A ShortCourse Book
Nikon D300 Photography

Nikon D300 Photography

Nikon D300 Photography

This clearly written and easy-to understand short course on your Nikon D300 explains step-by-step how, why and when you use your camera's controls for better pictures. This guide is available as a traditional 182 page large-format (8.5 by 11) spiral bound book printed in black and white, and as a full-color, fully searchable PDF eBook you can order on a CD or download instantly. The eBook also includes links to animations and other resources that bring to life the core concepts of digital photography.


Introducing Animations

Integrated throughout the eBook version of this book are links to 50 or so interactive animations that illustrate and explain the core concepts of digital photography. These animations not only help you better understand your camera, they are also a lot of fun.

To use the animations you need the eBook version of this book and an Internet connection.

Click to explore the light path through an SLR like the D300, then minimize or close the animation window.
Click to see how every camera is just a black box, then minimize or close the animation window.


New, Designed in two page spreads and heavily illustrated with photos and art, this guide to the D300 is unique. Unlike the guide that comes with your camera, the focus is as much on what camera controls do and why and when you'd want to use them as it is on how you set them. This approach keeps you focused on photography and great photos, rather than on buttons and dials.

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This D300 short course guide covers all aspects of your camera--nothing is omitted. Following is a brief description of each of the book's chapters and some of the topics to which you are introduced.

Chapter 1: Camera Controls and Creativity

See how to take pictures in fully automatic point and shoot mode and how your camera captures digital images. See how to play back and manage your images; use buttons, dials, and menus; control image size and quality, and select shutter release modes.

Chapter 2: Controlling Exposure

Learn how to use all of the camera’s exposure modes and exposure controls to get photos that show the scene exactly as it is, or as you want to interpret it. Learn how to display and evaluate histograms and use the high quality RAW image format.

Chapter 3: Controlling Sharpness

Learn how to control sharpness in your photographs and how to creatively use focus, depth-of-field, sharpness, softness, and blur.

Chapter 4: Capturing Light & Color

Learn all about light and color and how to use them creatively. Understand how they change throughout the day and seasons, how they’re affected by the weather, and how light’s direction and quality affects highlights and shadows. See how to set your camera’s white balance to capture colors the way you see them.

Chapter 5: Understanding Lenses

Learn how to use your lenses and lens accessories creatively when photographing scenery, interiors, and people. See how wide-angle, normal, telephoto, and close-up lenses affect your images.

Chapter 6: Using Flash and Studio Lighting

See how to creatively use your camera’s built-in or external flash indoors and out and in good light and bad. Explore special techniques such as fill and slow sync flash. Learn about controlling flash exposures using flash lock and flash compensation. Learn how to use tabletop and studio lighting to get great product shots and portraits with simple setups.

Chapter 7: Other Features and Commands

See how to use live view and picture controls; retouch images; use active d-lighting; create multiple exposures; use the interval timer; bracket exposure, flash, and white balance; use My Menu and the setup, custom settings and playback menus. Finally learn about caring for your camera and cleaning its image sensor.


Chapter 1
Getting Started with your Nikon D300 ...7

The Nikon D300—An Overview ...8
Jump Start—Using Programmed Auto (P) Mode ...9
Good Things To Know ...10
When Things Go Wrong ...12
The Viewfinder, Monitor And Control Panel ...13
Using Dials And Buttons ...14
  • Buttons /dials—top of the camera—14
  • Buttons/dials —back of the camera—15
  • Buttons/dials—front of the camera—16
Using Menus ...17
Understanding Shooting Menu Banks ...19
Restoring Default Settings ...20
  • Two-button reset—20
  • Other reset commands —20
  • Resetting dials —21
Managing Filenames & Folders ...22
Managing Your Images—Using Buttons ...23
  • Image review —23
  • Image playback —23
  • Displaying thumbnails —24
  • Zooming Images—24
Managing Your Images—The Playback Menu ...25
  • Selecting playback folders —25
  • Deleting images —25
  • Giving slide shows —26
  • Hiding images —27
Selecting Image Quality And Size ...28
  • Number of pixels —28
  • How an image is captured —30
  • The exposure —30
  • It’s all black and white after all —30
  • What is color? —31
  • Image size and quality —31
  • Changing image quality —31
  • Changing image size —33
  • Image compression —34
Selecting A Release Mode ...36

