How to take better photos with your DSLR Camera

I’ve been asked, “Dave, How did you learn photography?”  or “Dave, How did you learn to take such great pictures?”  It is such a difficult question to answer, because it isn’t something you learn over night or even in a few days.  To be honest with you, I learned photography by trial and error.  I tried a lot of things and made a lot of errors.  I even put the camera down and said “I quit!”  Then I came back and tried some more and made some more errors.  Then I started read books, watch YouTube Videos and read Blog posts from other photographers.

To tell you the truth.  The very first time I started reading, it sounded like advanced Physics.  So many concepts and things to learn and calculations.  Uggh, it just made my head hurt.  I would learn something and 10 minutes forget it.  I was just trying to learn to much to fast.  Some of the things just didn’t make sense until I read them over and over and practiced with my camera.

Now I added something new to my Trial and Error, Knowledge! One of the most difficult things I did was  trying to learn everything at once and mastering it all at the same time.  This might work from some people and but to be honest it didn’t work for me.  I got really good at a few of the things I learned and struggled with a lot of others.  In hindsight I  should have tried to learn a few simple things first and then build on that knowledge and continue to grow! Sound like something you learned when you were in school, doesn’t it?  Well this is my attempt to try and teach some things I have learned about Photography and pass them on to the readers of my blog.

This is going to be the 1st of several blog entries.  I don’t want to say it is the 1st of five or 1st of 10 blog entries, to be honest, i don’t know how many I’ll write.  I didn’t start out with an outline of what I want to teach about photography.    This is just going to be the first entry to let you know there is more to come.

Well, I’ll give you the first most important thing to learn before you begin.  Read  your manual “Cover to Cover”.  I’m joking of course, just read the section that is in English, (LOL) depending on your camera manufacture, this could be the whole thing, half, a third or a quarter of the manual.  Seriously, you should read enough of the manual to understand what every button and dial and menu is on  your system or at least how to find it pretty quick. That’s actually quite a bit to learn.  And it will make your head hurt.   I can’t teach you every unique manufacture’s cameras many different models.  There are just to many.  I’m going to talk about camera concepts and you will need to apply this to your camera.  Have your manual handy, refer back to it if your not sure how to do something.   I’ve had my camera for 2 years, and I still refer back to the manual because I forgot how to do something.  Don’t even get me started on trying to figure out the Flash.  And now I have two Flashes, and they are different models with different functions and capabilities.  Will the nightmare never end????

Let me share with you.  I have a Nikon D90 as my primary DSLR camera, and have many different lenses, in a future blog post, I’ll tell you more about Lenses.  So continue on to the next Blog Post – “Guide to taking better Pictures – Manual Mode – Part 1a” and let me know what you are thinking.  You can follow me on my Facebook page – Dave Larson Photography.

UPDATED – Aug 5th, 2012

Since writing this article I have added two additional cameras to my collection. My primary camera is now a Nikon  D800. I also have a Sony Nex-7. I still have the Nikodn D90 but haven’t used it in a few weeks. I’m still undecided on what I will do with it.