I have a Nikon D90 with a 18-55mm lens and a 55-200mm f/4-5.6G lens.

What I am looking for is a website that can help me learn about how to best use my camera, something like "Hello, I see you are trying to take a portrait of someone with Mountains in the background. You should use this lens, an f-stop around this number, a fast/slow shutter speed, a low/high iso"

It would also be helpful to see pictures with one setting changed, like here is the same picture with a different f-stop, here is the best f-stop, here is the best f-stop with a different iso.

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    Good gracious, you want a Clippy??? ;) – rfusca Jul 22 '11 at 13:11
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    Hahaha, that would be hilarious, yet probably very helpful. There are tons of websites around that will give you some ideas of how to shoot in various scenarios. I recommend browsing Flickr.com for a shot that you like, and then looking at the EXIF data that Flickr includes to see what settings the photographer used. It should help give you a head start. – Jon Jul 22 '11 at 13:11
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    @Jon - Or he could ask here ;) – rfusca Jul 22 '11 at 13:16
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    Haha, yeah when you are still a beginner a clippy is useful. When you know what you are doing you want that crap out of the way. – Tom H. Jul 22 '11 at 13:30
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    Don't the entry-level Nikon cameras actually have a "help" feature like this? – Please Read Profile Jul 22 '11 at 13:30

Scott Kelby has many recipes in his Digital Photography books showing a photo and recipe, how to shoot such photo. I like the books as the tutorials are written in common language and really practical.

@rfusca: haha, you posted almost the same answer before I finished mine. :-)

  • Yup, looks like I beat ya by a minute ;). – rfusca Jul 22 '11 at 13:41

While it's not a website, the closest thing is probably Scott Kelby's Digital Photography Volumes. They take a scene or something you want to show and step you through the settings, the hows, and the whys step-by-step. They're very easy to follow and understand. (There are digital versions too).

Additionally, with some planning, feel free to ask on here! We'd gladly offer up advice on what to do with specific scenes.


Best thing I could recommend would be to go out into your backyard or something, and just play with settings. Don't worry too much about composition etc, but play with various settings and then compare the results on your camera. That way you will get to know first hand what each setting does, and you'll learn a lot more than just reading some articles (although articles / tutorials have their merit also).

Shoot something with the aperture wide open (f4 or 5.6 on your lens), then do one at f11, then f22. Move closer to the same subject and do it again etc. You'll fast see how different settings alter your image.


That's sort of what the Scene Modes found on P&S and some DSLRs do: set change your settings based on your intent, so you don't have to set/understand them yourself.

For example, the Nikon D90 has modes for Portrait, Night Portrait, Landscape, Sports, and Close-up. It set adjusts settings for aperture, shutter, built-in flash, and autofocus. (It won't change your lens or zoom though, obviously).

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    Being guided how to do it, and having the camera do it for you, aren't quite the same thing. – rfusca Jul 22 '11 at 21:47

Get yourself a photography cheat sheet, like this one, and follow these steps:

  1. Set your aperture based on desired depth of field (shallow for portraits, deep for landscapes, etc)
  2. Set your shutter speed to obtain correct exposure 2a. Keep your shutter speed faster than 1/ 2b. Keep your ISO as low as possible

This works for most pictures. Once you get the hang of things you'll start to figure out how to break this process for certain effects.


Back when you did not get immediate feedback of the shot, there were tiny pocket-sized books with lists of exposure suggestions. Maybe you can find something like that on Amazon. But, I recall setting for fireworks based on the guide andv (with a new digital EVF) getting a bad shot— so I fiddled with it and tried again. I have not used the booklet since, and that was more than 10 years ago. The best guide is to use the shot as feedback and change settings 'till it's right!

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