Review of Creative Control 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

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:


Let me know if you have any questions.


More helpful menu settings

In class, we covered the basic menu settings so we are ready to shoot in manual mode with back-button focus.

However, a few issues popped up, so I will try to address some of them here.

Display/Meter shutoff

First, a lot of us had to keep re-activating our camera’s displays and meter because the default shutoff/sleep time is set at about 30 seconds. As you discovered, this is an annoyance. You can change the amount of time the display/meter stays active. I recommend you do this so your camera’s display/meter doesn’t keep shutting down while you’re shooting. 5-10 minutes is a pretty good range before your camera goes to sleep.

On the Canon T3:

Navigate to the Setup menu 1 (first yellow menu). Find “Auto power off.” The default is 30 seconds. Change it to 8 minutes.

On the Canon T6i:

Setup Menu 2 (Yellow)/Auto power off/Choose 8 minutes

On the Nikon D3300 (and similar Nikons)

Setup Menu/Auto off timers/choose option “E: Long”/Ok

On Nikons, always remember to press “Ok” to save your changes.

Picture Style/Control

Note: this is why one student’s images and displays were in black and white!

There are menu items on both Canons and Nikons where you can set the look and style of your images. Folks who shoot video like to play around with these, but most are not suited for photojournalism. When you check out a camera, take a look at this menu item and always choose “Standard” or “Neutral.” Personally, I prefer neutral so the camera doesn’t change the contrast or the color saturation of the scene I am photographing.

T3 & T6i

Record Menu 2 (red)/Picture Style/choose Standard or Neutral


Shooting menu/Set Picture Control/choose Standard or Neutral/Ok

Problems with setting ISO

The Canon cameras have some menu settings that can interfere with setting your ISO manually. If you had problems, see if any of these fix the problem …

DISABLE “Highlight Tone Priority!” If turned on, this setting will not allow you to access the full range of ISO settings in Manual mode.

On T3: 

Setup Menu 3/Custom Functions/C.Fn. II-5 Highlight Tone Priority/Choose “-0: Disable”

On T6i

Setup Menu 4/Custom Functions/C.Fn. II:Image/C.Fn-3 Highlight Tone Priority/Choose “-0: Disable”

On the T6i, enable ISO expansion. If this is not enabled, you will not be able to access the full range of ISO speeds your camera is capable of. Word of warning! The highest ISO setting on most cameras produces poor image quality. For assignments in this class, you should avoid shooting at this highest setting (ISO 25,000). However, there are times when you simply need it to get the shot. You want to have the option. 

Setup Menu 3/Custom Functions/C.Fn-2 ISO Expansion/1: On

Nikon-specific settings

Make sure Auto ISO is turned OFF! If it is turned on, it will override your manual ISO settings.

Shooting menu/ISO sensitivity settings/Auto ISO/Off

Image quality settings: on Nikons, there are actually two menu settings you need to be aware of.

Shooting menu/Image Quality/JPEG/FINE

Shooting menu/Image size/Large

These are just a few things that came up. Let me know if you experience any other issues.

Follow-up on class: 1/25

If you need to review the material we went over in class, here you go …

Here is a PDF version of the presentation, with my presenter’s notes:

Technical Control: Photography basics

I’m going to post some videos here, too, in case you want to review what we watched in class, as well as a couple of videos that go into more depth about what we discussed:

This is the first video we watched, so you can review the basics. The terminology is important:


Second, here is a video that goes into detail about aperture values and why some lenses have a range of maximum apertures vs. a fixed maximum aperture value:


If you need to review how to shoot in manual mode and how to use your light meter, watch this:


Here is the video that helps explain the process of choosing the best exposure values (aperture, shutter speed, and ISO) for your conditions:


And here is the video on using back-button focus:


We skipped this video, but if you want a primer about how to use your autofocus points, view this:


Shooting news photographs is a lot more like shooting wildlife than you might realize! If you want more info and details about using back-button autofocus, watch this (NOTE: this is especially good for Nikon users who don’t have a dedicated AF-On button – such as the D3000, D3100, D3200, or D3300 – but Canon users should watch this, too, because the technique is the same):


So, there’s your review.

If any of you missed class, this is where you need to start. Read and watch everything, with your camera in hand. Then contact me ASAP if you have any questions.

That goes for everybody, if you have any questions, contact me!

Assignment 1: Visual Nouns and Verbs


DUE: Next Wednesday (Feb. 1) in class


Now is the time to start practicing the concepts we learned in class.

Shooting in manual mode will allow you to understand the Exposure Triangle. Learning the Exposure Triangle will help you avoid over/under-exposed images, as well as blurry images caused by movement.

By using back-button focus, you can better control your point-of-focus and focus-tracking rather than letting the camera choose for you.

When covering the news, there is more at stake than when you are shooting snapshots of your friends and family. You might only get one chance to capture that key, storytelling moment.

