I need help and want to learn


TPF Noob!
Jan 16, 2013
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Chicago Il
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Hi, im pretty new here, but I need the help of yall. Ive been into photography for years but I feel like im at the point that I cant progress any further by trial and error. I need to start learning the science of it all. I have a Nikon D3000, nothing overly special. I feel like I dont know what im doing! I need help understanding things like Fstop and shutter speed and all these things that play a bigger part in helping my skills as a photographer progress. Im open to advice how to better my skills and such. Links to articles I can read or anything would be so greatly appreciated. Please and thank you! ;)

some photos ive taken are posted here http://www.thephotoforum.com/forum/general-gallery/316376-so-i-am-brand-new.html
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It takes awhile, there are so many knobs and buttons and combinations of things you just have to learn everything about your camera Once you really understand the functions the more comfortable you become, there are a number of books on your camera beside the manual that you could explore and it might be easier to learn that way.
I, like you, am not a technical person...the idea of reading my manual...yuck! Here's an easy way to think about it:

**ISO is like film speed...the higher the number, the more sensitive to light your sensor will be but there will be more grain (noise) in your photograph. Can be a cool effect, depending on the look you're going for.

**Shutter speed determines how long the shutter will stay open. Practical examples: slower speeds (1/30th and below) can be used for night photography (with a tripod to avoid camera blur), medium speeds (1/50th-1/200th) are good for general shooting (remember you want your shutter speed to equal the length of the lens to avoid blurry photos), and super fast speeds (1/250th +) are good for sports/wildlife/action photography. DISCLAIMER: these are just starting guidelines and by no means are the ONLY ways to use your shutter speed. As you work with your camera, you'll find your comfort zone.

**Aperture is how large the iris opening is on the lens. This is a two-fold aspect: 1) it changes how much light hits the sensor and 2) it changes how much is in focus (depth of field) in your photograph. DISCLAIMER: I am going to explain this in the NON-technical way as I think it can be easier to understand. When you have a "small" number (1.4-4.5) as your aperture, you will have a shallow depth of field and not very much will be in focus (great for portraits or macro photography). This will also let a lot of light onto your sensor. When you have a "large" number (f5.6-f22), you will be letting in less light and more will be in focus in your picture (good for general photography, landscape, group portraits and architectural photography).

All three of these make up the perfect exposure. As you get further along in your study, you'll find "presets" or your go-to settings for whatever you are shooting. I started off with the TV mode on my camera, that way I could assure my subject would be still by using a fast enough shutter speed. It will take time and it might be frustrating but you'll get the hang of it.

Lastly, while I don't like reading my manual, I actually did eventually read it. It helps to know what the functions of the buttons on your camera are but in most DSLRs it can be overwhelming at all the things it CAN do. So just focus on the three things you need to understand well and the rest are just bells and whistles. Oh and learn how to reset all functions on your camera...it will stop you from going crazy if you've changed up your settings so much and you can't figure out how to change it back.
Give that manual a right caning! you need to know exactly how your camera works and how to control it. Apart from that...^...check out the links the others have posted, I've found that cambridge in colour in particular is a great resource for learning how photography works.

I'm brand new myself, so probably shouldn't be giving any advice. However, after looking at your other thread, I realize this is the second time you've asked for "assistance"

Is there anything in particular that you'd like to learn?

I thought your photos looked fine. Great even. However, I noticed that the histograms all showed a heavy weighting to the left. What I've learned here, is that we should attempt to expose to the right. When looking at your histogram, you want more information to the right side, as that is where most of your dynamic range is.

If I were you, the next time I felt like capturing an image, I would pull up a chair, snap the picture, then increase the EV one click (push the EV button (right behind the shutter button) then turn the command dial one click), take the picture again. Increase the EV one click again, take another picture. I would repeat this until the image is clearly over exposed. Then I'd go back, and study all of the images. I would use Adobe's Lightroom as it appears to be the easiest program to get all the shots a click away & it has the histogram (for all colors) & all the meta data right there. You can easily go from one image to the next, study them, and compare them.

All this, is to understand how exposing to the right affects your image & you can determine what you like, what you don't like, what works, what doesn't.

