOU learn to work your camera?


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  • Stick and Brick in Woodbury,MN
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Re: Looking for pointers....
« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2016, 03:31:16 PM »
I was in class to learn photography many many years ago but did teach basic photography to people in Minnesota. For several years I maintained my website from basic to Off Camera Flash, Portrait photography and the like.

Learning to get off P program mode (P=panic) has several steps.
1. Know what Aperture is
2. Know what Shutterspeed is
3. Know what ISO is

If you know the ins and outs of these settings you know when to choose Aperture priority and Shutterspeed priority. I know there is more then that but this Exposure triangle will teach you a lot of what photography is about.

See this post: http://dutcheagle.com/learn/downloads/beginners-dslr-for-portrait-photography

If you are not able to download the files, please let me know and I will embed them in my page.
Klaas (Retired 9/1/2016) & Eileen (+dog Bailey)
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Re: Looking for pointers....
« Reply #2 on: July 28, 2016, 03:37:34 PM »
Bryan Peterson's Understanding Exposure is a great book. Highly recommended.

Great Horned Owl

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  • Lake county, IL
Re: Looking for pointers....
« Reply #3 on: July 28, 2016, 04:43:53 PM »
Good photos may be taken, but much more often than not, really great photos are made. If nothing else, the sharpness, exposure, contrast, color balance, color saturation, and/or cropping are tweaked.

I can recall reading an interview with Cole Weston, talking about his father. If you aren't familiar with his work, Google Edward Weston.

Cole said that he could recall being in the field with his dad, and watching him spend an entire day taking a single photo. He would then spend a week in the dark room making a single print. Fortunately, today's "digital dark room" is faster, easier, cheaper, and a whole lot less smelly.

I can also recall seeing two Ansel Adams prints, both from the same negative, but made several years apart. The difference is astonishing.

Buy a copy of Jeff Revel's Photoshop Elements From Snapshots to Great Shots. Unlike most books, this isn't just another "how to use Photoshop" book. Rather, it is a book on how to improve your photos, using Photoshop as a tool

After you read it, go buy Photoshop, or Photoshop Elements (easier, cheaper, and 99% as useful), or almost any other decent photo editor. With a little practice, you will be amazed at the results.

If you want to be convinced, post a photo of yours that seems like is should be better than it is, I'll tweak it and post my version.

« Last Edit: July 28, 2016, 04:49:20 PM by Great Horned Owl »
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Larry N.

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  • Westminster, CO
Re: Looking for pointers....
« Reply #4 on: July 28, 2016, 06:07:45 PM »
So, how did YOU learn to work your camera?

Many factors here. I was friends with a pro, I attended a Nikon School that came to town, I read the extremely informative articles in Petersen's Photographic magazine, I plowed through (and practiced) the Kodak How To series of books and I've read critiques of various pictures by many pros.

There's more, but that's a starting point for ideas to help. You could look at the camera reviews on dpreview.com and perhaps some other websites with similar information. You might also look through the sticky post at the top of this forum section about photo tips for beginners (actually there some advanced stuff in there, too -- and the basics are very important.

You might also roam through this forum section's posts, as there's a lot of good info from the many good, better and best photogs here (pro and advanced amateur)
Larry and Mary Ann N.
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Re: Looking for pointers....
« Reply #5 on: July 29, 2016, 07:31:02 AM »
All your responses are just what I was hoping for! Thank you so much. I can't wait to check out all your suggestions! And photoshop was my next question. I have photoshop Elements 8 but have never had the instructions. I've tried to find a good tutorial so I can't wait to check this out. I have been really discouraged and put my camera away. Thanks for getting me excited again!


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Re: Looking for pointers....
« Reply #6 on: July 29, 2016, 08:45:57 AM »
If you have an iPhone (or I'm sure other smartphones), I find dSLR Kit For Dummies a great app to help with your settings.  Simple to use and lots of great stuff in it.  And...you can take it with you easily.  Give it a try.
MSgt, USAF, Retired
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Re: Looking for pointers....
« Reply #7 on: July 29, 2016, 09:16:04 AM »
I applaud you for wanting to get off the auto and Program modes.  There is so much more to photography than simply pressing a button.  It can be so much fun.  And no matter what anyone says they never know everything.  It is a continually learning experience.  Trying different things is some of the fun.

