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If you are a photographer or just really good with a DSLR, how did you learn?


38carrots
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Are there good sites that take a systematic approach to exploring a camera's features? Good books?

 

Did you learn via lessons (in person or on-line) or via experimentation or both?

 

What does it mean to be good? Shooting on manual all the time? Needing little editing afterwards?

 

I've been photographing with a point and shoot for years, and my passion is composition. Some say my photos are really good. I feel amost embarrassed to say that I don't feel I need a DSLR except the rare moments where I'd love to have more control over the aperture.

 

Years ago I took a SLR recreational course with an old black and white Pentax and was taught about shutter speed, aperture, "film" sensitivity...I never really got "white balance."

 

I'm getting an entry level DSLR for Christmas, and I'm afraid I won't be able to take better photos than what I already take with my point and shoot. Panic! My family expects me to suddenly do magic, because they all think I am a "photographer." lol

 

I'd like to take my photography more seriously and learn. How did you learn, what was most helpful, how did you become good and developed your style?

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I've been doing photography seriously for 7.5 years. It started out with me buying my first dSLR (an entry level camera). At first I shot in automatic (which you are right - won't result in better pictures than your current point and shoot) but I quickly got interested in really learning. My first book was this one (except it was a very old version): http://www.amazon.com/Understanding-Exposure-3rd-Photographs-Camera/dp/0817439390/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1447859691&sr=1-3&keywords=bryan+peterson-- I HIGHLY recommend you get this book - either buy it or get it from the library. I had to read it three times before things started to click. If you start out with this book, you are winning. Then Practice, Practice, Practice.

 

Back then, there wasn't as much available online as there is now. I actually took a lot of in person classes and workshops, and even had a professional photographer come to my home to train me for a week and that was huge. Nowadays, there's a lot more online learning including workshops and classes. This forum is EXCELLENT and I believe they have a deal where you get a one month membership for $1. I'd go to facebook and look that up, as it's only temporary - it will give you an opportunity to poke around: http://www.clickinmoms.com/

 

There are also soooooo many great books. You can browse the shelves of Barnes and Noble to get an idea of books you might like.

 

Basically I just became obsessed with everything photography. I studied all aspects of it -- and there are A LOT of aspects of it. Understanding light is huge. Composition. Technical aspects (shooting manual is pretty critical IMHO). Editing. So much. I am still constantly learning. I love it though. It's my passion and my hobby. I actually had a business for one year. It did well, but I hated it. I realized that I really only like shooting for myself. Another project that is really valuable - shooting a 365 project (or just shooting every day). Here is mine for this year: https://www.flickr.com/gp/33329506@N06/24efFq

 

Also, I recommend you invest in a 50mm 1.8 lens -- and try using ONLY that lens for a while. It's an excellent lens and will really allow you to learn in ways you never expected. AND big one here - start shooting manual immediately. Don't get caught in the automatic trap. It will limit you so much.

 

Please let me know if you have any other specific questions! I'm happy to help :)

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Get an entry level DSLR, but get the body only.  Instead of the kit lens get a cheap prime lens.  35 mm lenses are classic.  Many who prefer prime lenses have one 35mm, one 50mm, and one 85mm.  Prime means fixed focal length, not zoom, but that has a wide aperature.  That means you want the f stop to be as low as possible.  F/1.8 or lower, whatever you can afford.  Read the reviews of the lenses to choose. 

 

Start in Aperature mode. Pick several different things to photograph and adjust the aperature through the full range of the lens.

 

Shoot everything in JPEG + RAW mode.  JPEG because the camera will develop the images for you.  RAW because eventually if you want your images to look professional you'll need to learn post processing in lightroom or photoshop or both, and you'll want a collection of RAW images to work with to learn on.  Until you learn post processing, RAW images are uglier than images from an iPhone.

 

Get some books on digital photography and work through the lessons.  Find photographers on YouTube to follow.  Watch CreativeLive's free broadcasts.

 

And shoot, shoot, shoot.  Shoot using different settings until you fully understand them all.

 

Once you feel you've mastered all that you can switch to full manual mode.  You can learn about lighting.  You can master photoshop and lightroom and learn to make each image into a work of art.

 

 

ETA:  Those new iPhone 6s's probably will take better photos than you for a couple of years.  It takes time to learn a camera like that, and your images will get worse before they get better.   Fancy cameras don't make you a great photographer.  Learning photography does.  To me, great is the ability to know how photography works well enough to get consistently great results, in any light, weather, or circumstances.

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I improved a lot by watching The Great Courses videos on Photography and the youtube vids on the camera I bought. After that, it has been a lot of trial and error. I am not good per se. But, we have very few professional photographers left in the tri county area and the lack of competition has driven prices up beyond what we could justify. A small portrait package with only one change of outfit, no outdoor shots, no pets, nothing at your home one any other location is $750.00, and due to the few number of pros you have to book a year in advance. To get as many photos as we need for relatives but fewer wallet size and to get middle boy a few poses with his horse or the dog was $1100.00. Sorry, that is money much better spent on college and especially times three kids graduating in three years!

 

Middle boy needed another art credit but was not interested in typical artistic pursuits. We bought an introductory level text on photography, put him through the Great Course lectures, and youtube vids, and then he simply spent many hours playing with it and practicing. He took his older brother's senior picture, and I took his this fall. I am pleased with the outcome, but I am also not bejng a perfectionist about it and have no desire to be a pro.

 

Those lectures and videos were very helpful.

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Back then, there wasn't as much available online as there is now. I actually took a lot of in person classes and workshops, and even had a professional photographer come to my home to train me for a week and that was huge. Nowadays, there's a lot more online learning including workshops and classes. This forum is EXCELLENT and I believe they have a deal where you get a one month membership for $1. I'd go to facebook and look that up, as it's only temporary - it will give you an opportunity to poke around: http://www.clickinmoms.com/

 

 

Does the Clickin Moms site focus solely on children as the subject? I'd love to learn to photograph landscapes so I wouldn't want to invest in a membership of CM if it isn't what I need.

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Does the Clickin Moms site focus solely on children as the subject? I'd love to learn to photograph landscapes so I wouldn't want to invest in a membership of CM if it isn't what I need.

 

No, there are many, many focuses. There are many workshops too - one specifically on landscape shooting. But check out the $1 deal right now and sign up for a month. That will give you an idea if it's something that will be of interest to you. I can't find it upon a quick look just now, but I remember seeing it on their facebook in the last few days, i think.

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Are there good sites that take a systematic approach to exploring a camera's features? Good books?

 

Did you learn via lessons (in person or on-line) or via experimentation or both?

 

What does it mean to be good? Shooting on manual all the time? Needing little editing afterwards?

 

I've been photographing with a point and shoot for years, and my passion is composition. Some say my photos are really good. I feel amost embarrassed to say that I don't feel I need a DSLR except the rare moments where I'd love to have more control over the aperture.

 

Years ago I took a SLR recreational course with an old black and white Pentax and was taught about shutter speed, aperture, "film" sensitivity...I never really got "white balance."

 

I'm getting an entry level DSLR for Christmas, and I'm afraid I won't be able to take better photos than what I already take with my point and shoot. Panic! My family expects me to suddenly do magic, because they all think I am a "photographer." lol

 

I'd like to take my photography more seriously and learn. How did you learn, what was most helpful, how did you become good and developed your style?

I'm going to try to take your questions one at a time.  

 

Here is a class that is free on How to Choose Your First DSLR Camera:  https://www.creativelive.com/courses/how-choose-your-first-dslr-camera-for-beginners.  

 

I learn SO much better in "person" (online or live) than through books, so that will be my bias.  

 

I have taken 5 classes by John Greengo; he is an excellent teacher and uses a lot of graphics to explain features of cameras, lenses, and methods.  I took (free online) his one week class on Digital Photography; the QuickStart Class on the Nikon I swiped from my DH (well, HE never uses it!); a 10 hour class on Lightroom (NOT free! but worth every penny--that was live); Landscape Photography (free on CreativeLive) and Travel Photography (free online CreativeLive).  He makes a living doing photography and teaching the classes  He is local to Seattle.  I have also taken classes by Lindsey Adler (CreativeLiveOnline again) on posing for portraiture, lighting on a budget, in the studio and outdoors; and two other classes, one on Lightroom (which was helpful, but Greengo knocked it out of the park) and one on the business of photography.  I have also attended the FREE photography expo for three years and have taken classes on the business of photography, macro photography, lighting for special effects, mirrorless cameras, choosing the right lens, and other stuff.  Almost all of this has been free, except for the stuff I end up buying at the Expo.  LOL  (But no regrets on anything I bought.)  I paid for three Greengo classes, and they were worth every penny.  All of the rest is free.  

