Nikon D80

Nikon D80 1-on-1 DSLR Photography Lesson in St. Petersburg Florida with Frank

Nikon D80 moving subject practice in downtown St. Petersburg FloridaMy first 1-on-1 DSLR Photography Lesson of November 2012 was on a very pleasant morning in downtown St. Petersburg Florida meeting Frank and his pristine Nikon D80.  His DSLR was pristine because it had been sitting in a very safe case for a couple of years.  My lesson with Frank was to make sure his D80 keeps seeing the light of day!

For awhile now I have been starting out my photography students right in manual mode.  For a long time I had been starting them in aperture priority mode, but have changed my own teaching methodology.  I mean, shooting in manual mode only adds one more thing to the list of settings for making a well exposed and sharp shot in any giving shooting condition, so why not just go right to the real stuff?

Besides teaching the technical details of exposure, in a first DSLR photography lesson I also teach ergonomics, as in where the buttons are to change settings on that particular student's camera body, how to change lenses safely and how to stand and hold the camera to insure the most stable shooting position.  All these things to me matter just as much as knowing you should use AF-C for moving subjects rather than AF-S.

I hope after our lesson Frank enjoys using his Nikon D80 to make beautiful photos of Florida and it only stays in the case between locations!

DSLR Photography Lesson with Terri and her Nikon D80 in St. Petersburg Florida

Terri with her Nikon D80 showing good handholding technique on a bench in North Straub Park in downtown St. Petersburg - setup: f/11 ISO 200 1/60th SB-800 Speedlight in TTL mode hotshoe mountedMy first morning lesson in awhile was my first DSLR Photography Lesson with Terri and her Nikon D80.  Terri has experience from the film SLR world, but needed to know how to translate that to the DSLR world.  I enjoyed hearing Terri refer to adjusting the ISO on her D80 in terms of using film speed!  Isn't it hard to imagine now that changing your ISO in the pre-digital world required changing your entire roll of film?  

It was a pleasant overcast morning in downtown St. Petersburg, the first time I had a lesson all summer that did not require taking an immediate shower upon returning home.  I began the lesson as I do most by explaining aperture, then the rest of the 4-step setup for making any photograph.  Terri liked my "top of the mountain" explanation for aperture and how the smaller numbers are larger apertures with shallower depths of field.  The next great revelation was that of which focus mode to use when.  She had been using AF-A which is useless.  The camera is not good at deciding which to use on the fly as AF-A claims to do.  Only AF-S and AF-C should ever be used.  

We concluded the lesson with some park bench portraits with me having Terri take one shot without flash and then the next using her pop-up flash.  Even with just the pop-up flash on her D80 the difference flash made in the overall exposure was great.  The background was less blown out because the flash exposed the subject and the rest of the exposure settings exposed the background much more accurately.  

I look forward to next working with Terri out at The Pier using her 200-400mm lens!

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    DSLR Photography Lesson #2 with Danielle in Sunken Gardens

    Danielle making a Nikon D80 look stylish during our DSLR photography lesson in Sunken GardensI often find that I never exactly know what will happen in one of my DSLR Photography Lessons.  And I like that.  I feel that keeping the lesson content and structure fluid allows me to adapt the lesson on the fly to what the photography student specifically needs or wants to learn that lesson.  

    Thus, Danielle and I began our second lesson today in Sunken Gardens with an in-depth conversation about what settings might have better helped her make portraits of her son's school classmates and how to take the first steps toward potentially making some money from photography in the semi-near future.  I did not have this planned, but I think it turned out to be a very productive use of our lesson time.  

    My plan was for Danielle to practice making photographs using her tripod, which I learned was given to her by her father.  The tripod was of a certain vintage, i.e. a bit old.  As she was setting it up I started to feel uncomfortable about her putting her Nikon D80 on it.  My gut was right, as a leg fell right off the tripod!  So much for practicing tripod photography and won't the Sunken Gardens staff be surprised to see a large tripod in a trash can in the middle of the gardens!

    It was all for the best as we had plenty of new photography ground to cover, the most useful of which I feel was how flash can radically improve outdoor photography.  I had Danielle photograph a flower in semi-shade without flash, which looked ok.  Then I had her useonly the D80's built-in popup flash to eliminate shadows and expose details in the flower that just were not present in the non-flash photo.  I was even surprised by the improvement.  

    In an exciting note, Danielle will be investing in some new photography gear that we will put to good use in our next DSLR photography lesson.  I literally get just as excited about somebody else getting new photo gear as I would getting it myself!  

    Thanks to Danielle for asking so many good questions during the lesson, which actually makes my job easier.  The time went by quickly. 

    DSLR Photography Lesson with Danielle in actual Florida sunshine!

    Danielle photographs some artwork during our DSLR photography lesson in Vinoy Park

    Finally, sunshine returned to a DSLR Photography Lesson!  My first lesson with Danielle in the usual downtown Saint Petersburg locations was basked in bright sunlight, albeit still very cool temperatures.  However, I was just glad we had the chance to photograph some color instead of just gray during the lesson.  Danielle shoots with a Nikon D80, the very first DSLR I owned.  I still have fond memories of that camera and am relieved I was able to sell it to a good friend who now takes great care of it and makes good use of it too.

    Danielle has training in photography, and has produced some nice portraits of her children.  What we focused on was how to take more control of the camera and know which settings to use for which situations instead of relying on automatic ones, especially for which focus mode to use, which aperture and which focal length.  

    I demonstrated to Danielle how to use off camera flash in this portrait of her before Saint Petersburg's "skyscrapers"

    Danielle had an older Quantaray external flash (strobe) that worked well with her Nikon D80.  The sunshine allowed us to practice using our strobes to make portraits in broad daylight and also on a shaded bench.  

    Our lesson went by quickly.  I look forward to my next lesson with Danielle as she is a quick learner and will no doubt be making even better portraits and actions shots of her children.  I hope the sun joins us again as well!