Practice Practice Practice!

Practice Makes Perfect

As I was listening to a podcast yesterday in the car, as we were traveling to Texas, I found my head bobbing often in agreement with the men speaking.

The podcast is called "The Depth of Field" and is put together by Matt Brandon, a travel photographer based in Malaysia. This particular day, he was interviewing Damien Lovegrove, a contemporary photographer who has shot weddings, portraits, commercial and so forth. This man is constantly trying something new! You might not know either men (I didn't know about Lovegrove at all), but I've followed Matt Brandon pretty much since the inception of my love for photography.

Anyways, in this podcast, they talked about a multitude of things which were all interesting, but I really loved what they said about gear. Let's face it. In any field you're in, it's always fun to have the latest and greatest equipment! For photographers, that's camera bodies, lenses, strobes, soft boxes, gadgets, and so forth. We can get so gear crazy and think that these items will make us better--which they might--however, I'd venture to say (like Lovegrove and Brandon) that gear can only take you so far. It's all about you getting out and taking photos. Practice is key!

Have you ever heard about the 10,000 hour rule? In a nutshell, the idea is that whatever you want to be a master at, you have to spend about 10,000 practicing that skill in order to get to the level you want. 10,000 hours! That's a lot! Most of us want that quick and easy fix that makes us an expert in a day, but that's not going to happen folks! It takes practice, practice and more practice! 

Canon 5D Mark II, 50mm f/1.4  |  f/3.5, 1/100 sec, ISO-800  | Portland, Oregon

Canon 5D Mark II, 50mm f/1.4  |  f/3.5, 1/100 sec, ISO-800  | Portland, Oregon

Every chance I get, I take photos. I take my camera with me everywhere. Why? It's for practicing. I don't always use it, and yes, it is heavy to lug around. However, when that opportunity comes up, I am ready for it. Just like the photo above, it might not be the best photo I've ever taken, but it is as a result of just getting out my camera and shooting. 

I doubt that I've met the 10,000 hours in the skill of photography, but it's something I'm working towards. What about you? Are you willing to put in the time needed to achieve your goal in your field? It's definitely something to think about.

If you want to listen to the podcast, go here: http://thedigitaltrekker.com/2016/03/depth-field-damien-lovegrove/ 

I look forward to hearing your thoughts about this topic!

-Ashley

Up Close and Personal

Sometimes when people see an interesting subject to photograph, they either don't get close enough or they don't fill the frame (these are kind of one in the same). I know that was the case for me especially in the beginning. I would take photos at eye level (i.e. I wouldn't crouch or lay down to get a shot, etc.). Eye level isn't bad, but the idea is to change your perspective. Even just getting low and looking up can change your subject drastically. Take this tree, for example.

I loved how dreary it looked (as it was quite cold that day), I loved the snow on the limbs and I loved the texture of the bark. So instead of shooting it from afar at my eye level, I decided to snuggle up close to the tree and shoot up.

Filling the frame can make your picture much more interesting--so next time you take your camera out, try to get close to your subject and do something unique. Even if you try it and botch it, it would be better to experiment than to not try at all.

Let me know how it goes!

-Ashley

A Post on Aperture | "Get Down Low"

Well hello Monday. Most weeks I'm not a fan of this day. Today however, I feel surprisingly energetic and excited about the week to come. I must have gone mad.

So like I said the other day, I would explain about aperture another day. Well, it's that day, folks! I'll try to make it simple, as it can be confusing.

Aperture, according to wikipedia is, "a hole or an opening through which light travels." So if you were to hold up your lens, not attached to the body, and you were to look through it, you'll see the hole in the lens. That is what we're talking about.

