Is your new digital camera smarter than you are? Mine is more intelligent than I am by far. I broke my personal piggybank and invested in the miraculous Canon EOS 5d Mark II – so many settings, so much power.
I have studied the owner’s manual, watched an excellent training DVD twice and downloaded a superb guide to my Kindle. But the moment I pull out the camera and get ready to shoot, I seem to forget everything. I find myself standing there baffled by which button to push or dial to spin. All to often, I just turn the dial to that green square that means Auto and let the camera think for me.
Turns out that other Lansing Online News contributors find themselves in the same boat. We all have cameras that we would love to master, so we have committed ourselves to setting up a weekly LON Camera Club Exercise. Each week, one of us will assign a simple shooting exercise designed to help us learn more about our wondrous gadgets. We are also inviting you to join us.
If you would like to participate, just post your pictures to Flickr or Photobucket and paste the link in a comment below by Friday, January 21. Please use settings on those photo services (Creative Commons) that would allow us to copy and post your image to this page, room and time allowing.
THIS WEEK’S EXERCISE (January 14 – January 21, 2011):
Still Life with No Woodpecker
This is both a shooting and an editing exercise. The shooting part asks you to shoot two views of an outdoor still life. (Still life means nothing alive – no people, no cute bunnies, no Tom Robbins’ woodpecker.) The editing portion of the exercise requires that you choose which of the two images you think is stronger and give us a few words about why.
As an example:
Exposure: 1/500 sec
Exposure: 1/500 sec
I like the composition on the first image better than the second. But I would pick the second image as superior because I intentionally used settings to blur the background so that the tombstone in the foreground would pop out. To blur a background (which is also called “bokeh“), you need to reduce your f-stop, to limit the depth of field. As you can see, the f-stop on the first image was 11 and the second was 4. I also reduced the ISO (“film” speed) from 800 to 100 to allow me to use a more open aperture. On my camera, making those changes requires changing shooting mode to Av (aperture priority), which allows me to choose the f-stop instead of letting the camera choose it for me. With the lens I was using, f/4 was as low as I could go.
(Click here for some excellent tips from iDigital Photo.)
Send your questions and suggestions for future exercises to: .