New to DSLR Photography? (Part 2 of 2) | Toronto Teacher Mom

New to DSLR Photography? (Part 2 of 2)

Monday, February 10, 2014

I hope you enjoyed Part 1 of this series and that you are beginning to feel more comfortable entering the wonderful world of DSLR photography. Now that you have absorbed the first five tips, let's now move on to the top five.

5. Read the manual.


468 pages? Yikes!

Your first instinct may be to go bananas snapping pictures with your new camera, and it's perfectly ok to do so. However, after you get that bug out of your system, it's important that you read the manual. Many of the fancier settings may be buried in menus or limited to a certain shooting mode. It is also a good idea to learn how to change shooting modes such as Auto, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, etc.

In addition to shooting modes, it is a good idea to learn how to change file types and sizes, drive mode, white balance, etc.  If all this sounds foreign to you, that's alright, it will become second nature after some practice. Learning all of the functions of your camera will let you get the most out of your investment. 

4. Consider an off-camera flash.


Yes, I'm suggesting that you spend even more money! Most entry level cameras come with a built-in flash, so why would you get another one? Good question. There are several reasons to get a separate flash:
  • The built-in flash is quite anemic and requires a longer recharge cycle 
  • An off-camera flash uses its own set of batteries, preserving the camera battery during longer shoots 
  • A built-in flash is more susceptible to creating red-eye  
  • Off-camera flashes also provide more features such as remote triggering, auto-focus assist beams, and the ability to aim the flash to bounce off walls and ceilings. 


3. Get a tripod.


Now, a tripod need not be expensive, but it should be able to handle the weight of your camera and lens with capacity to spare. Even with image stabilization technology, you will not be able to keep your hands steady enough during longer exposures or at extreme focal lengths. Long exposures help in low light situations or when you want to add some creative motion-blur (think of those dreamy looking waterfall pictures: shameless plug).

A tripod will also allow you to use the camera remote shutter or timer function to allow you to quickly get in a family picture. As you move ahead in your photography hobby, you'll notice that virtually none of your pictures include yourself.


2. Learn the exposure triangle.


Yes, this isn't the most exciting concept to learn, but it is one of the most important to understand. The interaction and limitations of aperture, shutter speed, and ISO sensitivity dictates what your picture will look like. I won't try to explain this concept here, however there are many tutorials all over the internet. One of my favourite sites is Cambridge in Colour. Their explanation of the exposure triangle can be found here.

1. Go out and take plenty of pictures.


One of the main advantages of digital photography is that it doesn't cost you any additional money to see the fruits of your labour. Get out and take some pictures. Don't be afraid to experiment. If you don't like the result, the delete button is not far away. However, do yourself the favour and don't delete images based on the preview screen on the back of your camera, load them on your computer first. You may notice some interesting content or an artistic technique. 

Play in Aperture and Shutter Priority modes and get a feel for what it is like to take some control over the exposure of your pictures. Even try a bulb exposure (look that up!). The options are endless. 

Everyone and everything around you is worthy of photography. Whether you are simply capturing a moment or telling a story, there is no end to what you can capture with your camera. Get out there, have fun, and share your stories. 

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  1. I am always bad about reading the manual, even though I am sure it would benefit technologically-challenged me!

  2. My birthday is coming up and your posts are really encouraging me to dive in and treat myself to a DSLR camera!

  3. Thanks so much for this. I'm forwarding it on to my eldest daughter who loves photography!

    Anne Taylor

  4. I have this on my wishlist! I will be bookmarking this page!


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