Canon 7D

1-on-1 Canon 7D DSLR Photography Lesson in St. Petersburg with Alison

Alison learning how to use her Canon 7D so she can make great photos of her baby during our 1-on-1 photography lesson in downtown St. PetersburgI met Alison on a sunny spring Friday morning in downtown St. Petersburg for a 1-on-1 DSLR Photography Lesson with her Canon 7D.  Exactly one week earlier I met her friend Loni for the same type of photography lesson.  Now that I have spent 2-hours with Alison as well, they can pool their knowledge and help each other continue what I taught them.  

Alison had an 18-135mm lens for her Canon 7D which I suggested she think of as two lenses, an 18-50mm and a 50mm-135mm because when changing from one focal range to the other, the typical subject matter changes, and thus the aperture one would want to use likely would change also.  For 18-50mm I recommended by default starting with f/11 and for 50mm-135mm to default to an aperture of f/5.6.

Alison will be having a baby soon (see photo above!) and wanted to learn how to use her Canon 7D for what I would estimate to be quite a few baby photos!  Years from now having DSLR quality photos of her baby from the time of the baby's birth all through growing up will be of great value.  Digital photography will revolutionize the personal human visual record of every day life.  I often tell my students the story of how I have only one photograph of my first car, a 1979 Ford Mustang, something I loved more than pretty much anything.  For a high school student today, it would be unimaginable to have only one photograph of their favorite thing.  Such is the revolution of digital photography, and the culture of taking photos on a daily basis.

1-on-1 Canon 7D 50mm DSLR Photography Lesson with Julianna in St. Petersburg Florida

Showing Julianna how a 50mm lens is good for shallow DoF portraits with natural light during our 2nd photography lesson in St. Petersburg, FloridaI met Julianna this morning for our second of four 1-on-1 DSLR Photography Lessons in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida.  Our first lesson last week was a general overview of how to use her Canon 7D with 18-55mm lens in manual mode and which settings needed to be changed when.  Today we swapped lenses and used her 50mm f/1.8 lens the whole morning.

I am a big fan of 50mm lenses and how they can "create something out of nothing" because of their great ability to make very shallow DoF shots.  When you can make the entire background become bokeh with ease, you can be very selective in how you portray your subject in frame.  In the above shot Julianna modeled for a demonstration of using natural light and shallow DoF to make a fun portrait right on a plain city sidewalk.  

Julianna also learned to be careful when creating such shallow DoF shots and that framing the shot first and then moving the single focus point on to the subject is safer than the usual set the focus point in the center on your subject, then recompose.  

1-on-1 Canon 7D DSLR Photography Lesson with Julianna in St. Petersburg Florida

Julianna with her Canon 7D absorbing 2-hours of photography knowledge in St. Petersburg FloridaFinally, a cold front has passed through Florida again banishing the humidity allowing for a decent enough Florida winter morning for my first of four 1-on-1 DSLR Photography Lessons with Julianna and her Canon 7D in downtown St. Petersburg.  Thank you to Kristin for referring Julianna to my photography lessons!

Julianna had a good amount of photography instruction in the past, and wanted a refresher on how to shoot in manual mode in particular.  I began the lesson though by showing her around her Canon 7D a bit so she can quickly and easily change the five settings necessary for making a well exposed and sharp shot in any shooting conditions, as well as confirming in the field the results of a shot.  The biggest piece of advice I perhaps gave her is that she should always (basically) use the lowest ISO possible until hitting the limits of aperture and shutter speed for the subject she is trying to make a photo of.  Thus, when shooting on a bright and sunny day like it was during our lesson, there was no reason at all to use anything but ISO 100, the lowest and thus cleanest ISO available on the Canon 7D.

For our next lesson we will focus on making creative and skilled shots with a 50mm lens.

Canon 7D 1-on-1 DSLR Photography Lesson in St. Petersburg Florida with Jess

Jess with her Canon 7D and 24-105mm lens in North Straub Park during our DSLR photography lessonOn an overcast evening in downtown St. Petersburg I met Jess with her Canon 7D for our first 1-on-1 DSLR Photography Lesson.  She has taken group photography lessons before with a local photography organization, so she had pretty good knowledge of basic photography terms and ideas.  It's just that those group classroom classes suffer from one serious flaw - you do not actually get out and shoot with the instructor.  To me it's like taking a piano lesson, but not playing the piano during the lesson!  

So during our 2-hour lesson all out in the field with our cameras on, I helped Jess organize the knowledge she already had while showing her how aperture, shutter speed and ISO relate to each other when shooting in manual mode.  Before the lesson she had mentioned issues with getting in focus shots, so I made sure to switch her 7D from the awful auto-point selection to the very reliable single, center focus point method I use and trust myself, even though my own Nikon D300 has an available 51-point autofocus option.  

