About the author

This blog is the work of Patti Beadles. I’ve been an amateur photographer on and off for my entire life. I’m a software engineer by profession, so I really enjoy learning about the technical side of what I’m doing. I’m a pragmatist, though, and I would really rather simplify concepts than to draw whiteboards full of equations about them. I also like experimenting to see how changing a setting affects the resulting image. “Hey, what happens if I do this?”

I often find myself drawn to technically-challenging shots– reflections, night photography, macrophotography. Because of that, I very quickly figured out that I had to control my camera rather than letting it have its way. Much of what I’ve learned about photography has come more from my own experimentation than anything else.

You can contact me by email at pattib (at) pattib (dot) org.

And finally, here are some of my favorites from among my own photos.

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40 responses to “About the author

  1. Steve Green

    Hi Patti:

    Great job. I’ll be sending people to your site rather than explaining this stuff in my more wordy fashion, when people ask. You explain things in a clear, concise fashion.

    One thing I didn’t come across on your site, although maybe I just missed it, is that smaller apertures (in DSLRs, meaning smaller than say, f16) mean less overall image sharpness, due to diffraction from the aperture blades. More DOF, but lower overall image quality. Of course, you may not want to add yet another factor for people to consider. :o

    Best,
    Steve

  2. stopshootingauto

    It’s true. I actually did an extensive test of this one night, since I learned it by trial-and-error. I’ll get there, but diffraction is sort of an advanced topic so I want to layer it on later rather than confusing people earlier. In reality, most people never have to worry about diffraction very much.

    I really appreciate your kind words, and sending people to the site.

  3. TJ

    Thanks so much for writing this stuff, patti. I love my Nikon dslr, but just like your friends, don’t have a clue how to use its more advanced features. Your articles really really help! Thank you!

  4. Melanie

    Hi there, i seen your site on facebook and i must say it is great i will be sure to share this with my mom whom has the same cam as me the canon reb XT i have had mine for just over a month and she has had hers for 18 months and she knows just about nothing on how it works so this is going to help her lots too, the only thing i wish you had here is a list of everything you talk about so that we could pick witch order to read it in, mind you the order you have it in is great its just so much info that i could never read it all in one night and remember it all so if i could just click the subject i left off at next without going though it all every time that would be alittle better. o and please keep posting things on here and i will look back offten to see whats new. i am not to sure if you have a spot on here that talks about some of the many different lanes you can get and what they are all good for or not but if you dont maybe that could be an idea for you to add also filters i am so lost as to witch ones i should get if any and what kind of pics would i want to us one for. well i just wanted to give some ideas to maybe help keep you going at the great site.

  5. stopshootingauto

    Melanie, if you look at the left you’ll see a link to go through the lessons in order. Does that help?

  6. Thanks for the comment on posting you on my D40 blog. Yes and that is why I point them to http://www.nikondigitutor.com/index_eng.html

    It is a flash-based interactive teaching on using your Nikon camera. Better than I could do on my blog. And I bounce it to the top of my blog from time to time with other Tutorials and HowTo’s on photography.

    Personally I do not think many people actually spend the time to get intimate with the controls and menu’s on their camera’s. So that it becomes second nature to select menus’s and push the right buttons without a need to have the camera leave their eye.

    I hope it was alright posting your informative information on my blog? If not send me email and I will resolve the issue.

    And thanks for sharing your Time and Labor on your blog. It is appreciated.

    Orlin saying Hi! from PDX,Or.

  7. Judith

    I have just come upon your wonderfully informative blog. I’m in the process of learning all there is to know about digital photography and taking classes in a continuing ed program at an art school. I’ve enjoyed point & shoot for many years and feel more comfortable with my composition abilities in my photography than my technical know-how. Upgrading my camera(s) has me wandering off into f stops, shutter speeds & ISOs, exposure and much more than I ever dreamed of doing–I’m hooked. I need all the help I can get to understand some of the nagging beginner questions I feel too embarrassed to get answers for. Lots of good information at your blog that is helpful! Thank you.

  8. Kelly

    I saw someone mentioned a facebook site for you! What is the group called?? I tried to find it but but couldn’t! Thanks in advance!

  9. stopshootingauto

    Facebook? I’m not aware of a Facebook site for me. I have a Flickr set– http://www.flickr.com/photos/whipartist/sets/72157600741206998/

  10. Kelly

    Thanks so much for responding so quickly! I am really enjoying your site and I hope you continue to write. It’s amazing what I have learned just by reading your site today! I took your recommendation about the photography books and I went to my local bookstore and picked up Learning to see creatively! I can’t wait to read it! Again thanks for taking the time to write this blog and I am really enjoying it! Keep up the great work!

  11. Peter Lee

    Hi Patti,

    First of all, thank you so much for sharing your knowledge about photography with the world. I love photography and was able to take a few interesting photos with AUTO. But now it’s time to get out of the AUTO mode. Your site has been a blessing for me. Please don’t stop posting more stuff, of course when you’re not busy coding. :) I am a computer engineering, so I enjoy your content. And I appreciate a lot of your humor as well.

