New To Photography

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by deano411, Apr 30, 2011.

  1. deano411 macrumors newbie

    Dec 26, 2010
    Hey Guys,
    I know there's a few photographers on here, I've just bought myself a nikon d3100 and had a little play last night, it came with the 18-55mm kit lense and I'm just going to get used to taht before i buy a better lense (possibly a 55-300mm?)

    This is my first ever camera and I'm totally new to photography, I bought the d3100 after reading it was a great begineers camera and hearing nothing but good reviews.

    I was jsut wondering if anyone had any good advice/beginner tips for a complete newbie like myself?
  2. ComputersaysNo macrumors 6502


    Apr 15, 2010
    - Learn how to interpret a histogram.
    - Avoid taking photo's you can take any given day.
    - Avoid effects (lens-, postprocessing) to enhance a photo. The picture should speak for itself.
    - Compare your photo's with the professionals and learn from it. And yes, you really can make suchs photo's with the gear you have. (or close to)
    - If your eyes wander over a picture, searching for a point of interest, then you probably did something wrong (cluttered, distracting background, wrong focuspoint etc.). In the real world, professionals know within 2 seconds if a photo is worth looking at or not.
    - When using programs like photoshop, try to make it look natural, and not something you see in videogames. It is so much easier to overdo it, than making something look natural. Spend money on GOOD postprocessingcourses/books.
  3. pakyooh macrumors 6502


    Jan 21, 2009
    Shoot with what you have now, don't worry about upgrading until you know the basics (Aperature, Shutter Speed, ISO). Read up on shooting manual mode.
  4. peepboon macrumors 6502


    Aug 30, 2008
    1. Learn basic camera controls
    2. Learn camera terminology (F number, etc etc)
    3. Learn how to use photoshop/LR/Aperture for simple enhancements, there are TONS of tutorials on the net!

    When you see a style of editing you like, try and find out how it is done. I am digging a sort of 'vintage' effect at the moment so thats where my editing style leans towards.

    Oh, forgot to mention... TAKE LOADS OF PHOTOS! :D You will learn with each snap. The D3100 is a very light DSLR so if possible, take it around where ever you go! :)
  5. imahawki macrumors 6502a

    Apr 26, 2011
    Buy the book "Understanding Exposure". I recommend it to anyone who buys a DSLR and seems to actually care about learning photography.
  6. Full of Win macrumors 68030

    Full of Win

    Nov 22, 2007
    Ask Apple
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPad; U; CPU OS 4_3 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8F190 Safari/6533.18.5)

    Look at getting an inexpensive (125-150$) 50mm f1.8 lens. Not saying now, but at some point in the near future.
  7. picandfire251 macrumors newbie

    Apr 30, 2011
    I have the D5000...I recommend getting the 55mm-200mm lens from Nikon/Nikkor. It is around $200 for a great beginner telephoto lens.

    Remember, it doesn't cost you anything to take pictures, you have no film to buy or process, so take multiple shots and edit them down or delete them when you get home. For example, I went to a car show the other day and took about 350 pictures, but only have 210 after I deleted the not-so-good ones.

    Just play around and have fun!
  8. deano411 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 26, 2010
    I've not yet got as far as editing my photos, maybe something for the future, obviously I'm using a mac, I've been recomended to purchase aperature? But this is something I won't be doing for a while... for now I just want to take pictures and get the hang of it, then think about editing.

    This is where I'm confused I don;t understand what is what, and what results you expect from adjusting X,Y or Z
    Or... if you increase/decrease X... you must increase/decrease Z
    etc. etc.

    I think it would be good if I could see the same picture, but different settings.

    step 1, 2 and 3... is what I'm currently doing... I'm still on step 1 haha... working towards step 2 :)

    Do you have any examples of your work?
    I'd be interested in looking (particularly at 'un-edited' photos

    The advantages of digital... LOTS of photos :D as I'll just delete the rubbish ones (most of them at the mo)

    Yes mate, I've just ordered 'd3100 digital field guide' so I look forward to reading that book first.

