This blog captures my journey to take a break from jewelry designing to learn something new. Join me as I learn the art of photography and Photoshop Elements and watch me create through my lens. ~ Dee

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Letting Go of the Training Wheels in Manual Mode

Do you remember the first time you learned to ride a bike without training wheels?  If you're anything like me, it was a scary moment.  The crutch of having those extra wheels meant I didn't have to think about falling, balancing or how fast I could go...I just went with only one worry of making sure I didn't run into a tree!  In a sense, learning photography is very similar, especially with digital photography.  With today's camera's one can quickly turn to the automatic dial and snap away all day, with only the worry of a battery running low or running out of memory. 

Most digital camera's have several shooting options to make things easy.  First there are several scene modes, that include auto, portrait, landscape, close up, sports, food and the list goes on.  In auto mode, the camera selects the best settings," thought free", mode as some call it.  Here the camera chooses the best possible settings according to your focus.  In the other modes, the camera has fixed settings based on the type of subject you are shooting at the time.  Again, not a lot of thought goes into these modes, but the camera does allow limited setting changes depending on lighting.  

Then there are the "dreaded" professional modes to the beginner of P (program), S (shutter), A (aperture) and M (manual).  In the professional modes, you can begin to get creative with your photography, depending on what you want to do. Some allow limited changes to setting, and one in particular, puts you in the drivers seat with no training wheels. assignment was to let go of the training wheels and begin exploring in manual mode. In manual mode, I had to evaluate the subject, determine what I wanted to capture as a final image, then set the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO and shoot!   Manual mode made me think through what I was doing, very similar to camera's from way back when.  While I shot the original photos in color, I converted to black and while when I got home. I was shooting in an industrial area of town and wanted to capture some history. With some post processing to the black and white,  I'm going to say it was a great first ride without the training wheels.

Next, I'll post some photos from my walk and describe to you what I was thinking before I released the shutter button. 


Friday, November 11, 2011

I'll Never Forget Again - WB and Preview

The best lessons learned are the hard ones. You know those hard lessons that make your heart sink or maybe make you want to hit something, or maybe just make you want to say a few choice words?...yeah those lessons.  The hardest so far for me was the lesson I learned about the importance of white balance and playback.  Here's the story ~

Let me put the lesson into perspective for you.  It was the end of June, forecast was 97 degrees and I had signed up for a Walking Tour of the Canal Walk in Richmond Virginia.  I'm not sure how long the walk was in miles, but at 97 degrees and high humidity, I'd argue with anything less than 3 miles!  People were dropping off like flies at different stages of the walk, my feet were hurting, I had run out of water and I was HOT, but I hung in there til the very end. 

There were two goals for the day - practice using the aperture priority mode and learn about the history of the James River Canal. I knew with all the tall buildings downtown, it would be a great opportunity to play around with depth of field.   What I had not counted on was what I saw when I got home.......

This is where my hear sank....

This would be where a few choice words came in....

The good thing is, I was back and forth between automatic and aperture priority modes that day, so I do have some salvageable photos.  The bad news is everything that I really, really liked that captured great depth of field...WAS BLUE!! The other good news is...remember black and white??...saved the day again! 

Lesson Learned:  Every time I take my camera out, I need to remember to check the settings and I need to learn which settings aren't automatic in the professional modes and always check before shooting.  The second thing is check my shots often in preview.  If I had done that earlier, I would have seen the blue photos and been able to fix the issue from the start.  And third...white balance, white balance, white balance....get it right!!!  So...what happened? 

Prior to this outing, I had been practicing with different white balance settings indoors.  The photos taken on this day while in automatic mode came out great.  I have very little control in this mode, the camera chooses the settings it feels are appropriate and that's that.   However, in aperture mode, that's a different story.  The camera allows me to change many more settings, and our friend white balance, just happens to be one of them.  The blue you see in these photos, are the result of taking pictures outdoors in bright sunlight, using an indoor white balance setting called Tungsten B.K.A....household light bulbs. 

Needless to say, I haven't made that mistake again, and I preview just about every shot before moving on to the next one if time permits. It may take longer, but it is so worth it in the end.  Do you have a hard lesson to share, have you made the mistake more than once?  Please share I'd love to hear.   


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Photo Walk - Down By The River

Richmond is very historical and there's definitely no lack of photo opportunities to be had down near the James River.  If  you will allow me to refresh your memory, my last walk was a complete bust, so, this particular Saturday I left with the purpose of capturing some history and hopefully more useful shots than my last walk. I can remember putting a little more thought into looking through the lens and only when I was ready did I press the shutter release. I also only used Auto mode on this walk.

Again it was another very hot day in June, but I felt so much better this time when I got home and reviewed what was on my camera. Although the original shots came out a heck of a lot better than last time, I just couldn't resist adding some creativity with Photoshop Elements.   What do you think?  Can you see the progress in a week after reading  Scott Kelby's book

I saw color and I had to take this shot.  This rack of canoes capture the essence of what was happening on the river that day. I cropped in tight (photoshop) and this is what I got.  Next time, I would crop in before taking the photo, would have come out so much sharper. 

I saw windows, I saw brick, I saw stairs...I saw a great photo.  Not a lot of doctoring done to this picture, but definitely not as sharp as it could have been.  I was zoomed in to 35mm, but was still quite a distance away.

The original came out great, but the black and white is so much more eye catching.  This is a bronze statue in real life.  I was fairly close to the subject which is probably why it was so clear.  This photo was taken with my 18-55mm at 55mm.

