As we try to grow Nola Nerd Couple, we realized that we needed to improve our photography. Mrs. Nola Nerd Couple has a great eye for the type of shots that we want to feature on our blog, but often we have been regulated to our iPhones and six-year-old Sony point and shoot. While that Sony has served us well, we decided it’s time to buy a DSLR.
We choose a Nikon D5300 after reading tons of reviews of the best cameras for the price on Black Friday. This one came with an 18-55mm lens and a 70-300mm lens. It also can shoot video and has a microphone port. This will allow us to do a better job with our unboxing videos.
However, buying a camera doesn’t make one a photographer. Being a photographer takes years of study and being a great one often takes a lifetime. I see far too many people get a nice camera and set-up shop. While we would like to start doing cosplay portraits, we know that is a long time away. First, we need to understand how to work this particular camera. We need to know how to set shutter speed and aperture correctly. We need to learn to work with different lighting. Then after all that, we need to work on composing better shots.
Right now we are reading websites about cameras, blogs from photographers (you should follow this one), and watching lots of Lynda.com. We have taken our camera out for some test drives. We experimented with manual settings. That’s when I realized how steep the learning curve is. I took a few photos that I thought were composed well, but I didn’t have it on the right settings so they came out poorly. However, experience is always the best teacher.
It’s too easy to break my resolve. I’m weak willed. Therefore, I have resolved to call my resolutions challenges. It sounds better. It allows for me to fail because challenges are sometimes hard. Plus, there is always next year.
So what are my challenges for the New Year?
Every time we travel someplace new or familiar, Cristina and I always try to find what is unique about the place. This is especially true about New Orleans. While we might live in the suburbs now, Cristina used to live in New Orleans and I taught in New Orleans Public Schools before Katrina. This makes us, in our eyes, locals. Yet, sometimes, it pays to look at New Orleans with the eyes of a traveler. There is so much history and beauty to this city that we don’t know.
This is why we often look for tours of New Orleans. LivingSocial makes it very easy to find the tours for a great price.
The most recent tour we took was with American Photo Safari. Four hours of walking the French Quarter and taking pictures. Sure, we could do it for free, but calling it a tour is the last way I would describe it. Sure, we saw the sights and learned some history of the Quarter. But this tour was so much more than that. It was a photography class. In fact, on their website they call their tours workshops.
Chris, our tour guide/teacher, started off the tour with a handout. The handout was cheat sheet for using a camera covering white balance, shutter speed, aperture, depth of field, as well as some composition tips.
All you need for this tour is a camera with fully charged batteries. I had a Canon Rebel while Cristina had our trusty Sony HX5V (a point and shoot). Everyone else in the group…which was about six people…had a different camera. Chris was at ease showing us how to work our camera to get the shots we want. A lot of the information I knew in theory, but Chris taught how to actually get my camera to do what I want it to do. While I don’t begrudge anyone who sets their camera to full auto, Chris showed us how to take control of our cameras.
At the end of the day, we both knew we had got more than our money’s worth for the day. While I still think Cristina has a better eye for a good shot than I do*, I now know how to manipulate my camera to get the details I want in my shot.
This tour is perfect for people who are getting into photography. It’s also perfect for people who have a fancy camera but aren’t quite sure how to work it past the full auto.
And now, the pictures of the tour!
*I’ll convince Cristina to do her own blog of the pictures she took. And yes, I was right; she has much better eye for a good photograph than I do!