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Milly1

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Hello everybody!!!!!

Well I am new to this forum and I hope I can get some help from you. I like to take pictures but to be honest I only use the auto mode because I have no idea how to do anything else. My husband bought me Nikon Coolpix P500 and I don't seem to know how to use any of the options :confused::confused::confused:. Our daughter is almost a year old and I am so upset because I never learned how to use this camera and a year went by and I don't have a lot of amazing pictures :(
Now my question is what is important when you want to take good pictures? What are some basic things I should know about taking pictures? I tried to do some research but all that info ISO, focus, speed shutter etc has me more confused than ever :x:(((( Where do I start?
I am not trying to become a professional here all I want is to take good pictures to capture our memories. Well I hope some of you can help me.


Thank you
 

Ysarex

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Welcome to TPF.

Here's your big tip: See the light.

Amateurs look through their cameras and see the subject while Pros look through their cameras and see how the subject is lit. The most important thing you can learn to do is to make yourself consciously see and think about the lighting before you click the shutter.

Your camera's hardware and automated software function with limitations. The range of lighting variation that you encounter is huge. Consider: bright full sun, dreary overcast, sidelit sun, early morning, open shade, indoors, backlight sun, backlight overcast, etc. The software in your camera will only deliver a good result for a limited subset of that range and will otherwise fail.

Let's look at an example:

$failure.jpg

The photo above is a failure. The fault in the photo is the clouds in the sky. They're blown out or clipped as we say. They have lost detail and become solid patches of pure white. In the scene there were puffy white clouds in a blue sky. So why did the camera fail? Look at the dormer on the roof of the house and note it's shadow. The shadow is falling toward the camera. Not by much but it doesn't take much. The sun is high in the sky and has begun to shine toward the camera -- we call it backlighting -- your camera will fail because backlighting raises the contrast beyond the camera's limit. If the camera decreases the exposure to retain detail in the sky the foreground gets too dark so the camera software is stuck between the old rock and hard place. It becomes a choice of which failure do you want, the rock or the hard place.

So what to do? Don't take that photo. Make profitable use of your time and take a photo that will work. There's the flip side of this lesson; you can't photograph everything you see. Some lighting conditions pretty much guarantee failure. Once you get in the habit of seeing the light you'll then be able to avoid the lighting that's going to cause a failure.

Joe
 

Derrel

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Ysarex said:
SNIP> ...take a photo that will work. There's the flip side of this lesson; you can't photograph everything you see. Some lighting conditions pretty much guarantee failure. Once you get in the habit of seeing the light you'll then be able to avoid the lighting that's going to cause a failure.

Joe

Expanding upon Joe's comments a bit. You have a CoolPix P500 and a small child. "family photos" or "kid pics" are mostly about personal relationships, and with a toddler, about milestones, cute activities, and so on, so I encourage you to shoot as many kid pics as you can, and do NOT be hasty in editing them!!!! KEEP even marginal shots. trust me on that. Some day, they will be more appealing than they are now, so shoot more like film--do not just throw away your average pictures....we never did that with negatives!

Light that works: a lot of light is challenging, a lot of it works. Cloudy days work well, with soft, diffused light. Stormy days are nice too, with slanting sunlight coming in thru gray or gray and white clouds. Large areas of open shade, in the mornings and afternoons and early evenings can be good areas, but in open shade, make SURE to set the white balance to "Shade", or the images will look too blueish.

You will notice in Joe's "this did not work" shot above--the clouds are ruined, but the ground and the rest of the image is still very viable. That's my expansion on his point that you cannot photograph everything; instead of trying to get 'everything' in a picture, do some detail shots...the crushed crackers on the couch cushion, the tipped over juice box, the pudding smeared on the hands, just the hands, and so on. DO some closeups on the child's hands and feet, the curls of their hair at the nape of the neck, and so on. SHoot,shoot,shoot. Stop making excuses. You don't have a bunch of good pictures because you haven't shot enough pictures. Use your camera every,single day.
 

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Milly; welcome to the forum!

My advice is to concentrate on the composition, including framing and timing. Go ahead and use the auto mode until you are ready to use the other modes.

You can still get some keepers using auto, providing you are capturing the moment and framing your shot well. Learn to see what is in the background. Make the child the main subject. Keep your camera handy for spontaneous shots. Pose your child with her favorite playthings and just let her do the posing. I figure if I get one good shot for every hundred or so tries, I'm doing o.k. Learn to discard the bad ones, print up a few good ones and change them out when there is a better shot that you want to hang in its place.

