Review of Creative Control & Captions basics

You need to learn how your gear (especially lenses) can affect how your images look, or, your creative choices. Review here, if you need to, and start practicing!!!

PDF version of the presentation:

Creative Control/Captions

You might want to scroll towards the end and review examples of captions by former students. Learn from their mistakes!!! We will definitely revisit captions in future classes. For now, just make sure you collect all of the information that satisfies the “Who” part for your mug shots.

Here is the video on depth-of-field basics:


Here is the video that demonstrates how depth-of-field, field of view, and perspective changes with focal length. Reviewing this one might be particularly helpful as you work your way through Part 2: Lens Perspectives/Depth-of-Field of your shooting assignment:


Let me know if you have any questions.


Using your camera kits for this class

So, here’s some things to keep in mind after you check out your camera kits from the Com Arts Equipment Room.

Look through the bag and make sure there is a battery charger. Take note of everything that is in the bag, and make sure everything gets returned when you’re done.

Battery care. Some advice about batteries: Keep your battery charged. You never want to start shooting an assignment and have the battery die on you. Plus, you just never know when you will run across an opportunity for a great picture. Always be ready! Top the battery off whenever you can (the charger has a wall plug-in), but don’t leave the battery on the charger once it’s charged – especially overnight. This will shorten the life of the battery.

Travel light. When we bring cameras to class, bring everything in the kit. But when you’re on assignment or just out-and-about, consider leaving the bag behind, unless you really need the extra lens and the battery charger. Travel light. Use the camera strap and carry your camera/lens over your shoulder – everywhere! Again, you just never know when life will present a great picture opportunity. Always be ready!

Be ready! Speaking of being ready, I recommend leaving the lens cap off. If you’re incredibly paranoid and if you it makes you feel better, then leave it on the lens. But, again, you are not ready to shoot pictures if there’s a lens cap on.

Treat your gear with respect and don’t be reckless with it. But you don’t have to baby it. It’s meant to be used as a tool – not an accessory.

SD Cards – advice and deals!


The FIRST thing we are going to do with our cameras on Monday is to insert our SD cards and RE-FORMAT them.

So, if you already have a card you would like to use for this class, download any images or videos you already have on them, and store them someplace else. Store them on your computers, on a USB jump drive, or an external hard drive.

You really shouldn’t be using your SD card to store you images for more than one shooting assignment. You should be reformatting on a regular basis, anyway. It’s not a good idea – and certainly not professional – to use the memory card for your recording devices as longterm storage. File systems created by your devices on the cards can become corrupt over time. If that happens, you will not be able to access the files on your cards. Frequent reformatting increases the long-term reliability of your card. Learn how to correctly store and backup your media files!

Here’s an older post about storage: Tip: Protect those precious memories!

The technology has changed a little bit, but the fundamentals are the same. Get a hard drive or a USB jump drive, if you don’t already have one.

My very strong suggestion: get an SD card and use it just for this class. You can never have too many cards, anyway.

So I want to make some recommendations that should satisfy your needs, even if you’re on a tight budget. First, a 16 GB card should get you through shooting assignments for this class, since we will be shooting in the JPEG format, and since you should be reformatting between assignments. But you might want to consider a larger capacity card. 32 GB is kind of the sweet spot between capacity and performance. But I’ll leave that up to you and your student budgets.

First, you probably don’t need a super-fast, super large card for this class. The Canon Rebel kit cameras don’t have very fast burst rates. However, don’t get super-cheap, obsolete cards, either. Look for something that is rated at about 90 MB/s or 600x, at minimum.

The following are some cards I found on Amazon that I recommend.

NOTE: Lexar used to be one of the brands that professionals relied upon. They produced memory cards that were amongst the industry leaders in speed and reliability. However, the parent company – Micron – decided that they were making too much money producing memory for companies like Amazon, Facebook, etc., and they have ceased production of their Lexar line. You can still find plenty of Lexar cards available, but they are now frequently MORE expensive than their competitors because of demand. Plus, you will no longer receive support from Micron on updates and warrantees. If you can find a good deal on Lexar cards, go for it! Just don’t expect deals.

SanDisk 16GB Class 10 SDHC UHS-I Up to 80MB/s Memory Card

This is probably the slowest and cheapest card I would recommend for shooting with University camera kits. SanDisk and Lexar have traditionally been the two top choices of pros, due to reliability and research. See the above comment on Lexar, however. At less than $10, this will get the job done for this class, assuming you are using a University camera kit or something similar. Nothing more.

