Introduction: Getting to Know Your DSLR: a Basic Introductory Guide

This guide is an exploration at some of the key features that you'll want to know when starting in manual photography.

Th most important part of understanding this instructable is that you own a DSLR, you can sometimes manipulate a phone into doing the same tricks, but for truly great capture a DSLR is key.

In this instructable we'll explore:

- The functions of your camera, so you know what to look for when changing around the levels of certain things

- A little bit bigger look at manual focus and how that can affect your photos

- How to capture subjects, whether that be a person, animal, or object and in what ways you can do this for different effects

- Shooting a landscape photo with a pleasurable composition

- Shooting at night time in a basic sense to capture subject, landscape, stars (astrophotography), and produce some effects like 'light-streaks'

- Finally, some tips and tricks to better your photos when you're not looking to spend a ridiculous amount of money.

PLEASE NOTE: This instructable will not go into post production editing, purely because there's so much detail that it should be an instructable on it's own, plus this one will be aimed at getting the best photo possible without having to do post production touch-ups.

Also most of this guide will be explained using a Canon EOS 550D, but most others are all translatable

So, let's get straight into step 2, with learning your DSLR functions.

Step 1: Getting to Know Your DSLR Functions

There are a few basic functions that will be covered so you can get familiar with the manual functions of your camera.

NOTE: This section is on the camera functions themselves, as opposed to the lens functions (pre-capture zoom, focus)

The selection wheel: On top of your DSLR there should be a wheel that allows you to select different types of capture, most cameras have an "intelligence mode" which is your classic 'point and shoot' auto function. There will also be some other ones on there that will be labelled by a single letter or symbol. The function we'll be using is the manual function, this allows control of all functions on the camera. Let's look at the different functions:

Shutter Speed: shutter speed controls how slow or fast the camera captures a picture; high shutter speed ratio such as 1/2000 will capture quickly and allow fast moving objects to be caught still but it will also cause the picture to be quite dark as the fast speed doesn't allow much light into the lens; a low shutter speed such as 10'' will take 10 seconds for the shutter to actually close, and will allow a bunch of light into the lens- this is used for night-time photography, or some day-time photography if you have a lens filter to block out the light (The first five pictures show shutter speeds 1/25, 1/50, 1/200, 1/500, 1/2000)

Aperture (f. stop): The aperture refers to the 'eye' of the camera, it is measured in f.stop values; these are usually 1.4, 2, 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16. The smaller the value the larger the 'eye' will open, and the more light will be let into the camera lens. The higher the value the smaller the 'eye' becomes, letting less light into lens and darkening the exposure in the picture. This is similar to our own eyes, when it is dark our pupils dilate and become larger; when it is bright our pupils become smaller to let less light in. (The last four images show a change of larger aperture to smaller aperture.

ISO:ISO essentially controls how sensitive you camera is to light. If you have a low ISO (200 for example ) the camera will be less sensitive to light hence it will make the image darker, because of how the camera does this; having a low ISO setting will also make the image LESS grainy. A higher ISO (3200 for example) will brighten the image and make it more sensitive to light, but will also cause more grain. A higher ISO is used purely for night time shooting, a lower ISO for day time, and anything in between for varied levels of shade or lighting.

Other functions: There are some other functions that are less relevant to shooting in terms of image manipulation. These functions are the different types of image capture, whether you want a single image, multiple, or a timed photo; all of these are found on your control 'wheel/d-pad'. Your camera should also provide instructions on how to access these.

Finally, onto step 3, with learning how to use focus.

Step 2: The Importance of Manual Focus and Zoom

Manual Focus is perhaps the most important factor in photography. Without the use of it your pictures will come out blurry in areas that you most likely won't want, and while the autofocus does a pretty good job of getting portrait pictures; when it comes to landscapes and night time shooting auto just won't do.

The way to access manual focus (for Canon) is on the lens, a little toggle that has AF(automatic) and MF(manual). For other cameras such as Sony, in the alpha series, it will be accessible through the d-pad menu screen in settings.

To know your focus, you have to know your lens, there are two rotating barrels on the actual lens, the one closest to the camera housing is the zoom, the one in front is the focus

The last four images show the differences in focal points when focused on a close target.

The focus changes between capture of close objects or objects that are far away.

Zoom is also an important thing to understand; the entire process of capturing photos relies on perspective and how you capture it. Zoom usage can be quite useful if you have a still hand, or a tripod otherwise the pictures can turn out quite blurry. The first successive three photos are the increasing levels of zoom.

Step 3: Step 3: Enjoy the Functionality

That's it.

At least for getting to know your camera and it's functions.

Stay tuned for the next instructable from this account which will feature shooting photos in different areas.
It will cover bunch of things from landscape, to nighttime photography.

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