Sunday, July 13, 2008

Photography is a Journey

Lately I've had a few sweet comments where people have asked me if I'm a (pro) photographer. From what I know about the skill and talent of a pro, I don't feel worthy of being compared. But getting to that skill level is definitely the goal. I'm realizing that the more I learn, the more I see how much I still don't know. But I'm finally getting a grasp on some of the foundational elements of it, which I thought I'd pass on to you...

Lighting. Recently my friend Stacia (who is one of those pro's I admire greatly!) blessed me with a little lesson on lighting. It's like the light went off in (no pun intended) in my head, and now I get it. She showed me what "feathered" lighting looks like, when the light source isn't pointed directly at the person's face, but on each side. I've come to see that's actually what I love about certain photos I've taken- I just hadn't thought about why I loved those photos. The lighting really can make or break the pic. And suddenly I find myself opening all of the curtains in the house to let the light in, even though it heats up the place. And I, well, really, the photography monster, wants some studio lighting equipment.

I also came across this article about lighting. You know I'm going to run out and get some marbles soon! :)

Composition. I've been also trying hard to clean up the composition of my shots. The composition is all of the stuff that's around your object (person) who's in focus. With my 50mm, there's no zoom, so that means really moving around to get the background just right, but it's something I am learning to pay more attention to. I'm seriously contemplating putting my dining room furniture on wheels so I can move it out of the way when I want to take a photo, so the background isn't too busy! LOL. I've also considered decluttering my house a little - ok, a lot! The photography monster also wants back drops for this reason too. Ha!

I think I've gone overboard into photography because when I see a beautiful place, I don't just see the beauty anymore - I see how I'd compose a shot with people in it!

Editing. I've finally felt my way around Photoshop Elements enough to have a grasp of how to clean up an image a little bit. I've had some big problems with the color (white) balance, but otherwise, I'm starting to think I can actually perform some basic edits, and layers, in PSE.

I have to give credit to the Pioneer Woman's recently launched photography site for much of what I've learned. A lot of things are finally clicking now, and I'm not so scared to open PSE like I was...

About color though...I'd been editing on my laptop (only computer we own that can run PSE because it's our only Windows computer. Chuck abhors microsoft, LOL.). I would get a photo processed, then try to print and it would be too dark and too red. You may have noticed it also from your computer as well. So we got a little contraption called "Spyder 2 Express." I have to thank Nicky, a flickr friend and pro photog as well, for that tip. Anyhow, finally, my laptop is calibrated correctly and I can see the true colors! The photography monster is satisfied again (for now at least). I still have one more problem, in that when I view the photo in any other program (like Picasa, which I LOVE), it looks normal, but when I open it in PSE, the reds are still a little stronger. If anyone knows how to fix this, I'm all ears!!

Style. Every photographer has their own style, and I'm slowly starting to form mine. While I like shooting wide open (f2 on my 50mm), which makes for a lot of beautifully fuzzy backgrounds, I've decided I'm not a photographer that wants my object of focus to be fuzzy, usually. That probably doesn't make much sense...sorry. Anyhow, I also have figured that I'm not much into selective coloring (black and white with only one color showing), and I'm not good at taking shots of anything but people, pretty much. But it's people that interest me most, so we're good. I also have come to realize I enjoy taking pictures of people in their natural state, not with the cheesy grins for the camera. And I totally enjoy taking pictures of kids for that very reason. They are so expressive, and every child is so beautiful and different. I guess it's nice to have variety, not to mention I burn my own kids out on being the model sometimes.

My challenge with style is having the courage to ask someone if I can take their picture. I get really uptight, thinking I'm going to annoy people with my incessant photo taking.

And I guess it'd be kinda funny to leave this post with no pictures, so here are a few recent ones. And tomorrow I'll work on the photos of the last week and hope to post them as well. I'm really excited about the lighting and composition on a few of those. Can't wait to hear what you think!

I <3 this one
This one I love! The composition and the lighting. Not much editing here, except the words and curved corners, of course.

A Father's Love
Elijah and Ryan from a recent visit. I love the lighting, but not the composition (all the stuff in the background.)

Chance - notice anything different?
Finally achieved good composition, the lighting is fair, and I took out Chance's big scar between his eyes with photoshop!


Lori said...

Thank you for all the tips! I am so going out today and getting a marble! :)

Kelly said...

Those are all amazing - the top one of Chandler is my favorite. I don't know how you choose which ones to display in your house! If I were as talented as you, I'd just wallpaper the whole house with them!

Austin and Ashley Evans said...

I LOVE this post! :) Thanks for all the advice! And you ARE a PRO in my eyes! Love you!

Sarah J. said...

Great pictures! I love the one of Chandler. And on the second one, I just have to say... cropping is your friend. We still need to get together and talk shop one of these days. And I agree, the more I learn, the more I realize I don't know!

Shell said...

I think you are great photographer. Keep snapping you can only get better. :-D

-Michelle aka Dragonflyshell