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7 Tips to help your photography

1.  Keep Shooting Everyday

We all see the world differently and we should try to use the camera to show how we see it.  The more you take pictures the better you will be at using your camera to convey what you want out of a scene.  You will also be able to better see what lighting conditions will make a great photo.  In photography it is all about the light.  Not every photo you take will be great but even the best photographers have to take lots of pictures to even get a few keepers.  Photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson said that “Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.”  Just get out and shoot everyday and it will pay off.

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2.  Try to Replicate Great Photographers’ Work

If you can’t think of anything to take pictures of look at great photographers’ work online and  replicate it for learning purposes.  After a while you will eventually be able to forge your on photographic style.  I am still working on my own style and don’t think this process ever ends for photographers.  I think this is a great way to learn off camera flash.  You can usually tell what type of diffuser someone used by looking at the shape of the reflected light (either in the subject’s eyes or off of the object in the picture).  An example is the picture below.  When you use an umbrella to reflect the flash, the highlight in the subjects eyes will be round.

3.  Think About What Would Make a Great Photo Without Your Camera

Whenever I am driving around or just out without my camera I always look around to see what could make a great picture.  By doing this you help develop your photographic eye.  There are also times when you will see an interesting location that you want to come back to later with your camera.

4.  Start a Photo Project

It can be anything like a 365 project where you take and post one picture a day or a 52 week project if you can’t handle everyday.  Or you can do a 100 strangers project where you take portraits of strangers so that you can get out of your shell and experience something new in your photography.  If you aren’t up for these then you can make almost anything into a project.  Some of my ongoing projects are pictures of fire hydrants and a photo project of the county where I work.  You can do a project of your daily life for a specified amount of time, like a year, and pick the best ones to make a book out of.

5.  Organize Your Work

When you organize your work you will find that there are pictures that you have overlooked in the past that you like now.  These photos can become an inspiration for you to shoot more of that subject or start a new project building off of what you already have.  By organizing your work it will be easier to find and build your long-term portfolio.  I have just recently bought Lightroom 3 and hope to get my photos better organized.

6.  Share Your Work

Post your work online or show it to others in print form to get some feedback on it.  Flickr is a great place to do this.  You can find other photographer’s great work to inspire you or join groups to get feedback on your work.  Many of the groups constantly have conversations going on that can answer many of your burning questions.

If you don’t want to join an online community try to join a local photo club or shoot with friends.  If you know someone who has a good artistic eye you can have them give you some constructive criticism of your work so you can get another point of view to improve your work.

7.  Take Pictures With the Equipment You Already Have

A lot of people are worried about not having enough equipment or the right camera to take good pictures with but this shouldn’t stop you.  Use whatever you have and learn to work with what you have and find solutions for not having a lot of fancy equipment.  You may not have a DSLR but your iphone or point and shoot can take good pictures, you just have to develop your eye to see good pictures.  You may not have a professional off camera flash but you can always use natural light and reflectors to create good light.  Some day you may be able to acquire more equipment that can make your life easier, but don’t let it stop you from shooting today.

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11 Favorites of 2011

I read an article on digitalphotographyschool.com (http://www.digital-photography-school.com/289-best-photos-of-2011-blog-posts) about going through and evaluating your previous years photographs and picking out your favorites and decided that I would do it.  They said to pick 10 of your favorites but I decided to do 11 since it is 2011.  I had a pretty good year photographically and think that I learned how to use my camera a lot better since when I first got it.  I had started a 52 week project but only made it like halfway through before I started missing weeks.  I like the idea of only posting my favorite work instead of posting a random photo every week even if they are not good.  Some weeks I take multiple photos that I like and other weeks I don’t take any so I would rather not get into that project again.  I will try to do some projects this year though just to get my creative juices flowing.  Hopefully by posting these pictures it will give me some drive to try to create better pictures for the 2012 year.

It was fairly easy to pick out my favorites, mostly because I was already posting most of my favorite work on flickr.  The pictures are in no particular order.  Please take a look at my work and tell me what you think in the comments.

I took this photo at the zoo of this bird that was flying around in the bird-cage.  I really like how the depth of field makes him stand out really well on the post.  The bokeh in the background also makes this picture interesting.  This was also the first zoo trip that my baby took so this picture has more behind the scenes meaning to me also.

