Photography 101: Learning the ropes with your new camera

Flea markets, farmers' markets, and other outdoor events are great places to practice your photography and get a feel for what you like to shoot. At least until an irritated vendor says, "Are you going to buy something?"

(Credit: Lori Grunin/CNET) Editors’ note: This is an expanded and updated version of a story first posted in December 2011.

You’ve opened the box, charged the battery, and oohed and aahed over your shiny new toy. Now what?

Scan your manual No, you don’t have to read the whole thing, just the important stuff. In the beginning somewhere there will be a diagram showing you the parts of the camera. That’s the really important stuff. Then turn to the index, providing the manual has one (there are some utterly heinous examples of manualcraft that don’t include an index); if there isn’t, use the table of contents instead. Run down the index or TOC, and look at the page in the manual for every term you don’t understand.

Learn your camera’s quirks You don’t want to discover that all your low-light photos look like Seurat or Monet paintings after you’ve photographed your kid’s first birthday. To do that, you need “test” the camera somewhat methodically. For instance, set up a little still life in typical living room light, and (presuming your camera supports it), try it in various automatic and manual modes, changing settings like white balance… [Read more]

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