 

You learn in your head from classes; you learn in your hands and eyes from experimentation.  Greengo has practice exercises built into his classes, and I have done them all and it is really THEN that you know what he has taught in the class.  Eg., put the camera on a tripod, Aperture mode, and then take a picture at every single aperture on your lens.  Note the exposure times, and then compare the pictures you got.  Or set up a shot on a tripod and use a zoom lens to take several pictures at different focal lengths.  Compare the pictures.  

 

What does it mean to be good?  I think that depends a lot on what you want to do.  Some people want to capture the very best photo they can in the camera, and do as little editing as possible; others view the captured image as the starting place for what they will do with it.  I fall into the former camp as I would a MILLLION times rather be shooting than editing.  But I have a friend who is just the opposite...the photo is his starting canvas and his work is amazing.  I would say that you should be able to intuitively control every aspect of your camera so you can get the shot you envision...sort of like what I told my kid when he was learning to ski--when you can get around on the skis without thinking about what you have to do, you can stop taking lessons.  Of course, by the time you can do that, skiing is fun and you WANT to go skiing.  You want the same thing with your camera...you know you want the water to be blurry in the waterfall shot and you KNOW what to do to make that happen.  So you have to learn what to do and then you have to practice it so it isn't a chore every time you get a shot.  Does that make sense?  

 

Some people say you have to be on Manual all the time if you are a really good photographer.  But that is not what I have heard from the photographers at the expos.  THEY say you want to be able to use your camera in any mode possible.  Greengo said there are times you just throw it in automatic because the camera can make adjustments faster than you can in a specific situation.  There's no "always".  

 

I am going to speak heresy at this point, but I think I could back it up with some photographers who make good money living the photographer's life:  If the only reason you are getting a DSLR is to have more control over aperture, I would suggest you take a look at a mirrorless camera.  You can do the same thing with a mirrorless; I have both a mirrorless and a GOOD DSLR and I find that hauling the DSLR around is a PITB and so I don't do it.  I have taken the majority of my shots on a mirrorless that allows for interchangeable lenses and the pictures are good.  This last expo, there was a speaker who does adventure photography and he has switched completely to mirrorless...because the camera you can carry gets more pictures than the one you can't, to start with, and because the differences are getting smaller and smaller.  My mirrorless has all the control of a DSLR, as do most of them.  The one thing you MUST get on a mirrorless, however, is an eyepiece viewfinder; looking at the screen on the back of the camera is NOT going to cut it.  In some of the new mirrorless cameras, the screen in the eyepiece has finer resolution than the screen on the back; at any rate, you can't SEE in bright lights if you are only looking at the back, and the stance you must take is unstable.  Anyway, that's my heresy for the day.  I will say this:  if you are doing wildlife photography, you are going to have to get a DSLR because the mirrorless camera lens selection for the >300 focal length is pretty poor.  I've done OK with my 55-210, but I will never get "the eagle in flight."  Anyway, weight and body size and hand fit are things to think about, and mirrorless suits me right down to the ground.  

 

"White balance":  it's sort of the color of the light you are shooting in. Daylight is different from flourescent light is different from tungsten light.  Most modern cameras adjust this automatically, and it is one of the easiest things to fix in post-shoot editing.  :0)  

 

Speaking of post-shoot editing:  If you shoot RAW (YES you should), you will need to do a little bit of work on your shots after you get them onto your computer.  How much, well, that's your call.  What program you used sort of depends on what you want to do.  Lightroom is Adobe's offering and is widely used by photographers; it has a TON of abilities to edit but it also helps you catalog, organize, and produce the photographs you do take.  If you get Lightroom, *plan* on taking a class on it.  It's a very rich program, but that means there is a lot to learn.  After taking Greengo's class,  I spent a week undoing all the stupid things I had done "my" way.  NOW I love the program, and I spend a LOT less time on my computer (win!).

 

Upthread, someone mentioned that you get the body only and then choose a good lens.  Agreed.  I think the same person also said to get a 50mm 1.8 lens and spend a year shooting with that.  If you get a full frame DSLR, get the 50mm.  If you get a APS-C DSLR, get the 35mm.  Either way, get 1.8.  I can explain the difference if you want but it's probably more than you want to know.  The idea of learning to shoot with a good, single-focal point, fast lens is a very good one.  You will learn to use your camera so much better if you don't have to fuss with the lens issues.  Once you have your camera "down," then add a zoom of some kind.  (I just took a class on lenses and another on dslr shooting and both teachers made this same recommendation.)  It's about learning to see and to get what you see into the camera.  

 

I hope this wasn't TMI or too bossy.  If it's just a little bossy, well, I can live with that.  :0)

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I've been doing photography seriously for 7.5 years. It started out with me buying my first dSLR (an entry level camera). At first I shot in automatic (which you are right - won't result in better pictures than your current point and shoot) but I quickly got interested in really learning. My first book was this one (except it was a very old version): http://www.amazon.com/Understanding-Exposure-3rd-Photographs-Camera/dp/0817439390/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1447859691&sr=1-3&keywords=bryan+peterson-- I HIGHLY recommend you get this book - either buy it or get it from the library. I had to read it three times before things started to click. If you start out with this book, you are winning. Then Practice, Practice, Practice.

 

Back then, there wasn't as much available online as there is now. I actually took a lot of in person classes and workshops, and even had a professional photographer come to my home to train me for a week and that was huge. Nowadays, there's a lot more online learning including workshops and classes. This forum is EXCELLENT and I believe they have a deal where you get a one month membership for $1. I'd go to facebook and look that up, as it's only temporary - it will give you an opportunity to poke around: http://www.clickinmoms.com/

 

There are also soooooo many great books. You can browse the shelves of Barnes and Noble to get an idea of books you might like.

 

Basically I just became obsessed with everything photography. I studied all aspects of it -- and there are A LOT of aspects of it. Understanding light is huge. Composition. Technical aspects (shooting manual is pretty critical IMHO). Editing. So much. I am still constantly learning. I love it though. It's my passion and my hobby. I actually had a business for one year. It did well, but I hated it. I realized that I really only like shooting for myself. Another project that is really valuable - shooting a 365 project (or just shooting every day). Here is mine for this year: https://www.flickr.com/gp/33329506@N06/24efFq

 

Also, I recommend you invest in a 50mm 1.8 lens -- and try using ONLY that lens for a while. It's an excellent lens and will really allow you to learn in ways you never expected. AND big one here - start shooting manual immediately. Don't get caught in the automatic trap. It will limit you so much.

 

Please let me know if you have any other specific questions! I'm happy to help :)

 

Thank you so much for taking the time.

 

I love your photography. Yes, the light in your black and whites! All those shots by the window / blinds. (And your always clean counter!) They are all stunning, but the one that made my heart skip is the one with the arrow on the pavement pointing in one direction, and your son's (?) bare feet walking in the opposite direction. Thank you so much for sharing.

 

I just ordered Understanding Exposure!

 

My camera hasn't arrived yet, but should any time. It comes with a standard lens, 18-55mm. I intend to shoot with it for a year or so, and then treating myself to another lens next Christmas. Is this a mistake?

 

I'm quite intimidated by all the technical aspects...I love the composition aspect, I think it is my strength. I'm always *aware* of the light, but I can already see it will take a long time to even start mastering.

 

I intend to bite the bullet and never use the auto! I'll have my point and shoot with me if i feel I need to capture something.

 

How do you achieve your black and whites? Do you shoot in monochrome or do you edit, or both? Is it silly to want to minimized the editing and to try to work with what I have?

 

 

 

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Get an entry level DSLR, but get the body only.  Instead of the kit lens get a cheap prime lens.  35 mm lenses are classic.  Many who prefer prime lenses have one 35mm, one 50mm, and one 85mm.  Prime means fixed focal length, not zoom, but that has a wide aperature.  That means you want the f stop to be as low as possible.  F/1.8 or lower, whatever you can afford.  Read the reviews of the lenses to choose. 

 

Start in Aperature mode. Pick several different things to photograph and adjust the aperature through the full range of the lens.

 

Shoot everything in JPEG + RAW mode.  JPEG because the camera will develop the images for you.  RAW because eventually if you want your images to look professional you'll need to learn post processing in lightroom or photoshop or both, and you'll want a collection of RAW images to work with to learn on.  Until you learn post processing, RAW images are uglier than images from an iPhone.

