Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Photography 102

I love my camera. I have a Nikon D80 with an AF-S Nikkor 18-200mm zoom lens. The camera was a birthday gift in 2011 and the lens followed on my birthday in 2012. It's taken me ever since then to master the basics. (And, I use the word "master" very loosely here!)

I think I look at as many photos as I shoot. I've been on flickr for years and I have a daily routine that includes at least ten or fifteen minutes browsing doll photos and professional photographer's pics on flickr. It was actually on flickr that I discovered "depth of field." I had figured out how to do it with my camera on the "AUTO" setting, but I didn't know what it was called. This photo of Poppy Parker, shot in my backyard, is what it looks like ...

Recently I have been exploring "Exposure Compensation." Some days I think I understand it and other days, not so much.  With many dSLR cameras, exposure can be adjusted by changing either the lens f-stop or the exposure time; which one is changed usually depends on the camera's exposure mode. The setting I've been messing around with is called "aperture priority." This is a setting on some cameras that allows the user to choose a specific aperture value while the camera selects a shutter speed to match.  I didn't know what aperture was, so I looked it up on Wikipedia where it defines aperture as a hole or an opening through which light travels

My biggest issue has been eliminating the flash for shots where I know there is adequate light. I detest the ugly shadow from the flash. The "aperture priority" setting is the one that allowed me to shoot this stack of books and blur the ones in the distance while being clearly focused on the stack in the foreground. And, no shadow!

While I was goofing around, my cat took up a spot on the table next to me, so I started focusing on her. I fired off four shots and was so pleased to see them turn out well, with that depth of field I so love! And, no shadow from the flash, no red eye!

What's important is WHERE you focus the camera. That's the trick I'm trying to master. You have to be aware of the light conditions, too, because when shooting "aperture priority," the camera chooses the shutter speed. Which creates another issue; if the shutter speed is slow because there's not enough light and you're not using a tripod, you'll have camera shake show up in your pictures. One more thing to worry about!

Finally, I gave the setting a whirl while we were out and about and I got what I think is a really good shot of bees on a sunflower. No tripod. No flash. Lots of outdoor light.

Odds are I will never figure all of it out. These dSLR cameras do so many things! But, I'm learning one thing at a time until I've learned it really well. For now, "aperture priority" is my thing!

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