Bricks, bricks bricks, photoshop!  I used style match in Photoshop Elements to get this effect. 

This old reuined wall at Tredgar Ironworks spoke history to me..what better way to capture it than with the use of Lomo Camera effect in Elements. 

As I stood on the side of tracks I saw an endless journey for someone...going someplace. When I was looking for a photo for this blog, it was a no brainer to use this image.   

possibilities in Photohop Elements...Lomo Camera effect again. 

Lesson Learned:  Take my will come. 


Monday, November 7, 2011

What I'm Reading - The Digital Photography Book

As you may have already guessed from my first post...I love to read - especially when I'm learning something new.  Periodically I'll share with you some of my favorite photography books since I've been on this journey.  There are a couple of great websites out here as well, but with my book, I can highlight, turn pages, take notes, ets and that's exactly what I've done with one of my first books The Digital Photography Book Volume I by Scott Kelby.

Photo courtesy of Barnes and Noble Books
Not only is Scott Kelby a great photographer, teacher and writer, but he is very funny!  His witty humor and great personality immediately draws you into this 240 page book.  This book is packed with an abundance of information from start to finish.  Mr. Kelby's style of writing is so easy to follow. The book is written in english and actually reads in english...translated to mean -  it's makes sense! There's no jargon and language you won't understand, he gives a subject and tells you how to get it.  Want to take photos at night...not a problem, he'll tell you what to do and you won't have to understand how the cow jumped over the moon to get it!

In addition to the easy read and loads of information, there are photos...many photos that aid in the learning process and if that isn't enough...there are a ton of tips and tricks that he shares that works for the pros to make things easier, such as how to take better flower photos, faking rain drops on flowers, tips to keep your subjects from blinking and many many more.  The book covers major everyday topics that you want to know, like how to take better landscape photos, people shots, night photography, sports, weddings, etc.   

The photo recipe's is another great section.  Here you're provided a photo and the recipe to take that photo in plain english along with camera settings.  How easy is that? 

If you've struggled with how to use your new digital camera, and you want to learn how to use it better, and your itching to take better photo's I recommend starting with this will not go wrong...I promise!  Priced at $13.99 it's a must have.


Saturday, November 5, 2011

Photo Walk Bust!!....

One thing I promise to do, is to be honest about my hasn't been pretty sometimes and here's my first story.....

On my second walk and shoot to a much larger local park in town (Maymont Park) I spent hours walking and taking photos.  It was hot, there were a ton of hills, but I was determined to make a day of it.  When I returned home and started reviewing my day -  photo, after boring photo was all that I saw.  Out of over 100 shots, I probably had 5 or 6 that were worth showing (and these aren't the ones)...the click through my day went pretty much like this..........
after bland and unclear....

after what was I thinking....

after bland....

after...okay...not too bad

have you had enough yet?  I had, and I was not a happy camper.  I've seen the possibilities of Maymont Park, why wasn't I able to capture any of it?  This last one was probably my best shot of the day, and I didn't realize why until month's later!  

Leason Learned:
I needed to find a book on taking great pictures. Everything is not what it seems to be when you get home.  In the learning stages I wasn't approaching my walk and shoots with a purpose, I was just shooting and hoping for a great capture. I wasn't comfortable with my camera settings and needed to move beyond automatic.  My first books purchased after this outing was Nikon D5000 from Snapshots to Great Shots by Jeff Revell and The Digital Photography Book by Scott Kelby.  I've read both twice front to back...and I can't wait to tell you about them next!


Thursday, November 3, 2011

My First Walk and Shoot...

Okay, so after taking as many boring photos as possible around the house I headed out for my first walk and shoot at a local park. Not your best park for scenery, but photoshop helped turn what I thought were a few boring shots into some interesting captures...what do you think? 

Lesson Learned:  Photoshop is a great tool for fixing photos, hiding some bad shots and getting creative, but my ultimate goal is to learn to capture the right shot the first time and to learn how to be creative when taking the picture using the camera settings.  These photos were taken 6 month's ago and I've learned so much since then. 


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

New Blog!!

As if I needed anything else to do, I've started another blog...or maybe I should call it a journal?  Either way I'm doing two things I love...writing and taking pictures. 

My journey to where I am now, started with taking photos for my son's Elementary School Year book with a nikon 5400 point and shoot...three years of snapshots, gave me the itch.  I learned about photoshop, cropping and pixels.  My next phase, came with taking photos of my jewelry for my I learned a few things about aperture, lighting and macro shots.

 Annd then  I entered the world of DSLR....WOW!   I could have continued taking good, great shots, but what's the point in upgrading if you can't blow all the whistles?   For me, with any new toy comes a learning phase and that's what has brought me here blogging about my deeper journey into photography and taking a break from my at home business.

Just to give you an idea of who you're dealing with...yes I'm a bit anal when it comes to learning.  I figure if I'm going to get a new camera, bigger and better, what's a few extra bucks to learn how to use it?  Okay...maybe I went overboard, but these books, along with one other on my Kindle has opened my eyes to all the possiblities in the art photography. 

"This is how I learn"

Sooo, I invite you to join me as I learn about photography, show my progress and hiccups and share tips and secrets along the way. I welcome your feedback positive or negative (constructive would be nice)  tips and advice. But most of all this is my time to enjoy what I'm doing without the pressure! 


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...