Entries in Canon XSi (9)
On a spring Saturday morning I met Meredith with her Canon XSi for a 1-on-1 DSLR Photgraphy Lesson in the downtown St. Petersburg area. Like many of the people that take my lessons, she had had her DSLR for quite some time, but only had been using it on various auto-modes. I taught her my 5-step method for making the transition to shooting in manual mode and that there is a definite methodology one can follow to get a well exposed and sharp shot in any given shooting situation.
Besides how to use the 5-settings necessary for manual shooting, I offer advice and tips on how to manage one's photography gear starting with how to safely change lenses, how to hold a DSLR properly, how many memory cards & batteries to have, etc. I firmly believe many practices of the professional photography must be adopted even if just going out shooting casually for fun on weekends.
Since our second 1-on-1 DSLR Photography Lesson back in February, Rebecca has been pretty active visiting New York and picking up a new 50mm f/1.8 lens. We used that 50mm lens exclusively during our third of four photography lessons in downtown St. Petersburg. In our first two lessons we mostly used her 18-55mm lens on her Canon Xsi. So we began this morning's 50mm lesson discussing what unique settings and subject matter best suite the lens. Where before the largest aperture available to Rebecca was f/5.6, suddenly being able to go all the way to f/1.8 meant that creating bokeh was no longer a problem, however, since the depth of field was so shallow there was no more simple setting the focus and recomposing when making a shot. Instead I instructed Rebecca to frame the shot how she wanted, then move the single focus point upon the part of the shot she wanted to be in focus. Since sometimes the DoF could be as small as a few millimeters, recomposing even slightly after setting the focus could result in an out of focus subject.
We also stayed in manual mode the entire time which allowed me to teach Rebecca how to use her DSLR's meter to set the shutter speed and aperture to produce a well exposed shot. Then I showed her how to manipulate those settings to purposefully produce an overexposed shot when so desired, as in the above shot I made of Rebecca. She was standing in shade and the background was bright sunshine, so I just set the shutter speed to 1/60th to blow out the background but expose the subject (Rebecca). This is a clever way to create a studio-like white background portrait in the middle of a sidewalk.
For our second of four 1-on-1 DSLR Photography Lessons I met Rebecca at the same spot in downtown St. Petersburg where we began by looking at some photographs she had taken since our first lesson with her Canon XSi. Rebecca is following my most recommended path for anyone taking my 4-pack of lessons (or even a single lesson) by first taking a lot of notes during the content heavy first lesson, then shooting a lot between the first and second lessons. This allowed me to see her progress and give very specific help to improve her shots. In fact, we spent the entire second lesson practicing how to get a correct exposure given differing lighting (backlight, side light, etc) with a focus on architecture subject matter.
For this practice I had Rebecca start in Aperture priority mode (A, Nikon; Av, Canon) at f/11 which is recommended for our typical sunny Florida days. Then depending on where the sun is relevant to the subject, we were able to find the limits of A-priority mode. This is how I taught Rebecca to find the limit: 1.) once the shutter speed goes below 1/60th, increase aperture 2.) Once the aperture limit of f/5.6 is hit along with the 1/60th shutter speed limit, then increase ISO
When A-priority mode was choosing a shutter speed too fast even at f/11, then I had her switch to manual mode, staying at f/11 while manually setting a slower shutter speed and tweaking the latter to produce the desired balalnce between for example enough blueness in the sky, but also enough detail in the shadows of buildings.
Using these real world skills for setting up a properly exposed shot, plus the architecture composition tips I passed on to her, I am sure Rebecca will be able to make some great shots when she visits New York City next week.
Thanks to a referral from current DSLR Photography Lesson student, Julie, I met Rebecca in downtown St. Petersburg on a sunny Wednesday morning for our first of four lessons with her Canon XSi. Up until the time of our lesson, Rebecca, like many of my students, was only shooting in one of the auto-modes on her exposure dial. Therefore, the first thing we did was instantly start using aperture priority mode, and even in our first two hours we also went on to use shutter priority mode and even full manual mode!
Not only that, Rebecca had yet to even use her new Canon 55-250mm lens! So I showed her my recommended technique for changes lenses in the field as we went back and forth using the 55-250mm lens and her 18-55mm standard zoom lens.
For someone claiming to "know nothing," Rebecca was very fast to pick up on the basic photography terms and concepts needed to be able to properly make a photograph in typical Florida bright daylight conditions. Perhaps her fast uptake was due to her taken lengthy notes on my four step process for setting up a shot. I highly recommend note taking, though few students actually come with notepad and pen in hand.
As a birthday present for herself, Stephanie booked one of my 1-on-1 DSLR Photography Lessons to learn how to better use her Canon XSi. She has three lenses for her DSLR, but her favorite and most used one is her Canon 18-135mm f/3.6-5.6 due to its wide zoom range. In addition to that she had a standard zoom lens (18-55mm) and her newest lens, a Tamron 70-300mm, which we found to be difficult to hand hold possibly due to its flimsy build quality.
We began the lesson as I do most lessons, going over my 4-step process for getting all settings right for any given shot no matter what the lighting conditions. We concluded the lesson with some natural light portraits where we discovered the difficulties with the Tamron 70-300mm lens. Switching back to her favorite Canon 18-135mm lens using the exact same settings finally yielded acceptable sharpness results and overall image quality.
Stephanie is heading to Colorado on a ski trip and of course bringing her Canon XSi onto the slopes with her. I look forward to seeing some great action skiing shots.