    Great site! Keep it up~

  12. Monique

    Hi Patti,
    This is a wonderful site. Someone posted in the review Q&A Section on Amazon.com about how your site has helped them learn to use their camera. I just got my Nikon D90 late last week, my first DSLR, and I am so excited to try the exercises you posted with my new camera. You have a great way of breaking things down and keeping it simple. I appreciate your work and the time you have taken to create this blog.
    Thanks!

  13. stopshootingauto

    Thanks Monique! That’s *exactly* the target I was trying to hit.

  14. Kate

    Wow, what a great set of lessons! I took a photography course many, many years ago and enjoyed using an old film SLR as a teen. In recent years though, I’ve been using a digital point and shoot and just upgraded to a dSLR. So, I’m not particularly afraid of manual mode, but I am terribly, terribly rusty! Thank you very much for a much needed refresher and set of lessons to help orient me to the new camera.

  15. great information, and i sent a link to my brother, who is just starting out in photography…he read the entire camera manual (“computer guy”), and is being very methodical in his approach.

    i just shoot, and hope… at least there’s no wasted film/money.

    this will be fun.

    thanks.

  16. You are correct Patti, for a DSLR newcomer like me, all those jargons are giving me loads of headache. I have NO IDEA what is whatever, your tutorial is good, simple for non pro like us. The photography is FANTASTIC, I will be back to go over everything again. Thank you so much for sharing.

  17. Patti: Mail to you is bouncing off of the pattib {at} pattib {dot} org address.

  18. Dan

    Hi Patti, I wanted to say I’ve enjoyed your common-sense decriptions, humor and how-to examples which obviously provide help to many. Having enjoyed photography for 25+ years (most of them with a Canon AE-1) it’s apparent that the dive into DSLR requires some new thought patterns. On a recent outing with my Canon 40D I completely forgot the ISO speed can be changed! In 35mm days that roll of Kodachrome 400 ASA stayed put until the last bit was pulled out of the little can so you only had f-stops and exposure times to mess with. All those settings on a DSLR can be daunting but it really comes down to practice practice practice. Head knowledge only translates into great photos by pressing the shutter in various situations and settings over time.
    I’d like to share a web site that does a good job of visually exploring the relationships between ISO speed, f-stops, shutter speed and exposure compensation in different lighting conditions. http://www.pixelpoppin.com/camera/

  19. Hi!

    I have to say I really love your blog, and I will read all the articles. I’m an amateur photographer with relatively little experience, so I’m sure it will be worth while!

    Personally, I’m particularly into HDR. I upload one photo everyday (since October 1st) to my stream at Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/visualideas/

  20. Hi Patti – I just came upon your site today – Just what I needed! I recently purchased my first DSLR, love it, and have so much to learn. I have already read several of your lessons which have already cleared up several questions that I had -Your site is wonderful!

  21. Amy

    I just wanted to thank you for all the info! I started reading all your posts before I even got my DSLR in the mail :) Very helpful.

  22. RG

    Heya Patti

    Thanks so much for all the info here. I don’t have an SLR but a Panasonic Superzoom and everything still applies. My Brother tho has a swanky DSLR which is firmly wedged on Auto Mode and now I’m on a crusade to change all that! Will let you know how I get on with that!

    There are a few things which I can’t quite fathom on my Pana which is the White balance modes – (Urgh? When? Where do i use them?) and something else:

    I was on a boat trip on hols early this year with my pana. It was early morning and an awesome day on a fjord in New Zealand surrounding by mountains (Milford Sound) – trouble is, due to the time of day and the mountains some of my pics had dark shadow in them making the sunny bits a little too overexposed.

    Is there anything clever I could have done about this? Is this where the colour bracket thing comes into play?

    Keep up the good work – i’m off to shove this site under my brother’s nose and glue him to a chair.

    • stopshootingauto

      White balance is a topic that’s on my list of things to write about soon.

      Basically, light has different colors depending on the source and how it’s filtered. Daylight is considered neutral. Incandescent lights are warm (yellowish), and fluorescents are greenish. I’ll write more about this later, and I’m glossing over it and doing a lot of handwaving right now.

      If you set your camera to daylight white balance and then take a picture indoors under incandescent light, it will have a yellow color cast to it. If you take the same picture but set the white balance to incandescent, it will look much more like what your eyes see. Basically, you’ll get the most realistic-looking shots by setting your white balance to match whatever the current conditions are.

      As for the fjord photos, it’s hard to say without seeing them. You may have just had more dynamic range (basically, the range of dark to light in your images) than your sensor could capture. You may also have had conditions that you could have captured well but your camera’s meter was confused. Situations like that are a perfect time for bracketing. Make your best guess, then fire off a few shots. Make one of them one stop underexposed, one stop your best guess, and one stop overexposed.

      It’s also quite possible that you can recover details in Photoshop if you know what you’re doing. If the area is completely blown out (i.e. solid white) then you can’t get it back, but if it’s just sort of overexposed then you can use Photoshop to bring the areas down a bit and recover some of the detail in them.

