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08-02-2010, 03:53 AM   #1
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Beginner DSLR Exercises

Hi guys

I have ordered my K - X twin lens kit and should get it tomorrow at the latest and being new to photography in general haveing just had a point and shoot previously, I just wondered if there are any good exercises to get used to using all the features of the dslr and any creative ideas, composition etc.

I am away on holiday in a couple of weeks so i would like to be competent with the camera by then as i would like to be able to make the most of it whilst i am out there so any pointers would be helpfull

08-02-2010, 04:12 AM   #2
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Hi,

You have 2 choices: use the P mode & scene modes, or: manually influence what happens.
For option 1, you should not care too much.
For option 2, do the following:

I think that before doing any excersizing, you should be well aware of the 4 basic elements of camera controls and what effect they have on your photo (and in the order I mention):
- Exposure: shutterspeed / aperture / ISO value, Ev compensation, AE Lock.
- Focus: aperture & depth of field, AF settings.
- Post processing: colour settings, sharpning, contrast.
- Flash: direct / indirect, fill in, leading or trailing curtain.

Perhaps reading a book, or the Internet is a good place to start.
After that, play with the options and controls to find out the effects on them.

- Bert
08-02-2010, 04:44 AM   #3
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Bert's right, and somewhere you can start is the series featured here:
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/photography-articles/23232-learning-basic...echniques.html
08-02-2010, 04:59 AM   #4
Ira
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QuoteOriginally posted by bymy141 Quote
Hi,


1) Exposure: shutterspeed / aperture / ISO value [[[[[[[Ev compensation, AE Lock--last thing to learn about here]]]]]]]]
2) Focus: aperture & depth of field, AF settings.

I always advise people to first shoot a bunch in P mode (fully automatic), but with it set to manual ISO, not auto ISO. So if you're outside on a sunny day, set it at 200. If it's overcast, 400. I strongly suggest that to start, you do your first shots outside in sunny conditions, (And bring your manual!)

Then, after P mode. go the #1 and #2 quoted above, and again, in manual ISO mode.

1) Select Av mode, aperture property. Select an aperture of say F8. Note the shutter speed the camera has selected for you. (Mind you, as you point the camera to different parts of the same scene, the shutter speed may change, as you are metering various lighter and darker parts of the scene as you move the camera, so be aware of this.)

2) Change your aperture to F5.6. Notice how your shutter speed is now twice as fast? That's because the lens is now letting in twice as much light than at F8, so it's shortening the time the shutter stays open by half. Change it F11. You'll notice how the shutter speed is now twice as LONG as your original exposure at F8, because F11 lets in half as much light as F8.

3) Changing your ISO settings, sensitivity of the sensor to light, will have a similar effect. The higher the number, the more sensitive the sensor is, and you need less light, but quality can suffer when you get real high. So these three elements are ALWAYS related--ISO, Aperture, Shutter Speed.

4) Do this same exercise in Tv mode, Shutter Priority, where you'll now select the shutter speeds of your choice, and the camera will select the appropriate aperture.

5) Note that depending on your selections for both exercises, you may be outside acceptable limits. For example, your ISO may be too low, combined with too small an aperture, with not enough light at dusk. The camera will warn you to change SOMETHING to make an acceptable photo under these conditions. (I forget how the k-x warns you--I think something just keeps flashing in there.)

Anyway, get out there and have some fun when you get it! And remember to update your firmware if necessary.


Last edited by Ira; 08-02-2010 at 02:44 PM.
08-02-2010, 11:07 AM   #5
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Read read read. Visit a (physical) public library and read all their photo books. Then reread them.

Shoot shoot shoot. Shutter-trips costs nothing. Shoot everything from all angles and distances.

Steal steal steal. You like certain images? Copy them. That's how art students learn: copying.

Think think think. Think about subjects and light and shadows and effects and colors and forms.

That should keep you busy for awhile.
08-02-2010, 11:38 AM   #6
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#1 priority: learn about exposure. Do whatever it takes - a combination of reading, taking pictrues in different exposure modes, using exposure compensation in accordance with how it is described in the articles/books you read, and ideally some shoting in M mode using the Green button and also adjusting parameters manually. Check out matrix, center-weighted, and spot metering. Learn how all this works. This right there answers 99% of questions asked here about photographic technique.

#2 - learn about focus. Get a sense of how to use the focus points on your camera, how to focus recompose using the center point, how large the focus sensor is, what DOF is and how aperture affects it, how to focus manually.

At that point, you can reasonably say you know how to work the camera, and can get on with the business of learning anything else. Not that you need to wait, though - be learning about exposure and focus *while* shooting actual subjects. Just do it in situations where you won't mind making mistakes.
08-02-2010, 11:52 AM   #7
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Read read read

The most important thing is to unwrap it, take a few test shots and then dive head first into the manual.

Google anything you don't understand, it will lead to more googling and then more googling as you will learn something new on every page and will be further confused with every page. After you have a reasonable understanding of the concept you were confused about pick back up in the manual where you left off

After you've finished the manual you probably won't know how to take pictures yourself, but you'll know how to work your camera and will be able to start using it as a point and shoot more or less in Program mode

So know you know how to control your cameras functions.....

