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Beginner seeking starting point!

13 Feb 2013 1:28PM
I'm a beginner photographer and looking for some pointers to some good tutorials and lessons on how to approach photography.

I think I've a good eye for caputring well framed pictures, but am lacking with camera ability. I've only ever really used basic point and shoot compact cameras. However, I'm now looking to take it seriously and just bought myself a Nikon P510 bridge camera as an introduction into higher quality cameras. I've always put the camera into 'auto' and never bothered with maual settings, so shutter speeds, apertures and iso settings are all new and like a foreign language to me.

I've also bought myself a couple of books o learn the background. I've bought DigitalPhoto's The Digital Photography Manual and Tom Ang's The Digital Photographer's Handbook. However, it'll take time to get through these and am keen to start learning as I read.

If anyone has this cameras or any other good starting points, I'd hugely appreciate any tips or guidance!

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JackAllTog Plus
9 5.0k 58 United Kingdom
13 Feb 2013 1:43PM
Welcome to epZ Gav,

It won't take too long to get as there is only the 3 things to really get. So lets look at just one.

Best place for me to start off was aperture mode, so I'd recommend it to you too - leave the ISO on auto for now.

In aperture mode start of by zooming into a flower about a metre away, shoot on your min aperture, then again on you max aperture - you should see the background more infocus for one of those shots - post the results and say why you like one or the other.

13 Feb 2013 2:31PM
Hi Gav and welcome to the community.

Try this link to access over 30 hours of free photography training videos by ePz member Mike Browne .....
puertouk 6 1.1k 17 United Kingdom
13 Feb 2013 4:42PM
Hi Gav and welcome, try Youtube , as there are hundreds of training videos. Gavtrain Hope this helps.
lemmy 11 2.7k United Kingdom
13 Feb 2013 4:52PM

Quote:I think I've a good eye for caputring well framed pictures, but am lacking with camera ability.

If you just use the new camera on everything auto, you won't go far wrong.

I have a rather nice Panasonic GH3 which I use on aperture priority mainly but quite honestly if I set the ISO to auto and the camera on program it does things just as well. Modern cameras are often cleverer than quite expert photographers.

When you want to shoot a portrait just set the portrait mode, landscape mode for landscapes etc. Watch what it does, the apertures and shutter speeds it uses. Then copy that if you really do want to set it manually.

The hard part of photography nowadays is seeing the pictures. recognising things that are worth photographing. You say you can already do that so don't let the camera get in the way of your talent.
[quote If you just use the new camera on everything auto, you won't go far wrong.

Modern cameras are often cleverer than quite expert photographers. .

Oh please. did you really write this. ???
I don't know if i should cry or celebrate. ?????????
The bad news is you have made knowing good technical knowledge and skill obsolete. The good news is, if everyone follows your advice my job will be secure for life.
JackAllTog Plus
9 5.0k 58 United Kingdom
13 Feb 2013 6:53PM
I used to play a game with my shots and take one auto, one manual. Sometimes i was better, sometimes the camera was better. I heard it said once a good photographer know when auto wont work. I agree.
JackAllTog Plus
9 5.0k 58 United Kingdom
13 Feb 2013 6:55PM
But for loads of well lit shots auto is great.
lemmy 11 2.7k United Kingdom
13 Feb 2013 7:06PM

Quote:The bad news is you have made knowing good technical knowledge and skill obsolete

With one sentence? I never knew I had such power. I had rather thought it was the cameras that had done that rather than me, personally Grin

I just never thought that technical skill was the main aspect of photography. When I got my first job from school age 17. as a trainee photographer on a local paper they were looking for someone without previous knowledge of the craft. The test the large number (as you can imagine) of applicants and I sat was to be given a pile 100 or so photographs and asked to pick out the 5 we liked best.

I'd never picked up a camera before but I picked out lively and interesting pix. It landed me the job. The chief photographer, a highly talented individual remarked to me later that they could teach a monkey the technical side (it was very different in those days, plate cameras, 150mm standard lens so little depth of field, no rangefinder, no exposure meter, not even shutter speeds marked) but what they'd found over the years they couldn't teach was how to recognise a good story telling picture when you saw one.

I had to learn all the technical stuff - which even if you do learn it is laughably simple now, exposure meter, auto-focus, small cameras with massive depth of field - but wasn't then.

If you are going to do certain kinds of work, you'll need to develop certain skills, of course, but if as a photographer your only claim to fame is that you can turn out a technically good result, I am afraid the digital camera is in the process of killing you off already.

