I’ve been after an SLR Camera for ages. I knew a few people who had one, but they cost crazy money. Then SLR became affordable. Tech that five years ago was prosumer all of a sudden was entry level. So for Christmas I finally got my SLR. An entry level Nikon D3200 (with cashback). Good job they come with auto mode. As much as I like the photos I took, I really wanted to know what the heck all those notches on the dial meant. M A S P. I tried using them but the photos I took were rubbish. I tried Google, but I don’t learn by reading something then trying to do it. There was only one thing for it – a beginner’s photography course.
Living close to Manchester means that there’s a lot of learning opportunities out there, but I opted for Manchester Photographic. It’s only a day long, but it was definitely worth it just to put into practise what I had learned.
First off, we covered A – Aperture Priority.
Aperture relates to the amount of light the lens lets in (much like your iris). In this mode I decide the size of the aperture or f. the camera decides the shutter speed and ISO settings. Aperture is good for blurring backgrounds to really highlight your subject. To do the blurred background you choose a larger aperture size (this is where it gets confusing), which is a smaller number. If you want to take a picture where you have the background in focus too, use a smaller aperture size (like when you squint to see something in the distance) – this is a higher number.
Hopefully the table below will clarify this for you. These are the examples of the most common applications of the aperture that the tutor provided.
|f.||Example of Use|
|1.4||Good for showing details in portraits|
|2||Object in focus, background blurred|
|16||Great detail within a landscape shot|
f. 1.4 – f.4 – are a shallow depth of field
f.8 – f. 22 – great depth of field
Next we looked at S shutter speed priority. That is the time it takes the camera to build the photograph, or, the amount of time the camera’s shutter is open. Shutter speed is good for taking arty shots with blur (think iconic pictures of New York taxis, a yellow blur). If you are using Shutter priority, your camera will select the Aperture for you based on some maths calculations I cannot get my head around!
|f.||Shutter Speed (seconds)||Example of Use|
|2||1/1000||Good for showing water droplets|
|8||1/60||Use a tripod!Low light situations eg candles on a cake|
|22||1/8||Milky effect of water|
If you really want to play with shutter speed, wait until dusk, set your shutter speed to 4 seconds, put your camera on a tripod and take a photograph of someone walking slowly across the field of vision. They will be in the photo 3 times! This shutter speed is also good for light lines on cars, but I can’t stress enough how important it is to use a tripod in these low light situations.
We covered ISO next. This is accessed via the menu rather than the dial on my camera.
ISO relates to light. The brighter the situation, the lower the ISO.
My camera’s pretty good, in that should I feel the need to play with ISO, it tells me what setting to use in which situation.
But, here it is in table format.
100 Lets light in slowly – shows high detail.
400 Good for Manchester’s rainy weather!
3200 Lets light in fast – but shows grainy detail. Good for low light situations.
A situation where you could utilise the ISO is when you’re using a slow shutter speed. It’s also good when you’re not able to use a flash. A high ISO will bring light in but the quality of the pictures lower. This is way too much for me to be thinking about so I set the ISO to auto.
After the course I got a little lens happy. I went on eBay and bought a second hand 70-300mm lens. Unfortunately in my excitement at seeing such a lens for £60 I didn’t realise that it wasn’t AF-S. This means that the lens doesn’t have a motor to auto focus. It’s all manual. This is OK sometimes, but I find that I think it’s in focus and then when I see it on my screen, it’s not. But it’s still a cracking lens that takes stunning photos when I’m in focus!
The tutor on the course was a Canon fan. She mentioned that when she first started, then lens that she used most was a 50mm fixed lens (also known as the nifty fifty). Great for portraits and landscapes. She showed us some of her work. It’s amazing the variety of shots a lens can take in the right hands! Bearing in mind the D3200 comes with a DX format lens as standard, I will always be a few mm out. Therefore, when Nikon did their latest cashback, I bought the 35mm prime lens. I’m really glad I did. It does that whole portrait / blurred background thing so well. My 9 year old daughter even remarked “You do like that lens, don’t you!” as I took yet another picture of her eating ice cream! And this time I made sure I got the AF-S version!