Say Yes!

The first step in any journey is the most challenging one, fear sets in — you pull your foot back and stand there motionless. From my own experience it is the fear of things that have not or may even never happen. The fear created by our minds ability to con jour up imagined future events.

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

~Mark Twain

Eight years ago I started my journey into photography which has interested me since childhood but I never did fully say yes to the urge.

My back ground in photography was as a dabbler a snapshot here and there.

The turning point came at work when I was asked to do product images for a website. This was a challenging, exciting and a rewarding experience. What was the first step– that’s right, to simply say YES and dive in.

My first digital camera was an Olympus C-2500L 2.5MP “yes 2.5MP and it got the job done”.Oly C-2500LThe photos were processed with Adobe Photoshop 4 which was challenging and fun to learn. This really stoked my interest to go deeper into photography but it wasn’t until years later I said Yes to photography outside of work.

Don’t put off for tomorrow what you can do today because if you enjoy it today, you can do it again tomorrow.

~James A. Michener

 The next phase in my exploration of photography was in late in 2010. I used the Olympus, which up to this point I had only been shooting in Auto Mode. Now I wanted to get more control over the images I created. This meant a trip to my local library which had numerous photography books. Growing in knowledge of how the settings effect the image was exciting.

Then in early 2011 I decided to invest in a DSLR camera and purchased a Canon T2i. I read the manual front to back”yawn”. Still I felt like learning to use this new camera was frustrating!

Here is what I did to overcome the frustration.

I simply took one feature that interested me and used that one feature for a couple days. Once I could do that button press combination without thinking about it I moved on to the next feature.

By all means try to avoid Auto Mode, Scene Mode or Program Mode because they are a hard habit to break. Staying in those modes in my experience can stunt creative growth as a photographer.

Best modes for a beginner


Shutter Priority & Aperture Priority

 On Canon it is indicated by ( Tv ) on Nikon ( S ) on others ( Sv )

When the camera is set to Shutter Priority ( Tv, S, Sv ) you control the shutter speed and the camera will automaticaly select the Aperture for proper exposure.

TIP: The suggested safe shutter speed for hand held shooting is 1/60 at 50mm focal length when you change lens focal length the general suggested guideline is to simply place a 1 over the focal length. 

Example: 250mm lens – safe Handheld minimum shutter speed is 1/250 

Note: To freeze action like an ocean wave, water splash etc.  your shutter speed should be 1/500 or above.

 Q:  In certain lighting situations I cannot get a high enough shutter speed to safely hand hold the camera, what can I do to raise the shutter speed?

A: When shooting in shutter priority you can set a faster shutter by Increasing ↑ ISO from say ISO100 to ISO800

Q: Doesn’t increasing ISO effect the image quality?

A: In Short yes, as ISO increases so does digital image noise. With todays post processing software much if not all the noise can be reduced or eliminated. The trade-off, using post processing software to remove noise will make the image soft. More About ISO

TIP: Do test shots with your camera and determine what the highest ISO acceptable is and make a mental note of that ISO setting. I will go into more detail about ISO in seperate post.

Q: I set a shutter speed of 1/500, why does my camera set the shutter speed lower when I take the photo?

A: In some camera models you can set what is called safety shift. This will override your shutter speed setting in order to maintain a proper exposure. This feature is accessed through some cameras through the menu settings. It can be turned OFF/ON but I suggest you leave it ON. If it is not turned ON you may end up with underexposed photos.

TIP: Consult your camera menu for the safety shift feature

The ultimate remedy for low shutter speed situation is to use a nearby stable surface or tripod and use self timer or a remote trigger

Aperture Priority:

When the camera is set to Aperture Priority ( Av, A) you control the aperture and the camera will automaticaly select the Shutter Speed for proper exposure.

Aperture priority works in the same manner but you will have to watch your shutter speed (remember the guidelines)

The suggested safe shutter speed for hand held shooting is 1/60 at 50mm focal length when you change lens focal length the general suggested guideline is to simply place a 1 over the focal length. 

Example: 250mm lens – safe Handheld minimum shutter speed is 1/250 

Q: What does changing the Aperture do? More about Aperture AKA f-Stop

A: It does two things

1: Lets more light through the lens f1.4 or less Light f22

2: It gives the image more or less depth Depth Of Field which is how much of the scene will be in focus.

Examples – 50mm prime lens at f1.4 a very small area will be in focus and the rest will be blurred. At f22 with the focus set to 3-meters the image will be in focus from front to back.

Q: When would I use say f1.4?

A: Portraits of people, animals or any other objects you want to be the main focus in your image. You would also opt for f1.4 in low lighting conditions as this will let the maximum light through the lens.

Q: When would I use f13,f16 or f22?

A: For environmental portraits, landscapes, seascapes or any other environment that you want most if not all of the scene in focus.

Another helpful article The Exposure Triangle

Feel free to leave comments and questions.


2 responses to “Say Yes!

  1. Thank you so much for this informative and inspirational post. I’m a fledgling photographer myself. It’s reassuring to know that you can learn so much about this field in a relatively short period of time if you are devoted! Your article has just taken me a few steps further! 🙂


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