Personal Bio & Avatar
I’m not a pro; I’m just an ordinary person who really wanted to learn how to get my camera out of Auto Mode. This blog will record all the things I have learned in my journey to become a better photographer and camera-centric user.
I love taking all sorts of photographs but especially macro and panoramas. These are two opposing styles of shots, so it’s important I learn all I can about every type of photography. So I’m always on the lookout for fabulous tips, tutorials and hints that will make my photography better. And what I find out, I’ll share here!
Photographer Image by Mooncat via SXC
Narrating Personal Interest
The Passion of my Prose
There’s a reason why I have used other people’s photographs on this blog. I’m not a very good photographer. Yet.
Regardless, I love it. It thrills me and excites me whenever I feel that camera within my hands and maybe in a little while, I’ll be willing to share some of my shots with you… but for now, I want to explain the passion behind my prose.
Photography, to me, is not about who took which photo and which photo is better. It’s all about the creative spark. What we see with our eyes is forever changed when compressed through an eyepiece. I love to experiment with light and use it like a crayon to illuminate a scene. That’s what excites me.
And what I love most about digital photography is that it is all instant. You look at the back of the camera and you know instantly if the photo has turned out how you wanted or if you need to keep working on it. So I am like a sponge. And this blog is like a sponge. I’m just determined to learn all I can about how to make photography work, how to get the best from my camera… and most importantly, how to not be LIMITED by my camera.
Photography, like any worthwhile hobby, can cost you thousands, drive you mad and frustrate the life out of you. For me, it does all these things. But it also invigorates my soul, and lets me explore the world I live in from a completely new angle. I now see the world differently because of my camera. So this is what challenges me and engages me about photography.
What about you? Why do you take photographs?
Image by suga_shack via SXC
Introducing Your Topic
It’s strange how we take photographs. As a species we’ve been doing it for several hundred years, and our love affair with photography has continued ever since the first camera was invented. Back in the old days, camera equipment was only available for the elite, whereas today it seems like everybody is a photographer. There are cameras in just about everything: MP3 players, mobile phones, laptops, and the iPad 2.0; even in your car. So we’ve all become photographers: all capable of snapping every moment as it happens. And that’s what a lot of people do, certainly. They snap and click and shoot. Then they look on the back of their camera and delete what they don’t like and go back to snapping, clicking and shooting. And this style of photography suits them well!
On the other hand, some shooters prefer to be professional and get paid for their photographs. There’s a range of industry sectors for paid professional photographers: commissioned works, wedding photographers, commercial photographers, artistic photographers. They’re all out there, fighting to stay alive and competitive in a photog-eat-photog market filled with the bulk of the people out-snapping, out-clicking and out-shooting them.
And then there are people like you. Interesting people. Exciting people. Passionate people. People who may never be able to define why they photograph things but love to do it. People who want to frame before they shoot. Explore modes before they click. Compose before they snap. People who have a perspective on photography quite unlike the other two groups above.
Nobody can tell you why you have the passion to be a photographer (though some will try). And there are plenty of lengthy articles explaining how to reignite your enthusiasm for it. But truth be told, you are what you do. And if you photograph things because you love to photograph things… then you have a photographer’s soul.
So, don’t question whether or not you have what it takes. Don’t fret over knobs and buttons – these will take care of themselves as we use this blog to expand your horizons. Just give in to the need to snap, to click and to shoot. Focus on your photography and your photographs will soon blossom with you!
Images by December Medland. Licensed under CC: BY-NC-ND
Creating Generative Value
Some Photographers are Magicians (yet not in a good way)
Ever seen exquisite photographs and wanted to see if you could create something similar but never known what settings to use? Photographers can sometimes be like magicians – they know all the tricks of the trade and dazzle you with their craft but refuse to share any of the secrets. For people new to the hobby, it’s increasingly frustrating trying to work out what to do and how to do it.