Chapter 2
Controlling Exposure ...37

Understanding Exposure ...38
The Shutter Controls Light And Motion ...39
The Aperture Controls Light And Depth Of Field ...41
Using Shutter Speed And Aperture Together ...43
  • Exposure—faucets & buckets analogy —44
  • Exposure—seesaw analogy —45
Retaining Highlight And Shadow Details ...46
Understanding Exposure Displays ...47
Choosing Exposure Modes ...48
Using Programmed Auto (P) Mode ...49
Using Shutter-priority Auto (S) Mode ...50
Using Aperture-priority Auto (A) Mode ...51 Using Manual (M) Exposure Mode ...52
How Your Exposure System Works ...53
  • Meter averaging and middle gray —53
  • Types of metering —55
When Automatic Exposure Works Well ...56
When To Override Automatic Exposure ...57
  • Scenes lighter than middle gray —57
  • Scenes darker than middle gray —58
  • Subject against very light background —58
  • Subject against very dark background —59
  • Scenes with high contrast —59
  • Hard to meter scenes —60
How Overriding Autoexposure Works ...61
How To Override Automatic Exposure ...62
  • Exposure compensation —62
  • Autoexposure (AE) lock —63
Using Histograms ...64
  • Displaying histograms and highlights —64
  • Evaluating histograms —64
  • Clipped pixels —66
  • Sample histograms —67

Chapter 3
Controlling Sharpness ...68

Eliminating Camera Movement ...69
  • Supporting the camera —69
  • Using the self-timer —69
  • Changing ISO sensitivity —70
  • Auto ISO —70
  • ISO and noise reduction —71
  • Using mirror up —71
Sharpness Isn’t Everything ...72
How To Photograph Motion Sharply ...73
  • Speed of subject —73
  • Direction of movement —73
  • Distance to subject and focal length of lens —74
Focus And Depth Of Field ...75
  • Focus —75
  • Depth of field —75
  • Checking Depth of Field —76
Focusing Techniques ...77
  • Focus point selection —77
  • Focus modes —78
  • AF-area modes —78
  • Focus lock —79
Controlling Depth Of Field ...81
Using Deep Depth Of Field ...82
Using Shallow Depth Of Field ...84
Conveying The Feeling Of Motion ...85

Chapter 4
Capturing Light & Color ...86

White Balance ...88
  • Preset manual —89
  • Managing presets —90
  • Color spaces —91
Color Balance And Time Of Day ...92
Sunsets And Sunrises ...93
Weather ...95
Photographing At Night ...97
The Direction Of Light ...99
The Quality Of Light ...101

Chapter 5
Understanding Lenses ...102

Nikon D300 Lenses ...103
  • Lens types —103
  • Using non-CPU lenses —103
  • Changing lenses —104
  • Vibration reduction —104
  • Nikkor terminology —105
  • Maximum apertures —105
  • Focal lengths —105
Zoom Lenses ...107
Normal Lenses ...108
Wide-angle Lenses ...109
Telephoto Lenses ...111
Tilt-shift Lenses ...113
Close-up Lenses ...114
Lens Accessories ...115
Perspective In A Photograph ...116

Chapter 6
Using Automatic Flash ...117

How Flash Works ...118
Using The Built-in Flash ...119
  • Flash modes —119
  • Apertures and shutter speed settings —120
  • Flash Range and Coverage —120
  • Other Considerations —121
Portraits With Flash ...122
  • Positioning the flash and subjects —122
  • Red-eye —123
Using Fill Flash ...124
Using Slow Sync Flash ...125
Using Available Light ...126
Controlling Flash Exposures ...127
  • Flash compensation —127
  • FV lock —128
Using External Flash ...129
Studio Lighting ...130
  • Candidates for studio lighting —130
  • Lighting —130
  • Backgrounds —132
  • Risers —132
  • Special Bulbs —132
Portrait And Product Photography—Introduction ...133
The Main Light ...134
The Fill Light ...135
The Background Light ...136
The Rim Light ...137

