Frequently Asked Questions

How do I change the settings on my camera when I’m using it in manual mode?

If you want to give shooting in manual mode a go (please do, it’s so much more creative!), you’ll need to first get a basic understanding of the exposure triangle. In short, shooting in manual requires you to control light in three ways, each one being controlled by a different dial or button on your camera. So you’ll need to Google or YouTube your specific camera model, or read your camera user guide, to learn which dials control which setting. Try searching for “how to adjust aperture on my [insert camera model here]”, “how to adjust shutter speed on my [insert camera model here]”, and lastly “how to adjust ISO on my [insert camera model here]”.

Exposure Triangle Tutorial

I know what M and Auto mean on my camera dial, but what do the others mean?

Modern DSLRs will also have TV and AV on the dial, and these are known as partial manual modes as choosing either one of these gives you control over one element of the exposure triangle (either shutter speed or aperture depending on which one you choose) whilst the camera controls the other two elements.

TV & AV Article

How do I focus on my subject?

With our camera’s auto focus system we have the choice of using it in auto select or manual select. When set to auto the camera decides where to focus, and it will generally grab whatever is easiest to lock focus on…and it’s often not what WE want to focus on! We overcome this problem by choosing manual select mode.

Auto focus Tutorial

How do I resize photos?

With so many megapixels available to us now in modern DSLRs, our cameras have the ability to produce images that can be printed very large. But this means they are very big files, and unsuitable for web use. Therefore we need to resize to something the web can handle.

Resizing Images For Web Tutorial (this link will require you to log in)

Do I need to shoot in manual for the challenges?

No, with the exception of the lessons where we are actually practicing shooting in manual (Shutter Speed and Aperture). If you’re not confident, shoot in auto but take note of the settings the camera chose as that is a good way to learn.

Can I submit my challenge photo late?

Absolutely! If you meet the deadline for photo submissions it will ensure your photo is included when we’re reviewing and critiquing work on Sunday evening/Monday mornings (dependent on where in the world you live). However, you are welcome to submit your challenge photo to the albums at any time.

Can I upload photos I’ve taken for the challenge to the Facebook group wall for feedback?

Yes! We absolutely encourage all of you to do this, to talk to one another, talk it out, critique if you feel comfortable. That group involvement is a really valuable part of the learning process.

What if I change my mind about the challenge I’ve submitted to the album?

Feel free to upload your new shot, but just be sure to remove the shot you no longer want included.

Can I use flash to take my challenge photo?

We suggest using only natural light when taking your challenge photos as a way to practice recognising good light and rendering it effectively. Further, we can better see how you went with the challenge in regard to light so that we can comment or critique where required.

Can I edit the photos I submit for a challenge?

With the exception of minor cropping, we prefer you don’t edit your images, as your straight out of camera (SOOC) image is the best way for us to see how you went with the challenge.

Why will my lens not focus up close?

There is nothing wrong with your lens. All lenses have a minimum focussing distance and this will be indicated on the rim of the lens near the glass.

Why won’t my lens let me shoot at f3.5 sometimes?

Kit lenses and some other lenses in the lower range have an aperture range of around f3.5 – f5.6. This will be indicated on the barrel of your lens. In this instance, it means as you zoom in, your minimum aperture increases. So for example, if you have an 18-55mm kit lens, you can shoot at f3.5 at 18mm, and as you zoom further and further in, you will notice the minimum aperture you can shoot at will change. By the time you get to 55mm, you will only be able to shoot at f5.6.

I want to upgrade from my kit lens but I have no idea what to get?

The lens you choose is completely dependent on what you want to shoot as different focal lengths create different effects. However as you’re probably just starting out, it’s likely you don’t know where your heart will eventually take you in this regard.

Therefore I always suggest a 50mm lens for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, 50mm is a versatile length that can be used for a few different genres of photography. Secondly, both Nikon and Canon sell an entry level 50mm lens that is super cheap but excellent value for money, and will out perform any kit lens that you may have bought with your camera.

If you already have an idea of where you’d like to take your photography, research a little further, starting with these articles.

What is the best way to get photos off my card?

We recommend using a card reader and taking your card out of your camera and inserting it directly into the card reader. If your hard drive doesn’t have one inbuilt, you can buy one for around $20. The reason we suggest doing this over connecting your camera directly to the hard drive is the potential risk for corrupting your camera if there is an issue with your computer. Much less heartbreaking to corrupt a $100 card than a $1000 camera!

Is using auto focus cheating?

Absolutely not, auto focus is the best invention since digital cameras! There are times when manual focus is required because the auto focus system just doesn’t cut it, but generally auto focus is far more accurate than manual focus which relies on our eyes to know if we’ve nailed it, and professional and enthusiast photographers the world over all use auto focus, most of the time. This article talks about when you would use one or the other.