Monday, June 13, 2011

A personal challenge

My housemate and I are involved in a mutual challenge. Every week, we try to cook a recipe we've never done before. It's pretty good because it's helped to reinvogorate my interest in cooking, and I'm thinking that it might be a good idea to do something like that with photography, now that I have my new DSLR. There are, however, a few modifications I would make:

Firstly, I think that it should be fortnightly or monthly. The recipe challenge can be weekly because I can afford to just pick a night of the week when I have a few hours free and spend maybe 10mins choosing a recipe before I go cooking. With photography, I need to give myself enough time to factor in changes in my workload, other scheduling and weather. So I think I'll make it monthly, and put up a few photos I'm particularly proud of for that month.

Secondly, I've realised that my first challenge has already started: getting to know the camera. So this month, I'm learning about how the camera handles light. My goal is to be able to consistently get photos where it's clear what the subject is. I need to learn how to balance the shutter speed, ISO, and the F-stop (how open the shutter starts off being).

It's not as easy as it sounds, mainly because a DSLR is a bizarre mix of the SLR film cameras I once used and the point-and-shoot cameras I've recently become used to. For instance, on this DSLR I can't see how the photo's turned out until I've taken it. I don't have to wait for it to be on the computer, but what I see through the view finder isn't exactly what I end up with.

With the SLR camera I once had, I'm used to controlling the shutter opening by rotating part of the lens casing and I can't do that here. I also have to push a button to see roughly how much light is getting in at that diameter. Of course, that won't tell me how the shutter speed will affect the image.

I'm also really not used to ISO, and I don't really want to use it if it can be avoided because it results in photos becoming noisy.  This means I have to focuse mostly on the other two, and on using the flash.

Hopefully I'll have fewer shocks when I go into Playback mode, like today when I went to look at my shots and saw nothing but black...

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