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“Just received my Canon 7D; need help”

SALE: Canon EOS 7D 18 MP Digital SLR Camera with 3-Inch LCD (Body Only)

QUESTION: “I just received my Canon 7D after outgrowing my point-and-shoot. I would like to do pet photography one day but I need a lot of help to figure this thing out. Where do I start? What tips and tricks do you recommend?” – Angela, Fort Myers FL

ANSWER: Congratulations on getting your hands on the Canon 7D. It is a great camera that will get you the photos you are looking for ONLY IF you get to know it well and master a few features. By the way did you buy a CF card? A 4GB or 8GB CF card from a reputable company like SanDisk, Lexar or Kingston is a good starting point.

Start with reading the manual. If you don’t read it cover to cover at least try to read Chapter 1 (Getting Started), Chapter 2 (Basic Shooting), Chapter 3 (Image Settings) and Chapter 4 (Setting the AF and Drive Modes).

The Canon EOS 7D manual is available online here.

After reading some basic information just get out and start shooting. Put the camera in the P mode, keep the automatic ISO setting and use the default AF setting. Shoot simple and readily available subjects like a fruit, a perfume bottle, a flower, a pet, a car, a car logo, a mailbox, etc. Try shooting objects close to you and objects far away. If you are using the 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM Lens shoot the same subject at different focal lengths and make note of the differences.

Some of the ideal times to shoot are early in the morning, late in the evening, when the sky is partly cloudy or at any time that the sunlight is not harsh. Harsh lighting creates “intense” shadows that do not produce pleasing photographs. Of course you can shoot at any time you want, but be aware that mastering the art of photography is primarily capturing images in the “right” lighting conditions. (If you must shoot in harsh lighting conditions you can use accessories like light tent and diffusers to “tone down” the light.)

After you have taken several photographs take a critical look at each of them. Compare them to those taken by the “pros.” You can find top quality images of ANY subject at stock photography sites like Corbisimages.com, Gettyimages.com, Shutterstock.com, Jupiterimages.com, iStockphoto.com, Dreamstime.com or photo sharing sites like flickr.com, SmugMug.com or Photobucket.com. Take notice of what makes you say “wow” when viewing the images of the professionals.

Some of the reasons why the images of the professionals stand out are:

1. The subjects were properly exposed (proper lighting)

2. Distraction was reduced or eliminated to show a clearly defined subject (suitable depth of field and composition)

3. Careful attention was given to where the subject was placed in the photograph (the ideal composition and balance)

4. A bit of luck or creativity made an ordinary or common subject/scene stand out from others (the WOW factor)

In today’s digital world sometimes a photograph can be improved or enhanced by post processing. However it is better to “get it right” while on location than to count on post processing to fix certain mistakes.

As your photographs improve try asking for constructive criticism at the Photograph-on-the.net/Critique forum. Or look at the photographs others are submitting and read the constructive criticisms about them. You can learn a lot from this “Critique Corner.”

I received my Canon EOS 7D back in April 2010 so I have been learning and experimenting with it for 2 years. I am willing to help you  take better pictures with your Canon 7D. If you need some pointers and critique just send me an email at tony “at” mycanon7d.com. (Go ahead; I won’t bite!)

Want to change certain functions quickly? Use the Quick Control screen. I sometimes forget which 2 buttons to press to change metering mode or to set self-timer. With the Quick Control screen you can change Shutter speed, Aperture, ISO, AF point selection, Picture Style, White Balance, Metering mode, Resolution, AF mode and Drive mode.

TO USE THE QUICK CONTROL SCREEN:

Press the “Q” button at the top left corner. The Quick Control screen appears and remains visible for about 10 seconds.

Use the Multi-Controller (the joy stick) to select a function. The selected function is displayed at the bottom of the screen.

Use the Main Dial (top of camera) or Quick Control Dial (wheel at the back) to change the setting.

Press the SET button to confirm your selection.

Here is what the Quick Control screen looks like:

Canon 7D Quick Control screen