Nikon D5100

1-on-1 Nikon D5100 DSLR Photography Lesson in St. Petersburg with Renita

Renita visiting from Melbourne with her Nikon D5100 for our 1-on-1 photography lesson in St. Petersburg FloridaOn a surprisingly chilly spring morning in downtown St. Petersburg Florida, I met Renita visiting all the way from Melbourne for a 1-on-1 DSLR Photography Lesson with her Nikon D5100.  In what is somewhat unusual for a photographer nowadays, Renita had several prime lenses.  Back in the old days zoom lenses were not sharp enough for pros, so they carried around bags full of prime lenses.  Renita shoots high school basketball a lot and needs the larger apertures afforded by prime lenses.  

Despite a lot of shooting experience, she had just started using aperture priority mode after only using auto-mode.  These two modes are actually the worst choices for sports photography so I began the lesson by teaching Renita my 5-step process for shooting in manual mode in order to get well exposed and sharp images shot after shot.  Like many people, she thought shooting in manual might require adjusting 10, 15 or more things as a DSLR is covered in buttons and dials.  At the most it is only five things and in reality, very rarely do you have to change all five between shots.

I think Renita will take what we practiced during the 2-hour lesson and improve her photography quickly and get better results from the very next time she goes shooting.  It was a fun time with her and she may come over to the west coast again for another photography lesson.

1-on-1 Nikon D5100 DSLR Photography Lesson 2 with Bob in St. Petersburg Florida

Bob returns with his Nikon D5100 for a second 1-on-1 DSLR photography lesson in downtown St. Petersburg FloridaBob returned to downtown St. Petersburg with his Nikon D5100 for a second 1-on-1 DSLR Photography Lesson after traveling around the southeast of the U.S. this summer.  He told me he kept shooting in manual mode (great) though now had some questions about what and when to change for getting exposure just right.  I have written a photography tip blog post on this very subject, where I state you should change your shutter speed first.  So what happens once you run out of shutter speed (i.e. hit 1/60)?  This is what I went into the most detail on with Bob at the start of our lesson refreshing him on shooting in manual mode and letting him know my thought process for why I adjust shutter speed first, then aperture, then finally ISO if necessary.  In this way, there is never a question of what shutter speed one should use, you use the shutter speed necessary to get the exposure you want.  Then it is a matter of what you need to adjust if you reach the handheld shutter speed limit of 1/60th (for wide angle lenses).  

After that exposure chat we walked around the downtown skyscrapers practicing it.  By having Bob make adjustments while looking through the viewfinder, I was teaching him to be not only efficient in changing settings, but also accurate as the camera has to be pointed at the actual subject in order to get a proper meter reading.  I feel confident with more practice Bob will be able to manually shoot in any lighting conditions and get the exposure he wants.  Now what to do about shutter speed once he gets a tripod . . . ?

1-on-1 Nikon D5100 DSLR Rooftop Photography Lesson with Lisa in St. Petersburg Florida

Up at the top of a parking garage in downtown St. Petersburg Florida, Lisa practices shooting in manual mode with her Nikon D5100The last time I met Lisa in downtown St. Petersburg for a 1-on-1 DSLR Photography Lesson with her Nikon D5100 the most powerful thunderstorm of the year hit!  It allowed us to get some cool funnel cloud and lightning shots, but it also made us nervous.  The weather for this morning's third of four photography lessons was the usual Florida sunshine with only the persistent heat to deal with.  

Lisa is taking a trip to Tennessee later this month and wanted to get some practice in photographing wide open scenery.  Now that The Pier is closed, I suggested we go to the top of a parking garage for the best high views.  I also gave Lisa a thorough review of shooting in manual mode and kept trying to stress there is no need to ever ask what shutter speed should be used, the meter tells you what shutter speed is needed for a proper exposure.  The only thing you need to remember about shutter speed is not to go below the minimum speed for hand holding a shot (1/60th in most cases).

I look forward to seeing her photos of Tennessee mountains and rivers.

1-on-1 Nikon D5100 DSLR Photography Lesson with Bob in St. Petersburg Florida

Bob using his Nikon D5100 with Nikkor 55-300mm lens during our St. Petersburg Florida photography lesson

On a sunny Friday Florida morning I met Bob in downtown St. Petersburg for a 1-on-1 DSLR Photgraphy Lesson to help him get off auto-mode on his Nikon D5100 and start taking control over his images.  Like many of my students, Bob has had a long interest in photography and owned point & shoot cameras, then decided to get more serious and got a DSLR.  Then he realized that shooting with a DSLR is a different world and that auto-mode is not producing the results he wants.  Hence, I promote my lessons as getting off auto-mode in 2 hours!

