Roundtable Review: Dust Off Your DSLR

Sure, your wedding photographer and/or the Google has the answer to just about any question you have, but sometimes, just sometimes, you travel 2,500 miles to surround yourself with inspirational dads you’ve only ever met on Facebook bloggers groups, Instagram, and the like.

One of those aforementioned dads is Pat Jacobs. I sat in on his Roundtable discussion, aptly titled Dust Off Your DSLR. He’s come full-circle – he loved photography, lost it, and has come back to it (literally) like a ball of fire! Well, not him, but the photos he’s putting out on Instagram of fire-spinning in abandoned spots of the urban oasis that is Chicago are…FIRE!

I’m guilty of keeping my Nikon D40x, a dinosaur by DSLR standards, in AUTO. Only recently have I been tooling around with shutter and aperture priority and despite getting a few great shots of the boys here and there, I have no clue how or why!? I’ve also been shooting images in RAW+JPEG, as if I have any idea what the hell I’m doing while editing.

The roundtable was only about twenty minutes long and everyone who sat in (10-15 people in my session) had different cameras and different questions. Pat was gracious enough to answer as many as he could despite the short time frame. I just sat in to listen and maybe learn a tip or two about how to capture better photos. Pat had some nuggets of advice and imparted his wisdom to the group, complete with a little basic print-out cheat sheet for both aperture and shutter priority

  • APERTURE PRIORITY: user controls Depth of Field (DoF) // low f-stop = shallow DoF/blurry backgroud // high f-stop = deep DoF/sharper background // shutter speed will be chosen for you by the camera.
  • SHUTTER PRIORITY: user controls shutter speed // higher shutter speed = faster movement capture // low shutter speed = possible blur (think light trails) // aperture will be chosen for you by camera.

I’ve always had a pretty godsc_0040od eye for photography (I like graffiti/industrial/brick backgrounds) but due to limited funds and resources (yes, camera, I’m blaming you), I haven’t totally embraced photography like I want to. But I’m reinvigorated to try branching out of AUTO and the pre-loaded settings like Portrait and Landscape and shoot in manual.

I picked his brain about a smaller 50mm f/1.8 lens which excels in low-light setting without relying on the flash – I think it lets in like four times as much light and it’s only about $130. Something I may invest in as it’s also perfect for portraits where you get that bokeh, or background blur, you see in professional photos.

Go on and dust ya’ DSLR off.

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