11 Mar 2007
Still experimenting with A, automatic, P (?), S/shutter, A, apperature and M, manual on my Nikon D-70. As I get more and more into the details of all these different settings, the more I don’t know. I’ve probably shot nearly 1000 photos (and thrown 99.9% away). I keep thinking that, geeze, if this were the 35mm/film generation, that would be sooooo costly. And then, I think: wow, all these good photogs who are professional from the film generation–how much money did they spend on shots learning what they know? Gazillions! It makes me twice indebted to the cards and the digital generation of cameras that can allow us to experiment freely with ‘light’ and ‘settings’ to stumble, make mistakes and increase our understanding with each one we make. With that said, let’s look at a little experiment I pulled the other day when a cardinal, one who always comes back yearly to nest with us, showed up. I used my Nikor 300mm VR lens–what a lovely addition to have in my camera equipment. I wish I’d saved my pennies years ago for this lens. It sure helps when you’re photographing wildlife that is going to run or fly away if you try to get near enough to take a snap of them.
This was on S/shutter, ISO 200, “sunny”. And I don’t know what the f-stop was because these series of photos were taken before I realized I could turn the wheel on S/shutter and make the f-stop high or low.
Here is M/manual setting and ‘sunny’ setting. Now, since this IS manual, I don’t have a clue as to the f-stop or anything else, but you can certainly see a difference in the darker background vs. the other three photos above.
I continued to use P/sunny and ISO 200
This was P/sunny and ISO 200. The Nikkon speakers, both of whom are professional, working commercial photogs to this day (Nick Didlick (who is Canadian) and Michael Schwartz, USA)
said that if nothing else, get off A/automatic and move to P….which is the baby step in learning about ISO/apperature/shutterspeed and f-stops, ect. I decided to use P for awhile and see how the photos turned out in this series with the male cardinal. Understanding that I was hand holding my Nikon D-70 with that 300mm Nikor lens (this thing weighs about 1.5 pounds, and it’s no lightweight when trying to hold it still–it gets heavy after awhile. As a consequence, the cleanness of the photo is not there due to my ‘moving’ the camera just enough to make it slightly blurry to the photographic experts. To most of the rest of us–it looks acceptable. But, being on the trail of being a good amateur photog, I’m not happy with this. I have to decide whether to hand carry the 300mm or always put it on a tripod (which one carries around). Many times, especially with wild animals, you do not have the luxury of having time that it takes to put the Nikon up on the tripod and it all adjusted to take THE picture. In landscape shots, where hills and trees aren’t moving, it’s easy to use a tripod. Now, I see why photog like landscape shots, haha. The dilemma with wild animals are many and daunting if you use a long range lens like the Nikkor 300mm VR. Tripod is a must if one is gonna get a ‘clean’ shot. So, I suspect I’ll have many of these quality of shots in the future without the tripod and still be happy with them, although in a photog class, they’d be shredded. Ah well….beauty is, after all in the eye of the beholder, thank goodness!)
And so, I came away with this first, tentative exploration into the world of settings beyond “Automatic” with some learning. I found out M/manual isn’t for me–I just dont’ have the understanding and skill to do this yet. One day, I may. I found out P is, as the Nikon instructors suggested, is a good first step to take. Although, I have also found that P, when it is DUSK and the light is very bad, brings up black screens–so this has to do with changing the ISO setting to 800 or above to get more light in so you can see what you snapped. Always something else, haha. Just when you think you’ve got a first step and confidence leaks into you, the amateur quickly finds out that dusk and dawn or near night conditions throw everything out the window. This means more study for me and I know that dark or near dark conditions is a huge training in itself. And one cannot ignore this time of day because you might see a late night bird winging to a perch, a snake making its way across the road, or some other critter that one would like to snap. The learning goes on, but enjoy the cardinal–he was a cool customer and he lives with us half the year, so he hung around and let me photograph him.