Kyrie's first picture was literally just grass. I was pleased when she instead decided to try shots of this bracelet, which she conveniently got as a present from the neighbor today (Thanks, Sara!). And she took a whole bunch of shots against various backgrounds and with various other "props" involved. She took many of the shots about 2 inches from the bracelet, so I'm kind of impressed that any of them focused; usually the camera has extreme trouble that close-up.
Hmm, let's see. I learned a ton from reading my cousin's post today about re-learning her new camera (and the comments and the links in the comments). So much so that... my shot today was shot in manual! Yay me!
(My camera doesn't store the iso, but it was probably 200)
The most useful thing that I learned from those links (that I didn't already know) was that my camera has a light meter, and that I can use it to help pick shutter and aperture settings. I already had some idea of under what conditions I might want a low or high shutter speed, or a low or high aperture. But I couldn't figure out what to do with the remaining settings once I had the one I wanted. One of the links explained that you should generally try to aim your light meter to 0.0, plus-or-minus some depending on personal preference. Once I found the light meter (it was one of the few things left I hadn't figured out in manual mode, and it ranges from about -4.0 to +4.0), I could really start figuring out my settings much better.
The links also had some useful recommendations for a starting place with the iso's. Basically 100 for outdoor daylight and 800 for indoors (maybe 200-400 if it's especially well-lit, which my place is decidedly not). I used 200 for most of the shots I took outside today because it was completely overcast.
Despite all that I learned, I still had to use the flash to get the branch to be green. No amount of raising the iso could get as good of a shot. Instead, it just turned the sky bright white. Changing the other settings didn't help. The basic problem was that the sky was a lot brighter than the branch, so the only way to make it not look dark against a light background was to shine more light on it, through the flash. (Although now I am suddenly remembering one of the "scene" mode settings is for "backlit" things, and I wish I had thought to try that; it's too dark now.) The best shot that I got without the flash showed an almost-white-but-still-slightly-blue sky with a very-dark-but-you-can-just-barely-tell-it's-green branch. And that shot just couldn't match the green and the moody sky in this one.
Through my own experimentation, I learned that the fourth setting in my camera's manual mode - the one that isn't shutter speed, aperture, or iso... is for how bright the flash is.
Let's see, what else did I learn. I learned that when I point the camera at the row of Douglas-firs behind our apartments, the lowest possible aperture setting (the widest open) is f2.8, but when I point the camera at the branch in the picture (with lots and lots of sky behind it), the 2.8 setting disappears and the lowest f-stop I can hit is f3.6. I have no idea why this is. Frankly, it seems a little bit insane for the camera to suddenly decide it won't let me change the aperture lower even if I want to. But there you go. Maybe it's trying to protect itself from being damaged by too much light? Maybe if I had changed the iso lower and the shutter speed faster, it would have allowed the 2.8 again? Is it even possible for a camera to be damaged by too much light? I'm thinking not on a cloudy, overcast day, at the very least. It's not even like I was pointing it at the sun or something.... that comes later in the challenge. :/
Well, that was a lot of learning about cameras for one day. What I'd still like to learn more about is how to take good ultra close-up photos, and I think I'll need some practice with the long-exposures and night shots.