 

Get some books on digital photography and work through the lessons.  Find photographers on YouTube to follow.  Watch CreativeLive's free broadcasts.

 

And shoot, shoot, shoot.  Shoot using different settings until you fully understand them all.

 

Once you feel you've mastered all that you can switch to full manual mode.  You can learn about lighting.  You can master photoshop and lightroom and learn to make each image into a work of art.

 

 

ETA:  Those new iPhone 6s's probably will take better photos than you for a couple of years.  It takes time to learn a camera like that, and your images will get worse before they get better.   Fancy cameras don't make you a great photographer.  Learning photography does.  To me, great is the ability to know how photography works well enough to get consistently great results, in any light, weather, or circumstances.

 

Thank you!

 

Unfortunately too late about getting the body only, as the camera is already in the mail...So that's next year.

 

I'll be prepared for an adjustment period....I guess not expecting much of myself?

 

 

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I improved a lot by watching The Great Courses videos on Photography and the youtube vids on the camera I bought. After that, it has been a lot of trial and error. I am not good per se. But, we have very few professional photographers left in the tri county area and the lack of competition has driven prices up beyond what we could justify. A small portrait package with only one change of outfit, no outdoor shots, no pets, nothing at your home one any other location is $750.00, and due to the few number of pros you have to book a year in advance. To get as many photos as we need for relatives but fewer wallet size and to get middle boy a few poses with his horse or the dog was $1100.00. Sorry, that is money much better spent on college and especially times three kids graduating in three years!

 

Middle boy needed another art credit but was not interested in typical artistic pursuits. We bought an introductory level text on photography, put him through the Great Course lectures, and youtube vids, and then he simply spent many hours playing with it and practicing. He took his older brother's senior picture, and I took his this fall. I am pleased with the outcome, but I am also not bejng a perfectionist about it and have no desire to be a pro.

 

Those lectures and videos were very helpful.

 

Wow, a year in advance!

 

 

My FB is full of local photographers, most are, unfortunately quite underwhelming, and yet they seem to be getting enough clients. Some are phenomenal.

 

I'll get myself through the lectures. Thank you.

 

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I took a class from a pro photographer back when regular people did not have digital cameras because they cost $20,000.00. We had to shoot in slide film every week because slide film has a narrow exposure range and if your exposure is wrong, it is plain as day. Then, each class, we critiqued each others slides via projector. This class was worth its weight in gold, because I did not understand the interplay of shutter speed, aperture and ISO before that class. I also learned a lot about composition.

 

The next best thing I did was took a digital design class last spring. The things one can do with Adobe are mind-boggling and practically limitless. (Well, except that I don't think its an intuitive program and I was constantly baffled about how to make certain things happen.)

 

I do think of photography as like playing a musical instrument: theory only gets you so far. You have to take pictures, create photo opportunities and Experiment. I like this book: Better Photo Basics by Jim Miotke, and will be recommending this book to the homeschooling parents of the kids I'm teaching at co-op. Even if you already know many of the things in this book, I find the organization of the book helps me remember what to try.

 

Lastly, don't become too self-conscious about your photos due to the expectations and high hopes of others. This happened to me and I lost the joy of the art for a few years. I kind of wanted people to "forget" that they thought I was a good photographer because I felt hampered about every shared photo. Good photographers can also just take snapshots at Billy's birthday party, too, KWIM? Not every moment has to be a work of art.

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I'm going to try to take your questions one at a time.  

 

Here is a class that is free on How to Choose Your First DSLR Camera:  https://www.creativelive.com/courses/how-choose-your-first-dslr-camera-for-beginners.  

 

I learn SO much better in "person" (online or live) than through books, so that will be my bias.  

 

I have taken 5 classes by John Greengo; he is an excellent teacher and uses a lot of graphics to explain features of cameras, lenses, and methods.  I took (free online) his one week class on Digital Photography; the QuickStart Class on the Nikon I swiped from my DH (well, HE never uses it!); a 10 hour class on Lightroom (NOT free! but worth every penny--that was live); Landscape Photography (free on CreativeLive) and Travel Photography (free online CreativeLive).  He makes a living doing photography and teaching the classes  He is local to Seattle.  I have also taken classes by Lindsey Adler (CreativeLiveOnline again) on posing for portraiture, lighting on a budget, in the studio and outdoors; and two other classes, one on Lightroom (which was helpful, but Greengo knocked it out of the park) and one on the business of photography.  I have also attended the FREE photography expo for three years and have taken classes on the business of photography, macro photography, lighting for special effects, mirrorless cameras, choosing the right lens, and other stuff.  Almost all of this has been free, except for the stuff I end up buying at the Expo.  LOL  (But no regrets on anything I bought.)  I paid for three Greengo classes, and they were worth every penny.  All of the rest is free.  

 

You learn in your head from classes; you learn in your hands and eyes from experimentation.  Greengo has practice exercises built into his classes, and I have done them all and it is really THEN that you know what he has taught in the class.  Eg., put the camera on a tripod, Aperture mode, and then take a picture at every single aperture on your lens.  Note the exposure times, and then compare the pictures you got.  Or set up a shot on a tripod and use a zoom lens to take several pictures at different focal lengths.  Compare the pictures.  

 

What does it mean to be good?  I think that depends a lot on what you want to do.  Some people want to capture the very best photo they can in the camera, and do as little editing as possible; others view the captured image as the starting place for what they will do with it.  I fall into the former camp as I would a MILLLION times rather be shooting than editing.  But I have a friend who is just the opposite...the photo is his starting canvas and his work is amazing.  I would say that you should be able to intuitively control every aspect of your camera so you can get the shot you envision...sort of like what I told my kid when he was learning to ski--when you can get around on the skis without thinking about what you have to do, you can stop taking lessons.  Of course, by the time you can do that, skiing is fun and you WANT to go skiing.  You want the same thing with your camera...you know you want the water to be blurry in the waterfall shot and you KNOW what to do to make that happen.  So you have to learn what to do and then you have to practice it so it isn't a chore every time you get a shot.  Does that make sense?  

 

Some people say you have to be on Manual all the time if you are a really good photographer.  But that is not what I have heard from the photographers at the expos.  THEY say you want to be able to use your camera in any mode possible.  Greengo said there are times you just throw it in automatic because the camera can make adjustments faster than you can in a specific situation.  There's no "always".  

 

I am going to speak heresy at this point, but I think I could back it up with some photographers who make good money living the photographer's life:  If the only reason you are getting a DSLR is to have more control over aperture, I would suggest you take a look at a mirrorless camera.  You can do the same thing with a mirrorless; I have both a mirrorless and a GOOD DSLR and I find that hauling the DSLR around is a PITB and so I don't do it.  I have taken the majority of my shots on a mirrorless that allows for interchangeable lenses and the pictures are good.  This last expo, there was a speaker who does adventure photography and he has switched completely to mirrorless...because the camera you can carry gets more pictures than the one you can't, to start with, and because the differences are getting smaller and smaller.  My mirrorless has all the control of a DSLR, as do most of them.  The one thing you MUST get on a mirrorless, however, is an eyepiece viewfinder; looking at the screen on the back of the camera is NOT going to cut it.  In some of the new mirrorless cameras, the screen in the eyepiece has finer resolution than the screen on the back; at any rate, you can't SEE in bright lights if you are only looking at the back, and the stance you must take is unstable.  Anyway, that's my heresy for the day.  I will say this:  if you are doing wildlife photography, you are going to have to get a DSLR because the mirrorless camera lens selection for the >300 focal length is pretty poor.  I've done OK with my 55-210, but I will never get "the eagle in flight."  Anyway, weight and body size and hand fit are things to think about, and mirrorless suits me right down to the ground.  

 

"White balance":  it's sort of the color of the light you are shooting in. Daylight is different from flourescent light is different from tungsten light.  Most modern cameras adjust this automatically, and it is one of the easiest things to fix in post-shoot editing.  :0)  

 

Speaking of post-shoot editing:  If you shoot RAW (YES you should), you will need to do a little bit of work on your shots after you get them onto your computer.  How much, well, that's your call.  What program you used sort of depends on what you want to do.  Lightroom is Adobe's offering and is widely used by photographers; it has a TON of abilities to edit but it also helps you catalog, organize, and produce the photographs you do take.  If you get Lightroom, *plan* on taking a class on it.  It's a very rich program, but that means there is a lot to learn.  After taking Greengo's class,  I spent a week undoing all the stupid things I had done "my" way.  NOW I love the program, and I spend a LOT less time on my computer (win!).

