What is a DSLR? – Exposure

You might remember about this time last year when I received Niko for my birthday.   I had no clue how to work my fancy-pants camera.  Now a year later, I would not call myself an expert at all, not even close, but I have learned some things.  I was thinking it might be helpful to share what I have learned with you.

Sometimes the best direction comes from someone that is not a professional.  Let me explain. When learning from an expert, it can be very intimidating and down right frustrating being so far from where they are.  A professional photographer teaching a class may use big words that may make you feel lost.  I on the other hand don’t know the big words and even if I did I would not know what they meant.  So if you have the same learning technique that I do, this series of posts is for you.  You may have your big bad DSLR (what does that mean anyway), but you are keeping it on auto in fear of so many settings you don’t know where to start.  I hope I can help with this series.

What does dslr mean anyway

Lets get started! My profession as a jeweler requires me to be able to take high quality photographs.  I had a point and shoot digital camera when I first started. I realized that my website had good photos of my jewelry, but not GREAT photos of my jewelry.  The quality of photos just was not giving justice to the jewelry.  After investing in a DSLR camera a Nikon D3100 to be precise, I was quickly intimidated by all the buttons and settings.  Over the past year I have learned a lot on my own by trial and error and with this series of blog posts I hope to help you get your camera off auto!  Without learning what your DSLR can do off auto, it is just a little bit better than a point and shoot.  Sure you look like a big time photographer with your expensive camera, but your results probably don’t look that way.  Mine sure didn’t until I turned the camera to that little M and started playing.

Under and Over Exposure:

In an attempt to make this explanation as understandable as possible I am not using technical terms (I don’t know them anyway).  Shutter speed is how fast your lens opens and closes to let in light.  I like to call it the button next to my thumb (I am not kidding, that is what I know it as).  I believe on most DSLR cameras this button is in relatively the same location.   Now how and when to use it.  Once you turn your camera on to that little M for manual, chances are the first picture you take will be very light or very dark, maybe even white or black.   Chances are this is because of your shutter speed.  Here is an example of having the wrong shutter speed.



As you can tell, the daffodils are very washed out.  This is because I had the shutter open too long letting in too much light.  It is easy to change this.  The scrolling button right at your thumb will adjust this for you.  If you look at the display on your camera you will see a series of lines, on the far left you will see a “+” symbol and on the far right you will see a “-” symbol.  Right in the middle you will see a “0”.  When you move the button by your thumb you will see an indication of where your shutter speed is on this series of lines.  To get an ideal exposure you should be near the “0” or a little to the left or right of it.  This picture was taken after adjusting the indicator on the lines to the right closer to the “-“.  Moving the indicator to the right will make the picture darker while moving to the left will make it lighter.

Remember when you are changing this setting, it changes constantly.  To show you what I am referring to, turn on your camera and move your camera around or put your hand in front of the lens and watch the bars or indicator move on your display.  Depending on the lighting it automatically changes.  So it is important to zero in on what you would like to photograph before setting your thumb button.  If you set it and then move, it could be very different lighting.  You can also see a smaller version of the lines display inside your view finder while looking through your camera.

I will be adding to this series of posts with other things that I have learned and keep learning.  Remember I am not a professional, but if you do have any questions, I will do my very best to answer them.







Today I am thankful for: My new online todo list.  It is making me very productive. :)

3 thoughts on “What is a DSLR? – Exposure

  1. Stephanie says:

    Ha ha! I’m a former photography student. Took several years of it in high school and college. I think your break down of this was actually quite good. :)

    • Meg says:

      Thanks so much Stephanie! That means a lot to me. I am really trying to make it user friendly to someone who knows nothing about it. It should not be as intimidating as most people think it is. So many people keep their cameras in auto being to scared to figure it out, but it is not so bad. Thanks again.

  2. Gere says:

    Oh to have a “fancy pants” camera! chuckle….chuckle….Your series of tips if very informative. (Trial & error always works for me too.)

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