Monday, 13 April 2009

Tips for budding photographers...

What a lovely long weekend it has been. It seems that, all around the world, everyone has been chilling...If only there were more times like these! I have been particularly laid back & enjoyed the bonding with my kids & hubby. I have done a bit of scrapping (will show you later-not yet photographed) & spent many hours at my pc editing my photos & organizing "My Pictures" into lots of neat & organised folders. I recently bought Stacey Julian's book, Photo Freedom & am working on getting all my images into an easily retrievable format. No.Easy.Task.

Soon I will be starting my photography course & I am so excited for it. I have tried SO HARD over the last few years to improve my photography, and I have. Looking back at old photos is the only way to measure your achievement as your standards rise alongside your achievements so it is all too easy not to recognise them. Boy, was I bad...All kinds of background interference in my photos & weird compositions, huge feet in the foreground, etc. I think I am on track with all that now but am hoping to learn how to get the most from my lovely camera (Nikon D40) SLR.

I find cameras confusing...I am not really one of these "manual" people & loathe going through all the instructions...although I have done so at times & it has definitely helped. I don't feel confident instructing others but am told that my photos are good so...I would definitely advise getting a "real" camera first-off. You really need TWO honestly. An SLR for when you have time to set shots up (mine is used mostly at home) & a digital camera (teeny one) for your handbag. Mine "lives" in my bag - so I never miss a moment. But, give me an ultimatum, & I would choose the SLR hands down.

Whenever I can tho', I use my "big" camera. It is only 6 megapix (it's the D40 - not the D40X) & it's all I could afford BUT takes photos streets ahead of my little digital camera (Panasonic Lumix - never buy one - 10 megapix & rubbish quality) I enquired about this strange phenomenon (at a local photo printing store) to be told that this is not at all unusual & "pixels aren't everything". Apparently the size of the camera is important - the bigger the better (something about the light box - light reflecting - blah blah) so, despite the allure of those cute little pink metallic things, just remember, they can't compete with the real thing!

A Photo Editing Program is essential if you want to tweak your prints. I had 8 on my pc & uninstalled 6 of them recently. Don't need them...Better to streamline & simplify. Picasa is the best I have come across. As a photo editing tool. NOT as a photo storage program. My Pictures is fine for that. No need to move them. As & when you need to just click "import" on top LHS of Picasa & move them in to do your tweaking...then "export" them out...centre bottom of screen...and put them back in My newly tweaked.

I'm starting to learn just a little bit more about composition...things like "depth of field" for example. See bottom right of the above collage. It's when there are different elements progressively further & further behind the first. It definitely adds a different & more "alive" dimension & interest to photographs. I tend to take the bulk of my shots as "portrait" -vertical - orientation &, through cropping (making them smaller) I change some to "landscape" - horizontal - for visual interest. I know I could just do this at the time but I'm more concerned with capturing the moment & can do the "turning" later.

I also love taking action shots, something I never used to do, until I started photographing my son's sports matches. I have a "sport" setting - for photographing moving objects - but at times have no time between shots to change settings, & the above shot is just taken on "auto". In good light, when the shutter speed is fast, this is entirely possible (catching a non-blurred image without using a fancy setting). Picasa is very user friendly re: editing tools. They are all pretty self-explanatory & I have never had to read any online tutorials or the like. The "retouch" tool is a particular favourite of mine, now that I have a teenage girl prone to spots. She loves it when I edit them out! Just in case you thought she had a flawless complexion ;-)

Something simple - I used to think that the subject in the centre was a good position-noooooooooooooooooooo, I have since decided (no idea what the actual "rules" are...) that photos like this one (above) are better...Off centre is good. Remember the "rule of thirds" in design? Well, it applies to photography too I reckon. Now, if you are a "pro" photographer like some people I know then "sorry!" I don't know a lot, but I have learnt a little & am happy to share...


topkatnz said...

Good on you for working on your photography skills ... it was an interesting read. I think your photos are usually pretty good too, so you're doing something right ... my family has very little patience for posing or composition, so, it's all very pot-luck here I'm afraid!!LOL

Stefanie said...

Lovely post.
I think we can all do with added information about photography. Thanks for sharing. Glad you had a fab weekend too.

jax said...

Chel has flawless skin!! What on earth happendo Cam's legs? Looks so sore.

Desire Fourie said...

Thanks for sharing these great tips. Your photos are gorgeous and there's nothing wrong with your compositions. Hugs from Desire