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!

Focus Mode AF-S or AF-C photography tip

One of the five things you need to know how to set correctly to make a well exposed and sharp shot in any given shooting conditions is focus mode.  Fortunately, focus mode is by far the easiest of those five settings to set as there are only two choices (disregarding manual focus mode):

  • AF-S (One Shot - Canon) for still subjects
  • AF-C (Ai Servo - Canon) for moving subjects

That is all there is to choosing which focus mode to use.  Is the subject moving or not?  In the above example the chainlocked bike certainly is not moving so I used AF-S to shoot it.  In the other example the triathlon cyclist was definitely moving, and fast, so I used AF-C.  

Most DSLRs offer a third, and useless, kind of auto auto-focus setting that you should just pretend does not even exist!

So there is no reason to ever make a focus mode mistake if you can just remember AF-S (think "S" for still subjects") and AF-C (think "C" for continuous, moving subjects).  No matter what you make a photograph of, moving or still, now you know which focus mode to use!

Photo Story: Saint Petersburg Alley in Sepia

With this shot I was trying for a repeated pattern image.It had been a long time since I just went out shooting for myself.  Not for a client, not for the HDR gallery project I am participating in, just for me and it was 20 minutes of pure escape.  Now you may be looking at these shots and thinking, "dude, this is what you photograph with your rare free time to shoot on your own?"  Well, I had seen this particular alley months ago and made a strong mental note to photograph it.  Something about the idea of photographing this alley long had me excited.  

So today with my Nikon D300 and Nikkor AF-S 105mm VR micro F2.8G lens I made the time to do some exploratory photography, as I like to call it.  No doubt I looked mental to any passersby as I stepped in and around trash pointing a camera of not insignificant size at relative junk and decay.  If they could only read my mind they would have known I couldn't have been more stoked.  I was full of the thrill of potential discovery.  Who knows what I might find here in this alley?  That unknown always gets my heightened interest.  

 I dream of doing acrobatics on a fire escape, often.

In reality, the alley was not filled with many hidden treasures, but it was graced with a high concentration of human waste, in multiple states of matter.  One thing that attracts me to alleys is the behind the scenes nature of them.  On the other side of the buildings are the facades, what the masses idle to and before.  On the flip side of those buildings, the real side, is where people live and die.  Workers toil and nothing ever gets polished.  I have no interest in facades.

The bicycle, an elemental mode of transportation.

The above bicycle was the object of greatest monetary value in the alley.  While locked up, like any sentient being, does a bicycle too dream of Freedom--greatest of all things in the known Universe, far greater than Love.  

A questionable means of security.For myself, I felt great Freedom making photographs in this alley.  There are more mysteries there still, like what is behind this rusted padlock?  I'd rather never know because a well-fueled imagination is the only thing that helps keep me sane as the forces that attempt to limit mine own Freedom reach for me.