 

Upthread, someone mentioned that you get the body only and then choose a good lens.  Agreed.  I think the same person also said to get a 50mm 1.8 lens and spend a year shooting with that.  If you get a full frame DSLR, get the 50mm.  If you get a APS-C DSLR, get the 35mm.  Either way, get 1.8.  I can explain the difference if you want but it's probably more than you want to know.  The idea of learning to shoot with a good, single-focal point, fast lens is a very good one.  You will learn to use your camera so much better if you don't have to fuss with the lens issues.  Once you have your camera "down," then add a zoom of some kind.  (I just took a class on lenses and another on dslr shooting and both teachers made this same recommendation.)  It's about learning to see and to get what you see into the camera.  

 

I hope this wasn't TMI or too bossy.  If it's just a little bossy, well, I can live with that.  :0)

 

Thank you!

 

I see what you guys are saying about getting a single focal lense to start. I wish I researched this a bit more before buying the camera. But it is what it is, and I'm unlikely to have a new lense in the next 12 months.

 

Also, "lens" and all those associated numbers is exactly what intimidates me. I think I need to read a bunch to figure this out.

 

I'll look into attending in person courses after I master the camera controls and read more books. I agree that certain things have to be automatic.

 

I've heard (from one photographer, but I only talked to one) about shooting on automatic as well. But I still don't want to rely on it in the beginning.

 

Now I'll sound really stupid, but I haven't even considered a mirrorless camera. In my mind "DSLR" meant "more control", i.e. the opposite of "auto." Now I vaguely remember hearing about mirrorless cameras, but to be honest I don't even know what it means. (More research to do!)

 

As to weather "all I want from my DSLR is depth of field"--that's the only thing I know about. Maybe I want more? I'll have to see what I want from it, ha-ha!

 

I'm both excited but also getting a bit panicky. What if I spent all this money (and mine was one of the cheapest DSLRs, Pentax K 50, but it is still a lot for me right now + we JUST had a bunch of unexpected expences...sigh...literally 3 days after ordering the camera) and my photography won't be better than my point and shoot. And even worse, for a certain period of time? What if I never learn the technical aspects of it?

 

I guess I have to breathe and take it step by step, without rushing.

 

Thanks again for all the feedback. I appreciate it.

 

 

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I've been doing photography seriously for 7.5 years. It started out with me buying my first dSLR (an entry level camera). At first I shot in automatic (which you are right - won't result in better pictures than your current point and shoot) but I quickly got interested in really learning. My first book was this one (except it was a very old version): http://www.amazon.com/Understanding-Exposure-3rd-Photographs-Camera/dp/0817439390/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1447859691&sr=1-3&keywords=bryan+peterson-- I HIGHLY recommend you get this book - either buy it or get it from the library. I had to read it three times before things started to click. If you start out with this book, you are winning. Then Practice, Practice, Practice.

 

Back then, there wasn't as much available online as there is now. I actually took a lot of in person classes and workshops, and even had a professional photographer come to my home to train me for a week and that was huge. Nowadays, there's a lot more online learning including workshops and classes. This forum is EXCELLENT and I believe they have a deal where you get a one month membership for $1. I'd go to facebook and look that up, as it's only temporary - it will give you an opportunity to poke around: http://www.clickinmoms.com/

 

There are also soooooo many great books. You can browse the shelves of Barnes and Noble to get an idea of books you might like.

 

Basically I just became obsessed with everything photography. I studied all aspects of it -- and there are A LOT of aspects of it. Understanding light is huge. Composition. Technical aspects (shooting manual is pretty critical IMHO). Editing. So much. I am still constantly learning. I love it though. It's my passion and my hobby. I actually had a business for one year. It did well, but I hated it. I realized that I really only like shooting for myself. Another project that is really valuable - shooting a 365 project (or just shooting every day). Here is mine for this year: https://www.flickr.com/gp/33329506@N06/24efFq

 

Also, I recommend you invest in a 50mm 1.8 lens -- and try using ONLY that lens for a while. It's an excellent lens and will really allow you to learn in ways you never expected. AND big one here - start shooting manual immediately. Don't get caught in the automatic trap. It will limit you so much.

 

Please let me know if you have any other specific questions! I'm happy to help :)

Wow. Those photos are absolutely mesmerizing! Thank you so very much for sharing them! It would clearly be a good thing for me to do a 365 project, too.

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I took a class from a pro photographer back when regular people did not have digital cameras because they cost $20,000.00. We had to shoot in slide film every week because slide film has a narrow exposure range and if your exposure is wrong, it is plain as day. Then, each class, we critiqued each others slides via projector. This class was worth its weight in gold, because I did not understand the interplay of shutter speed, aperture and ISO before that class. I also learned a lot about composition.

 

The next best thing I did was took a digital design class last spring. The things one can do with Adobe are mind-boggling and practically limitless. (Well, except that I don't think its an intuitive program and I was constantly baffled about how to make certain things happen.)

 

I do think of photography as like playing a musical instrument: theory only gets you so far. You have to take pictures, create photo opportunities and Experiment. I like this book: Better Photo Basics by Jim Miotke, and will be recommending this book to the homeschooling parents of the kids I'm teaching at co-op. Even if you already know many of the things in this book, I find the organization of the book helps me remember what to try.

 

Lastly, don't become too self-conscious about your photos due to the expectations and high hopes of others. This happened to me and I lost the joy of the art for a few years. I kind of wanted people to "forget" that they thought I was a good photographer because I felt hampered about every shared photo. Good photographers can also just take snapshots at Billy's birthday party, too, KWIM? Not every moment has to be a work of art.

 

Thakns, Quill!

 

I know what you mean. Now I get, "Wow, you are so talented! And you only have a point and shoot?" Ha-ha. Now I'll really suck with my DSLR. No pressure. I probably won't even tell people I have a DSLR for the first year. Maybe won't even share anything for now.

 

I guess I'll have to get to editing eventually. I don't have an eye for it at all. First of all, I have horrible colour acuity. Second, I can never tell when an image is photoshopped, and pretty much everyone can by noticing shadows or lines or whatever.

 

I only love composition and light.

 

I hope I won't start second guessing myself while waiting for the camera to arrive. Maybe I could've just continued with the point and shoot....

 

 

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I've been doing photography seriously for 7.5 years. It started out with me buying my first dSLR (an entry level camera). At first I shot in automatic (which you are right - won't result in better pictures than your current point and shoot) but I quickly got interested in really learning. My first book was this one (except it was a very old version): http://www.amazon.com/Understanding-Exposure-3rd-Photographs-Camera/dp/0817439390/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1447859691&sr=1-3&keywords=bryan+peterson-- I HIGHLY recommend you get this book - either buy it or get it from the library. I had to read it three times before things started to click. If you start out with this book, you are winning. Then Practice, Practice, Practice.

 

Back then, there wasn't as much available online as there is now. I actually took a lot of in person classes and workshops, and even had a professional photographer come to my home to train me for a week and that was huge. Nowadays, there's a lot more online learning including workshops and classes. This forum is EXCELLENT and I believe they have a deal where you get a one month membership for $1. I'd go to facebook and look that up, as it's only temporary - it will give you an opportunity to poke around: http://www.clickinmoms.com/

 

There are also soooooo many great books. You can browse the shelves of Barnes and Noble to get an idea of books you might like.

 

Basically I just became obsessed with everything photography. I studied all aspects of it -- and there are A LOT of aspects of it. Understanding light is huge. Composition. Technical aspects (shooting manual is pretty critical IMHO). Editing. So much. I am still constantly learning. I love it though. It's my passion and my hobby. I actually had a business for one year. It did well, but I hated it. I realized that I really only like shooting for myself. Another project that is really valuable - shooting a 365 project (or just shooting every day). Here is mine for this year: https://www.flickr.com/gp/33329506@N06/24efFq

 

Also, I recommend you invest in a 50mm 1.8 lens -- and try using ONLY that lens for a while. It's an excellent lens and will really allow you to learn in ways you never expected. AND big one here - start shooting manual immediately. Don't get caught in the automatic trap. It will limit you so much.

 

Please let me know if you have any other specific questions! I'm happy to help :)

 

Very nice collection of photographs Tammy!

 

Bill

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Thakns, Quill!