Around the hole are these ring like things that will open/close depending on how you set your aperture in your camera. When you set an aperture, they are called f/stop or f/numbers (f/1.4, f/22, etc.). There is actually a ratio and math that makes these numbers work, which you can read about here. For my purposes, I don't think it's necessary to explain all of that. If you were in photography class, you'd need to learn this though! :) Look at the chart below to see what I'm talking about with these f/numbers.

http://www.school-of-digital-photography.com/2012/08/what-is-aperture-in-photography.html

http://www.school-of-digital-photography.com/2012/08/what-is-aperture-in-photography.html

Obviously, the smaller the hole (f/22), the less light comes in and the larger the hole (f/2.8), more light comes in. When a lot of light comes into your lens, things become blurry around your subject. It makes a shallow depth of field and has nice bokeh. The picture below is shot at an aperture of f/1.4:

Aperture in this photo: f/1.4

Aperture in this photo: f/1.4

However, when your aperture is smaller, it allows less light to come in, making more in focus in your picture. It increases your depth of field. The picture below was shot at an aperture of f/3.2. This aperture actually isn't that much smaller, but you can see that even with that small change it completely changes the picture.

Aperture in this photo: f/3.2

Aperture in this photo: f/3.2

Aperture can be fun to play with. yet very necessary to master when it comes to taking pictures. If you have your aperture set to wide on the wrong shot, say like a group photo, then only a few people will come in focus, and the rest will be blurry. If you're getting paid for that, then your customer might not be so happy (trust me, I know from experience messing up!). 

So all this to say, practice is so important! Start a project, try different things and become proficient at your camera and it will make you such a better photographer. 

I hope this shed some light on aperture! Feel free to ask any questions!

-Ashley

Pine Cone Bokeh | "Get Down Low"

When I took this picture I was very happy because the boken in it was so beautiful. Bokeh [pronounced "boh-kay"] according to Wikipedia "is the aesthetic quality of the blur produced in the out-of-focus parts of an image produced by a lens." So while this looks nice, it's actually a hard thing to master at times. Bokeh comes from your aperture settings in your camera. I'll explain aperture at another time, but basically, the wider your aperture is (the bigger the hole is in the lens), the more blur in your photo. This picture below was taken at an aperture of f/1.4--that's pretty open! Because it's so open, if I happened to focus in on the wrong thing, it's possible that my subject could be blurry as well. It takes practice to get the shot right--I mess up on this often, so don't expect to become an expert overnight.

For this picture I had to get down pretty low to take the shot. If I remember correctly, we were playing disc golf and between my turn and someone else's, I laid down on the ground and played around with my settings and pictures of the pine cones. I looked silly, but I obviously didn't care enough. :)

I invite you to go out and get down low and take some shots of something! It will be fun. And besides, it's Friday, so you have the weekend ahead of you! If you do it, send it to me so I can see what you get! Have fun! 

-Ashley

See, Compose & Shoot

One day earlier this year, I did a photo walk around the campus I work at (I teach English here) and I came across a plant that was really beautiful. I hadn't gotten my camera out in a while (when you're teaching....it's all you do!) and I wanted to do something creative--get my mind off work.

When I am out taking photos, I don't just snap everything I see. Normally, things catch my eyes and I inspect it, looking at how I can compose the photo. I move around to get different perspectives. I think about how the light is hitting the subject and how I can share the beauty of what I see. I then bring the camera to my eyes, look through the frame and try to take different pictures from different angles. I try different depths of field, different shutter speeds, etc. etc. etc. This is what came from it:

When I first started with photography, I thought I could just get lucky when I would take photos. I would see things, of course, but I wouldn't think about my camera settings (in fact, my camera would just stay at a wide aperture), I wouldn't think to move around a bit to change my perspective, I wouldn't think about what my focus was, and on. Perhaps I was a little lucky in the beginning, as I still got clients and had a small business going. However, as I wanted to grow, I switched to RAW format, changed my settings to manual (so I was forced to figure things out), started studying and observing other's work, and I practiced a lot. I'm not where I want to be still, but I hope I'm still growing and changing in how I see things. 

David deChemin, World and Humanitarian Photographer, talks a lot about vision and letting that be your guide. I am struck by his posts, as I want to be driven by the vision that God gives me. I'm still trying to figure that out, but I hope that as I do my photography and other art forms shape with it. I want to be driven by something, not just "shooting in the dark" per say.  (pun intended :-) )

I hope you have enjoyed my photo of the day project--I honestly was only planning on doing it for a month or so. However, I have really enjoyed sharing photos with all of you and I'm going to try to keep it up for some time. Once I resume teaching soon that will tell if I can keep it going! Thanks for stopping by.

-Ashley