 

I really like the colors in this photo with the orange grass in the front and the pink and blue clouds in the background.  I also like how the irrigation tires lead your eye across the picture.  I took this photo with my 18-55 lens that had a broken auto focus, so I got some experience at manually focusing a lens, which I had never done before.

 

I took this picture behind the apartment we used to live in.  We had lived there for a year and I never knew a scene like this was right next to us.  It is amazing the new photo opportunities that lie right around the corner.  I am not the best photo editor on photo shop but spent some time on this one trying to balance out the sky and foreground.

 

This picture is my favorite long exposure photograph.  I actually only took one photo of this scene and like it so much that I didn’t take another one.  I got really lucky with the car that drove through the picture while the exposure was happening.  What really caught my attention when I walked outside to take this picture of my neighborhood was the reflection of the trash can on the sidewalk and also the amazing cloud colors.  I think the streaking car lights just brought this picture together though.

 

I had to watch my baby for two weeks at the end of the year so I got to play around a lot with taking pictures of her.  This is one of my favorites from those two weeks.  I love the depth of field that my 50mm 1.8 lens created in this picture which leads your eye to her left hand.

 

My brother got some headphones for Christmas and decided to let my baby try them on.  I liked her reaction to them on so decided to take a picture.  This has to be my favorite picture so far of my baby.  I like the red/orange background and also how the light is on her face.  I used the same technique with bounce flash for her birthday picture.

 

This was one of my favorite photos that I took during my attempt at the 52 week project.  I liked it better in black and white than color because of the streaky clouds that stood out better without color.  I like how this dull scene is made more interesting by just looking at it from a different angle.

 

This was during my babies first birthday.  I took this picture shortly after getting my new 24-70mm lens and I am amazed by how much I like it.  You can read more about this picture in my other blog post about bouncing flash off of a wall.

 

I found this picture while I was culling through my photographs and organizing them.  I disregarded this picture when I saw it last year but this year I it stuck out to me.  I did some editing on it and really like it now.

 

Foggy days are some of the most interesting in terms of landscape scenes.  I don’t really get to take pictures very often while it is foggy but on this day I was driving and saw this pivot sprinkler going and liked how the water looked in the mist.

 

This picture makes me laugh.  It is one of my first good pictures using my flash.  It probably would have been better if I used a big diffuser but instead I used direct flash by hand holding it and pointing down at my baby.  It was really hard to get her to sit still and actually look at the paper for this picture.  The glasses are funny too because she looks like a little grown up in a baby’s body.

Those are my favorites for 2011, here is to a great 2012 and hopefully more growth for me photographically.

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Bouncing Flash

 

This is my baby on her first birthday stuffing cake in her mouth, haha.  This is one of my favorite pictures from last year – and also one of the first pictures I took with my Canon 24-70mm f2.8 lens that I bought.  I like how she is so serious eating this cake (at least until the sugar kicked in and she couldn’t stop fidgeting).  I really like the lighting in this picture.  I also like the out of focus ice cream bucket in the background to give the picture some context that it was a party.

“To create interesting light, you have to create interesting shadows,” – Syl Arena.  This is what Syl says in his book Speedliter’s Handbook.  I recommend this book to any one that wants to learn how to use off camera flash.  He explains everything in this book such as: different modifiers that you can use, how to use Cannon speedlites, how to use gels and different type of lighting that you can incorporate into your shots.

Now onto explaining this shot.  Many people use the flash that is on top of their camera but that results in pictures that are flat and dull (lighting wise).  To get a better looking picture you either have to use off camera flash or bounce the flash off of something to get light that comes at your subject from somewhere besides the top of your camera.  By doing this you get more directional light which results in better shadows.  Shadows create depth in an image.  You also don’t want the flash to be too harsh which is where using a modifier such as a softbox or umbrella come in.  In this shot I did not use either of those but I did bounce the flash off of a white wall to the right of me which acts like a large modifier.  Whenever you are indoors and taking shots with a flash you should try to swivel the flash head to bounce it off of something to create better light.  I use a Canon 430ex II flash.  I think this is a good flash to get if you are just beginning because it doesn’t cost as much as the 580ex II (which is a more expensive flash because of the options it offers) but gives you enough options and flash power to create some nice shots.

Please leave a comment if you like this picture or have anything else to share.  Thanks for visiting.

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