Sunday, August 25, 2013

Learning Another Language

It's Greek to me. Photography that is. I have a decent advanced beginner's dslr, a Canon EOS Rebel T3i that hubby bought me for my birthday about 18 months ago. In that time, I've learned some very basics about my camera and photography in general:

  • how to shoot in Program mode rather than Automatic, so I at least have more control over the flash
  • how to switch to Macro mode to shoot up close
  • how to change between the standard and telephoto lenses
  • that natural light is always best
  • how to get the photos off the camera and do some basic editing using Picmonkey
  • and as of today I know that I can right-click on my uploaded photos to see what settings they were shot in
Ie. not a whole lot. I know very little about shutter speeds, apertures, and ISOs. I read about them. Hubby tells me all sorts of things about them. But my retention in day-to-day use is near zilch. Which is why when Plum and June announced The Quilt Photography Workshop, I was all ears.

Plum and June
The first assignment was to take photos of fabric. So I just spent an hour or so doing just that. For smallish quilting "subjects" I usually use a light-colored table in my sewing room, right next to a large window. It's pretty much the best naturally lit spot in the house. For this assignment, I have done no photo-editing, other than some minor cropping and resizing to fit my blog space. I also am making some notes here for safe-keeping, so as I share what mode and settings I used for each shot, I'll remember that (for example) 1/50 stands for shutter speed, 5.0 is the f-stop or aperture (size of opening for the light), and ISO is a sensitivity setting. I began in my normal Program mode with the pre-set settings.
P mode: 1/50, f/5.0, ISO 250

For this second shot, I forced the ISO to 800 and it was quite an improvement.
P mode: 1/125, f/7.1, ISO 800

I braved it out of Program mode and into Av (aperture) for the next 3 shots, and obviously, the mid-range aperture was best.
 Av mode: 1/125, f/5.6, ISO 800

  Av mode: 1/125, f/18, ISO 800

 Av mode: 1/125, f/36, ISO 800

Then on to Tv (shutter priority).
Tv mode: 1/100, f/7.1, ISO 800

Lastly, I went to Manual mode, which I know is where I need to head in general.
 M mode: 1/100, f/5.6, ISO 800

 M mode: 1/40, f/5.6, ISO 800

M mode: 1/100, f/6.3, ISO 800

So there you go. The best news is, I've played around with my camera in ways I usually don't. My goal for the very near future? Remember what I've learned today, or at least keep working with my camera so these modes and settings become more familiar. And I want to go through the workshop links to see what other tips I can glean. My long-term goal would be to discover my own style using settings I'm really comfortable with. But I'll face that one step at a time.


  1. I'm like you with my camera, Debbie, so thanks for sharing the info about this workshop. I'm going to head over to Plum and June and see what I can learn. The great thing about posting your photos with the details is that you can always come back and remind yourself what you learned (if you happen to be like forgetful me!).

  2. Yah! It was Greek to me too. I can say nw that I get it, kinda. I've definitely got more learning to do. But yah!

    I like your first pic in manual the best, if I can say that. :)

  3. Nice photos and how brave to play with manual mode. I rather like the first photo in manual the best too.

  4. Great pictures!! I only have a point and shoot so there's not much to play with - but I can always use some tips!

  5. I think they turned out great! It is definitely a trial and error thing, you just have to make yourself stay in manual all of the time and I think it eventually just makes sense.

  6. I really need some help with pictures. It was fun to see your pictures change with the different settings.

  7. Amazing what a difference the settings can make. I'm guessing that you'll learn this photo language in no time!

  8. Great post, Debbie. Like you, what I recall from day to day is up for grabs! I really need to take a class or something.

  9. Great job, Debbie! I should do the same. x Teje

  10. I'm learning too. You've done a nice job playing with your settings.

  11. Wow, thanks for this! I've forgotten what i learned, and planned on asking for help again. your visuals really are a super jump start....

  12. Really interesting post - I don't have a dslr camera and take pretty rubbish pics. Looking over your examples it strikes me that you really have to train your eye to spot the better ones.I concentrated on the bottom fabric, left corner and really started to see the differences.

  13. I have a point ans shoot camera. Most of the time I get a decent enuf shot for my blog. Sew much info sew little tome. I did sign up for the ne Craftsy class "shoot it".

    Nice post which I am sure took a LOT of tome to put together!

  14. I think you did great with the pictures! When I was first learning to use my DSLR, it was all Greek to me and honestly, it still is most of the time. I am better in

  15. Bravo for taking photography up as well on top of all your other creative endavours :)

  16. Neat! Thanks for sharing. I'm yet to do my exercise :-)

  17. That is so great that you tried all the different modes/settings. I really think for me that I've only begun to make sense of it by practicing. It has only been very recently that I can say I actually know how changing the numbers affects the light - it is still a guess but at least an educated one. Thanks for joining in!

  18. Hey thanks for explaining what some of the different settings mean. I have the same camera as you (I think) but have kept my picture taking on manual the whole time. I'm afraid it's a brave new world out there for picture taking, LOL!

  19. Thank you for this interesting post. It's incredible how much difference there is between the photos. Proves trying again and again is really important.

  20. just like playing is learning for children, so, too, with photography! looks like you might have had some fun and learned a bit, too. the more you do it, the better it'll stick. you got some really nice shots. thanks for sharing your details for everyone to learn from.

  21. I am going to read the workshop too. Your pictures are interesting to see the differences.

  22. I so need to learn to do this too so thank you so much for he link info. I too have just been given a new slr and my pictures are definitely letting me down, so guess what I am off to try now. I will be back to see what you do next for inspiration :-)

  23. Hey Debbie, if you want a bit of critique and help with using your camera, give me a shout, but there's 2 myths I need to dispel - natural light is not always best, and you don't need to use manual ;o)

  24. These are good. The thing to keep in mind is that shutter speed, aperture and ISO all play off one another. You can get great shots using different combinations.

    If you increase the f stop (make the hole smaller) you should slow down the shutter (increase the length of time the shutter is open for - say 1/60th of a second instead of 1/125th of a second) to let the same amount of light in. By doing so you'll also increase the depth of field.

    The opposite is also true - lower the fstop (bigger hole, shallower depth of field) you need to speed up the shutter to compensate and avoid letting in too much light which can make your photos overexposed.

    When you put ISO into the mix you can get away with combinations of fstop and shutter speed that you normally wouldn't be able to use, but the higher the ISO value the grainer or noisier your photos can look.

    I hope this helps!