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How I Finally Learned How to Use My DSLR Camera!

by Jean Van't Hul
September 17, 2014

This is how I finally learned how to use my DSLR camera after years of using it as a glorified point-and-shoot. Learning was easy with an inexpensive online photography class.

How I Finally Learned How to Use my DSLR Camera

This post contains affiliate links. I’ve had my DSLR camera—a Canon Rebel t2i—for years now and, until a few days ago, I used it like a glorified point and shoot.

This is an embarrassing confession for me to make, both considering that photography is a big part of my blogging and um, considering I took photography in college (and never really knew what I was doing).

I can’t tell you how excited and relieved I am to finally learn how to use my DSLR camera properly (or at least start to!) and take it off auto. While a photography class has been on my list for, oh, years now, fitting it in around my other responsibilities and the family schedule just didn’t happen.

Until I decided to try an online photography class called Family Photography.

How I Finally Learned How to Use My DSLR Camera Properly

Learning how to use my dslr camera

Subtitled “Candid Moments & Storytelling,” this Bluprint class by Kirk Tuck was exactly what I needed:

  • A primer in how to use my DSLR camera
  • With a focus on capturing children and family photography
  • A video course that shows me what to do (I may be known to have thrown my camera manual across the room in frustration in the past) and walks me through my camera and photography in a way that I understand
  • An online course that I can take anytime, start and stop at will, and that easily fits my schedule

It’s such a relief to finally learn this! I’m still figuring out how the pieces of the puzzle fit together—aperture, shutter speed, ISO. But I feel much more confident now and I’ve taken pictures that look good!

First Steps: Practicing What I Learned with the DSLR

Riding the Tractor at Skytop Orchard

After the first couple of lessons online, I took my camera along on our family apple picking excursion to Sky Top Orchards and practiced, practiced, practiced.

Apple Picking at Skytop Orchard

I took a lot of fuzzy, ill-lit photos, but I took some good ones, too!

Learning how to use my dslr camera

Not a bad start for my first try on manual.

Improving My Photography with Another Lesson & More Practice

Playing Ride the Rails

Later, I watched another lesson, then grabbed another photoshoot opportunity—playing Ticket to Ride with Maia.

About halfway through the game, we had the (new-to-us) game figured out and I felt like the photography thing finally clicked for me.

Photographing Maia

I kept playing around with the controls and took a ton of photos. So many of the early ones are blurry or ill lit. But the later ones? They may not be professional quality shots, but boy, was I proud of myself for capturing my daughter in the middle of her silliness and seriousness with crisp images and good lighting.

And it wasn’t a fluke!

I was really learning how the camera was working!

How I finally learned how to use my DSLR camera - portrait of Daphne

I could tell that I had gotten it then and felt great.

How I Finally Learned How to Use my DSLR Camera Featured Image

And looking through the photos on the computer later just confirmed it.

Daphne candid photo - learning how to use my DSLR camera

I still have a lot to learn; a lot to practice. But this feels like a cornerstone.

How I finally learned to get off automatic on my DSLR camera - candid portrait of Maia

Why, oh why, didn’t I learn how to use my DSLR camera years ago?!

Learning how to use my dslr camera

With my camera on automatic, it took okay photos—definitely better than my old Canon Powershot—but the potential for capturing my children and life around me with really good photographs has just skyrocketed. This is why I bought a DSLR in the first place. I’m so glad I know how to use it now!

Plus, it means that I can finally use that nifty fifty lens that my husband bought me for my birthday a year and a half ago!

Family Photography Class with Kirk Tuck

If you’re in a similar situation and want to learn how to use your DSLR or just how to take memorable family photographs, I highly recommend giving this Bluprint class a try:

Family Photography: Candid Moments & Storytelling by Kirk Tuck

By the way, I’ve since taken a few of their other photography classes and they’ve all been valuable (although this one has been my favorite).

My reviews of other online photography classes I’ve taken through Bluprint:

More photography classes that I’d like to take:

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How I Finally Learned How to Use my DSLR Camera

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