Tips for beginners

By , May 10, 2010 9:02 am

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  1. There is a correct way to press the shutter button. After you frame the shot, press and hold the shutter button  halfway down. When focus is established, the camera will give a little beep.  The focus indicator is a little green light that indicates that the camera has locked focus. It is located on the far right side of the viewfinder screen. Then you press the shutter button the rest of the way down to record the image.
  2. Early morning and late afternoons (right before the sunrise) usually provide the best lighting so try to take your photographs at that time of day. For any time of day though make sure the sun is at your back as much as possible.
  3. You can adjust the viewfinder focus to suit your eyesight. Right at the top-right edge of the viewfinder is a tiny black knob called the dioptric adjustment control.  To do this first remove the lens cap from the front of the lens. Look through the viewfinder and you will see the focusing screen which contains a group of nine autofocus points. They are little squares with dots inside. Rotate the viewfinder adjustment knob until the autofocus points seem to be in focus. Don’t worry about the actual picture now; just pay attention to the sharpness of the autofocus points.
  4. A lot of the buttons on the T1i have multiple names because they serve multiple purposes. It all depends on if you are taking pictures, reviewing pictures, or doing some other function.
  5. You access many of your camera’s features through the internal menus that appear on the monitor when you press the Menu button. There are nine menus. Color has a purpose on these menus. Shooting Menus and the Movie Menu are red. Playback menus are blue. The “My Menu” icon is green.

Practice! Practice! Practice!

By , May 6, 2010 3:29 pm

Practice is the name of the game now. I think the best thing I can do to help my learning curve is to use my T1i and try to take specific shots. Practice! Practice! Practice! I need to play around with the different settings. I have taken a lot of photos but it’s been a kind of hit and miss approach as I would find myself out in the field and not remembering many of the things I’ve learned. There are so many things to remember that I never considered when I was pointing and clicking.   Staying away from the automatic settings has made me focus on settings and exposures and things are beginning to come together a bit more.  I’m still not getting the kind of shots I know this camera is capable of producing. But the best thing you can do with your SLR camera is to use it. Play around with the different settings. I plan to make a few more posts to help me remember some things and give some tips that may help others new to the T1i and other slr cameras.

Creative Zone shooting modes

By , May 4, 2010 12:34 pm

Program mode

The camera selects both the shutter speed and aperture. You choose ISO and white balance. This is a semiautomatic but shiftable mode. When you press your Shutter button halfway, the camera shows you its ideal exposure setting in the viewfinder. You have to remember that this is held for only one shot as it goes right back to the suggested exposure. Another thing is that you cannot shift the exposure if you are using the built-in flash. Use this mode when you want to quickly change the depth of field and shutter speed for one shot while experiencing minimum camera adjustments.

Tv mode (Shutter Priority)

In addition to ISO and WB you select shutter speed and the camera chooses the appropriate aperture. This mode is used when you want to control how motion comes across. A slower shutter speed will show motion as a blur. A faster shutter speed will freeze motion. This mode is also helpful when you want to make sure that the shutter speed is within the limits for handholding the camera and getting a sharp image.

Tips  that I want to remember: (credit to Charlotte K. Lowrie’s book “Canon EOS Rebel T1i/500D)

  • Use 1/250 second when action is coming toward the camera.
  • Use 1/500 to 1/2000 second when action is moving side to side or up and down.
  • Use 1/30 to 1/8 second when panning with the subject motion. Panning with the camera on a tripod is a really good idea.
  • Use 1 second and slower shutter speeds at dusk and at night to show a waterfall as a silky blur, to caputer light trails of moving vehicles, to capture a city skyline, and so on.

Av Mode (Aperture Priority)

You set ISO and WB as well as aperture (f-stop). The camera chooses the shutter speed. You use this mode when you need to control the depth of field (DOF). A larger aperture (smaller number) will give you a shallow DOF and is good for isolating points of interest like flowers/portraits. A wide aperture like f/5.6 will create a shallow depth of filed with a softly blurred background.  A smaller aperture (higher number) gives a greater DOF and is good for landscape photography. A narrow aperture such as f/8, f/11, f/16, and so on, gives an extensive depth of field that will keep both foreground and background in focus and sharper.

Tips I want to remember for Av: (credit to Charlotte K. Lowrie’s book “Canon EOS Rebel T1i/500D)

  • Since the only lense I have at this point is the Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS lens) , this  tip is specific to it. When you have the lens set to 55mm, the widest aperture you can choose is f/5.6, and you can’t choose f/3.5 at this zoom setting. This is called a variable-aperture lens.

M mode (Manual)

This mode allows the most creative control. First you determine the ISO and WB settings. Then, based on a meter reading, you set aperture and shutter speed in order to get the scene as you desire. You have to think about how motion and DOF will come across.

Aperture, Shutter Speed & ISO

By , April 24, 2010 7:56 pm

Now I’ve tried to simplify these definitions but that is no easy task. Whole books are written in great detail about these terms. However, for now I am going to concentrate on remembering that all three of these directly relate to each other and work together to enable a photographer to capture images in creative ways. That said, I need to get lots of practice using different settings in each feature so I can begin to understand their relationships and power.