    I've heard of these lenses, ones which dont zoom, but apparently the quality is AMAZING!
    Why is this?

    My local shop stocks a 55mm - 300mm Nikon lense, which I said I might buy when I can afford it, would a 55mm-200mm be better?
    What is the difference other than the price?
  9. tinman0 macrumors regular

    Jun 5, 2008
    1. Stick the camera in P mode and let it do exposure for you. That's why it's there.

    2. Find your local camera shop and get yourself on a composition evening course. I went on one and it's the best $30 I ever spent ;)
  10. imahawki macrumors 6502a

    Apr 26, 2011
    No. The camera can easily be fooled when you understand how it meters for exposure and even if it wasn't error prone, the "right exposure" isn't always the right artistic exposure. Understanding exposure does a great job explaining this.
  11. tinman0 macrumors regular

    Jun 5, 2008
    Yes, you are so right, that's why camera manufacturers go to huge lengths to make fancy metering systems and program modes, so that the camera consistently gets it wrong.

    Bet you still focus manually because the camera 'might' get focusing wrong as well.


    To the OP, get yourself on a composition course one evening. It will be the best $30-40 you spend. You will handle the camera totally differently when you've been given a bit of tuition on what makes a good picture, eg thirds, repeating patterns, etc.

    It's very easy to get great shots if you know how. But seriously, let the camera do all its magic for you.
  12. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

    Jun 9, 2009
    My advice is to not even think about getting new gear of any kind for at least 6 months. Use what you have, it's plenty sufficient to start on, and will allow you to build up some fundamentals.
  13. siorai macrumors 6502

    Sep 14, 2007
    - Learn how to shoot manually. Yes, the auto modes can be useful, but you're not really learning how to shoot by using them. Once you know what exactly the aperture, ISO, and shutter speed settings do and have used them manually to get the image you want, then try the auto modes.

    - Take your time with each and every shot. Yes, you can run around and take 1000 photos in a day and you'll probably end up with a couple worth keeping. Maybe. But again, you're not really learning how to shoot. Try to shoot with a "film" mentality. Film costs money for each and every shot. Thinking the same way even when shooting digital will help you slow down and get the shots that matter. Even when I'm shooting digital I still take my time and a day's shooting might only be 40-50 shots.

    - Try to develop your "photographer's eye." By this I mean try to see the image before you even grab the camera. Try to compose the shot in your mind, not the viewfinder. When looking through the viewfinder you should only be making sure that things are where they should be and most importantly that there isn't anything that shouldn't be there. If you're looking through the viewfinder and thinking, "Oh wow. That's a beautiful landscape," chances are you might be distracted enough to miss the small branch peeking into the frame on the far upper right side. When I look through the viewfinder, I'm no longer seeing the image as an image. I'm seeing it as a collection of lines, tones, textures. I disconnect myself from the image as much as possible so I can really analyze the components of it.
  14. ChrisA, May 6, 2011
    Last edited: May 6, 2011

    ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Why does EVERY beginner on earth think he needs an ultra-long and ultra-slow (f/5.6) zoom lens? These tend to get bought then left at home. This is not the most useful lens.

    Here is the best thing you can do.

    (1) Go to the library and get some books of photos by famous photographers from all different periods. Find the ones you like. Maybe it is travel photos or portraits or landscapes or abstacts like Weston or Man Ray

    (2) Realize that you do not have to go some place special or wait for an event to make photos. No matter where you live it is already "some place".

    (3) attempt to emulate the style of the images you found you liked in #1. Yes this is OK. For centuries this is how new artists learned, they tried to emulate the masters and only later developed their own style. Formalize this by giving yourself assignments to take 50 or 100 photos of a given style in a week. Then pick the 5 to 10 best and trash or archive the junk. Make prints. Evaluate the prints then make new assignment.

