Nikon D40

Nikon D40 1-on-1 DSLR Photography Lesson with Jennifer in St. Petersburg Florida

Jennifer with her Nikon D40 in North Straub Park during our 1-on-1 DSLR Photography Lesson in St. Petersburg Florida

Jennifer received a 1-on-1 DSLR Photography Lesson as a gift from her husband upon getting a Nikon D40 DSLR.  I can think of no better gift to give a new DSLR owner than a 2-hour lesson that will jump start her/his practical photography knowledge!  That is just what I started teaching Jennifer, how to go about in a very practical manner making a well exposed and sharp photograph with her DSLR.  It is not that difficult of a process to learn, but it is one that needs to be learned as you cannot just simply pick up a DSLR and use it in auto-mode.  Well you can, but there is not much point in that as a DSLR likes to be told what to do, i.e. used in manual exposure mode. 

Jennifer, like many people that take their first photography lesson with me, claimed to know "nothing" when we met in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida for our photography lesson.  Of course that was not entirely true as she knew what shutter speed was to a degree, and aperture too, plus other things.  What most people do not know is the very exact five steps you can take for getting a good shot with a DSLR every single time.  Once you know those five things, you can then really focus on the creative aspects of photography and not think about the tech stuff so much.  

For supposedly not knowing anything, Jennifer caught on well to the five step process for shooting in manual exposure mode and I am confident she will be able to use it on her own after just a single 2-hour lesson.  

1-on-1 Nikon D40 DSLR Photography Lesson with Rhea in St. Petersburg Florida

Rhea still able to smile even during our second info packed 1-on-1 DSLR photography lesson in downtown St. Petersburg FloridaIt was already very warm at 9:30am when I met Rhea for our second 1-on-1 DSLR Photography Lesson in downtown St. Petersburg Florida.  She brought her notebook this time as we reviewed what I taught her during our first lesson a few weeks ago.  After that refresh we started wondering around Beach Drive NE where I instructed her on having to be aware of the position of the sun when shooting during the daytime in Florida.  This means of course your back to the sun, or your shadow pointing at your subject.  This will help get the best exposure results.

We finished the lesson with some practice making portraits in full shade, rather than out in direct sunlight.  This may seem against logic, but in the harsh midday sun significant shadows form under the subject's eyes and neck.  Shooting in shade allows a diffused look to the light on the subject with no strong shadows.  Of course all this can be avoided by just shooting in good light, but that is not always possible.

Nikon D40 1-on-1 DSLR Photography Lesson with Diana in St. Petersburg Florida

Diana with her Nikon D40 in North Straub Park during our 1-on-1 photography lesson in St. Petersburg FloridaOn a beautiful, sunny St. Petersburg morning I met Diana for a 1-on-1 DSLR Photography Lesson with her Nikon D40.  She has had the DSLR for four years and before that film SLR cameras for many more years, but she had been only using the D40 in auto-mode.  My lessons are specifically for getting getting people off auto-mode (the horror!) and taking control over their camera shooting in manual mode.  A DSLR wants to be told what to do, and personally I would rather using a simple point-and-shoot camera in auto-mode than a DSLR.  

I began by teaching Diana my 5-step process for getting a well exposed and sharp shot in any lighting conditions and filling in her existing photography knowledge about aperture & shutter speed, etc.  We practiced how to control depth of field and how to photograph moving subjects beore finishing with a little shade vs. direct sunlight portrait shots.  With continued practice and keeping in mind what we covered during our 2-hour lesson this morning, Diana will be able to stay off auto-mode and produce more consistent results in manual mode.

Nikon D40 1-on-1 DSLR Photography Lesson with Kelly in St. Petersburg Florida

Kelly contacted me with a time sensitive need for a 1-on-1 DSLR Photography Lesson so she could use the knowledge for an upcoming shoot.  She has been doing portrait sessions and weddings and wanted help to organize the knowledge she had and get know-how for making consistently sharper images in particular.  Most photographers have no system for setting up a shot, which I think is critically important.  I change my settings in the same progression for each and every shot, every time.  This way I do not miss anything and if a photographer does not have that much experience, it limits the "panic feeling" of hurriedly trying to get a shot that was very different from the one you just took (i.e. indoors to outdoors).  

Just going through the deeper settings on Kelly's Nikon D40 I was able to improve her final image results by 20% even if she instantly forget everything I would soon teach her during our 2-hour lesson.  However, I am not worried about her remembering what we practiced because she took extensive and detailed notes throughout the entire lesson, which I highly recommend.

I am looking forward to seeing Kelly's future portrait and wedding work!

DSLR Photography Lesson with Kathy & her Nikon D40

Camera was not harmed for this shot - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 @ f/11 ISO 200 1/200th Strobist: Nikon SB-800 Speedlight handheld commander mode

We had to reschedule Kathy's first DSLR Photography Lesson once already this week due to rain, and as thunder rolled at 5pm, I was worried we would have to postpone it until next week, but the weather could not have been better.  Kathy has owned her Nikon D40 for a couple of years, but relied on auto mode and at times her Panasonic point & shoot camera.  She took photography lessons at various places, but never like the one-on-one lessons that I exclusively offer.

As always, I got Kathy off auto mode immediately and onto aperture priority mode.  When shooting out in daylight, once the proper settings are dialed in, there really is not much to change or adjust on the camera as long as one is continuing to photograph the same general type of subject.  For her kit Nikkor 18-55mm lens, I told her the only apertures you need to worry about now are just:  f/5.6 f/8 and f/11.  This can help to take some of the mystery of aperture out of the equation.  

Then we ended with making some fun flash portraits at Vinoy Park with The Pier in the background.  All the while we talked about many other photography topics, but also sports cars, Japanese culture and Spanish culture.  It was a fun lesson for me and I look forward to our next lesson when Kathy returns from various business trips. 

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  • DSLR Photography Lesson with Indre in downtown St. Petersburg

    One thing most students need to be reminded of is to shoot in portrait orientation too!

    Evening DSLR Photography Lessons are becoming more common as Florida's temperatures increase.  Thus I met Indre in downtown St. Petersburg at 6pm for our first lesson together.  She has owned a Nikon D40 for about six months, but had mostly been shooting in the pre-set modes, something one definitely does not want to do with a DSLR camera!  They are very poor in those auto settings.  After our two hour lesson finished, Indre had the knowledge to shoot in aperture priority mode in a number of different situations and if she is brave enough will not have to use auto modes again!

    At Vinoy Park I thought we would have a chance to photograph some dolphins feeding and intensely splashing around.  I had a feeling though that by the time we walked over the dolphins would be gone.  Of course, as soon as we got within range, the splashing stopped and the swam off into Tampa Bay.  Of course.

    Indre is a very interesting person, originally from Lithuania (I have also been having more international students lately) with family across Europe actually.  So in between photography talk I enjoyed hearing more about her life.  She is taking a trip to the Smoky Mountains soon so I look forward to seeing her landscape and others shots when she returns.