Friday, March 13, 2009

Flashing and Streaking...

Having started this blog just a few days ago, explaining how I would like to focus my efforts on key subjects, I thought of the regularity of which said subjects could be discussed. Since, Wednesday was a car-blogging, then maybe another day can be a photography blogging? Friday, being the beginning of the weekend, I could discuss music. However, one could argue that it would be wiser to discuss music at the end of the weekend, after I have either a) downloaded and/or purchased new music or b) heard something new. Either way, I haven't got a concrete schedule that I can adhere to yet, and this early in the game, I probably shouldn't.

Today, is my first photo-blog entry, and I'm not sure what to talk about this (first) time. I suppose I can talk about some of the small little tricks I have learned in my short time as a serious, yet still amatuer photographer.

First, this is not just advice for photography, but for life. Start cheap. This isn't because you can get by with cheap, but rather because it's better to learn with cheap, growing into better equipment. I doubt some of the greatest photographers like Leibowitz or Adams started with the cameras that they took their most famous pictures with. The point i'm trying to make here is, it's with the less expensive equipment that you can get started and going. From the less expensive, you can learn the basics and some of the advanced too (if you're brave enough to explore some of the crazy features in your camera - I for one, am still looking for an opportunity to use MLU)

Second - Auto... learn to use it, learn to love it. It's in this mode that you can capture amazing shots without thinking. Why miss out on a killer shot by mucking about with your fancy Manual settings, when you don't have to? I started shooting Auto and Night-time before I ultimately moved to Tx (shutter priority). From Shutter Priority, I moved briefly to Aperture Priority (Ax), only to go back, before i went to Full Manual. It was in September of 2008, that I first went manual, successfully. To this day, I am still proud of that shot

Third -If anything I have learned [okay, observed] it's that if you find yourself in a photographic slump, there's 3 things you can do about it.

1) Do a little research on the net for tips and tricks.
I like to visit these three sites:
a) Strobist
b) DIYphotography
c) Instructables [note: i don't have a direct link for their photo stuff... couldn't find it]

Without a doubt, the modern digital photographer should be going to the first. The frugal and/or photographing newcomer, should be going to the the second and third as well. The latter two are actually good suggestions for getting close to professional results via methods that... well, professionals would balk at. Can't knock a cool photo now, can you? Anyhow... having said that, some of the projects on those two sites circumvent some crappy aspects of amatuer photography as well... like that of flashing with more power.

2) Join a photo club/blog/site.
If you're on Facebook, like so many of us are, there are hundreds of photoclubs. I alone, am in 3 different clubs, but I will admit, I don't really go to two of them often. I have found that these photoclubs can be a boon to a photographer looking for a challenge and for ideas. The reason being is, you can get a glimpse into what others are taking photos of. I do have to say though, I have a bit of a problem with some groups as they will allow users of point and shoot cameras in their contests, which i think is kind of cheating. More to the point, P&S users don't understand EXIF or the difficulty in making settings work. I'll admit, there are some fancy P&S cameras out there that do have full manual modes in them, but none have the control of a decent SLR. At least, in my experience. (Though the S5 and G9 are rather good).

Having said that... photoblogs and clubs are great for lists of ideas. Here's a sample list of what you can take pictures of:

Machinery * Religious Celebrations * Earth/Wind/Fire/Water * Around the House * Graffiti * Diagonals * Technology * Time * Glass/Crystal * Spring * Trees * Games * Feathers * Gardens * Many * Family Fun * At the Beach * Waterfalls * Architecture * Mountains * Boats/Ships * What's for Dinner? * Symmetry* Ruins * Toys * Pools/Fountains * Weddings * Music * One * Roads/Paths * Fluid * From the Underside * Secret Places * Fences/Walls/Gates * People at Work * Waves * Eggs * Spires/Steeples * Faces * Vases * Square * Attics/Cellars * Landmarks Ice * Centrepieces * Beverages * Grasses * Wood * Demolition * Collections * Books * Running * Fruit/Berries

3) The last suggestion is more of an idea that I'd rather not suggest, but it should be considered.

PUT THE CAMERA DOWN - at least for a while. I have found that the best way to get around a slump is to not be bothered by said slump. Putting the camera away for a while will force an abandonment of some bad techniques (theoretically) and will give you fresh eyes when you return to it. Sometimes, it helps to put it away so you can give thought to a technique you'd like to try. Thinking is good. Compose the shot as best as you can in your mind - think of how you need to set everything up and how to get there with your (available) equipment.

Having said all this... I'm currently trying to think through aperture designs for my Lensbaby.
My current project is attempting to create a zone plate for my lensbaby. Understandably, the creative aperture that I will eventually create will not be a true zone plate, but it will be the closest damn thing i can get to one. Naturally, a pinhole will be the easiest to accomplish (drill a hole in the aperture disk and bam! pinhole.

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