m is apparently for “myself”

This week for my DSLR class, we met on location at the local tulip farm.

(Yes, we have a local tulip farmFor a very good reason.)

We didn’t have a lesson per se this week, but we could ask the three professionals that were there anything we wanted as we trekked about shooting things.

This was my chance to practice putting my camera in M and playing with the settings. I figured if there was something I wanted to do, but couldn’t figure out how, I could ask!  Yay!  As a teacher I know hands on practice is the best teacher.

Only, that is not how it worked for me.

With little direction, we were told to just start taking pictures.

Ok, this did not bother me, but I was sort of hoping for a little challenge or assignment.  Like, try to take this picture or have this effect.  So I looked around and gave myself assignments.

I think I did ok (you can see my pics and the assignments I gave myself below), but when the teacher approached me to ask how things were going I said, “Ok, I think.  I mean…I don’t know if what I am doing is “good” but I like it.”

Then she looked at my settings and said, “oh no.  You NEVER want your ISO that high.  That is…just…no.”

While I know she is the “professional” and has her own business and everything, I liked the picture I took.

So I just said, “ok.  I’ll try something else.” and walked away before she could get her meat hooks on my camera and change my settings for me (which is what she looked like she wanted to do).

I was going to ask her how to capture a water wheel thingy and get the individual drops, but I suspected that my 50mm lens would be better for it (they told me to come with my kit lens so I could zoom.  Against my gut, I did it.  And was sorry I did it since I couldn’t get my F-stop as low as I wanted for some shots I was trying), but didn’t want to ask after that encounter.

Now I know what some of my students probably feel like when they tell me they get something and wander off.


Anyway, I really have no rhyme or reason to what I tried other than I picked a subject with an effect in mind and messed with my settings until I either got it or got frustrated and moved on to something else.

Here are some of my favorites from the evening…


I wanted the front fuzzy and the background in focus


tried to get a front tulip in focus while fuzzing the rest


wanted to show this lone white one as standing out amongst the orange


tried to get the front tulips to "frame" the people in the background


wanted all clear to show the windmill coming "out of" the tulips


another one working on front being clear while background a slight fuzz


wanted the barb in focus with all fuzz. thought it was harsh amongst the beauty


So what do you think?  Am I learning anything…(by the way, the top one was shot with super high ISO…apparently it is “wrong”) despite the fact that I am sort of doing it myself?

Next week we learn about lighting for shooting indoors and/or in a studio and about shoot and processing night photos.

Also? I joined Clickin’ Moms because I am desperate for new stuff to try so that I am not just all by MYSELF. I have already found a bunch of tutorials I want to use and try stuff.

Now…to find the time.


Check out me and some other awesome bloggers at Care.com where we dish on what we REALLY want for Mother’s Day.

About Katie

Just a small town girl...wait no. That is a Journey song. Katie Sluiter is a small town girl, but she is far from living in a lonely world. She is a middle school English teacher, writer, mother, and wife. Life has thrown her a fair share of challenges, but her belief is that writing through them makes her stronger.


  1. I think they’re REALLY good shots!! I’m so in need of a DSLR. I really like the windmill one.

  2. I am no professional at all, but I have a book I’m following to learn. The only thing “wrong” with the top photo is that the high ISO created noise. It’s hard to see, but if you look at the tulips in the front, they are pixely, which is noise.

    Other than that, I think you are doing exactly what you need to be doing…getting out there and practicing. Practice makes perfect.

    By the way, I really like my Canon T1I book for dummies. It’s easy to read, and explains things really well. I don’t know what kind of camera you have, but if they have a “for dummies” book for it, I would suggest it.

    • ok THAT makes sense to me. Why didn’t my teacher tell me that? They never explained ISO at ALL. Grrr.

      Ooo! A For Dummies book! I have a Canon Rebel XS, so I bet I could find SOMETHING! Thank you!!

  3. I’m with Kmama. If you had asked me which one had the ISO too high, I would have picked the top one.

    It just creates too much too much.

    There is no good way to explain it, but you and I both know — as teachers — um… there is a way to answer a question and there is a way to answer a question.

    As far as art goes, there is never a “wrong” anything. There is experimenting. Which is what you are doing.

    Most importantly, I love that even with baby Charlie, you are getting out of the house and doing something for YOU. Could you even have imagined doing this when you just had Eddy? OMG! Soooo much more balanced, you are!

    • see, if they had EXPLAINED ISO? I would have known that. They only talked about shutter speed and aperture. Annoying.

      And yes, I have come a LONG way, right? It feels SO DANG GOOD!

  4. It’s so hard to learn to use manual. I took a class and quit. Maybe ClickinMoms is where it’s at!

  5. yay! these are great! and yay for clickinmoms. it’s great over there. i’ve been there since the beginning. you’re gonna love it. 🙂

    • my only beef over there right now is that NONE of my photos will load. I tried from my computer AND from flickr and nothing.

      But that is ok…I mostly want to dig in to the tutorials and whatnot and learn!

  6. I *highly* recommend clickinmoms. and if you have the money, their intro course is well, well worth the $300. I learned so much.

    • I don’t have that kind of money now, but I am trying to get as much out of it as I can. So far the resources there seem awesome! and endless! 🙂

      • Yea, my class was a combined anniversary/birthday present. I’m going to have to save awhile before I can take another one 😉 Don’t be afraid to use the critique forums too…those ladies are super nice while still giving it straight.

  7. WAAAAAH! I want a DSLR!!! I like your pictures… get on witcher bad self! 🙂

  8. Wow. How great is it that you have a tulip farm nearby. Love your shots and the way you focus differently. You know, photography is an art and isn’t art in the eye of the beholder? The professional may have her opinion on the technical aspects but I would always go with what feels right to me!!! I look at it as guide lines… Going to check Clickinmoms now!!! Have a great weekend.

