Whats the best way to learn?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by ThemacNub, Sep 2, 2010.

  1. ThemacNub macrumors regular

    Aug 26, 2010
    Hey all I'm going to get a DSLR soon and want to know how I should educate myself. Should I just take lots of photos and learn what different settings do?
  2. gnd macrumors 6502a


    Jun 2, 2008
    At my cat's house
    Yes, taking lots of photos will certainly help. ;)
    What you should also do is read a book or two to get yourself acquainted with the basic photographic terms like aperture, shutter speed and so on. There is a great book by Bryan Peterson titled "Understanding Exposure" that walks you through all the factors that make a photo. It has a lot of photos that show you what certain settings do. It is the perfect book for beginners.
    Another great book that you should read and that very often gets neglected :)eek:) is your camera's manual. All the manuals for DSLR from all manufacturers show graphic examples of what different setting do.
  3. Pikemann Urge macrumors 6502

    Jan 3, 2007
    I agree with gnd (more or less). I don't think I've read the books he's mentioned.

    I'd like to suggest something. Before digital came along, slide film was the best way to learn about colour, exposure, white-balance etc. The best equivalent to slide film is JPEG. Certainly, for best results, you must use RAW capture. But you're learning, and the easiest way to keep mistakes 'frozen' is with JPEGs. They take up less space and can be viewed on any device imaginable. It isn't that important but it's something to think about.

    My two commandments for anyone looking to improve their photography:

    1. Take lots of photos.
    2. Look at lots of photos.

    Point 2 has an advantage in that it can give you plenty of ideas if point 1 isn't working out for you. ;-)

    EDIT: I don't own a Pentax, gnd, but they are by far the best value DSLRs. For a start, they take AA cells by default.
  4. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    Both very good pieces of advice.... especially the taking photos and looking at photos.

    Consider joining a photo club. A good club will include more experienced shooters who will share their knowledge with you, and will critique your images with helpful suggestions (though bear in mind that you need to shoot in your own style - not theirs!). A bad photo club will involve the members showing you what great photographs they make, and that anyone with $mega equipment could get close to the quality - if they had the experience. This type of club is a total waste of time.

    Another book I will recommend is Freeman Patterson's Photography and the Art of Seeing. Save this one for a few months. It assumes basic understanding of exposure, depth of field, etc and then talks about composition in a way that I haven't seen in any other book. This is the book I recommend to all my friends who start photographing.

    Good Luck. Look at lots of photos.... try to look at lots of good photos.
  5. HBOC macrumors 68020

    Oct 14, 2008
    Go out and shoot. The best way, especially with digital, it costs you nothing but time (and initial cost). websites that have been informative over the years are
    fredmiranda and photosig.
  6. miamimatt macrumors newbie

    Sep 3, 2010
    Say "NO" to automatic

    These previous posts praise "taking lots of pictures" is the best way. That's kinda right, kinda not. Taking pictures in automatic mode will teach you nothing in the realm of learning how to properly expose photos and how to control your composition. Aside from framing, shooting in automatic modes will teach you nothing.

    You want to learn photography? Learn your camera, they are all the same, based off of the big 3 - aperture, shutter speed, iso. Learn how these 3 elements work together to create exposure, DOF, feel/motion, etc.

    And put that camera in aperture or shutter priority mode, start to understand a bit, and then toss the thing in full manual mode. It'll be a frustrating go for a few hundred pictures, but it'll increase your learning curve exponentially.

    Take pics, and look at them, really look at them. Break them down, understand how you could have made them better, or how you could have created a multitude of compositions taking the same picture but with different settings.


    If you want to learn more... mattyphotography.com
  7. Phrasikleia macrumors 601


    Feb 24, 2008
    Over there------->
    You'll learn the technical side of things fairly quickly, if you're at all motivated. That's really the easy part. The longer journey will be learning what makes a photograph "work", how to recognize or create good light, how to compose an image, how to make creative decisions regarding exposure, and how to marshal all of your options in the pursuit of a deliberate result.

    In order to make good progress on these latter concerns, you should seek out critiques of your images wherever you can. It really helps to subject your images to evaluation so that you can really start to "see" them yourself. The internet is a great place to get such feedback. This very forum is a good place to start. You can post a thread with an image or two and ask for C&C (comments and critique). (I recommend you don't post too many photos in a single thread because then you're likely to get very cursory comments about the whole lot instead of pointed comments about individual photos.)

    Someone else mentioned joining a photo club, and that's a good idea too. However, I belong to two clubs and have noticed with both of them that when photographers are in the same room together, they tend to be less critical of each other. From what I've seen, the most helpful critiques are those on online photography forums, where the inherent 'distance' encourages more frankness.

    So I hope we'll be seeing some of your photos here soon!
  8. scottkifnw macrumors regular


    Jan 17, 2008
    Trophy Club, TX
    video DVD's

    Go to your local camera and ask for a recommendation. Magic Lantern series makes good basic DVD's for most cameras. They teach clearly, and it is very helpful.

    Other DVD's from other makers are also available.


  9. HBOC macrumors 68020

    Oct 14, 2008
    Who said anything about shooting in automatic? I learned shooting film, with an EOS-3 and Velvia RVP 50. I shoot with a 1 series. There is no such thing and a dial on that camera. I just said to shoot.
  10. mynewromantica macrumors regular

    Aug 3, 2009
    Take a lot of picture but do it with a purpose. Try to learn aperture, perspective, exposure in different conditions. Try to get to the point where you can take a picture without looking at the screen after and still know it is a solid shot by shooting with purpose.
  11. HBOC macrumors 68020

    Oct 14, 2008
    I think that is called shooting with film.....
  12. chrono1081 macrumors 604


    Jan 26, 2008
    Isla Nublar
    I didn't read the whole thread so this is probably mention but here goes:


    1. Understanding Exposure
    2. Light, Science, and Magic (this is more when you get into lighting)

    I also heard the Scott Kelby books are great for beginners. I have beginner friends who love them.

    Actual shooting:

    1. Get a 50mm 1.4 lens. Every manufacturer has one and they are always between $60 - $120 (usually around $75 though). This lens is the perfect beginner lens. It allows for very shallow depth of field as well as low light shooting. Definitely make this one of your first purchases.

    2. No automatic mode. None. No matter how tempting. You will get stuck there and never leave.

    You can start in aperture or shutter priority, but I still recommend starting in full manual mode and learning that way. Learn to read the light meter. Start by experimenting with shutter speed, then aperture, then iso. Thats usually what works the best for most people. Once it clicks, you will wonder how you ever got confused on it :)

    3. Take LOTS of pictures, set up a still life and experiment with different settings, see what settings give you what results, and dont forget to read the light meter!

    4. Be careful buying equipment. There are a TON of scams out there for photography equipment. The general rule of thumb is, if its cheaper then BHPhoto, Pictureline, Adorama, or Amazon its a scam. If you are unsure, ALWAYS either check reseller rattings, or ask on a forum. If the price is too good to be true, its a scam.
  13. HBOC macrumors 68020

    Oct 14, 2008

    I think you meant a 50mm 1,8? I have never seen an AF 50mm 1,4 go for under $300ish new.

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