Category Archives: Beginners

Digital Photography Classes Scheduled at Cheboygan Area Public Library

welihan-20160728-lighthouse-crusie-6323These classes introduce newcomers to digital photography and cameras.  It can also be helpful to long-time photographers who want to brush up on their skills.  I hope you will join me at one of these two upcoming programs.

The class will be held at the Cheboygan Area Public Library, 100 S. Bailey St.  Classes start May 2, 2017, each session runs from 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM.

There will be four sessions and a separate afternoon or early evening photo shoot.  Each session covers a different area of digital photogr2010-12-04-photo-class-42aphy and is loaded with tips and useful information to improve your photo technique.

Here is a synopsis of the program:

Class #1 Digital Photography Basics – May 2, 2017
As the title states, in this class we explore the basics you need to know about digital cameras and photography. Topics start with photo terminology, digital camera features and functions. Then we explore how the digital sensor, shutter speed, aperture size and light work together to make a photo image. I discuss how color temperature and white balance affect your images; how and when to use auto modes or preset scene modes and the most important items to have in your camera bag. If you have a digital camera, bring it and the instruction manual to class.

Class #2 Photo Composition & Creativity – May 16, 2017
The second class begins with a discussion on six photo characteristics that add visual appeal to your images. Then I show how to place the subject in way that adds additional interest in your photos. Next we discuss how to frame, balance and simplify your images; steady the shot; change camera settings that change the look of your photo and when and where to use flash. We look at some “bad” photos and discuss how to improve them. We look at many more “good” photos to inspire your creativity.  If you want to learn how to create photos that impress your family and friends, this is your class.

_dsc6173Class #3 Camera to Computer – Image Organization and Storage – May 23, 2017
People have told me this is the class they wish they attended before downloading their first images. Why? Because they have no idea where images are stored in their computer and, worst of all, where to find them.  That problem is fixed with this class. You will learn how to move images from camera to computer and how to effectively set up a system for photo storage and retrieval. I discuss why keywords and tags are important and demonstrate an easy-to-use and free photo management program. If you have images in your camera or computer and don’t know what to do next, this class is for you.

Class #4 Presentations, Prints, Smartphone Use and a Friendly Critique – May 30, 2017
I will show how to create photo presentations that can be set to music, photo books for gifts or to display on your coffee table and the best way to make your own prints. (Remember prints?)  It’s said the best camera is the one that’s with you and for most people that is a smartphone.  And while the average person take 150 photos a month with a smartphone, most of those images are just… average.  Learn tips and tricks that improve your smartphone photos.  We end the class with a slide show of images made by class participants. You do not have to submit photos to attend, but it will be more fun if you do.

During the first class, we will schedule an afternoon or early evening photo shoot to be held between the second and fourth classes.  This will give stuedited-in-luminar-08853dents the opportunity to practice newfound techniques. There is no charge for the photo shoot, but you must enroll in the first or second class to attend.

Each digital photography class is limited to twenty students and pre-registration is required  There is a modest cost for each class that is paid to the library.  Attendance at all four classes is not required, but each class builds on information covered in previous classes and so I strongly recommend students attend all four classes.

To register for the Cheboygan library class call:  (231) 627-2381.

Hope to see you there…   Dan

A “Better” Way to Begin

Amateur Photog Hkbk001I started dabbling in photography in the summer of 1969 when I inherited my grandfather’s 8mm Kodak movie camera.  Later that year I worked at a summer camp where I shot and later edited what I considered to be an entertaining eighteen minute movie of my seven weeks as a camp counselor.  At the end of summer I showed the movie to the camp director, his family and the other counselors.  They liked it too.  That night I loaned the film to a counselor so he could show his family.  He passed it on to still another counselor.  I think the movie then went to the camp director’s family and probably after that to another counselor.   With time I forgot who had it.  I never saw the movie again and that was pretty much the end of my cinematographic endeavors.

In the Fall when I returned college, I took with me the Fujica Compact Deluxe 35mm camera I had also inherited.  I enrolled in my first photography class and learned how to hold a camera, make a decent exposure, develop Tri-X film and make a print.  I was hooked… And since then I have never been far from a 35mm camera or the digital equivalent.

Browsing my local library in the early 70’s, I discovered The Amateur Photographer’s Handbook by Aaron Sussman.  There weren’t many books available for beginning photographers back then, so I checked it out and started reading.  The book offered detailed answers on film types, metering, filters, when to use flash, how to take candid people pictures, developing film, dodging and burning prints and much more.  Two months and several library renewals later I finished it.  At 562 pages, the book was not an easy read, but in its day an important book for any young photographer.  First printed in 1941, The Amateur Photographer’s Handbook was in continuous publication for over forty years.  In 1976 I was given a copy and since then have reread and browsed many time through my tabbed, yellow-highlighted and dog-eared copy.

