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Free Photography Workshop

April 19, 2013

Learning your photography gear

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Written by: Lawrence
know your Gear

I will be going over the Nikon D200 (the other Nikon bodies have similar button configurations) I do recommend to make sure to visit Ken Rockwell’s site. He has an extensive breakdown of a good amount of cameras and comparisons. Go to

For the D200 go to

Below I will proceed with the settings and buttons you will need to be familiar with before starting the images baseline stage. Again below are just the basic items to learn. I recommend going through all of Ken Rockwell’s details.

If you don’t like to read you can check out the videos below:


The Three Kings: WB, QUAL and ISO: Hold any of them and spin the control knobs to adjust. In detail:

White Balance (WB): spin the rear knob for broad changes. Spin the front knob to fine tune.
Auto (A): Auto white balance
Tungsten Use when you want to mimic moonlight or when actually using tungsten.
Fluorescent (glowing tube icon): Used to make crappy fluorescent light look less crappy. These settings rarely work; use the preset setting for better results.
Direct Sunlight (sun): Use this outdoors with sun on the subject.
Flash (lightning bolt): Use when using on camera or off camera flash.
Cloudy (cloud): Overcast and in shade
Shade (house casting a shadow): Use for sunset shots.
Continuously Variable (K): This setting allows you to choose the Kelvin. I set mine close to daylight.
Preset (PRE): You use this setting with a white or gray card to get perfect color matching.

Quality (QUAL * [also has a green dot]): This sets the file format and compression levels. Hold it and turn the rear dial to choose JPG compression and raw or not. Hold and turn the front dial to change JPG image size in pixels. I use Large JPG BASIC.

ISO: Hold this and spin the rear dial to change ISO. Default is 1/3 stop steps.

Frame Advance Mode Dial (S, CL, CH, clock and Mup): This sets the frame advance rate, the self timer, and the mirror lock up. It’s located in the same protuberance on the top left as the Three Kings above.
S: Single Frame. One frame for each press of the shutter button.
CL: Continuous Low
CH: Continuous High. The D200 runs at 5FPS as long as you hold the shutter.
Self Timer (clock): Set to take a picture a few seconds after pressing the shutter.
Mup: Mirror Up: Used to take long exposures or clean sensor.

Power Switch (right side): Tap it past ON to turn on the LCD illuminator and the meter.

Exposure Mode Button (MODE, right side): Hold it and spin the rear dial to select among P, S, A and M.
P: Program
In this mode the camera chooses the f/stop and shutter speed for you.
A, S and M Modes
A Mode: Aperture Priority
In A mode you choose the Aperture and the D200 chooses the shutter speed.
S Mode: Shutter Priority
In S mode you set the Shutter and the D200 sets the aperture.
If the D200 runs out of good apertures you easily can get under or over exposure in S mode: watch that the D200 can select a correct aperture for your lighting.
M Mode: Manual
You set everything.

Exposure Compensation Button (+/- * [a green dot]): Hold the button and spin the rear dial. + makes the picture brighter and – makes it darker. If your photo is too dark or light, just change the setting and try again. This is easy!


Depth-of-Field Preview Button (upper button on the left of the lens as seen from the front): It lies naturally under your middle finger. Tap this to stop the diaphragm down to the taking aperture. The viewfinder probably gets darker, but look carefully and you can see what’s in focus or not. This is a legacy feature from film days. Today most people look at the LCD playback.

Flash Bolt +/- Button (right side of flash hump as seen from front): This sets the flash sync mode and the brightness of the flash. Flash brightness is more formally called flash exposure compensation.

Select these by holding down the flash button on the side of the flash hump and spinning the rear dial. Your selection is shown on the top LCD in the box with the bolt.
Normal (blank on the top LCD): this is the default position.
SLOW (called SLOW on the top LCD): This mode is very useful. It lets the shutter stay open as long as it needs to so dim ambient light can expose properly with flash.
Red-Eye SLOW (eye and SLOW icon): This is the SLOW mode and redeye.
REAR (called REAR on the top LCD): Normally the flash goes off the instant the shutter opens. AF Mode Switch This means AF-S, or Single Auto Focus. Once the camera gets good focus, it locks until you take the picture. Use this to focus and then compose without the subject in the center. I do this for almost every shot.
C means AF-C, or Continuous AF. The D200 will track and keep tracking the subject for as long as you hold the shutter.
M means manual focus. In manual focus you have to twist the focus ring yourself and look for a sharp image in the viewfinder.


Trash (also doubles as one of the two FORMAT buttons)

Play [>] Button: Press it to see your pictures. Press again to turn them off.

MENU: This gets you inside your D200.

Checkerboard Button: Hold it and turn the rear dial to selector one, four or nine shots up at once.

? / Key:
Playback: It protects (locks) the image from erasure.

Magnifying Glass / ENTER:
During playback: Press to zoom in on image. When you do this you can zoom in more by pressing the checkerboard button and spinning the rear dial. You can use the thumb switch to scroll around the image

AE-L AF-L (Top center): Hold this to lock settings while shooting. You can alter what this button does in the Custom Setting Menu c1 and c2.

AF-ON: Focuses the lens but doesn’t take a picture.

Thumb Button: Used for menu navigation, selecting AF areas , scrolling through playback images and a whole lot more.

