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06-06-2019, 08:55 AM   #1
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Need help in guiding a beginner

My daughter in law was recently given a Nikon D70s with a Tamron 18-200mm macro (non IS), and wants me to show her how to use it. She seems enthusiastic and serious. I have never been a good teacher. Her only photography experience is using a cell phone and perhaps a film point and shoot. I told her she has a nice setup to learn on and doesn't need anything more for now (especially for the price $0) I did have to clean the sensor and lens. I have printed the manual for her and suggested she doesn't try and read it front to back as it will only confuse her, only use it for now as a reference book to get familiar with the controls. She has taken a few shots with it in auto mode but has no understanding of what's really going in in the camera. I have suggested she use it in program mode for now (so she can have a little control over it), set the capture to jpeg (not even mentioned raw at this point), until she develops a understanding of the exposure triangle. I explained there are 3 parts to photography, The artistry of photography, the technical aspects of using the camera, and post processing, and if she gets good at the first 2, the 3rd will be minimal. I've told her to just go out and shoot lots of pictures and see if she captures what she envisioned, and if not, figure out what's not right and what to adjust. I don't know where to go from here as I have no experience in this area. Am I on the right track here or should I go a different direction in helping her? Any help or suggestions anyone wishes to offer will be greatly appreciated.

06-06-2019, 09:06 AM   #2
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Tell her to watch youtube videos for beginners, they're free. If she wants a book to guide her, get Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson -- that's everything she needs.
06-06-2019, 09:28 AM   #3
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I would urge you to have her look at the articles here at the forums.

several are very useful to any photographer regardless of equipment, here is one example:

Exposure Basics: A Complete Guide for Beginners - Articles and Tips | PentaxForums.com
06-06-2019, 09:36 AM   #4
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Another good book is Joe McNally's Guide to Digital Photography. LIFE Guide to Digital Photography: Everything You Need to Shoot Like the Pros: Joe McNally, Editors of Life: 9781603201278: amazon.com: Books?tag=pentaxforums-20&

If she's interested in learning photography, I suggest avoiding whatever auto scene modes might be built into the camera. Av mode is a good place to start. Let the camera figure out shutter speed and ISO. That works for most static scenes. Action, macro, and night photography need different modes.

06-06-2019, 09:41 AM   #5
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A lot of people around here poop on Tony Northrup because he's got a critical opinion of Pentax. But I really like his YouTube video and book.

Try this:

Or: https://www.amazon.com/dp/0988263408/

That Nikon camera is pretty old, but this may be useful too:
06-06-2019, 10:17 AM   #6
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I know this seems backwards, but these days I think beginners might progress faster if they skip over the exposure basics for the time being and work on composition instead. Teach them about the rule of thirds, leading lines, color composition, foreground/background relationships...that kind of thing. Then, when they get to the point where they want to start fine-tuning things, move over into exposure. And truthfully, I guess you could probably teach post-processing second and leave exposure until last.
06-06-2019, 10:44 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by TaoMaas Quote
I know this seems backwards, but these days I think beginners might progress faster if they skip over the exposure basics for the time being and work on composition instead. Teach them about the rule of thirds, leading lines, color composition, foreground/background relationships...that kind of thing. Then, when they get to the point where they want to start fine-tuning things, move over into exposure. And truthfully, I guess you could probably teach post-processing second and leave exposure until last.
I think that there are important aspects related to exposure that directly go into composition that should be understood. Basically cover depth of field and talk about how aperture affects it and also cover shutter speed and motion blur. As far as getting the right exposure I'm all for letting the camera figure that out until they get the hang of things and want to expand their abilities. Composition wise I like this image that Normhead uses to show the different concepts of composition.

Another important aspect to go over is light and how it affects an image. Have them shoot the same scene when it is cloudy, full mid day sun, golden hour, blue hour, at night no flash, at night with a flash, and during the day with a flash.
06-06-2019, 10:53 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by MossyRocks Quote
I think that there are important aspects related to exposure that directly go into composition that should be understood. Basically cover depth of field and talk about how aperture affects it and also cover shutter speed and motion blur.
That's a good point and I would agree with that. I'm just thinking that most beginners have already been shooting pics with their phones so what they really need to know is how to improve on what they're doing, as well as go beyond the abilities of the phone.

