DSLR Photography Beginner Course UK?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Orangediva, Jul 7, 2016.

  1. Orangediva macrumors member

    Orangediva

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    Nov 1, 2014
    Location:
    Midlands, UK
    #1
    As per the title really - I've had my Canon DSLR (1200D) for just over a year and have been enjoying it greatly, though pretty much all of my pictures are taken using the pre-set modes. I specifically chose this model because of it's simplicity and the fact it's geared up to beginners.

    I'm really keen to learn more about the manual functions of the camera and about photography in general but I've struggled to take in and truly learn from the books I've read. I'm not fantastic with technology and I think I learn better face to face so I'd love to do a course (1 or 2 days or longer). I've looked online and found various providers plus internet only options - tbh there are so many it's difficult to work out what's what. I also wondered about part time college courses/evening classes.

    I mainly take landscape, pets, birds etc and have a simple tripod and a 50mm and 75-300mm lenses as well as the stock 35-55mm lens. I'm happy to upgrade my camera if necessary but that seems ridiculous at this stage as I can't even use a simple DSLR properly yet.

    I'm in the Midlands, UK and happy to travel for day courses but would need something more local if regular attendance is required. Does anyone have any experience of this kind of course or know of anything that is well regarded? Many thanks for any ideas.
     
  2. Apple fanboy macrumors Penryn

    Apple fanboy

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    #2
    I'm not sure I'd recommend any course tbh. Calumet do some at their Birmingham store which shouldn't be too far from you.
    Or a good camera club might be a good place to start.
    Froknows photo does a getting out of auto mode DVD which you might find beneficial.

    Alternatively I'm just down the road if you'd like a bit of advice!

    I find the best way to learn is to try and post examples and ask for advice.
    But we all learn different ways.
     
  3. daflake macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2008
    #3
    Plenty of sources online that can help you understand everything you need to know from a manual perspective, no need to pay for a class unless you really want one. Like fanboy said, I would just take some photos and then ask for some tips if you aren't sure.
     
  4. jtrainor56 macrumors regular

    jtrainor56

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    Oct 23, 2010
    Location:
    Sinking Spring, Pennsylvania
    #4
    I have a professional photographer that's nearby that holds workshops and does photo walks. His workshops are 5 sessions 2-3 hours in the evening, once a week for five weeks. It was nice have this in his studio and interact with others. The photo walks are to some good locations and he provides a lot of information on composition and helps with settings. Haven't done any workshops in two years but i can always send him photos for C&C. Might look for someone in your area that does this.
     
  5. Orangediva, Jul 7, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2016

    Orangediva thread starter macrumors member

    Orangediva

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    #5
    Thank you all for the advice - I'll happily post some of my photos for critiquing but they are all taken in the pre set modes and how to get out of auto is what I'm looking at learning. Atm if I want to blur the background of my pets, for example, I use portrait and if I want an action shot I use sports and take multiple shots etc etc. I'm looking to set things up myself but I just think I'm struggling to understand exactly what I should be doing and how to translate that to my camera.

    I think I'm just not very technically minded - although I'm ok using my Macs, iPad and iPhone for what I need i.e. basic internet stuff, I'm 46 and didn't use a computer until I was 30! I was also hoping a course would introduce me to basic photo software options and which would be best for me.

    Apple Fanboy - how would I find local camera clubs?
     
  6. daflake macrumors 6502a

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    Apr 8, 2008
    #6
    Nothing wrong with that at all and I can totally understand it. You might look around your community to see if there are some classes offered. Once you start to understand what is happening in each setting, you will find that you can actually replicate that in manual mode. I know a few pros who do use aperture priority for most of their shooting.
     
  7. Apple fanboy macrumors Penryn

    Apple fanboy

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    #7
    I sent you over a PM.
    If you want to blur a background in manual mode select the lowest Aperture number (which is the biggest Aperture!) your lens will go to.
    So assuming your 50mm is a f1.8 select 1.8 using your command dial.
    Then try to have your subject (pet?) far away from the background. Then you will get a good background blur (or bokeh).
    However as this will let in a lot of light, don't forget to select a faster shutter speed.
    Use the light meter at the bottom of your view finder to guide you. Your looking for the dots to not appear either side of the central line.
    It's trial and error. The best advice is to practice, practice, practice. Not when it's important, just when you are at home. Even if your subject is a jam jar.
    Also have a look at some videos on the exposure triangle if you want to understand what's going on in YouTube.
     
  8. Orangediva thread starter macrumors member

    Orangediva

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    #8
    Thanks so much for this and for the PM, have replied.

    I'll have a play with the camera tomorrow and have a go at what you suggest - cheers xx
     
  9. The Bad Guy macrumors 65816

    The Bad Guy

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    Australia
    #9
    Composition is the hard bit, concentrate on that first. The rest will come in time.
     
