Archive for the ‘Learning’ Category

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Assignment 3 – More on Composition

August 12, 2010

For our third assignment we presented two photos to the classs that demonstrated ‘good composition.’  There are many rules of composition, and people can choose to abide by those rules or break them entirely, where in some cases it will turn out miserably and in others, you’ll have yourself some art. My Cricket pic was my favorite composition picture and one I couldn’t wait to show you. It’s probably still my favorite but here are a few others. If anything, they show that I probably learned something. :)

This is the other photo I showed the class. I tried to demonstrate the rule of ‘leading lines’ (the rails in the bridge walkway leading to my primary subjects) as well as put Steve and Cricket in the intersection points when you divide the picture into thirds (‘rule of thirds’).

So overall, I think I demonstrated both rules rather well, it’s just not that interesting of a photo to me. Maybe if I made Steve put a different colored shirt on for our photo shoot? We also tried it in black and white, but I’m still not sure. Don’t you like how Cricket’s like ‘WTF?’

Here are two more that I thought were quite good. This is a picture of a box of chocolates (“life is like a box of chocolates…”) from Cacao, a handcrafted, artisan chocolatier in Inman Park, Alanta . We received this thoughtful and tasty treat in thanks for hosting a retirement party for a colleague of Steve’s.  I thought the box was beautiful with the deep brown coloring, bright purple bow and gold stamped logo. What was inside was even more beautiful – there was a tasty buddha with ginger in his belly! – but I didn’t get any real good photos of those, partly because Steve left the box in the car for like 5 minutes and in 100+ degree heat, our little chocolates started to droop (mini buddha had a smooshed nose).  Anywho, this picture employs the ‘fill the frame’ / ‘get in close’ compositional rule (as does my Cricket pic).  

Last but not least, this is a view from my driveway looking into our neighbor’s yard. I really liked the way the light caught the leaves and flowers, and that this part was bright and vibrant with color in front of a dreary old basement window. Also employed the rule of thirds here.

Next post, I’ll show you all my favorites I took during the course of the class. You’ll see more from the Oakland Cemetery (field trip!) as well as some lucky shots I took of unsuspecting critters at my parents’ home last weekend in Athens. Stay tuned.

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Assignment 3 – Composition (and Cricket!)

July 28, 2010

I’ll share the other composition photos I took for this assignment in an upcoming post. But until then, I just had to share my favorite picture thus far, maybe ever – Cricket! Tell me she’s not adorable. I dare you.

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Assignment 2b – Shutter Speed

July 26, 2010

This was the second assignment from our second class, and I had about as much fun with this one as I did the aperture assignment, namely because we had to go find a fountain with fast running water so we could show the effect of adjusting shutter speed. We saw this very large multiple walled fountain in Woodruff Park a few weeks ago (and I took pictures of it then, purely on automatic mode because I didn’t know any better), so we decided to head back. Unfortunately, it was a bit of an overcast day so while the pictures clearly show what they are supposed to when you adjust shutter speed, they aren’t that colorful or pretty. I hate that.

About shutter speed….it impacts how long the light passing through the lens will touch the sensor to expose your photograph. For darker settings, you’ll need a long shutter speed (1/4, for example which is actually 1/4 of a second) because you need to let more light in to have a decent exposure. However, the longer your shutter stays open, the more things that are moving will appear blurry (which is not always bad if you want to indicate motion, you’ll see that below). I’ve taking many pictures of Cricket when the lighting is low and without flash; she can’t sit still for longer than 1/4 of a second, so she’s always pretty blurry in those situations. Faster shutter speeds will freeze motion, so they are typically good for sports, but because your shutter isn’t letting in lot of light, you’ll need some good lighting. You’ll see what I mean. I only posted a handful of pictures this time rather than bore you all with the 40+ I took for this assignment. You’re welcome.

This first picture is a good example of a rather fast shutter speed. You can see the water droplets are frozen (and not all that pretty). Also notice it is a darker picture than the next (and close to the actual overcast day) because the relatively fast shutter speed had less time to let light in compared to the second picture:

This second picture is a slower shutter speed, but certainly not the slowest. You can see how the water is starting to flow, rather than freezing in mid-air:

Both of the above are what I consider to be decent pictures that clearly demonstrate the purpose of the assignment. But here are two examples of the extremes that are not good, that help maybe even more clearly demonstrate how shutter speed works in relation to light. In the first example, my shutter speed is so fast 1/4000 of second, that almost no light can pass to the sensor. The result is an underexposed picture. The second example is a far slow shutter speed, one whole second. So much light has been able to pass through that the picture is overexposed. It’s way too bright. Yuck.

Next up, last week’s class was on Composition, so I’m super excited about my next homework assignment. We’re only presenting two pictures to the class, so I’ll fret tomorrow over which two are my best. You can count on one of Cricket!

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Assignment 2a – Aperture

July 25, 2010

We had two assignments from our second class, and this subject is by far my favorite and one I can already see myself experimenting with as I develop my skills. Aperture is the opening of the lens that allows how much light can come through (it’s one of three components influence exposure, ISO and shutter speed being the other two). For portraits, you use a larger opening/aperture (which is actually a smaller number), and this creates a shallow depth of field in which things behind (and sometimes in front) are less focused/blurry so that you can emphasize what is most important in the shots, the person. For landscapes you use a smaller opening/aperture (a larger number) in which case there is a greater depth of field where most to all things are in focus.