As for learning, one of the best books I've read is DSLR's for dummies, it goes in depth on the inner workings of a DSLR, what every function does, how it affects pictures and a bunch of other good stuff

So know you know how to control your cameras functions....and now you know what precisely those functions do...

Lastly, you can read a book on photography like this series: Amazon.com: Scott Kelby's Digital Photography Boxed Set, Volumes 1, 2, and 3 (9780321678737): Scott Kelby: Books

I learned sooooo much from those books, so much so that I was devastated that I didn't read them earlier, I could have made so many shots better, after reading that it didn't seem like any of my previous pictures were even worth keeping because I had learned so many new ways to make my pictures better

At the end of all this reading, you should know how to control your cameras functions, what those functions do, and then how to apply those function to different pictures

You should be well on your way
08-03-2010, 01:31 AM   #8
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Excellent thanks for the tips guys, as it so happens i have managed to get hold of a copy of a couple of books so have been reading up as much as i can so i now think i have a fairly good understanding of how things work and how each setting affects each other.

So now i guess my main priority now is experimenting on putting it into practice, i do like the tip of looking up pictures and then just copying them as that will definately give me a few ideas

Thanks guys

08-04-2010, 10:30 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Grazy81 Quote
Excellent thanks for the tips guys, as it so happens i have managed to get hold of a copy of a couple of books so have been reading up as much as i can so i now think i have a fairly good understanding of how things work and how each setting affects each other.

So now i guess my main priority now is experimenting on putting it into practice, i do like the tip of looking up pictures and then just copying them as that will definately give me a few ideas

Thanks guys
Speaking of books, my public library has copies of Bryan Peterson's Understanding Exposure and Scott Kelby's two volume The Digital Photography Book (Edit: Reading earlier in the thread, future_retro indicates that the Scott Kelby set has a 3rd volume), and I checked out both before buying them (long before I made my decision on what DSLR to get). They are full of tips on how to get those great shots.

I'm in the same boat (got my first DSLR a week ago, a K-x), been shooting a P&S for almost 7 years, has manual controls but I never used them. I don't have a 2 week time frame to get some chops like the OP, but I also want to get really deep into the DSLR system, so am subscribed to this. A lot of great posts here!

Last edited by Muse; 08-04-2010 at 10:39 AM.
08-05-2010, 03:55 PM   #10
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Practice, too. I went over the manual when my K-X arrived. Next day, I went out and took about 20 shots of the same tree using different settings to check out what was what. A day or so later, I wanted to see about stopping motion, so I took a bunch of shots of the ceiling fan on the back porch to see how that worked. Then, took some shots of the sprinkler while it was watering my flower bed. One day I played with the digital filters. The manual was never far away from me. I have also written things down in the manual that I really want to remember. I remember better when I write it down. Whatever you do-have fun with it. I sure am. I love the K-X.
08-09-2010, 06:07 AM   #11
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I'm in the same boat, as I think I previously said. One thing I found out right away was this:

I was out with family at a restaurant and I figured the ambient light was adequate and didn't want to take with flash. Yes, a DSLR newbie and new to my K-x. I put it on Auto Pict, hoping it would deal with everything OK, but the flash kept popping up. The manual indicates that you can put the selection dial on the crossed out crooked down arrow icon (instead of Auto Pict) and the flash won't activate but everything else will still be effectively Auto Pict. If I had known that before that evening, those shots would have come out better. I figure the pop up flash is something to be avoided whenever possible. The ability to do that was one big reason for my getting the K-x, with it's superior high ISO capabilities.

Last edited by Muse; 08-09-2010 at 06:12 AM.
08-09-2010, 07:39 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Muse Quote
I'm in the same boat, as I think I previously said. One thing I found out right away was this:

I was out with family at a restaurant and I figured the ambient light was adequate and didn't want to take with flash. Yes, a DSLR newbie and new to my K-x. I put it on Auto Pict, hoping it would deal with everything OK, but the flash kept popping up. The manual indicates that you can put the selection dial on the crossed out crooked down arrow icon (instead of Auto Pict) and the flash won't activate but everything else will still be effectively Auto Pict. If I had known that before that evening, those shots would have come out better. I figure the pop up flash is something to be avoided whenever possible. The ability to do that was one big reason for my getting the K-x, with it's superior high ISO capabilities.
I never use those modes, but I never knew that. It's exactly the same as Auto Pict but the flash won't fire?
08-09-2010, 08:09 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ira Quote
I never use those modes, but I never knew that. It's exactly the same as Auto Pict but the flash won't fire?
Page 84 of the manual:

Flash off. Flash is deactivated, other settings are the same as standard in Auto Pict.
08-09-2010, 01:05 PM   #14
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Only issue with that mode is the camera will more often than not choose night-scene with a very slow shutter speed. If you want a hassle free mode for low light shots, switch the flash mode to manual (down on directional button, choose 2nd option from the left) and use the speed mode (little running guy) on the dial.
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