DSLR 101

You finally got your hands on a DSLR! But nobody warns you about how intimidating these cameras can be! And that manual that comes with it? It’s like a pound of paper in another language!

Luckily, Photography teacher Jami Edman has prepared a quick lesson on DSLRs.


Most DSLR cameras have a few different modes that may be better than just the auto mode.

Portrait mode – lowers the aperture and focuses on the face and gives a more shallow depth of field or blur in the background.

Sports mode – your camera will set the camera to a high shutter speed to stop the action.

Landscape mode – combine slower shutter speeds with smaller aperture settings to increase the depth of field when shooting sweeping landscapes.


This will help when you read your manual and photography articles. Learn what aperture, shutter speed, ISO is and what those words mean. For instance:

Aperture is how wide your lens will open, the wider it opens the more light it lets in, and the more shallow the depth of field will be.
Shutter speed is how fast the shutter opens and shuts (like a door), this controls the amount of light that comes in and how the camera stops motion. A slower shutter speed makes moving objects blurry, high shutter speed freezes motion.
ISO is how sensitive your camera sensor is to light. In low light situations you need a higher ISO, but that adds a graininess to your photos.


Many people do a 365 project and take a photo everyday, but that can be overwhelming. 52 projects where you take a photo each week, works well. I did this last year.
Set a goal to learn something new about your camera or photography each month. For instance, spend a month Googling and searching YouTube all about shutter speed. The next month learn all you can about window light, etc. Set up a private Facebook group with friends who also love photography and share your photos and things you have learned.


Do not shoot from straight on. Shoot from below or above your subject. Or try shooting from the side.


Yes, the kit lens is not the best lens out there, but there are a few ways to use them that will add creativity to your photos. zoom out and shoot at 18mm- this is a wide angle shot and will make what ever is close to the lens distorted, this is fun with kids..you can get some very unique looks. If you are trying to shoot a portrait of a group or single individual you should always be zoomed out at 55mm as this compresses the background and will give you some of that background blur and will not distort any portion of your photo. Yes this means you may need to back up to get everyone in the photo.

Ready to learn more? Take Jami’s Photography Boot Camp Classes in February or March. Find them at www.Imagesbyjami.com.

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