Nikon D300s

Nikon D300s 1-on-1 DSLR Photography Lesson St. Petersburg Florida with Lisa

Lisa with her new Nikon D300s and Nikkor 70-300mm lens during our first photography lesson in St. Petersburg FloridaMy first 1-on-1 DSLR Photography Lesson of the fall was this morning with Lisa and her newly acquired Nikon D300s.  The leaves may not be changing color or anything like that in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida, but things were definitely not as hot and a bit less humid, which is what early fall amounts to here!  Like a majority of my photography students, Lisa had only experience with small or point and shoot digital cameras so I started basically from the very beginning introducing her to the DSLR world.  It may seem like a big leap going from a point and shoot to a pro level DSLR like the Nikon D300s, but in another way it is a great simplifying of photography as each shot becomes about five tangible settings, not like on a point and shoot choosing the right scene mode or trusting auto mode to make what you want.

In that way, within minutes I had Lisa using her D300s in full manual mode switching between photographing still and moving subjects, changes lenses and learning how to read the histogram as a way of confirming exposure in the field.  It is easier to do this in fact with a more advanced camera like the D300s because every setting has its own dedicated button, no need to ever venture into menus.  

This was our first of four photography lessons, with the second already booked for next Monday.  I look forward to helping Lisa continue to build her DSLR photography skills!

Nikon D300s DSLR Photography Lesson St. Petersburg Florida with Ron

Ron with his Nikon D300s & Nikkor 28-300mm VR lens under a banyan tree in downtown St. PetersburgOn the first somewhat chilly morning of the year I met new DSLR Photography Lesson student Ron at my usual spot in downtown St. Petersburg.  Ron has two Nikons, the D300s and the D90, as well as a bag full of all Nikkor lenses (what Nikon brands its lenses).  He shot with film cameras before and knew what photography terms like aperture, ISO, bracketing, etc meant, so in our lesson I showed him how to apply and use them in the DSLR world.

Ron had been shooting in aperture priority mode which is fine.  However, he never changed his aperture so I can only guess all his shots were at the largest aperture for whichever lens he was using at the time.  I started the lesson with giving him an in-depth tour of the menus and buttons on his D300s since I am extremely familiar with it from shooting with a D300 for years.  

Throughout the lesson I got to learn about what an interesting life Ron has lived.  He currently runs a super successful home pet sitting & walking business that he said has him (and his wife) working every day of the week!  If you need a pet sitter contact me and I will pass your info on to Ron.

We concluded the lesson with a photo critique of all the dog photos Ron takes of his pet sitting clients as well as his other photography interests.  I was impressed with his mural and graffiti photo collection focusing on the central St. Petersburg area.  I look forwad to seeing Ron again soon for our next lesson.  

DSLR Photography Lesson #2 with John & his wife in Oldsmar

John & Lisa photographing the lake behind their home in Oldsmar during our DSLR Photography LessonJohn has been very prolific in adding to his already substantial photography gear list since our last DSLR Photography Lesson at John's Pass village just two weeks ago.  For our second lesson, but first for his wife Lisa joining us, I ventured out to their home in Oldsmar by special request.  I knew they lived on a lake, but I did not know they had five dogs!  This was a pleasant surprise.

John already had a Nikon D300s and the awesome Nikkor AF-S 105mm VR micro f/2.8G lens, to that he added another D300s for Lisa and the Nikkor AF-S 17-55mm f/2.8G wide angle lens!  On top of that he has boosted his software for editing digital photographs as well with the both Lightroom for his PC and Aperture 3 for Lisa's Mac!

One of their four Yorkshire Terriers and one of their five dogs total! They were very friendly.We started out wide shooting landscapes by the lake where I showed them how you can spice up an oft photographed scene by getting really low to the ground.  John was not afraid to get dirty at all and lied down right on his stomach (recommended).  To Lisa I suggested tilting the horizontal axis to add a dimension of interest.

After a quick retreat from the sun we were back outside to photograph a different subject matter entirely, dogs!  After setting up their D300s's with the best manual settings for the harsh afternoon sunlight I led the dogs on several romps around their backyard as John and Lisa shot away from as close to eye level as they could get to their small dogs.  It did not take long for them to realize that the percentage of in focus shots when photographing running dogs is not high at all.  It is definitely a type of photography that takes practice, the right gear, and then more practice!

We ended up back inside starting to edit some of the photos they took in Lightroom and Aperture.  I showed Lisa the PDF of shortcuts I made specifically for Aperture 3 that will help her get efficient when using the app.

