Friday, October 21, 2011

Photo Class

I am now in Week 3 in my photo class and I have yet to update.....OOPS! So let's back track.

Week 1: We talked about the different types of lenses you can have for your camera. We also talked about taking your camera off the Auto mode and using some of the other settings, such as Landscape, Portrait, Sports and Close-Up. She explained how each worked. She also briefly explained ISO and how you want to use a higher ISO in darker light. Our assignment was to go out and shoot pictures using the different camera modes and also to try out the ISO setting. Here are my submitted pictures and the teacher's critiques to my photos:

I used the Action Mode for this shot. TJ is such a good sport and let me shoot him acting goofy, and then he even agreed to let me submit this one.   

And the teacher critique:     This is a very good stop-action photo! You were very successful in capturing this man suspended in mid-air with a Frisbee. It looks as though you used your camera's Sports mode, which gave you a fast shutter speed of 1/320 second and enabled you to stop his motion.

I also suggest using a longer focal length to bring the action in close. In both this image and the one preceding it of a young boy in motion, I'd like to see your subjects be more prominent in the picture. You could zoom all the way out with your 18-55mm lens, or better yet, you could use your 55-250mm lens at a setting around 80-100mm to bring your subjects in closer.

Also, when shooting action subjects in the shade like this, I suggest using a flash to add a little light, especially if they're close enough for the flash to reach them. The brief burst of light that flash emits will help freeze their action too.

You turned in six images when the assignment required five, so I thought I would just compare the previous action photo to this one. I critiqued this one because I felt that it was the stronger of the two. You've captured very good frozen action in this image, and your subject is larger in the frame than the young boy in the previous photo.

action photo using your camera's Sports mode, Sabrina!

For this picture I used the Landscape Mode. Because the sun was going down, the picture is a bit dark, but in some of the these modes some of the settings are automatic, such as the ISO so I was unable to change that.

The teacher critique:    Your camera's Landscape setting gave you great depth of field for image sharpness throughout the scene. You also used a rather wide 20mm focal length, which took in a wide area. 

It looks as though the sun was low in the sky, although the sky is still very bright. And because the light is relatively dim in the foreground, this landscape turned out a little underexposed. One good solution for this would be to try to eliminate a too-bright sky from the composition as much as possible. Focus on the dimly lit foreground and recompose your photo before clicking the shutter. This might help to brighten the scene somewhat.

When we move on to Aperture and Shutter Speed settings in lesson #2, you'll have even more control over your images than with the picture modes. You can use a high ISO setting of perhaps 800 or 1600 in low light, and this will help to get a better exposure.

Nonetheless, you've used your Landscape mode successfully, and I can see that you've gotten great depth of field. Nicely done, Sabrina. 

My flower picture was taken with the Close-Up,  or Macro Setting. It came out exactly the way I wanted.

The teacher critique:     This is a very pretty close-up of a Hibiscus! I'm guessing that you used your Canon EOS XSi's Close-up mode to get close to this subject. This mode also gave you a wide aperture (small f-number) of f/4.5 so that you got a blurred background. This flower stands out nicely against the soft background of greenery. 

Your flash also fired, although the light looks pretty natural and not like the obvious bright light that flash sometimes creates. You might also want to experiment by shooting close-ups of flowers in natural light. The soft light of shade is ideal for photographing flowers and other foliage. If your flash goes off automatically, you might want to turn it off (your camera dial has a "flash off" setting).

I also suggest zooming your lens out even further than 33mm, which will give you even more of a blurred background when you're shooting close-ups. A focal length of about 50 to 55mm would work well (this is also a nice focal length for portraits).

Very nice close-up photo, Sabrina! This flower is very sharp, and this is always important when shooting subjects at close range

My picture of Jordyn was taken on the Portrait Mode.

The teacher critique:    It looks as though you used the Portrait mode to shoot this image and the one following it. Are these your children? They're very sweet! I love this baby's blue eyes especially. 

Your camera's Portrait mode gave you a wide aperture of f/5.6, which gave you shallow depth of field and a blurred background. Your flash also fired, and this happens quite often when using the Portrait setting, especially if the light is low.

You've gotten a soft background, although I would probably still back up a little from your portrait subject and use a longer focal length than 32mm. A focal length of 50 to 55mm works nicely for portraiture. Also, your flash might be a little softer and not quite as bright on the subject this way.

Nice use of your camera's Portrait mode, and an adorable subject, Sabrina!

This picture was also taken on the Portrait Mode.

