Educational Resources


By: Matt Moses

At the January 2019 club meeting, club member Matthew Moses gave a presentation on night photography. Click here to download a PDF version of the PDF of Matt’s slideshow.

DSLR Photography for beginners

         This is the place to start!  In this series of 13 videos you will learn about everything from "How to use you DSLR" to more advanced items like "diffusing your flash" or "adjusting your white balance".  Click on the link below to view these videos. 

Essential Pro Secrets for Unleashing Your Creativity

         Click here to download a pdf from Ian Plant Photography on how to unleash the creativity in your shots.

Beyond the basics

          Already know how to operate your DSLR?  Are you ready to tackle some more advanced photography?  Below is a series of articles concerning various issues in photography.  Articles are written by DSCC club members, appear in the DSCC news letter, and are commonly discussed at club meetings.  These articles are not only meant to be educational and informative,  reflect the state of dialogue within the DSCC.  ENJOY!

          If you have any questions or would like to suggest a topic, send us a message using the "contact us" page. 

Click the links below to download individual articles or scroll down. 

Night Sky Photography

Making an Image

Using Auto FP (High Speed Sync)

(The articles listed below may not contain all images or diagrams found in the original version. To ensure that you benefit from all images and diagrams, use the links above to download the original version of each article.)


By: Matt Moses

At the March 2015 club meeting, club member Matthew Moses gave a presentation on night sky and aurora borealis photography. Click here to download a PDF version of the slides to use during this presentation.

"Making an Image"

By: Bob Lahti

         Perhaps Ansel Adams most famous quote is "You don't take a photograph, you make it." This statement stems from his belief, which he put into practice, that photographers must have an idea in their minds about what the final print will look like prior to having their photography equipment ready, something Adams called "previsualization" and which he said is "the single most important factor in photography." It becomes the photographers' job then to use their knowledge of their equipment and their craft to produce a good starting point (in Adams' case, a negative) with which to work up into the image they previsualized. For Adams, that was the darkroom, a place in which he may have been the undisputed master. For us today, it is the computer and software.

          The photograph included in this article is one I can honestly say that I previsualized. It's a shot taken from the last tunnel on Iron Mountain Road (US 16/16A), which connects to 244 not far from Mt. Rushmore. During a visit a few years ago, I stopped to photograph this scene. Fortunately, a motorcyclist happened go through the short tunnel (you've got to honk and take your turn–the tunnel isn't very wide) and stop at the other end. His tail light was red, his feet were on the ground, and he was still in the shadow of the tunnel. The light at the end of the tunnel, however, was very strong because it was mid-day–yes, the color and texture on the Presidents was washed out. But I was excited (read "in a hurry") because I had time to take only one shot (no tripod). When I looked at the shot later on a computer monitor, I realized that my metering mode was set to evaluative, resulting in improper exposure. And, on top of that, I had focused on the biker, who was only somewhat in focus because my heart was pumping and my hands were not very steady. My aperture was set to f4.5, which added to the focus problem–the Presidents were very soft.

          It was at this point that I thought, "If I ever get back here, I know the image I want to get and I'm going to learn how to get it." So, this year when my wife and I were in the Rushmore area, we took a trip up Iron Mountain Road later in the afternoon when the light would be softer and the Presidents would be side-lit. It's a very nice, but curvy trip by the way. When we reached the second tunnel (the first one is very short and the Presidents are too far away) I did what I needed to do to get the shot I previsualized: I set up my tripod, set my camera metering mode to spot metering, set the aperture to f11 for an improved depth of field, and attached my remote cord so I wouldn't touch the camera when I triggered the shutter release (no vibration reduction on this lens to turn off). I then took a test shot to see what I would get for an exposure. Then I waited, but not for long. This is a popular spot to stop and take this shot. When some people stopped to wait until another car came through, I asked them if they would stop at the end of the tunnel (still in the shadows) and keep the brake lights on. They were happy to oblige.

