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For Great Nature Photos, Look Close to Home

Carol Freeman on photographing nature in your "backyard"

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Lighting Techniques: Light Painting

Using the technique of light painting allows you to add depth and dimension to your…

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4.3 Rating
Understanding Auto ISO

Auto ISO can simplify shooting under changing lighting conditions

Beginner

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4.5 Rating
Capturing Moments in a Wedding Day

Cliff Mautner discusses capturing wedding day moments

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3.5 Rating
Have Fun Shooting Selfies (Self-Portrait) Photos

Tips and tricks for taking great Selfies

Beginner

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4.6 Rating
Outside Shots: Go Long

Tony Sweet on revealing the invisible in images

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Want Better Landscape Photos? First Check Your Definition of "Landscape"

Tony Sweet offers tips for better landscape…

Beginner

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10 Tips for Shooting Autumn Foliage

Nature photographer Rod Planck offers tips for shooting colorful fall foliage

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4.2 Rating
Photographing Sports Indoors and Out

Capturing the action of a sporting event is easy when you follow a few simple…

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4.8 Rating
The Anatomy of a Powerful Image

Jerry Ghionis on creating powerful wedding imagery

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3.4 Rating
Preserve and Protect: Got a Backup Plan for Your Photos?

Don't lose those precious photos. Make sure you've got a backup…

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3.9 Rating
Lighting for Video with AE-Lock Tutorial

Basic lighting tips for shooting video

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3.2 Rating
Action Control

Swing camera in the air to control settings.

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3.1 Rating
How to Film Using Autofocus, Rack Focus and Manual Focus Techniques

Focusing tips for HDSLR video shooting

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Setting Up Your D4S or D4 DSLR for Networking with the WT-5

Video tutorial on setting up the D4S and WT-5A for wireless…

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Different Types of Microphones: Audio Recording Tutorial

Using accessory microphones when shooting video

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Shooting Wirelessly with the Nikon WR-R10 and WR-T10 Wireless Remotes

Learn how easy it is to use the WR-R10/WR-T10 for…

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Flash Points: The Control of Light

Color temperature, rear sync, slow sync: Three key elements in flash photography.

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3.1 Rating
Using Your Nikon Camera's Built-in Wi-Fi

Step-by-step set-up guide to using the built-in Wi-Fi feature of Nikon cameras

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Using Teleconverters

Teleconverters let you extend your photographic reach

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Take Control of Color using Picture Controls

Diana Robinson gets the color she wants with Picture Controls in-camera and…

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Using the D810A DSLR for Deep Space and Nebulae Astrophotography

Photographing Nebulae and other celestial objects with…

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Photographing the US National Parks

Chris Nicholson on photographing in the US National Parks

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Tips For Making Tempting Food Photos

Alison Lyons offers simple tips for taking great photos of food & drink

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How to Read Your Camera Manual

As a writer and editor in the photo business I find myself from time to time in the office of Lindsay Silverman, senior technical manager at Nikon. Invariably, there'll be a stack of camera manuals on his desk. Nothing unusual there, but what distinguishes Lindsay's collection is the fact that the pages of these manuals bristle with tiny color tags.

One day I asked, "What's with the Post-it flags?"
"That's the way I read manuals," Lindsay said.
"You mean that's the way you mark them for future reference.
"Well, yes and no," he said. "C'mon, I'll buy you a cup of coffee and explain it."

To start with, he said, manuals in general have a bad reputation. "I hear it all the time: 'Who wrote this stupid manual?' 'Why does it have to be so long?' But the problem isn't the manual, it's the way a lot of people read it—or don't read it. They take the camera out of the box and while the battery charges up they'll either ignore the manual and go do something else, or they'll sit down and start to read the manual, intending to go cover to cover."

"It's not a novel," he said. "It's a lot of information, and like a manual for any product that involves a degree of technology, a camera manual can be confusing simply because it's hard to digest in one shot."
"And you suggest?"
"Here's what I do. I break it down into categories of information: What do I already know? What do I need to know right now? What do I need to know a lot of the time? What do I need to know some of the time?

"Let's say it's a digital SLR, like the D200. I know how to mount a lens, how to put the battery in—I work at Nikon, I gotta know that! I also know how to go into the custom settings menu because I'm familiar with those steps from a previous Nikon model, so I can set some basic functions.

"Next, what do I need to know now? For me that's metering and autofocus choices, the speed of the frame advance and details of the custom settings. I don't sell the custom settings short: they're what makes the camera mine and makes it work for me the way I want it to work. Custom settings aren't something I get to eventually, I go there pretty quickly."

"Okay," I said, "I got the order of things. But the color tabs?"

"I know, it may sound weird, and my colleagues chide me on this, but we all have our ways of learning and doing things. As I read the sections I'm interested in—and this can be over a period of days—I'll get to things I want to know about, and I mark the sections according to my own code of interests: red for flash info, yellow for the operating modes of the camera and so on. Now I can go right to the information I need when I need it."

"Making it accessible and digestible," I said.

"Right. To me it makes no sense to read any manual front to back. There's no narrative there; there's no story. There's information, facts and suggestions, and I want to go to them as I need them."

"What about the quick setup guides that come with the cameras?

"They come with everything these days," Lindsay said, "and they're the easy way in. But they tell you what you need to get started, not what you need to get into the things that allow you to really control and customize your camera, the things you need to get the most out of the camera."

Well, I didn't go out and buy Post-it flags after talking with Lindsay, but I did take his suggestions to heart: no more cover-to-cover for any manual—camera, DVD recorder, electronic keyboard, anything. I'm going right to what I need to know immediately, and I'll learn the rest as I need to and as I go along. Hey, my cell phone manual has more pages than The Old Man and the Sea, but it's nowhere near as engaging.

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