Learning Photography – 3 mistakes beginners make using a new DSLR camera

Shooting only Auto Mode

If you switch your DSLR camera to Auto Mode do you know that you are only using about 20% of its functionality?  That’s like having a zippy sports car and keeping it parked in your driveway (as one of my students rightfully stated!)  Why spend all that money on a wonderful piece of photography equipment to do that?  When you shoot in auto mode the camera takes over all of the control of your camera settings. It decides on exposure, ISO, WB and whether or not you need flash amongst other things.  While you think this might be a good thing when you are just starting out, when you are learning photography you must challenge yourself a wee bit more.  If you want to improve and have control over your camera you need to move out of auto mode learn to shoot in the Creative Zone.

Learning Photography - Mode Dial Using the P, Tv (S), Av(A) and M modes correctly will bring your photography to the next level and although every shot may not necessarily be a winner you’ll be a step closer to improving your photography. Remember; we all learn by our mistakes, so don’t be afraid to make ‘em.

Using Flash Inside

Using Flash inside is something that most people think is a necessity. In many cases this is true as the light is just too poor or your subject is a wiggly 2 year old.  There are many times however that it is possible to shoot without flash indoors – If you have lots of natural light, very strong artificial lights or when you want to capture the lights in your picture.  These lighting conditions work well without flash especially if your subject is not moving, for example if you are shooting ingredients for a recipe.  So to shoot with out flash inside you simply need to turn it off. However, if you are shooting in Auto Mode you will have no control over when your flash turns on and pops up.  This is always the great giveaway as to when a photographer is using Auto.  I’ve seen countless students who initially think the only way to keep that flash off is to press down against the pop up action of the flash unit … eh way to break your camera by the way.

Go ahead and turn the camera to P and simply don’t turn on your flash. In P Mode the flash will only pop up if you tell it to do so.  The camera will make adjustments so that it will compensate for the lack of flash and you should get a correctly exposed shot.  Shooting in low light can of course be improved by using better lenses and changing some other settings such as ISO but by just doing turning off the flash in P Mode you will have a good jumping off point to see which settings you can further tweak to improve shooting indoors with no flash.

Failure to have a specific Focus Point

When your photograph lacks a focal point the viewer of your image doesn’t know where to look in the picture and ultimately their eye leaves the image.  Having a definitive focal point ensures that your photo is engaging and the viewer of the image gets what it is  that they are supposed to be looking at.  Usually the Focal Point of the Image is where your FOCUS POINT is.

 Your FOCUS Points of your camera are highlighted to you within the viewfinder as red spots when your press your finger on the shutter button.  Always make sure that your focus points are over the area of the image that you want to be in focus.  If they are not, then you can reframe your image so that this is the case or  you can manually set the focus point by accessing the focus point selection function of your camera. Personally I always like to have my focus point set to the middle point.  I can then use Focus Lock method to reframe my image exactly how I like it.

If you’d like to find out more about learning photography and how to use your DSLR camera check out my new revamped Master your DSLR course.

Happy Snapping



Would a photo canvas brighten up your world?

What do you do with all those photos you take?  Do you carefully edit them and file them away on your hard drive?  Perhaps you go to the local drugstore or use an online service and print out bazillions of 6″ x 4″s which then ultimately sit in several (perhaps well organized) shoeboxes.  Are you a Facebook Fanatic and share everything with everyone?

The bigger the better

Me? I’m a print girl.  Actually I’m not just a print girl. I’m a blow it up big and frame it type of girl.  If it’s worth looking at, then you might as well make it big – right?  I guess this comes from my background as a print lab owner.  For years when I lived in Ireland I had the luxury of cheaper prints and discounted framing at my disposal.  At home my walls were always adorned with beautiful 16″ x 20″ fully matted and framed images of my latest trip.  These days, as you know, my subjects are just as beautiful but a little more challenging – my 1 and 3 year old.  I take so many photos of these little ones but I rarely get around to enlarging, never mind framing these prints.  Custom framing is not cheap and neither is making high quality prints – and I have got to be the world’s pickiest printer.

So you can imagine how thrilled I was when I was approached by Canvas on Demand who offered me a complementary  photo canvas in order to do an honest review of their site. Firstly, putting your photos onto canvas is like killing two birds with one stone – a beautiful enlarged photo print that doesn’t even need framing. Secondly,  I absolutely love Canvas prints because they truly make your photos into pieces of artwork.  I love the gallery wrapped look  – the way the canvas is wrapped around the frame.  It is really polished and helps to bring life to an otherwise two-dimensional piece. So I agreed to do this review only if it would be fair and honest (have I mentioned that I am picky?) so you can be assured that I put it to the test.

The procedure – How to get your Photos onto Canvas

Fist up I had to choose an image that I would like printed.  I have an album of “for framing pics” so it was easy to choose the one I was going to print right away.  I choose this shot of my 2 girls and my nephew that I shot this summer.

Photos onto Canvas

Full frame images work really well for canvas printing, so crop your picture to eliminate any unnecessary background.

Once I’ve cropped my image to get it the way I’d like it to look, I do any other necessary editing such as blemish removal and exposure adjustments in Photoshop Elements and then save it to my desktop so that I know where it is when I need to upload it.


Then it’s over to the Canvas on Demand website.

The site is clearly laid out and really easy to use.  You can see from my video below how you will  have your order placed in a matter of minutes.


And here is the finished Print:

I decided to get a 16″ x 20″ Canvas with a 1 1/2″ wrap and a black edge and I am super thrilled with the results.

You can see from the close up detail that it is expertly finished and the reproduction of the colors is spot on.  This was my one big concern because like I said before – I am picky about my colors, but they were exactly as they were supposed to be.


The canvas shipped to me in about 3 working days after I placed my order and it arrived expertly packed via FedEx.  A simple nail in the wall and voila I can now smile up up my 3 favorite little peeps all day long – definitely brightening up my world :)

So, if you think you’d like to give Canvas on Demand a whirl, tell ‘em I sent ya and get 20% off your first order by using this link.

Let me know how you get on  – I’d love to hear your experiences.



Disclosure: I did receive a 16″x20″ Canvas Print so that I could adequately review this website’s product quality and service.  If it hadn’t have been up to scratch you can be sure I would let you guys know.