         When I converted the image (I shoot RAW), I was able to improve some of the darker areas (may have been there a bit late–we attended the evening lighting ceremony, something worth seeing if you haven't had the opportunity), increase the mid-tone contrast a bit, and saturate the evening light on the right-hand side. When I opened the image, I went to Nik Software's Viveza 2 (now owned by Google) to brighten the Presidents, bring out a bit of the reflected light on the roof and left side of the tunnel and darken the sky a bit. I then sharpened the image. Done.

          My computer time with this photograph was about 15 minutes. Something else to learn from Ansel Adams: put in the editing time with your good images. He said, "Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop." And finally, speaking of quotations, one of my favorites is Henri Cartier-Bresson's "Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst."

- appeared in the November, 2014 DSCC newsletter

using Auto FP (High speed Sync)

By: Brian Rauvola

In a nutshell:

          The combination of camera and flash settings allow the camera to sync with the flash output at higher than normal shutter speeds.

Why would I want to do this?

         There are 2 main reasons: 1) To capture movement at a higher shutter speed than the maximum sync speed. This would be using flash-fill shooting action with high shutter speeds when ambient light is the main light source (either stadium/gym lighting or the sun is your main light and you are using the flash to fill in shadows.) But more importantly, 2) to allow more options when using flash in conjunction with ambient light (usually bright sunlight outdoors,) especially if you want to work with a lower depth of field using a wider aperture resulting in a high shutter speed.

What you need:

         A camera with high speed synch capabilities and a speedlight (flash) also with high speed sync. Flash must be “dedicated,” that is, connected to the camera’s hot-shoe, tethered to the hot shoe with a dedicated cord, or using a wireless trigger system capable of handling high-speed sync.


         Typical maximum flash sync speeds are between 1/180th and 1/320th, depending on camera model. Any shutter speed slower than these will also sync fine, but if a shutter speed is higher than the camera’s sync speed, the 2nd curtain of the shutter will already be closing by the time the flash gets the signal and fires, resulting in an image with all or a portion to be dark with a distinct horizontal separation between light and dark areas. In other words, the shutter is moving too fast and starts to close before the flash fires (see figure 1.) Typically, newer cameras will not allow the shutter speed to go faster than the sync speed if it detects a flash connected and powered on. However, older models of cameras and/or flashes, or the use of many wireless triggers, do not have this safety feature.

What High Speed Sync does to overcome this issue:

         The flash duration is extended to cover more time than the shutter is open, ensuring the light from the flash is “on” when the shutter is open.


         Much of the flash’s output is “wasted” in the exposure, resulting in a much “darker” flash exposure. Flash output needs to be at a higher power to compensate meaning battery life is diminished and recycle time in increased.

How do I use it?

         Have the camera set in high speed sync mode (see your manual, if you are a Nikon shooter, it can be found at Menu - Custom Settings - Bracketing/flash) If you are shooting in TTL mode (Program mode in camera with flash set in TTL for fully automatic capture,) just connect the flash, make sure the flash switches to high speed sync mode (for Nikons, FP will appear on the flash display), and you should be ready to shoot. If you are shooting in manual mode for full control of your light, first set your camera’s exposure to capture the background appropriately with the flash off. Second, turn the flash unit(s) on and verify that the flash switches to high speed sync modeThird, tweak the flash output brightness in a few test images to fill in the subject to the level you need. You are then ready for the real thing!

Other notes:

         Neutral density filters can be used to achieve a similar effect as they can lower the shutter speed of bright sunlight to at or below a normal flash synch speed. You would not need any special flash type or high speed sync camera to achieve a similar result to the one described above.

           One can also stop action using just the flash as the main light source since the flash duration on these speedlight units can be as fast as 1/15,000s or less when at minimum power output. Use the flash as the only light source in a dark room and you can stop action at slow shutter speeds.

- appeared in the October, 2013 DSCC newsletter


Lens Buying Guide

          Need a new lens?  Click here to find the begining information you will need to find the right lens for you. Thanks to Amelia for reccommending this source!