p is sarcastically for perfect

This week I started a class about using my DSLR.

I’ve had my Canon Rebel XS for about two years now, and other than some helpful tips from a lovely professional (and amazing friend, I might add), I haven’t done a whole lot to learn the darn thing.

In fact, I tend to put it on the P setting and go for it.

P is comfortable.  It’s not automatic and it’s not one of the “picture” settings (what is that?  A running man?  Are those dunes? And why is the hair NOT attached to that profile of a woman?), but it’s not so manual that I have to choose anything either.

I just know the flash won’t pop up and that is all I want.  No yucky flash.

One of my instructors from class calls it the “perfect” setting.  P is for Perfect.

Only it’s not really perfect.  I mean, the camera thinks it’s being all perfect because it’s following the rules of the lighting you are shooting in, but in reality, the camera does not know WHAT you are trying to shoot in that lighting.  It can GUESS.  But then you get pictures like this when it guess wrong:

um, camera? the baby. I want the BABY in focus.

Anyway, the class seems like it’s going to be good since I already learning things.

Like find your owner’s manual and have it in your camera bag.

Oh. Um. About that.

Yeah, I don’t know where mine is.

Moving on…

We talked a lot about shutter speed and aperture in this class because we were discussing exposure.

Shutter speed is how fast your shutter closes and opens (duh), and aperture is the tiny little opening inside your lens that lets light in.

Shutter speed is measured in fractions of a second.  So 1/30 a thirtieth of a second.

Today I played with my shutter speed.  All pics are of the same adorable subject.

taken with a pretty darn slow shutter speed...of like 1/8

and now…

taken with a super high shutter speed of like 1/2000

and finally…

taken with a shutter speed of 1/30

So since a shutter speed of 1/30 looked pretty good on my snuggly, not moving subject, I decided to play with the aperture.  No flash is used and this is all natural light coming in from the front window.

(Aperture is the number with the F in front of it, by the way.  Some call it the F-stop.  Although my teacher never called it that, which I thought was weird since that is what I have been taught it’s called…but maybe I am weird since I am a beginner and what do I really know, right?)

Aperture set as high as it would go at 22. not enough light let in.

hmmm…ok…the other side of the extreme…

Set as low as it would go...a 1.8. too much light.

now playing around to find something I like…

here we are around a 4 or 5. still a little to bright, but better.

If you don’t want to mess with one or the other, you can set your camera to either A (or AV) and you just have to choose the Aperture (f-stop) and your camera will do the shutter speed for you.

Or you can set your camera to S (or TV) and you pick the shutter speed and your camera will pick the aperture.

Then there was a bunch of stuff about setting the meter to “happy”, but that is hard to explain.  Basically it’s that little thing you see when you look through your lens.  It’s at the bottom and it goes from like -2 to 2.  “happy” is in the middle.

And really, if you put it on one of those semi-automatic settings, it will do that for you.  I think if you are trying to take a picture you like, it shouldn’t matter if the meter is “happy” or not. It matters if YOU are happy with the photo.

A “happy” meter just means the camera thinks you’re doing it right.

But what does the camera know?  It had a “happy” meter when I took this:

this? is not "happy". it's fuzzy. but the lighting is nice, so maybe that is why the camera was happy.

Anyway, I guess we are going to talk about ISO next week.  But between you and me and that cup of coffee over there?  I’ve been playing with my ISO for a while.

In fact, it’s the reason I wanted a 50mm lens (which one of the teachers totally called me out on and THEN was snarky about since I am just a “beginner”.  Whatever dude, I have a nice lens.  Just teach me to use it and keep the comments to yo’self.).

ISO is that thing that can make the camera focus on one thing while making the rest fuzzy.

I love to play with my ISO.


power to the people...er...your ISO skillz, mom.

So yeah next week we are meeting at the tulip gardens for some “on site shooting.”  Heh heh.

You know I’ll be filling you in.