CC please :)- pic heavy
Nikon D5100 Lens: Nikcon DX 18-55mm 1:3.5-5.6G
Alright... SO I spent more time on some photos. Shot in manual focus and setting everything... Lets see if I can get everything on here. Theres a lot so sorry :/
The Photos are too big... so you might want to click on each one to view it.
1/320 F9, P, 100iso
1/320, F9, P, 100iso
1/320, F9, p, 100iso
1/320, F9, P, 100iso
1/320, F9, P, 100
1/250, F8, P, 100iso
1/200, F7.1, p, 100
1/80, F4.5, p, 100
BAD PHOTO- I wanna edit and see if I can salvage.. Probably not. I couldn't even see the camera
1/160, F6.3, p, 100
1/60, F7.1, M, 100- planning on editing to brighten Riley up
1/80, F8, M, 100 -same as previous
1/80, F8, M, 100
1/80, F8, M, 100
1/400, F5.6, F, 100
You have a cute little boy there!
Not sure what you're looking for specifically, but I'll give advice as I can. It would help a lot to know what kind of camera / lens you're using. You say you are in manual focus, does that mean you're hand focusing the focus ring on your lens?
The largest issue with the above photos is that almost all of them are severely underexposed. Also, the quality of light isn't very good. You'll get more pleasing photos with a sun that is lower in the sky....closer to sunrise or sunset. As it is, the light is harsh and causing deep shadows that either distract or obstruct the view of your sweet boy's face.
With this kind of light, what you've done in #5 is the correct thing...back lighting your subject, but you really need to bump that exposure so that he isn't so dark and underexposed. You could have either lowered your shutter speed or your (depending on your camera/lens) aperture.
Your best light is in #8. This makes me think that you are not in manual exposure mode, because in this situation your lighting reflects what an automatic setting does. The background is dark, so it tried to brighten the entire scene. In this kind of lighting, manual exposure is really the only way to go. The camera is trying to do the right thing, but this type of lighting is typically too complex for an auto setting to understand. That is why manual settings are so important. If your camera doesn't have the capability to work in manual (the camera I started with didn't), then it's best to learn to "see the light". Find nice, soft, directional light that makes your subject look great and that the auto setting will understand and work with.
The photo you call a bad photo is really kinda cool! You're not going to be able to brighten him up and have it look like a traditional photo, but with some creative editing it can end up as a really nifty picture.
The photos you mention wanting to brighten up are severely underexposed. You would have done well to raise the ISO for those shots.
The 2nd and 3rd shots from the bottom have decent light. What you've done by putting him in the tunnel is given him some nice open shade. Open shade is the BEST for creating nice soft directional light. If you must shoot midday, always, always, look for open shade! It is your best friend, especially when you're first learning!
Hope that helps and isn't too confusing. It would be great if you could share your camera info so that we can be even more helpful.
I update with lens/camera info :) Thanks for the compliment on my DS and thanks for the feedback. The P and the M are the modes on the camera (P- professional, m-manual). I was trying.. but It was hard with the time of day. I will mess with them in iPhoto and Pixelmator.
Excellent...That helps a lot. The P means "program" mode...not "professional". The P mode is a tiny step away from auto, the camera sets the exposure for you, but you set the ISO. Your full auto mode is the little green camera icon. In general, P is a better choice than auto, but better to learn manual as soon as possible to get the best photos from your camera.
If you haven't already done so, read your camera's manual all the way through....there is tons of great info in there. You should know how to do everything your camera can do. Here is a handy little cheat sheet I found that describes all of the buttons and their functions.
Nikon D5100 For Dummies Cheat Sheet - For Dummies
Another handy page
Nikon D5100 Camera Menus - Full Review
If you haven't already purchased or found in the library yet, the book "Understanding Exposure" is possibly the best, and most common, book for beginners. It can really help you understand how to work in manual modes and how to see light better. They have it through Amazon, but to save dough, check the library. It's really helpful.
There are also a million tutorials and videos available on the internet that cover every topic of photography that you could possibly wonder about. Check out YouTube or simply Google anything you want to know about and there is a vast amount of information available. You can also, of course, always ask specific questions here.
I couldn't really add anything to what Amber said, as I think she's given you some great comments and direction. I just want to echo the suggestion to read your camera manual cover-to-cover... and as you do say, play with the features you're reading about, so you see firsthand what they do... and also to read "Understanding Exposure". Both of those things significantly helped me. I have a long way to go yet, but they are both GREAT tools to help get you really comfortable with your camera and give you the understanding and tools you need to get exposure right, which is half the battle, I think!
Lots of GREAT suggestions from Amber and Tracy. I'm not sure there's much to add to it. Do you have a garage? If so, have a go with some practice in there. It's some wonderful "open shade". Also, be sure to pay attention to your light meter in your camera. Make sure that line/dot is in the middle, instead of too far to the right or left. That will tell you if your photo is going to be under or overexposed (in general, that is, especially in open shade).
I agree with all the very helpful CC so far. If you move him to some open shade, and use a bigger aperture (smaller f/number) (for more light intake as well as blurring the busy background), and practice playing around with adjusting the speed & iso until your light meter reads in the center, you'll get improved results. I actually think #12 and 13 are neat and almost there, just needed a more open aperture.
You have been given some great CC so far. I want to add that it's a lot to swallow at once and kinda tough, but you WILL get it! It will click! :) Keep practicing. One great way is to pick out a stuffed animal or something along those lines, shoot in open shade like Amber said, and raise and lower your ISO, Shutter speed, and AP, and see how it all works together. This is also a great way to find the light.