JP Teaches Photo .
A free video tutorial from JP Teaches Photo .
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Lecture description

You'll learn how to see your images in a more sophisticated way and you'll learn how exposure is the simplest but most powerful tool you can use to impact how your images turn out.

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Beginner Nikon Digital SLR (DSLR) Photography

Learn how to use your camera intuitively. Learn through doing rather than memorizing.

01:10:48 of on-demand video • Updated December 2013

  • You will learn how to see your images in a more sophisticated way, like a professional photographer.
  • You will add exposure to your photographer's tool belt and learn how it impacts many visual elements of your images.
  • You will learn how to adjust your aperture and why you would choose one aperture over another.
  • You will learn how to adjust your shutter speed and why you would choose one shutter speed over another.
  • You will learn how all of the modes (Auto, P, S, A and M) work and when you should be using each mode.
  • You will learn to recognize the difference between depth-of-field blur and motion blur.
  • You'll start spending more time observing and capturing beautiful moments around you, rather than staring down at your camera feeling confused.
English I'll recommend you start out by resetting the settings on your camera to the default settings. That way we'll be on the same page when we do the exercises of what your camera will be doing for you . Most Nikon DSLR's have two green dots somewhere on the camera. No two models are the same so you'll need to look around for where your two dots are. Those two green dots will be next to two buttons. If you hold down both those buttons at the same time for longer than two seconds the camera will reset all its functions to the default settings. As of November 2013 there are three Nikon DSLRs that do not have the two green dots. The D5200 the D3200 and D3100 models. If you have one of these cameras or if you have a camera that was introduced after November 2013 and if you don't see the green dots you'll reset your settings by pressing the menu button, navigating to the shooting menu and choosing reset shooting menu. Now that we've done that let's get started. For our first exercise you're going to take three images and I want you to make the framing of the images exactly the same. We're going to be changing a setting between the three images and I don't want you to move or zoom between the three shots, since I really want to isolate how exactly the setting is impacting what your images look like. The setting will be changing is called the Exposure Compensation setting which I'll be explaining fully after we do the exercise. You can change that setting by putting your camera into P mode. Once you've done that hold down the button with a plus over the minus symbol on it and while you're holding that down, spin the top back dial of your camera. Look on the camera's display either on top, on the back, or in the viewfinder and you should see the setting changing. By changing the setting you'll take the first picture with the setting at 0 which is the default setting, so your camera is most likely already set to zero. For the second picture, change the setting to negative 1.3 and then take exactly the same picture again. For the third picture change the setting to plus 1.3 and take your third image of the same scene. Make sure your flash is turned off for this exercise. You'll know your flashes off as long as it's not popped up. Pause this video now and go do the exercise. Welcome back. You should see a difference between the three images. Here's an example of three images I took doing exactly the same things so you can compare. If your images are blurry then you are most likely taking your pictures indoors with relatively little light to work with. Try the exercise again when you're in a brighter environment like outside during the day. Here are the three examples again that I created using zero negative 1.3 and plus 1.3. Do your images look similar if at this point you're not happy with the scene you chose to shoot, pause the video again and try the exercise again with a different scene. In fact you can try as many times as you want. Now I want you to take one set of three images you shot and take a look at them. I'm going to imagine that you have in mind at least one word that describes the differences between the three shots. The main point of this class however is that I want you to start seeing your images in a more sophisticated way, much like a professional photographer would. So I'll ask you to look at your images again, this time more closely and find at least three differences between the images. If you don't like the images you created for yourself you can use my images. What do you see that is different between the images? Pauses the video for as long as it takes for you to really see at least three differences between the three images . Welcome back. Now that you've had a chance to look for yourself, let me ask you some questions. Can you see in the three images you created that the setting we changed impacts the brightness of your images? Can you see that the setting we changed impacts the colors between the images? Can you see that the setting we changed impacts the detail or clarity of the various objects in your images? Does the setting we changed impact the mood of the images? Does the setting we changed impact where the viewers eye goes in the images with this setting? We did something very simple. We adjusted how much light is coming into the camera but we can see is that the amount of light coming into the camera actually impacts a lot of visual elements in our images: The brightness, the colors the detail or clarity, the mood and where the viewers eye goes in the image. In fact, you may have seen things that I haven't even mentioned. There was a statement that was said to me in my first photography class. It confused me when I first heard it but it really got my gears spinning. I want this statement to make sense to you by the end of this class. That statement is: photography is light. What do I mean by that? Painters paint with paint. Writers write with words. Photographers document, record, manipulate, and play with light. Light is our medium. If you don't have light you don't have an image. So this class will largely be about how your camera manipulates light and then what you can do as the photographer to make choices about how your camera manipulates that light so you can have creative control over how your images turn out. Here's another example from my own life when I used to this particular setting. I shot this image in automatic mode. What that means is that my camera chose all of the settings for me in this shot. Nothing was up to me. As soon as I took the image I looked at it on the back of my camera. I thought to myself, that's a decent shot. There's things I liked about it. I like the shape of the tree and the kids playing in the snow. There was one thing about this image I didn't like. So in order to change what I didn't like I used the exposure compensation feature. The feature we were just playing with. I changed my setting to plus 2.0 and took the picture again. Here was the result. There is no right answer to the question I'm about to ask you so don't answer what you think I'm looking for. Answer what your actual preference is. Which of these two is your favorite? I'm going to give you a moment to let you choose which one you like better. Remember I said there is no right or wrong answer to that question. On that particular day I preferred the brighter version because when I was walking by this scene what