This morning's DSLR Photography Lesson was a first, in that it was not actually a DSLR lesson. Visiting from Pennsylvania I made an exception for Dayna who has a Canon PowerShot SX130 IS point & shoot camera. It actually had more manual controls than I thought. The reason I do not offer photography lessons for P&S cameras is that they do not have enough (or any) manual controls, but most of all they are all so different it is impossible for me to know how to change settings on them in any kind of timely manner. In contrast, I am familiar with all Nikon & Canon DSLR models, and also several Pentax and Sony DSLRs too.
For anyone that thinks a photography lesson can begin with teaching composition or photography theory, when the student does not already know about aperture, ISO, WB and focus modes, well that cannot be done, or at least the student will get nothing out of it because they will still be hungup on what aperture they should be using, etc, not if they used the rule of thirds properly.
This was reinforced today with Dayna's lesson. I thought I would just be teaching her how I look for and make shots, as we discussed via e-mail before, but I could not do that without first teaching her how to properly use aperture, ISO, WB and focus modes. I firmly believe any potential photographer must first learn how to make a properly exposed, sharp image before even thinking about trying to produce the next National Geographic cover.
So in this way Dayna and I largely had a typical lesson. I taught her my settings progression (see above) and which settings to use in a variety of situations. I also showed her the limits of her camera, so she knows if her hometown newspaper asks her to go photograph sports or any other type of moving subject, the camera they have supplied her with is not capable of it (due to 1 frame per second or slower drive speed). More importantly, I helped her learn what her camera is capable of doing when used in manual mode, especially regarding getting that all important correct exposure. The P&S's Av mode (aperture priority) was not good at all. However, when we took over choosing the shutter speed it could produce solid images.
I hope Dayna enjoys the rest of her Florida visit and goes back and impresses her editors with her new photography knowledge!