It was a very different type of lesson for me on a number of accounts and also a lot of fun.  Thanks to John and Lisa for their generous support of my lessons. 

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  • DSLR Photography Lesson with John & his Nikon D300s

    John very focused on getting a shot with his Nikon D300s in John's Pass VillageIt seems lately my DSLR photography students are coming in even more enthusiastic, more eager to learn than ever before.  New student John and his Nikon D300s is yet another such example.  Even though John has quite a significant photography background in the past, if one does not keep up on it, like with many other things, skills can be forgotten, or at least buried under other memories.  So during our first lesson I helped John dig up some of that old photography knowledge and added a lot of new DSLR specific info for him to put into his memory banks as well.

    John (his website) is a very interesting person of some notoriety in the permanent makeup world, though I cannot say I had even heard of that term before I met him.  

    Due to the St. Pete Grand Prix going on last weekend, we did not meet at my preferred first lesson local, downtown St. Petersburg, instead meeting at John's Pass Village.  After setting up his Nikon D300s with all the customizations I have done to my own Nikon D300, we used the mix of waterfront, beach and gift shop environments to go through all the normal settings one needs to change on a given day of photography in the bright Florida sunshine.

    John has the same awesome Nikkor AF-S 105mm f/2.8G VR micro lens that I do, which is what we ended the lesson practicing with.  That macro lens has very unique DoF properties, outstanding sharpness and the best looking bokeh around.  John is excited about having more and more lessons, and I am as well, especially using the 105mm lens. 

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  • Digital Photograph Editing Lesson with Eric

    A New England wetlands scene edited using Aperture 3 - photo by Eric used with permissionFor Eric's second DSLR photography lesson (first), he brought some photos of his recent visit to various New England areas with him on his laptop.  We found a spot at an outdoor downtown St. Petersburg cafe and starting going through his shots made using his Nikon D300s.  The one featured above was taken when Eric hopped off his bike (bicycle) because he wanted to remember the beautiful scenery he was riding through.  Upon first look at the shot, I liked the sine wave shape of the treeline, but thought the foreground was dominating the image too much and not the best feature to focus one's eye on.

    So we began by making the panoramic crop you see above, that eliminated many of the distracting foreground elements, and also made a shot that was not taken at a wide angle appear to be of a much wider landscape.  Adjusting various filters added some contrast and tones to the marsh grass.  Painting with the polarizing brush in Aperture 3 brought back some blue to the sky.  

    This is another example of why I highly suggest that one learn how to shoot well and how to edit well simultaneously.  Eric cannot easily return to that marshland to frame the shot in a different way, but with editing skills he can improve a shot and make it look more like what he initially envisioned.

    For more on learning editing and shooting simultaneously check out this blog post featuring my own photo example.

    I look forward to seeing how Eric puts these editing skills to use in future shots. 

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  • DSLR Street Photography & Macro Lesson with Eric

    Eric aims his Nikon D300s at some flowers during the macro portion of our DSLR photography lesson in St Petersburg

    On a warm Saturday early afternoon, referral DSLR photography student (thank you Libby!) Eric and I visited St. Petersburg's downtown Saturday Market to practice some street photography.  The market certainly did not disappoint as there were plenty of interesting people, including an extremely talented hula hoop dancer.  

    Eric recently upgraded to the Nikon D300s and had other pro gear like the fantastic Nikkor AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8G lens, arguable the sharpest zoom lens Nikon makes.  He knew his way around all his gear well, but wanted to see what more he could do and get from his gear, as well as to see what practices I could pass on to him.  One of the first was to make sure you always place the palm of your left hand under your lens, in order to hold your kit in the most stable position.  

    I shared some of my street photography strategies, which Eric quickly put into action.  We finished the lesson by trying DSLR macro photography without a dedicated macro lens.  I have Nikkon's flagship macro lens, the 105mm VR f/2.8G micro, but that stayed in my bag as I showed Eric what his Nikkor AF 50mm f/1.4D lens was capable of.  A while back in Japan I produced one of my favorite flower shots with my 50mm f/1.8D len.  There were, unfortunately, no cosmos hills around, but we worked on an out of the way patch of flowers in a small park.  After dialing in the best settings on his D300s and 50mm lens, I showed him the even better results we could get using off camera flash.

    I had a very good time during our lesson and it was a fun coincidence to find out we both have ties to Rhode Island and an appreciation for quality automobiles.