SanDisk Extreme 16GB SDHC UHS-I Card

This is a better choice for only about $4 more. If you want to use what the pros use, it’s hard to go wrong with SanDisk. Still only 16 GB of storage, but that should be okay for your assignments for this class, assuming you reformat your card between assignments. You can get the same card with with a 32GB capacity for only $17.

If you want to take another step up, I can recommend the SanDisk Extreme Pro 32GB SDHC UHS-I Card.

This card is only $21.85, right now. Professional speeds and reliability.

There are many brands that are popular and good. Sony is usually top notch, but usually pricier than SanDisk. Kingston, Delkin, Tobisha, and PNY are also well-known. I just bought a Tobisha card that I like a lot.

I have also had good luck with Transcend cards. Consider this one for only $14.13:

Transcend 16GB SDHC Class 10 UHS-1 Flash Memory Card

Personally, I would avoid obscure brands and the bargain bin versions of the big name cards. They are hardly worth the few dollars you might spend on them – questionable reliability and durability, and usually very slow. They might make your camera buffer and download/copy speeds are typically very slow.

The latest technology offers UHS-II speeds. UHS-II cards are pricier, but the fastest available. However, they probably aren’t necessary with consumer cameras, like the Canon Rebel kits the university offers. They won’t offer faster shooting speeds on these cameras, but they will have faster download speeds if you have the right kind of card reader. I can offer suggestions, if you’re interested.

Check these out and let me know if you have any questions.

Camera Kit checkout

Make time to read over this carefully, because you must bring a camera and an SD card to the next class (1/29)!

Make sure you present your Student ID when you check out/pick up equipment. We have an arrangement to provide 5-day checkouts for this class only. That’s why you need your ID.

The Canon T3 and T6i kits are recommended for this class. There are other kits (T3i, T5i) available, but they don’t included the lens I would like every one to learn on (the Tamron 17-55mm f/2.8 lens). If you have your own camera with a basic kit lens, or all of the T3 and T6i kits are checked out, we can still make this work. You will just be limited to shooting mostly outdoors, during daylight hours.

However, like I said in Class #1, you will be able to shoot every assignment for this class outdoors, during the day.

Many of you indicated you are familiar with the equipment checkout process, but if you aren’t familiar with the process, here are the particulars …

Here is a link to the Equipment Room Rules:

E.R. Rules

Here is the link to the online checkout page:

Sign in, then click on the drop-down menu in the upper left-hand corner and select “New Reservation.”

Fill out the dates and times for your reservation. Note that 9:30 a.m. is the earliest you can pick up equipment Mon-Fri, and you must return by 8:30 p.m. Mon-Thurs and by 3:30 p.m. on Fridays.

The ER Rules sheet states that equipment can only be checked out for a 24-hour period, but I spoke with ER supervisor Ben Bentley and he understands the nature of this class. The online checkout software allows for a 5-day reservation for this class.

You may check out equipment over the weekend. If you think you might need extended time to complete an assignment, I suggest checking out gear until Thursday, turn it in, and then try to reserve a kit for the weekend on Friday. There’s no guarantee the equipment will be available, but it’s an option.

NOTE!!! Because you need to bring a camera kit to the next class, use 1/29/2017 as the start date, if reserving online. Again, there is a 5-day limit on checkouts, and the equipment room closes at 4 p.m. on Fridays and is closed on the weekends. So again, for this checkout, use Fri. 2/2/2017 by 3:30PM as the end date/time.



Under “Browse Resources” on the left, select “Cameras/Canon and choose either the Rebel T3 or the Rebel T6i.

On the right-hand side of the page, you will see the available kits. Click on “Reserve One of This Type.”

A notification will appear in the shopping cart on the right-hand side of the page. Click on the shopping cart and it will tell you which kits are available.

Click on the “Confirm” button at the bottom right-hand corner of the page.

A box will appear, telling you that your reservation has been confirmed. Click “Okay.”


That’s it. When you arrive to pick up your camera kit at the equipment room, you will have to present your ID, sign for it, and you will receive a sheet that shows you the replacement cost of the gear you are checking out. You don’t have to baby your gear – it’s meant to be used! For example, you are not ready to shoot pictures if your camera is in its case/bag. (Carry your camera /w lens attached over your shoulder). And if you always have your lens cap on, you’re not read to shoot, either! Always be ready to shoot pictures!

Just take care of your equipment and don’t be reckless.

Remember, you will need to repeat the checkout procedure each week we have shooting assignments. I will always tell you when you need to bring a camera to class. Otherwise, you can begin your checkout period on Tuesday.