While you are enjoying the hobby, try a few shots using the more advanced modes to see what you can do. Don't become discouraged with your beginner shots. Keep at it.
 

shaylou

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Hello everybody!!!!!

Well I am new to this forum and I hope I can get some help from you. I like to take pictures but to be honest I only use the auto mode because I have no idea how to do anything else. My husband bought me Nikon Coolpix P500 and I don't seem to know how to use any of the options :confused::confused::confused:. Our daughter is almost a year old and I am so upset because I never learned how to use this camera and a year went by and I don't have a lot of amazing pictures :(
Now my question is what is important when you want to take good pictures? What are some basic things I should know about taking pictures? I tried to do some research but all that info ISO, focus, speed shutter etc has me more confused than ever :x:(((( Where do I start?
I am not trying to become a professional here all I want is to take good pictures to capture our memories. Well I hope some of you can help me.

Thank you

Start with basic exposure. When I get back to my computer I will send you some links. Basic basic basic,,.

Keep the iso low and don't worry about it for now. We will come back to it later.

So that leaves two things to work with in order to get a correct exposure.
1- shutter speed
2- aperture or often referred to as f-stop.

What you are trying to accomplish here is correct exposure (amount of light).

Shutter speed.- think of this as a door and the speed is how long the door is open. So if the door is open and closed fast it will not let much light in. But if the door is open and closed slowly it will let more light in. The shutter speed (door) is one way of controlling the amount of light you need to get a proper exposure. It can be sped up to cut down on the amount of light you take in as well. Say your outside on a sunny day. You would speed the shutter up in order to cut the light down to get a proper exposure.

Aperture or f-stop,- this is about the size of the opening in the lens. The hole in the lens can be adjusted bigger or smaller by adjusting the aperture. If the hole is bigger (like a window) it lets more light in. If the hole is smaller it lets less light in. It's that simple.

What you are doing is making adjustments to fit your needs of a certain situational shot. Stick with subjects that do not move at all in well lit areas. Go to YouTube and search for 3 things.

How to adjust,,
Iso
Aperture
Shutter speed. On your camera.

Set your camera to manual and set the aperture to f8. This is a middle of the road f-stop. Set the iso as low as it gets. Take shots and play with the shutter speed until you get a proper exposure. Shoot over and over playing with the shutter speed until you feel like you get how it works. It will come to you and you will know when it does.

There is a lot more to aperture and shutter speed but I find that it can get confusing very fast if you try to learn it all at once. This will get you started and will lead to many question and that's fine.

I hope this gives you some direction. Feel free to ask me any questions you may have. When you are ready I will give you the next step to move your photography forward.

"Photography rules are for people with limited creativity".....

My Flickr if your interested.

Http://www.flickr.com/photos/47096888@N06
 

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I am glad I found this thread. I am in the same position as Milly1 but with the added complication of mostly taking my photos underwater. I have upgraded to the Olympus and compared to my old point and shoot it takes great photos in program mode but I find, especially underwater I need more control. Therefore I want to follow some sort of basics course on land using both cameras only using manual mode. I will check out the links above.

thanks
 

shaylou

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I am glad I found this thread. I am in the same position as Milly1 but with the added complication of mostly taking my photos underwater. I have upgraded to the Olympus and compared to my old point and shoot it takes great photos in program mode but I find, especially underwater I need more control. Therefore I want to follow some sort of basics course on land using both cameras only using manual mode. I will check out the links above. thanks

Exposure is exposure. You are doing the same thing regardless of where you are at. However, different situations can present different challenges in order to accomplish the same thing. (Correct exposure). I would imagine that shooting under water would be in much lower light then normal. So now you have to deal with a low light situation. What are your options...

Shutter- slow down to let more light in.
Problem with using this, things are moving underwater and if you slow the shutter the image will blur. Letting light in is only one thing shutter speed is used for. The other is to stop action. When a subject is moving, speeding up the shutter will freeze it and keep it from blurring.

Aperture -(size of opening in lens) open it up to let more light in.
Possible problem, aperture also controls how much of the image is in focus referred to as "depth of field". When you open up the lens less will be in focus behind the subject. For instance. Say you shoot a fish wide open. The fish behind the subject fish will be blurred and out of focus. This is not always a bad thing, it is commonly used for isolating a subject but if you want all of the fish in focus you have to close the opening of the lens letting less light in. There the problem with using aperture of more light.