    (4) supplement the above by reading about art theory, color and composition. same applies to phots and paintings. Not "how to fiddle with a camera" books but art books

    (5) only after you shoot 1,000+ frames and 10 asignments should you even for a minute think about new equipment. and then only think about missed shoots and what it would have taken to get them. Wait until after 5,000 frames to buy the next thing. Maybe it will be a fold up sun reflector or a flash or maybe a new tripod.

    OK shorter advice: Skip all that and before you trip the shutter walk up closer, then move even closer. Check that nothing is in the frame that you don't want to be in the frame, get closer. Only then trip the shutter. The "get closer" advice is good and means that you'll be wanting a wide angle lens rather than a 300mm f/5.6 zoom.

    The ONLY use of a long lens like that and I meand the ONLY use is for subjects that have some kind of physical barrier that prevents you from moving closer. Very few subjects are like this and you can simply ignore them because you can easy find 100 subjects a week that have no such physical barrier in front of them.

    Equipment matters very little. If you shoot 100 "thoughtful" frames a week and toss out 90% of then after a year you will have a decent portfolio. Toss out 95% and you will have an even stronger portfolio. 100 a week is a good goal.
  15. Keleko macrumors 68000

    Mar 26, 2008
    Sorry, but this is the correct statement. The automatic handling in the cameras can only do so much. They can't read your mind for what you want, and they can easily do the exact wrong thing. Automatic mode is not idiot-proof. Sure, it will probably give you a picture that you can see what's in it, but that doesn't guarantee anything that the picture will look right.

    I got Understanding Exposure a few weeks ago and recently finished reading it. The recommendations for this book are definitely on target.
  16. imahawki, May 6, 2011
    Last edited: May 6, 2011

    imahawki macrumors 6502a

    Apr 26, 2011
    Thanks Keleko. Camera's meter assuming 18% gray value. Anything outside that range inherently results in a false reading. Does the camera get close a lot? Sure, that's where the R&D into the algorithms come in, but the bottom line is if you meter a dark object the scene will be over-exposed with respect to reality.

    I don't shoot in full manual mode all the time. I use a lot of AV mode. But I often adjust using E/V +- or move to manual mode to get the shot I need. That's a far difference from putting it in P and relying on magic that doesn't exist.

    I do use auto-focus FYI because it works differently. The camera knows that whatever focus point you have set is what you want in focus. The light meter does NOT know what you want to be exposed right in many situations (the sky or the person or the ground) and in addition gets thrown off by high contrast, metallic and reflective objects and certain colors.

    Not to mention the camera doesn't take artistry into account. Maybe you WANT an under exposed image to capture the mood. Or overexposed, on the beach, to lend the sense of bright light. Not every image should be spot on exposure. That's the concepts that "Understanding Exposure" talks about and gives examples. In auto mode, the picture below would have been all blown out because the camera would have tried to expose the dark background. I WANTED the shadows to fall off into pitch black, not give a clear picture of everything that was in barn.


    In this image, the camera meter would have tried to expose more of the foreground resulting in the loss of the silhouette and the sky would have been over-exposed leaving none of the deep colors, so it was shot in full manual.

  17. johnnj macrumors 6502a

    Dec 11, 2008
    Not here
    Ansel Adams' "The Negative".

    Learning the Zone System goes a long way in learning exposure.
  18. Pikemann Urge macrumors 6502

    Jan 3, 2007
    I don't mean to be an ass (and I definitely don't want to hijack the OP's thread) but are you sure about that? This might be good advice for a 35mm camera or a 'full-frame' DSLR. But ridiculous for a DX body. Even if applied to FX/35mm bodies the advice is quite arbitrary.

    BTW deano411, 'editing' means 'selecting the good images'. It does not have anything to do with tweaking or any manipulative operations. Editing is important but it does take discipline.

