Mastering Manual – Taking the Training Wheels Off My Camera

Last year one of my New Year’s resolutions was to buy a DSLR camera. Lucky for me my friend Erin from Design Crisis was in the market to sell hers. I have been happy as a little clam snapping away with my camera on manual for the last year, but this year I knew I had to take the next step and really see what this baby could do.

Enter my father-in-law Phil – the best, most handsome, most thoughtful, best cookie baking father-in-law a girl could ask for (he reads my blog so I need to butter him up, but it is all true). This year for Christmas he got me photography classes at the Dougherty Art Center here in Austin. Every Thursday I sit in a room with a dozen other people who have also been perfectly happy with manual and get my mind blown with terms like F-stops that happen in half stops and thirds. So many numbers, I just want to take pretty picture.

These are the 4 pictures I took for my first assignment. Our homework was just to take 4 pictures in manual without using the flash. Finding the perfect ISO, aperture and shutter speed symphony is tricky business. How am I going to adjust settings, get the kids to stay in the same place and hobble on crutches (ya there was another resolution about jogging that didn’t work out so hot).

This week I need to bring 8 pictures with examples of natural light. I’ll share next Friday. Any tips to share on photography? Any great articles that really helped you understand all those numbers and combinations? I recently highlighted an article on BlogHer about food photography that I thought was interesting. Wish me luck and please leave pearls of wisdom.

4 Responses to “Mastering Manual – Taking the Training Wheels Off My Camera”

  1. Amber D. Mcnabb

    I am jealous. I want to take a photography class! I LOVE your tree photo. The Pioneer Woman blog explains all that aperture and shutter speed (makes my eyes cross) and such with lots of tutorials and photo contests. I'm with you, I just wanna take a pretty picture. ~Amber

  2. Stacey - Total City Girl

    Hi Jennifer,

    So great that you are taking a photography class. Once you master it, it will be second nature. Try not to let the numbers freak you out! have been teaching photography to kids and we cover many aspects of photography without getting technical or into the numbers game and they end up with great photos. Here is a site I suggest to start with called Digital Photography


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