The Focus Area Mode Selector Switch lets you choose how the D200’s brilliant AF system uses all 11 sensors. This switch is important for switching from shooting static subjects to action.
Little Box: Nikon calls this “Single-area AF.”
Cross: The next position up is for sports and action. Set AF-C mode on the front of the D200. Choose the AF sensor with the thumb switch. The D200 sets focus using that sensor and tracks your subject, even if it moves around the frame! Nikon calls this “Dynamic-area AF.”
Diamond: This does the same as the previous position, except it limits the D200 only to the AF areas next to the chosen sensor. Nikon calls this “Group-dynamic AF
White Rectangle: The D200 chooses the best sensor automatically.

Pac Man Switch: this cool switch does nothing but pop open the CF card door.

For the settings within the menus, I recommend referring to Ken Rockwells website for guidance.


The lens for the most part is the easiest part of gear to operate. You just need to know how to adjust the following.
1. Attach the lens to the camera
a. Line up the dot on the lens to the dot on the camera and turn clockwise till you hear a click.
2. Settings available on some lenses that will need to be adjusted as necessary include:
a. A/M, M/A or M
i. A/M is default auto that you can then manually focus ( For the most part I keep the setting here.) M/A is Manual set on default that can be then switched to Autofocus and then finally M is just for Manual (I only set it on this option when I know I can’t depend on autofocus at all like when doing extreme macro shots or when dealing with highly reflective surfaces.
b. Full or Infiniti to 5mm which is used when the subject is at least 5m away to infiniti.
c. Vibration reduction
d. On or Off for VR (Vibration Reduction)
e. Normal or Active (Switch to active for situations like taking pictures of a moving vehicle or action sports) Use active when using panning or zooming technique.

Most entry level lenses will not have all these options so you shouldn’t have to worry about the majority of these settings till you advance to the $700 and up lens options.


Below I will go over the types of bags you would be exposed to and how they should be utilized.

BACKPACKS- Light transport and travel
HOLSTER CAMERA BAGS – Use to holster camera and use during a photoshoot
ROLLING CAMERA BAGS – Heavy transport and travel
SHOULDER BAGS – Light on foot transport and travel
SLING BAGS – Light on foot travel.


The most difficult step for the 5 in 1 reflector is placing it back in the bag.
Follow these steps:
Step1: Grab the left and right end of the reflector
Step 2: Twist the reflector in opposite directions to form an 8.
Step 3: Once the eight is formed bring both ends together.
The reflector should now fit in its container.


You should know how to use a computer by now.


Lens cleaner
Make sure to store your Giotto blower in a zip lock bag to keep the dust out during storage.


For the most part the operation of a camera strap or holster is very simple and intuitive.


There are different versions. Keep in mind to buy a version that suits your needs. If you have a camera with a high megapixel count, then make sure to invest in a faster rate media card reader. If you have anything less than a 12 megapixel camera a standard reader should suffice.


Photo sharing and communication

Step 1: Go to
Step 2: Log in using gmail user name and password
Step 3: In the Search area type
Step 4: Click on from the google plus search results
Step 5: Within the right side of the cover image next to the plus 1 add to a circle and then click plus 1
Step 6: On the right side under “Their Communities” click “Join next to the community with the icon of a female student with the chalkboard in the background.
Step 7: Join should then turn to View, click View and it should bring you to the Community main page.
Step 8: Confirm that you joined the correct community by looking at the image to the upper left side and you should see the student with the chalkboard in the background again and to your right you should see an area with “members” heading and you should see your name under members
This will allow you to communicate and share images with me and other photographers also wanting to learn the craft of photography. This will also be the area where you will share your baseline images. (Details to follow in future lesson)
Make sure to sign up for the “In Crowd” email list to be notified and or sent extra tips and lessons. It’s absolutely free to sign up. Just click here to join.


For picasa, below is a good video to get you started:

Follow the steps below to transfer images from compact flash card to computer and then import and manage in Picasa.


1. If you haven’t already create a folder in your pictures folder and name it “Firstname_LastName_images”

2. Create another folder in the “[Firstname]_[LastName]_images”  folder and name it by the photoshoot name so for this example it will be Baseline_images_[type 1], [type 2], [type 3],. Etc..

3. Make sure camera is OFF and then remove compact flash card from camera.
4. Insert compact flash card to memory card reader
5. Connect memory card reader via USB to computer
6. Click on my computer and locate usb card reader icon on computer
7. Click on the card reader icon and it should open to view the folders.
8. Locate the folder with images and copy all the images and paste into the Photoshoot folder you created in Step 2.
9. Once all the images are copied to the Photoshoot folder detailed in Step 2 (confirm by going to folder and ensure you see the images) you may then disconnect compact flash reader from computer (on a PC ensure you go to the bottom right toolbar and locate the reader icon and right click and click disable or disconnect)
10. Now follow the steps here:


A huge way to help is to use any of these links when you buy anything regardless of your location in this world. It really doesnít cost you anything but means the world to this site for support. These places have the best prices and service and I recommend each and every one of them.

If you’ve purchased gear using any one of my links or helped otherwise, I really appreciate it and just know you are amazing and a huge help to the growth of the site.

Thank you!

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About the Author

Lawrence Atienza is a Jack of all Trades and Master of ALL. Whether it be in the realm of Advertising/Advertising operations with over 10+ years of experience to dabbling in the creative realm of photography and founding/writing for, Lawrence Atienza gives his all. You can find him on Google+,Twitter and the major social media outlets.