Photography Part 3

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Shoot! That’s The Point!


I may be a bit of a perfectionist – ok, a LOT – but I am not too hung up on the photographic correctness of taking photographs. I take photographs because firstly; I can, and secondly; I enjoy it. I encourage everyone to assume the same attitude. If you go chasing after the perfect photographic capture that will win a coveted peace prize then you are probably doing it for mostly the wrong reasons.
You can almost hear the ocean…
What I am going to share with you is not some super secrets known only to 5 billion people. I’m going to just tell you some of my tips that have helped me with taking my amateur photographs over the last 30 odd years. It all started with an old, hand-me-down, box camera…
I don’t subscribe to the whole uptight notion that only certain subjects or photographs have merit. There are many fields of study in photography. Find out what interests you and just don’t give a damn what people think. You take photographs for yourself first and foremost.
Some people have a passion for action or sport type of photography. Others love the slow, meditative, art of Macro photography. Landscape and nature photography just bores some people but it fascinates me.
So cute!
Some photographers love taking candid shots of people and life in a cityscape. I spend a lot of time EXCLUDING tourists from mine! A person has to be in a very interesting pose or attractive angle to interest me. So I shoot from angles to avoid including any human life in my landscapes. I like the look of a beach where the only foot prints belong to little bird feet!
I would also like to challenge the silly idea that post editing of photographs is “Cheating”. Yes, I do manipulate some photographs in a graphics program. I’ve been working with graphics for probably over 15 years now.
Sometimes my photographs are just NOT that good without a tweak or two. The difference is that I am honest in admitting that. Very few photographs ever taken are ready for print. That is the reality.
For decades photographers have been playing in the darkroom to produce astounding results. I know I certainly did. A lot of this we can now do in a graphics program. It is chemical free and inexpensive. Why do we perpetuate the idea that darkroom manipulation is art but graphics editing is fake?
Polarising Filter
If I place a polarising filter in front of my camera to capture fluffy white clouds in a deep blue sky is that “Cheating”? If I use a gradient filter to cut some of the strong light entering the lens in order to get a more even exposure in landscape photography is that “Cheating”? How about using a camera on Automatic? An Automatic Flash that compensates according to your camera’s CPU?
In the strict sense of the word, photography is as fake and phony as a mirage. The lens is not capable of capturing the moment and emotion in the full spectrum that we as humans can. The human eye, coupled to our brains, captures an interactive experience. A photograph only tries hard to assist us in the memory or to give other people a glimpse into our own experiences.
The time has come for people to let go of old arguments. This is an art after all and every art has its tools! I don’t, however, advocate deceit. If you enhance or manipulate your photographs then be honest about it. Share with others how you achieved the effect so we can all benefit from the experience.

Some tips for taking photographs.

The first point I want to tackle is the most obvious. Don’t JUST point and shoot! Point, view, evaluate, and then GENTLY depress the shutter! That’s how you do it.
Everyone has photographs with decapitated relatives or where a subject’s ankles have been unceremoniously chopped off.

“How does this happen? WHY?! I made sure both a person’s head and feet were included! I swear I did!”

