Chapter 4 Assignments
This will be more of a mental challenge than anything else, but you should put a lot of work into these lesson assignments because the information covered in this chapter will define how you work with your camera from this point on. Granted, once in a while you’ll just want to grab some quick pictures and will resort to the automatic scene modes, but to get serious with your photography, you will want to learn the professional modes inside and out.
Starting off with Program mode
Set your camera on Program mode and start shooting. Become familiar with the adjustments you can make to your exposure by turning the Command dial. Shoot in bright sun, indoors, or anywhere that you have different types and intensities of light. While you are shooting, make sure that you keep an eye on your ISO and raise or lower it according to your environment.
Learning to control time with the Shutter Priority mode
Find some moving subjects and then set your camera to S mode. Have someone ride a bike back and forth or even just photograph cars as they go by. Start with a slow shutter speed of around 1/30 of a second and then start shooting with faster and faster shutter speeds. Keep shooting until you can freeze the action. Now find something that isn’t moving, like a flower, and start with your shutter speed at something fast like 1/500 of a second and then work your way down. Don’t brace the camera on a steady surface. Just try to shoot as slowly as possible, down to about 1/4 of a second. The point is to see how well you can handhold your camera before you start introducing hand shake into the image, making it appear soft and somewhat unfocused.
Controlling depth of field with the Aperture Priority mode
The name of the game with Aperture Priority mode is depth of field. Set up three items an equal distance from you. I would use chess pieces or something similar. Focus on the middle item and set your camera to the largest aperture that your lens allows (remember, large aperture means a small number, like f/3.5). Now, while still focusing on the middle subject, start shooting with ever-smaller apertures until you are at the smallest f-stop for your lens. If you have a zoom lens, try doing this exercise with the lens at the widest and then the highest telephoto setting. Now move up to subjects that are farther away, like telephone poles, and shoot them in the same way. The idea is to get a feel for how each aperture setting affects your depth of field.
Giving and taking with Manual mode
Manual mode is not going to require a lot of work, but you should pay close attention to your results. Go outside on a sunny day and, using the camera in Manual mode, set your ISO to 100, your shutter speed to 1/125 of a second, and your aperture to f/16. Now press your shutter release button to get a meter reading. You should be pretty close to that zero mark. If not, make small adjustments to one of your settings until it hits that mark. This is when the fun begins. Start moving your shutter speed slower, to 1/60, and then set your aperture to f/22. Now go the other way. Set your aperture on f/8 and your shutter speed to 1/500.
Review your images. If all went well, all the exposures should look the same. This is because you balanced the light with reciprocal changes to the aperture and shutter speed. Go back to our original setting of 1/125 at f/16 and try moving the shutter speed without changing the aperture. Just make 1/3-stop changes (1/125 to 1/100 to 1/80 to 1/60), and then review your images to see what a 1/3 stop of overexposure looks like. Then do the same thing going in the opposite way. It’s hard to know if you want to over- or underexpose a scene until you have actually done it and seen the results.
With each of the assignments, make sure that you keep track of your modes and exposures so that you can compare them with the image. If you are using software to review your images, you should also be able to check the camera settings that are embedded within the image’s metadata.
Share your results with the book’s Flickr group!
Join the group here: flickr.com/groups/nikon5200_fromsnapshotstogreatshots