I bought a fancy Nikon D80 last Thanksgiving and had been keeping it on the automatic settings ever since. I felt pretty lame not knowing how to use the manual part of my camera, but afraid of the "unknown." (I know how silly to be afraid of a camera.) I was rightfully chastened by a couple of my swanky photographer friends for using this sweet camera as a glorified point and shoot. Hans was encouraging as well, "Buy a book, study online, take a class. Let's get our moneys worth out of this camera and learn how to use it."
I took their comments to heart and I am currently enrolled in the community ed Digital SLR 1 & 2 class. The first session just ended and I am a changed lady. The instructor was fantastic. He not only helped me get comfortable with "the other side" of my camera, but gave helpful and practical tips for maintenance, accessories, editing, printing and extras.
Below are a couple of my final products of Digital SLR 1.
This picture was taken using a small depth of field. (just the hand and shells are in focus.) The comments from the instructor were to not put the object in the center (to make it more interesting) and to use a softened flash to help the object pop. I must admit, I've been anti-flash for a long time because of how it washes everything out, but with a filtered flash, it's like a whole new world.
This was taken at Lake Como using a large depth of field (everything is in focus). Again I have an issue with putting everything in the center.
Smaller depth of field. (the background isn't totally in focus.) The instructor liked Conrad's positioning in the picture, but again suggested using a filtered flash, so that he would stand out more from the background.
I love Conrad's quizzical brow in this shot. He was actually slightly annoyed with me because we were at the lake taking pictures, not having fun. He also got a fair amount of mosquito bites that night, poor guy.