Did Santa bring you a new camera for the new year? If so, I’ve got a few tips that will help you get started with capturing some great images.
1. I know it sounds lame, but open that little book that came with the camera and read at least the first chapter or so. It should be a pretty easy read and will get you familiar with the basic functions. Read with your new camera in front of you and be sure to make note of how to turn the camera on and off, the location of the shutter release, zoom for lens, button or menu setting for ISO and white balance.
By the way, don’t try to learn all of the menu options. If you had a difficult time programming that old VCR, then trying to figure out all the menu items will easily confuse you early on. If you read something and it doesn’t make sense, simply read on and don’t get bogged down in technical details. Shoot for the basics at this point.
2. With the knowledge of being able to turn on the camera, set the camera to any of its programed shooting modes. Sometimes its a green P, or a symbol of some sort. Refer back to the manual if you can’t find it. Once found, I suggest going outside and practice. Go out during the day which should yield enough light for quality images and shoot until you get bored.
Practice capturing subjects that won’t run away or move. Your house, car, flowers, etc. all work well. Try to train your fingers to the locations of commonly used buttons. Be sure to to zoom and and out so you may practice with the lens as well.
Shooting in Program mode will force the camera to do all of the work for you with regards to setting the shutter speed and aperture. With time you can learn how to control these but at first its important to simply get started. Shooting in Program lets you enjoy quality results without all of the knowledge.
3. So you read some, practiced some, now its time to evaluate your results. I suggest downloading your images to a computer of choice. I’m a Mac user but any PC would work just as well. Once downloaded, use the OS or a program such as Adobe Bridge or Apple iPhoto to view the images. Look at each image you captured evaluating the technical quality. Look for sharpness and overall exposure. Try to remember what camera setting was used and make a note or mental note of what worked and what didn’t work.
You can put the camera card back into the camera during this process for some additional details sometimes not easily seen when viewing on a computer. With the media card back in the camera, look for things like focus point (where the camera focused), histogram (technical but helps to evaluate exposure) and any other settings used.
4. Once you have a handful of favorites, I suggest you send them off to be printed. Print 4×6″ at a minimum but if you feel you really have a few good shots, consider printing 8×10 inch prints. In Nacogdoches, any of the local drug stores can print.
With print in hand, compare what you were seeing on the computer. Darker, lighter or spot on? Compare to what you were seeing in the camera display.
5. The last tip is to give your favorite image to a friend, co-worker or family member. Have you heard about the Joy of Photography? Give your favorite image away and you will experience it in both you and the person you gave it to.
I would love to hear about your experiences regarding the new camera and new year.
Greg Patterson, Certified Professional Photographer