Like some said above, aperture, shutter speed and iso are the three main settings.  White balance is another as are some other adjusted exposure settings.

Aperture is the size of the hole inside the lens that lets light through.  A small number is a big hole.  A big number is a small hole.  Aperture is measured in what is referred to as F stops. Ex: f2.8
Shutter speed sets the amount of time the sensor is exposed to light.  Shutter Speed is measured in seconds.  Ex: 1/60 or 1/60th of a second.
ISO is how fast the sensor reacts to the light. ISO is measured in whole numbers.  Ex: 200

Each of those three settings effect the amount of light that reaches the sensor.  They are independent setting but still work together to make the photo.

Once you understand those three setting and how they effect the photo you will then be on your way to lots of fun and creativity.  It sounds daunting and confusing at first but they really are simple concepts and easy to understand.

Aperture, like I said, is the size of the hols inside the lens.  The bigger the hole the more light that can make its way to the light sensor inside the camera.  The smaller the hole the less light that makes it to the sensor.  This setting also effects something called depth of field.  The smaller the hole the greater the depth of field.  The larger the hole the shallower the depth of field. 

Depth of field is how far before and beyond your subject that is in focus.  Maybe you want to take a picture of someone in a field and want the trees in the background in focus.  Maybe you want to take a picture of someone and all the other prople in the background should be blurry or not in focus. 

Shutter speed determines the length of time the sensor is exposed to light.  If you are taking a picture of a flower while using a tripod.  The camera will be very still and so will the subject.  This means you can use a longer shutter speed, the shutter will be open for a longer amount of time.  But if you are taking a picture of a moving car while hand holding the camera you would want a very fast shutter speed to "freeze the image" and prevent any blurryness due to the car moving and the movement for you while holding the camera.

ISO determines how fast the sensor reacts to the light that reaches it.  A low iso number, like 200, will make the sensor react slower versus a high iso number, like 6400.  The higher the iso the more "noise" that can be in the image.

All three of those setting work together to set the exposure.  The amount of light, the time of light and the speed it is read. 

You may have settings on a sunny day taking a photo of your motorhome in the sun with an Aperture of f1/16, Shutter Speed of 1/100 and ISO of 100. 

You may have setting of someone playing soccer outside on a sunny day with an Aperture of 1/2.8, Shutter Speed of 1/2000 and ISO of 1600.

You may have settings inside a house during a party with an Aperture of f1/2.8, Shutter Speed of 1/60 and ISO of 6400.

Soo each of the three settings are independent but work together to control the overall exposure. 

I would start in Aperture mode and set your Aperture to experiment and learn how different Apertures effect the photo. When in Aperture mode you control the Aperture and the camera adjust the other settings.  The same would go for the Shutter Priority Mode.  You choose the Shutter Speed and the camera adjusts the rest.

I very rarely shoot in full manual mode.

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Re: Looking for pointers....
« Reply #8 on: July 29, 2016, 10:13:10 AM »
A very good source for instruction on using a camera is a site called Lynda.com..  It does cost to watch the videos but they have a very large section, beginning to advanced photography videos from top photographers.

Another source is to look into a Community Collage in your area if there is one.  Many offer courses also.

Lenexa, KS
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Re: Looking for pointers....
« Reply #9 on: July 29, 2016, 11:09:15 AM »
Y'all are great!!  I love this forum!  Sooo many knowledgeable people!  Thanks so much!


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  • Stick and Brick in Woodbury,MN
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Re: Looking for pointers....
« Reply #10 on: July 29, 2016, 01:28:15 PM »
Should have included this in my first answer but the best way to learn photography is buying The Fundamentals of Digital Photography by John Greengo on CreativeLive,com , its $152 but worth every penny. It is has 113 videos and he explains everything in a very understandable manner. I bought the 2012 version when it was broadcast life. During the week of a broadcast you can buy it for a reduced price. Every year he updates his course.


