dslr for dummies

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  • 8/2/2019 Dslr for Dummies


    As digital SLRs are popularizing, many people are getting into photography that normally wouldn't

    have. Not only is this because of the ease of using a digital camera, but also because of the enormous

    cost savings compared to film cameras. DSLRs do not require expensive film to be bought and

    developed, which allows you to take more pictures, and learn to shoot better, faster.

    In this instructable, I will teach the basics of photography, which include:

    -Camera basics

    -Rule of Thirds

    -Manual vs Auto Exposure

    -Lighting Techniques

    -Sport shots


    -Night Shots

    Step 1Camera Basics

  • 8/2/2019 Dslr for Dummies



    In this instructable I will be referring to DSLRs only. This is because the quality achieved on a DSLR,

    and the control gained from it is huge versus a normal point and shoot. And while spectacular

    photographs can be taken from a standard point and shoot camera, most interested in photography

    use a DSLR.

    First and foremost, the basics. We'll start off by exploring what a DSLR actually is. DSLR stands for

    Digital Single Lens Reflex. Basically, what this means is that what you see through the viewfinder, is

    almost exactly what the lens sees, and what will end up in the picture. One of the reasons that the

    quality is so much better on a DSLR than a PandS (Point and shoot) is that the sensor size is so much

    larger. The sensor is what records the light coming into the camera. The larger the sensor, the more

    light it can record. This makes the quality very good in low light situations. Another reason that the

    quality is higher is because of the lenses, also referred to as glass. When you are trying to essentially

    record light, one of the main goals is not to distort it. This is achieved by using better designed, better

    manufactured lenses. Think of it this way, if you have light going through a dirty window, you are not

    going to be able to see very well through the other side. However if the window is clean and built right,

    then you will be able to see perfectly.

    Now lets cover the basic settings, starting with shutter speed. Shutter speed is the speed at which

    the shutter moves. The shutter is what stops light from hitting the sensor. The slower the shutter

    speed, the longer the shutter is open. On the other hand, the faster the shutter speed, the less time the

    shutter is open. Using this basic concept is what allows photographers to not only properly expose, butalso freeze, or blur, their pictures. But we'll get to that later. The main thing that shutter speed controls

    is how much light gets into the camera. If your picture is too dark, slow down the shutter speed. If it is

    too light, speed up the shutter speed. Next, ISO.

    The ISO is the speed at which light enters the sensor. This means that a low ISO, will record light

    more slowly than a fast ISO. Then wouldn't it make sense to use the highest ISO possible? No. This is

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    because the higher the ISO, the more "Noise" or "Grain" your photograph will get. Although grain is

    sometimes desired by a photographer, for the most part it lowers the overall quality of the picture. A

    good ISO to stay at is around 200.

    Finally, we get to aperture. The aperture, is the size of the hole in the lens. The bigger the hole, the

    larger the aperture, and the more light that gets in. The smaller the hole, the smaller the aperture, and

    less light gets in. This is recorded with f-stop. This is the confusing part however, because, the smaller

    the f-stop number (such as 1.8) the WIDER the hole/aperture. The higher the f-stop number (such as

    f22) the smaller the hole/aperture. This means that f1.8 will let in more light than f22. So why not just

    open the aperture all the way? Well again, just like ISO, there is a catch. The wider the aperture, the

    less depth of field you get. Depth of field, is basically the amount of the picture that is in focus.

    Therefore, a picture taken at f1.8 will have barely anything in focus, while a picture taken at f22 will

    have most of the picture in focus.

    Now that we have covered exposure settings, I think it's time we quickly skimmed over white

    balance. White balance can be pretty simple, all you need to do is to look around you. See what type

    of lights are lighting the area you are in. They might be incandescent light bulbs, fluorescent lights, the

    sun, or you might even be in the shade. Read your manual, and find out which symbols symbolize

    which type of lighting. Once you have figured out what type of lighting you have, set the white balance

    to that type of lighting (incandescent bulbs are often called Tungsten). So if it is sunny out, set it to

    (most likely) the small picture of the sun. Or if it is cloudy, set it to the picture of a cloud. You need to

    do this because different light will have different "temperatures" which are measured in Kelvin. You

    want to adjust so that you are set to pure white light. This means that if you held up a piece of paper

    that was absolutely purely white, that your camera would record it as such. You can get somethingcalled white cards, and set your camera using that (which will give you much more accurate white

    balance) but for the sake of this instructable, using the presets is much easier.

    These settings can be confusing at first, but mastering them is key to obtaining good photos. Play

    around with them to learn the kind of picture that can be gained from a certain combination of settings.

    Step 2Rule of Thirds

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    Here we have come to one of the cornerstones of photography, the rule of thirds. This introduces a

    science to this art. The human mind generally likes pictures that are composed in a certain way. If you

    want to get a picture that the eye will generally like, then learn the rule of thirds.

    The rule of thirds is a rule that splits the picture into thirds, vertically, and horizontally. (See picture).

    The key idea, is to align your subject, along these imaginary lines that divide the image into thirds.However the key here, is to never have your subject completely centered. A centered photo is

    considered poorly composed (it can be done, but if you're reading this instructable I recommend that

    you follow the rule).

    If taking a picture of a subject that is somewhat diagonal, then try to align it along the diagonal line

    of your picture (top corner to bottom corner of the opposing side).

    Look for the rule of thirds the next time that you watch a movie or see an advertisement. Most likely,

    if the director is good, it will use the rule of thirds. The actor's bodies will be on the vertical lines, and

    their eyes will probably be on the horizontal lines.

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    Step 3Manual vs Auto Exposure.


    "But ledzeppie, why can't we just put the camera on auto? It's so much easier!!!1!!!11!!!"

    Well Jimmy-Bob-Junior, we don't put the camera onto auto exposure because manual mode gives

    much more control over the picture. Often, using auto exposure can remove the atmosphere from a

    picture. For example, this picture that I took was taken on a very cloudy dark day, and to capture the

    atmosphere I raised my shutter speed, lowered my ISO, and closed my aperture, to darken the picture.

    This really gave a good mood to the picture, something that auto wouldn't give me. Beyond this

    though, auto exposure also only determines how light or dark the picture should be based on one

    point. This means that often certain parts of the picture will be too dark, or too light. This is common

    with the sky, as it is usually lighter than the ground.

    Essentially, auto exposure can remove the artistic part of the picture.

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    Step 4Lighting Techniques


    Lighting is one of the most important parts of composing a picture. This is why photographers often

    have huge extravagant ways of lighting their subjects. Although most people may not have the money

    for a huge studio lighting setup, a flash is a easy alternative.

    The flash on-board your camera may pop up, and look real coo', but personally, I try to never r