4 Tips for DSLR Beginners . Photography

via dipity, edited

Stacie, the creative mind and awesome hair behind Stars for Streetlights, is here to help alleviate some of your biggest photography concerns. What's aperture? What does shutter speed do? Read on for all the details!
The first time I touched my little Nikon D40 DSLR camera, I was so excited that I could barely hold the camera steady. I had saved up for months to buy that little camera, and while I knew I would use it all the time, I never realized how influential that camera would become on my life.

Since the day I got that brown Amazon box in the mail, I've made it my mission to learn as much as I possibly can about my camera - I read books, blog articles, and ask for advice wherever I can find it. Photography has become my favorite hobby... tied with crafting, of course. ;D

Over the years I've picked up a few tips and tricks along the way and I love sharing them with others because I love it when people share their advice with me. These four tips are some of the skills I find most useful in my camera bag of knowledge.

this photo: ISO-200 f/1.8 Shutter: 1/400

1.   Composition: Composition, to me, is one of the most important lessons of photography. If you don't have a well-composed photograph, then lighting and exposure don't matter much. I love composing photos in a square format, but for a rectangular photo, I still love a good rule-of-thirds image.

2.   Aperture: I love playing around with the depth-of-field when it comes to aperture. I recently bought a prime lens, (50mm with f/1.8 aperture), and I can't express how impressed I am with it. The colors, the control - it is incredible. If you are looking for a cheaper upgrade to your kit lens, (the lens that comes with your camera) you can't get a better option than the one I just mentioned.

Photo Tips 
this photo: ISO: 200, f/14, Shutter: 8 seconds

3.   Shutter Speed: Shutter speed is another really fun trick to play with on DSLR cameras. Whenever you have shutter speeds slower than 1/100 of a second, though, you probably need a tripod or something to rest your camera on. I took the photo above in the High Line Park in NYC-- I didn't have a tripod, but I did use a bench. ;D Whenever you have a shutter speed over 1/125, you can freeze the motion.

This photo was taken on my film camera, my Pentax K1000. (I love collecting and using vintage cameras. :D If you have a chance to take a film class, take it. I only took one during my time at college, and I wish I had taken more. There is nothing like working in a class with a film camera, it teaches you so much about equivalents between aperture and shutter speed, how to get a feel for lighting, and photography confidence.

Photo Tips 
some of the photos from my collection of Polaroid cameras

4.   Shoot, Shoot, Shoot: Photography is one of those art media where you have to do it over and over again before you get better. Shoot, shoot, and shoot some more until your camera becomes second nature to you. Shoot until you don't even need to calculate what shutter speed, ISO, and aperture you need-- your fingers just automatically adjust it. And by all means, stay away from the "Auto" setting! Don't cheat. ;D

For more resources, check out my photography guide for beginners, or join my Project 365 and pledge to take a photo every day for a year!

Stacie and Stars for Streetlights elsewhere
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  1. Fabulous photography tips, thanks!

  2. great post, but confusing as point 1 includes apeture but doesnt call it such. going to pass onto friends. thank you! :)

  3. Barnicles - Point 2 is actually about aperture, so the 'mini guide for exposure' goes with that point, not Point 1. Sorry if there was confusion and hope that clears it up.

    Thanks for sharing with friends! :D

    - Lindsay

  4. This guide is so helpful. I took a class on this in college and I still struggle with manual mode. I can't wait to get shooting again! Thank you!

  5. Hi Lindsay, new to your blog and I am just fascinated with your vintage camera collection. Where do you buy your Polaroid film? My father-in-law gave me an old Polaroid but I can't find film for it.

  6. Hubby just bought me a DSLR camera and I'm so giddy to get it in the mail I can't contain myself. Thanks so much for the fabulous tips!

  7. Photography, like any other profession, needs a lot of practice and experience. The more you shoot, the better you shoot.Nice tips

  8. I LOVE Stacie's bio at the bottom! so funny

  9. Awesome tips - thank you!!!

    I just bought my first nikon dslr (D5100). I skipped the kit lens and I'm trying to figure out which one lens I should start off with. I'm thinking I might be better off starting with a prime lens. I would buy a bunch, but I want to spread that out since they are pricey.

    I'm pregnant so soon I will want to take lots of baby pictures and eventually child pictures, but I don't want to limit myself too much.

    In short, do you think you could get by and still enjoy your camera with only the 50mm lens?

    Thank you!!! love.jenny.xoxo @ gmail

  10. I'm getting my first DSLR (Nikon D3100) and I am scared to death but more excited than I can explain. I just can't wait to learn everything I can, and this helped me tons! (:

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  12. I love dreading this blog and what fascinated me a lot is the trick of shooting photographs in shutter speed, I like the photos your provided.
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  13. Excellent advice - great for people starting out! Thanks for sharing!

  14. Hi! I have a Pentax K1000 also, and I was wondering where you find your film, batteries, etc. Thank you so much!

  15. Thank you for this! I always forget my f-stop and this image made my realize some of the issues I am having right now.

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  17. I'm a beginner, but I wanted to know more on photography. I'm not trying to become a professional like architectural photographers Boston, but I wanted to know some of the basics on using a DSLR camera.

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