Thursday, March 12, 2015

Learning Photography

A year ago I posted a series on 'Learning Photography'.  Although I've had a camera for a long time, I've learned so much in the last 3 years, and yet I still feel like a raw beginner.  I'm especially struggling with what you do after you've taken the pictures!  Today I'm going to summarize some of the points I made in that first series, and then I'll move on to a few more points.

The first point for me is simply to take lots of pictures.  With digital photography that's easy, and you can always just delete the failures.  I've found for any close-ups like these water droplets I need to take a lot of photos just to get one or two I'm happy with.  I think it's also always worth asking 'why are you taking this?'  In my case it's usually to illustrate something about the seasons, and that helps me focus on things I want to capture.


Another point I've always felt was important is to be there when the light is right!  Those sunny blue skies make such a difference.  And on Georgian Bay, a good brisk wind bringing in the waves is a big help too - this is Georgian Bay just west of Collingwood.  In the winter this seems even more important, with those dull grey days not making very good photos.


One of the biggest mistakes I still make is simply not taking my time to frame a picture well, or to check my settings.  Two weeks ago I shot a whole group of pictures that were too dark, because I forgot I had been shooting a sunrise beforehand.  In this picture the rocky top of the cliff and the cedar tree help frame the view of the valley making a better picture than just the valley by itself.  I'm always telling myself to slow down and be more thoughtful.


This is my favourite picture to illustrate the advantage of trying out a different viewpoint - shooting Queen Anne's Lace from underneath.  It's one of my favourite pictures of  summer wildflowers.  There's a lot you can do to simply slow down, check your settings, and compose your picture with care.


Shooting into the light is another thing I often look for.  Moving around until I got behind these Ostrich Ferns in the spring made a much better picture than shooting with the sun behind my back.  The same applies to winter shadows and various other situations.


The biggest change in my photography came when I attended a Photography Workshop and bravely changed my normal setting from 'Auto' to 'Aperture'.  That opens up a lot of leeway in taking your photos.  In order to get this sunset I had to push the aperture to the point where the low speed meant I could not hand-hold the camera, and had to use a tripod.  But it got a terrific picture that would not have been possible at this time of evening on 'Auto'.  I almost always shoot in Aperture Mode now.

 I also learned to use the Shutter Mode, and set the speed of the shutter slower, to get pictures of waterfalls.  I think this is about my first waterfall picture in this mode, of Hogg's Falls; it's not that good, but it helped me learn and I've since got some great photos by pushing the shutter speed slower (and using a tripod).

You can find the first six posts I wrote on 'Learning Photography' under the Furry Gnome Fhotography tab on my blog, or you can go directly to the first one in the series here.  For the next few days I'm going to extend this and talk about some of the things I'm trying to learn now.












19 comments:

  1. Excellent tips. Your Georgian Bay shot is particularly brilliant.

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  2. Great tips and photos ! Thanks for sharing , Have a good day !

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  3. I remember when you posted the Queen Anne's Lace picture. It is one of my favorites. It has made me look at different view points for pictures.

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  4. Great tips - thanks for sharing - I am always interested in how the light affects the photos.

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  5. You've got some nice shots in this post! Yep, the first step is to take the camera off "auto." I shoot in manual myself - lots more creative control.

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  6. these are all wonderful images and it is interesting to learn of your chores with all of them. Such pretty things to be around and to photograph.

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  7. very very stunning photos! you must have a good camera

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  8. Great tips, and such stunning photography. Thank you for this post.

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  9. Gorgeous photos - I very much admire your photography!

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  10. My tip for today is open the window before photographing that flock of alpine choughs in the garden! Yes, they may take fright and fly off but they may come back and pose for you without all that reflection on the window. Thanks for your thoughts. Slow down - very helpful.

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  11. Wonderful shots. Your photos are invariably excellent. I'm afraid I just click away, without thinking too much - then realise later I didn't get the picture I wanted. Far too impatient. Your tips are good - thank you!

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  12. Nice photos. Great tips, thanks for sharing!

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  13. Very nice! And I am glad I've started following you because I will learn so much about photography. I use aperture mode when I want to use fill-in flash shots, and I might start experimenting around more with it. :-)

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  14. Great photos & yes getting the camera off 'auto' is the first major step in improving photos. The camera can also be tweaked in other ways as well. I slightly underexpose many of my photos to bring out deeper richer colors. In the camera's menu are areas where you can tweak the sharpness of your photos, colors & hues etc. Having an easy to understand photo editing program is the icing on the cake for great photos as well. Keep up the good work:))

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  15. I need to do some of that, but would never take the time to set up equipment on a hike, so... maybe not.

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  16. great tips. i use manual too. u can sometimes get even better shots than A or S.

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  17. I love macro shots. These shots are awesome. I think I can't be a good phoyographer as I merely use manual settings. But I love pictures and taking pictures :)

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