6 things you forgot to do when you first got your new dSLR

Picture by Gone-Walkabout


You just got your brand new dSLR camera, you can’t wait to unpack it and start shooting with it. 

Here are a few things you will most probably forget to do before you snap your first picture.

  1. Charge the battery overnight: If am guilty of one that would be it. I can never wait long enough, I usually charge the battery a few minutes (30 min or so) before I start playing around. But, seriously, with the new battery technology is it really still important to charge the battery for 6 hours+ the first time?
  2. Set the date and time: This is crucial info for you and your pictures and, still, I see many cameras with dates way off. I have to admit that it is much more common to adjust the time after daylight saving changes occur.
  3. Dioptric adjustments: You know that small knob next to your viewfinder? I have seen people owning they cameras for months/years not even knowing it was there. Hold the camera to your eyes and turn it up/down till you can see the text in the viewfinder clearly.
  4. Reset the numbering: I can’t remember how many times I have read in forums people saying that their newly bought camera was not new because the first image number was xxx. Obviously they had just used a memory card from their old camera and the new one is just picking up with the numbering. I got used to format all my cards before inserting them in the new cam. This will not allow me to know if it is really new or not, not that I am worried about it, but rather to keep track of how many picture I am taking with my camera & assigning a unique reference number to each.
  5. Read the manual: Yea right! Now, honestly, who does? It doesn’t matter if you are a first time dSLR user or you’ve been shooting for a couple of years, if you bought a new camera chances are it is for its new features, so spend some time reading the manual and getting familiar with it while the battery is charging.
  6. Do not get obsessive testing it: I learned this the hard way. When I first got the Canon 30D I spent so many hours testing the focus that I sent it 3 times to canon for calibration and yet I was not happy with it. When I finally gave up testing and started shooting my pictures were getting better and sharper with time. Yea cameras have their own learning curve too so instead of doing useless tests enjoy it & take some pictures. Your warranty is for 1 year and it is plenty of time to discover all the defect your camera might have.
  7. Set the owner information: This should have been in the list from the start, I just forgot about adding it. Thanks to John he kindly reminded me in the comment. So yes do not forget to add your name in the camera so that it will also appear in the EXIF. In Canon this is done by the EOS Utility software. I have got the chance to use my 30D last week, that I sold more than 1 year ago to a friend, and noticed it still had my name registered.

Got anything to add to this list? Maybe a personal experience? Feel free to drop a comment.

The day I got hooked to live-view

Photo by Tiago Ribeiro

I clearly remember, not so long ago, I was “proud” to own a dSLR and not having a live-view. I couldn’t imagine taking picture with camera just looking a screen, I found that almost offending.

The day live-view hit the dSLR market I was really disappointed and was sure I was never going to use that feature.

However, just a few months after I got my Canon 40D (the first cam I ever owned with that feature) I am finding myself using live-view more and more and it is becoming a “must have” feature for me.

Here are 6 good reasons why I got hooked to live-view

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Six must read articles about Firework shooting

Holidays are here & I was trying to get creative and offer a firework shooting article when I have realized that everyone else already did !

So, instead, I gathered the best six articles I found so I can save you some time.

You still have a few hours so read them and, above all, don’t forget to have fun while shooting. Enjoy the show and share the pictures

  1. How to Photograph Fireworks at popphoto.com
  2. The Best Way to Photograph Fireworks at PCWorld.com
  3. Photographing Fireworks Tutorial at enticingtheligh.wordpress.com
  4. How to Photograph Fireworks Displays at digital-photography-school.com
  5. Shooting Fireworks! at beyondmegapixels.com
  6. How To Photograph Amazing Fireworks at yourphototips.com
  7. *update*Quick Tips: Photographing Fireworks at Canon Digital Learning Center

Now, just in case the above is not enough here is 10 spectacular pictures of fireworks to whet your appetite

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Tips for shooting star trails pictures

Trails (2008-10-19_ 40D_100-0746)
Picture by Antoine Khater


Star trails photography is at the same time easy and rewarding, it can produce results that will leave most viewers in awe with very little effort.
I will try to cover in this article the basic photography technique and equipment needed for star trails photography.
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Don’t let the light meter fool you !

Understanding how does a light meter work can make the difference between a poorly exposed picture and keeper. Unfortunately, a lot of people nowadays just rely on their cameras without taking the time to understand the basics. So they end up frustrated by the “poor results” of their camera.

So what is a light meter ?

In short, a light meter is a device that is sensitive to light who’s basic job is to balance an equation.
You typically give the light meter 2 out of 3 variables (ISO, shutter speed, aperture) and it will give the correct 3rd variable to get a well exposed picture of the given scene.

What is there to know ?

It is often not enough to solely rely on the light meter’s decision because the latter can be easily fooled.
In fact the light meter “sees” only one color and that’s neutral gray. No matter what is the subject presented the light meter will balance the equation in a way that this subject will look gray in a Black and White picture.
Let’s take 2 example to better understand what we just talked about:

  • A picture of snow: Assuming that you just took winter landscape picture, the dominant part of the scene is the white snow and the light meter will meter for it to look gray. So, as a result, you will end up with an under-exposed pictures where the whites are gray.
  • A picture of your black dog: Taking a counter example, let’s assume you just shot the portrait of your black dog ! Here too the light meter will react in the same way and will meter so that the dog looks gray and the results are an over-exposed picture where the blacks are gray.

How to solve this problem ?

Once we understand how the whole thing works solving this issue is really easy

  • Use a gray card: Gray cards are cards that have a uniform gray color and are used as exposure reference. No matter what the scene you want to photograph is, let your light meter read from the card and you can be sure it gives you back the correct exposure
  • Exposure compensation: Exposure compensation, or EC, is when you deliberately override the readings of your light meter by a certain amount. Let’s go back to our examples shall we?
    • The snow picture: In the snow picture we just took the snow turned out gray. Gray being darker than white then you want your picture to be brighter right ? So dial some positive exposure compensation of, let’s say, +1.5 EV. Doing this will tell the camera that the scene should be brighter than gray thus white
    • The dog picture: Following the same logic the black dog turned out gray too and gray is brighter than black. So we want a darker picture right ? This time we will dial some negative exposure compensation of, let’s say, -1.5 EV.

    Now what ?
    If what you have just read is new to you then I advise you to go right now and do some tests. The problem is that you need some time and practice to get this concept into your system or you might forget it next time you need it !