Iso. The higher the number the more sensitive the sensor is to light and the brighter the exposure will be. You might think why not just turn the iso all the way up, problem solved right? Wrong. The higher you set the iso the more noise the image will have. Different cameras react differently. High end cameras can raise their iso much higher with out noise compared to entry level cameras. The noise level that is expectable to you is up to you. Play with the iso to see what noise level you can live with.

In conclusion, you will have to use a combination of all these techniques in order to get the correct exposure. You can figure out how much of the image you want in focus and set your aperture for that. Then move to shutter speed and take test shots starting with 1/60 of a second and increasing it until you shot is no longer blurry. As you are doing this you will notice that your loosing light and your exposure is becoming darker. This is when you must increase your iso to compensate for the loss of light. Eventually you will come to the sweet spot where the exposure is correct and the subject is sharp.

This is a very challenging situation to shoot in. The obvious way to get around raising your iso is to add a flash. Not sure how the fishies would react to that but a flash would open up a lot of opportunities for you.

Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any questions.

Thanks
Shayne
 

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What's wrong with shooting in Auto mode in your case? Your camera will capture great pictures in Auto mode. No need to learn to shoot in manual if it's so frustrating for you.
 

shaylou

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What's wrong with shooting in Auto mode in your case? Your camera will capture great pictures in Auto mode. No need to learn to shoot in manual if it's so frustrating for you.

Auto mode leaves no adjustment for personal creativity and relies on the camera to make the correct adjustments. You can't rely on the camera. Sometime it's correct sometimes it's not. Also auto mode does not take into fact what dof you are looking for so if you are trying to isolate it will miss it every time. I could give 20 more reasons why tnot to use full auto mode but I think you get my point. The new dslr's are very powerful and they give us complete control of our photography. Auto mode bypasses that power.
 

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Auto mode leaves no adjustment for personal creativity and relies on the camera to make the correct adjustments. You can't rely on the camera. Sometime it's correct sometimes it's not. Also auto mode does not take into fact what dof you are looking for so if you are trying to isolate it will miss it every time. I could give 20 more reasons why tnot to use full auto mode but I think you get my point. The new dslr's are very powerful and they give us complete control of our photography. Auto mode bypasses that power.

As someone who always shoots I'm manual settings, I'm well aware of the benefits of manual photography. My response was not a blanket statement but more so geared at the OP who was frustrated that a year went by without taking any family photos due to lack in understanding manual photography when a simple solution would have been to shoot in auto and still end up with some great shots. Furthermore, reading the OP it sounded to me like the OP is still far from grasping manual use of camera, what's worse she's frustrated with it, so shooting auto should be the first step. At least you end up with something. By the way, I've been trying to teach manual photography to an older friend now for months with little success so this isn't for everyone who just wants snapshots of their kid in front of a Christmas tree.
 

shaylou

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As someone who always shoots I'm manual settings, I'm well aware of the benefits of manual photography. My response was not a blanket statement but more so geared at the OP who was frustrated that a year went by without taking any family photos due to lack in understanding manual photography when a simple solution would have been to shoot in auto and still end up with some great shots. Furthermore, reading the OP it sounded to me like the OP is still far from grasping manual use of camera, what's worse she's frustrated with it, so shooting auto should be the first step. At least you end up with something. By the way, I've been trying to teach manual photography to an older friend now for months with little success so this isn't for everyone who just wants snapshots of their kid in front of a Christmas tree.

My apologies, I indeed took you statement/question as a blanket reply. I have taught 3 people how to use manual mode with two one hour lessons and follow up questions. I'm happy to say all 3 of them are doing well with their photography. I try to take a "as you need to know" approach. Teaching only the basics but most importantly teaching only the very base of the basics. We both know how involved the exposure triangle can be. I think most newbies get lost because they get too much info at once. The way I have been doing it gives the student enough info to get started and that always Leeds to good questions. They end up learning at their own pace. I don't know if you had a chance to read my replies on this thread but it is how I explain things as I'm teaching. Of course we have cameras in our hand. Anyway it is an another option if you do not get your friend to grasp the manual mode soon.

Take care
Shayne.
 

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As someone who always shoots I'm manual settings, I'm well aware of the benefits of manual photography. My response was not a blanket statement but more so geared at the OP who was frustrated that a year went by without taking any family photos due to lack in understanding manual photography when a simple solution would have been to shoot in auto and still end up with some great shots. Furthermore, reading the OP it sounded to me like the OP is still far from grasping manual use of camera, what's worse she's frustrated with it, so shooting auto should be the first step. At least you end up with something. By the way, I've been trying to teach manual photography to an older friend now for months with little success so this isn't for everyone who just wants snapshots of their kid in front of a Christmas tree.