We ended with using her Canon 430EX II Speedlite for a brief intro to flash portrait making.  I even showed her how to use her Canon 7D to trigger the speedlite off camera using the built in lighting system with the pop-up flash!  After a very info packed 2-hours Jess now has a lot of new knowledge to use when photographing her baby son!

Canon 7D 1-on-1 DSLR Photography Lesson in St. Petersburg Florida with Amy

Amy with her Canon 7D & 430 EX II Speedlight in front of a famous downtown St. Petersburg banyan treeI met Amy on a rather warm spring St. Petersburg morning for our first 1-on-1 DSLR Photography Lesson.  Amy has been doing paid work with her Canon 7D for sometime, but was looking to learn from our lesson some of the very practical tips and tricks for how to make better photographs that are not found in books, videos or even in a photography classroom.  Since I am a self-taught photographer with years of expeirence I have a lot of real-world photogrpahy practices I can share with my students to not just improve the final results of their photographs, but how to make it easier to produce a good photo before ever pushing the shutter.

Amy had been shooting in "P" mode on her Canon 7D after receiving some bad advice from another photographer.  With her experience and with the subject matter she shoots I told her she should be shooting in manual mode exclusively, which is where we set our exposure dials for the entire lesson.  To further polish her professional way of shooting I turned off the "beep" on her 7D when getting a focus lock which is a most unwelcome sound when photographing in a quiet setting.  Then I showed her my very stable way of shooting by placing the left palm under the lens and shooting from a near sideways feet apart position allowing for both elbows to be against the body for support.

We finished the lesson at one of the two famous banyan trees in North Straub Park.  We started using her Canon 430 EX II Speedlight on the camera as she usually shoots, but then moved to using the Canon 7D's built-in remote flash trigger ability to get the speedlight off camera.  

I look forward to seeing how Amy applies all the things we practiced and discussed today in her future work.  If you live in or near Plant City, Amy's photography website can be found here.

DSLR Photography Lesson with Marcia & her Canon 7D in St. Petersburg Florida

Marcia on a new swing in downtown St. Petersburg with her Canon 7D during our photography lessonI met new DSLR Photography Lesson student Marcia for a rare Saturday morning lesson in downtown St. Petersburg.  She has owned a DSLR for awhile, having previously shot with a Canon 30D before getting the new Canon 7D.  She is even personal friends with Scott Kelby!  Marcia has a bag full of gear:  3 lenses, a tripod, external flash, etc. but for the first lesson we concentrated on the faily standard focal range of 18mm to 200mm which was covered entirely by her Canon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS lens.  

I taught Marcia my 4-settings method of producing the correct exposure for any given type of shot ranging from midday sunny widangle shots to being able to eliminate a distracting background to produce a good looking portrait anywhere.  Despite the strong sunshine, thunder rumbled from somewhere so we concluded the lesson under the safety of the big kapok silk-cotton tree beside the Museum of Fine Arts.  Presumably the museum put up the new swing hanging from one of the tree's large branches which makes for a nice prop for portrait practice.  Only using her external flash for for a few minutes, Marcia realized we could have an entire lesson just on it.  I said that is exactly right, as the first lesson usually covers a broad topic range, with each subsequent lesson focusing on one particular area of photography.

I look forward to seeing Marcia's photos of her poodles and travel related images she likes to make.

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    DSLR Photography Lesson at the New Salvador Dali Museum with Golda

    Golda with her new Canon 7D at the New Salvador Dali Museum in downtown St. PetersburgIt was my first time to have a DSLR Photography Lesson on the grounds of the new Salvador Dali Museum on the St. Petersburg waterfront.  I will definitely be using it again as there are ample architecture photography opportunities along with a very interesting garden to photograph, plus good locations to practice portraits as well.  This was the site of my fourth of four lessons with Golda who will in September be going on a three week mediterranean cruise!!

    I actually visited the Dali Museum to photograph it for promo shots for a hotel recently, but did not get up close like I did today.  The strange design of the "waterfall" of glass looks much better close up I think than it does from afar.  I used it for the background of the above portrait of Golda.  She is standing under a tree that has long green streamers tied to it, upon which people tie their Dali ticket wristbands as well as handwritten messages and notes.  I thought it was a nice interactive touch to have as part of the greater museum exterior.  

    As for what we practiced during the lesson, we started with architecture shots of the building itself, then moved on to making shots with bokeh (using the streamers), transitioned to use an external flash to add fill light for portraits in the shade before ending with composing portraits to take advantage of repeating patterns.  It was a photography packed 2-hours!

    I look forward to seeing Golda's mediterranean photos and especially the promised postcard she said she would send!

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