A ShortCourse Book
Nikon D40x Photography

Nikon D40x Photography

This clearly written and easy-to understand short course on your Nikon D40x explains step-by-step how, why and when you use your camera's controls for better pictures. This guide is available as a traditional 156 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

The eBook version of this book has 55 interactive animations that illustrate and explain the core concepts of digital photography. Integrated throughout the eBook, these animations help you understand your camera better, and 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 D40x then minimize or close the animation window.
Click to see how full color images are created from only three colors then minimize or close the animation window.


New, a Short Courses digital photography book for people who want to get better pictures with their Nikon D40x digital camera. This beautifully written and illustrated guide, drawing on the much more comprehensive information on the ShortCourses Web site, pulls together answers to the questions you might have about using the D40x, including the following:
  • Taking a Picture in Auto Mode
  • Changing Settings on the Shooting Information Display
  • Using Menus
  • Using the Two-Button Reset
  • Reviewing and Playing Back Images
  • Zooming Images
  • Deleting Images
  • Displaying a Slide Show
  • Connecting the Camera to a TV
  • Selecting the Playback Folder
  • Rotating Tall Images
  • Changing Image Quality /Size with the Info Button
  • Changing Image Quality /Size with the Shooting Menu
  • Changing Exposure Modes
  • Using Digital Vari-Program Modes
  • Using Flexible Program Mode
  • Using Shutter-Priority (S) Mode
  • Turning Noise Reduction On and Off
  • Using Aperture-Priority (A) Mode
  • Using Manual (M) Mode
  • Changing the Metering Mode
  • Using Exposure Compensation
  • Using Autoexposure (AE) Lock
  • Displaying Histograms
  • Evaluating Histograms
  • Using the Self-timer
  • Using the Remote Control
  • Changing the ISO with the Shooting Menu
  • Increasing the Sharpness of Moving Objects
  • Selecting an AF-area Mode
  • Manually Selecting a Focus Area
  • Selecting a Focus Mode
  • Using Focus Lock
  • Increasing Depth of Field
  • Decreasing Depth of Field in Automatic Mode
  • Conveying Motion
  • Setting White Balance from the Shooting Menu
  • Measuring Preset White Balance
  • Copying White Balance from a Photograph
  • Using Bulb Mode
  • Mounting a Lens
  • Unmounting a Lens
  • Zooming the Lens
  • Selecting a Flash Mode
  • Using Fill Flash
  • Using Slow Sync Flash
  • Turning Off the Flash
  • Using Flash Compensation
  • Shooting in Continuous Mode
  • Using Image Overlay
  • Optimizing Images
  • Using the Setup Menu
  • Using the Custom Settings Menu
  • Creating a Print Set

The book is designed to work with the www.shortcourses.com site. The book explains how to get better pictures but you'll find more on that subject on the site. In addition, there is lots of information on the site about what you can do with your pictures after you've taken them.


Chapter 1
Getting Started With Your Nikon D40x ...7

The Nikon D40x—An Overview ...8
Jump Start—Using Auto Mode ...9
Batteries and Memory Cards ...10
Good Things to Know ...12
The Viewfinder and Monitor ...14
Using Dials and Buttons ...15
Changing Settings on the Shooting Information
Display ...17
Using Menus ...18
Restoring Default Settings ...20
Using Image Review and Playback Mode ...21
Using the Playback Menu ...23
Selecting Image Quality and Size ...26

Chapter 2
Controlling Exposure ...34

Understanding Exposure ...35
The Shutter Controls Light and Motion ...36
The Aperture Controls Light and Depth of Field ...38
Using Shutter Speed and Aperture Together ...40
Retaining Highlight and Shadow Details ...43
Understanding Exposure Displays ...44
Choosing Exposure Modes ...45
Using Digital Vari-program Modes ...46
Using Programmed (P) Mode ...47
Using Shutter-Priority (S) Mode ...48
Using Aperture-Priority (A) Mode ...49
Using Manual (M) Mode ...50
How Your Exposure System Works ...51
When Automatic Exposure Works Well ...54
When to Override Automatic Exposure ...55
How to Override Automatic Exposure ...59
Using Histograms ...61

Chapter 3
Controlling Sharpness ...65

Eliminating Camera Movement ...66
Sharpness Isn't Everything ...70
How to Photograph Motion Sharply ...71
Focus and Depth of Field ...73
Focusing Techniques ...75
Controlling Depth of Field ...79
Using Deep Depth of Field ...80
Using Shallow Depth of Field ...81
Conveying the Feeling of Motion ...82

Chapter 4
Capturing Light & Color ...83

Where Does Color Come From? ...84
White Balance ...85
Color Balance and Time of Day. ..88
Sunsets and Sunrises ...89
Weather ...91
Photographing at Night ...93
The Direction of Light ...95
The Quality of Light ...97

Chapter 5
Understanding Lenses...98

Nikon D40x Lenses ...99
Zoom Lenses ...103
Normal Lenses ...104
Wide-Angle Lenses ...105
Telephoto Lenses ...107
Perspective Control Lenses ...109
Macro Lenses ...110
Lens Accessories ...111
Perspective in a Photograph ...112

Chapter 6
Using Flash & Studio Lighting ...113

Flash Popping-up and Firing...114
Selecting a Flash Mode ...115
How Flash Works ...117
Portraits with Flash ...119
Using Fill Flash ...121
Using Slow Sync Flash ...122
Using Available Light ...124
Controlling Flash Exposures ...125
Using External Flash ...126
External Flash Accessories ...127
Studio Lighting ...128
Portrait and Product Photography—Introduction ...131
The Main Light ...132
The Fill Light ...133
The Background Light ...134
The Rim Light ...135

Chapter 7
Other Features and Commands ...136

Shooting Continuously ...137
Retouching Images ...138
Optimizing Images ...142
Using the Setup Menu ...144
Using the Custom Setting Menu ...149
Printing Images ...153
Caring for Your Camera ...154
Notes ...156


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 D40x 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 your D40x 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 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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Click to order a printed copy of the book and a PDF copy on a CD at a special package price of $36.95US.

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