 

I know what you mean. Now I get, "Wow, you are so talented! And you only have a point and shoot?" Ha-ha. Now I'll really suck with my DSLR. No pressure. I probably won't even tell people I have a DSLR for the first year. Maybe won't even share anything for now.

 

I guess I'll have to get to editing eventually. I don't have an eye for it at all. First of all, I have horrible colour acuity. Second, I can never tell when an image is photoshopped, and pretty much everyone can by noticing shadows or lines or whatever.

 

I only love composition and light.

 

I hope I won't start second guessing myself while waiting for the camera to arrive. Maybe I could've just continued with the point and shoot....

 

 

Don't worry if your pictures get "worse" for a little bit.  It's part of learning.  

 

If I may be bossy just one more minute:  if you get into a situation where you REALLY REALLY want to capture the image and don't know what to do, go ahead and USE that Automatic feature.  It's OK.  The Photography Police will not come and get you.  And the other thing is, you can look at what settings the *camera* chose and learn from that.  Also, remember that "P" will give you a little more flexibility than "A" (like it will let you choose whether to use a flash or not), so "P" can be your friend, too.  

 

You learn color acuity by messing around with it.  Don't worry about it.  I'm not good at spotting Photoshopped stuff, either.  Unless it is really whacked out.  But sometimes your camera *won't* see what you know you saw with your own eyes (that blue of the sky, the breadth of the horizon) and that is when editing is your friend as far as conveying what you really saw.  

 

One of the things that photography has done for me is to teach me to LOOK.   To SEE.  Even when I don't have my camera with me, I see more beauty in the world.  And it's OK to just enjoy it for itself and not capture it in pixels.  :0)  

 

The upside of having gotten a kit lens is that you KNOW it works with your camera.  You can learn and do a lot of really good photography with a kit lens.  It's fine.  Be happy.  :0)  

 

Take that free choosing a DSLR camera class i mentioned above.  It's a decent introduction to what all the numbers and terms mean, and it won't hurt at all.  :0)  

 

Happy shooting!

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Don't worry if your pictures get "worse" for a little bit.  It's part of learning.  

 

If I may be bossy just one more minute:  if you get into a situation where you REALLY REALLY want to capture the image and don't know what to do, go ahead and USE that Automatic feature.  It's OK.  The Photography Police will not come and get you.  And the other thing is, you can look at what settings the *camera* chose and learn from that.  Also, remember that "P" will give you a little more flexibility than "A" (like it will let you choose whether to use a flash or not), so "P" can be your friend, too.  

 

You learn color acuity by messing around with it.  Don't worry about it.  I'm not good at spotting Photoshopped stuff, either.  Unless it is really whacked out.  But sometimes your camera *won't* see what you know you saw with your own eyes (that blue of the sky, the breadth of the horizon) and that is when editing is your friend as far as conveying what you really saw.  

 

One of the things that photography has done for me is to teach me to LOOK.   To SEE.  Even when I don't have my camera with me, I see more beauty in the world.  And it's OK to just enjoy it for itself and not capture it in pixels.  :0)  

 

The upside of having gotten a kit lens is that you KNOW it works with your camera.  You can learn and do a lot of really good photography with a kit lens.  It's fine.  Be happy.  :0)  

 

Take that free choosing a DSLR camera class i mentioned above.  It's a decent introduction to what all the numbers and terms mean, and it won't hurt at all.  :0)  

 

Happy shooting!

 

Thank you for being "bossy!" :001_wub: (I didn't think you were bossy at all, just very informative!)

 

I'll try not to stress out and enjoy my new camera.

 

But what if I take that course and I decide I should've chosen a different DSLR? :eek: :rolleyes: :w00t:

 

 

 

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Thank you for being "bossy!" :001_wub: (I didn't think you were bossy at all, just very informative!)

 

I'll try not to stress out and enjoy my new camera.

 

But what if I take that course and I decide I should've chosen a different DSLR? :eek: :rolleyes: :w00t:

 

 

 

On the last question, stick your fingers in your ears and go LALALALA.  I looked at the specs for your camera and at the pics (to see the controls) and I don't think you have a THING to regret in choosing this camera.  (Kit lens discussion aside at this point.)   I did NOT check out the available lenses for the camera, but most cameras have adapters so you can get Nikon or Canon lenses and use them in manual mode.  

 

And if you hate it after a few years?  Sell it and get something else.  

 

I think for a first DSLR, you have chosen pretty darn well.  There's nothing missing for even an intermediate shooter (again, barring lens selection).  The main controls are on the outside of the camera (not programmed where you have to go fishing around for them in software menus)...but you will have to learn your menus because it makes a difference in how you use the camera overall.  

 

Good job!

 

(Maybe others will disagree...  But one of the things I have really liked about John Greengo as an instructor (and most other pro  instructors I have learned from) is that the two main mistakes people make for many years is buying MUCH MORE camera/lens than they need and thereby wasting money, or buying too cheap and trying to get by, ending up re-buying--and wasting money.  I don't think you have wasted your money.)

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Quick note about a lens - you can usually buy the 50mm 1.8 for around $100. Maybe put it on your christmas list? The biggest limitation with your lens is if it's a variable aperture (I don't know) which can change as you zoom and would mess you up if shooting manual and then you change your focal length.

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Quick note about a lens - you can usually buy the 50mm 1.8 for around $100. Maybe put it on your christmas list? The biggest limitation with your lens is if it's a variable aperture (I don't know) which can change as you zoom and would mess you up if shooting manual and then you change your focal length.

 

Thank you! I'll look into maybe getting a second hand. The camera itself was my Christmas gift, and with the unexpected expences we just had today I'm half thinking to sell the camera when it arrives...But it was DH's gift, and he'll be disappointed, and I've been wanting one for over 10 years, so I'll just suck it up and enjoy it. I'm still not sure I can justify (or afford a lens, even it it is cheap for a lens).

 

But I appreciate you pointing the cost to me, because I was thinking $1000, as this the cheapest lens my friend has. I see it for $136 on amazon.ca. I'll think about it. :-)

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Lots of factors go into lens prices.  For example, to get the same shots, full frame camera lenses will be much more expensive and heavier than APS-C lenses.  Also, different makers have different quality.  The very good lens I have for my camera was about $400.  The same lens, technically, is over $1000 when Zeiss makes it.  Zeiss has terrific optics, and for some people this might be necessary.  It wasn't for me.  

 

Hang in there.  I just uploaded the free Greengo class and am *still* learning what he has in the "how to buy a dslr"--it takes a few repetitions with OldBrain.

 

Lol.

 

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I've been doing photography seriously for 7.5 years. It started out with me buying my first dSLR (an entry level camera). At first I shot in automatic (which you are right - won't result in better pictures than your current point and shoot) but I quickly got interested in really learning. My first book was this one (except it was a very old version): http://www.amazon.com/Understanding-Exposure-3rd-Photographs-Camera/dp/0817439390/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1447859691&sr=1-3&keywords=bryan+peterson-- I HIGHLY recommend you get this book - either buy it or get it from the library. I had to read it three times before things started to click. If you start out with this book, you are winning. Then Practice, Practice, Practice.

 

Back then, there wasn't as much available online as there is now. I actually took a lot of in person classes and workshops, and even had a professional photographer come to my home to train me for a week and that was huge. Nowadays, there's a lot more online learning including workshops and classes. This forum is EXCELLENT and I believe they have a deal where you get a one month membership for $1. I'd go to facebook and look that up, as it's only temporary - it will give you an opportunity to poke around: http://www.clickinmoms.com/

 

There are also soooooo many great books. You can browse the shelves of Barnes and Noble to get an idea of books you might like.

 

Basically I just became obsessed with everything photography. I studied all aspects of it -- and there are A LOT of aspects of it. Understanding light is huge. Composition. Technical aspects (shooting manual is pretty critical IMHO). Editing. So much. I am still constantly learning. I love it though. It's my passion and my hobby. I actually had a business for one year. It did well, but I hated it. I realized that I really only like shooting for myself. Another project that is really valuable - shooting a 365 project (or just shooting every day). Here is mine for this year: https://www.flickr.com/gp/33329506@N06/24efFq

 

Also, I recommend you invest in a 50mm 1.8 lens -- and try using ONLY that lens for a while. It's an excellent lens and will really allow you to learn in ways you never expected. AND big one here - start shooting manual immediately. Don't get caught in the automatic trap. It will limit you so much.