  10. Ish macrumors 68020

    Ish

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    #10
  11. Orangediva thread starter macrumors member

    Orangediva

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    #11
    Absolutely! I'm not saying I'm brilliant at composition or anything but I don't think it's the major problem for me as I've been taking a lot of shots with various 35mm/digital compact cameras since my teens and I generally think my pictures look better nowadays - I know there's still loads to learn to improve but my main problem, right now, is the actual camera settings so I can get out and actually use the camera properly.

    It looks amazing - sadly I will have to wait until (if!) the £ improves against the $ before I can think about doing it though. I have added the book to my Amazon list, it looks like just what I need.


    I'm sometimes a very stupid person - I suddenly remembered the Canon app for the 1200D that I haven't looked at since I got the camera. At the time I was just interested in the basic auto functions so I could get out and take some - any - photos but I had a good read last night and it makes a lot of sense, I'm going to go out and do the exercises today and see how I get on. Also, thanks to Apple fanboy I have found a local camera club that looks interesting and have emailed them to see if I can attend their open evening for new members in September :)

    Thanks everyone for all of the replies and advice, I appreciate it.
     
  12. The Bad Guy macrumors 65816

    The Bad Guy

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    #12
    But that's easy.

    How much depth of field do you want? Lots? Pick a big aperture number. Less? Pick a smaller one. Photo too dark? Make the shutter speed slower. Too light? Speed it up.

    Done.
     
  13. jerwin, Jul 8, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2016

    jerwin macrumors 68000

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    #13
    The way photographers think of exposure is in "stops"

    Each "stop" doubles or halves the amount of light that will be recorded by the sensor.

    ISO 100-- generally the smoothest, most noise free setting has one half the sensitivity of ISO 200, which in turn has half the sensitivity of 400, and on and on into the most noisy, crude images that your camera produces-- 6400, IIRC.

    To get your camera to work well with ISO 100, you need to either open up the aperture, or increase the shutter speed.

    A good exposure at ISO 200 and 1/125 s (leaving the aperture alone), is a still a good exposure at ISO 400 and 1/250 s-- or alternately, ISO 100 and 1/60 s. (twice the ISO allows you to use half the shutter speed)

    The aperture of a lens is a diaphragm that you can open up, or close down to vary the amount of light that reaches your sensor. It will also allow you to vary the thickness of your focal plane. It's considered de rigueur to blur the background of a portrait subject in such a way that your subject stand out sharply against a blurry, unimportant background. You can narrow the focal plane by using a low fnumber f1.8. But the lens is sharper at high fnumbers-- f8, f11.

    (Beyond f11, on a camera such as yours, overall sharpness tends to fall off due to diffraction effects. People with full frame cameras are more likely to find f16 and f22 usable. More of the scene will be in focus-- but you may be dissapointed in the results. c'est la vie.)

    The fnumber is the ratio of the focal length to the diameter of the aperture. A 50mm lens set at f/2 would have a aperture opening of 25mm. At f4, the aperture would be close down to 12.5mm.

    Since light follows the inverse square law, a 12.5mm diameter aperture will let in one quarter the amount of light as an 25mm aperture. You'd need a 17.677mm aperture to let in half as much light as a 25mm aperture.

    This is all abstracted out by the notion of an f-stop.

    f1.4 (sqrt(2) ) lets in twice as much light as f2, which lets in twice as much light as f2.8 (2*sqrt(2)), which lets in twice as much light as f4, which in turn, lets in twice as much light as f5.6 (4*sqrt(2))

    (numbers such as f1.8, f2 f2.2, f2.5, f2.8 f3.2, f3.5 f4 are third stops. Go up three fractional stops to half the amount of light getting in, go down three fractional stops to double the amount of light getting in).

    I recommend putting a 50mm lens on, putting your camera in aperture priority mode, and taking pictures at various apertures, focusing on both near and far objects.

    Then, when you are reviewing your photos on your computer, pay attention to the f stop, and how varying that changed what is in focus, and what is out of focus. Also, note how Aperture priority changed the shutter speed in proportion to the aperture you've selected.
     
  14. Orangediva thread starter macrumors member

    Orangediva

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    Location:
    Midlands, UK
    #14
    After what I've read (on the Canon app) this afternoon, this is starting to make sense now. I'm going to post a couple of pictures in a sec, I'd massively appreciate anyone telling me what I did right and what I did wrong.

    Funnily enough that's exactly what the Canon app recommends for it's first exercise!! I'm going to need a bit of time to digest understand the rest of your post but, today, I went out and shot in AV mode with the ISO set to auto (I think it was coming up as 100 in the shots I'm posting). Please bear in mind these are photos of a cat (my 6 month old kitten, Daisy - the only one of my cats in an accommodating mood today!) and cats are really good at not doing what you want them to!!



    [​IMG]
    --- Post Merged, Jul 8, 2016 ---
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    In the third one her ears are in focus whereas her nose and mouth aren't so much????
     
  15. Apple fanboy macrumors Penryn

    Apple fanboy

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    #15
    So I don't think you did much wrong at all. Nice blurred background. It might benefit from being a little brighter. Especially the eyes. That's why most good portraits and animal shots use a flash with a modifier, but let's get the basics right first.
     