The teacher critique:     This little boy looks as though he's thinking about something very carefully! I'm guessing that you used the Portrait mode to capture this thoughtful image, and again, it gave you a wide aperture of f/5.6 for shallow depth of field. Your subject is very sharp against a nicely blurred background.

I like the effect of flash more in this portrait than in the previous one. This may be because you were a little further away from this little boy and zoomed in with a 49mm focal length. The flash appears less bright to me and more natural looking. I would also experiment by shooting portraits in the shade or on a lightly cloudy day with no flash to see the difference between using flash and using ambient light.

All in all, this is a good illustration of the Portrait mode. I also like the way you've framed this image vertically. These were good examples of using your camera's basic mode settings, Sabrina!


Week 2: We got more in depth about appeture and shutter speed. She explained when we would want to high and low in both settings and challenged us to go out take pictures using both settings and on opposite ends of the spectrum for each. Here are my photos for the week: 

For this photo I used a fats shutter speed

The teacher critique:     I'm glad your son is having so much fun helping with your assignments! He looks as though he's really enjoying himself. Your fast shutter speed of 1/200 second froze the motion of the little boy jumping off this bench (be careful!).
This stop-action effect makes him appear to be suspended in mid-air, partly because of your fast shutter speed, and because of your use of flash and a high ISO setting. When there isn't enough light to get a fast shutter speed (and it looks as though the light may have been low in this case), flash will illuminate your subject and freeze movement as long as the subject is within range of the flash -- such was the case here.
Just a couple of suggestions for improvement: When using flash, make sure that your subject is a distance from the background to avoid getting a shadow on the background from the flash. I know your son was jumping off the bench, so he was pretty close to it. You might also photograph him jumping into the air to get a similar effect. Of course, in brighter light you could just use a fast shutter speed, such as 1/500 second or faster, to freeze motion without having to use flash. Also, I'd like to see his entire arm without cutting off his hand, if possible.
Other than that, you've done a good job of filling the frame with your subject in this photo, Sabrina. I've also rotated this image and have uploaded it again in a vertical orientation. Good stop-action image with flash! 

For this photo I chose a wide appeture so the entire street was in focus
The teacher critique:    You've gotten great depth of field by using a small aperture of f/22, and your wide 18mm focal length contributed to this effect. Everything in this photo is pretty sharp, ranging from the street in the foreground to the buildings beyond.
You've also emphasized the length and width of the street in this vertical composition. I've rotated this image vertically and have uploaded it again. Although this scene is mostly in the shade and not in direct lighting, I would use a lower ISO setting than 1600. This high ISO setting is great for shooting indoors in low light when you want to use ambient lighting. In this shaded light outdoors, I might use an ISO setting of 200 to 400 instead.
Aside from this, you've done a very good job of using a small aperture (large f-number) to get great depth of field and overall image sharpness. Nicely done!

For this picture of my beautiful family, I shot this photo with a shallow depth of field

Th teacher critique:    You have a great looking family! You did the right thing by using a wide aperture of f/5.6 and the longer end of your zoom lens (55mm) to get shallow depth of field.
And you're right -- the stairs aren't blurred because your subjects are very close to them. If you can move them away from the background, you'll get more blur behind them and can separate them from the background. However, I don't find this stairway to be distracting. It's a good place for them to sit for a family portrait, and if you get a chance to look at a variety of people pictures, you'll probably find that the chairs, walls, or whatever the photographer is using as a backdrop is relatively in focus.
However, if you want a nice, blurred background, You might consider photographing your family at a park or another natural area where foliage may be a distance behind them. This way, you'll get a nicely blurred background of greenery.
This is an adorable family portrait, and I wouldn't worry about the stairway being in focus. Just experiment by framing them tightly, and by using different backgrounds. I like the way their heads are at different levels in this photo, and the natural light works well. Good use of a wide aperture and long focal length too! 

For this photo I chose a slow shutter speed but unfortunately since I didn't have a tripod, the stationary buildings were also blurred due to a slightly unsteady hand.

The teacher critique:     You've definitely gotten blurred action by using a one-second exposure to photograph these automobile lights!
The best way to make sure that the background and other objects are in focus when shooting moving subjects is to use a tripod and a cable release. It's difficult to hand-hold a camera during a long exposure (especially one second or longer) and get sharp images, unless you can brace your camera on something like a low wall or rock, and even then, you may still get some image blur.
Canon manufactures Image Stabilizing (IS) lenses, which may help with camera shake to a certain degree, although I still recommend investing in a good tripod. You may want to check out tripods by Manfotto - You may also want to check with your local camera store or with or B&H Camera & Video in New York. You just want to get a tripod that's sturdy enough to keep your camera steady, yet not too heavy and cumbersome so that you don't use it.
Back to this image -- you've successfully gotten motion blur with a long exposure, and without a tripod, the rest of the image is blurred. Some photographers move the camera intentionally during a long exposure to get this effect. Although in order to get the rest of the scene in focus and to photograph other subjects in low light, it's best to get a good tripod.