 

Please let me know if you have any other specific questions! I'm happy to help :)

Such great pictures!!! Someday I'll do a 365...
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I don't even know a fraction of what others know here. I was going to recommend that book ( never actually finished mine, but some day), and years ago I did a photography workshop, it was so much fun!! Good luck learning about your new camera, it's so much fun!! I love photography, just don't have the time for it at this point in my life :(. Someday!!

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How do you achieve your black and whites? Do you shoot in monochrome or do you edit, or both? Is it silly to want to minimized the editing and to try to work with what I have?

 

 

 

Light is the first important key in a good black and white. I don't convert all my images to B&W. I don't shoot a ton of flat light images, but I would almost never convert a flat lit image to b&w, as it would just be flat. A good b&W has a lot of contrast and often directional light. That's what gives you those great natural shadows and such!

 

I shoot RAW and do all my editing in Lightroom and Photoshop. But that takes a long time to learn and it's not necessarily the thing I'd start with. One thing I will say about photography - it's a journey, not a race. Just take one piece at a time and know that in time, you will get to the point you want to be, if you work at it!

 

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Thank you! I'll look into maybe getting a second hand. The camera itself was my Christmas gift, and with the unexpected expences we just had today I'm half thinking to sell the camera when it arrives...But it was DH's gift, and he'll be disappointed, and I've been wanting one for over 10 years, so I'll just suck it up and enjoy it. I'm still not sure I can justify (or afford a lens, even it it is cheap for a lens).

 

But I appreciate you pointing the cost to me, because I was thinking $1000, as this the cheapest lens my friend has. I see it for $136 on amazon.ca. I'll think about it. :-)

 

Yes, lenses can be $$$, and the quality can be incredibly amazing, but you don't need that right now for sure. Definitely look into finding a used lens, but make sure it is a lens that will work properly with your camera!

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I started photography as a teen, so about twenty years ago and learned in an evening class where I did a qualification then followed by a degree. The first course I did was great and if you have that option I would recommend it (the degree level training not so much).

 

I personally would say that a great photographer vs someone who just knows how to use a camera is that the great photographer puts in the hours so that the technical stuff becomes second nature and gets out of the way of the creative. They just know how to use it to achieve the image they desire, but it's almost subconscious, kind of like how driving a manual transmission car becomes automatic with practice. It's normal to put in hours doing practical exercises to get the hang of skills. Lots of us photographers end up with photo hating families because they've sat/stood there for many hours while we practice. 

 

My favourite teacher online is John Greengo. I still learned things from his courses and I have 5 years of traditional training plus about 15 yrs of practice. He's just amazing at getting to the point. Also, you'll learn something from every good photographer you meet.  There are also a lot of people out there who have some technical knowledge but no style or creative edge but don't realise it. These people can get quite far and even make money, but you have to trust your gut on who to learn from. If a photographer's images just lack that thing that makes them great then move on. There are tons of good photographers around. 

 

Practice is the main thing. Learn about extra bits that often get missed like camera care, memory cards, learn to read a histogram and use it, shoot raw, take a beginners photo editing course on something like Creative Live so you get an intro to whatever software you choose, read your camera manual thoroughly. and just take it all slowly. Join Flickr groups or online photo challenges and submit work even if it's not your best (because it's easy to be really self-critical). 

 

It takes a while to develop a style and it's easy to lose it too and you end up having to work to rediscover it. Also whilst you are learning you the technical you might want to investigate contemplative photography, it's really good for honing your eye and you can create images with a phone as you go about your everyday life. 

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Does the Clickin Moms site focus solely on children as the subject? I'd love to learn to photograph landscapes so I wouldn't want to invest in a membership of CM if it isn't what I need.

If you want a landscape photography course then Creative live have a few and you can just buy the course, you can also catch them live or on rebroadcast for free sometimes. 

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I started photography as a teen, so about twenty years ago and learned in an evening class where I did a qualification then followed by a degree. The first course I did was great and if you have that option I would recommend it (the degree level training not so much).

 

I personally would say that a great photographer vs someone who just knows how to use a camera is that the great photographer puts in the hours so that the technical stuff becomes second nature and gets out of the way of the creative. They just know how to use it to achieve the image they desire, but it's almost subconscious, kind of like how driving a manual transmission car becomes automatic with practice. It's normal to put in hours doing practical exercises to get the hang of skills. Lots of us photographers end up with photo hating families because they've sat/stood there for many hours while we practice. 

 

My favourite teacher online is John Greengo. I still learned things from his courses and I have 5 years of traditional training plus about 15 yrs of practice. He's just amazing at getting to the point. Also, you'll learn something from every good photographer you meet.  There are also a lot of people out there who have some technical knowledge but no style or creative edge but don't realise it. These people can get quite far and even make money, but you have to trust your gut on who to learn from. If a photographer's images just lack that thing that makes them great then move on. There are tons of good photographers around. 

 

Practice is the main thing. Learn about extra bits that often get missed like camera care, memory cards, learn to read a histogram and use it, shoot raw, take a beginners photo editing course on something like Creative Live so you get an intro to whatever software you choose, read your camera manual thoroughly. and just take it all slowly. Join Flickr groups or online photo challenges and submit work even if it's not your best (because it's easy to be really self-critical). 

 

It takes a while to develop a style and it's easy to lose it too and you end up having to work to rediscover it. Also whilst you are learning you the technical you might want to investigate contemplative photography, it's really good for honing your eye and you can create images with a phone as you go about your everyday life. 

 

Contemplative photography! I didn't know there was a term for this. This is what I've been doing with my point and shoot, and this is what I love.

 

Self doubt it setting in. Maybe I won't be able to become competent in all the technical aspects, maybe it is not even what I want? (The camera just arrived and yeah, even a couple of photos that I took on auto seem to be blury, and the little technical knowledge I had from years ago evaporated! ha-ha)

 

 

 

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I joined a photography group at my church. Every other weekend, I had one-on-one teaching from people who'd been doing photography for years. They weren't fully professional, they knew a lot and taught me everything they knew. At first it was very hard to take everything in.  I would go to a meeting and be taught something that I thought I understood, only to go home and realize I wasn't able to do what I wanted to do.  I'd forgotten an important step or something.  I'd go back to the meeting and have to re-learn it.  They taught me the same stuff about 3 or 4 times before it would start to sink in. 

 

This didn't happen to just me.  When anyone new joined the group, they also had a steep learning curve.  It would take many weeks before the basics really became clear. 

 

Throughout all my learning, I was constantly taking pictures, but my understanding really took off when I did a 365 project.  Even on days when I didn't feel like taking pictures, I had to find something to photograph.  I posted the pictures online to keep myself motivated.  When you're forced to take a picture every single day that you won't be utterly embarrassed to post online, you start getting better pretty fast.

 

I've looked at some free stuff online and have read a bunch of books, but it was the one-on-one tutoring and endless picture taking that taught me the most.

 

Advice: 

 

1.  If possible, find someone who knows more than you, even if it's just a little more, and see if they'll teach you what they know. 

 

2.  Don't despair if it takes a while for a concept to sink in. There are some things that look easy to do, but take time to master. 

 

3.  Take lots and lots and lots of pictures. Probably a 365 project.

 

I do my darndest to get a great shot in camera, but I adore editing.  I love taking a nice picture and turning it into something gorgeous. If you want a fun free editing program there is ipiccy.com.  It seems simple and straightforward, but if you study it carefully there is actually a tremendous amount of editing you can do with that thing.  Click on one of the editing features and then click on the little paintbrush in the corner of the feature you clicked on and you can then apply the edits to just part of the picture.  I really enjoy using that free editing software and it'll get you going if you don't have anything else.

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KEEP USING IT.  

 

You'll be fine.  You'll be happy with it, I promise.  

 

Do you remember when you learned to drive, how you had to consciously judge the distance between your car and the cars parked on the side of the road?  How going 10 miles per hour felt like you were trying out for Fast and Furious?  Now, 10 mph is considered a California Stop, and you never have to think about the cars on the side of the road, at least consiously, re: distance.  That is what will happen with your camera.  

 

Blurriness:  If you are using auto-focus, your camera has 9 focusing spots on it, and will choose an "average" focus point.  It works OK in some cases, but not in all.  Me, I have switched my camera to center focus, which  means that whatever is at the center will get the focus.  So I focus on the thing I want to be the focus of the picture, then depress the shutter button 1/2 way, which holds the focus, and then frame the picture I want.  

 

You might want to try center focus for awhile.  I find it a lot easier to deal with and that I get much clearer pictures, overall.  You also might want to turn on PEAKING (read in the manual) which helps your eye to see where the camera is autofocusing.  As you learn to use your camera, you will also find that you can let the camera do the auto-focus, but then you can grab control and make micro adjustments to that.  But that is sort of a more advanced technique.  

