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Got the Tools… Should Learn How to Use ‘Em

January 23, 2011 by SavvyInTheCity

The husband gifted me with a way fab Canon T1i Rebel for Christmas. I've wanted a "fancy" camera for a while (because I like to take photos, because of this blog, because I covet my friends' fancy cameras).

Thing is… I have no idea how to use it beyond as a "point and shoot."

Lucky for me, the hubs is incredibly thoughtful and perceptive, so he also gifted me with six photography lessons at the Showcase School of Photography. Classes are small (10 people) and very reasonably priced ($160 for 6 classes that each last an hour-and-a-half).

Dan signed me up for DSLR (digital single lens reflex) Photography 101, which is appropriate since it covers the basic functions of your camera and how to adjust things like ISO, white balance, aperture, shutter speed, exposure and more. Even the first lesson taught me a few new things; for example, I didn't realize you are supposed to format your memory card every time (or nearly every time) you download photos so it doesn't fry.

Our first homework assignment was to take two sets of photos — one inside and one outside — using several different white balance settings. (see a video on how to adjust white balance settings on your Canon EOS camera here.) We were also not supposed to use the built-in flash because it was implied that the built-in flash pretty much sucks.

I chose to photograph a roll of toilet paper. Because TP is white, I thought it would help me see what WB settings capture it the most "true" color-wise:



Looks like inside "tungsten" was the best setting to accurately capture the colors. Tungsten was way the wrong choice outside (made everything look blue – or "cool"). The "shade" setting captured the pavement colors, pale yellow of the sticky note and just-off-white color the TP.  It's good to know now that different environments can really impact what white balance settings you need to use: inside the office versus a gymnasium versus outside on a cloudy day, etc.

In a week or two we'll start having class critiques of our homework assignments — wish me luck!


  1. Greg Cordell says:

    Nice job on the new site, and congrats on the new dSLR.  I have some great photog books if you want to borrow them.  Also, you should get the Magic Lantern book for your camera (, its the manual that your camera SHOULD have come with.  Explains every button and every setting for your particular camera!  Enjoy!

  2. Budget says:

    Congrats on the new camera.  I also have a Canon but its a old Powershot.  Still does the trick though.  I want to  upgrade at the end of the year to the Canon A650 si.  I've learned for shooting indoor (with the one I have) it was better to shoot in manual and adjust the settings and that's how I started getting pictures. I had a little learning curve but I figured it out.  I definitely need to upgrade from what I have now.  All in good time!  Also using fluorescent 'white' bulbs are the way to go for shooting indoors at night.  I don't take any of my blog pictures outdoors, too lazy!

  3. […] I used my learnings from last week to set the white balance appropriately (I used "shade" because it showed the colors as most true). These photos go […]

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