  16. Orangediva thread starter macrumors member

    Orangediva

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    Nov 1, 2014
    Location:
    Midlands, UK
    #16
    I took the third one under a garden parasol as I was sitting at the table waiting for any of the cats to co-operate and Daisy happened to jump up onto the table. Perhaps it would have been better in the sunlight?

    Thanks to everyone btw, this is really helpful :cool:
     
  17. Apple fanboy macrumors Penryn

    Apple fanboy

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    #17
    The eyes are better in the last one. Do you shoot RAW or j-peg?
    Also what is your understanding of white balance? The last one looks like it needs a little warming up.
     
  18. Orangediva thread starter macrumors member

    Orangediva

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    Nov 1, 2014
    Location:
    Midlands, UK
    #18
    I have the white balance set to auto, it's a new concept to me, I'm afraid. It's one of the upcoming lessons on the Canon app and I've seen it mentioned in an old photography magazine (my uncle has given a pile of magazines from 2012-2015 - most of it's beyond my current level of knowledge but I figure they'll help as I get better).

    I see what you mean about the eyes, that's very helpful.

    RAW or j-peg - hmmmm??? Looking at camera I can't work out what it's set to - I told you I was a beginner!!:oops:

    One other question - on the side of my 50mm lens there is a switch labelled AF and MF - if anyone has time to briefly explain this to me?
     
  19. Apple fanboy macrumors Penryn

    Apple fanboy

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    #19
    Auto focus, the camera does the focusing.
    Manual focus, you focus using the ring around the lens.
    I'd say stick with AF for now.
     
  20. Crazy Badger macrumors 65816

    Crazy Badger

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    Scotland
    #20
    I always work on the basis 'if it has eyes, focus on them' :D
     
  21. jerwin, Jul 8, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2016

    jerwin macrumors 68000

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    #21
    Which metering mode were you using? The EXIF says "pattern" metering, but I'm not sure what that is.... Anyway, you might get better results if the metering considered the cat's face, and ignored most everything else. (Center weighted, or spot). Something to experiment with.

    (I should admit that, as of late I've been using Auto ISO, a wide open aperture, auto white balance, AND 'Matrix metering' so I'm one to talk....)
     
  22. Orangediva thread starter macrumors member

    Orangediva

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    Nov 1, 2014
    Location:
    Midlands, UK
    #22
    I thought so but I didn't like to say as I wondered if it had anything to do with Aperture Priority versus full Manual mode - I've a lot to learn but have learned more on this forum in one day than in a year on my own.

    Again this makes great sense - the trouble, I'm finding, with cats is that they don't always stay still long enough to focus on their eyes. There are probably easier subjects........

    Again I'm not sure what that is - off to look it up now :oops:

    I suspect you guys could do ok teaching your skills to beginners :cool:

    I went out again this evening after dinner and I think the light was better - no bright sunlight/deep shadows. I tried to concentrate on focusing on the cats' eyes - I think my composition is off on this one but this is George (my other kitten and Daisy's brother) who rarely stays still for longer than a millisecond so I had to be quick!

    [​IMG]


    This next one is Kitty, my grey tabby and it's thrown up something I find interesting - I have focused on the face and her body is very blurred like the background (again taken in AV mode at f1.8), is that because she's too close to the background or would it have been better at, say, f4.0? Or is it something else?

    [​IMG]

    If anyone is still with me - thanks!
     
  23. jerwin macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2015
    #23
    Was kitty standing really close to you?

    In general, the depth of field of a lens (at a given f stop) is deepest if the lens is focused at the horizon, and shallowest at the minimum focus distance.

    I have, in my hands a 20 cm f4 prime from the mid 1960s. It's a manual focusing lens, and it has a DoF scale engraved on the barrel, based on film technology.

    When the lens is focused at 30 m, the depth of field extends from 60 m to 20 m. (at f22)

    focus far.jpg

    When the lens is focused at 3 m, the depth of focus extends from 2.8 m to 3.1 m.

    focus near (1).jpg

    (And in macro photography, the depth of field can be measured in millimeters, even at f32.)


    If you want to you can assign a button on your camera that will give you a (slightly dimmer) preview of what the depth of field will look like before you shoot the picture. Since I'm a nikon user, I can only say that it's discussed on page 264 of your manual
     
  24. Orangediva thread starter macrumors member

    Orangediva

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    #24
    Yes, I was too close to her, I think. Soon as the rain stops I'm going out to have another play. Thank you for taking the time to post and help me.
     
  25. jerwin macrumors 68000

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    Jun 13, 2015
    #25
    To change the image format to raw, press the menu button, and in the first menu tab, there should be an item called Quality. Select it, and you should see an option for RAW and various JPEG settings. You'll need to "develop" those RAW files using Photos, Aperture, Lightroom, Digital Photo Professional, etc.
     

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