Tag Archives: Nikon

How to Use Your Camera

Maybe you received a new DSLR for Christmas, or perhaps your resolution for the new year is to dust off your old camera and finally figure it out. Either way, our free video(s) of the week will answer your questions of “what does that button do?” and “which thing should I choose?” These videos go over the same content but in two different versions for Nikon and Canon cameras. If you shoot another brand, you will find the same functions on your camera, just different names, icons and button locations.

Canon Cameras

Nikon Cameras

These videos are part of our Digital Photography 1 Class. To watch more videos like this become a member or join a class!

What other questions do you have about how your DSLR works? Leave us a comment below!



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3 Guides for Story Telling Compositions

Story Telling Compositions

I like to think of a photograph as a story. Not just “Fine Art” photographs, all photographs. Every image tells a story. Sometimes the story is, “I’m eating pasta right now” as told by my iPhone. Sometimes the story is, “Buy this product and you’ll be happy and have lots of friends.” Sometimes the story comes together in a moment on the street, other times the story takes hours of preparation with models, lights, and props.

I’m eating this right now, as told by my iPhone.
All photos tell a story. Here are three ideas for telling your story well.

1. A picture’s worth 1000 words

You’ve probably heard that 1000 times, but let’s assume it’s true. This means that for every photo you take, every story you tell, you have ONLY 1000 words to use to tell that story. You need to use those words carefully, making sure that every single one counts. You wouldn’t turn in a paper to class with 600 words on the right subject and 400 words of gibberish. Don’t do that with your photo stories either. Get rid of everything that is not telling your story. If it doesn’t help, it hurts and it needs to go away. The strongest, most impactful photos use every one of their 1000 words to tell their story.

Story Telling Compositions
1000 words of hurrying through a rainy night in Venice


2. Use the right lens

Different lenses allow viewers to engage with the story in different ways. You could think of this as writing a story in the first person tense or the third person tense. When you get in close with a wide angle lens, you give your viewers the experience of being there. They are now part of the story you’re telling. It’s like writing in first person. When you step back a bit and use a telephoto lens, you give viewers a more objective perspective, that of an observer who isn’t actually participating in the story. Neither are right or wrong, just different ways of telling the story. A bit of thought before you snap the photo will help you decide which lens is going to give you the right perspective on the story you’re about to tell.

Story Telling Compositions Story Telling Compositions










One of these was shot in close with a wide angle, the other from a bit farther back with a telephoto. Can you tell which is which?

3. Don’t shoot flat footed

The height of your perspective is just as powerful as the lens you choose in determining how your viewers will interact with the story you’re telling. I’m 6’3” tall, so as I walk around, my camera tends to see the world from about 6 feet above the ground. This isn’t the only perspective on the world, and it shouldn’t be the only perspective in my photos either. A nice general rule is to shoot things at eye level. Not your eye… their eye. This is the strongest perspective for creating a direct connection between the viewer and the subject. Now, not everything has eyes, I understand that, but apply the principle. A car doesn’t have eyes, but if I want to create a direct connection between my viewers and a car, I need to get down at car level to create that shot.

Story Telling Compositions

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What Camera Should I Buy?

What camera should I buy?

What Camera Should I Buy?

This is perhaps the most common photography related question I get asked. And the answer is… it depends! However, I hope this guide will give you some direction as you pursue that perfect partner for your artistic soul.

Is it a Canon or a Nikon?

I’m not a brand basher, but I am a brand pusher. Sony, Olympus, Panasonic, Sigma, Kodak, Fuji, Pentax, Ricoh, Leica all make good cameras. Great cameras in fact. But I still recommend that you get either a Canon or a Nikon. The short answer is that they are just more popular. More people have them. There are more lenses. There are more flashes. It is easier to get them repaired. It is easier to find someone on the street with the same camera to ask a quick question. There are more forums online. In short, unless you have a compelling reason to get a different brand, please buy either a Canon or a Nikon.

How much money do you have?

Cameras are expensive, and honestly, they are just the beginning. Once you get a DSLR, you’re on a train that burns money. There will always be something better, a new lens, more software, a new computer, and well… another camera. That said, I would recommend that you get the best camera you can afford within reason. The biggest thing that changes when you move from entry-level DSLR to pro-grade DSLR is the operations of the camera change. The camera gets more functions, and there are more controls that you as the user can change. What doesn’t really change is the image quality. Yes, people will argue about full-frame vs. APS-C sized sensor, and yeah, there are better sensors inside pro cameras than consumer ones, but here’s the deal… when you look at an awesome photo on someone’s website, you can’t tell what camera created the image! So, the moral of the story is, more expensive cameras make it easier for the photographer to create good images because they have more fine-tuned control over the camera itself.

How much money are you going to make?

Be realistic here… What performance level do you intend to shoot at? I had a friend who really liked snow boarding, and invested thousands of dollars in the very best gear. But he only hit the slopes once a year. Don’t be that guy. Don’t spend $10,000 on camera equipment to take happy snaps of your family around the house. Happy snaps of my family are important, I shoot them all the time… with my iPhone. Invest in your gear at the same level that you reasonably expect it to invest back into your life.

What do your friends shoot?

Not what you were expecting, I know… but it is important. Your family/friends are the people you’re going to interact with the most. If you can ask them questions, share what you know, swap lenses and flashes, and share your photographic experience together, that’s a really valuable thing. That part about swapping gear is really nice… you and your bestie can get cool, different lenses, and it’s like you got two new lenses, not one.

How does it feel?

In your hand. When you pick it up, does it fit? Could you hold it for 4 hours and still be happy? Do the buttons seem to be in the right place. Is it intuitive? Do the menus generally make sense? Every manufacturer works hard to make their cameras different. This means that they are all going to feel and operate uniquely. Make sure the camera you get is the one that makes sense to you.

When was it made?

Cameras are high-technology, which means that they get outdated really fast. Outdated in camera terms doesn’t mean that they don’t work anymore, they just are a step or two or ten behind the curve in terms of image processing standards and sensor quality. I have a couple old cameras (like… 6 years!) that I still use on occasion, but if you’re going to buy a new camera make sure that it really is new! At the time of this posting I think that the Nikon D90 and the Canon 7D are way overdue for replacement. The D90 was built on 2008 technology, but you will still find it as a “current” model for sale new in stores. Don’t do it. If you’re buying a new camera, make sure that it came out this year or last.

Just tell me what to buy!

I did. Buy a Canon or Nikon. Get one that feels good, costs a lot (but not too much!), your friends will appreciate, and that was made recently.

Canon’s naming system is confusing, you would think that the Rebel T3 and Rebel T3i would be pretty similar, but they’re not. If you’re getting a Canon Rebel, get the “i” version. It’s way better…

Now, if you’re that girl who is going to email me saying “What about the Sony Super Excess Special Model A1-the best ever? How can you ever say anything can beat the split field titanium espresso LED view optimizer?” Just buy it… I don’t care. I don’t have to use it! I will be happy with my Canon and you will enjoy your optimizer.

If you’re that guy who is going to email me asking “What about the Canon Rebel T4i? Is that a good one?” Yes. It’s good. If it’s a current model (not Nikon D90 or Canon 7D), it’s good and you should buy it.

Hope this helps!


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