I have just been testing out my GH3 Panasonic with a flash gun. It will do syncro-daylight, perfectly balanced, all on its own. I used to sit down with pencil and paper and a Minolta meter to work out how to do what the camera/ flash combo does merely by switching it on to auto!

I agree that a good photographer knows when auto won't work - you may need to bracket. Why not set it to auto bracket? If there's one skill really worth learning even on a digital camera, it is manual focussing. It's ever so easy but few people seem willing to do it.

There is a certain frustration to it. It reminds me of the Woody Allen story about how depressed his dad was when made redundant from his job by a computer the size of a matchbox. It did everything he did but faster, more accurately and cheaper. What was really depressed his dad was that when his mum heard about it, she went out and bought one too.Wink
LVanDhal 5 126 1 United Kingdom
13 Feb 2013 8:26PM
Hi Gaz, This is just my personal aproach but i hope it can be of some help,
If you start on Auto you will stay on Auto for far longer than you need to.
Trouble is Auto suggests a photographer will emerge from the battle with the world carrying at least a memento,
but, more than anything, a photographer needs courage, courage to ask why, to explore, to do it, to get in peoples faces when everyone is saying stand back, to climb trees when everyone is saying stand over there and don't move.
If a person starts out trusting the camera more than themselves, which is what happens when they put it on Auto, they are going to spend a lot of time and money to learn a basic truth, a camera on Auto will do what it is programed to do, but your subject won't.
The most basic skill and often omitted one is to develop faith in your self as a photographer, its not easy, but will pay dividends in not making you overly reverential towards the camera, but more so towards the conditions in which you want to work.
I'd say, set what ever camera you have to manual right from the word go, because then you are not trapped in the position of accepting what the machine offers you.
A photographer needs courage, lots of it, and camera functions are no more difficult ( I'd say significantly less so) than driving a car, which many people do today.
One afternoon spent toggling the buttons up and down and snapping something repeatedly will show you what that machine can offer.
Tons of online tutorials will show you how to refine it.
Only one person can get you out their doing it, that's where the courage comes in.
Hope this helps,
kindest regards liz.
ps, dare to be different, know the rules but then re define them.
Fogey 5 96 13 United Kingdom
16 Feb 2013 2:17PM
The quickest way to learn from a digital camera is to take the shot on auto, then try to emulate that shot with the same settings on manual. Then alter the manual settings, one stop at a time, first with the aperture and then shutter speed to see just what the differences are and what effects you can get.

Once you are familiar with the camera and its settings, start shooting with aperture priority, using the shutter priority as and when a shot needs it. For those difficult shots use manual and bracket the shots until you get the one that suits.
lemmy 11 2.7k United Kingdom
16 Feb 2013 3:06PM

Quote: a camera on Auto will do what it is programed to do, but your subject won't.

Exactly, so let the camera take care of the technicalities while the photographer watches and directs the subject.

I put my camera on aperture priority, auto ISO with a cap of 400 and focus on auto. That is fully auto operation and I really don't see what I can do that the camera can't. Occasionally I might add or deduct a stop in exposure but in reality I can pull as much as I need out of the RAW file's headroom.

If there is one technical rule I would suggest for any new photographer it is don't touch jpg. Learn how to work with your RAW files from the outset . Make jpgs from them but always, always shoot RAW. If you shoot jpg you really are letting the camera take over and even for auto users like myself that is a step too far.
Jestertheclown 9 7.7k 252 England
16 Feb 2013 3:12PM

Quote:always shoot RAW.


If you don't, you're throwing more than half of your shot away.
Meheecho 5 275 United Kingdom
16 Feb 2013 3:20PM

Quote:always shoot RAW.

If you don't, you're throwing more than half of your shot away.

Still in the embryonic stage of photography could you explain the difference between RAW and Jpeg and why one is better than the other
Jestertheclown 9 7.7k 252 England
16 Feb 2013 4:31PM
Hi Steve,

The raw files that your camera produces are just that; they're raw data. The data that goes to make up your image.
That data's not yet been processed however, which is where programmes like Lightroom, to name just one, come into play. From here on we'd getting into how we carry out that processing, which is really best saved for another thread.
The Jpeg. files that your camera can and/or does produce are raw files that have had some processing carried out by the camera and are, in its opinion, finished and ready to use.
A part of that 'finishing' process involves compressing the files. Crudely put, it makes them quite a lot smaller and to do so, it discards information (raw data) that it considers unnecessary.
If you set your camera to shoot raw and Jpeg at the same time; ie. the same shot gets taken but is saved in both formats, then compare the size of one against the other, you'll see just how much data has been discarded in the making of the Jpeg.

You'll find one or two forum threads on the subject here.

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