My apologies, I indeed took you statement/question as a blanket reply. I have taught 3 people how to use manual mode with two one hour lessons and follow up questions. I'm happy to say all 3 of them are doing well with their photography. I try to take a "as you need to know" approach. Teaching only the basics but most importantly teaching only the very base of the basics. We both know how involved the exposure triangle can be. I think most newbies get lost because they get too much info at once. The way I have been doing it gives the student enough info to get started and that always Leeds to good questions. They end up learning at their own pace. I don't know if you had a chance to read my replies on this thread but it is how I explain things as I'm teaching. Of course we have cameras in our hand. Anyway it is an another option if you do not get your friend to grasp the manual mode soon.

Take care
Shayne.

That's great. I'm 1 and 1 so far. I managed to teach a friend how to shoot manual fairly quickly, literally on a one hour walk, while I've been trying to teach someone else for many months before finally giving up. She is using auto mode and can have limited success with aperture priority and shutter priority but is just better off staying away from manual settings and stressing over it, which she was. Sometimes people just feel like they have to learn to shoot manual at all costs without realizing that devoting some energy to learning proper composition coupled with a modern DSLR's auto mode or semi-manual mode can generate some wonderful results and cut down frustration.
 

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As someone who always shoots I'm manual settings, I'm well aware of the benefits of manual photography. My response was not a blanket statement but more so geared at the OP who was frustrated that a year went by without taking any family photos due to lack in understanding manual photography when a simple solution would have been to shoot in auto and still end up with some great shots. Furthermore, reading the OP it sounded to me like the OP is still far from grasping manual use of camera, what's worse she's frustrated with it, so shooting auto should be the first step. At least you end up with something. By the way, I've been trying to teach manual photography to an older friend now for months with little success so this isn't for everyone who just wants snapshots of their kid in front of a Christmas tree.

My apologies, I indeed took you statement/question as a blanket reply. I have taught 3 people how to use manual mode with two one hour lessons and follow up questions. I'm happy to say all 3 of them are doing well with their photography. I try to take a "as you need to know" approach. Teaching only the basics but most importantly teaching only the very base of the basics. We both know how involved the exposure triangle can be. I think most newbies get lost because they get too much info at once. The way I have been doing it gives the student enough info to get started and that always Leeds to good questions. They end up learning at their own pace. I don't know if you had a chance to read my replies on this thread but it is how I explain things as I'm teaching. Of course we have cameras in our hand. Anyway it is an another option if you do not get your friend to grasp the manual mode soon.

Take care
Shayne.

That's great. I'm 1 and 1 so far. I managed to teach a friend how to shoot manual fairly quickly, literally on a one hour walk, while I've been trying to teach someone else for many months before finally giving up. She is using auto mode and can have limited success with aperture priority and shutter priority but is just better off staying away from manual settings and stressing over it, which she was. Sometimes people just feel like they have to learn to shoot manual at all costs without realizing that devoting some energy to learning proper composition coupled with a modern DSLR's auto mode or semi-manual mode can generate some wonderful results and cut down frustration.

In regards to shooting outside the comfort of Auto mode.
My story on this matter is that my first DSLR was a Sony a300, nice capable camera at the time I bought it.
I took a beginers photography course and the success of this course with me was......well to be frank limited :(
I got stuck on shooting "shutter priority" for 3 years, dont ask me why, I dont know.
I simply felt comfortable there but looking back at the pictures I took in these 3 years it wasnt very good LOL

When I bought my D7000 I went to youtube and started to look at videos that explain all the basics og photography.

ISO
Apeture
Shutter speed

And then it clicked, haleluya :)

So everybody has their own learning curve, for some it might be an hour and some dummies like me it might take few years :mrgreen:

But you know what I always say ?
As long as you enjoy it and have fun then who cares right ?
 

shaylou

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One other method I have used to teach depth of field is to hook my camera up to my laptop. Tethering shots of a stationary subject while changing the fstop. This works very well at showing the focus area. As a matter of fact that is how I taught myself aperture.

As far as learning curves, for sure! Some catch on much fast than others. I took up this hobby for fun and now I'm passionate about it. I would like to make some money at it but only as long as I'm still having fun in doing so.
 

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