Another thing I would do, since you like to shoot in Shutter Priority, cop a squat somewhere & take a series of photos at different shutterspeeds. Import them into light room again & as you study them, see how the aperture responded to the changes in shutter speed & see how that affected your photos. The second photo you posted in that other link, the one with the blue breasted bird, has a nice bokeh thing going on in the background. You should make it a point to learn how to get that affect on purpose.
3: ISO is your camera's sensitivity to light, the higher the ISO level, the brighter your image will be...

I'm just learning myself, but I don't believe this is correct. Regardless where your ISO is, your camera will make adjustments to get the EV (exposure value) to zero, if you're in one of the automatic modes; Program, Aperture Priority, or Shutter Priority (P,S,A on a Nikon). Increasing the ISO setting itself won't get you a brighter image, but what it will do is allow you to adjust your aperture and shutter speed into a usable range. In some low light situations your shutter speed would be so slow that your image would be blurred without a tri-pod. A lot of the time, again in low light situations, you can't get your aperture open wide enough to allow higher shutter speeds if you're trying to capture action shots. In order freeze that action, to get a sharp image of something in motion, increasing your ISO setting will allow you to increase shutter speed.
Unfortunately, your camera's user's manual doesn't tell how your camera works, but it does describe the features and functions your particular camera has.

Consequently, it's highly recommended you read the manual with your camera close at hand. then re-read those sections of the manual you have trouble understanding.

You need to know about the light metering modes, focus modes, and focus area modes you have available for your use, and you need to know what all the buttons and menu options do for you.
There are actually only 3 most important variables with a camera:

- Shutter Speed - how long the timeframe is to record the image
- Aperture - how much light the lens shines on the image recording plane; the more light the smaller the depth of field
- Focus - where the plane of focus, the area of maximal sharpness, is located

These are the three variables "real" cameras, like a Leica M, will give you most direct access to.

Then, with electronic cameras, one gets also:
- ISO (also called Film/Sensor Speed/Sensitivity)
- White Balance (the current quality of light), but you can also just shoot raw and change that later

With film, usually ISO is limited to whatever you currently have loaded into your camera, and white balance, well you would have to use filters for that one. It should also be mentioned at this point that there is also good old black and white photography that doesnt have color and thus no white balance as such. Also of course IR and UV photography etc.

After that, it depends.

With zoom lenses, one can choose:
- Focal length (angle of view)

With system cameras, one can choose:
- Lens. There are all kinds of differences between lenses. Each lens design differs from the others in its behavior, and due to imperfections reallife lenses differ from each other even if they are the same design.

With some "real" (i.e. large and bulky) cameras, or special lenses, you also get:
- Shift, the ability to change the position of the image plane and the lens horizontally or vertically, allowing to compensate for falling lines
- Tilt, the ability to flip the lens around so its no longer parallel to the plane of the sensor area, thus flipping the plane of focus according to the Scheimpflug rule

Other than that, you have basic things to run the camera:
- On/Off Button and changing batteries (if there are any electronics of some sort, anyway)
- Release Button (unless its one of these 19. century cameras were you just remove the lens cap for a time to take the picture)
- Changing Film (chemical) / Memorycard (eletrical)

And any cameras after the 1950s or so typically have some automations:
- Metering (minimally just automatic selection of Shutter Speed, in more advanced cameras also Aperture, with digital even ISO)
- Autofocus (this one can be super complicated, with many autofocus points, different autofocus operation modusses etc)
- Automatic White Balance (Digital only)
- All kinds of Program modes etc to specify what should be automatted and what should be in control of the photographer

And there is drive mode (Single Picture, Continous Shooting, Self timer etc).
And there is lighting / flash stuff.
And there are filters like polarizers, gradient neutral density filters. A variable neutral density filter, for example, allows you to change shutter speed and aperture with more freedom.
And there are tripods.
And there are remote controls.
And so on and so forth ...

And finally, with digital, or after you digitalized your film - the possibility for photoshop and stuff.

But the core variables are really just three. :D
It sounds like "Understanding Exposure" by Bryan Peterson would be helpful for you. Read it with your camera and camera manual at hand so you can work through the things he discusses in the book.
It sounds like "Understanding Exposure" by Bryan Peterson would be helpful for you. Read it with your camera and camera manual at hand so you can work through the things he discusses in the book.

Yeah I agree. That is one of the best newbie books out there. I have given out several copies to people when they started.

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