While I understand their hesitancy to reveal how they create beautiful images, for a beginner wanting to stretch their wings, it has become more and more difficult to gain simple and easy to understand articles that explain step by step what you need to do and why. Partly this is because photography is such an enormous subject that the moment you embark upon learning it, you are immediately overcome by the sheer enormity of information available and don’t know how to prioritise it. But another big reason is because professional photographers are struggling more now, than ever before. With so many cameras available cheaply, everybody is a photographer now and this eats into their already-saturated industry. However, recently I read a wonderful article about how to re-create a beautiful landscape image taken by New Zealand photographer Chris Gin. There are several reasons why this article is so important.
Firstly, it explains in layperson’s terms exactly how this shot was taken. Even down to standing in the water and keeping the lens clean between shoots. Secondly, it outlines precisely the list of equipment you need to take this type of photo. And finally, it details specific techniques used in Photoshop to perfect the image. By showing us the Photoshop techniques used, Chris has also emphasised the importance of completing an image with post processing. In the days of film, every photograph was individually processed in a dark room. Nowadays people tend to forget about the importance of post processing but it is still vital that you do it. Photoshop and Lightroom are now considered our digital darkroom.
Chris’s article includes a list of equipment which is particularly useful. Every photographer’s bag holds the arsenal they need to capture the perfect shot. As a beginner photographer, it can be confusing trying to work out what is a ‘must-have’ and what is just a ‘want-it’. It is so easy to spend a fortune on camera paraphernalia that you may never use, so knowing the essential items is crucial. Chris uses GND filters. GND means Graduated Neutral Density. These are attachable filters that you place in front of the lens that can make a remarkable difference to your images, particularly landscape photography. You can see an example of the difference GND filters can make to your photos above, because they reduce the light difference from sky to ground. There are three main types of GND filters available, but the 0.6 hard grad (2 stop) is considered the better choice for your first filter purchase due to price point and scene flexibility. Some filters will screw into your existing lens whilst others slide into a frame. It is generally accepted that the ones that slide into a frame are more reliable because they won’t twist as you focus your lens. Whenever you use a GND filter, it is really important that you have your camera on a tripod to ensure the filter is positioned correctly.
Chris also mentions the 10-20 Sigma lens. This is a wide angle lens, which helps to create stunning landscapes, although Flickr has a group showing this lens being used for just about everything, from the paws of a cat to a car interior! However, traditionally, this 2005 lens is considered a lens important to those who love landscapes. The lens size is also available in other brands like Canon, Nikon and Tokina but the Sigma often receives high praise because of its price, reliability and precision.
I’d like to congratulate Chris on lifting the veil of secrecy for how photos are composed and taken. When you read the article he has written, you realise that he has taken many shots to achieve that perfect one, and even then it involved blending two almost identical shots together to make one “just right”. Suddenly, it doesn’t seem quite so impossible to achieve. Also, he details the process involved in composing the shot and how long it took before he was able to find a scene that he liked. This is important for beginner photographers to know. Getting the right composition takes time. It takes effort. And it takes practice. Photography is a learning curve and so long as we keep the information simple, and flowing, just like in Chris’ article, we can continue to learn and grow in our skill and passion.
Image by Chris Mullins. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
Entering the Conversation
I think the interesting aspect of this story is the concept of ‘intent’. Whilst the law may be on the side of the signed consent form, perhaps it is time for us to reconsider the language used in standard release forms. With the availability and relatively ease of use of image manipulation software, surely we need to start rethinking the way we allow our licensed images to be used, in much the same way that Creative Commons has altered how we legally share and remix digital products. And the key here is obviously with the remix. By removing the helmet and replacing it with the photo AND with the addition of the words “I was there”, I believe the intent behind the photo has been irrevocably changed.
Is there merit to bringing out a system that allows for a Creative Commons style of licensing that permits images to be remixed but to maintain the intent of the original photo?
Whilst there was one response after my post (mine is the 10th comment), it did not relate to anything I had written and was more of a commentary on the original post itself. I was disappointed in the lack of response as I expected this article to be controversial enough to garner much discussion.
Before & After
The only thing I could possibly add would be a link to my university twitter account (or possibly somebody else’s twitter account; e.g. photography) but this only lowers the sense of authority my site has (by linking it to a uni tweeter), or makes the site look like it has an affiliation where none is present (e.g., the photography twitter account). Therefore, in the tradition best suited to this medium, I’m leaving it well enough alone.
