Maybe Matilda: Photography 101 :: Your Suggestions!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Photography 101 :: Your Suggestions!

A little while ago, I wrote a post about my photo frustrations

Sparknotes version of that post: 
I bought a fancy camera. 
I thought a fancy camera meant I would get amazing pictures, even on Auto. (It didn't.)
I thought I could learn how to use my camera on my own. (I couldn't.)
I begged for your help.

No big surprise here, but as it turns out, you guys are fantastic and had so many wonderful tips and suggestions for me--thank you, thank you, thank you for all the help so far! I thought I'd compile some of your ideas into a post so that anyone else who is interested in figuring out how to use their fancypants camera can get an idea of where to begin.

Want to know what I've visited this site for in the past? Recipes. That's it. That lady can cook! And, unbeknownst to me, that lady can work her camera, too! She has an entire photography section on her page that Susie directed me to. There is a wealth of information there (so much that I kind of got a little lost in it), but I started with her aptly-titled What the Heck is an Aperture? series and found it really helpful--I even headed outside right after I finished reading (I had to bring my little note page with me, of course) to try things out and holy moly it worked! I actually took a few great pictures! Off Auto!

Want to see the results of my little jaunt through the land of manual settings? These are my unedited pictures taken in Aperture-priority mode, using what I learned from The Pioneer Woman's aperture series:

 Total goofball face, but this had an aperture of f4 (I don't even know if I'm using these terms correctly . . . yeesh), which the good ol' Pioneer Woman taught me means you'll get a shallow depth of field--fuzzy grass in front, fuzzy background, clear baby.

And this one was taken at f18--a high f-stop number means a large depth of field, which will keep everything in focus. So I got a clear baby, clear grass behind him, clear wall in the background.

I haven't had quite as much success playing with shutter-priority mode, but I do like this one that I got (okay, I admit it, I edited it a bit):
It was taken with a shutter speed of 1/1000, which means the picture was snapped really quickly, making everything freeze in time. A slower shutter speed (measured in fractions of a second) will show motion--so you'll get blurry bikers, for instance.

Success! There's hope for me!

We all know Shabby Blogs for their fun, free blog designs . . . but I didn't know they have a great photographer on their team as well! Sarah suggested checking out these posts by Jessica and they look really helpful--she talks about the basics like aperture and shutter speed (I'm laughing at that sentence already . . .  if those are the basics, I have a long, looooong way to go) but also goes more in-depth with posts on various auto-focus settings, RAW vs. jpeg, and so on.

Despite my deep disapproval of using the word "heart" as a verb, I have to admit that this site is incredible! There are tutorials for just about everything from photo basics (like, how do I make the background blurry?) to advanced editing techniques, as well as weekly photo challenges and fix-it Friday, when you can download a photo and show you would edit it. Thanks to Jen for this recommendation! I think I'll be spending a lot of time on this site.

Turning to a book to gain knowledge? Instead of a website? Unheard of, right? But Whitney and Allison both recommended this book, so with two votes, it's gotta be good! They both said that they found it really helpful and I'll be ordering myself a copy . . . ASAP as possible (anyone? anyone? you know I'm quoting something and not being an idiot, right? 10 points and a gold star if you name that quote).

Kim from Newly Woodwards recommended this 12 week photo course from Two Peas in a Bucket . . . for some reason it took me forever to find the actual material, but I think I finally found them available for download here. I haven't looked into them much yet, but I like the idea of following a schedule--I'm a bit of a lazy learner (in case you couldn't tell from me admitting to owning this camera for 1 1/2 years and still not knowing a thing about it), so this would be a great way to keep on track and feel more committed to learning.

All right, are you totally overwhelmed and scared now? I know, it's a lot . . . but just pick one and jump in! I've only gotten as far as the Pioneer Woman's aperture series so far, but it was so helpful, and my first adventure off auto was really fun!


  1. So helpful, thanks for this Rachel! I too have a "fancy" camera that I barely know how to use. I know all the words like aperture and f-stop. I don't know how to actually use any of them.

  2. I'm pretty excited about this post! I have been too lazy to learn about our camera...I just make my husband take the pictures I want. How 1950's housewife of me.

    We have the Understanding Exposure book. Nate liked it. I thought the pictures were pretty. :P

  3. I'm going to head over to Pioneer Woman. I asked my parents for a portrait lens for my birthday - I'd better learn how to use it!

  4. Great to spend an hour that I shouldn't perusing....

  5. This is some great info! Thanks so much for sharing! I've been hoping to learn a little more about my new camera, and these are some great places to start.

  6. I'm guessing the quote is from the Office. Just a guess though.

  7. I wish I had a fancy camera, but I use my falling-apart-point and shoot.
    PW's site is awesome for photography tips.
    Fun to see what you and your camera come up with.

  8. The one looks like Forrest is getting Raptured and Jeff's trying to catch him. "no baby! Don't leave me behind!!"

  9. Finally found you again! Yeah. your blog is adorable. Just signed up to follow.

  10. I'm laughing out loud about your disapproval of using heart as a verb. My husband feels the same way. And since I'm wife of the year, I like to use it in actual conversion. Out loud.


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