Bob had good photography knowledge already, so as I showed him how to change the necessary settings on his Nikon D5100 to make a well exposed and sharp shot in any shooting conditions, he was quicker on the uptake than average for knowing what to change to adjust final image results.  Though there are only five things you need to change, and I can describe what those five are in about 30 minutes, applying that knowledge in real shooting situations still takes a lot of practice, and I think also trust in the system I teach as well as trust in your DSLR photography gear.  

I look forward to seeing Bob's new sunset images and more now that he knows how to shoot in manual mode.

1-on-1 Nikon D5100 DSLR Photography Lesson with Lisa in St. Petersburg Florida

Lisa setting up her Nikon D5100 to eliminate the background (create bokeh) during our 1-on-1 photography lessonI met Lisa this very warm June morning for our first of four 1-on-1 DSLR Photography Lessons in downtown St. Petersburg Florida.  Lisa has been a DSLR owner for a long time, starting with a Nikon D40x.  She now also has a Nikon D5100, but over all these years she was still just shooting on auto-mode.  This morning we started to remedy that as I began to teach her my 5-step process for shooting in manual exposure mode.  

After showing Lisa around her Nikon D5100 body and how to change aperture, shutter speed, etc my first shooting tip was to whenever possible always try and get your back to the sun and have your shadow point at the subject in order to produce the best possible exposure.  When photographing the parking meters above, Lisa has her back to the sun giving herself the best chance of getting a good exposure.  The first shot made facing the other way produced a silhouette of the meters.  There are many simple things about photography that can be done to improve your final images.

Our second lesson next week will be mostly at night learning how to make cool long exposure photographs.

1-on-1 Nikon D5100 DSLR Photography Lesson with Lourdes in St. Petersburg Florida

My first photography lesson with Lourdes & her Nikon D5100 spanned day & night in downtown St. Petersburg!Lourdes called me up asking about my 1-on-1 DSLR Photography Lessons telling me about how she ultimately wanted to photograph racecars!  First, she wanted to learn how to use her Nikon D5100 properly and stop just relying on auto-mode.  Since that is exactly what my photography lessons are designed to do, we got started right away after we met in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida in showing her how to change all the settings she needed to on the D5100.  With that particular Nikon in manual mode, most settings needed to be changed in menus with only aperture and shutter speed able to be changed using the thumb dial (plus another button for aperture).  Fortunately, when shooting in manual mode shutter speed is the thing most often that needs to be changed between shots so the Nikon D5100 is still fairly quick to use in the field.   

I was also able to help Lourdes become familiar with her two lenses, a Nikkor 18-55mm that came with the camera itself, and also a 75-300mm third party lens that we discovered cannot be auto-focused on the D5100 since that body itself lacks an internal focus motor and the third party lens did not have a motor in it either.  The lens could still be manually focused, but at 300mm and trying to shoot a racecar, that would not be very easy to do!

I recommended a more practical long lens (Nikkor 70-300mm VR) for Lourdes to get and will be looking forward to continuing the photography learning we started in our second lesson soon.

1-on-1 Nikon D5100 DSLR 50mm Lens Photography Lesson with Quincy in St. Petersburg Florida

Quincy sizes up a shot of a colorful bike with his 50mm lens during a 1-on-1 photography lesson in St. Petersburg, FloridaFor our second 1-on-1 DSLR Photography Lesson I met Quincy in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida on an overcast afternoon.  This weather was very welcome as we were set to use only 50mm f/1.8 lenses during the lesson.  The overcast skies made available light scarce even hours before sunset was to arrive.  We took a route through the skyscrapers of downtown passing by a few favorite spots with a small fountain, a grimey alley and different kinds of lights that can be used to make a great background bokeh.

More than the first lesson, I gave composition advice and how to find a shot with a 50mm lens.  With its large aperture of f/1.8, a 50mm lens can often make a shot out of nothing, which is of course much harder to see than shooting a landscape that is right there in front of you.  Using a 50mm lens requires being able to see how a shallow depth of field shot is going to look with your naked eye.  Background is often the key, though that is often the key for any type of photograph if you think about it!