I have been loving my DSLR I got a few months ago. I've been using it on the "auto" setting so far but have been wanting to learn to use the manual settings. I've read quite a few blog posts and series about learning to shoot in manual but have not put them into action. However, today I found a series called "12 Weeks To Better Photos". It's set up like an online course with a "lesson" and "homework assignment" each week. I read the first week's lesson today and it was really easy to understand, so I think I'll do the full 12 weeks.
Here is the link to the first week's lesson. The lessons are short, easy to understand, and have good visuals and examples. Here is a link to a discussion board where people discuss the lesson, post the pictures they took for their "homework assignments", and get answers to questions.
The first lesson was about aperture, and how you can use it to determine how much of your photo is in focus. Aperture is measured in numbers called "f-stops". The smaller the number, the less of your photo is in focus, and the blurrier the background.
The homework assignment was to take a picture of a stationary object using a small f-stop, a middle one, and a large one. Instead of having the camera in full manual mode, we used the Av mode, so that we could choose the aperture, and the camera would choose the shutter speed.
This one had an f-stop of 4.5. Since that is a small number, the background is very blurry.
This was an f-stop of 9, background is less blurry.
This was an f-stop of 22, background is much less blurry.
Learning to shoot in manual seemed really daunting to me, but I love the way this series is set up, and I'm excited to do more of the assignments and see an improvement in my pictures! I'd recommend this to anyone wanting to improve their photography.