barbara-rozgonyi-image-garfield-parkI didn’t take my DSLR camera to BlogHer, but that didn’t stop me from going to this session to learn and share how to take pics that click with blog readers. This is one is a series of BlogHer13 posts.

Thanks to Amanda Green Bottoms, blogger at KevinandAmanda.com, who covered 10 topics in her DSLR Debrief session. We'll only cover the first five here.

With something for everyone, from pros to those who just picked up a DSLR, I thought Amanda did a great job of conveying information and showing examples throughout.

My Love of Photography and Lens

I bought my first film camera with lenses the day after we got married. Because we drove back to Chicago in separate cars, my husband didn’t know that I’d bought the camera until I got home. So, I surprised him. We were both so glad I had it along on our honeymoon to capture memories in San Francisco, Portland and so many places in between.

Today I have Canon T1i with two lenses. I bought it right before we left for Paris to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. I mostly shoot on auto or one of the programs. But, I’m interested in interacting more naturally with my camera. That’s why I chose this session.

If you'd like to check out my images, go here and here and here.

5 DSLR Debrief Tips for Bloggers BlogHer13

Apologies to Amanda for not capturing every one of her fab tips. For more accurate coverage, check out the DSLR Debrief for Bloggers session transcript over at the BlogHer site.

Lucky for us, Amanda has a photography tutorial – quick guide to understanding your DSLR camera. By the way DSLR stands for digital single-lens reflex.

 DSLR Tip 1 Find the Best Light

Amanda uses a table near a window to shoot her food photography. In my kitchen, I have a table, but the lighting is uneven. As she talked, I found myself thinking about the perfect in-home studio lighting in our next house. Here are a few tips I found really helpful.

  • Find the best light and move subjects into them
  • Don’t use the direct light that leaves a spot on your carpet
  • Photographer stands with their back to window
  • A light from the side adds dimension
  • Use non-direct window light, light your subject from the back
  • Look for interesting highlights and shadows
  • Use a foam board with clamps as a reflector
  • Outside, shoot for the sky with the sun behind you

DSLR Tip 2 Use Aperture to Focus on Important Elements

Love the look of blurry background? Here's how to get it.

Aperture=how much is in focus
Use f/1.8 when you want to take a picture where the subject is in focus. Make the number big - 16 or 22, blurrred background use lower numbers, also works better for low light

A small number lets in more light that results in lots of blur/bokeh

A large number lets in less light.

Zoom in for more bokeh. Look for interesting things in the background to enhance creative bokeh: lights, colors, repetitive objects, backlit trees all create beautiful bokeh.

Landscapes lend themselves well to high aperture numbers.

High apertures create awesome sunbursts; try f/22 in app priority mode.

DSLR Tip 3 Use Shutter Speed to Dramatically Freeze or Blur Motion

Whether it's your kid playing sports, your dog chasing balls or just a fast-paced picture, your camera needs to be able to stop the action to catch it.

A low number means a slow shutter speed and blurred motion. The higher the number, the more you can stop action. A quick and easy way is to shoot in shutter priority mode.

Amanda’s Recipe for Action Photos

1. put camera in shutter priority TV or s
2. set the shutter speed to 1/1000
3. change the focus mode to AI-servo tracks subject as it moves and will automatically refocus every single time
4. change the shooting mode to high speed continuous
5 set the focus right in the middle

Amand’s Recipe for slow shutters and tutorial

1. put camera in tv or s mode
2 set the iso to 100 or as low as it will go
3. set the shutter speed anywhere from 1/4 - 30 seconds
4. find a steady surface [tripod, table, chair]
5. turn on the 2-second self timer

DSLR Tip 4 Set Exposure Compensation

This is a great tip; exposure can really amp up an image with just a click.

Guide: higher than 0 = brighter, less than 0 = darker

Amanda bumps hers up to 1, usually.

For hand-holding, a general rule of thumb is to not let the shutter speed get below 50 – the shutter speed isn't fast enough. Your photo could be too shaky or blurry.

DSLR Tip 5 Know Your ISO

Going way back to the days when we bemoaned the fact that our camera had 100 ISO film and we needed 400, having a camera that allows you to change out levels is a dream.

The lower your iso [100-200], the less light your camera will use
pros = no grain
cons = may be too dark for indoors, nighttime

The higher your iso [1600-3200], the more light your camera will use
pros = extra light for low light shooting
cons = lots of grain; use a grain removal filter like Noiseware

Amanda’s also written a tutorial on saving and sizing your images for blogging.

How about you – what camera[s] do you like to shoot with? Do you have a photography site?  Where can we find you?