Monday, June 23, 2008

Dave’s DRAFT Photography FAQs

These are some FAQs I wrote for the forum. They're a fun group of folks. I'll post more of the FAQ in the next few days.

I took it on myself to answer some of the questions that are FAQs to help as many forum readers as possible and relieve folks of answering oft repeated questions.

These are all my opinion(s) so far. I tired to write it as generic to Nikon and Canon,but I'm a Canon guy, with limited Nikon knowledge. Answers are not exhaustive, just covering the highlights, quickly. I’m open to suggestions, edits and updated answers. If there's nothing too controversial or just outright wrong maybe we can get a sticky on it later. If folks want to use this elsewhere, I'd like to get the credit for it....

What books do you recommend for beginners?
Firstly, you have to read the manual from the camera company. The Magic Lantern manual for your camera is a good starting point too.
Once you know where the buttons are, the books below are proven winners:
Bryan Peterson’s “Understanding Exposure: How to Shoot Great Photographs with a Film or Digital Camera (Updated Edition)” Scott Kelby’s Digital Photography Book, Volumes 1&2 Scott Kelby’s book about whatever version of Photoshop you have Rick Sammon's Complete Guide to Digital Photography 2.0: Taking, Making, Editing, Storing, Printing, and Sharing Better Digital Images Featuring Adobe Photoshop Elements (Paperback). Rick is associated with MPIX. He’s also a great teacher. Any book by John Shaw

These books are linked over on the right.

I don’t understand FStops, ISOs and shutter speeds. I’ll never get it!
Yes you will, after you read Bryan Peterson’s book above.

I’m just starting out and using my on camera flash, how can I make the photos better?
Stop it! They are notorious for giving blown out, snap-shotty photos, not professional looking at all. You need to look into working with available light, a factory strobe, or moving to off camera flash and strobes.

Off camera flash is too hard to figure out.
No, you can do it. is a great resource for learning off camera flash. Start in the 101 section.

Which off camera flash should I get?
That depends. You can get the factory flash for your hotshoe, or go with Vivitar or Metz units. Strobist likes the Nikon SBs and Vivitar Flash units. Check out for the normal flash units. Alien Bees are highly recommended for studio work on this board. Generally get the highest rated AB unit you can so you aren’t underpowered in the future.

Which wireless triggers do you recommend for off camera flash and strobes?
Pocket Wizards are the top of the line choice, especially for pros that are outside their studios that must have ultimate reliability, especially a long way from their camera. Ebay triggers from Gadget Infinity are much less expensive and only slightly less reliable. Their range is much less than the PWs, but still perfectly serviceable, especially in a studio situation. Radio Poppers are on the horizon, and look interesting, but aren’t ready to go yet.

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