I have not read Week 3's Lesson or done the assignment but I know it's on composition. Be on the look out for Week 3 in the next few days!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Finally Chose A Photo Class

After doing lots of research, I have finally decided on where I want to take my first online class. I have decided on Better Photo. I read many reviews that praised the site and the classes. Better Photo has over 80 classes to choose from. At first I was a bot overwhelmed and wondering where should I begin. I finally decided on one of their Certified programs. I chose the most basic program, Certified Better Photographer, since I have a lot to learn and what better place to start than with the basics. You can purchase these programs as a package for $1437, but if you can't afford that all at once like me, it tells you what courses you need to take before taking the certification test, so that you can take them when you have the money or time. The advantage to purchasing the package is that you are able to take the test for free, where as purchasing the classes individually, you will have to pay $150 to take the test. I admit, I wish I could pay for the package all at once but since I can't afford it all at once, I am so glad I have the individual option so that I can still complete the program.

Tonight I have signed up for my first course and will start on Wednesday. My first course is Learning To Shoot Inspiring Images. It is a 4-week fundamentals course and I can't wait to get started. I will do my best to post my progress each week and let you know how I like the class. For now, I am off to do my first pre-assignment and check out my Lesson 1 preview!

Have a great night everyone!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

HUGE Hubby Support

We're on our way to get our first family pictures taken and TJ begins to ask if I ever thought about doing photograpy. Uh.....DEFINITELY! What has stopped me? I don't have the formal training I feel I need. We have a little bit of extra money right now and TJ suggests I find some lessons or some classes online. YAY! We talk to our photographer and she says she does lessons. So we're thinking about having her give some lessons, along with finding some classes online. I'm super excited. I dream of becoming a photographer. Once I get some formal training on all the technicals of photography, then I can offer free session fees to people to help build a portfolio. My hubby has totally made my weekend. I guess it's off to find some classes and you'll be seeing more from me soon.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Picnik, My Beginner Editor

I have always loved taking pictures but it wasn't til I moved to South Carolina two years ago that I began taking more pictures and many nature pictures. And it wasn't until I tried the 365 Project in 2010 (where you take a picture a day for a year) that I began to use a photo editor. I started with Picnik, a free web-based photo editing program.

I began to take more pictures and then upload them to Picnik and enhance my pictures. Then life became super busy. My son started T-ball,, where I was the coach, my husband was going back to work on the Drill Field with LONG hours and I also became pregnant with our daughter. Me and my husband also got married, he left for 8 months for the Marine Corps. All in all, 2010 was a crazy year.

Many of my friends had babies around the same time I did and it was on my way home from one of these baby showers that there was one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen. It was on Parris Island in SC.

I wish I had a picture of the before and after but truly I didn't do much at all. I went to the  Picnik website and upload my picture. I then saturized the picture to bring the color out a little more. Lastly I added a small black vignette border. And that was it! DONE!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Photographer In The Making

I LOVE to take pictures all the time. And when I take pictures, I don't just take one or two, I take WAY more than necessary. For example, I want a picture of my kids. There's usually several different poses I'm trying and 7 or 8 pictures with each pose. Seriously, you might think these kids would be blind and/or hate when I come even close to a camera, but as for now, they love it. My husband on the other hand, he gets a bit bored with it. LOL!

My family isn't all that I take pictures of. I'll take pictures of just about anything, but other than my family, it's usually nature, animals and architecture. I live in Savannah and there is an abundance of all that here. I'm i heaven every time we venture downtown.

I am definitely an amateur photographer and have a lot to learn. I am constantly trying to find new tips and tricks to make my pictures look great before editing. I also have recently gotten Photoshop, which is a bit overwhelming at the moment. There is so much you can do but it's figuring out the best place to start.

I sat down a few nights ago and thought about how would I keep a log of everything I learn. Then it occurred to me....start a blog. It would be a great way show my progression and maybe one day share with others what I have learned and how I started. Of course, if any readers have tips and tricks about taking pictures or photo editing I am all ears.