Need some tips, newbie


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Nov 8, 2007
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Hey everyone,
I'm new to photography and could really use some tips. I have a Canon Digital Rebel XT and am trying to learn how to use the creative modes.

One of the main problems I'm having is trying to focus the foreground and blur the background. It's just not happening, both are blurring. I'm wondering if it's lack of light? The light in our house is flourescent and there's not much natural light. Oh yeah and my subjects are my kiddos who have a hard time holding still.

I'm also going to try and catch the Northern Lights this weekend but have never shot in the dark, any advice?


Big Mike

I am Big, I am Mike
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Dec 16, 2003
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Welcome to the forum.

I suggest picking up a book like 'Understanding Exposure' by Peterson.

To focus the subject and blur the background (or even to focus the subject and blur the foreground) you need to use a large aperture (small F number) I'd suggest that you use Av mode and set the lowest F number that you can.

As for your blurr photos...that's a different issue. It's my guess that you are getting blur because your shutter speed is too slow. You need a shutter speed that is fast enough to a)freeze the motion of the camera in your hands (camera shake) and b)freeze the movement of your kiddos.

The problem is most likely cause by lack of light. If the light is dim, then the camera needs a longer shutter speed, in order to get enough light...however, as mentioned, a longer shutter speed will mean blur.

You can get a faster shutter speed by using a larger aperture (lower F number) but you have most likely reached the limit of your lens already.

There are three variables to exposure. Shutter speed and aperture have been mentioned...the third one is ISO. You can set your ISO to a higher number and it will give you a faster shutter speed, which will help to freeze camera shake blur and subject motion blur. There is a trade off in that a higher ISO will give you more digital 'noise' but that's better than blur.

As you can imagine, this is a common problem...which is why it's nice to have a 'faster' lens. By that, I mean a lens with a larger maximum aperture. I'm guessing that you have the 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 lens? You could use something like the 50mm F1.8 lens. The max aperture of F1.8 lets in much more light than F3.5 or F5.6...which allows for a much faster shutter speed.
Also, F1.8 is a large aperture which will give you a more shallow Depth of Field...which will help to make your background much more out of focus.

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