Hi all, I'm back! Thanks for your patience. I had a bunch of great questions on Podcast 2, and I'd like to answer a few of them now. Based on the comments I got, I'm going to explain more about Depth of Field in Podcast 6, so stay tuned for that in a few weeks.
In the meantime I do have a couple of questions I'd like to answer now.
One question asked if all digital cameras are SLR cameras. I think my reader may have figured this one out already, since I no longer see it in the comments section. But it was a good question, so I'll answer it anyway.
No, digital cameras are not all SLR cameras - the vast majority of them are "point & shoots". "SLR" stands for single-lens-reflex. In an SLR, there's a mirror in the camera body. When you look through the viewfinder, you see light that has been bounced off of this mirror, so you're looking straight through the lens. When you press the shutter button, the mirror flips up, allowing the light to hit the sensor or film behind the mirror. Nowadays, with digital point & shoots, you can use the LCD screen to see what the lens sees anyway, since you're looking at what's hitting the sensor. SLRs generally are more complicated and advanced than the point & shoot type cameras.
Susan asked: "When you are taking a photo - how do you go through all this stuff in your head and also take the photo? Do you preset everything? It's a bit like math class."
At this point, I find making adjustments pretty intuitive. Each increment between f-stops is equal to one stop of light (which I'll talk about in a future podcast), so I don't really need to think of all the complicated numbers, just that standard unit. The light meter in my camera tells me how much light I need, and I make adjustments based on that. I do not preset anything, though occasionally I'll get lazy and use auto mode for quick family snapshots or the like. My camera makes it very easy to make quick changes, with wheels right at my fingertips. I know many point & shoot type cameras require you to go into a menu to change f-stop/aperture - for those I probably would use a "program" mode.
I think that once we finish up the different podcast topics, it will all make a little more sense. And of course the other side of it is just practice, practice, practice!