New DSLR User Needing Tips

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by baseballduck, Jul 10, 2008.

  1. baseballduck macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2008
    #1
    Hello everyone. This is my first post. I have just purchased a new iMac as well as a Nikon D40. I have never used a DSLR before or even a 35mm SLR. I am hoping to take up photography as a serious hobby. Any tips or suggestions on what the best medium is for beginners? I.E. nature, buildings, ect. I don't have any editing software yet, but my birthday is coming up in August so I'm sure my parents will get me Aperture or something of that sort. Is that overkill for me? Any advice is appreciated.:cool:

    Thanks, Tyler
     
  2. Hmac macrumors 68020

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    #2
    First step IMHO is make sure you understand the fundamentals of photography ie exposure, exposure, exposure, lighting, focus, depth of field (other stuff)...then work to understand the editing process. IOW, in the beginning your artistry has to be secondary to technique. A beautifully composed photograph of a wonderful landscape, an interesting building, a great sports event, or an interesting person etc is far less satisfying if your focus is bad, your depth of field is bad, or your exposure is off. You need to understand how to make your camera capture what your mind's eye sees.

    If you already understand these things, then never mind. If not, I'd suggest a course in photography, or at least buy one of the many technique or exposure books on the market. IMHO, the money you spend on expensive editing software might be better spent on a photography course.
     
  3. baseballduck thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #3
    That was a quick reply. I'll take it exposure is pretty important huh?:p Thanks for the help.
     
  4. quotemeas macrumors regular

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    #4
    Basics

    You can definitely learn the basics in iPhoto. Overtime, after playing with how exposure and contrast and sharpness effect a photograph, you will develop an eye for the advance options you see in Aperture or Lightroom. Or, you could do trial by fire, as I did, and start out using the D40 using Aperture (I also use Lightroom).

    Make sure to set the file type to RAW or RAW & JPEG (double the storage tho) on your D40.
     
  5. gwuMACaddict macrumors 68040

    gwuMACaddict

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    #5
    What? To learn how to use a DSLR, go out and USE THE DSLR. Sitting it front of a computer tweaking editing software doesn't teach you how to take pictures.

    And RAW? Really? Start with JPEG, you don't need massive files if you're just out having fun and learning what it's all about.
     
  6. baseballduck thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #6
    Thanks for the quick replies everyone. I'm really going to put it through it's paces tomorrow. Especially if the rain decides to hold out. I'm going to do the same thing that I do for everything else. Practice, practice, practice.
     
  7. Hmac macrumors 68020

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    #7

    I'd have to agree. Learn photography first, then learn editing. RAW is a great tool for someone who understands editing.

    Take lots of photos, come home and pull them up in iPhoto or even Preview. Keep notes. Take the same picture with different f-stops and shutter speeds and look at the consequences of those exposure decisions.
     
  8. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #8
    What sort of pictures inspire you? Take those kind- whatever your interests are, cars, people, skunks, doors, models- take pictures of those, that way you're not likely to get bored and you'll strive to get the best pictures you can.
     
  9. baseballduck thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #9
    Well, I took a few quick pictures this morning before the rain came back in. They aren't that good, but hopefully they will get better with more practice. Here are a few of them. http://www.flickr.com/photos/28462628@N05/ Any comments and criticism are greatly appreciated.

    P.S. I know they suck:eek:
     
  10. gwuMACaddict macrumors 68040

    gwuMACaddict

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    #10
    They don't suck. But you could mix up the angles, change the aperture, etc. Use the same subject, buck approach it in different ways. 5 pictures from the save viewpoint get boring.

    Do you understand what aperture is? Shutter speeds? ISO? Maybe I'm insulting your intelligence, and if I am I apologize. Just trying to get a handle on your camera knowledge.
     
  11. baseballduck thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #11
    Don't worry, my small amount of intelligence hasn't been insulted lol. Thank you for the comments. I think I know what some of that stuff is. For instance, isn't aperture the focal point of a picture, i.e. how blurry you want your background? That could be completely wrong for all I know. Shutter speeds I do know, but exactly what difference do they make. I'm not too sure on ISO though.

    Thanks for the help
     
  12. Mousse macrumors 68000

    Mousse

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    #12
    Aperture is "hole" in the iris that lets the light in. The larger the aperture (smaller number) the more light is let in. The side effect with SLR is shallower depth of field, the blurriness of the background as you put it.

    The shutter speed determines how long the shutter remains open. The longer the shutter remains open, the more light gets in. It has no effect on background blurriness.

    Aperture & Shutter Speed works in conjunction to determine exposure (how much light actually hits the sensor or film). Larger aperture requires a faster shutter to keep exposure equal. Aperture of F2.8 @ 1/200 shutter = aperture of f4.0 @ 1/100.

    ISO speed determines how sensitive the sensor or film is to light. Higher ISO is more sensitive, thus requires less light to get an exposure. ISO 100 is half as sensitive to light as ISO 200.

    That's the most basic of basics. Get a good photography book to learn proper camera handling techniques, more in depth info about aperture, shutter speed, ISO, composition and so forth.
    Practice, practice, practice. That's the best way to learn. They say, one trip is worth more than a thousand travel books.
     
  13. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #13
    Bad weather often makes for good pictures, don't just take the camera out on sunny days!
     
  14. janil macrumors member

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    Nov 10, 2006
    #14
    When I started photography, I picked up a copy of Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson. It explains how aperture, shutter speed, and ISO are related and gives lots of examples

    I'm sure there a lot of other books (and websites) that will do the same thing. It's definitely worth the small amount of money.
     