    Imagine being a photo editor for the National Geographic. You have 5,000 amazing shots from one photographer... and you have to select 30 for publication. I don't envy that job!

    Oh, and I repeat this for its truth value:

  19. sportster macrumors 6502

    Jul 7, 2010
    Katy, TX
    Like the others have already said, learn the basic and practice alot!

    If you do decide to upgrade or get a new lens I would recommend getting a VR lens. They are well worth the extra cost. I have a Nikon D40, came with the basic 18-55 kit lens. I got the 55-200 VR for it next, nice lens and was very happy with it. It was to large for any indoor photos. Next I picked up a preowned 18-105 VR. This is my favorite so far, Great picture quality and good all around use. My newest lens is a prime, its a 35mm f1.8g. It has wonderful reviews, the price was right, but is really hard to find. Lots of sellers are asking 1-2x the list price for them now, demand seems to be high. Mine should be delivered on the 12th, I'm looking forward to that lens. It should make a very nice indoor portrait lens
  20. imahawki macrumors 6502a

    Apr 26, 2011
    It's good advice I followed it when I first got into photography with an XSi and I still have that $90 50mm f/1.8 to this day and use it on my 5Dii. It's not too long for a crop and the large aperture and fixed focal length are great learning tools. If there WERE a 28mm f/1.8 for around $100 to $150, people probably WOULD recommend that for crop body beginners, but there isn't.
  21. tinman0 macrumors regular

    Jun 5, 2008
    Hold on.

    The OP has a crop body, and you're comparing it to a FF body, that's not really fair now is it?

    I have a crop body and a nifty nifty, and to be honest, I rarely use it. It is far too long for nearly everything, you can't do family functions with it, because you simply take close up shots of everyone despite standing at the back of the room, you can't take group shots with it unless you stand at the end of the garden, and so forth. It's great for taking pictures of people's nose hair.

    The only places you can use it - say out in the garden photographing people at play/work, is covered by the kit lens he already has, despite losing 2 stops. In the open sun 2 stops is nothing.

    A nifty fifty is a very difficult lens to use.

    The OP has the best lens available for a new photographer with is the kit lens. It gives him a bit of wide at 18mm and a bit of long at 55mm.

    This gives him ample opportunity to decide which way he wants to take his photography in the future, eg wide angle or telephoto.
  22. imahawki macrumors 6502a

    Apr 26, 2011
    If you actually read my post you'll see that I had an XSi when I started. I had a 50D after that which is also a crop body.

    My best advice to the OP is to join a photography forum. I followed a lot of the advice I got there and it has served me well.
  23. compuwar macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2006
    Northern/Central VA
    1. Get closer.
    2. Shoot in portrait mode more often.
    3. Use balanced fill flash, even outside for people/animals- but dial in some negative flash compensation.
    4. If you *must* get a new lens, it's between the 70-300mm and the 35mm DX lens- a lot depends on what you want to shoot, but those are your best choices in relatively inexpensive and useful lenses.
    5. Learn to expose.
    6. The less in the image the better- avoid clutter.
    7. Google "Near, middle, far," "Leading lines," "Negative space," and "Rule of thirds." Study each, and don't try to "break" the rules until you've mastered them.
    8. Try to use the center AF point less frequently. Give subjects room to "look" or "move" into the image when you position them.

    No, it doesn't. 18% is wrong.

  24. imahawki macrumors 6502a

    Apr 26, 2011
    Different people will give you different values (I've heard 12% too) but the point remains the same.
  25. compuwar macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2006
    Northern/Central VA
    The Zone System is great for negative film, but it's really not the best way to shoot digital. In digital, you're much better off with ETTR using the white towel method or UniWB (for beginners, the white towel is the way to go.) You lose lots of information you can never get back if you try to expose like it's negative film instead of exposing like it's positive film. You can always adjust the shadows in post, especially when you'll have (a) more shadow detail in exposing to the right and (b) less noise in the shadows by exposing to the right.


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