Chapter 7
Other Features and Commands ...138

Using Live View ...139
  • Live view FAQs —140
Using Picture Controls ...143
  • Selecting a Nikon Picture Control —143
  • Modifying an existing Picture Control —143
  • Managing and sharing custom Picture Controls —146
  • Interesting faqs —148
  • Selecting images to be retouched —148
  • D-lighting —149
  • Red-eye correction —149
  • Trim —149
  • Monochrome —150
  • Filter effects —150
  • Color balance —150
  • Image overlay —150
  • Side-by-side comparison —152
Using Active D-lighting ...153
Creating Multiple Exposures ...154
Interval Timer Photography...156
  • Getting ready —157
  • During shooting —157
  • Pausing or ending shooting —158
  • Other —158
Bracketing Exposure, Flash And White Balance ...159
  • Turning on bracketing —159
  • During bracketing —160
  • Turning off bracketing —160
Using My Menu ...162
Using The Setup Menu ...163
Using The Custom Settings Menu ...167
  • A Autofocus —168
  • B Metering/exposure —170
  • C Timers/AE&AF lock —171
  • D Shooting/display —171
  • E Bracketing/flash —172
  • F Controls —174
Using The Playback Menu ...178
Caring For Your Camera ...180
  • Cleaning the image sensor —180
  • Cleaning the camera and lens —80
  • Protecting your camera from the elements —181
  • Protecting when traveling —181
  • Storing a camera —181
  • Caring for yourself —181
NOTES ...182


A great photograph begins when you recognize a great scene or subject. But recognizing a great opportunity isn’t enough to capture it; you also have to be prepared. A large part of being prepared involves understanding your camera well enough to capture what you see. Getting you prepared to see and capture great photographs is what this book is all about. It doesn’t matter if you are taking pictures for business or pleasure, there’s a lot here to help you get better results and more satisfaction from your photography.

To get better, and possibly even great photographs, you need to understand both concepts and procedures; the “whys” and “hows” of photography.

  • Concepts of photography are the underlying principles that apply regardless of the camera you are using. They include such things as how sharpness and exposure affect your images and the way they are perceived by viewers. Understanding concepts answers the “why” kinds of questions you might have about photography.
  • Procedures are those things specific to one kind of camera, and explain step-by-step how you set your camera’s controls to capture an image just the way you want to. Understanding procedures gives you the answers to the “how” kinds of questions you might have.
This book is organized around the concepts of digital photography because that’s how photographers think. You think about scenes and subjects, highlights and shadows, softness and sharpness, color and tone. The procedures you use with the Nikon D300 camera are integrated throughout the concepts, appearing as text discussions and QuickSteps boxes in those places where they apply. This integrated approach lets you first understand the concepts of photography and then see step by step how to use the D300 to capture scenes and subjects exactly the way you want to.

To get more effective, interesting, and creative photographs, you only need to understand how and when to use a few simple features on your camera such as focus, exposure controls, and flash. If you’ve previously avoided understanding these features and the profound impact they can have on your images, you’ll be pleased to know that you can learn them over a weekend. You can then spend the rest of your life marveling at how the infinite variety of combinations make it possible to convey your own personal view of the world. You’ll be ready to keep everything in a scene sharp for maximum detail or to blur it all for an impressionistic portrayal. You’ll be able to get dramatic close-ups, freeze fast action, and capture the beauty and wonder of close-ups, rainbows, sunsets, fireworks, and nighttime scenes.

As you explore your camera, be sure to have fun. There are no “rules” or “best” way to make a picture. Great photographs come from using what you know to experiment and try new approaches. Digital cameras make this especially easy because there are no film costs or delays. Every experiment is free and you see the results immediately so you can learn step by step.

This book assumes you’ve mastered the mechanics of your camera. It’s about getting great pictures, not about connecting your camera to your computer and using software. That information is presented in the user guide that came with your camera. Be sure to visit our Web site at www.shortcourses.com for even more digital photography information.

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