Just make sure you return your equipment before the time you designated when you make your reservation. If you have any problems making your reservation online, stop by the equipment room and Ben will get you squared away.

So go ahead and make your reservation, pick it up Monday, and bring your camera kits to class.

And don’t forget to bring an SD card for it!!!



Manual, Quick-start guide for camera kits

For those of you who will be checking out camera kits from Sanford Tuesday, here are links to the manual and quick-start guide:

Canon Rebel T3 Quick-start guide

Canon Rebel T3 instruction manual

All of you – start familiarizing yourselves with the controls and menus of your cameras. We’re going to start shooting – in class. Be prepared!

See you Wednesday and let me know if you have any questions before then.

Putting together a used Nikon kit


If you don’t own any camera gear already, strongly consider a Nikon kit, as well. Nikon once reigned supreme in the world of professional photography. When I started shooting in the 1980s, over 90% of professionals used Nikon gear.

Canon has gained the edge in both amateur and professional market shares, but Nikon products and technology are still recognized as serious gear for pros, and Nikons are always reliable and of top quality. Again, perusing the KEH website, I would recommend considering the following bodies:

Nikon D200 ($144-182) – I highly recommend this excellent prosumer camera, even if it’s a bit dated. It makes great image files that are easy to work with in image editing software. It has all the controls you need right at your fingertips instead of having to scroll through menus. It has weather sealing and is more solid and durable than the Canon and Nikon consumer-level DSLRs. This is a really easy camera to use and learn on. In fact, I know a couple of pros who still use it.

Nikon D40 or D40x ($133-159) – These entry-level DSLRs are now discontinued, but a used one can make a fine, economical starter camera to learn on. Small, light, and easy to use. The D40x has a larger megapixel count (10.2), but unless you want to make poster-sized prints, the D40’s 6.1 megapixels are plenty enough resolution for most uses.

Nikon D70 or D70s ($62-126) – At these prices, the D70 is a much better deal than the D40 or any of the Canon Rebel models, as it offers a more robust build with more features and external controls. The D70 had an excellent reputation and even has some unique features that once made professionals include one of these in their bags along with their highly expensive bodies.

Nikon D80 ($133-168) – See above. The D80 is a little more advanced.

If you insist on something a little newer, consider the D3100 or D5100 ($182-268). Both are entry-level DSLRs that have slightly more advanced sensors than the above cameras. Like all entry-level cameras, they lack external controls to change all the settings. You’ll have to to call up the menus more often.

The advice for Nikon lenses is generally the same as it is for Canon, except Nikon has kept the same lens mount from their film days. In other words, if you are willing to focus and shoot on manual, you can use any Nikon lens built all the way back to the 1960s. The following recommended lenses are all autofocus, but if you want some advice on other lenses that might work, let me know.

*TAMRON 17-50MM F/2.8 ($257-278) – again, for comparison: this is the same lens supplied with the university’s DSLR camera kits, except with a Nikon mount.

NIKON 18-55MM F/3.5-5.6 G AF-S DX VR II  ($94 – $115) – Nikon’s latest, basic “kit” lens. Maximum apertures are slow and it’s got a plastic barrel, but it’s sharp, has vibration reduction (image stabilization) and it’s fine to learn on.

NIKON 18-55MM F/3.5-5.6 G ASPHERICAL ED AF-S DX ($65-76) – same as above, but without vibration reduction, which isn’t crucial in this focal range.

NIKON 18-70MM F/3.5-4.5 G ASPHERICAL ED IF DX AF-S ($115-126) – For a little more money, you can get a lens with much better build quality, slightly faster maximum aperture, and a wider zoom range. This one’s recommended.

NIKON 35-80MM F/4-5.6 D MACRO ($72) – This is an older lens, but will work fine with pretty much any Nikon body. It’s a bargain, too.

NIKON 28-80MM F/3.5-5.6 D ($45-62) – Similar to the above lens, but with a wider zoom range. Another bargain.

NIKON 28-70MM F/3.5-4.5 D MACRO ($94) – Similar to the above two lenses, but a little newer and a little better build quality.

These are all basic, lo-cost lenses to get you started. If you can spend a little more money on a lens, I recommend that you do it, and I can make some suggestions for you.

Putting together a used Canon camera kit


First, here are some links to Canon gear. Canon makes the top selling cameras in both the amateur and professional markets. It’s hard to go wrong with a Canon product, even used.

First up, for comparison’s sake, here is the same camera currently available for checkout in Sanford Hall:

CANON REBEL T3. ($159). The University has several of these, and its perfectly fine for learning on. Frankly, you can get a more advanced model camera, albeit older, for less money.

