I need to get some new pictures for College Junction, and I can’t afford a ton of stock images. So this weekend, I’m going to making my friends up here model for me (in return for cookies). One of my friends is letting me use his DSLR Nikon camera. Of course, the only experience I have with these things is holding it for my dad or brother when they ask me to. Therefore, in order to get the best pictures I can for my photo shoot tomorrow, I’m spending part of my day learning how this thing works. I figured I’d turn it into a blog post, just in case anyone else needed a crash course.

Just a few disclaimers before anyone gets too excited:

  • I do not by any means at all think I will be a professional by the end of the day.
  • I am not at all implying if you read this post that YOU will be a professional by the end of the day.
  • I’m also not implying I can learn everything I need to know about photography in a day.
  • I can’t even really verify that I actually know what I’m doing at all.
  • I’m really just bringing you along on my journey and helping you to find some (hopefully) useful resources

With all that said, here we go.

9 am

I’m more of a hands-on learner, so I become ambitious and decide that I’ll just go outside and take photos by pressing random buttons and seeing what happens. It is at this time that I realize I don’t know what any of the buttons mean or do, besides the on/off switch and the shutter button. It’s also cloudy outside. So this happens.

photography for beginners


They honestly don’t look all that bad… and I kind of like the flower one, actually! But they didn’t all turn out as great as I was hoping.

9:30 am

I decide either the lighting outside is truly horrible and disgusting and wedding photographers must just refuse to do weddings when it’s not sunny, OR… there must be something I need to do with those other buttons to make my camera take better photos.

So I did what I always do when I have a question. Came back inside to my computer to research it. I vaguely started to remember I actually took a photography class in high school, and even though I don’t think I learned much from it, terms like “ISO” and “F-stop” came to mind. So I decided to try to figure out what they mean. This is what I found.

What Is ISO In Photography
From this article, I learned that basically the ISO is the film speed and what you need to know is that you want to use the lowest ISO speed you can. BUT the problem occurs when it’s dark, because if you use a low ISO speed when it’s dark, your picture will look dark and blurry. If you use a high ISO speed in the dark, it will look brighter and you can probably see it better, but it will be more grainy.

I decided to experiment.

Low ISO Speed

low ISO speed

High ISO Speed

high ISO speed

You can see that even though the second one is brighter, it’s a little more grainy.

The next thing I learned was about the F-Stop.
What’s An F Stop and What Does It Do
This was a cool picture that was in that article that helps you to understand what an F-stop is/does.

f stops

It looks like F-stops kind of impact the depth of something, right? Let’s go outside and try it out.

Well. That was a bit of a fail. Besides the fact it’s hard to figure out how to adjust the F-stop on the camera, it looks like it impacts more than just depth. For example, brightness maybe?

Low F-Stop

Low F-Stop

High but not Highest F-Stop


Highest F-Stop

High F Stop

….So that wasn’t really helpful.

It’s also raining and more cloudy now.


I just found this article, 10 Photography Tips for Beginners. Here’s a few quick useful notes from that article:

  • If you shoot in “S” mode, it will focus on Shutter Speed. Use this is stuff like sports or animals or anything moving quickly.
  • If you shoot in “A” mode, it will focus on the aperture. This is useful for lowlight situations.
  • Watch your white balance- just go into the settings and adjust for the lighting situation.


I think I’m going to have to go back to pressing buttons and mashing things. Or just use Auto mode. Looking back, those were some of the best photos I had I guess.


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