(click the button to go to the main Shutter Speak page)
All right folks, it's time to talk shop. Shop, of course, meaning photography. I updated and organized my photography page and decided that I'd like to keep a sort of digital photography learning journal. I'm calling this journal Shutter Speak, and I'll collect these posts of my notes, thoughts, and reflections as I go about learning the art of digital photography. It is such a steep learning curve to start with absolutely no photographic knowledge whatsoever and try to learn a dSLR. Writing it out will help, and it will be great to have this record of my progress.
Okay, so... here we go!
Shutter Speak, Volume 1:
1. Andy's Bragging Rights
I'd better start this off by coming clean. I didn't take the picture up on that Shutter Speak button- Andy did. I find this completely annoying and somewhat infuriating- I mean, who's the one sinking countless hours into learning the craft, anyway? The man hasn't read a single book or blog post on the subject, and yet he grabs the camera out of my hands, clicks the shutter a few times, and manages to take an absolutely gorgeous picture. I know I should be oohing and aahing and such, but how can I? Doesn't he know that digital photography is ALL ABOUT ME?
He did get a nice shot, yes?
|(Yes, he took this one too.)|
2. Print Quality:
I printed out my first batch of prints for Posy's baby book at the same local retail photo lab that I always use, but when I saw them I wanted to cry. They looked terrible! Something must be something wrong with the color calibration on my screen! Or maybe I'm totally messing up the images during post processing?! All those beautiful pictures! What am I doing wrong???
(That was only a little glimpse of what was happening in my brain; I pretty much freaked out for a solid day.)
(Just ask Andy.)
(Or actually, no- don't. I don't want you to know how crazy I really am. It would ruin my credibility here on the blog.)
Well, it turns out it wasn't my computer screen, and it wasn't me, either. It was them.
I ordered a few of the same prints from an online pro photo lab to see how big of a difference there was in quality. Umm, yeah. Huge difference.
Do you have an online pro photo lab recommendation for me? I used Mpix for these photos and was very happy with the results, but I'm wondering if there are other (cheaper) labs that do a comparable job.
3. Learning to See
Here's what blows my mind. I have ordered prints from that same cheap local photo lab for years, and not once have I ever noticed the shabby color quality. This can only mean one thing: I am finally learning to see. I know this is true because for the first time in my life, I can describe the color of light. I notice slight differences in shadows and details. I am learning to pay attention to the slightest shifts in color.
If there is one gift learning photography has given me so far, it is this: the ability to really see.
4. Perfect Images vs. Captured Memories
One thing I need to work on is turning off my constant desire to take the perfect photo, and instead just shoot whatever is happening. I used to snap this, that, and everything. These days I might notice that the kids are doing something funny, but if it's 9pm and all I have to work with is bad tungsten light, I'll often skip taking the photo altogether.
This is not good practice for a mama! I want to capture memories without always worrying about yellow casts or noisy images. Most of the time, yes of course, I'd like to aim for excellent photos. But when the sweetness of life is unfolding before me, I hope my first reaction is to capture the moment, not to capture a perfect image of the moment.
I am telling a story, after all, and part of the plot unfolds even when the lighting is bad.
2. Tripod Love
I've finally discovered the beauty of a tripod. I've had mine since Christmas, but somewhere along the line I categorized it into "gear you only need when you have to be in the picture yourself"- you know, like when you take those family Christmas photos or something. It wasn't until I read Bryan Peterson's book, Understanding Exposure, that I realized I should be taking most of my pictures with a tripod. I should be using it whenever possible if I want the sharpest images possible. And wow, it makes a big difference! This is still not a habit for me, but I'm working on it.
Kim talked me into getting Lightroom 4, and I'm hoping to get it soon. The educational discount is nearly 50%, which makes it quite affordable, and I'll be glad to have a better way to organize and adjust my photos. Don't be surprised if you start seeing a lot of links to LR tutorials on my Pinterest boards. :)
6. On the Ethics of Editing Photos
Have you seen That's a Photoshop! yet? I thought this article from dPS offered a really great perspective on the ethics of editing photos. I don't do heavy editing (lol, I say that all high-and-mighty-like, but really I wouldn't know how to do heavy editing if I wanted to!), but I agreed with all his points, and I loved how he says that as photographers, we are "painting with light". Gosh, I just love that.
Wanna talk photography? Let's chat in the comment box!