I have an eighteen year old grand-daughter who shows a lot of interest in digital photography, but I’m not giving her a copy of the old book.  Now out of print for around twenty-five years, it is still a classic, but too long, too detailed and has too few photographs for a beginner.  I don’t want to scare Elizabeth away while she’s still in the early stage of her photo development (No pun intended.)

Instead, I gave her a copy of BetterPhoto Basics – The Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Taking Photos Like a Pro by Jim Miotke (published by Amphoto Books).

Over the years, I have read dozens and dozens of photography books.  BetterPhoto Basics tops my list of books for beginners eager to learn camera and photography basics.  Each topic (such as capturing a sunset, preventing red-eye, how to crop for impBetterPhoto Basics 002act and much more) is covered in one or two pages.  Explanations are well-written and there are colorful example photos on almost every page.  Author, Jim Miotke, also points out if a technique works best with point & shoot cameras, digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) cameras or both.

If there were a required text-book for the digital photography classes I teach, this would be the one.  It is a terrific learning tool, good for beginners and for old-dog photographers who need to be reminded every so often why the basics are so important.

That’s why I bought two copies; one for my grand-daughter and one for me.

January 28, 2013

Digital Photo Tips & Tricks

Digital Photo Tips & Tricks

Start your day or photo shoot with freshly batteries.  Check cameras, flash units and anything else in your camera bag that needs batteries.  Recharge the rechargeable batteries.  Pack the charger?  Replace and/or have a fresh set of batteries for the disposables.

Check camera settings – Before you walk out the door, set the ISO, WB for JPEG shooters and exposure mode (shutter or aperture priority, AUTO, whatever).  Load memory cards into camera.  Extra reformatted memory cards are stored where you can find them quickly.  DSLR owners have the lens you want to use first attached to the camera.  When you are prepared before you step out the door, you are ready for that great shot that pops up when you least expect it.

Always use the camera neck or wrist strap.  Using a neck or wrist strap is one of the best habits you can get yourself into.  You are going to drop a camera some day, generally at the worst possible time.  Require your family and friends who use your gear to do it too.

Learn what the camera icons do.  All digital cameras have icons that adjust camera settings.  Point and shoot cameras more than most folk may ever need.  It is best to know what they do and how they affect you image.  Practice before you need it.

Check the date and time on your camera settings.  The date and time doesn’t have to show on your photo, but you do want the correct date and time embedded in you metadata.  Correct date and time helps you organize, locate, and identify your images later.  It will also help you twenty years later when you are trying to remember when the photo was taken.  Check after daylight savings time springs forward or falls back to see if the time changed automatically.  Some cameras do, some don’t.

Keep camera steady – Hold the camera in your right hand, support the camera or lens with your left hand. Don’t block the flash, autofocus port or lens.  Lean against something solid, hold your breath, and shoot between heartbeats (This last one takes a bit of practice.).

Shutter buttons have two stages.  Press the button halfway down and the camera sets focus and exposure. Press the shutter all the way down to take the picture.

Viewfinder – If your camera has a viewfinder and the image appears blurry, adjust diopter.  Viewfinder focus does not focus the camera.  Viewfinder image size is often different than what the sensor on the camera records.  Lenses zoom in and out, the viewfinder does not.

Images are first stored in the camera’s internal memory (“buffer”).  If you are shooting fast and the buffer fills, the camera stops shooting until one or more of the images are transferred to the memory card.

Don’t remove the battery or memory card from the camera while saving an image. You could scramble some of the images being saved and/or damage the card.

If the camera is turned off while an image is being stored, the image will be completely stored before the camera powers down and does not harm your images.

Images can be displayed on the LCD monitor after each shot.  Take a look and assess composition and exposure.  It is called “chimping,” but a good way to learn how your camera settings work.  Turn the LCD viewer off to save battery life.

Shoot a lot of shots of a subject, especially when learning new equipment.  The change of position, distance and angle gives you a whole new perspective.  You may be surprised by what works. (And what doesn’t)

White Balance (WB) – Be sure to set the white balance when shooting JPEG images.   RAW shooter set the WB in post-processing.  Of course experimenting with the “wrong” WB will give you some unique looks that might be fun.   Auto (the default) works in a wide variety of lighting conditions.   Daylight is best when photographing outdoors in bright sunlight.   Cloudy is best when photographing outdoors in cloudy or overcast conditions.  The setting will also warm images taken anytime indoors or out.   Incandescent or tungsten is best when photographing indoors under incandescent lights.   Fluorescent is best when photographing indoors under fluorescent tube lights.   Fluorescent H is best when photographing indoors under the new fluorescent light bulbs.    Flash best when photographing with flash. It is daylight balanced works to remove color casts in some situations.