You probably did. I’m not going to argue that point. So if you didn’t do it, and the camera didn’t do it, what happened? People are sometimes too rough with the shutter button. Be it from excitement or through haste. When you press down hard on the shutter button, and the exposure is taken, the camera is either going up or down. This results in the top or bottom getting chopped off depending where along the traverse the photograph is registered with the sensor or film.
So instead, learn to gently ANDslowly press the shutter down. On small cameras you can actually position your fingers below and above on the shutter release. By doing this you actually squeeze the camera and reduce the upwards or downwards movement by providing resistance in both directions simultaneously.
Another very good reason to take the photograph slowly is that most modern cameras are working with Automatic Focus and Exposure. It takes a while for the camera to analyse, adjust, and capture the image. Just remember it took you a lot longer to do it all manually! Give the camera a second or two!
In some cases the camera may allow for quick photograph taking but the results may be poor. Some cameras prevent the photograph from being taken until it is properly analysed. What happens here is the camera has focused AFTER you have pressed the button, you “think” you have already taken the photograph and lower your hands. This is when the photographs of sky or soil are captured, usually also blurred.
Rule of 3rds
The second tip is to just photograph what appeals to you. What is it with everyone’s obsession towards theory? Yes the rule of thirds is a good rule of thumb but no one is going to take you out back and put a bullet in your head if you don’t follow it!
I’ll be a little worried about your mental state if all your photographs came out looking like this one! Even I needed to rotate and crop it slightly to make it conform somewhat!
Just look at what appeals to you and capture it. If no one thought outside the box and just followed rules without question, we would never have made it past the pinhole camera box!
Even a mistake can look
good with the right tweaks!
The third tip is start reading and don’t stop! This is how we should all grow in life. Read, learn, adapt, and perfect your craft. I keep reading about this and that and zoom blur and Bokeh and… and I pick up my camera and try to replicate the experiments others have done.
Want to know how to photograph the moon? Google it! Research it! I did and I am very glad I did. I would have never captured anything worthwhile otherwise. I would still only have a white spot on a black background.
See Link Below
On a general fourth tip, try to keep your camera either level or parallel to the subject. Otherwise keep it really angled for specific and deliberate effect. Look over or under your camera body to line up with horizon then take picture. Alternatively, get a really fantastic little gadget that clips into your Flash Hot Shoe and you have an instant level to get your shots straightened out!
While on the subject of keeping things level, don’t get too obsessed by it. You can rotate images in a graphics program. The object is to try to do the least manipulation to start with. Keep in mind when rotating images on your PC is that just rotating by full degrees is never enough. I often rotate mine by as little as 0.3° or as much as let’s say 1.3°.
How do you know it is now level? Don’t just rely on your eye. If you can, move the graphics program or the image within the program till your horizon is level with the edge of the program, or the bottom or top of your monitor.
Never continue to rotate more, and then less, and then more, and so forth till it is aligned. You are ruining the quality of your image. Always rotate, check, undo if necessary and rotate at a new degree and check again. Sounds like a lot of work but with practice you will be spot on with your rotations first time for the most part. This is where you begin to trust your talent and “eye” for rotation.
Sunglasses maybe needed!

Fifth on my list but probably just as important on the grand scheme of things is your colour and contrast control. Black and white is not automatically classic or desirable just as over saturation of colour doesn’t make for a brighter image. Whether this is set in your camera settings or on your graphics program, pay attention! DO NOT LET your graphics program think for you and allow it to Auto Contrast/Saturate your images.

Do you go to a hairdresser and let a robot auto cut, colour, and style your hair by the dozen? No? Then don’t be lazy. Show your photographs the respect they all deserve or take less of them.
Over saturation is a common mistake. Compare it to tanning yourself to an extreme and then still considering yourself to be as white as snow! Do not fall into the trap that if a little enhancement is great then a lot is even better. It isn’t and it shows! A great way to see if you have gone overboard with post processing is to constantly refer to your originals for comparison.
Be an upside down Kitty!
Another general suggestion, sliding in on the sixth, is to change your view point. Crouch, lie down, photograph over the shoulder, from the top of a step ladder, under a table, through a bush… Just change your view point. We all expect photos taken at human eye level. Surprise people!
Lastly, try to pose or compose your photograph. Imagine what the scene would look like printed and put on your wall. What would you see? Don’t just suppose or assume the picture because your eye has seen it.
Remember the human eye doesn’t have a fixed depth of field. It can move around freely, constantly focussing on different parts of the scene. An image is fixed as it was taken. This is how it will remain for ever. So think about it a little and preview your photos right there in the camera. Take several variants, zoom in, zoom out, use different lens, light settings, and try other alternatives.
Take enough photographs there and then. You do not want to get home and say, “SHOOT! I should have taken it from this angle or taken more or seen it needed to be more sharply focused”. Digital bytes cost nothing. There is no need to use them sparingly. You can always delete the ones you don’t want when you are back at your computer.
I am not saying just shoot wildly in the hope of getting something useable. Just take enough photographs with careful thought. Think ahead at what you might be able to use at a later date.
To give you an example, on a recent trip I came upon a lovely, serene, pastoral scene. I took a photograph completely zoomed out and one framing just the section I wanted. Guess what? The photograph I wanted had a blurred bird that did a dive through as I took the image. Now I have two options; crop the full image down to the same scene, or; graphically edit the bird out of the image.
The point is to allow yourself options. Often I sit down to preview, delete, edit, name, and file my photographs and see things from a new perspective. Usually I am very glad of all my extra captures even though at the time they seemed a pointless waste of pixels.

So carry your camera, shoot everything, frame some classics, and just have megapixels of fun!

You may also want to read:  My new Photography Site!
InfraRed with shifted colour channels.


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