  23. Carlos

    Hi Patti,

    Great blog with very useful info. Your post “Should I buy a new camera? Which one?” made me change my mind on the purchase of a new camera (Nikon D7000) and just continue to fully explore the current one I own (Nikon D40x) before looking to upgrade. :)
    On a different note, I see that some of the posts are a bit dated, are you still updating the blog with new posts? I sure hope so…

    Congratulations again and keep up the great work :)

    • stopshootingauto

      Thanks! And yay. I’m glad I saved someone some money.

      You’re right that I’ve been a bit sluggish about updating the blog. I have a big backlog of topics that I want to write about, and the backlog is larger than the amount of time I have to work on it. My next topics for when I get a shiny new round tuit are color temperature and white balance, then probably metering modes.

  24. Chad B

    Hey Patti,
    I am back and still learning a ridiculous amount just by wandering around this plethora of information. Thank you again for putting this together! I wanted to see if you or any of your readers could recommend a good “start out” tripod. I noticed the price tag on the one in your bag and I almost swallowed my lense cap. I don;t want to go totally cheap but I also hope to outgrow, this first tripod. Thanks for all your help!!

    • stopshootingauto

      What do you plan to do with it?

      Anyone who is seriously considering the purchase of a tripod should read this article: http://www.bythom.com/support.htm

      The reality is that most people don’t need a $1000 tripod and head. You can do pretty well for far less than that.

      • Chad B

        Well I plan on using it for the longer shuter speeds. It seems as though anything slower than half a second comes out like I was having a seizure when I snapped it. I just seem to have terrible camera shake. Up until now I have handheld every picture. I enjoy taking pictures at night. I typically shoot Street Art and the dirtier side of town and I would like sharper results at slower shutter speeds.

    • stopshootingauto

      You can probably get a decent Manfrotto tripod and ball head for something on the order of $200. It won’t be the killer be-all and end-all of tripods, but it should work pretty well.

      The difference between no tripod and a moderately good tripod is huge. Beyond that the refinements only really matter when they matter to you.

  25. Mike

    Hello Patti,

    Thank you for creating this site. You have converted me from shooting auto to manual. I have recommended your site to many of my friends.
    I wanted to get your opinion on UV filters. Are they really necessary? Most opinions I have read are that they are good for protecting the front element of the lens. But they don’t seem to be doing much of “filtering” that a lay person would notice looking at the picture. What do you think?
    I want to know this because I am debating whether to buy such a filter and if so should I go out and buy an expensive one or any old cheap (< $10) filter would do the same job.

    Mike.

    • stopshootingauto

      The answer is “It depends”. There’s no clear yes or no here.

      UV filters will block some ultraviolet light, which can be useful especially at higher altitudes. At sea level, especially with digital, it’s less important. If you’re shooting indoors it doesn’t really matter much at all.

      UV filters will afford some protection for the front element of your lens. Obvious, it’s better to scratch up a filter than to scratch up a lens.

      On the flip side, UV filters are yet another piece of glass in the path of the image, and they can cause optical effects. I’ve seen a couple of photos that were completely ruined by reflections off of a cheap UV filter.

      I used to put UV filters on all of my lenses, but I don’t anymore. I probably would use one if I was shooting in a lot of debris, or some other situation where my front element would be seriously at risk. Otherwise, I don’t really see much of an advantage.

    • stopshootingauto

      I just came across this article on UV filters:

      http://www.petapixel.com/2011/06/16/experimenting-with-stacks-of-uv-filters/

      It’s obviously an “extreme” experiment, but it’s also educational.

  26. Carlos

    I would like to know the same. I am actually researching some filters, including UN and Circular Polarizing. It seems that Hoya filters are good, but most people recommend the really expensive ($100+) ones, and my budget is a little constrained right now.

    Should I get UV, Circular Polarizer, both? Any brand or model recommendation?

    Thanks for your help.

    • stopshootingauto

      Circular polarizers are cool toys in some situations. I used one for this photo:

      Oakland, Kansas

      to get the deep, dramatic blue sky. They can also be useful for cutting glare and reflections.

      If you want to play around, get a cheap one and try it out. You may lose a little bit of image quality in some circumstances, but it will let you get your feet wet without breaking the budget. If you really fall in love with it, then save up for a good one.

      As for UV filters, see above. I never bother anymore.

      • Carlos

        Thanks for your fast response Patti! That is a very nice picture, it is very sharp and well balanced. Did you do any type of post processing, or is that straight from the camera? What would you say are the top 2 or 3 factors to get pictures like that? Of course the lens that you use has a lot to do, anything else? Or is it just a matter of getting lots of practice to learn which settings to use based on the environment?

    • stopshootingauto

      There’s actually nothing special about that picture, except that I used a polarizer to darken the sky.

      There’s probably some post-processing going on, though it’s been five years since I did it so I don’t really know what I did. Plus, this was back in my “barely learning to use Photoshop” days. When I look at the original size now, I can see that I overcooked whatever I did to it… the grass in the foreground looks pretty crappy.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if I took it with the kit lens. If not, it was with the Tamron 28-75 f/2.8. I’d say it was experience, but mostly it was getting lucky on that one.

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