Learning how to use a DSLR: Part 1

No, this isn't an article on how to use your DSLR. It's a blog post about me trying to learn how to use mine :) I have two lenses, three filters, and 3 extension tubes and I'm experimenting to figure out what results different settings and lenses produce.

I have been practicing off and on the past few days and wanted to share my "results," along with what little explanation I can give about these shots. These are all straight out of the camera, no editing, because what would be the point of the post if I edit them?

First - I'd read that you should have a UV filter on your DSLR lens. I didn't buy one at first but when we were on vacation I kept forgetting my lens cap was off and I would touch my lens. Not good. The UV filter helps to protect your lens from fingerprints, too.

So I found this set of 3 Polaroid filters on Amazon super cheap.

The set included a case, a UV filter, a polarizing filter, and a florescent filter (which I'm not sure I'll be using).

Jen alerted me to the fact that sometimes, the cheap UV filters can tint your shots, so the first thing I did was try two shots, one with, one without. I couldn't see any color tint. (The slight lighting change is because I changed positions slightly and I was dealing with sun that kept popping behind the clouds).

Then I tried my extension tubes. These are used for macro photography and close up shots. I do not have a macro lens but have found I don't need one with these tubes.

To show you what these tubes do, here are a series of shots, progressing from lens only to each tube individually, and finally to all 3 tubes put together.

Lens only:

12mm tube:

20mm tube:

36mm tube:

And all 3 tubes stacked together:

You can see how each shot gets closer and closer to the subject I am focusing on (in this case, the eye) without me moving my camera or zooming in.

Another thing I've been experimenting with is the aperture priority mode. I like this mode because all I have to set is the aperture and the camera will do the rest (but I have the option of adjusting shutter speed and iso if I need to). I like those blurry background photos with the subject in focus, so this mode lets me set my f stop low to increase the background blurriness. This works best with my 50mm lens, which allows me to go to f/1.8. My kit lens only goes to f/3.5.

Here's an example of what I'm talking about. This image was taken at an f/8 aperture. (50mm, shutter 1/2, iso 100):

This next one was taken at f/1.8 (shutter 1/25):

Both the foreground and the background are nicely blurred, with the subject in focus.

I took the above shot again, changing my ISO to 400 (still 50mm, f/1.8, shutter 1/25):

Ok, that's all for tonight. In Part 2 I hope to try out some outdoor shots.

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