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...

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Shooting at 50 mph

I took this shot yesterday as we crossed the Tennessee River bridge into Decatur, Alabama. (I wasn't driving by the way). It was shot at ISO 320, f11, 1/500 sec. I added a PH preset in Lightroom.

The water was especially still, giving me a good reflection off the water below. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Another Reason Manual Mode Rocks!

We had an awesome electrical storm Sunday night. Conditions at my house were not bad but there was a pretty cool storm both to the north and the south of us. I took just a few minutes to go out on our back deck with my Nikon D300 with a Nikon 18-135 zoom. This was mounted on a tripod. The ISO was already set at 320 so I left it there. I set the aperture to 9 and the shutter speed at 6 seconds. I then aimed the camera toward the northeast and focused on a light in the distance. After that, about all I did was press the shutter release.

This first shot was one where you could see the amount of lightning activity. As you can see, the lightning lit up the yard.

The second shot is another one that struck relatively nearby.

The third is similar, but I applied a Lightroom preset to give it a little more impact. I only shot for a few minutes and got about 10 usable shots. So how was it different shooting it in manual than what I would have done a year ago? A year ago I would have probably gone with Aperture priority and opened the aperture to the largest possible setting. While that might work well with a daylight portrait, it doesn't always work best for shots like these.

These are definitely the best lightning shots I've been able to get before. The good part is that I didn't have to torment for minutes over how to set the camera. I set it and started snapping pictures.

I'm loving this personal project. What is your personal project for this year? Camera Dojo just had a good podcast about personal projects. I hope you start yours tomorrow.

All the best...Mike

Thursday, July 8, 2010

What Now??? Manual Focus!!!!

Just when I thought I was getting used to the manual settings on my camera...

I just received a Lensbaby Composer today that I purchased from Outdoor Photo Gear (great purchase experience, by the way). Although I knew very well that this is a manual focus lens I don't want to think about the number of times that I pressed the shutter release half way expecting the image to automatically come into focus. It's amazing how accustomed we become to using the automatic features on our cameras and lenses. Here are a couple of shots that I took after work tonight. Both were shot at f2.8 and ISO 200. The first was shot at 1/320 sec. and the second at 1/400 sec.

Maybe having to use manual focus will make me think more about the actual process of focusing. Do I see myself moving my camera to manual focus all the time? Not a chance. However, it's good to remember that the great photographers of yesteryear did not have the advantage of automatic everything.

On another note, I visited our local Unclaimed Baggage Center on Monday. Though I did not find anything good in the camera section as I wandered through the electronics department, I saw a new, in the original package, BlackRapid RS-4 R Strap hanging on a peg. It was marked as an "electronic accessory" and priced for $25.99. Needless to say, it is now proudly hanging from my D300.

As I trekked through New York City a few weeks ago, I told my wife that I wish I had a camera strap that would hang at my side but easily slide into action when I need it. I was starting to engineer such a strap in my mind when I discovered that someone had already invented that strap. I had planned to order one but had not yet done it. I feel bad for the person who bought this one and promptly lost it when the airline lost his/her luggage. However, I'm glad to have gotten a great deal.

New R-strap (half price), new Lensbaby Composer (great deal on a demo model along with Independence Day discount from Outdoor Photo Gear) and I'm supposed to receive my new iPhone 4 tomorrow (paid full price for that one). It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas... No more goodies for me for a while!