Assignment criteria for credit:

  1. Shoot at least 100 frames showing visual nouns
  2. Shoot at least 100 frames showing visual verbs
  3. Shoot in manual mode (you select the aperture, shutter speed and ISO)
  4. Use back-button focus (practice both focus/recompose and focus tracking)
  5. (Those with university T6i camera kits, please use the Tamron lens for this assignment)

Next week, bring to class:

  1. Your memory card with the pictures you shot to class next Wed.
  2. A card reader
  3. A clean (empty and formatted) storage device (a large capacity USB 3.0 jump drive or an external hard drive) to class

NOTE: Remember, if you checked out a university camera kit, you will need to return it by Friday because of the 5-day reservation limit. If you want more time to complete your assignment (most probably will), make another online reservation for the weekend or for Mon-Tues. You can go ahead and do this now. You will still have to stop by the Equipment Room Friday, even if you are reserving the same kit. If you have any questions about this, you can contact me, but the people in the Equipment Room can probably better answer your questions directly.

You can shoot anything, really. Soon, your choices of subject will be important, but for now, I want you to concentrate on becoming familiar with your camera and learning the basics of exposure and autofocus. So have fun with this!

Carry your camera with you wherever you go. That way, if you see anything that interests you, go ahead and make pictures. Trust me, you really don’t want to try and complete this assignment the day before class. Give yourself plenty of time to make mistakes (and you will!) and correct them.

And, again, keep shooting until you achieve correct exposure and focus before you move on to your next subject.

If you run into some problems, contact me right away. You can even text or call me. I can’t promise to respond right away, but I will as soon as I can.

Like I said, have fun with this, and I’ll see you next week.

Camera Kit checkout

You must bring a camera to the next class (1/25)!

If you are going to check out one of the university’s camera kits, here are the particulars …

First, here is a link to the Equipment Room Rules:

E.R. Rules

Read it thoroughly. You MUST print out and sign the last page and return it to me, no later than the next class. If you want, you can sign it, make a digital copy of it, and email it to me. If I don’t get these from you, you will not be able to check out equipment for this class.

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.

Because there is a 5-day limit on equipment checkouts, you will typically check out a camera the day after class (Thurs) and return it by 8:30 p.m. the following Monday for most shooting assignments. Your 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 (hence, the Thurs–Monday suggestion). If you like, though, you can check out kits from Fri-Tues, although most of your deadlines are on Tuesday, so you should probably  be done shooting before Tuesday whenever possible.

NOTE!!! Because you need to bring a camera kit to the next class, use 1/25/2017 as the start date. 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. 1/27/2017 by 3:30PM as the end date/time.


If you need more time to complete the assignment (most of you will!), you can make another reservation for over the weekend and return it by Monday, or make a reservation for Mon-Tues to complete your assignment. You will not need to bring a camera to the next class (2/1). You will only need to bring your SD card with the images you shot and a card reader.


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 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! But take care of it and don’t be reckless.

Remember, you will need to repeat the checkout procedure each week we have shooting assignments.

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 Wednesday, and bring your camera kits to class.

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



SD Cards – advice and deals!

We’re still a couple of weeks out from working hands-on with our cameras, but this is worth mentioning …

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

You should be doing this 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 reliability of your card. Learn how to correctly store and backup your media files!

My very strong suggestion: get a 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. The following are some cards I found on Amazon that I recommend:

Lexar Professional 1000x 16GB SDHC UHS-II/U3 Card (Up to 150MB/s read) w/Image Rescue 5 Software

This is a professional quality SD card that has the latest UHS-II/U3 standards. The $15.75 price is great. All Lexar professional cards come with their Image Rescue software, as well, so if you ever accidentally delete files from your card, you still have a chance to retrieve them. I’ve accidentally reformatted cards before downloading my images, and Image Rescue saved the day.

Another great deal from Lexar:

Lexar Professional 633x 16GB SDHC UHS-I Card w/Image Rescue 5 Software – LSD16GCB1NL6332 (2 Pack)

Two 16 GB cards for $13.49. It’s not the latest generation, but it should work great with the Canon Rebels and similar cameras. I still use one of these for backup in one of my cameras.

A 16 GB SanDisk card to consider for $15.75:

SanDisk Extreme PRO 16GB up to 95MB/s UHS-I/U3 SDHC Flash Memory Card

Here’s a pro-sumer card from SanDisk for only $10.85 that should meet your needs:

SanDisk Extreme 16GB SDHC UHS-I Card

SanDisk and Lexar are the most common brands you will see professional photographers and videographers using. Both are very reliable and built of quality material, and customer service is very good.

There are still many brands that are popular and good. Sony is usually top notch, but sometimes pricier than SanDisk or Lexar. Kingston, Delkin, Tobisha, and PNY are also well-known.

I have had good luck with Transcend cards. Consider this one for only $9.49:

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.

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

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.