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Old Dec 27, 2011, 10:34 PM   #21
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As for tips, I have created a site that gives links to photography sites full of tips -

http://photographyintro.com/

Once there, look at the panel on the right labeled "Camera settings and other how-to tips". Those links are ordered (roughly) with the easier, more basic sites at the top. More advanced or specialized sites toward the bottom. No doubt this could lead to information overload . So just pick one or two of those sites that you are comfortable with and start browsing.

Kelly
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Old Dec 27, 2011, 10:55 PM   #22
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Fantastic. Have it bookmarked. Thanks.
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Old Dec 28, 2011, 9:59 AM   #23
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You've already got an awful lot of information to digest here, but I'd like to throw in a couple of basic ideas and suggestions.

First, in your original post, you mentioned leaving all of the lights on in the house so you would not be shooting in low light. In my brief experience (now with a T1i), I've finally realized that home lighting is nowhere near as strong as flash lighting, and I consider this to be low light. I, too, try to avoid using flash when I can. But, as others have pointed out, the aperture on the kit lens is really not wide enough for this indoor shooting without flash.

This was also a big piece of the discussion on zooming -- using your lens at the telephoto end does two things that limit the quality of the finished pictures: (1) at the telephoto end, you will have a smaller aperture, letting in less light and therefore forcing the camera to use a slower shutter speed, and (2) at the telephoto end, any shake on a hand-held shot will be magnified, even with IS.

Someone else mentioned the higher quality zoom lenses with a constant large aperture. Unfortunately, these will run into many hundreds or thousands of dollars, and may not be worth it for us amateurs. One thing you can do is pick up a wide prime (non-zoom) lens for indoor shooting. You should be able to find a 50 mm f/1.8 used in the $100 range (look for the older model with the metal mount, but theyu're getting harder to find). This aperture will let in enough light for most indoor shooting. However, it is also a little tight on your APS-C camera. I recently replaced mine with a 30 mm f/1.4 Sigma, which is a better length for these cameras, and am selling my "nifty fifty." Whatever you try, look for a lens with an f-stop rating of 2.8 or wider (which means a smaller number -- 1.8 or 1.4 if possible). And buy either in a real camera shop or from a private seller where you can try it out on your camera body first.

Another thought is to take your shots with and without flash, so you can compare later. I'd suggest non-flash photos in Av mode at the widest aperture available for the lens, and flash photos in P mode. Don't worry about explaining all of this to your guests -- just take the non-flash first, then say, "Let's try with flash, too." Everyone wants the picture to come out well.

I also try to keep the ISO setting no higher than 800, and preferably somewhere between 100 and 400, to minimize noise. Of course, your T3i may handle the higher ISO much better than my older T1i, but take the time to check some of your photos on the computer screen at full size to make sure you're not introducing noise into your photos.

You're already doing the best thing you can to learn about your camera -- taking tons of photos. Find a base-line setting that works for your pictures that you need to come out, then start playing with one adjustment at a time to see how it affects the output.

Sorry this ran so much longer than I planned. I'm also nowhere near as advanced as many of the others who have already posted, but I was hoping the experiences of a fellow amateur might help.

Dan
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Old Dec 28, 2011, 10:17 AM   #24
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This IS very helpful. Some things I already do, such as taking multiple photos with different settings, flash and no. My family tolerates me well! This information contributes to my understanding and will go in my folder of things to digest and try.
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Old Dec 28, 2011, 10:37 AM   #25
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I'm glad you found my thoughts helpful. Now here's the bottom line to keep in mind every time you press the shutter release: "photography" means "painting (or writing) with light." The sole purpose of all of the equipment is to funnel light onto the recording mechanism, whether film or sensor. More light hitting the sensor gives you more control over what you do with it. There are many ways to get more light: take pictures in bright ambient light, use flash, set up stronger room lighting, use a wider aperture, use a slower shutter. All of these options put more light onto the sensor, but the slower shutter does so by allowing light to "build up" over a longer time, creating the potential for motion blur. To avoid motion blur, pick one or more of the other options for adding more light.

One trick you can try is to switch to Tv mode and set the shutter speed to the slowest speed you use hand-held. This is generally considered to be the inverse of the focal length. If you're shooting at 30 mm, this would mean 1/30 second. I'm not sure how the crop factor multiplier comes into play here, but I play it safe and assume I need to use the factored length. This means that at 30 mm, I now need to shoot at 1/50 second or faster. Try this, and see how your camera adjusts the aperture to compensate. You may find these images coming out dark, but you also may be able to compensate by either bumping up the exposure compensation or by lightening photos in your computer.

OK. That's enough to digest, I think.
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Old Dec 28, 2011, 11:07 AM   #26
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Good...saving/printing/studying/digesting in process...funny how every little thing someone posts contains something (or many things) totally new to me. It would be things considered baseline knowledge for anyone with ANY experience with a DSLR (that would not be me). For example, while I of course knew some of the ways to get more light, I only in this discussion thread have learned that using a wider aperture or slower shutter are ways to get more light onto the sensor. And a wider aperture means a lower f number (hope I have this right now). And that a slower shutter speed could result in motion blur, so I should use one of the other options. Funny how everything is relative. I worked and worked with my Christmas pictures, deleting any with blurring, using Picasa to put some fill light in if too dark, etc. The resulting 30 pictures I was actually pretty pleased with. I sent to my Mother, and she responded: "Wow, you must have an awesome camera AND the know-how to use it!!" That's my mother! Meanwhile, I feel like I don't know squat, but I'm talking to people who DO know, and I'm learning. Thanks again, all.
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