Just starting out and frustrated!


TPF Noob!
Apr 12, 2009
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South Dakota
Last summer I purchased my first camera that wasn't disposable. Since then I have become decent at taking shots with my camera (Canon Rebel 2000) on the automatic setting but am totally lost when it comes to really learning how to use my camera manually. I have tried reading a few books but I am not great at learning from just reading, I need more hands on experience. I will admit that I am getting very frustrated because it all makes sense when I read it but I just can't seem to get it when I flip the switch on my camera! I live in the middle of nowhere so finding a class to go to is VERY hard. The few that they do have require you to bring a DSLR. If someone could suggest some VERY basic online or correspondence classes it would be great, or any other suggestions on how to learn the basics it would be so wonderful!
take your existing photos that worked for you (be they in auto modes or not) and have a look at the stored exif data for those photos - you can review the settings that each shot was taken at if you go to the properties of the file - then go to the details tab - from there scroll down to find the aperture, shutter speed and ISO.
Now you have some context for your learning - you have an idea of what different settings are going to do to your work in different situations. So don't delete shots whilst out and about - learn from all the shots and see how the settings affect your real world shots. From there you can start to use manual modes more to get what you want from a shot rather than just what the camera thinks it wants to get.

As for learning see if there is a local camera club for your area (or even one a little further afield) as you might find some members willing to give you a little more personal direction in the field for your shooting.
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If you have some batteries to spare just put it in manual mode and mess with it until it shoots the way you want it to. Thats what I did but like I said thats if you have some spare batteries. Its the only way I learn is to just do it until i get it the way I want it.
If I understand this correctly, it sounds like you're using a film camera (Rebel 2000?). Looking at the exif data isn't going to do much, considering it doesn't exist.

Unfortunately, I can't offer any suggestions on correspondence classes, but it sounds like part of your frustration might be coming from a combination of having your goals set too high and not yet being really well acquainted with your equipment.

My best suggestion would be to make really small goals. Like, on the next roll of film, go for three correctly exposed shots. If they're in focus, great, if they're interesting looking great. But don't sweat it. Or something like that. That way you're not getting so frustrated. But also, I would find a cozy seat and sit down with your camera's manual and learn everything about it. Knowing your equipment is at least half the battle.

Just some suggestions. Sorry I can't help more.
Get the book Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson. Its a great understanding of what it takes to properly expose pictures. He gets you to use manual mode to understand the variables. Having said that, I tend to shoot more pictures in AP mode and add exposure compensation when needed.
try shooting in aperture mode for a while... then try shutter mode.... and then manual mode will seem much easiar
I can't tell you how many photos of my feet on the coffee table in my living room I took when I was learning photography. I think it's one of those things you have to learn by doing more than anything else.
If I understand this correctly, it sounds like you're using a film camera (Rebel 2000?)

Darn! Curse canon for calling all their cameras rebels! ;)

Sorry in that case yes there is no exif data for you to be able to use with your shots (as far as I know there is no feature like this for film cameras, though there could very well be it would not be impossible info to have stored on some memory chip in the camera, but I might just be dreaming here).

Based on that you have to go back to the oldstyle - a book and a pen. Sure its going to slow you down - but that will help as that will give you time to think about what you are shooting and what settings to use. Do try to give yourself context and note down the shutter, aperture and ISO of shots if you can - then you have some idea of real world changes. Heck go outside and take 26 photos of a flower or a table or tree at different settings and just see how things change. Sure its going to cost you in film and that will push you on to learn and improve your technique.

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