Sponsored: Insights from Learning to Use a DSLR Camera

My interest in photography is a quite recent discovery in the scheme of things. It was only through my travels that I began to develop this blossoming passion of mine. As such, I generally see photography through the lens (pun most certainly intended) of travel and landscape photography. While I started out with a generic point-and-shoot, I eventually reached a point where it felt limiting and ventured out to acquire my very first DSLR camera.

Transitioning to a DSLR has certainly had a considerable learning curve. It didn’t help that my manual was in German, French and Italian. I want to make it clear that I’m entirely self-taught when it comes to photography and know that there’s plenty that I’ve yet to learn about shooting with my DSLR. Still, I feel like I’ve picked up a few things over the years that may be of help to other starting out. With that in mind, here are some insights that I’ve had while getting used to shooting with my DSLR camera.


Time of Day

Sunset at Miramare, Portugal

It’s likely that the majority of photos you take on your travels are during the day while you’re out sightseeing. Unfortunately this means that you often need to take into account where the sun is at and also factor in the harsher light. There’s nothing more frustrating that finding a great shot, only for the shot to be ruined by the sun casting everything into shadow. If you have the time, you can always come back at a different time of day but that’s a rare liberty. One alternative is to tweak the shadows in editing but an even better choice is adjust the exposure on your DSLR to give the photos a better balance.


Multiple Lenses

Venta View at Kuldiga

One thing that’s been bugging me of late is the fact that I have just one lens for my DSLR. When I bought my camera, I got it with the standard 18-55mm lens. Most of the time, the lens has met my needs as it’s quite a versatile range, covering both close-up shots and also landscapes. Since the vast majority of my shots are either city or landscape photos, the standard lens is fine.

However I’m increasingly noticing times where I wish I had a far greater range with my camera. For one thing, I occasionally wish I had a wide-angle lens like a 10-22mm, just to capture a little bit more with my landscape shots. The more common problem I come across is the limited zoom that comes with the standard lens. Particularly when it comes to wildlife and people shots or framing distant landscape elements, I really yearn for something like a 18-200mm Telephoto Zoom Lens that would give me that option to properly zoom.

My advice would be if you’re planning on buying your first DSLR to spend a little more up front and get something with a little more range.


Camera Stability

Night Old Square Torun

When travelling, I find taking photos at night to be fun but also quite challenging at times. One of the biggest challenges with night shots is about keeping the camera as still as possible, to allow more light to come through. Even when you adjust the ISO and aperture, the shutter speed can be susceptible to minor hand movements. If you’re at all serious about your night shots, you really ought to look into buying a tripod to help keep your camera stable. Even with a tripod, you can still get a slight tremor from pressing the shutter-release button. My solution is to use the 10 second self timer which allows the camera to settle before it takes the shot.

Stability also goes for when you’re shooting video on your DSLR. Every time I try to shoot video, I find my panning to be too jolting and shaky which results in a substandard video. Like before, the answer is an accessory, this time a gimbal that allows the DSLR to move about in a far more controlled, fluid motion.


RAW File Format

Ballroom Forest, Cradle Mountain

I’ve read in a few places online of people discouraging new DSLR photographers from shooting in RAW format. Loosely, RAW images are the direct, unprocessed and uncompressed image data captured by the camera. The argument that I recall was that there was little point for newbies because it added needless complexity, takes up a lot more memory, and they were unlikely to know how to properly edit such images. While that may be so, I’d argue that having access to RAW files later on when you are more experienced, is a really great thing to have.

I’ve noticed this in particular with dense, green nature shots and illuminated night shots. One of the easy adjustments you can made to these RAW files in Lightroom is the various preset options that alter the white balance of a photo. I regularly notice that my nature shots can often look quite washed out, but the ability to alter the white balance brings out a far more realistic and vibrant shot. This is far simpler to correct I’ve found with RAW files than otherwise.


Reading Online Tutorials

Taking a Photo, DSLR Camera

There you go, a photo of me taking a photo as a reward for reaching the bottom of the post!

As I admitted at the top, my knowledge of photography and my DSLR is entirely self-taught. By that I mean, reading the manual (once I found an English version online), endlessly fiddling with the settings, and most importantly finding websites that share free information and tips. It’s that last one that I’ve found great for answering questions that I had, and the ones that I hadn’t even thought of yet.

If you really want to make progress with your photography then there’s nothing that quite beats getting advice from professionals and practicing said advice. While there’s plenty of websites and, you know Google, my favourite has been Matt Krumin’s Photography. A professional photographer based out of Melbourne, Matt’s photos are incredible, but he also has a great way of explaining things in his free tutorials through fun metaphors. I’ve definitely learnt a few things from his tutorials, both technically and creatively.


What things have you learned since starting to shoot with your DSLR camera? Did you find any of the above helpful? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Disclaimer: This post contains a sponsored link from Top Gimbals. As always, opinions presented here and throughout my site are genuinely my own.

Why Not Pin It for Later

Since starting to use my first DSLR camera, I've learnt a great deal. Here are several insights I've had since regarding DSLR photography. via @travelsewhere


This post is part of Wanderful Wednesday at SnowinTromso and Weekend Travel Inspiration at Albom Adventures. Please head on over for more great posts.

Wanderful Wednesday


11 Comment

  1. Sarah says: Reply

    I haven’t used a DSLR in years (I lost my v expensive and loved Nikon d700 on a ferry in San Fran :'( )… but lately I’ve been pondering finally getting a new one. You’ve given me a bit of inspiration!

  2. Couldn’t agree with these more! I alternate between using my mirrorless and my DSLR but I always feel like I take more time to frame photos taken with my DSLR, it just makes me feel like it’s a real camera 🙂

  3. Sara says: Reply

    That picture with the sun and the sea is absolutely STUNNING!!! Great job!! I agree with Marcella, I take way more time with my DSLR than my mirrorless.

  4. I’m with you on the lenses. I have a standard 18-55mm that I use for about everything and a 55-250mm that I like taking when we’re looking for wildlife to watch and photograph, but that’s it. I’m dying for a wide angle lens to help with my landscape shots!

  5. When we bought our camera it came with the standard 18-55 but it wasn’t enough for me. I like to zoom in on details so we needed the 55-250. But our newest addition is now the 10-18 so I’m looking forward to getting some pretty awesome pictures especially inside buildings and churches!

  6. I’ve only had my DSLR for half a year but I absolutely love it! All my pictures are so much sharper than before, it’s just the best!!

  7. Learning how to use a digital camera is a work in progress. I learn new tricks everyday. One of my favourite tips is to always shoot in raw and never overexpose. Shooting in raw gives you a wider exposure adjustment range in lightroom and you can’t recover dynamic range if it’s overexposed.

  8. I have a DSLR but I’m incredibly lazy and always use it on automatic mode. I know I could take much better shots by thinking a little about things that you’ve mentioned in this post, so thanks for the prompt for me to get off my ass and start putting in some effort!! Fantastic shots by the way!

  9. You’re obviously mastering the craft! Thanks for linking up again! #wkendtravelinspiration

  10. Isabel says: Reply

    I’m so scared to buy a DSLR. It really requieres a lot of discipline and commitment to make it work. We got a mirrorless Sony Alpha recently though and most of these tips apply. Great tips!

  11. Very informative post. I am taking pictures with an old DSLR camera Sony A700 and some Minolta analogue cameras but thanks to it I learned to photograph 🙂

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