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07.01.2013

Welcome to the newest section of our blog, No Fear Photography! We’re here to help beginning photographers learn to make the most of their cameras, to take creative control, to explore, and capture amazing images all along the way.

It’s never been a better time to make the jump from a camera phone or point and shoot to an interchangeable lens camera–today’s entry level cameras in both the DSLR and compact interchangeable lens categories offer feature sets for both still and video that outclass pro cameras from a decade ago costing several thousand dollars.

Off and running

We’ll get you up and running with your DSLR and compact interchangeable photography! This photo was made with the  Olympus E-PL2 in Aperture-priority Program mode to select the fastest F2.8 aperture and continuous AF on the Sigma 30mm F2.8 DN | Art lens o to track and freeze the action and also soften the background. Learning how and when to select different camera modes and settings helps take more creative control.

 

Cameras are smarter than ever–with predictive autofocus, advanced automatic metering and scene modes– it is really easy to leave a DSLR with the bundled lens on Program mode all the time with good results.

Taking creative control–selecting your own shutter speeds and F/Stop to adjust the feel of the photo in terms of how much is in focus and to freeze fast action or convey a sense of motion, or by selecting a longer or wider lens to bring a different feel to your point of view–this is truly where the expressive power of the camera shines through.

It can seem daunting at first to take the camera out of auto mode and risk missing that moment, we know. But without practice and experimentation, it’s tough to grow!  Making lots of images and learning from your successes, and mistakes, is all part of the learning process.  When the moment counts–and isn’t repeatable–that’s the time to stick to your tried and true methods for making a shot. But once you’ve got that safe shot in the bag, that’s the time to try a new technique.

Starfish

Selective shallow focus with a defocused background helps draw the viewer’s eyes exactly where you want them, in this case, to the hands and starfish. This photo was made with a 30mm F1.4 prime lens at F1.8 on  a Canon EOS Rebel T3i  for a tiny bit more depth of field.

In upcoming postings, we’re going to talk about how shutter speeds, apertures, ISOs, zooming in or out, swapping lenses, changing camera Autofocus settings, changing metering, why sometimes kneeling, crouching, standing on top of things makes for stronger photos, how to tell a story with a handful of images, and much more. We’re going to have a lot of fun with this, and we hope you do, too.  We’ll tackle how to effectively chase kids and animals with a camera, and offer tips on tricky situations like amusement park rides, birthday parties, and more. We’ll tackle creative, aesthetic, and compositional tips and tricks.

Overall the emphasis is always going to be on how to make the most of your gear–whatever kit you’ve got. For example, over the past few months, I’ve been using the Canon EOS Rebel T3i to illustrate a lot of our blog postings. This is an entry-level DSLR that’s a couple years old and a few generations behind the newest model, and it can make beautiful images.

We’ve already added a couple of articles from our blog archive into No Fear Photography, including this timely how-to on capturing Fireworks , making creative beachscapes, tips for great family photography, how and when to use Optical Stabilization.

And don’t worry if you’re not yet shooting with a Sigma lens. So much of the info and topics we’ll be covering here are universal. For example the tips offered in the Optical Stabilizer piece apply universally whether it’s called VR, VC, IS, on a lens, or you’ve got a camera with a shifting sensor for stabilizing.

Weston

Sigma Tech Rep Jared Ivy lied on the grass to make this eye-level photo of his son, Weston. Changing your point of view can lead to much stronger shots. Don’t be afraid to get a little dusty or look a little silly to get the right angle!

And we want your feedback. We want to know what you are struggling with, and what subjects you’d like us to address in upcoming articles. Sometimes, articles will include short, optional assignments designed to help you understand the concept, and we welcome you to share these on our social sites such as Facebook. Live chats on Facebook and Google Hangouts with some of the Sigma crew responding to reader questions are also on the horizon.

Don’t be afraid to ask us anything to help you learn more about making better photos–if you don’t want to publicly post a question, at feel free to email me and it might turn into a future post!

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  1. Good job! I’m currently struggling with whether to move up to Full Frame camera. Any comments or recommendations from anyone?