Remediating for 140 Characters
Tweet sent 19/4/11
The most important secret I know #photography http://sundayphotographer.wordpress.com/2011/03/06/the-most-important-secret-i-know/
Tweet sent 21/4/11
For Photographers, It’s Not What You Look at — It’s What You See http://bit.ly/gmYutD #photography
Retweets sent 19/4/11
RT @AdamSheikh: “For Photographers, It’s Not What You Look at, Its What You See” http://zite.to/fWQlAN via @Ziteapp #Photography
RT @7x5photo: How Photography Connects Us – The photo director for National Geographic, knows the power… http://is.gd/8SWeDl #photography
I chose the #photography tag for my tweets and retweets because it exemplified the essence of my web blog. Whilst #photo was a possible choice (and less letters), this hashtag emphasised individual images rather than the overall scope of my topic. According to TwitterTussle (2011), the hashtag #photography garners more tweets per minute than #photo (averaging 10 tweets per minute compared to #photo which has 7) and this highlighted the significance of the #photography hashtag.
Retweet analytics are imperfect (CIO, 2011) and this was further evidenced by my attempts to ascertain any traffic generated from either the originals or the retweets sent. In fact, according to the research I conducted, even Twitter’s advanced search (Twitter, 2011) does not acknowledge that the first tweet was even sent out. This could have been because the URL was not shortened and this makes it more difficult to track. However, BackTweets.com (2011) was able to locate the original tweet, emphasising the difficulty in gathering and monitoring retweeted data. Appozite’s TweetReach website (2011)indicated that all tweets were never retweeted but did gain between 170 and 370 impressions.
Despite the lack of factual results, I did notice a 30% increase in new followers that specified a photography-based interest on their profile. It is difficult to ascertain if this was due to automated services as many unfollowed me again within three days and this is typical of twitter automation services (designmodo, 2011). Overall, I found the results disappointing but not unexpected.
Reply to post by Stewart Woods in Mod 4.2 (week 8) regarding Twitter.
Post titled: Changing the way we live? Really?
I think Twitter has already changed the way we live: the way we communicate, the way we stay informed and the way we interact with one another.
During emergencies, Twitter has emerged as the number one people stay in touch, connect, tell their story, find their loved ones, or share their anguish. But even in times of localised stress, we use Twitter to reach out. Just today I saw a frustrated tweet from another student and was able to assist her within moments. This immediacy just isn’t possible in other Social Networks and I think it makes Twitter stand apart. The micro message (140 characters or less) has changed what we send out online and has become short, concise commentary which is echoed in Twitter’s SMS history. Even Charlie Sheen’s meltdown has been pure Twitter entertainment. The ability for Twitter to link to photos, movies, websites and more gives it the ability to cover all types of media in all ways: news, sport, lifestyle, celebrity, family, causes, opinion, humour -it’s all on Twitter.
When Twitter first launched with its free SMS service, I adored it and my friends and I used it often, in ways that we NEVER used SMS. Australia (and plenty of other countries) lost the right for free SMS for Twitter back in 2008 but nowadays with Smartphones all the rage, Twitter is once again becoming the forerunner of immediate communication to the entire planet.
Appozite. (2011). tweetreach.com Retrieved 20 April, from http://www.tweetreach.com
backtype. (2011). backtweets.com Retrieved 22 April, from http://backtweets.com/
CIO. (2011). cio.com Retrieved 22 April, from http://www.cio.com/article/494611/Twitter_Tips_How_to_Track_Retweets_?page=2&taxonomyId=3119
designmodo. (2011). 21 Twitter Tools to Bulk Follow and Unfollow Twitter Users Retrieved 24 April, from http://designmodo.com/20-twitter-tools-to-bulk-follow-and-unfollow-twitter-users/
Twitter. (2011). Twitter Search Retrieved 24 April, from http://twitter.com/#!/search-advanced
TwitterTussle. (2011). Twitter Tussle Retrieved 24 April from http://twittertussle.com/