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This little blog of mine has re-ignited my passion for photography (hence my October Photo Challenge). When it comes down to it a great picture can convey so much!

For my birthday, my Mom got me two, one-hour, private photography lessons from Techlab Photo, a processing and printing store located here in Baltimore.

Techlab Photo Baltimore Maryland

“During class, you will learn all the functions of your camera and how to use them to get the photos you want….since lessons are one-on-one, we can tailor the lesson to you and your interests–just let us know what you would like to leave the lesson knowing, and we’ll customize the lesson accordingly. “

For the most part I use my (now outdated) Sony Cybershot. But what’s the point of having this nice Nikon if I have no idea how to use it?? (Sidenote: Z had this camera before we started dating. I’ve now essentially claimed it as mine.)

Nikon camera

Z and I arrived at Techlab and met with Jonathan, a professional photographer who has shot numerous weddings and events among other things. In our first hour lesson Jonathan went over every button the camera and what it did. He then went through the settings menu, explaining the options and changings some of he defaults (some that I didn’t even know existed!).

Once the basics of the camera were covered we moved on to shooting settings, something I was eager to learn more about. Here’s the basics (as I understood them).


BASICS: Sets how much you want in focus.

Low Aperture: lets in more light, good for indoors/night time, produces a shallow depth of field (aka blurry background).

High Aperture: lets in minimal light, best for outdoor shots, everything is in focus.


BASICS: Freezes action or shows motion.

Shutter Speed: How fast your camera’s shutter opens/closes to expose the sensor. The longer it is open, the more light is exposed (and vice versa). In this mode you set the speed and the camera automatically adjusts the aperture.


The aperture and shutter speed are based off of one another and must therefore match when you go to take a picture.

Jonathan demonstrated these concepts with some test shots while he explained:

techlab Photography Class

If the aperture is too narrow or the shutter speed too fast, not enough light will be let in. You photo will be dark and grainy.

techlab Photography Class

The grainy/pixelated/”noise” in pictures is a result of ISO (the equivalent of film speed …remember film??). A low ISO (lower speed film) is great for bright sunny day whereas a high ISO is better for evenings/indoors/no flash. No flash + indoors = grainy pictures. No bueno.

techlab Photography Class

If your aperture is too wide or shutter speed is too slow the image will be overly bright.

In order to keep all that technical jargon straight, Jonathan sent me this handy dandy reference guide:

photo 101 cheat sheet

Armed with some basics (and a cheat sheet) my homework is to spend time testing out these different settings in various locations. Once I play around with my camera a bit, get a few test shots, it will be time to schedule my second class in which Jonathan will review my work and make recommendations for things I could improve upon or change. I’m looking forward to getting some professional feedback!

In the mean time, I guess my camera and I need some quality bonding time in the near future.

You may also be interested in:

A Quick Guide to Understanding Your DSLR Camera via Kevin & Amanda

Shutter Speed Cheat Sheet via Shot Rockers

I want to know…

When did you get your first digital camera?

What was the best/worst part about film cameras in your opinion?