 

If you are on manual and not using auto-focus, definitely turn on PEAKING.  At least for now. 

 

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  And the other thing is, you can look at what settings the *camera* chose and learn from that.  

 

 

I do that from time to time.  If I'm in a place with tricky lighting and I want to quickly decide what settings to use, I'll pop the camera into automatic, snap a picture, and see what the camera chose to do.  Then I can start at those settings in manual and tweak it however I want to. 

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Contemplative photography! I didn't know there was a term for this. This is what I've been doing with my point and shoot, and this is what I love.

 

Self doubt it setting in. Maybe I won't be able to become competent in all the technical aspects, maybe it is not even what I want? (The camera just arrived and yeah, even a couple of photos that I took on auto seem to be blury, and the little technical knowledge I had from years ago evaporated! ha-ha)

 

 

 

 

It just takes time to learn. 

 

Or perhaps a setting is wrong.  Are you in automatic?  Is the shutter speed really slow? 

 

I wish you lived nearby.  I'd give you lessons!

 

Don't give up.  Keep plugging away at it, little by little.

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Contemplative photography! I didn't know there was a term for this. This is what I've been doing with my point and shoot, and this is what I love.

 

Self doubt it setting in. Maybe I won't be able to become competent in all the technical aspects, maybe it is not even what I want? (The camera just arrived and yeah, even a couple of photos that I took on auto seem to be blury, and the little technical knowledge I had from years ago evaporated! ha-ha)

 

 

 

Don't doubt yourself. This takes time. I remember thinking I wanted to be taking AMAZING pictures after one week. It just doesn't work that way! It takes a lot of time, a lot of practice, and a lot of learning. Baby steps. You'll get there. Just keep your expectations at a reasonable level.

 

Don't forget to use the library for books to learn with. It can be an excellent resource!

 

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Well, now you've done it.  You got me all interested in digging into my camera a little more and now I have a little work to do to learn some things.  So let's do it together, even if it is different things we are learning.

 

One thing that I have been trying to do a better job of (and it would have been easier to do this from the beginning, establishing a habit and so on...hint hint) is to establish a sort of "preflight check"--you know how small airplane pilots do that, checking the fuel, the structure, the tire pressure, the gauges, and so on?  Well, I am going to try to do a better job of doing that before I go out shooting.  Check the ISO, check the "creative setting" (landscape, normal, portrait, macro), check the flash brightness settings, just go through and make sure I know where I stand with my camera.  I am a little irritated with myself at the moment because I just looked at my camera and realized that the reason my last set of photos (indoors, dark, people focused) didn't come out quite right is that I had it set on LANDSCAPE because the PREVIOUS shoot was a really pretty autumn mountainscape.  Argh.  So now I have a lot of editing work to do to get the brightness to be better...and the pictures are still grainier than they needed to be. 

 

Maybe a pre-flight check or a post-flight standardization--setting everything back to a specific setting so I know where I am starting from.

 

Even when you get a lot of practice and know your camera, you stilll have to pay attention.  (preaches to self)

 

:0)

 

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Well, now you've done it.  You got me all interested in digging into my camera a little more and now I have a little work to do to learn some things.  So let's do it together, even if it is different things we are learning.

 

One thing that I have been trying to do a better job of (and it would have been easier to do this from the beginning, establishing a habit and so on...hint hint) is to establish a sort of "preflight check"--you know how small airplane pilots do that, checking the fuel, the structure, the tire pressure, the gauges, and so on?  Well, I am going to try to do a better job of doing that before I go out shooting.  Check the ISO, check the "creative setting" (landscape, normal, portrait, macro), check the flash brightness settings, just go through and make sure I know where I stand with my camera.  I am a little irritated with myself at the moment because I just looked at my camera and realized that the reason my last set of photos (indoors, dark, people focused) didn't come out quite right is that I had it set on LANDSCAPE because the PREVIOUS shoot was a really pretty autumn mountainscape.  Argh.  So now I have a lot of editing work to do to get the brightness to be better...and the pictures are still grainier than they needed to be. 

 

Maybe a pre-flight check or a post-flight standardization--setting everything back to a specific setting so I know where I am starting from.

 

Even when you get a lot of practice and know your camera, you stilll have to pay attention.  (preaches to self)

 

:0)

This is really a great tip! Thank you. (Says someone who drove a 2min drive to the grocery store only to realize, while parking there, that the right mirror was folded in. Oy. What happened to my pre-flight check before starting to drive??)

 

I thought the green light on the battery meant that it was charged (like in my little Canon) , but after reading the manual I know it means "charging". So I have to wait a bit until I have my battery fully charged. :-)

 

 

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I've been doing photography seriously for 7.5 years. It started out with me buying my first dSLR (an entry level camera). At first I shot in automatic (which you are right - won't result in better pictures than your current point and shoot) but I quickly got interested in really learning. My first book was this one (except it was a very old version): http://www.amazon.com/Understanding-Exposure-3rd-Photographs-Camera/dp/0817439390/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1447859691&sr=1-3&keywords=bryan+peterson-- I HIGHLY recommend you get this book - either buy it or get it from the library. I had to read it three times before things started to click. If you start out with this book, you are winning. Then Practice, Practice, Practice.

 

Back then, there wasn't as much available online as there is now. I actually took a lot of in person classes and workshops, and even had a professional photographer come to my home to train me for a week and that was huge. Nowadays, there's a lot more online learning including workshops and classes. This forum is EXCELLENT and I believe they have a deal where you get a one month membership for $1. I'd go to facebook and look that up, as it's only temporary - it will give you an opportunity to poke around: http://www.clickinmoms.com/

 

There are also soooooo many great books. You can browse the shelves of Barnes and Noble to get an idea of books you might like.

 

Basically I just became obsessed with everything photography. I studied all aspects of it -- and there are A LOT of aspects of it. Understanding light is huge. Composition. Technical aspects (shooting manual is pretty critical IMHO). Editing. So much. I am still constantly learning. I love it though. It's my passion and my hobby. I actually had a business for one year. It did well, but I hated it. I realized that I really only like shooting for myself. Another project that is really valuable - shooting a 365 project (or just shooting every day). Here is mine for this year: https://www.flickr.com/gp/33329506@N06/24efFq

 

Also, I recommend you invest in a 50mm 1.8 lens -- and try using ONLY that lens for a while. It's an excellent lens and will really allow you to learn in ways you never expected. AND big one here - start shooting manual immediately. Don't get caught in the automatic trap. It will limit you so much.

 

Please let me know if you have any other specific questions! I'm happy to help :)

 

 

 

omg your pictures in the 2015 project are amazing... your kids are beautiful too, great job

 

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Ok, I'm just jumping in here late.  I've returned some of my dh's presents.  Have you researched this camera?  

 

Pentax K-50 Digital SLR Camera Body Black - B&H Photo Video  Here it is at B&H, a very reputable place to buy.  Right now it's $300 for body only.  SLR Lenses, DSLR Lenses | B&H Photo Video  With the 18-55 and 50-200 it's $459.  With only the 18-55 it's $378.  If he paid more, you could return and buy from B&H, giving yourself money leftover to buy other goodies, hehe.   :)

 

Some people mentioned getting a 50mm.  Your pentax is a crop, and a 50mm on a crop is pretty tight.  I shoot crop (D7000), and while a 50mm can be nice for portraits or food, it's easier to shoot 35mm for every day.  If people are shooting full frame, then a 50mm lens on their ff is like a 35mm on crop.  A 35mm on full frame is like a 16mm (I think?) on crop.  It's one of the reasons people eventually want to go full frame, because they can get more width (which everyone wants!) with less distortion.  At least that's a reason I'd like to go full frame.  Dream.  

 

In reality, if I were buying right now, I'd be looking at mirrorless.  Your issue is that you're buying in right as the technology is changing.  Everything will go mirrorless, eventually, and you don't want to invest in a system.

 

That pentax looks like a really nice camera, honestly.  It has a LOT of really nice features for a great price.  My concern is lens options.  http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/search?atclk=Zooms%2FPrimes_Prime+Lenses&ci=274&N=4288584247+4108103565+4108103536+3991602360&mnp=0&mxp=300 This is your list of the 10 pentax lens options you have that cost $300 or less at B&H that fit a crop sensor.  They have an affordable 50mm 1.8 ($100), but the 35mm is a 2.4.  I'm sorry, but if you're going to shoot 2.4, just go get a new iphone.

