Monday, November 13, 2017

Take a Picture of It

When I'm tired of the news and social media, I grab my camera and head out to see if I can get some interesting pictures. Pictures can reflect your own mood, or the mood of the day, the seasons, and can help you discover a way to express yourself. You may even consider doing photography as a career or part of a career.

I take much more pictures of things I see outside; so here some tips that might help you get more out of your camera while taking landscape photos.
  • Find the manual for your camera. If you've lost it, try looking up the make and model of your camera online, sometimes the manufacturer will have a version you can download
  • With or without the manual, play with the camera. What happens when you change this or that? How do you take photos with different effects, such as focus close, blur background? Does your camera have a setting for night pictures? Try it and see how they come out.
  • Use your zoom. Try a panoramic picture, if that's a feature you have-turn the setting to Panoramic. The way it works is, you take three pictures in a row of the same scene, but you move the camera generally from left to right... take a picture, move slightly. Take picture 2, move slightly. Take picture 3, move slightly. When you upload, it will be one wide picture knitted together.
  • You may have features you didn't know you had. After all your playing, you'll probably find one or two settings you use most often.
  • Make sure you move the setting back after you've tried something different, or that great shot might not turn out and you'll wonder why. It may have been because you left it on Panoramic or Video, or you changed your shutter speed without even knowing it.
          This was taken on a sunny fall day: Obviously, I had the settings all wrong, but it's kind of a cool picture anyway.
  • Be sure you have fresh batteries with you all the time. Nothing's worse than having a great opportunity and no battery
  • You don't absolutely need a tripod, but you can always try one. You can get a mini-tripod at discount stores that will actually attach to the camera and fit in your camera bag.
  • Another option to hold the camera steady, especially for a video, is to set it down on something. Find a stump, a walking bridge, a bench, set the camera to face the picture, press the video button and wait a few seconds. Press the button again to stop. Voila, steady vid.
  • A camera bag is really helpful. It doesn't have to be expensive and it doesn't have to be designated as a "camera bag"... you can use a small purse or a cooler (coolers are awesome, lots of pockets and padding), a bag intended for something else, a messenger bag, or anything with a decent shoulder strap that fits the camera plus extra room for batteries and any accessories, preferably with some cushioning.You may or may not like a neck strap for the camera itself to keep your hands free. This could be a sturdy lanyard or even a scarf if it's long enough. Here are some ideas for DIY camera bags if you're crafty:
Your camera likely uses a memory card. A new one might need to be formatted before you use it (or it might not). Let your camera tell you (press Menu and look for 'format sd card') or check the manual. A memory card will hold tons of pictures. You can erase it and re-use it if you're comfortable with that, otherwise keep it, label it, (just a year will be helpful, or an event) and put in a fresh one so you can go back and search for pictures down the line.
  • Memory cards are tiny, and I found that a plastic travel soap box works great to keep them in one place. It might even fit in your camera bag. Here is a chart of how many pictures will fit on a memory card:

On to capturing great pictures....
Anybody can take a pretty picture of a lake or a tree or a child-theyr'e pretty all the time. How you see it using your camera makes the difference.
  • Frame your picture---especially when you're outside and this doesn't mean frame it completely. it means, have something on at least one side of your frame for perspective.

            Good example of a frame.
  • Look at the whole scene---what do you want to focus on?
  • Have a subject. Is it the clouds, an object, a person, a mood?
  • Shadows. Appreciate them. They make amazing pictures.
                                                            Shadows, perspective, boats, and sky.
  • Look for interesting architecture, old or new. Closeups highlight the detail better than an all-inclusive picture.

  • Texture makes an ordinary picture much more interesting
A leaf on a weathered walking bridge
I can almost hear the dry rustle of these reeds and cattails

  • Try taking 'action' pictures, and take many in quick succession to get a feeling of motion
                                                                  I took plenty of pictures as the geese flapped and splashed.
  • Find something quirky and focus in tightly on it.
A fishing lure stuck in a tree, complete with line attached. Wonder what that story is?

Usually you're better off with the sun to your back, when taking pictures outside.
  • Be aware of 'sun dogs,' those little purplish spots that happen in bright sunlight. they can be interesting, but they can be too distracting and ruin the picture you had in mind.

  • Unless you have an advanced camera, you may not be able to get a good picture of the sun, or the moon, but you can capture the bright glow of the sun, through clouds or trees, and you can capture the moon the same way if the light is just right.

  • Remember the different light throughout a day, and also of the different seasons. Light is the most important thing in a picture. Too dark, and you can't even see the subject. Too light and it's uninteresting.
  • Get out there and take pictures in the winter, too--there are great possibilities out there!
                                                 I blew some bubbles at the tree. I thought they'd break, but they didn't. Cool (literally).
  • Keep in mind the Big Picture: Aim your camera up and capture the height of trees, but take a look at some gnarly roots too

  •  Think about how a scene makes you feel, what you want to capture: Does it feel lonely, happy, waiting for something to happen, an experience, does it tell a story?

  • Take LOTS of pictures. Chances are that for every 100 you take, only perhaps 15 will be worth keeping
  • Sometimes you'll find a surprise once you load the pictures into the computer
                             I did not know about the ant or the perfect drop of water on this geranium until I put it in the computer.
  • Keep an open mind as to what a 'good' picture is.
                                         I'm really not a fan of grasshoppers... But look at the detail of the body. Pretty amazing.
Taken at a park where they had put all the picnic tables in one area for the winter. The picture is in color but looks like black and white.
Learn about any photo editing you have on your computer. Windows comes with a photo editor, and you can download others.
  • Play with the editing: Learn how to re-touch to take small elements out of a picture and fix 'flaws.' Remove that fire hydrant or power line or unknown spot.
  • But, be aware that many times retouching means 'cloning,' that is, you'll choose a spot to fix and the computer will pick some other part of the picture and put it where the spot was. Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn't. For example, it might put part of a brick building where you wanted plain sky, because it's a computer and thinks that's helpful. At some point you have to decide if you could just crop out that spot or if it's worth the time to keep trying to fix it.
  • Try filters such as different tints, or see what your picture looks like in black and white or with a sepia (old fashioned brown/tan tint), or as a pencil sketch, or an oil painting.
  • Be open to "mistakes"---sometimes they make great pictures, too.

Editing also includes straightening if the picture somehow was taken with the camera tilted a little; you can change the color of the picture to warmer or cooler, more orange tint or more blue, and darker or lighter. Don't be afraid of it, you can un-do the editing, and your picture stays the same on your memory card.

Try adding a photo to your photo. With this one, I took a picture of a ferris wheel. Then I put it on a Publisher document, then added a picture I found online of the child with a balloon, faded the edges of it, made everything in black and white, maneuvered it to mesh with the existing photo, and this was the result:

So, take yourself outside away from your phone for a while and see what you can see. I hope you've found some helpful tips here.