Next I am going to post about the different shooting modes.


By , April 24, 2010 7:39 pm

ISO stands for International Standards Organization. It is the film’s sensitivity to light. The ISO lets your light meter know exactly what combinations of aperture and shutter speed it can use to record an exposure. The higher the ISO number is, the less light that is needed to make a picture. The lower the ISO number is, the more light that’s needed to make a picture. Higher ISO numbers can make the image grainier but it depends on what you want in your exposure. A higher ISO might be good if you want to freeze the action in sharply focused detail.

Shutter Speed

By , April 24, 2010 7:28 pm

The shutter speed controls controls the duration of light. The length of time is the shutter speed and it is measured in seconds. 1/30 second, 1/250 second, 3 seconds, etc. On the T1i the shutter speeds range from 30 seconds to 1/4000 second when you shoot without the flash. There is another feature in the manual mode called bulb exposure. It lets the shutter stay open indefinitely as long as you press the shutter button. If you use the built-in flash, the fastest shutter speed in 1/200 second and the slowest ranges from 1/60 second to 30 seconds depending upon the exposure mode.


By , April 24, 2010 7:20 pm

The aperture controls how wide the iris of the lens will open when you take a photo. A smaller f/number means a larger aperture opening, and the smaller fractions represent faster shutter speeds. These are called f-stops and an f-stop is a fraction that gives you the diameter of the aperture. The f stands for the focal length of the lens and the slash means divided by, and the number represents the stop in use. The aperture is a hole that lets light into the camera. You, the photographer can control how much light you let in. The aperture also affects the sharpness of your image. This is where depth of field comes into play. You decide just what you want in focus- everything or just one part of the image.

Exposure and shooting modes

By , March 22, 2010 1:16 pm

I’ve been reading Bryan Peterson’s book “Understanding Exposure” and he states that “A correct exposure is a simple combination of three important factors: aperture, shutter speed, and ISO.” He refers to them as the photographic triangle. I have also been reading on lots of photography sites on the web and numerous other photography books. There is a wealth of information out there. The exposure is the amount of light that reaches the sensor in your camera. The first step in shooting and controlling exposure is to choose a shooting mode. The T1i has shooting modes that range from totally automatic to  totally manual, and then some in between. The shooting mode determines how and what kind of exposure settings are set and who sets them, you or the camera. I have been concentrating on the Creative Zone Modes.  So next I’ll zero in on the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO so I can get a better understanding of what it takes to get a good exposure. Then I’ll try to post about the specific shooting modes.

An example of setting a custom white balance

By , February 6, 2010 7:41 pm

This is the before picture. I took this picture with the following settings:

Exposure: .25 seconds

Aperture: f4.5

Focal length: 25 mm

ISO speed: 100

This is the after picture.  I created a custom white balance setting using a sheet of white paper like I described in the previous post. I also used a tripod this time, tried to create a better background, and of course, followed the procedures I listed to set a custom white balance. Wow! What a difference a sheet of white paper makes! Heres the settings for this shot:

Exposure: .4

Aperture: f4.5

Focal length: 42mm

ISO speed: 100

Setting a custom white balance

By , January 26, 2010 1:44 pm

Sometimes you can have mixed-lighting scenes and not be sure which preset white balance option to choose. Aha! There’s a good solution. You can set a custom white balance that will work for the exact, specific light or combination of light types in your setting. Here’s how:

  1. Get a piece of white paper or you can elect to buy cards from camera shops that are made for just this specific purpose.
  2. Set the camera to the exposure mode you use the most. (I use Av but you could also choose P, Tv, M, A-DEP exposure mode.)
  3. Set the white balance setting to any setting except Custom.
  4. Get in the light where you will be shooting.
  5. Set the camera to Manual Focusing. Manual Focusing is found on a switch on the side of the lens. You will see AF/MF. Select MF.
  6. Make sure you frame the shot so that your white paper fills the center area of the view finder. The center auto focus pont and the six surrounding points need to fall over the white paper.
  7. Press the Menu button. Turn the Main dial to select the Shooting 2 (red) menu.
  8. Press the up and down cross keys to highlight Custom White Balance, and then press the SET button.  You should see the image of the white paper with a Custom White Balance icon in the upper left corner. If you do not see the image of the white paper keep pressing the left key until you do.
  9. Press the SET button again. A  screen will appear asking if you want to use the white balance data from this image of the custom white balance. Press the right arrow to highlight OK, and then press the SET button. A second  screen appears. Press the SET button to select OK. Press the Shutter button to eliminate the menu. The camera imports the white balance data from the selected image.
  10. Press the WB button on the back of the camera, and then press the arrows to select Custom White Balance. The White balance screen appears. The Custom White Balance setting is identified with text and is labeled by an icon with two triangles on their sides with a black dot between them.
  11. Press the SET button.

AGAIN, this is worth a repeat – you do have to remember to change the white balance when the light changes.

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