New into the Photography - Advice?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by FSMBP, Jun 18, 2009.

  1. FSMBP macrumors 68020


    Jan 22, 2009
    Hi everyone - I just got my hands on a bottom of the line Canon DSLR (stock lens).

    I was wondering if anyone has advice/link of advice on how to learn about photography. I'm not to sure about shutters/lighting/depth of field and I would like to know more to take better photographs.

    Thanks in advance.
  2. duncanapple macrumors 6502

    Jun 12, 2008
    Id start with browsing around online. A really good book I found based on several recommendations here was "Understanding Exposure" by Peterson. Really good book that gives you the basics and how to use those manual settings on you camera. I think there is another guy (David Bush?) that supposedly puts out some pretty good camera specific books on how to use your DSLR. This should get you started and give you enough to be dangerous.

    Those are good places to learn the what I call technical side. The "art" side of things (composition, subject matter, etc) is the harder part. The photo of the day thread here is pretty cool to get good ideas, and you will occasionally see some good critiques and tips (such as the "rule of thirds").

    There are probably classes around your local community college too, just depending on your learning style (self taught, instructors, etc)

    And then the other leg of this is post production, or in digital terms photoshop/apple's aperature/adobe's lightroom. Again, you can do books (soctt kelby supposedly has some good ones), online tutorials ( is great), or classes. Most would argue getting a decent picture to start with is the key, so this is the last emphasis in my opinion. How much you get into post is really up to you. It seems there are varying opinions on how far to push a picture with post production techniques.

    Okay, so Im done rambling - from one new photog to another :) Good luck man!
  3. FSMBP thread starter macrumors 68020


    Jan 22, 2009
    Thanks a lot, duncanapple - I appreciate it.

    I'll start with some books as you mentioned and hopefully move my way up to taking a class!
  4. Dman77 macrumors member

    May 23, 2009
    London, UK
    I'm in a similar position. I started off reading the Idiot's guide to my particular camera, then purchased another lens, a cheap tripod and a couple of filters. Then I just snapped away to my hearts content and kept buying DSLR and photography magazines and photography forums. It's amazing how much you can pick up in a short space of time. Now I'm learning Photoshop to try and get the basics.
  5. NewSc2 macrumors 65816

    Jun 4, 2005
    New York, NY
    I'd recommend the Scott Kelby books (say what you want about its non-technical aspect, but they taught me the lingo and what to expect) and Joe McNally books.

    Be warned, the stock lens is going to give you a more difficult time to capture the great shots you see in books, magazines, Flickr, etc. Cheap lenses aren't sharp, lack image stabilization, and are pretty slow, so your shots end up blurrier. I'm pretty happy with my 17-55mm f/2.8 IS, but I'm looking to go back to primes. Maybe even prime L's ($$!)

    Also know that most great shots out there were taken with good lighting (often more than 1 flash) and a tripod.

    That's not to mean that you shouldn't learn your camera inside and out. Nothing replaces skill, but good equipment helps~
  6. Dman77 macrumors member

    May 23, 2009
    London, UK
    Don't be put off by this quote, you can still produce some great images on the stock lens, go to flickr and search by camera, then look at the ones that have been produced with your model and lens. You'll be surprised at some of the results. My D60 has captured some great shots with the standard 18-55mm, as well as the 55-200mm I bought, which is a low end of the market lens. Also, learning how to post process is important to so that you can turn an average shot into a good one. You'll have a whole load of fun learning.
  7. HBOC macrumors 68020

    Oct 14, 2008
    A website that i discovered years ago is . So much invaluable info there, as well as

    I learned everything that i know by just going out and shooting in full manual! Read the camera's manual, and then re-read it. I swear i learned a lot of stuff by doing that as well. The manual does a great job of describing DOF, Aperture, ISO, focal distance, etc etc. Practice makes perfect, although books dont hurt. My favorite book that i have is called "photography", by John Freeman. I got it in hard cover 4 years or so ago. Basically any book on photography will teach you. Dont be fooled by "digital" in the title. Techniques dont go bad, ya know?