  15. baseballduck thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jul 10, 2008
    #15
    Thanks for the simple explanations. That definitely answered quite a few questions. The book suggestions sound like a great idea also (one more thing to tack onto the birthday wishlist). I'm just glad my mom was nice enough to open that Best Buy credit card so I could get zero interest for 2 years. It makes paying for things such as iMacs and D40s a lot easier when your 16.
     
  16. Westside guy macrumors 601

    Westside guy

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    #16
    A few points from someone that is not a pro by any stretch of the imagination:

    - Taking your own pictures is important; but I've also found it valuable to look at the photos others have taken. Seeing what an experienced photographer did with a photo you like (in terms of light, angle, framing, overall composition) can help you to start thinking about these things when you've got your own camera in your hands.

    - If you're shooting outdoors, the light is quite harsh in the middle of the day. If you take basically the same photo at noon and at 6pm, you'll find the colors are more pleasing in the latter photo. When you can, take your pictures in the (somewhat) early morning or in the late afternoon.

    - When you take a photo that isn't good, don't go "Crap! I'm terrible." Look at your photo objectively and think about what would have made it better. Should you have moved in? Moved away? Focused on the old building rather than the pretty girl?

    - Don't sweat things too much. Remember to have fun - that's really important.
     
  17. yrsonicdeath macrumors 6502

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    Jul 2, 2007
    #17
    I was in your shoes only a few years ago. I didn't get into a photography class I really wanted to be enrolled in, but wanted to pursue it anyway. I had my Dad's old 35mm film SLR. I just went out and took pictures in full manual mode. This was film so I was having to pay for all of my mistakes and experiments but after some trial and error I started to understand what each individual variable did. I then started picking up old 35mm books from yard sales etc. and began to learn technically what I was doing. This hands on approach to learning helped me more than I think a class could based on my learning style. The advantage with DSLRs is experimentation and learning is not limited by money after you buy the camera (and can restrain yourself when it comes to lusting after lenses).

    In the end I'm sort of glad I didn't take a class, but if you think that your learning style would benefit from that by all means go ahead!

    http://www.usa.canon.com/content/rebelxt_tutorial/rebelxtlessons.htm

    I had to look around for this, but canon still has it up. This was extremely helpful to me in my learning process. It's geared toward the Digital Rebel XT but the concepts within are very helpful and show you pictures and what methods were used in taking them. I highly recommend this for you.

    Good Luck!
     
  18. baseballduck thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jul 10, 2008
    #18
    Thanks for suggesting the class. I am actually going to be taking a digital photography class at the local community college this semester. I'm fortunate enough that our county has a concurrent enrollment program where we can take up to 2 classes at the community college (wish they would offer them at ECU, but oh well) and it gives us high school honors elective credit plus college credit. If I keep it up I can graduate high school with an associates degree. Woohoo.
     
  19. Hello.there macrumors 6502a

    Hello.there

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    #19
    Methinks OP is taking the p1ss out all the kind folk who replied to him :rolleyes:
     
  20. Mantat macrumors 6502a

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    #20
    As an act of shameless self-promotion, visit my blog! There should be enough article there to get you started and most importantly: improve your shots.

    www.megapixelicio.us
     
  21. baseballduck thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #21
    That was a very helpful self-promo plug. Thank you.
     
  22. Mantat macrumors 6502a

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    Sep 19, 2003
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    Montréal (Canada)
    #22
    My pleasure. If you have any specific questions send them to me. I am thinking about doing a newbie post in the near future so I could point all new SLR owners to!
     
  23. quotemeas macrumors regular

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    May 28, 2008
    #23
    Thx for the replies...but

    Hey, to all that said my post was crap, I was responding to this quoted statement made by the OP:

    "I don't have any editing software yet, but my birthday is coming up in August so I'm sure my parents will get me Aperture or something of that sort. Is that overkill for me? Any advice is appreciated." - baseballduck

    In which my response of:

    "You can definitely learn the basics in iPhoto. Overtime, after playing with how exposure and contrast and sharpness effect a photograph, you will develop an eye for the advance options you see in Aperture or Lightroom. Or, you could do trial by fire, as I did, and start out using the D40 using Aperture (I also use Lightroom)." - quotemeas

    I am sorry for any confusion I caused by not using the "Quote" function.

    As for the JPEG vs. RAW, saying that:

    "And RAW? Really? Start with JPEG, you don't need massive files if you're just out having fun and learning what it's all about." - gwuMACaddict

    Thats a great idea if the OP made a comment that storage is a concern, but since he owns a D40 and is not learning technique on a P&S, then why not use RAW. The OP will be able to utilize a full editing spectrum then re-exploring the possibilities as his hobby grows.

    Finally, I agree that developing skill is a necessary, but please note that I was speaking to his last comment with in his original post.
     
  24. AlaskaMoose macrumors 65816

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    Alaska
    #24
    I would suggest a well-written digital photography guide specifically written for the D40. The Mac is so easy to use that a friend or somebody else with a Mac that has the same OS can give you hands-on training in a short period of time.

    I have a Canon 40D, and the first thing I purchased was David D. Bush's "Canon EOS 40D SLR SLR Guide To Digital Photography," and in a short time I had learned quite a lot about taking photos with the 40D.

    The best training is learning how to use the camera, and taking photos where you try those settings you have read about in the manual or on a book such as the one I mentioned. There should be some good Nikon photography users forums around where you can post your photos, and ask questions that tech you how to use your camera and take good photos.

    Doesn't Nikon provide all the required software with the cameras?
     
  25. baseballduck thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jul 10, 2008
    #25
    Thanks for all the help everyone! It has definitely shown me what to focus on as far as this goes. Although at my skill level editing software probably isn't necessary, I'm going to go for it anyway seeing the performance of the iMac. There are so many things I can now do that I wouldn't think about doing on my iBook G4.:apple:
     

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