And here is the exact lens you can check out:

TAMRON 17-50MM F/2.8 ($248.00 – $268.00) – This is a pricier and much better lens than what usually comes in a beginner’s kit. Note the constant f2.8 maximum aperture. You should all understand the significance of that soon.

I said I could put you in a good camera/lens combination for less than $300, so here you go:

Body: CANON 30D ($139-168) – The 30-D is a “prosumer” semi-professional model. It was introduced in 2006 and replaced by the 40D in 2008. The one thing some folks might not like about it is that it has only a 2.5″ LCD display on its back instead of the 3″ LCD most of us are used to. Really, you should only be using the LCD to check for proper exposure anyway, and its fine for that. The 30D just hits the value sweet spot, IMO. Here’s a detailed review of the camera if you’re interested (with links to other models, as well): Ken Rockwell on the 30D. There are currently four of these bodies in stock, ranging from “bargain” condition to “like new.” One of our editors at the Statesboro Herald owns one of these, and he loves it. I highly recommend this camera.

Lens: CANON 18-55MM F/3.5-5.6 IS II ($72.00 – $94.00) – This is the latest basic Canon kit lens, with image stabilization, that typically come with a brand new beginner’s camera kit. There are currently 4 in stock, all in excellent or better condition – all for under $100. It’s not as good as the lens you can check out from the university, but it will do if you’re just starting out.

So there it is. A decent learning kit for under $300 if you buy the 30D and the lens in “like new” condition. If you buy the 30D in “bargain” condition and the lowest price lens listed above, that’s only $174! That’s cheaper than a lot of textbooks you guys have to buy, and we’re not using a textbook for this class!!!

There are other options in a similar price range, and some better and newer equipment if you can spend a little more. Here are some examples …

More cameras:

CANON 20D ($105 – $139) – If you’re really on a tight budget, the predecessor of the 30D might be a great camera for you. Slightly smaller LCD screen (2″), but most of the same features as the 30D. Makes great images. Personally, I’d rather have one of these than a Rebel model, and at this price, it’s a no-brainer. One student last spring bought one of these and was very pleased with it.

CANON 40D ($168 – $218) – With a 3″ LCD on the back, this camera will feel more familiar to you. For a little more money, you get higher resolution and faster operation speeds than the 30D. If you can swing it, you can still get this more advanced camera and the kit lens cited above for less than $300. Do it, if you can!

Personally, I would take any one of the Canon x0D line (10D-70D) over the most advanced Rebel model made today as a camera to learn digital photography with. The main advantages are build quality (with some weather sealing), faster and more accurate autofocus, faster shooting rates, and external controls for all of your most important settings so you don’t have to scroll through menus all the time. This line of cameras also has the brilliant Quick Control Dial on the back of the camera to help you speed through settings and review images with your thumb. No Rebel model has this great feature.

Canon Quick Control Dial

The brilliant Canon Quick Control Dial!


That said, some Rebel models offer a less expensive starting point. Consider the REBEL XSREBEL XSI, REBEL XT, and REBEL XTI models. If the price is the same or even close, I would still recommend one of the x0D models first mentioned.

More lenses:

The  18-55mm f4.5-5.6 lens mentioned above is the latest version. KEH has the same lens in earlier incarnations, all for under $100 dollars. Just plug these numbers into your search and you will find many available in various conditions.

CANON 28-105MM F/3.5-4.5 MACRO ($99-149) – Currently, there is one in stock, in bargain condition. This lens has a wider zoom range, is slightly faster than the basic kit lens above, and it adds macro (closeup) capabilities. Also economical. Consider this lens.

CANON 28-135MM F/3.5-5.6 IS MACRO ($94 – $192) – If you have a little more money to spend, you can get a wider zoom range with micro ability. They have lots of these in stock.

CANON 70-210MM F/4 MACRO ($84-109) – Folks, I’m pretty sure this lens is older than anyone in this class, but you still might consider it! I wouldn’t suggest this lens as your main zoom if you’re just starting out. But this zoom range is classic and pretty much every pro has some type of lens similar to this. If you have a little extra money, consider adding this to your kit. It’s got some quirks because of its older design (you have to flip a switch to manually focus and it’s got a push/pull zoom instead of the zoom ring most common in today’s lenses). But it’s still really sharp and gives you an extremely economical way to start exploring the short-to-medium telephoto range of focal lengths. Seriously, consider this lens!


Anyway, these are some suggestions to get you started. As always, feel free to contact me if you have any questions.