  9. I silently follow your blog, and always enjoy reading it! But finally I have something to say that I might actually be able to help you out on some stuff. You had posted an earlier post on a close up picture of your son’s hand or foot? ….I can’t remember. You said you liked shooting in different ISO. I’m a photographer, so I wanted to help you clarify some things. First, I think your pictures have a lot of composition, so I think you’re on the right track, and frankly I don’t think taking a photography class will teach you anything about that. You have it or you don’t. You have it. The class should be teaching you technical skills 🙂 Anyhoo, ISO in old school terms used to talk about the speed of film you used to buy. The slower the ISO the slower the film, BUT the less “grain”, or in digital world “noise” you have in your images. Thus, the higher the ISO, the faster the film but the more “grain” or “noise” you’ll get. It’s a bit confusing, but if you were to set your camera to a ISO of 200, you’re images should just be pristine, but in lower light, you’re likely to have a slower shutter speed. If you’re in daylight, the reality is that it really shouldn’t matter. Where a high ISO might be useful is if you really need to take a quick picture of a moving object in lower light, but you don’t have a fast enough shutter speed, so you’ll set your ISO to something higher to “push” your camera to do something it doesn’t want to to. It won’t be pretty but it’ll do it.

    What you were talking about is Depth of Field. The close up of an image with the background out of focus, or vise versa. Your 50mm prime lens is a perfect example to do limited depth of field. It’s an excellent portrait lens to allow the subject (either foreground or background) to be in focus. Also, another way to set is, is in “A” on your camera to Aperture priority. The lower the number the more in focus one part of a subject can be and the rest can be out of focus. So, let’s say your prime lens says 50mm F/1.8 (or something else). That means that’s the lowest it can go. So set your camera on Aperture priority to F1.8, and then you’ll get AMAZING depth of field. You can still get your images to look the way you want without the huge amount of noise in lower iso…or if you prefer the noise, more power to you.

    I hope that helps your photography a bit. I certainly by no means am not criticizing what you are saying! I think you are on the right track, and your composition is great! Here is a link for a great resource to teach you more of the technical skills to maybe use as a back of of what your teacher is telling you (http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/learn-photography-concepts.htm).

    By the way, I find your blog fun to read, funny, and somedays is a great way to occupy my time when I should be doing my own work! Congratulations on your second child he is just a cutie!

    • MOLLIE! I am SO glad you came out of the silence!

      Thank you SOOO much for clarifying that! This technical stuff is SO DANG CONFUSING! I do see the “noise” now that a few of you pointed it out…and I get why a higher ISO is not so great.

      This is EXACTLY why I am sharing all my practice stuff…in hopes that people who actually know what they are doing come out and help me! So THANK YOU!

      And thank you for the compliment on my composition. I am not sure what that is, but I am glad I’m good at it 🙂

      I don’t want to be a professional, but I do want to have good pics that I am proud to put up here on the blog and in my physical albums of the boys, ya know? I’ll leave the awesome photoshoots to the talented…like you!

      And thank you for the compliments about the blog. It’s fun to write…and I am so lucky to have readers like you 🙂

      • I”M SO GLAD SHE CAME OUT OF THE SILENCE TOO!! I was making my way down to leave a comment … an low and behold: I had to stop and read Mollie’s comment + LEARN!

        ISO is one that i ALWAYS forget!!! I think having learned it using REAL film, I just haven’t been able to keep track of what it means in the digital world…basically “artificial film” – or something.

        Thanks for un-hiding, Mollie!!!!

        • ISO is weird. But I am so glad so many people are helping me learn.

          See? I am the kid who will ask the “dumb questions” because I know other people have them too 🙂

          • Glad I could help you guys out! Don’t hesitate to ask more questions! I’ve been holding a camera in my hand since I was 5, and not really understanding the concepts until I was about 15, and realistically I’m always having to refresh my brain. The technical aspects of photography can be confusing. As soon as you have the basics it’ll be much more clear! My biggest advice…try not to get caught up too much on the technical stuff just yet..You learn as you play with your camera, which takes time. As long as you’re having fun with what you’re doing, you’ll continue to learn 🙂

  10. it wouldn’t be holland without tulips!

  11. I so want to take a DSLR class…I’m proud of you for doing it…and with a baby no less? Amazing.

    Isn’t it true, though, that sometimes we just need to go with our gut and do what feels right instead of what we are supposed to do?

  12. I am slowly, very slowly, learning this myself. I think your pictures look great!!! Now that I’ve read through your comments above, I can see the noise with the higher ISO. I also had no idea what that meant, but now I can see where a higher ISO is not such a good thing.

    I think the best thing we can do is just get out there and practice, so good for you! I’m actually going to get a 50mm lens today in hopes to start shooting better photos. Also? SO jealous of your tulip farm! It looks gorgeous!

  13. Okay. Now to my real comment:
    you photos look GREAT!! You definitely have an eye, Katie!!

    And I love how you pointed out “that must be how my students feel” – being married to a husband I see when that light turns on …when He’s the student of something + is frustrated with a teacher. + I see it in myself, too!

    Also! Let me know how Clickin moms is, yeah? I’ve been going back and forth about joining!!!


    • Thank you! I had no idea I had the “eye”…that is fun to know 🙂

      So far clickin’ moms seems chucked full of awesome. I just need to take the time to actually read/watch the tutorials and then practice.

      silly time. so hard to come by these days!

  14. The windmill one is my favorite. You’ve got a good eye, Katie.