 

If you get a new iphone, you have a 2.2 aperture.  You always have it with you.  You can use VSCO for cheap.  You can edit and sync with Lightroom Mobile right on your phone, right to the cloud.  You can go from lightroom right into photobooks to print on blurb.  You can put an inexpensive macro kit on your iphone and do macro.  You can photoshop your iphone pictures.  I love my dSLR, but when push comes to shove it's my iphone that's always there with me.  

 

That was a rabbit trail, hehe.  The pentax is a really nice camera, and I think it's a really nice camera for the market it's clearly designed for: people who want to get kit lenses and shoot auto and take great shots.  You're going to have AMAZING low light capability, great video, etc.  (If you believe all the specs and great reviews, which I would.)  But if you think wow I want to go take pictures like Tammy or do food photography and get that amazing bokeh (background blur) and depth of field, you're not getting it with a 3.5/4.6 variable aperture lens.  You just aren't.  It's a great camera, but it depends on what you want to do.  I shot a d50 (oh yeah, way back!) for years with a kit lens, on auto, loved it, loved my shots.  That was what I was ready for.  Then one day I was really ready for The Great Change.  And that was cool too.  But if you actually want to do what's in those books people listed, you can't do it with a variable aperture lens.  So you could return it and buy the 50mm, but 50mm is tight.  Fine for food, pullbacks, portraits.  But just for shooting Christmas day?  Me, I'm wider than that.  At my inlaws, I put on an 11-16 on my crop.  If I had like just stupid oodles of money lying around (which I don't because they go into therapy for my ds), then I'd get a 17-40.  That is *my* dream lens.  That's nikon.  That lens is swooning beautiful, and I could go to my inlaws on Christmas and get all the shots I envision, but wide and close-up.  But it's a fixed 2.8.  Not variable, and not 3.5-4.6.  See that variable ap is not even something you can control.  You will have NO control over aperture with it, not functionally, not really.  I remember not understanding that when I first got it and spending so much time frustrated, like WHY can I not do all the things I was reading about??  Couldn't do them because of the variable lens.

 

Ok, more cut to the chase tidbits.  When you see a shot that is up close and fades away and you're like DUDE how did they do that?!?!  That was 1.4, 1.2, 1.8 maybe.  Just for my everyday, shooting around the house, I'm gonna be around 1.8, 2.2.  You take it up higher when you have more people in the frame (group shot) with more things front to back in the frame that you're trying to keep in focus.  So then maybe you'll be around f/4.  Only time you go way tight (8, 11) is when you're doing landscape, starbursts, that kind of thing.

 

That's sort of general.  I'm just trying to show you where that variable ap 3.5-4.6 is.  And the way those lenses function, it moves.  I *think* the way it works as the ap automatically goes up as the lens goes out and it becomes the minimum aperture the lens can do.  No matter what you set it at, the camera will bump it up at least to that because it CAN'T do it lower.  You can't really shoot full auto like that.  You could shoot in a priority mode and let the camera choose the variables.  Your exposure triangle is aperture, speed, ISO.  Speed is artistic and ISO is usually making the math work out right to fit the skin of the people in your situation.  Really, aperture WAS your artistic variable, and you lost it, kwim?  

 

Whatever.  I'm just tossing those things out so you aren't confused like I was when you start.  The Clickin Moms classes are usually pretty good.  I took 101 as audit, and that was a good way for me.  I'm not much of a socializer and don't seem to have the same opinions as anyone else in photography, oops.  I've done 201, 301, several editing classes.  You DEFINITELY want to take a lightroom class.  If they're doing iphone classes (I haven't looked lately, I've been swamped), then that would be super fab.  

 

Fwiw, you'll notice that the 101 classes at CM usually want a 35mm or 50mm.  Again, I would do 35mm on crop and 50mm for ff.  Just easier to start with.  And for pentax at 35mm, your choices are limited.  It's just stuff to know before you decide.  Photography is one of those things that sucks you in and will take all the money you want to give it, lol. 

Thank you, this is very detailed.

 

I'm in Canada so a lot of those prices and retailers don't easily apply to me. Now looking at prices I see that DH spent way more than he told me he did, because I thought he quoted Canadian dollars, but he quoted the USD to me when he was ordering. Too late to return anything. I'm just going to be an ostrich and put my head in the sand because I think he should not have spent this money and we can't afford it, but if I think about it I'll get depressed over everything. He meant well and what's done is done, and I have a history of crying when I get his gifts because he always overspends (wanting to please and wanting to buy "the best" he can) and I feel depressed that he buys items as gifts that we can't afford. So this time I didn't cry, so that's good. lol

 

Now for the technical part--I understood only about 1/3 of what you are saying, so I'm more confused now than half an hour ago! lol And what I understand, makes me disappointed, because I didn't think through the lens options, and I thought that 1.8 and 2.4 weren't as different, but I guess they are. And really all I was imagining about a DSLR was being able to play with bigger apertures.

 

Unfortunately, instead of feeling inspired I'm starting thinking about all the limitations and how I won't be able to afford anything for a while, including Lightroom or Photoshop because my laptop is maxed up on its memory anyway, and I need an external hard drive to store even my old photos. And all this talk about an iphone being better for what I want to do because of the aperture thing--I don't even have a dumb phone.

 

I need to focus on what I have and learn to love it and take the best photos I can with its limitations, because it is what I've got and that what I'll have for a while. Hopefully I'll be satisfied with it. After all, I've been very happy with my canon point and shoot for years, and it has plenty of limitations. But I'm pretty much in love with my point and shoot for its macros, amazing HD videos, how tiny it is, and very happy with the photos (I guess contemplative photography) that I've been taking with it (3 generations of it now).

 

I also think I have a really bad eye for different lenses (the outcomes) because when I'm looking at a lot of samples of DSLR photogrphs vs point and shoot I often can't tell the difference, unless there's a bokeh effect (which I wasn't even noticing either, until a friend pointed it out to me.)

 

I guess I'm at the stage of "I wasn't worthy of this camera as we have no money," and "If I was happy and oblivious to my limitations (mostly) with my Canon Elph, how do I justify spending all this money on the new camera" and "What's the point of the new camera if it won't even do a nice bokeh effect and the aperture goes up out of my control on a varialbe lense (I already noticed this)" and "What if I'm not happy with it because all I will be able to do will be to shoot the same images as my tiny Elph, while having a heavy bulky camera with me..."

 

And it doesn't help that DH is just so excited and happy and oblivious to all my worries... sigh...

 

I'll feel better tomorrow. It is 2 am, and I'm not at my best. haha

 

 

 

 

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Awwww.

 

((Carrots)))

 

I'm sorry that your present is causing you stress. There's so much that goes into all this.

 

If it's too late to return it, well, then, make it at least a gift of joy for your dh. He meant well. My dh does stuff like this and it's a little easier on me because we can afford it in the end but it kind of made me crazy for a long time.

 

I'll tell you a little story: we needed a new car and I like new cars but I have simpler tastes. Specific but simpler. Anyway, he decided we should get a Mercedes. I am not a Mercedes girl!!! It seemed so stuck-up or something.

 

But you know what happened? I got a back problem that caused me severe pain whenever I sat in any chair in the house. The only place I was able to sit in comfort was in that car. And because of family plans and emergency, I ended up driving 10,000 miles between Memorial Day and Labor Day. I would have been a wreck with any other car. And on the trip, we ended up going 4 wheeling in my car because it had better clearance than our friends' 4wheeling truck and therefore I got to see s beautiful part of Colorado I had never seen before. I was also rear-ended by a kid going too fast in a Dodge Ram (on my way to The Wedding!) and no one was hurt because that car did its job. My back held up just great, and we drive 1000 miles home, no problem.

 

I have freedom that I would not have had and my dh has the satisfaction of having given me a nice gift. And believe me, I'll be driving it for a loonnnng time. So it turned out to be a good decision in ways I never would have anticipated

 

Don't fret one more second.

 

Yes, an iPhone has a fast aperture. But it has a small lens and a small sensor. It's what I use for snaps, but I still get better pictures with my camera--the lens is bigger and so can capture more light--and the sensor captures at least 8x as much data--which makes a difference when you print, especially in larger format.

 

Just start.

 

And go to bed!!! The 2am Fret Sessions don't help a lot. Ask me how I know. Lol.

 

Who knows? Maybe you can pay for that camera in a little while doing some senior photo shoots! :0)

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