 Trick your point and shoot camera to do what you want – Point and shoot cameras work well in Auto mode much of the time.  P&S cameras also have preset modes for portraits, scenery and fast-moving kids.  When you know what the modes do, you can use the presets for different types of photos.  Here is what you need to know.   Need shallow depth of field shoot in Portrait mode.  The mode sets a wider aperture.   Need a more depth of field shoot in Landscape mode.  Landscape mode sets the camera to a small aperture.   Need a fast shutter speed choose ‘Sports’ mode.  This mode will freeze most fast-moving subjects.   Need a slow shutter speed  Try night mode (if your camera has it) but this mode generally fires the flash.

 When done shooting, turn camera off.  Every effort saves little battery life.

Check to see if batteries need replacing or charging.  At the end of the day or before you pack your gear away, check to see if you need to recharge or purchase more batteries.  Don’t leave this important task until to the last-minute and you are less likely to miss the first shot tomorrow.

January 19, 2012

Photo Tips for New Photographers

Photo Tips for New Photographers

1. Keep your camera with you.  The best camera is the one you have with you.  Keep your equipment simple -just a small camera bag– and keep it close.

2. Look around.  Look at familiar surroundings with photography in mind. You might catch an interesting trick of the light or find an unexpected wildflowers in your yard.  Simple subjects make great shots.

3. Take photos early and often.   If you want to get good, photograph something every day.  Start in your backyard.  Look with the eyes of a photographer and you’ll see opportunities you never noticed before.

4. Learn all you can.  One of the great things about photography is the never-ending supply of things to learn.  Dedicate an hour a day to reading about photography, listening to photography podcasts and taking photos and you will soon be an expert.

5. Take advantage of free resources.  Explore the Internet for tips and inspiration.  Don’t forget the resources available at the Cheboygan Public Library.

6. Learn the basic rules.  There is so much information available about photography that it can be overwhelming.  Start with one aspect of photography that interests you.  (Focus, shutter speed, aperture, proper exposure, wide-angle lens)  When you master one, move on to  another topic.  Read magazines, books and photo blog posts, study Internet tutorials, listen to a podcast, look at photo books.  You will learn by studying what more experienced photographers have to say and trying their techniques.

7. Break the Rules.  One great advantage of a digital camera is it costs nothing to experiment.  Play around, try new things.  You will probably find something you like and you will get a lot of practice in the process.

8. Experiment with camera settings.  A point and shoot camera provides more options than you think and all the options of a DSLR can keep you occupied for weeks.  Read the manual.  Shoot your subjects with multiple settings to see what effects you like.  Take notes and check the EXIF data to see the camera settings you used.

9. Get closer, lower, higher, up earlier and turnaround…  One problem common to almost all beginning photographers is not getting close enough to the subject.  After taking an overall shot of the scene, move in.  Shoot subjects (especially kids) at eye level.  Then move left and right, up and down to see how the change in perspective changes your photo.  When taking pictures of the sunset (or any other picture) turnaround.  You may be surprised by the photo opportunity right behind you.  Opportunities abound the hour after sunset and the hour before sunrise.  Don’t put your camera away when it starts to get dark.  Stay out longer, get up earlier, get closer and turnaround.  (And when it does get too dark, go indoors and take photographs indoors.)

10. Make a list of shots you’d like to take.  For the times you can’t carry your camera around, keep a small notebook  (Or my personal favorite, 3×5 cards.) and jot down places you’d like to come back and photograph. Note important details so you can return at the same time or when the weather’s right. You can also take a picture with your phone camera and email yourself the details.

11. Don’t buy expensive equipment right away.  Very nice photos can be taken with inexpensive cameras.  Don’t rush out and spend money on expensive equipment until you know the limits of the gear you have.  Buy one piece of gear at a time.  For example, use on lens or lens setting until you have shot photos from every angle, in every type of light and know all  you can about that lens.  The temptation to buy something more will be almost overwhelming, but fight it as best you can.  The more pictures you take and experiment with your equipment, the better you will know what your next piece of gear really needs to be.  And you will save a lot of money in the long run.  I speak from experience…

12. Tripods make a huge impact.  An inexpensive tripod or even a bag of navy beans wrapped in duct tape can steady your shots.  To avoid camera shake as you push the shutter button, use the camera 2 (or 10) second timer function with a tripod.  (Tip within a tip:  Keep your tripod in your car.  You will know where it is and won’t have to remember to pack it when you travel.)

December 24, 2011

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