Canon T3i Brand New to Photography


TPF Noob!
Oct 11, 2011
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Johnstown, Ohio
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I have had the camera for 3 weeks now. Today I went to the Columbus zoo and was wanting to take pictures. I had it in Av mode but I am still not sure on the settings and what I should be looking for. I took some outside and they came out ok but still had a bit of a warm tint to them. Then we went indoors to a reptile exhibit and I could not get the pictures to turn out at all. Do you have any tips on some things I could be doing wrong? I know one issue is that it was trying to let more light in and I am not steady enough so it looked blurry. The flash was hard to use as they were all in glass cases. My photostream is in the bottom and I have a set on there for the zoo.
Read Scott Kelby's Digital Photography books... there are 4 I think. Long story short... you need to learn how to use a DSLR. AV is aperture mode, which controls how open your lens is. Smaller number means bigger opening which will give you a shallow depth of field (small area of focus, blurred background) but also lets in the most light allowing you a faster shutter speed. Read up on exposure triangle and just practice. The more you use your manual mode, the better you will get and there will be an "ah ha" moment when it will all click in your brain.
I do have those, so I should just start w/ book 1 and work my way through? I am doing ok, I am def not afraid to use the M or Av mode and just see what happens. We have passes to the zoo so I can go whenever which def helps.
Yeah, like Amanda said just practice shooting in Manual. It was a pain in the butt when I was initially learning the exposure triangle, but like anything else with time and dedication it will come.
yup... start with number book 1 and work through them. I got them all at the library but they are worth owning. Practice is what will do it for you. Also some accessories for the zoo.... for those indoor and behind glass exhibits, get a fast lens (one with a wide aperture, like a 50mm 1.8 ((because its cheap)) or another fast lens) The lens will let in more light so you can get a better shutter speed and the polarizer (circular polarizer) will let you reduce the reflections in the glass. I said the 50mm 1.8 because its a great lens for around $100 but you may want a zoom for the zoo and depending on your budget, a fast zoom may be pricey.
You could try switching over to Auto or Program mode, shoot whatever you want, paying attention to the conditions, and when you get back to the computer later - look at the images and pull up the image data in another window. So you can see how the pic came out, right alongside the exact settings that got that result. It's certainly not perfect, but if you really aren't sure what to look for it will give you a starting point. You can practice adjusting from there to get the result you want.
You probably shouldn't use flashes in the reptile exhibit, even if they let you. Doesn't seem very kind to the animals.
However, if they allow you to use flashes, then they would probably allow you to use a tripod or if not, a monopod, which would both let you use much slower shutters without lag to let in more light without motion blur. Reptiles don't move much.
Even if they don't allow stands, you may also get away with beanbag sorts of things, propping your camera against the molding on the side of the glass.

If you NEED to shoot hand held, then pump your ISO up as high as you can while still being able to tolerate the noise (personal preference), open your lens wide open, turn on any image stabilization, practice good steady posture, and have at it. If you still can't get fast enough shutter speeds, can't use external light, and can't use a tripod, then faster lenses or larger sensors are really the only good options.

For warm tints outdoors, you just had the wrong white balance. Change the white balance in camera to sun or clouds or whatever, or use a gray card (purchased) to set a custom white balance in the moment (your manual will tell you how), or just shoot in RAW format and change the tint to whatever you want in your computer back home.
Thanks everyone, really great tips. I do have lightroom at home and was able to get some of them back to a normal looking shot. I also wish I had a better monitor but I may have to try and do all the post processing on the macbook pro in order to get the colors to look good. I do plan on getting a 50mm one of these days but I used my budget on just getting the camera for now. I am not sure about the flash in the reptile room, I only used it on 3 shots. 1 was totally unplanned, I didn't realize I had it set to go off.
I am def not afraid to use the M or Av mode and just see what happens. We have passes to the zoo so I can go whenever which def helps.

I think haphazardly “screwing around with settings” without any underlying method is likely to be a rather inefficient and slow way to learn.

Everybody’s different I suppose, but the way I got exposure to “click” in my brain was to learn how each of the individual parameters impact your results if the other two are held constant. Practically speaking, this meant I spent a lot of time in the semi-automatic modes (Tv and Av) before ever bothering with full manual.

These days, the vast majority of my “natural light” pictures are taken using Av mode, and 100% of my flash pictures use M.

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