The New Manual DSLR Project

Hi, and welcome to my blog. The Manual DSLR Project was started March 30, 2010 with the intent of devoting one year to learning how to use my Nikon D300 in manual mode. I invited you to join me as I took this journey. You celebrated with me as my fingers began to remember which wheel adjusts the shutter speed and which controls the aperture settings. I was brutally honest in sharing my mistakes.

A year passed quickly...and I achieved my goal of demystifying the manual operation of my camera.

While the Manual DSLR Project was intended to be bound by time (one year), I am eager to keep the conversation going. So look for additional posts on anything related to photography. And interact. Let me know if you are reading the blog and find it useful.

All the best...

Saturday, April 3, 2010

April 3, 2010 - It's okay to cheat a little at first isn't it?

This is my first blog post and I must say it is difficult to know where to start...After a good deal of consideration, I decided to cheat, um.. I mean use all the resources available to me. In July, 2009 I was thinking of buying a light meter and visited Sekonic's web site. While there, I entered a contest and voila, I won a Sekonic L758-DR and an Exposure Profile Target II.
So, since the folks at Sekonic were kind enough to give me a great light meter, why shouldn't I start there?

So here's what I did. I went out in the front yard with my camera, tripod, and Quantaray 70-300 macro F4-5.6, along with my trusty Sekonic L758-DR and Portaflash 5 in 1 reflector system. I placed the black diffuser behind the subject, then took a reading at F5.6 and shot it at 1/250 sec. at ISO 320. It is sunny this afternoon, but the front of the house where I was shooting is in shade at this time of day. The result is shown in this photo.

So what did I learn? First, use all the tools that are available to me. The light meter made taking this photo very easy. The black diffuser gave me a good background so that attention is drawn to the subject. I also learned something about lens selection here. I also shot the same image with a Nikon 80-200 F2.8 lens and the result was not as good. This Quantaray lens was very inexpensive, takes forever to focus, and is not the best quality glass in my bag. However, it did a nice job with the extreme close-up--better than the much faster Nikon lens that cost much more.

Lesson number 1 - Use the right tool for the job. Your most expensive or "best" lens isn't always the best lens for the job. Think about what you are shooting then select the best lens and accessories for the job. As for using my D300 in manual mode...I'm working on remembering that the front dial changes aperture settings and the back one changes shutter speed. I think the biggest part of this project will be that repetition is the mother of learning. The more I use manual mode the more comfortable I'll be with it. At some point, I hope, I'll be able to look at a shot (sans light meter) and say, "I think I'll shoot this at ISO 320, F5.6 and set my shutter at 1/250 sec." Until then, thank you Sekonic.

Until next time...


P.S. I may post some photos from time to time without any narrative. Also, I guess I have Lightroom set to mark exported photos with a copyright, but it looks like I need to change the date to 2010. I'll see if I can figure that out.

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