    And i have seen some amazing shots from the 18-55 MK1!! It made me go back to using it for a while, lol

    Also, one last thing. SHOOT IN RAW!! shots from the DSLRs' are not going to be razor sharp right from the camera. Post Processing take time, practice and patience to get it right. Every one has their own workflow and PP techniques. I would start with the camera, and then onto the PP aspect, because it can be daunting at first!
  8. FSMBP thread starter macrumors 68020


    Jan 22, 2009
    Thanks everyone!!!

    If I ever start producing decent photographs and become decent with my Rebel XT, I will upgrade the lens!

    I'll hopefully check out everyone's advice soon - and thanks again!
  9. liquidh2o macrumors 6502

    Feb 4, 2004
    The following have all helped to get my feet wet and grasp the concepts involved with taking a picture..
    (very good article, he has a couple of others that I'd recommend once you get a good feel for your camera)
    (they have articles on ISO, aperture, shutter speed, and lenses)
    (excellent topic on exposure control)

    I'd also recommend taking photos while reading along, and adjusting settings that the article discusses. I tend to get a better feel for what they're discussing this way.

    I'm still on my starter camera (Nikon D40) and after about six months of owning it, I finally feel i'm ready to start buying lenses that will compliment my style. It's been a fun process, the more complex it gets the greater the appreciation for the end results.
  10. Afterthecalm macrumors member

    Feb 3, 2007
  11. djejrejk macrumors 6502a


    Jan 3, 2007
    To echo what others have said and add a few other suggestions..

    Read the manual, learn to use the camera properly on M (manual) S (shutter priority) and A (Aperture Priority) modes. You camera manual will explain quite a lot. Learning to use your camera properly will help you get the most out of the gear you own currently.

    Next, you could purchase a nice fixed focal length lens such as a 35mm or 50mm (something with a wide aperture). This will help you learn composition, learn to work in available light, and to get creative with the gear that you have available. These lenses are usually quite cheap (<$400).

    Finally, do research online regarding different tips and techniques. There is a lot of great information out there. A few good sites are Luminous Landscape,, and Be sure to take the authors opinions regarding gear with a heavy grain of salt as they both tend to be highly opinionated (especially Ken Rockwell).

    Good Luck!
  12. joro macrumors 68020


    Jun 11, 2009
    In terms of starting a photography business, if you are going to eventually go that direction, is Dan Heller ( He has a lot of good info about running various types of photography business including stock businesses and how to make money with it.
  13. ftaok macrumors 603


    Jan 23, 2002
    East Coast
    I'm going to suggest two things ...

    1. Take photos in Full-Auto (green box) mode. Look at the photos that you like and study the EXIF information to see what ISO, shutter speed, etc that the camera chose. Then, try to recreate that shot using one of the "creative" modes. You might be surprised to see how your shots come out with the settings that you choose.

    2. Go to and look as some photos. If available, look at the EXIF data on the photos you like and try to recreate the same type of shot. You could proabably as the photographer about specific details of the shot, like where the sun was, was it cloudy, etc.

    But the bottom line is to go out and shot something. There's a lot to be said about reading books, but there's no substitute for actually going out and shooting.

  14. FSMBP thread starter macrumors 68020


    Jan 22, 2009
    I just wanted to say thanks again to everyone - I'm still going through all the great material everyone provided.

    Progress Thus Far:
    Here's one of my first shoots, I took a couple test shots with my Canon. It's not much to look at, but it's 100% better than other photo I've taken, lol. (Oh and I'm aware that the photo is not complete focus on what I wanted...but whatev).

    Attached Files:

  15. pakyooh macrumors 6502


    Jan 21, 2009
    Not sure if this is against forum rules but the forum side of is packed with infos for beginners. I purchase my canon around two weeks ago and the site had the answers to most of my questions.

    I was advised to go out almost everyday and just take photos to familiarize myself with the settings (manual only). Although I haven't had any luck inspiration wise. Either that or I'm just my own worst critic.

    I've also signed up for some workshops coming up around my area. I'm a bit intimidated by that but it would definitely help surrounding yourself with as much knowledge as you can get.

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