How to use a SLR digital camera | focusing | dslr photography tips

Congratulations on your new DSLR!  You will immediately appreciate that the slow shutter lag of your point and shoot camera is a thing of the past.  No longer will you miss the ever fleeting smiles of your little one(s).  The biggest question you probably have, now that you have your new camera is, “How the heck do I use it?!”

“When you first purchase your SLR digital camera you should simply enjoy using it and get a good feel for how to handle it. The best way to do this is to set it on fully automatic. With your camera set on auto, all the important settings such as ISO, aperture, shutter speed, and exposure are made for you.” (www.slrphotographyguide

Taking the guess work out for you not only allows you be more comfortable with your camera, but it will also allow you to focus on the focus (no pun intended).  Understanding how to set the focus on the exact object you are photographing is a skill most beginners need to learn from the start.  And if this basic skill is not learned, then using a digital SLR camera will become very frustrating.   

Take the two images below.  They were taken by Vance, who I have to remind myself on many occasions that he is not a photographer.  In the first photograph, the trees in the background are in focus while the boys and I are blurred and out of focus.  In this case, Vance focused on the trees rather than us. All the pictures in this series had the same result.  Imagine the frustration of coming home and finding all your pictures blurred.  Thank goodness that wasn’t the case for us since I reviewed the pictures and noticed the off focus.  I quickly showed Vance how to properly focus and as a result, you can see in the second image, we are properly in focus and the trees behind us are blurred. 

So how do you ensure you’re focusing correctly on what you want to photograph?  Here are quick easy steps taken from www.slrphotographyguide:

  • Look through the viewfinder as though your going to take a photograph.
  • Press your shutter button half way down and look for a red blinking focal point. The object in your scene that the focal point is positioned over when it blinks red, is what your camera is focusing on.
  • Once the camera focuses on the object, press the shutter button the rest of the way down and voilà you’ve captured the desired object in focus. 

Of course the only way to practice this is to go out and take pictures – take lots of pictures.  Practice setting your focus on different objects and you will see that just by doing so, the impact of your images may change dramatically. 

Feel free to email me your pictures and if you have any specific questions, I’ll try my best to find the answers for you.  Check back next week when we’ll discuss one of the semi-manual settings.  Until next time…happy shooting.

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