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09-25-2011, 04:49 PM   #16
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Probably more information than you wanted so far but I'll add mine.

1) Read the manual
2) Sit down with the camera and learn the controls, manual by your side. Change something, take a picture , see what it did.
3) Buy a book. I suggest: Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson.
4) Realize that there is a life long learning curve. You will get better but I do not think you ever learn it all
5) Take pictures everyday. This is not a point & shoot, you are driving and you need to practice.
6) Consider what you are going to do with those pictures. (My sons girl friend had several years worth of photos still on the camera and ran out space, she had no idea what to do next) Read up on D.A.M. or digital asset management, if you want those photos around years from now they need to be properly cataloged, keyworded and archived or you will never find them.
7) Avoid buying new lenses as long as possible. The Pentax kit lens is well regarded and it will cost you $700 plus to do much better. Also, buying lenses is known to cause LBA syndrome. Lens Buying Addiction is very expensive!

This forum will provide more information than you can possibly absorb, read the posts in the beginners forum and ask questions. Ultimately what you create with your camera is no different than what you would create with canvas, paint and brushes. The camera is a tool you need to understand and be able to use like it is an attachment to your own hand, but it is only a tool. The creativity and attention to detail must come from you.

09-25-2011, 06:19 PM   #17
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When I first got my K-X, I read the manual, then I read it again and highlighted things I knew I would want to know instantly. I don't know about the manual for your camera, but the K-X manual has spots in it for notes. I made notes there. Then, I started to practice. I wanted to know about stopping motion, so I took a ton of shots practicing that-manual within reach. Then, I moved on to what I wanted to know next-a ton of shots of that, manual within reach. Practicing is the best thing in the world to do. If you get lousy shots, that's what the delete button is for. Good luck and welcome to the forum.
11-23-2011, 08:18 AM   #18
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So I have taken hundreds of photos since I got my camera. Tomorrow I have to take a group photo of family members and I am still not sure how to get a great one. I havent purchased any equipment at all. All I have is my 18-55mm lens that came with the camera. Also, I have only been using the Auto mode. Can I get some suggestions on how to take a decent group photo with what I have?
11-23-2011, 08:36 AM   #19
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QuoteOriginally posted by Waheena Quote
So I have taken hundreds of photos since I got my camera. Tomorrow I have to take a group photo of family members and I am still not sure how to get a great one. I havent purchased any equipment at all. All I have is my 18-55mm lens that came with the camera. Also, I have only been using the Auto mode. Can I get some suggestions on how to take a decent group photo with what I have?
Either go outside or shoot somewhere with lots of light in front of your group, not behind. Use f/8. Take several of every group or pose so that you have back-ups for closed eyes, weird looks, etc.. Use flash to fill if you need it, but if you rely too much on your built-in flash you will have flat, washed-out photos. Making it fun for everyone will also lead to better photos.

11-23-2011, 08:43 AM   #20
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QuoteOriginally posted by DogLover Quote
Either go outside or shoot somewhere with lots of light in front of your group, not behind. Use f/8. Take several of every group or pose so that you have back-ups for closed eyes, weird looks, etc.. Use flash to fill if you need it, but if you rely too much on your built-in flash you will have flat, washed-out photos. Making it fun for everyone will also lead to better photos.
Agree with this - BUT, the only issue is eye squinting if the sun is bright (and obviously to the back of you but facing the group). Does anyone you know have a hotshoe flash you can use/borrow? If it's sunny tomorrow you may be in trouble, if it's overcast, you should fair well, an overcast sky may help diffuse the light and soften shadows (the overall scene may suffer a little with it being overcast but it is better than your subjects being shadowed or showing shadows everywhere)...
11-23-2011, 09:04 AM   #21
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I would love to be able to go outside, but it is possible that the weather will not permit. I do not have access to any other flash. I will most likely be taking the photo inside. If I situated the group in front of a large window, with the light behind me, do you think that would be enough light? Should I keep it on Auto mode and use f/8? I will, of course, experiment a bit, but I really need to have a place to start.
11-23-2011, 09:36 AM   #22
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QuoteOriginally posted by Waheena Quote
I would love to be able to go outside, but it is possible that the weather will not permit. I do not have access to any other flash. I will most likely be taking the photo inside. If I situated the group in front of a large window, with the light behind me, do you think that would be enough light? Should I keep it on Auto mode and use f/8? I will, of course, experiment a bit, but I really need to have a place to start.
No way to know without actually being there. Just do the best that you can and be aware that having enough light (if you're indoors) will absolutely be the biggest challenge you face.

