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

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Playing around with Exposure...

Tonight after losing badly at Connect Four, I decided to walk around the house looking for anything that would give me an excuse to take a photo or aggravate my son, whichever came first.  I'm working on getting ready for a New Years challenge.  The challenge is 365 days of photos.  Welllll....I can't say I'm going to commit to 365 days, but I'm going to do my best to pic up my camera as much as possible this coming year with the goal of learning as much as possible with every shot, whether it be accidental or focused. 

I finally settled on aggravating my son, since he beat me so badly.   Slouched out on the couch,  a rip in his jeans caught my attention.  Abstract and the unexpected has been my goal the past couple of days.  So I took  this.....

well, that was boring!! 

So I decided to try to get creative by taking my exposure from the lamp behind him and turning off the flash.  I knew I'd get a much darker image with this method, just didn't now how dark.  With my camera set to manual, and my apeture set to 1.8, and my white balance on cloudy (giving me warmer tones)  I took an exposure reading from the 75watt lamp.  I then refocused my shot on the ripped jeans and I got a much darker image. With a little enhancement work in Photoshop Elements to lighting and contrast, I finally got the abstract shot I was looking for.  Much more interesting, don't you think? 

Lesson Learned: 
A photography friend said to me a couple of months ago, "once you learn how to work with exposure you can really begin to get creative."  I had no idea what he meant at that time, but I immediately went out and purchased Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson...remember anal me??  With Bryan's easy to read book and my friends advice....It all makes sense now!!  Exposure and getting comfortable with my Manual settings is King to getting creative and I'm just getting started!!

Unveiling creatively,

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

You Must Try This at Home....

I was playing around the other night with bokeh after I finally put up my Christmas Tree.  The December challenge from my photography group was to do some creative things with bokeh.  In photography bokeh is the "blur" or out of focus image you see in some photography like this picture here taken at our State fair back in September.  Notice how the focus is on the game attendant and background is out of focus?   That my friends is bokeh.

  or this one of some hats at a vendors booth

Notice how I focused in 1/2 way on the middle hats and everything to the front and back of the focused object is blurred...bokeh! 

Well when you use lights in the background things really start to get cool!  My first attempt was so so.  I realized after taking the pictures that I should have used a faster lens with a larger apeture, but I'll be going back for round two before I take the tree down and hopefully have some more creative bokeh to show you, that's not as accidental as the next images coming up.   

The first shot was pretty normal. I placed the playground subjects about 4 feet in front of the tree and I was about 2 feet from the subject. With camera set to f/5.6 at 55 mm focal length this is what I got.  Ideally, I should have used a lower f-stop of 1.8, that would have rendered a better out of focus and sharper image. 
 As you'll see next, I got a little bored and remembered something cool  I learned from Bryan Peterson, so I started wondering "what would happen if I did this?". For this next shot, I moved the camera in a circular motion as I pressed the shutter button.."well cool"...

so I tried something else.....

Talk about a hot playground kiss!  For this one, I manually adjusted the lense out as I pressed the shutter button..."wow"! Needless to say, I guess you can imagine this went on for a while, just to see how many cool things I could really do!  Doesn't take much to entertain me as you can see. 

Lesson Learned:
Next time I practice, I'm going to try my faster lense. I think I'll get better background blur and maybe won't have to use my flash.  Second lesson learned is...I must try this camera and lens moving thingy on something else!! 

Unveiling in bokeh,

Friday, December 23, 2011

Book Review: From Snapshots to Great Shots

If you had the opportunity to read my very first post, you probably noticed that I already have a nice little library going of books that I've purchased over the past 7 months. While I've read all but one in it's entirety, I can say that I've been pretty lucky in my book finds. There isn't one that I wouldn't recommend to anyone trying to learn photography.

Another one of my first books was from the series From Snapshots to Great Shots Nikon D5000 by Jeff Revell.   This book really got me thinking about taking my photography to the next level.  Remember now, I'm not looking to become a professional, but I am looking to learn to take some wow photos!  The great thing about this series is that they have several books tailored to your particular Sony or Nikon camera.  Then there are others that focus on a particular task such as composition. 

What I really enjoyed about this book was the simple language that it was written in. Once again, there wasn't a lot of jargon that I couldn't follow, it was simple english with lots of explanations and it was great to be able to have my camera at my side to practice a setting right away or look at that particular feature. 

My next favorite aspect of the book was the photos...lots and lots of photos, and with the photos came explanations that made me go "ooooooohh, I get it!"  In each chapter there were at least one or two, one or two page photos called "PORING OVER THE PICTURE".  Here the author would point out several aspects of the photo in text boxes explaining the how, what or when such as the next two photos:

And when he wasn't "poring over the picture" there were many more photos explaining the chapter's lesson such as this one below:

The focus here was taking wide environmental portraits. The author was explaining that sometimes the subjects environment is of great significance to the story you may want to tell, additionally he gives the camera settings used to capture the photo. The pictures here are a little exotic, and action packed, but there are may more everyday photos and lessons that you can really relate too. 

The rest of the book was full of great shots and wonderful learning and my favorite - assignments!  It covered everything from taking your camera out of the box to advanced techniques of the pros to include action, landscape, portraits, mood lighting and composition.

I can't say enough great things about this book and all of my yellow highlights and pencil notes tell you exacatly the same thing!  So, if you're looking for a great book to go with your new Nikon or Canon camera  get to the book store and pick up this great find! 

Unveiling great books,

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Animal Madness at the Metro Zoo

This weekend, I did a photowalk with the photography group I belong to.  We visited the local zoo here in town, in hopes of capturing the animals at their best.  It was a bit chilly, but they soon warmed up to the many photographers that were out. I'm in the process of saving for a good zoom lens, so I already knew I would be limited in what close ups I'd really be able to get, but I went anyway. 

As I was walking around, I knew I would have to look at things differently, as I wouldn't be able to get up close and personal with my 18-55 lens.  As expected I wasn't able to get many close up's of the animals as you can see in my first picture of the zebras.  I did however catch a beautiful peacock who was strutting around freely and allowed me to get up close and personal...but I was able to capture some great shots in the gift shop and still had fun enjoying the animals...what do you think? 

As you can see...sometimes you just have to approach things differently!  Don't allow what you don't have to be your handicap, work with what you've got, the best you can, and the results will be worth your while.   

Unveiling at the Zoo,

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Manchester in Black and White...

In my previous post I talked about a photowalk that I did in the Manchester area of Richmond, Virginia.  Below are a few of the best shots of the day in black and white.  

This was my first capture of the day.  As I was walking around, looking up and down the street, I spotted this cutie sitting in the window, watching all the activity below.  From the sidewalk I aimed my camera up and it was my best shot of the day I believe with the following settings:  f/9, exposure 1/60, lens at 55mm.   

This is the black and white version from my previous post.  The sky on this day was rather weird, so the post processing worked out great in capturing the scattered clouds to match the industrial feel of the area.  With camera settings at the following I was able to really capture the historic feeling I was looking for: I didn't
have a tripod, so I chose a f-stop of 11 which worked out well in making sure everything was in focus.  the remaining settings were: Exposure 1/160 at 48mm lens focal length. 

 The great thing about an afternoon shoot is that there are plenty of shadows and the reflections, if you're near water is perfect.  My goal here was to capture the reflection of the building in the water. With my camera set to the following here's what we get: f/11, Exposure 1/80, lens focal length 29mm. 

Here's that great sky again.  With some post processing in PS Elements we got a dramatic sky: f/22, Exposure 1/160, lens focal length 48mm. 

Unveiling in black and white,


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