For $152 you get:

    113 Video lessons in HD
    Exclusive bonus content
    Lifetime access, anywhere, anytime
    Streaming and downloadable files
    Available on desktop, mobile and tablet

I'm not affiliated with CreativeLive or John Greengo, but in my opinion this is the best deal to buy. Every subject is explained in detail with graphs and animations and made very visual for an easy understanding. You need 5 days of 8 hours to watch all the videos. You need a fast internet connection to download the whole content but once you do you can watch it over and over.

You can find small samples on Youtube, just search for John Greengo
Klaas (Retired 9/1/2016) & Eileen (+dog Bailey)
"Qua Patet Orbis" - Dutch Marines (1968-1975)
Website: https://RVmotion.com.com
2005 Winnebago Vectra 40FD
Toad: 2011 Buick LaCrosse (Roadmaster Sterling towbar)


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Re: Looking for pointers....
« Reply #11 on: July 29, 2016, 09:50:04 PM »
I love this nomad photographer:

She often offers free downloads of some of her books. You can sign up for
Her email list and get all kinds of tips and inspiration.


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Re: Looking for pointers....
« Reply #12 on: July 29, 2016, 09:54:46 PM »
here's a site to look at DVDs.


They sometimes have specials for 2 DVD sets for under $100.

National Geographic Masters of Photography & Fundamentals of Photography

I missed the last sale but haven't check the site in a while.

Ron from Big D

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Re: Looking for pointers....
« Reply #13 on: August 03, 2016, 09:21:45 PM »
One thing all of you missed:  Join a photography club and get mentored by an advanced photographer.  Then, shoot, shoot and shoot.  It will come to you.

With Photoshop or Lightroom, you have to spend time with it.  There are many ways to accomplish many tasks.  Good courses available at the Community Colleges.
Ron from Big D


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Re: Looking for pointers....
« Reply #14 on: August 04, 2016, 11:46:47 AM »
One thing all of you missed:  Join a photography club and get mentored by an advanced photographer. 

We have lots of photographers around here but I'm apprehensive about asking them to show me things.  I don't want them to think I'm taking their clientele.  And I wish there was a photography club close to me.  I live 2 hours away in any direction to a large town.


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Re: Looking for pointers....
« Reply #15 on: October 28, 2016, 11:10:01 PM »
Shooting in manual mode is a tradeoff between shutter speed, aperture and ISO to get where you want to be.  You need to assess what you want from your photo.  The first thing that I determine is what kind of DOF (depth of field) do I want.  Is it a landscape at early morning where you want everything in focus from the foreground to the distant background?  Is it a photo of a bug on a flower where you want the bug in focus but the background out of focus?

The aperture size controls the DOF.  If I wanted a shallow DOF where only the bug is in focus then I want to shoot it wide open (a large aperture opening equals a small number like f/2.8).  If I want everything in focus then I want to shoot a small aperture opening like f/22.

Now that I know where I want my aperture, I can determine where to set my shutter speed.  By using the "in camera" meter, I can set the shutter speed to where it needs to be for a proper exposure. 

If I'm shooting an early morning scene of a meadow in the foreground and mountains in the background and want all of it in focus, I might find that the shutter speed is going to be much too slow and the chance for camera shake is there to blur the photo.  I have several options.  I can select a higher ISO that equates to a grainier photo or less DOF which will allow me to shoot a little faster shutter speed.  The third option is to use a tripod and the timer on the camera.

By using ISO, aperture and shutter speed, you should be able to shoot in just about any conditions.  Only practice will help you get a feel for what you want the end result to be and how to manipulate these 3 functions to get there.

One more thing that is going to effect all of this is the lens.  If you want to shoot wide open at f/2.8 but you have a variable lens that goes from f/4.0 to f/5.6 you won't be able to get there.  You're minimum will be the f/4.0 that the lens will allow.  The maximum will be whatever the camera will allow like f/22 or beyond.  If you can get a lens with a fixed aperture you'll have more control but these are generally much more expensive.  I shoot a Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L lens.  If I bought that lens in a variable aperture version like the f/4.0 to f/5.6, I could pick it up for around $199.  To buy the fixed lens is around $1500.  The Canon that I shoot is quite a bit more expensive than the kit lenses but it will make a huge difference in your photos too.

Good luck.
« Last Edit: October 28, 2016, 11:11:47 PM by roadjunkie »
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