Does auto mode even allow you to choose the aperture? I would use Av mode. The camera will set everything for you except aperture. If you're not getting enough light, you can try backing down (numerically) the f-stop to get progressively more exposure. Just make sure that you are still getting everyone in focus. If you back down too much, that will become an issue.
11-23-2011, 10:23 AM   #23
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QuoteOriginally posted by Waheena Quote
So I have taken hundreds of photos since I got my camera. Tomorrow I have to take a group photo of family members and I am still not sure how to get a great one. I havent purchased any equipment at all. All I have is my 18-55mm lens that came with the camera. Also, I have only been using the Auto mode. Can I get some suggestions on how to take a decent group photo with what I have?
Any DSLR in auto-mode is essentially a point-and-shoot, albeit on steroids. For simply walking around and casually snapping pictures, I think you may be ok in auto-mode. However, for large group shots, depending on the available light and where the camera is metering, Auto-Mode will either pop the internal flash up or use a slow shutter speed, wide aperture and high ISO. If you don’t have a steady hand, you may end up getting blurred pictures with slow shutter speed. As with most large group shots you may need to use the wide end of your lens (18mm). Using the built-in flash at this focal length, you will get a lens shadow on the bottom of the picture.

If you’re shooting large group indoor…say, a Thanksgiving party, I would switch from Auto-Mode to AV mode. Then as DogLover mentioned, set the aperture at F8, then set the ISO in auto and adjust the range between 100-1600. The lower the ISO the better but the K-r is actually capable up to ISO 3200 (or higher) but I found 1600 max is adequate for me. Use a tripod and shoot with two-second timer for mirror lockup. What will this do? My experience with the 18-55mm kit is it excels between f8-f11. It tends to get soft at wider apertures (f3.5-f4, which auto-mode will most likely choose for indoor ambient light shots). A tripod and two-second timer for mirror lockup is essential for low shutter speeds and will effectively eliminate blurry shots so long as the ground is steady. If you must use the pop-up flash, zoom in at 24-35mm to eliminate lens shadow. You can always move the camera farther to get your desired frame.

If your “shooting spree” is tomorrow, I would get a tripod today. Best Buy should have something decent on Black-Friday sale! Practice indoor and see what works and what doesn’t. Hope this helps!

BTW; if you’re shooting jpeg only make sure you have your camera set at “best” (three stars). Or you can shoot RAW+ to get jpeg and RAW files for future processing…you will need at least 8-GB of SDHC memory, though.

12-07-2011, 11:57 AM   #24
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Well, I took all of my photos on Thanksgiving. Some of them were horrible and some of them turned out pretty good. I did a lot of practicing using a lot of the advice that all of you gave me. Most of the shots I took that I felt turned out decent, were the ones that I took in a screened-in porch. Seemed like I didnt have enough light indoors and at times, too much outdoors. My group shots did not turn out very well. I had two choices: I could position everyone either up on a hill, or down on the hill. Very awkward positioning. So I didnt have enough experience to figure out where to position everyone. I learned a lot. Practice is priceless. Thank you all for all of your advice. I am sure I will need it again!
12-07-2011, 12:31 PM   #25
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That's what the forum is for!
12-07-2011, 05:55 PM   #26
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Lot of good advice here. One more thing with the manual, is that you can download the manual from Pentax and then you have a searchable menu online. I find that very helpful. A tripod and remote is also helpful for group shots. Be careful buying tripods though, most of the cheap ones are not strong enough to hold the camera still. Of course you can also use a beanbag to set a camera just about anywhere.

Sorry about your bad Thanksgiving shots, but that happens from time to time. But that's part of the fun to overcome those challenges. I went on an outing that I knew would be challenging last weekend, and really failed, but it was still fun and I learned from it.

Faster lens can help where there is not enough light, but then you have to be careful with the narrow depth of field you may have for a group shot. If you are not shooting raw I would recommend it. Raw captures a lot more data than a jpg, and allows you to possibly save some of those under or overexposed shots.

As everyone says, practice, practice, and more practice, and have fun!
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