I don’t know how to use my camera.

Warning: This post contains terrible photos, taken by yours truly, and a lot of words about cameras and pictures that I don’t understand.  If you are looking for a recipe, please come back tomorrow (really, you should, because tomorrow’s recipe is a good one!). 

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So, yes, it is true.  I have a fancy DSLR camera, and I shoot in automatic.  I have no idea what ISO or aperture are, or what effect they have on the pictures.  Well, I learned a little bit about them this weekend, so that isn’t entirely true.  But for the most part, I know nothing about my camera, or how to take great pictures.  I let the camera do all the work.  Phew!  It feels good to get that off my chest!

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This weekend, I attended the second meeting of Frederick Food Photography Club, hosted at The Kitchen Studio. The pictures above and below are probably the best ones that I took the entire time.  I spent most of the time trying to change settings around on my camera, and learning a little from the other members about what each number means, and how it will effect the resulting picture.  To say I was overwhelmed is an understatement! 

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Everyone was so patient and really nice about taking the time to explain things to me and try to help me out.  The idea of the club is that we can all learn from each other, but I was clearly the most amateur, and will be doing a lot of learning, and not a lot of teaching!

We used all kinds of techniques that I’ve never even though of!  I do sometimes use white boards to reflect light, but Christine had this really cool reflector that had a gold foil side to bounce the light with a golden tone. 

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                                         {No light reflector}        

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                                        {Gold light reflector}

See the difference?

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All my pictures were looking pretty yellow.  I think this is from a combination of the lack of natural light (it was a seriously dreary day, and we were inside with fluorescent lighting), and me just not knowing how to adjust my camera to accommodate for the lighting conditions. 

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I did try changing the white balance around (see above) and was able to see a big difference.

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I learned a little about aperture-the smaller the number the bigger the whole which means a shallower depth of field (…I think?).  This means that what is closer to you is in focus and what is in the background is blurry.  (Side note, these cookies were delicious!)

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So, all of this is to say that, clearly, I do not know how to use my camera. BUT I want to do something about it!  Is it too early for New Year’s resolutions?  Because I am making mine now!  I am going to learn how to use this camera, and shoot beautiful pictures in manual mode.  Elizabeth, one of the members of the club, pointed me in the direction of Darcy’s 31 Days to a Better Photo Series, and that is where I am going to start. 

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I hope that by following along with this series, and attending the Food Photography club meetings, and just practicing a lot with my camera I will learn how to take great photos in manual mode on my camera.  Now, this is not saying that all my pictures from here on out will be taken in manual mode, but I will check in at least once a month to talk about my progress and what I have learned.  If you know of any other tutorials or sites I should check out, please let me know in the comments!  I can obviously use all the help that I can get!

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And, if you are local to Frederick, MD and would like to join the Food Photography club, please shoot me an email at beckycooks.blog (at) gmail (dot) com!

5 comments to I don’t know how to use my camera.

  • david

    holy crap… is that flan?

  • Dale

    Becky, most of your pics are not bad at all! Quite passable. I was looking at some photos in food magazines and cookbooks yesterday and was surprised to see tht a lot of them are not a heckuva lot better than what I did and what you have here from our photo club meeting. Not that there is not room for improvement.
    Did you try using Picasa or some such free photo editing software for your photos? You can really play around with the lighting.
    I don’t know about the Darcy photo series, but I think it is a good idea to start out using one source to learn the basics and then supplement with other sources as you go from there.

    • Thanks, Dale! I didn’t try using any editing software, but I will add that to the list. It was good to meet you, and everyone else, this weekend. Look forward to the next one.

  • I’ll confess, I shoot in auto mode with my camera too. I’ll definitely be looking into that better photo series … it’s on my list for 2013 as well. 🙂

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