Monday, January 5, 2009

What's In My Camera Bag?

I've been getting lots of questions about what kind of equipment I use to take photos. KC bought me a Nikon D80 in February. The accompaniment to this bad boy is the Nikkor 50mm f1.4 lens.

While the camera has aided me tremendously in taking better photos, there has been a lot of things aside from pushing the shutter button, that have helped me bump up my photography skills. Since getting the camera I have been studying photography like a mad-woman. I'm starting to understand the basics: shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. This understanding gives you an abundance of creative control over the pictures you are taking and lets your style come through rather than relying only on the camera to determine your settings. I could still be taking horrible pictures with a nice camera. It takes time to learn how to get results, and I feel like I'm barely scratching the surface. I'm taking tons and tons of pictures, almost everyday...I'm bound to get something good when I do that, and I'm taking note of what works and what doesn't. This saves me time as I grow. And will help me to deduct what will and won't work without having to experiment at every angle and setting.

I'd like to share with you a couple things you can do that have really helped my picture quality.

The Rule of Thirds: Google it. It will help automatically with your composition. It will make your photographs more pleasing to look at. We usually place our subjects in the center of our view when taking pictures. STOP! The Rule of Thirds will change your picture taking. Of course rules are meant to be broken, but having a good understanding of the Rule of Thirds is crucial and something I didn't do until I got my new camera.

It's all about the lighting. Another thing that I realized when I had my old Sony Cybershot was that turning off the flash does wonders for a picture. And now I hate using flash. I will not (generally) even take a picture if the lighting is not good enough without a flash. There may be a time for me to introduce a bounce flash or a light off-camera but now is not that time. I'm learning too much as is using the available light and letting those shadows really detail my subjects (ok, we all know I don't have subjects, just 2 little munchkin boys). When using flash it makes faces look all ghostly white and it takes details away. Basically, it's not too nice to look at, usually.

So, turn that flash off and start noticing how light travels across a face creating highlights and shadows. Notice that when you are outside and the sun is shining down from directly above your head how it makes people squint and creates shadows under eyes and noses and chins, very dark, sharp, and unattractive shadows usually. Now think about the kind of shadow you get on an overcast day? Clouds create a much softer light and you can use this light no matter what time of day it is. The way the light hits and creates highlights and shadows is such a huge part of photography. There is a lot more I could say (and more I can't) about lighting....There are books written on lighting; I have a lot more to learn! My best pictures right now are taken in relationship to a window in my home and the way the soft light runs across my boys' faces.

Lastly, Hold Your Camera still. This is obvious, but if you aren't thinking about it, it's easy to not do it. When trying to get crisp pictures, it will do no good to have your camera moving all over the place. Even small movements can create blur. I remember trying to get pictures of Colson when he was a baby and realizing that when I could put the camera on the floor or the table and take the pictures they were so much better. Then when he turned into a tornado it was getting impossible to get pictures of him because he was always moving around so fast. that is where a camera with a fast shutter speed can really make a world of difference, but if I can't hold it still when I'm taking the photo, not even a fast shutter speed can help.

These are some of the important things I have, and am, learning about in the world of photography. It's so fun to learn and something you can improve on not matter what kind of equipment you have.
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Jen Green said...

Wow - you've gotten really good with the tricks if you can figure out how to take a picture of your camera with the same camera while the lens cap is on.

KeriAnn said...

Jen, yes, call me the illusionist.

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