caught my eye in the scene was the blindingly white snow. When I took the picture my intention was to capture that snow being white and shooting an auto didn't achieve that goal for me. Had you asked me on a different day, I might have said that I preferred the darker of the two images . Maybe because the sky is blue or or maybe because there's more texture in the clouds and snow. I don't get any of those things in the brighter version of the image. What I want to explain to you is why it is my camera gave me what it gave me in automatic mode. Why didn't my camera give me something brighter? Why didn't my camera give me something darker? Imagine for a moment that we had five people standing in front of this exact scene on the day I took these pictures. Imagine we had all different kinds of cameras. One person has a digital SLR. One person has a point and shoot. One person has a film camera. One person has a cell phone camera. One person has a canon. One person has a Nikon. Here's the thing. If we had all been standing next to each other in front of this scene and had we all taken a picture of this scene every single camera would have given us exactly the same result in terms of brightness. The colors might have looked a little different and the contrast might have looked a little different but in terms of the brightness of the image, every single camera no matter what brand or size would have given us exactly the same result. Why is this? Ever since the 1930s the same system for measuring light has existed in every camera that's ever been made. Film cameras, digital cameras, even cell phone cameras all use that same system. I'm going to explain how that system works as I explain this. Most of you watching this will want to try to memorize what I'm explaining. I'll invite you to set that aside and just simply understand the concept. How your camera measures light is all based on this one very simple concept called middle gray. If you have a total scale from pure white to pure black middle gray is exactly 50 percent between them . I want you to put a pin in that concept since it will come in handy in just a moment. Every time you point your camera at a scene that scene has a definable top bottom left and right. Your camera knows what you can see through your viewfinder and in that scene your camera finds the average tone. Let me explain what I mean by that. Between these two images the brighter one more closely matches what I saw with my own two eyes. That snow was actually white. I pointed my camera at this scene and the camera found the average tone. The average tone in this image is right about here. The camera then takes that average and lets in just enough light to the camera so that that average tone ends up looking just like middle gray. Which is why when I shot this scene in the automatic shooting mode the camera made my white snow look gray. Another way of saying this is that your camera is always going to middle gray when it shoots in the automatic shooting mode. Now remember the intention of this class isn't to memorize. What I've just explained is a perfect example of why memorizing isn't necessary. I didn't give you that concept so that you can explain it to other people. I explained it to you so that from this point forward you'll have a different experience of your camera . Up until this point you've probably taken quite a few images with your camera and when you look at the resulting images you notice that sometimes the faces in your images are darker than you'd like. Sometimes you notice that the sunset did not come out the way you want it to. Your first thought has probably been I paid twelve hundred dollars for this camera! And now instead you'll think to yourself Oh that's the middle gray thing J.P. was telling me about. It might have seemed like your camera has been giving you random results but now you'll start to see that your camera in the automatic shooting mode does exactly the same thing every single time you take a picture. In the automatic shooting mode the amount of light coming into your camera is never arbitrary . Your camera is very mathematical accurate and precise. And now when your camera gives you a result in the automatic shooting mode you'll know why you're getting what you're getting. And if you want to change it you'll know how. Let's talk about sunsets. Sunsets are such a great example of how you can approach your photography more intuitively than you had before. have you ever had a situation where you see the most amazing sunset with your own two eyes but your picture of that sunset comes out with no actual sunset in it? It used to happen to me all the time. Whenever that happens the problem is really simple. I'm going to throw out some lingo here and then I'll explain it. When your sunset doesn't come out the way you want it to it's because you did not expose for the sky properly. What do I mean by that? Whenever we use the word expose as a verb in reference to a part of the image we're talking about letting in the right amount of light into the camera so that that part of the image comes out looking the way you want it to. If we look at the two pictures again of the snow covered hill we could say that in the image on the left I exposed for the sky and in the image on the right I exposed for the snow. So when your sunset didn't come out you simply didn't let in the right amount of light into the camera, . and the simple solution is to let in either more or less light. I know that most of you watching this video right now are thinking well which is it? Do I let in more or less light? If you're thinking that then you're memorizing. I want to encourage you to cut that out before I give you a different way to approach this. Let me tell you about how I came to my teaching philosophy of no memorization. When I first started teaching this class I would give three examples of how to use this feature. I would use the snow covered hill. I would then do an opposite example, a close up picture of a black dog to talk about a scene with a lot of dark tones. Then I would talk about sunsets. I would end the class and I would look over the notes that my students had taken I would see a lot of them had written snow covered hill add more light, Black Dog use less light, sunset Do this. That's completely insane when you think about it. That approach to learning is only going to work if you're planning on writing down every possible object you might come into contact with and what to do with all of those objects. Let me suggest another way to approach this. Let's say you're standing in front of that gorgeous sunset. The first step should be to take a picture. Don't worry about the settings on your camera and just take a picture. Then look at the picture on the back of your camera and decide what to do next. So let's say you're standing in front of a sunset and you see with your own two eyes the most amazing gorgeous reds and oranges and you take a picture and the resulting image in the sky portion of the image instead of the reds and oranges you see something closer to black. You know that you need to take the picture again and go brighter. Now say you're standing on another beach on another vacation and you see another beautiful sunset with reds and oranges and you take the picture on the back of your camera in the sky portion of the image rather than reds and oranges, this time you see something closer to white. You know that you need to take the picture again and go darker. So really there's nothing to memorize. First step: take a picture, second step: use that picture as your guide. If there's nothing to change then you're all set. If you see how the image would benefit from being brighter or darker you'll now know how to change it .