06-06-2019, 11:04 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by TaoMaas Quote
That's a good point and I would agree with that. I'm just thinking that most beginners have already been shooting pics with their phones so what they really need to know is how to improve on what they're doing, as well as go beyond the abilities of the phone.
I'll accept that. The biggest benefit of a DSLR over a cellphone apart from interchangeable lenses is using new capabilities creatively. Hence the depth of field and motion blur aspects that you can control.
06-06-2019, 11:36 AM   #10
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Get her a manual focus 50mm. Mastering that will get her up to speed on depth of field e.a.
06-06-2019, 11:49 AM - 1 Like   #11
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The quickest route might be to trade in the Nikon on a Canon that costs more than $599. According to another thread, they come with a "professional photographer" certificate. Boom...problem solved!
06-06-2019, 12:01 PM   #12
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Lots of great advice already. Your daughter-in-law's personality and goals will ultimately be the key.
First she needs to know there are three areas for her to focus on as mentioned earlier: a) Technical, b) Art (composition, aesthetics, style), c) Post-Processing/printing.

There are pros and cons as to what order to prioritize and I'd recommend she makes that decision.
What is she motivated to do? Improve what she's already talented and enthusiastic about or learn and improve her deficiencies?

In my own classes, I prioritize tech, then post, then art last. Why? Because anyone can learn the tech and the most common question from beginners is "how does this work and why"? For some, however, this approach can kill the joy of photography and it may be best for them to learn the tips and tricks of the elements and principles of art and design.
IF she didn't have a DSLR, then I'd probably start with art/aesthetics as most other camera types are not designed or capable of easy aperture and shutter speed manipulation.

I've given many free hours to teach individuals, but when it's free, they don't seem to embrace the info as much as when they have to pay for instruction. Investing their own time to read a book, web site, or youtube video and being self-taught has it's own pros and cons. Enrolling in a local community college or outreach extension program at a local university can be worthwhile and there are other private entities like the Nikon School which may fit her needs: Photography Classes & Courses | Photography Lessons | Nikon School
06-06-2019, 12:29 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by TaoMaas Quote
I know this seems backwards, but these days I think beginners might progress faster if they skip over the exposure basics for the time being and work on composition instead. Teach them about the rule of thirds, leading lines, color composition, foreground/background relationships...that kind of thing.
This is what I do since the camera does a pretty good job with exposure on its own. I start with focus and set auto everything else. Set the focus point to center spot and teach focus and recompose. Have them shoot a bit, then evaluate the shots with them using a computer or tablet. People learn by doing, by making mistakes and resolving issues.

This leads to conversation about rule of thirds, depth of field and light. From there, move onto things they want to accomplish; macro, shots of their cat, friend playing soccer, whatever. Each gives the opportunity for them to apply what they are learning.

I'm also a fan of scene modes for beginners. It gets them thinking that different types of activities are better with different settings. At some point, they can progress to understanding those changes, but for now, it's enough to be thinking about it while having some success.

Start with what the camera can't do well on it's own; select the subject to focus on, and progress from there.
06-06-2019, 02:10 PM - 1 Like   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by DWS1 Quote
I have never been a good teacher.
Then don't try, DWS, continue being a great father-in-law.

Get her to join a club or take group lessons where she can learn in the presence of other beginners of her age group and background.

This great hobby of ours gives us setbacks and disappointments until we become any good. She'll be less likely to give up when socializing is involved).

Last edited by clackers; 06-06-2019 at 02:16 PM.
06-06-2019, 02:37 PM   #15
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Got a Best Buy nearby?

https://www.bestbuy.com/site/cameras-camcorders/camera-experience-shop/pcmca...aphy-workshops

I have no connection to BB, nor do I have any idea how good their classes are, but might be worth a try for the free 2-hour workshop.
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