Eric Stewart: Running Off At The Mouth

Learning To Take Pictures

by Eric Stewart on Jun.02, 2007, under Photography

So the Canon 30D came yesterday, along with the two other lenses (75-300mm and a 100mm macro) I ordered.  Monday, a filter and two hoods are due in.  Up on the gallery on where I put my non-diving pictures, there’s a subcategory now: Learning the dSLR.  At this time there’s just one album containing a lot of pictures of Aggie.  So far, here’s what I’ve learned:

  1. If you do manual photography, the two big settings are shutter speed and sensor sensitivity, and working out what combination of these two settings works best in a given situation is tricky. Just before I went to Mel’s this morning, the rain had mostly stopped, so I poked my head out the back door and took a couple of shots.  In moments, the cloudy sky would go from revealing the sun to cloudy, which, at ISO 100 (where the sensors are least sensitive to light), would change the shutter speed greatly.
  2. You can take pictures in very very dim light if you have a tripod and a relatively still scene if your camera can be set to have long shutter speeds – I played around with it and did a dim light, no flash, 1 second exposure.  Not of anything exciting, mind you (my camera bag), but it was an interesting experiment.
  3. As part of the learning about light stuff, it’s really useful to have the post photo display show the histogram (an indicator of how bright or dark the photo is) for the shot you just took, because in the long run, that can be more useful that making sure the shot was in focus.  You can always refocus and try again, which, if your histogram is off, you’re going to adjust settings for ISO and shutter speed anyway.
  4. Don’t let the gallery fool you.  There may be only 20 or so photos there, but I’ve probably taken at least 100 to get to that point.  Digital cameras make it so nice – you can just preview on the little camera screen and delete right off the bat if the shot is bad.
  5. Auto focus sometimes doesn’t, particularly with the macro lens.  My guess is that that’s due to the narrow depth of field with some shots; the camera just isn’t sure what to lock on to.
  6. Aggie doesn’t understand “Stand still!” and makes a difficult subject for any exposure over 1/50th of a second.  Particularly if we’re talking macro photography, which can be hard to line up.  I took several blurry and half head photos of him … I really would have wanted to do a few shots without the flash to get a shot of him without a sparkle in his eye or glare off of his beak, but alas, it isn’t that easy without some kind of studio light.

Well, off to play with the camera a bit more.  There’s a tropical system hanging over the area right now (which, really, is a good thing, because we’ve been so dry for so long), so I might have to stay indoors.  But rest assured … if I take anything that looks really cool, it will go up on the gallery. 🙂


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