For my homework assignment, I had to take multiple pictures of the same three objects adjusting only the aperture. Note, I’m not in full manual mode yet; in this case I used the Aperture Priority setting so that I can control the aperture and the camera controls the rest based on the situation.

A little note about the objects. Steve’s mom painted the astronaut for him when he was a child. It’s a little weathered (check out the nose) but so adorable. I can see him beaming at it as a child. The second object is a buddha bank. This little bank brings a smile on my face just looking at it (even though it’s not very full). The third object is a goat (hard to tell at the angle I shot this, but it has horns) with a bright little blue bird on it’s back. We got that at this year’s Decatur Arts Festival…you know how we like our goats! As far as the assignment goes, notice the buddha and goat get more and more focused as you progress through the photos. That’s all aperture, baby! Enjoy!

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More to come on shutter speed next post!

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Assignment 1 – White Balance

July 21, 2010

So I am totally loving my Digital Photography 101 class through Showcase here in Atlanta, and highly recommend that you check them out if you’re just learning photography, or even if you’re not. They have tons of classes, workshops, field trips, etc. I’m already looking forward to what I’m going to take next ‘semester’!!

Our first assignment in class didn’t seem very intriguing at the time, but I have to say I learned a lot. We had to take the same picture again and again but manually adjust the white balance on the camera. If you aren’t aware (I vaguely recall learning this at some point in my public school education), every type of light has a certain temperature. Incandescent, or tungsten light, is warmer and thus more red or orange. Fluorescent light is somewhat green. Sunlight can vary, but in it’s purest form can be bright white. Shade or cloudy days are more blue.

When you adjust your white balance for various scenarios, your camera tries to make the picture a more true white, by adding colors that ‘neutralize’ the color emitted from the type of light you are in. For example, in incandescent light, your camera will actually cast a bluish tone so that your whites do indeed to appear white rather than orange-ish (the temperature of the incandescent light).

So here are the pictures from my assignment, all taken outside on a relatively sunny day. In cases where the white ledge that the cherries are on is actually quite white, that’s when the camera was set to automatic or sunny (it got it right because that was truly the light I was in). In pictures that are more orange (cloudy or shade settings) or more blue (tungsten or fluorescent), the camera is correcting as I instructed it to do, I’m just not in the light I told it I was. Cool, huh? Enjoy!

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A sad update

July 11, 2010

After checking in on the baby robins this morning, it appears that only one of the babies has survived. The rational side of me knows this is simply nature’s way, but the sensitive side of me is quite sad.

The little one (I’m assuming the first-born) is growing fast as a weed and nearly takes up the entire nest now. He or she is already grayish/black with feathers all over its body, when just a few days ago it was all pink and ‘fur.’ Its eyes are also clearly open now. I imagine it will only be a couple of days before it will take first flight.

Here are a few pictures of the little one (all from the iPhone so not as good as I would like). You can clearly see how much baby bird has grown. We wish it all the best as it leaves the nest soon.

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The Artist’s Way

June 14, 2010

So I dusted off a book – The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron – that I’ve had for a number of years, but read a little bit of a long time ago and then stored it somewhere. And then I moved, and moved, and moved, and lost track of it, also losing track of the reason I wanted to get the book in the first place ~ I want to be more creative. I’ve spent many years using my logic brain. Not just in my career, where I’ve chosen safe and financially stable paths but also in my everyday life (“I should probably spend the day cleaning rather than enjoying the day or doing something to exercise my creative spirit.”) Over the years I’ve looked high and low for ways to express my creative side. There were pottery classes and drawing classes and guitar classes, etc. you get the point, and after every one I’d just go back to work and the real world and not spend much time doing any of those things.

So now I’m making a commitment to myself to let my creative self out and (hopefully!) thrive. It’s why I’m taking up photography, and why I hope to pursue other interests that once I start spending some time being creative, I think will come alive.

The first step to doing this, per The Artist’s Way, is to recover a sense of safety, giving yourself the freedom and permission to listen to your inner artist, nurture it and not judge yourself, or beat yourself up, or listen to unfair critics that may be jealous of what you’re trying to accomplish, what you’re willing to put out there. It takes baby step – painting bad pictures, writing bad poetry or taking crappy photographs. You can’t judge those first attempts, because that only discourages your artistic self from “continued exploration,” for improving and making oneself better. So you must make mistakes, you must stumble and get back up. You must ask the stupid questions about the camera you just purchased. And you should make slow and steady progress while not expecting perfection.

And on the perfection note, I also recently ran across a newsletter article by Wendy Watkins, a personal and business coach and creator of PassionFruit and The Joy Factor, as well as a fellow Decaturite. The article, 5 Ways to Get Started without Being Perfect, specifically addressed this issue of not starting something until we have it down perfectly. As a perfectionist in almost everything I do, this rang so true for me. Bottom line, in Wendy’s words “Don’t let perfection hold you back from taking the actions needed to achieve your perfect idea of what you want to be, do or have!” And I’m not. So here goes with some more pictures I took this weekend, at home and around Oakhurst. I know these aren’t perfect, and I’m 110% ok with that. My personal favorites are “Camo Cat” (we’re still not sure if Cricket ever saw the cat), “Dog Waste,” mostly because of the very fine illustration (where exactly is the poop coming from?) and “Mirror,” where Cricket’s like, wtf?

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