Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Thoughts and Tips on Photography

Fence Closeup
Fence Close Up, one of my more recent personal favorites. (an example of depth of field use)

There are tons and tons of great photography tips and "tricks" to capture great shots. I finally found a website that is fairly comprehensive. Digital Photography School contains pretty much everything you need to know about taking photos, buying cameras and post-production modification.

Until recently, the only photography class I attended was a free evening seminar at National Camera Exchange. I got a free pass with the purchase of a really nice Pentax 35mm camera. I learned (rather remember) only two things from that class. First of all, The Rule of Thirds which basically says divide your shot into thirds and position the main point of interest in your shot at or near one of the intersection points of the horizontal and vertical thirds. Secondly, (I don't know if there is an official name for it) get down to the level of your subject. How many photos of people's kids have you seen all from the same angle? The shooter is almost always standing up pointing the camera down at the kid(s). BORING! Get down on one knee and shoot the kids at their level. You'll see a huge improvement in your shots. Don't be lazy...these are you kids, for Pete's sake.

Last month, I attended an all day seminar by Fran Lanting at the Bell Museum on the University of Minnesota campus. Frans has traveled the world and worked for National Geographic. We saw scores of his photos and heard his commentary on what it took to get those amazing images. He has lots of his work and some tips on his website. Probably the biggest revelation he shared was how much preparation goes into the composition of each shot. He said nature is very predictable, meaning animals will generally do the same thing over and over again. I watch the birds at my feeder and sure enough, they perch in the same trees, walk around in the same areas and arrive and leave at the same times of the day. Frans spends lots of time observing nature. Once he has a good feel for what's going on, he sets up his gear with the best background and composition all lined up. Another bit of insight that Frans shared was about megapixels. He said nobody is counting the pixels in your shots. It doesn't matter how fancy of a camera you have or how many jillion pixels it has. If you shoot uninteresting boring crap it's still uninteresting boring crap (OK. He was more polite about it. I'm paraphrasing). If you have an interesting shot, it doesn't matter how much you paid for you camera.

I picked the Sony DSC-W150 because is was small, about the size of a pack of playing cards. I have a big clunky Canon with a 200mm lens but found I never brought it anywhere, so I wanted something that fit in my pocket. The Sony has a fairly decent 5x optical zoon, starts up pretty quickly and has an optical view finder. I shoot in 16x9+ mode because it looks better on my big screen TV. You tell me if I need to spend another $5000-$10000 on fancy camera gear. I think I do OK and so do the people who've viewed, favorited and commented on my stuff almost 15,000 times.

My most viewed photo:

Ghosts in the woods
Ghost in the woods

My most interesting and favorited photo (according to Flickr):

Sad Face (Moon Jupiter and Venus)
Sad Face (Moon, Jupiter, Venus)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Be critical. Be nice.

Click Here for All Your Favorite Bookmarks and Shares!!

Bookmark and Share